What is Social Darwinism and Why Is President Obama Accusing Republicans of Perpetuating It?

Darwin's philosophies were meant to explain nature, not silly political debates with no real victors.

Social Darwinism is not a term that gets a lot of search engine love on a regular basis, but a lot of people are looking for more information on it today after President Barack Obama used the term in an accusation against the Republican Party.  So, with so many people wanting more information, we at Common Sense Conspiracy decided to devote a little time to the topic and hopefully clear up the issue.

Darwinism refers to the works and theories of Charles Darwin, the naturalist who is considered to be the founding father of what we now call evolution.  One of the principal parts of Darwinism is the idea of natural selection, often referred to as “survival of the fittest” in layman’s terms.  Basically, the idea is that the stronger species continue to multiply the fastest why weaker ones go by the wayside.  It is a hallmark of evolution.  To give a quick real-world example, let’s look at pesticides.  It is well documented that insects over time develop a tolerance for substances used to try to repel or poison them.  Scientists believe that when insecticides are used, most of them are killed, but a few have the strength to survive.  These then go on to multiply, and over long periods of time, a new version of the original species spins off that does not die from the poison.  This is why pesticides have to be used in rotations to avoid bugs being able to pull off this feat.  So, the ones that are the strongest and have the skills to survive do while the others perish.  They go on to create more populations with the strength and skills, and so on and so forth.  This is a simple example of the idea of natural selection.

So, when someone says Social Darwinism, they are talking about the application of the same concept with people, but instead of pesticide, it’s about political, social, and economic issues.  A philosopher named Herbert Spencer believed in the idea of Social Darwinism not just as a theory, but as something that should be applied purposely.  Social Darwinism was often used to perpetuate the idea that the white race in Europe was the strongest socially, and was bound to have dominion over other social classes.  Social Darwinism was even used later by some to justify the atrocities of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.  The Nazis considered the exterminating of Jews as simply cleaning out the gene pool so a stronger race could flourish in their place.  Another example would be the idea that people with handicaps and mental deficiencies should be sterilized so that their genes cannot be transmitted on to their children.  Basically, it’s weeding out the so-called bad apples.

It’s important to point out that Charles Darwin himself did not call for the institution of his theories for natural selection into sociology.  The use of his name is purely because of the relation between it and his teachings, but Darwin had nothing to do, nor did he advocate, the concept of Social Darwinism.

So what does this all have to do with the Republicans and President Obama?  Obama has stated that the Republican budget, which reduces the deficit by cutting many social programs that benefit the poor and middle class, is the Republican Party attempting to use worries about the national debt as an excuse to put into play its plan to bring about Social Darwinism in America.  Obama didn’t go this far, but he is insinuating that the Republican mindset is why would we want to take money and power from the strong to help the weak when the strong are a lot better to have around?  It’s the idea of letting the rich get richer while the poor eventually stamp themselves right out of existence.  To accuse the Republicans of it is a very condemning remark for the sitting President, and no doubt Republicans will have much to say about this label in the coming days.

So who is right and who is wrong?  Well, on the one hand, trimming the budget certainly is in order.  We have long reported here on the national debt, and we even keep an ongoing counter in the right sidebar to help people be more aware of the situation that is going on all the time, around the clock.  However, determining how to make the proper cuts is where the problems arise.  We at Common Sense Conspiracy question why we can’t see the government itself suffer some cutbacks instead of focusing on taking the money out of social programs and such?  But, of course, that would affect the politicians themselves, so that will never happen.

As President Obama is eager to throw around the Social Darwinism label, keep in mind that he and the Democratic Party claim to represent average Americans better, but those in office are all rich, just like the Republicans.  It’s safe to say that no matter which side wins out in the end, President Obama and the Democrats are no more concerned about not being in the “fittest” than their Republican counterparts.  For the rest of us, isn’t it nice to have our best interests debated like we are pawns on a chessboard, or better yet, second-class citizens, drones for the government to order around or eliminate if they see fit.

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