Monday, 16 November 2009

How Darwin Changed Politics



I don't have a huge readership, I know, but I've found someone who deserves free advertising, apart from Our Blessed Lord, Our Blessed Lady, the Saints, the Holy Father and my parish Priest. A chap called Dennis Sewell has written a book called 'The Political Gene', which, from what I gathered from Radio 4, rips into the effects of Darwin on politics and society. Social darwinism, which seems to be rising quicker than a Nazi salute nowadays, developed in response to Darwins theories, which when applied to the observation of nature, explain a great deal, but when applied to human society, lead to poor, weak, lame, mentally ill, unproductive, terminally ill, and many more people being bumped off because, well, it's just 'natural selection'. It was Darwin who was, Sewell contends, the darling of the eugenics movement that informed the mindset of the Nazis and, he contends, it is coming back...

And of course, as Catholics we can say that its been here quite a while now and wonder did it ever go away. The 1967 Abortion Act, sold as a compassionate response to maternal deaths in illegal abortions has led to the destruction of the most vulnerable in society - the unborn. Pre-natal scanning is a tacit approval from the medical profession to sanction the termination of human beings with downs syndrome. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology, also, is an advancement of it, as the scientific community prepares to harvest 'strong' genes from 'weak' human embryos. Then we have the euthanasia drive coming from vast swathes of society including the House of Lords, the House of Commons, the Law Courts, the Mass Media and the rest. I would add, also, that there is also the stigmatisation of those with mental illness and the huge rise of the SS, Social Services, who it would appear, are under instruction to take away children from fat people in case, Heaven forbid, the children should ever get fat. Anyway, The Times have a review of the book which is a little expensive but I should like to hire it from the library or receive it as a gift for Christmas...

'When Eric Harris arrived at Columbine High School on the morning of April 20, 1999, he was wearing a “Natural Selection” T-shirt. Before Finnish student Pekka-Eric Auvinen murdered eight people at his high school in November 2007, he wrote that “­stupid, weak-minded people are reproducing…faster than the ­intelligent, strong-minded” ones. “Death and killing is not a ­tragedy,” he went on, “it happens in nature all the time.”

Auvinen’s YouTube handle was “NaturalSelector89” and both boys, says Dennis Sewell, were “amateur social Darwinists”: they used evolutionary theory to justify their atrocities. In this polemical mini-history of the political abuses of Darwinism, Sewell shows how they were part of a miserably long tradition, taking in everything from forced sterilisation to mass murder. It is a disturbing and provocative book.

Sewell admits that Darwin himself was a man inclined to gentleness and modesty, but early enthusiasts for his theory could be a little redder in claw. In Britain, Darwin’s friend Herbert Spencer — who coined the term “survival of the fittest” — argued vociferously against state aid for the indigent. If people “are sufficiently complete to live, they do live”, he wrote; if not, “they die, and it is best they should die”. Or, as Darwin himself observed, “excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed”.

Fabians, socialists and all kinds of nefarious interventionists eagerly signed up to the cause. HG Wells complained that “we cannot make the social life and the world peace we are determined to make, with the ill-bred, ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens”. In America, campaigners paid homeless men to walk around wearing sandwich boards with the legend “I am a ­burden to myself and the state. Should I be allowed to propagate?”'

Click here for the full Times review of this highly commendable book...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I always read your blog, Lawrence - though don't always have time to comment. The book looks good - might get it.

pelerin said...

I do too - so that makes two of us! Carry on the good work.
Always interested to see your inclusion of details of the Saints' days - particularly today! I would like to think I had been named after her, but have been told I was actually named after a grave stone at the bottom of the garden! My parents never found out who she was!

Anonymous said...

From the scientific point of view social-Darwinism is the last thing that can be called "Darwinism." This topic must be better called "How misconceptions about Darwinism changed politics." If, in a natural population, "stupid" are out-reproducing the "intelligent" then such is the natural selection. The "stupid" are simply more fit. In evolutionary biology, fitness is defined in terms of reproductive success, NOT survival (i.e. survival of the fittest is nonsense).

That is, for example, secularists always using condoms are actually (scientifically and logically) UN-fit. And when they are aggressively advertising these things they are just advertising of UN-fitness. Un-fitness and un-reason must be banned, Ha-ha, also because they go counter the evolutionary biology and Darwinism.

Social-darwinism has nothing to do with NATURAL selection, it just tried to impose an UNNATURAL artificial selection with an arbitrary criterion. Darwin and Darwinism are totally tangential here.

But is such an artificial selection feasible, at least biologically (it is certrainly not morally)? In one of the experiments two lines of rats were selected for susceptibility to audiogenic seizures, a clearly "maladaptive" trait, an analogue of the worst kinds of human mental disorder. After some generations, this resultred in a line totally washed out genes inviolved in this sort of mental illness, "best of breed," mentally healthy strain, and an non-adaptive "mentally retarded" strain. It turned out that the "mentally healthy" rats were to significantly LESS intelligent, they had very poor learning performance in a variety of tests. There are very complex relations between genes and behaviour, genes contributing to what we can arbitrarily calm "mental illnes" (or any other seemingly "maladaptive" or "harmful" traits) may also be involved in many other kinds of "adaptive" behaviour.

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