Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Darwin’s Psychology: "survival of the fittest" attributed to Darwin was in fact Herbert Spencers'

"At the height of the banking crisis in 2009, the CEO of Mellon Bank, one of the beneficiaries of the massive taxpayer-funded bank bailout, had the gall to tell a PBS interviewer "Capitalism works; Darwinism works." His chutzpa in the middle of an economic disaster was a particularly flagrant example of how Darwin's name, and his theory, have been exploited as propaganda for a laissez faire, "survival of the fittest" model of capitalism.

The roots of what has come to be known as "Social Darwinism" can be traced back to the robber baron era in the latter nineteenth century. The idea that the economy of a successful capitalist society amounts to a cut-throat competitive struggle, much like what was supposed to be the case in the natural world, was inspired by the British social theorist Herbert Spencer. In fact, it was Spencer who coined the term "survival of the fittest," not Darwin"

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  1. interesting. TGIA, more articles like this please.

  2. A bit related, but this interesting piece was re-broadcast on NPR this week.

    When the theory of evolution was first publicly presented — exactly 150 years ago today — it wasn't immediately recognized as a revolutionary scientific breakthrough. Rather, the course of its impact was more, well, evolutionary.

    And even though we generally think the idea of natural selection was devised by Charles Darwin, it turns out that he wasn't the concept's sole originator. Another Victorian naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, came up with the idea after years of living in the Far East, studying and collecting animal and plant specimens.


  3. As far as I remember Wallace knew of the work Darwin. When Darwin, who was working on The Origin of Species, learned that Wallace was about to publish his paper, rushed to finish his monumental book which was dragging on and on for decades. Anyway, Wallace is always credited as a co-discoverer of natural selection as is never ignored when evolution is brought up.

  4. Interesting Mara. Many people around the world are "self employed" rather than earn a salary. Part of what these studies maeasure is "self employment." But don't worry, Americans are increasingly choosing self employment too.

    America has a very severe skills gap, with many of our schools failing. More than a third of Americans drop out of high school. Be interesting to see studies of Americans who don't drop out of high school. Think the results would be very different.

    Why are American schools so bad compared to schools elsewhere in the world?

  5. <span>The leaders of the world's second-rank powers, among them India, Japan, Russia, and some European countries, are already assessing the potential impact of U.S. decline on their respective national interests. </span>

  6. It is shocking how much the world increasingly sees America as borderline socialist, big government, anti business, anti corporate, anti globalization [anti trade, anti investment, and multinational product development], nativist.

    America is more socialist than some European countries.

    BTW, please don't call Japan and India second rate. They are first rate. Thank you.

  7. <span><span> America is more socialist than some European countries.</span>  
    Judging from what you have confessed to be your understanding of the word socialist (sir is not happy with the shared and widely acknoledged understanding, he makes up his own!) your statement is as laughable as the rest of your droppings..</span>