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Born-again Social Darwinism: Survival of the Morally Unfit

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After demonizing comes scapegoating
After demonizing comes scapegoating
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Considering how the fringe right enshrines its own perverse "survival of the fittest," you'd think Tea Partiers would warm to Darwinian "evolution" -- if only to justify concentrated wealth and power as "natural."  "Whatever is, is right," the poet Pope says, endorsing the great chain of being.    Is not Christian history one grand upward arc towards rapture and redemption -- assuming fundamentalist dominion over mankind, subservient woman, dark-skinned foreigners, aliens, and nature's bounty?

Let contradictions reign: a righteous ruling class scorns modest "handouts" to poor, sickly minorities (the "morally weak") but lives high on the hog with cheap, federalized mortgages, corporate welfare and subsidies, unending war profits and permanent defense monopolies, plus unemployment benefits, Social Security, and Medicare.  Of course the "profit-creators" all deserve princely treasures for they've worked to the bone for it.


Haves, after all, lord over have-nots for good, right and identifiable reasons, not from mere luck.  Did not 19th C. U.S. armies, defending federal railroad subsidies, "win the west" for good, pioneering Tea Party ancestors?   Scattered farmers and ranchers never would have defeated (or corralled) native Americans with single-shot rifles, nor later firmly locked out millions of competing immigrants -- especially less protestant, less white, nor from northern Europe.   


From slavery through Indian massacres, 20th C. imperialism and Japanese internment, American history is a march of big government brutality founded on two convictions: "might makes right" enhanced by "white makes right."  This history culminates in all its wondrous contradictions with Tea Party fanatics -- of late paying odd homage to obsolete Social Darwinism.


Social Darwinism is that late 19th C. crock that misapplied Darwin's genetic, biological dynamics for species differentiation to radically distinct sociological phenomena. The co-opted catch-phrase, " survival of the fittest ," applied pseudo-science to rationalize all sorts of intact "natural" inequalities and oppression.   Assuming all races, states, and cultures were in constant, violent competition, Social Darwinism ended up glorifying not just laissez-faire capitalism but, per Wikipedia, "ideas of eugenics , scientific racism , imperialism, f ascism , Nazism" and permanent struggles between "racial groups."  Oh my, born-again racism on the march.


Haves Have Bigger Guns


If the ruthlessly fittest survived best in nature, so the logic went, then cultural-military superiority is natural, with violence obscured by unfeeling Christian Sunday sermons.  Haves aren't more moral but have bigger guns, thus current NRA types in our peace-loving realm sanctify arms like sacred relics, awarding them great rights and prominent home positions.


Neither sociologist nor political historian, Darwin could not have anticipated such perversion of his biology. His fittest only mattered when able to procreate widely, increase their gene pool and adapt better to habitat niches. Darwinian evolution didn't propose warlike jungle morality, nor short-term triumphs of the well-armed over the unarmed.  And as a progressive notion, evolution could never deify the status quo -- nor the earth being 5000 years old.

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For a decade, Robert S. Becker's rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, messaging and frameworks, now featured author at OpEdNews, Nation of Change and RSN. He appears regularly at Dissident Voice, with credits (more...)

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