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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Jeremy writes on Social Darwinism

Charles Darwin described the native people of Patagonia as being ‘barbarian’, but what if Darwin himself had been born into or raised by those native tribes, could he have lived any different from the way that he was brought up?

How much of an influence has Social Darwinism had on the way that people viewed and lived life in the last 100 years and does it have any influence in today’s world? If natural selection plays any significant role within the human race, who or what is it that determines that what nature has favoured as being the ‘fittest’ is for the betterment of the race? And are those views simply concurrent with the thinking and ‘values’ of the day?

Science tells us that human tastes evolved so that we would favour food that tasted sweet and had an agreeable flavour, in turn our ancestors when the opportunity arose would eat basic, high energy food stuffs that could be found in the environment such as animal fats, honey and sugar etc thereby storing the energy reserves in the form of body fat that these food types helped supply for times of drought and famine etc.

The problem with this of course is that humans today have taken control of their environment and these foods are plentiful but our bodies to some degree have not matched the same level of superiority as our cognitive development and inventiveness thereby when we eat these high energy foods our bodies efficiently work in order to store fat reserves but due to the convenience of modern day life we never get the chance to burn it off through normal daily activities, so basically yesterdays survivor or ‘fittest’ is today’s obese.

20th century ideals and industry tended to favour those with brute strength hence the rise of popular sport and the ubiquity of employment that required hard labour and physical strength. Today the world seems to have changed to favour those with advanced intellectual abilities and business acumen, no surprise really when you consider that both these qualities are virtual cash cows in today’s world and given that and according to ‘Social Darwinism’ the sole objective of a race is its physical, psychological, economic and political development.

Having the intellectual ability to program a computer would have been useless for the majority of the last 100 years. Being able to fall a tree with a girth of 30 feet using no more than an axe and ones physical ability and strength is in today’s world a talent that is not needed due to the markets elimination for woods products which is in part, a direct result of the advancement of technology. One question that arises is; will intellect rein supreme sempiternal?

I seriously doubt it will have a monopoly for that long, emotional intelligence, street smarts, and common sense are still lacking in my opinion. Being able pull mathematical formulas out of your head or having the academic ability to quote James Joyce word for word from memory doesn't mean that you have an ounce of common sense or even that you hold and live by basic moral values.In my view we are still coming to terms with this global societal structure, there’s much room for improvement.

Given that we don't wipe ourselves out with nukes and if history is any accurate indicator of changing trends the current skewed thinking will develop for the better eventually. It could be overly auspicious but I think into the future no one single human characteristic will have supremacy over the others, instead a combination of unique abilities and also the development or dare I say the evolution of the world ‘villages’ collective values might create an environment that nurtures, facilitates and accommodates complementary skill sets and abilities. This would be superior over any world model that is bias toward one human quality over another.

In my view the current capitalist system heavily relies upon and calls for a very selective, narrow skills-set and mind-set. It’s largely transformed itself into a one eyed, single minded, money hungry entity that will get blindsided by either reality, God or both into the future if it doesn’t become more adaptable and accommodating.

The hazards of using Social Darwinism as a sole religion have been clearly played out in human history. The Nazis lent themselves to the ideologies of Social Darwinism and it manifested itself with the rise and so called superiority of the Aryan race and the death of around 40 million people during WW2.

In the end Social Darwinism probably serves as a good example of how a little bit of information can be dangerous thing. And perhaps having the ability to do things that many others can’t is not so much about ‘survival of the fittest’ but more a matter of God's will, being born into the right era or at least one that matches your talents and abilities and of course good luck.


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