From late 2016, before a lot of others started to wonder why they thought they owed so much to the ol’ Brit toff:
Not only does Darwin believe in white supremacy, he offers a biological explanation for it, namely that white people are further evolved. He writes that the “western nations of Europe … now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors and stand at the summit of civilization” (178). Darwin imagines that Europeans are more advanced versions of the rest of the world. As previously mentioned, this purported superiority justified to Darwin the domination of inferior races by Europeans. As white Europeans “exterminate and replace” the world’s “savage races,” and as great apes go extinct, Darwin says that the gap between civilized man and his closest evolutionary ancestor will widen. The gap will eventually be between civilized man “and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla” (201). Read that last line again if you missed it: Darwin’s theory claims that Africans and Australians are more closely related to apes than Europeans are. The spectrum of organisms is a hierarchy here, with white Europeans at the top and apes at the bottom. In Darwin’s theory, colored people fall somewhere in between. Modern human is essentially restricted only to white Europeans, with all other races viewed as somehow sub-human…
… Now I understand why I’ve never been asked in a biology class to read the original text of Darwin’s theories: Our contemporary reverence for Darwin’s gentlemanliness and the pure scientific brilliance of his theories is an overly optimistic illusion that shatters upon a closer look at his publications.Austin Anderson, “The Dark Side of Darwinism” at Philosophy for the Many (December 16, 2016)
Anderson cites several attempts to airbrush that stuff but he doesn’t find them convincing.
Note: Darwin, to his credit, certainly was gentlemanly. For example, he was in a position to enable Alfred Russel Wallace to get a pension from the Crown. But then he was a gentleman at a time when that was a class distinction. Put another way: Wallace was more likely than he was to end up needing the pension.
Anyway, it’s interesting to see people start to see Darwin without the pop science halo.
Anderson will probably never read this but he might have been interested to know that, even at New Scientist, they are reconsidering Darwinism—on scientific grounds.
See, for example,
Recently, New Scientist published 13 rethinks of evolution, this being the 13th: (Reformed) New Scientist 13: We can stop evolution. New Scientist: “Today, evolution remains one of the most powerful ideas in science but, as with all good ideas, it is evolving ” Sure, but if evolution is evolving, Darwinism is dead. Which is fine with us. It’s a big world out there. Making everything sound like Darwin said it is not the way to explore that world. The others are also linked there.
At New Scientist: Questioning the idea of species It’s good news that they are thinking this way. If we’re going to vote money and legislation for environmental protection, we do need useful working classifications. Why waste time, money and energy “saving” a “species” that doesn’t really exist as a separate entity when some whole ecologies are critically endangered? And it doesn’t matter how we choose to classify the “species” within them. At least these are more constructive discussions to be involved in than attacking or defending Darwinism.
Hat tip: Philip Cunningham