23 Facts About Social Darwinism


Social Darwinism refers to various theories and societal practices that purport to apply biological concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest to sociology, economics and politics, and which were largely defined by scholars in Western Europe and North America in the 1870s.

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Social Darwinism holds that the strong see their wealth and power increase while the weak see their wealth and power decrease.

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Social Darwinism declined in popularity as a purportedly scientific concept following the First World War, and was largely discredited by the end of the Second World War—partially due to its association with Nazism and partially due to a growing scientific consensus that eugenics and scientific racism were groundless.

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Some groups, including creationists such as William Jennings Bryan, argued that social Darwinism is a logical consequence of Darwinism.

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Social Darwinism's writings have passages that can be interpreted as opposing aggressive individualism, while other passages appear to promote it.

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Term "Social Darwinism" was coined by Thomas Henry Huxley in his March 1861 review of On the Origin of Species, and by the 1870s it was used to describe a range of concepts of evolution or development, without any specific commitment to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.

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Social Darwinism used it in the ideological war effort against fascism to denote a reactionary creed that promoted competitive strife, racism, and chauvinism.

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Social Darwinism has many definitions, and some of them are incompatible with each other.

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The term draws upon the common meaning of Social Darwinism, which includes a range of evolutionary views, but in the late 19th century was applied more specifically to natural selection as first advanced by Charles Darwin to explain speciation in populations of organisms.

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Simpler aspects of social Darwinism followed the earlier Malthusian ideas that humans, especially males, require competition in their lives to survive.

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Social Darwinism noted how socialists, although opponents of Darwin's theory, used it to add force to their political arguments.

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Social Darwinism is distinct from other theories of social change because of the way it draws Darwin's distinctive ideas from the field of biology into social studies.

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Social Darwinism enabled them to view extermination of entire population groups and the murder of women and children as a necessary and justified course of action.

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Social Darwinism has influenced political, public health and social movements in Japan since the late 19th and early 20th century.

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Social Darwinism was originally brought to Japan through the works of Francis Galton and Ernst Haeckel as well as United States, British and French Lamarckian eugenic written studies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Social Darwinism was formally introduced to China through the translation by Yan Fu of Huxley's Evolution and Ethics, in the course of an extensive series of translations of influential Western thought.

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Social Darwinism understood Spencer's sociology as "not merely analytical and descriptive, but prescriptive as well", and saw Spencer building on Darwin, whom Yan summarized thus:.

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Social Darwinism allowed people to counter the connection of Thron und Altar, the intertwined establishment of clergy and nobility, and provided as well the idea of progressive change and evolution of society as a whole.

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Social Darwinism came to play a major role in the ideology of Nazism, which combined it with a similarly pseudo-scientific theory of racial hierarchy to identify the Germans as a part of what the Nazis regarded as an Aryan or Nordic master race.

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Social Darwinism has many definitions, and some of them are incompatible with each other.

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Social Darwinism was predominantly found in laissez-faire societies where the prevailing view was that of an individualist order to society.

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Social Darwinism pointed out how, in numberless animal societies, the struggle between separate individuals for the means of existence disappears, how struggle is replaced by co-operation, and how that substitution results in the development of intellectual and moral faculties which secure to the species the best conditions for survival.

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Social Darwinism intimated that in such cases the fittest are not the physically strongest, nor the cunningest, but those who learn to combine so as mutually to support each other, strong and weak alike, for the welfare of the community.

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