Where confusion reigns supreme

I am keeping up with the rhetoric from politicians and would like to clarify a phase being bandied about…Social Darwinism.  Poor Darwin, he had no idea sociologists were going to misuse his theory and that others would misuse Sumner the sociologist’s notion of ‘Social Darwinism.’ 

When Darwin wrote about the survival of the fittest, he was referring to the survival of certain species in changing circumstances. While the fittest survived, other species that could not adapt died out.

I figure Darwin must have been a gardener and he was talking about Crabgrass.  Crabgrass survives all odds,including human attempts at eradication, while the Kentucky Blue and Red Fescue grasses have a much more difficult time, although homeowners and golf course keepers alike, try their best to help the little darling grasses survive. 

Ditto other weeds. Precious plants topple with fungi that coarse weeds shake off like dander. Dandelions cast seeds like aspersions and send tenacious roots several yards below the surface to compete with trees. The harder we work to destroy the enemy weeds, the better they do.  That’s survival of the fittest.

When Sumner created his theory, he misunderstood what Darwin had written.  Sumner thought survival of the fittest had to do with his élite New York class, the wealthy bourgeoisie. They were so fine, so magnificent, Sumner believed they were the fittest.  In the nineteenth century, however, the plummeting birth rates of the bourgeoisie led to great concern.  Soon the push was on among bourgeoise men to increase the birth rate of the “better sorts” by banning birth control and abortion, especially for élite women.  

But some of these elites went a step further. In the early twentieth century, some of them (Progressives), in the hope they could improve their odds in the class struggle, promoted the use of birth control and abortion among the lower classes. Their goal was to reduce the childbearing of the poor, and leave the world less populated with “unwanted” children (unwanted by whom??) The next step after this was the Eugenics movement.  You know how well that worked in Nazi Germany, but did you know the idea was from the United States?

One news writer says, how can Social Darwinism be a conservative issue when many Conservatives don’t believe in Evolution?  Interestingly, when the scientifically minded Progressives tried to ban the teaching of Creationism in school, they lost the fight to the Conservative Populists. Oh my, it seems we should be wary of accusing others of behaving like Social Darwinians.  


On another note.  Look at the difference in the two photos below. Both taken by me, yesterday. The one on the left is from my old camera a Nikkon, the one on the right from my new camera a Canon Elph. Ignore the lighting.  I took the one the left in morning sun and the one on the right in the shade. I think the resolution is better in the one on the right, however.

The color of the flower is more true, and I can see tiny details in the Canon shot.   


7 thoughts on “Where confusion reigns supreme

  1. Still, it’s a good question: how can Social Darwinism be a conservative issue when many Conservatives don’t believe in Evolution? But … what’s the difference between Social Darwinism and sociobiology? Both seem to have a patina of truth, but don’t hold up under close examination. Anyway I agree, the Canon photo is sharper.


  2. Just think of the Fescue as the “Tea Party” grass which works hard to cultivate and improve the soil and the crabgrass as the “99 per centers” who just want that ground given over to them. That kind of helps put it in perspective for me.


  3. Many mentally handicapped women were forced to undergo sterilization, too. So sad what people do to other people. I have two Canon Elphs: a 4x zoom and an 8x zoom. For some reason, the pictures are clear in my camera, but they lose clarity when posted on my blog. I don’t know how to fix this.


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