Social Darwinism is not Darwinism

If there’s one term of phrase I’ve heard once, it’s the term Social Darwinism. Basically the term refers to policies or an ideology that tries to apply Darwinism and evolution to politics and society. More times than not, it’s done by people who know absolutely nothing about Darwinism, or the ideas laid out by Charles Darwin.

Darwinism isn’t based on the idea of the superior species. It is simply that creatures who are able to adapt to their environment well enough and survive long enough to pass on their genes or seed will thrive and continue as a species, and those that don’t will soon die off because they can’t adapt to environment conditions. In other words, organisms possessing properties that are better suited for survival in the environment tend to pass on their genes more often than ones that are less fit for the environment. So-called “social Darwinism” is not based on Darwin’s actual theories at all, but rather the foolish idea of a “master race” or “superior species” and has its foundations on eugenics, imperialism, and so-called “scientific racism” (which is, thankfully, dead these days). Social Darwinism also seems to have base itself on “goal-oriented evolution”, which believes that evolution is oriented towards a specific goal, such as a super-species that’s better than any other. In reality however, no such goal exists. According to Darwinian evolution, change occurs because organisms are able to adapt to their environment and survive long enough to pass on their genes. Darwin himself wrote in his notebooks that “it is absurd to talk of one animal being higher than another”.

So there you have it. Social Darwinism as a descriptor for ideologies that advocate that the “strong” or “best” oppress the weak is not apt, especially considering it has nothing to do with Darwinism, and most biologists including Darwin disavow the ideology entirely.


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