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Social darwinism


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Social Darwinism and Nationalism

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Social darwinism

  3. 3. WHAT IT WAS Social Darwinism is simply the application of the theories of Charles Darwin to society. Evolution had become a largely accepted belief in the second Industrial Revolution; this was a continuation of those ideas outside of the scientific realm. William Graham Sumner and Herbert Spencer both promoted Social Darwinism by stating that men were either “to struggle, to compete, to succeed, or to fail”. Those who succeeded were fit to remain in society, and those who did not would eventually be eliminated.
  4. 4. EFFECT ON SOCIETYSocial Darwinism justified the actions of industrialists. They claimed that their success, actions, and wealth were all justified by nature since they were “superior”. Tycoons such as Rockefeller believed that they were indeed more fit to live, and that a poor man’s situation was a result of his shortcomings and lack of evolutionary fitness. Even worker’s unions would fail because the natural law of competition would have to survive. Even as far back as Reconstruction it was seen in American society for reasoning as to why African Americans and poor Northerners were failing and should not be assisted. Social Darwinism expanded beyond the bounds of society and the economy though; it was also used as justification for the Imperialism of the United States. The US had become the most powerful and greatest nation in the world, and natives in countries such as the Philippines and Puerto Rico were not suited to rule themselves.
  6. 6. WHAT IT WAS Edward Bellamy published Looking Backward in 1888, promoting his idealistic dream of a utopian society in which there was complete economic equality. All trusts eventually combined into one controlled by the government. In this utopia, there was no more competition and all was equally divided. There were no more class divisions or struggles. Society was like a machine, all working together for good.
  7. 7. EFFECT ON SOCIETY Bellamy’s philosophy and novel had a huge impact. He was one of the most popular philosophers of the time. His book sold over one million copies and was the second best-selling novel of the 19th century. “Nationalist clubs” formed all over the country following and supporting his ideas. It opposed the competitive, Social Darwinism- based cutthroat business practices of its time. It also had significance in extending many ideals of Marxism into American
  8. 8. SIMILARITIES AND OVERLAPS OF THE PHILOSOPHIES Bellamy’s philosophy was essentially the complete fulfillment of Social Darwinism. As the large trusts and companies expanded, the smaller “inferior” ones disappeared. Eventually only one company remained, the greatest of all. This was the end of the “survival of the fittest”. Even society had rid itself of those citizens who did not contribute. Those who remained in the year 2000 in Looking Backward were peaceful, productive members of the community. There were no more class divisions because those who were left were the best. Society had evolved to full perfection in the end. Both these theories assumed that man was indeed capable of perfection and that through elimination of the weak, the strong could prevail and take control.