Social Darwinism

It is a characteristic of the human mind that, when it seizes on an idea, it frequently tries to carry that idea to some ultimate conclusion by denying the validity of other ideas which would modify, or dilute, the impact of that idea.  As Darwin published his research on the origin of species and enunciated the principles of “survival of the fittest”, it is quite certain that he had no idea that his ideas would be applied in human society as some kind of validation for wanton use of violence, brute force, deception, and reckless actions to allow certain individuals to dominate the rest of society and inflict endless suffering and destruction on others to aggrandise themselves and their immediate adherents.  To reach such conclusions one would have to disregard other findings of Science that would show that cooperation, balance and harmony yield better results for everyone (and for the planet and its environment) than untrammeled egoistic and aggressive “dog eat dog” tactics espoused by the social darwinists who extracted their theories from Darwin’s published research on animal evolution.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “Science investigating life discovered that the root nature of all living is a struggle to take the best advantage of the environment for self-preservation, self-fulfilment, self-aggrandisement.  Human thought seizing in its usual arbitrary and trenchant fashion upon this aspect of modern knowledge has founded on it theories of a novel kind which erect into a gospel the right for each to live his own life not merely by utilising others, but even at the expense of others.  The first object of life in this view is for the individual to survive as long as he may, to become strong, efficient, powerful, to dominate his environment and his fellows and to raise himself on this strenuous and egoistic line to his full stature of capacity and reap his full measure of enjoyment.  Philosophies like Nietzsche’s, certain forms of Anarchism, — not the idealistic Anarchism of the thinker which is rather the old individualism of the ideal reason carried to its logical conclusion, — certain forms too of Imperialism have been largely influenced and strengthened by this type of ideas, though not actually created by them.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 6, The Objective and Subjective Views of Life, pg. 56