Social Darwinism


Liba 102


3/23/03


Social Darwinism is a concept that has been used in past organizations and systems of governments to label certain patterns, within society. In today’s modern society, people are categorized according to their traits, skills, and principles. Social Darwinism calls this social selection; the more intelligent, skilled, and self controlled one is, the more likely they are to survive. This example has repeated itself throughout history in many different cultures. The result is almost always the same, the more fit a person is to societies mold; the more likely they are to succeed in life.


This concept is very present in today’s society and has been in past societies. In modern day, the most successful beings are those who are in the wealthier percentile of the population. Because of this wealth, they are more likely to be ambitious in life, which in turn, causes them to make wiser decisions for themselves, which will not hinder nor destroy their comfortable, decadent lifestyles.


There are many social scientists who have conducted tests and theories on this subject. D. Colin Wells wrote a conference paper entitled “Social Darwinism.” He applied the Darwinism Evolutionary Theory to the investigation of the manner in which social institutions and doctrines influence the survival of certain groups (Hawkins, 1997). This brought about the question of what kinds of people were favored by society. Wells thought that modern conditions reversed natural selection. He mostly blamed this on political and social development; for example, taxation, trade unions, and education for women. These were all factors that facilitated the postponement of marriage and small families among the worthier and wealthier percentages of society (Hawkins, 1997). Stoddard’s point of view was closely related to wells’. He believed civilization as a whole was what substituted social selection for natural selection. He thought elite qualities were not hereditary, but caused by civilization. Another one of his major points was that slowly, intelligence is being breed out of American society. The successful wait to have kids later in life, while the “unfit” have many kids, earlier decreasing their chance of becoming successful at all. According to Stoddard, there are two solutions to this. One is eugenics, which is “improved social selection based on natural law.” The other is by being “eugenic conscious,” which is to compel the wealthier to have lager families, and think of duties not rights (Hawkins, 1997). Lapouge identified several types of social selection. First, he discussed political selection, which was functioning through civil wars, exile, and persecution. In other words, war eliminated the weak indivuals. The next topic was religion, especially Catholicism, caused by celibacy, which regulated corrupt people reproducing. The third type discussed was moral selection. He thought prudish norms and prohibitions hindered reproductive activities. Lastly, Lapouge discussed economic selection, which favored an aristocracy whose wealth opened up opportunities that might never otherwise be available to them (Hawkins, 1997).


In conclusion, most of these theories and concepts are proven true in society’s favorism among its citizens. Especially, in America the wealthy succeed on both moral and intelligent grounds, compared to those who have less money. The entire concept is cyclical. The wealthy possess more options; for example, an ambitious, successful man will have a child who would attend a school where moral principles are valued and taught, and where intelligence and ambition is enforced. In turn, the child will cherish high morals, thus making wise decisions; increasing his or her chance of succeeding in life.