Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How and Why Social Darwinism is at the Core of Romney's GOP

As many thinkers on the left have observed (i.e. Susan Jacoby in her book, The Age Of American Unreason, Chapter 3: 'Social Pseudoscience in the Morning of America's Culture Wars') it is beyond astounding that so many fundamentalist and other Rightists can with one arm embrace Social Darwinism but with the other push away the actual science of Darwinian Evolution.

What is the difference? One - Darwinian Evolution - is based on natural selection and is a valid, testable science. The other, Social Darwinism, is a pseudo-science without a scintilla of empirical basis - which extends the principles of natural selection into the social, societal realm. In its own way, it is little different from the astrology that attempts to tie people's personalities to random arrangements of stars. In addition, one - Darwinian Evolution, was articulated by actual scientists, such as Charles Darwin and John Gould (it was none other than Gould who “immediately realized the extraordinary nature of Darwin’s Galapagos specimens and analyzed and described them first”, according to Frank J. Sulloway, in his essay, ‘Why Darwin Rejected Intelligent Design’)

Meanwhile, Social Darwinism was confabulated by a British philosopher named Herbert Spencer. Richard Hofstadter, in his Social Darwinism in American Thought, (American Historical Association, 1955) observes that Spencer rejected services for the poor and disabled as encouraging a fundamental weakness in the society which induced corruption, sloth and all the other vices. It was also Spencer, not Darwin, who coined the phrase "the survival of the fittest".

Given this, according to author Jacoby (op. cit., p. 70):

"Spencer preached the gospel of laissez-faire economics as the only way to ensure that the fittest would triumph in society through a process of 'social selection' equivalent to Darwin's natural selection".

Ms. Jacoby notes that Spencer's "first pedestrian musings about the universal laws of social selection" were actually published a full year before Darwin's On the Origin of Species (in 1858).

She adds:

"The British philosopher was unequivocally and fanatically opposed to all government programs that he viewed as obstacles to social selection, including public education, health regulations, tariffs and even postal service."

Incredible! An "Ayn Rand" before the time of Rand! (Maybe Rand was the reincarnation of the guy, if you subscribe to that stuff).

But think of this, the basic premise is the same one held by Romney and Ryan! If they had their way all public schools would go the way of dinos and be replaced by "charter schools". Also all health regulations would be removed - which Romney actually plans to do via executive order once elected, to free up the markets for bidness. And make no mistake, he has no use and neither does Ryan, his compadre, for any social services like food stamps and Medicaid! Hence, why they plan to cut those two by nearly one third in the first year alone.

Wal-Mart workers, you paying attention? Your managers may no longer be able to send you to get gov't assistance because they are too cheap. You may have to ask the Bozos from Bentonville to finally pay a decent, living wage.

May I remind readers here that laissez-faire economics is basically capitalist, markets rule -government "hands off" economics? Hence, we mustn't be surprised that The Rightist-corporate elite (including many of the ‘robber barons’) latched on to this as a kind of dogma. Indeed, Jacoby points out (ibid.) that Carnegie, Rockefeller and other wealthy hot shots were the same ones who put up the money to fund Spencer's "6,000 page" System of Synthetic Philosophy! (Errrr....."Synthetic" is quite right!)

Interesting too, are the names of some of the first "subscribers" that Jacoby delivers, including": historian George Bancroft, botanist Asa Gray and the former Harvard University president Jared Sparks.

Even more amazing was how many fundamentalists bought in! One of the first was the Rev. Josiah Strong, ca. 1885 with the publication of his book Our Country, Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis, which is highlighted in Chapter 2, of Richard Hofstadter's book. One of his favorite sayings was from Herbert Spencer, referring to needy or disabled people that often begged at alms houses for services:

"If they are sufficiently complete to live, they do live, and it is well that they should live. If they are not sufficiently complete to live, they die, and it is best that they should die."

Hmmmm.......I guess that quotation might be the best loved one of Romney and Ryan too, if they were honest enough to admit it. But I doubt they are! Strong's other great "insight" which surely must have given the robber barons and their capitalist scum wet dreams was that the amassing of great wealth indicated Christian virtue. Thus, one's wealth immediately became a barometer for one's morality or spirituality. Those poor people over there? Well, they couldn't be very spiritual, better to just deprive them and let them die and go off to "Satan".

The question for our time now is how many working people, ordinary blokes, will realize before it's too late that voting for a Romney-Ryan ticket will be to basically give a vote for the vicious Social Darwinism of Herbert Spencer. In that sense, it will also be a vote for their own demise. Because if social services are cut as the neo-Social Darwinists intend, no amount of caterwauling or imploring by Wal-Mart (to its low paid workers) will get them the gov't help they need. They will truly be on their own, to starve or at least be malnourished (for lack of food stamps) or perish in a nasty flu epidemic because Medicaid lacked the federal matching funds to survive in their state.

Will they be smart enough to make the connection? Or will they be so blinded by a skewed hatred of Obama (as a "socialist', sic) that they give up reason altogether. Maybe they need to start reading some of Spencer's works to see what Romney and Ryan really have planned for them!

No comments: