Darwinism, War and History: The Debate over the Biology of by Paul Crook

By Paul Crook

This booklet demanding situations the bought view that Darwinism generated primarily competitive and warlike social values and pugnacious photos of humankind. Paul criminal reconstructs the influential discourse of "peace biology," whose liberal imaginative and prescient used to be of a essentially loose humanity, now not fettered through iron legislation of organic necessity or ruled by means of violent genes. by way of exploring a gamut of Darwinian readings of historical past and struggle, in most cases within the English-speaking global ahead of 1919, this examine throws vital new gentle on militarism, peace hobbies, the origins of worldwide conflict I and British social notion.

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Additional info for Darwinism, War and History: The Debate over the Biology of War from the 'Origin of Species' to the First World War

Example text

However, the contrast is not black and white. For one thing, Darwin himself was slow to abandon natural theology, especially the idea of design in nature and the perfect adaptation of organisms, in favour of the more astringent concept of natural selection based on chance, struggle and imperfect adaptation. 46 Again, one may argue that both Malthus and Darwin moved away from a depressing view of nature governed by iron laws of struggle by allowing for some degree of human control of events. The later editions of Malthus's Essay - in reality a different book from the first edition - envisaged a more optimistic future for humankind.

Albert Schaffle did not share Friedrich Hellwand's bellicose reading of human history, but opposed unbridled capitalism and thought that physical struggle was being steadily 32 Darwinism, war and history transmuted into a struggle of ideas. Glorification of war by Count von Moltke, Heinrich von Treitschke and other nationalists was only superficially Darwinian, restating old 'might makes right' axioms. ) Even Friedrich von Bernhardi - targeted by Anglo-American propagandists during World War I as the evil genius behind biological militarism - used Darwinism not as a major inspiration but as a useful adjunct to his main ideas for German hegemony.

Revisionist scholarship suggests that until the 1880s or 1890s most Social Darwinism was moderate, typified by the best-selling Wilhelm Bolsche. German anthropology, founded in the 1860s and 1870s, at first repudiated Aryan racial theories. 6 On the left, working-class Darwinism expressed 'popular Marxism in disguise', endorsing historicist change and attacking ruling elites as unfit. After the 1890s there appeared more radical phases of Social Darwinism marked by eugenic proposals to save the nation or race.

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