Culture Darwinism

Riveting 14 minute documentary on Darwinism as one of the root causes of WWI

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The role social Darwinism played in starting World War I. It’s based largely on parts of Richard Weikart’s book, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany, produced by John West.

Here’s the site. These not accusations, by the way, they are historical facts, amply sourced with quotations from the period. If it’s all a big misunderstanding or misinterpretation, then so is history.

Here’s an interview with Weikart, explaining how he came to write on these topics:

Weikart is sometimes attacked in print for having had a sordid motive for even raising the issue. So why did he do it? And how did he get interested in the first place?

Actually, at first, he wasn’t interested. While living in Germany some years ago to improve his German, he was mainly interested in the nineteenth century. He doubted that he would uncover anything new about the Third Reich. For one thing, in his view, it was an overworked field. But then he discovered one neglected point:

[A]s I investigated the history of evolutionary ethics in pre-World War I Germany, I noticed—to my surprise—remarkable similarities between the ideas of those promoting evolutionary ethics and Hitler’s worldview. This discovery (which happened around 1995) led me to investigate Hitler’s worldview more closely, and this research convinced me that I had found something important to say about Hitler’s ideology.

As he put it in Hitler’s Ethic [a second book],

Evolutionary ethics underlay or influenced almost every major feature of Nazi policy: eugenics . . . euthanasia, racism, population expansion, offensive warfare and racial extermination. Hitler’s ethic was essentially an evolutionary ethic that exalted biological progress above all other moral considerations. Humans must adapt to and even model themselves after the laws of nature. More.

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31 Replies to “Riveting 14 minute documentary on Darwinism as one of the root causes of WWI

  1. 1
    KRock says:

    I watched this the other day; very well done! That being said, I’m hoping the next documentary will be a little longer…

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Craig Keener- Miracles Symposium – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn73J9A0SnU

  3. 3
    jerry says:

    The YouTube video is 58 minutes. Haven’t watched it yet. Saving for the treadmill.

  4. 4
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Historian Paul Johnson: “On one side were ranged Protestant Germany, Catholic Austria, Orthodox Bulgaria and Moslem Turkey. On the other were Protestant Britain, Catholic France and Italy, and othodox Russia.”

    Sounds more like a religious civil war than a Darwin inspired genocide. But even if this war was caused by Darwin’s theory, how does it prove evolution wrong? Or creationism correct. And how do you explain all of the genocides prior to Darwn?

    Nations have always used false justifications to engage in war. Doesn’t anyone remember WMD in Iraq?

  5. 5
    Mapou says:

    It has always been about religions, whether it is Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism. Darwinism and materialism are just the latest to be added to the pile. And while you’re at it, you can also add capitalism, socialism and communism, which are no less religious than the others.

  6. 6
    humbled says:

    A_b, your comment serves to show you have not understood the documentary, and that your understanding of the history, events and contributing factors at play then and now are lacking.

  7. 7
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Humbled: “A_b, your comment serves to show you have not understood the documentary, and that your understanding of the history, events and contributing factors at play then and now are lacking.”

    Please enlighten me. I guess that the other countries spoiling for war prior to the assassination of the Arche Duke were fighting against Darwin. There was going to be a war regardless. All the different nations were waiting for was some pretense. And the assassination was the pointless excuse.

    But it is interesting that nobody is commenting on my other points.
    1) even if evolution was the cause of WWI, how does that affect the validity of evolution? And,
    2) how do you explain the long history of aggression and genocide prior to Darwin?

  8. 8
    leodp says:

    A_b: 1) even if evolution was the cause of WWI, how does that affect the validity of evolution?

    It doesn’t. But it does show that ideas, especially the ones that go to the ultimate questions of who and what we are, why we are and where we’re headed have wide ranging implications to the rest of life. Bad ideas in this regard get applied by the likes of WWI German rulers as well as Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. to wreck havoc on the entire world. Far more death and destruction than all previous centuries.

    A_b: 2) how do you explain the long history of aggression and genocide prior to Darwin?

    A Fallen human nature… but bad foundational ideas lead to bad things. Bad theology is as destructive as social Darwinism. But on the other hand you don’t draw a basis for human rights, dignity, democracy and liberty from a Darwinian worldview. Those come from good theology: All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights; rights that no government has a right to deny because God’s authority trumps all human authority. These things do not naturally flow from “The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life”.

  9. 9
    chris haynes says:

    Many of the Allied leaders were equally corrupted by Darwinism and Nietzcheism. Theodore Roosevelt is an obvious example.

  10. 10
    Moose Dr says:

    A_B (4)Historian Paul Johnson: “On one side were ranged Protestant Germany, Catholic Austria, Orthodox Bulgaria and Moslem (sic) Turkey. On the other were Protestant Britain, Catholic France and Italy, and othodox (sic) Russia.”

    You prove your position to be in error. If one were to align these countries based upon religious loyalties, you wouldn’t pit the group of (Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox) against (Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim). In this case natural friends are aligning with natural enemies to go to war against natural friends. What up wid dat.

    Correlation does not prove causation!

  11. 11
    MrCollins says:

    If you haven’t seen this on the history of causes of conflicts, I find it quite interesting

    http://carm.org/religion-cause-war

  12. 12
    anthropic says:

    Moose 10

    Good catch! Religion didn’t cause WWI. Nor WWII.

    And it was the officially atheist regimes in places like the Soviet Union, Communist China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and revolutionary France that made mass murder state policy.

    Mapou 5

    “It has always been about religions, whether it is Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism. Darwinism and materialism are just the latest to be added to the pile. And while you’re at it, you can also add capitalism, socialism and communism, which are no less religious than the others.”

    Nonsense. Wars and conflicts happen for many reasons, religions being only one of them. And while you can make the case that atheistic communism is a type of religion, capitalism certainly is not. It makes no metaphysical claims whatsoever; you can believe in God or be an atheist and the marketplace will still reward or punish you based on your economics, not your beliefs.

  13. 13
    leodp says:

    The idea of one group of humans ascending over rest and prevailing is at least logically consistent with the Darwinian view of the, “favored races”. Nietzsche believed and argued the same, and his ideas were influential in the German Third Reich. The Übermensch. The Will to Power manifested politically.

    But I think that utopian philosophies/ideologies have been and are hugely destructive as well. “Once everyone submits to Allah” then utopia arrives. Therefore anyone resisting Islam is standing in the way of utopia for the all the rest. Subjugating or killing those who resist is therefore justified on utilitarian grounds: the greatest good for the greatest number. Marxism/Communism are also utopian ideologies. Killing those who stand in the way is justified.

    Christianity is not utopian. This world will never be paradise. It is fallen and corrupted. People will always sin and fall short of the glory of God. Christ purchased redemption for individuals, and society benefits from their changed behavior when they accept the free gift. But this world will always have trouble. Christians await an entirely new creation, sans sin. And our mission is a mission of mercy to those who are suffering as a consequence of sin and separation from our Creator. Christ told us to love those who do not believe. To forgive those who wrong us. Not kill them.

  14. 14
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Moose Dr: “Correlation does not prove causation!”

    My point exactly. Thank you for supporting me.

    Leodp: “The idea of one group of humans ascending over rest and prevailing is at least logically consistent with the Darwinian view of the, “favored races”.”

    Thank you for showing your ignorance. “Favoured races” was part of the subtitle of Origin of Species. And it referred to races of animals. His first book mentioned almost nothing about humans.

    But this is the same strategy of misinformation that creationists use to discredit evolutionary theory. Good thing that it doesn’t fool anyone with IQs higher than room temperature.

  15. 15
    Box says:

    Acartia_bogart,

    So, Darwin was actually referring to animals when he wrote:

    At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. (Darwin,“On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man,”,p. 521)

  16. 16
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Box, that was not the quote that Ledp provided. Not that I expect that creationists would quote mine in an honest and context relevant fashion. And, this was a prediction, not a desire. And if you read it carefully, he was not complimenting his own heritage.

    And, sadly, many of his predictions have not been far off.

    Darwin was a man of his times, probably more liberal and open minded than your ancestor or mine at the same time. At roughly the same time Mark Twain was considered a left wing nut job. Now there are people pushing to have his books banned.

    Do you really want to open up this discussion, and where the various stances the religions held at the same time? I am game.

  17. 17
    leodp says:

    A_b: “Thank you for showing your ignorance.”

    Would that put me closer to an anthropomorphous ape, or to a savage? My take out from the title of the Origin was for convenience and brevity of reference in order to make a broader point, which I believe is true. FWIW, I believe you are fully human, which means you are created in God’s image, blessed with both dignity and worth.

  18. 18
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Leodp: you are reading far more into the Origin than Darwin ever intended. After all, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Darwin was hesitant to include humans in his theory. He still had enough of the religious brainwashing to think that humans were above the animals. But he smartened up. Something that creationists have not yet done.

  19. 19
    Dionisio says:

    Good thing that it doesn’t fool anyone with IQs higher than room temperature.

    in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius?

  20. 20
    Dionisio says:

    #14

    Good thing that it doesn’t fool anyone with IQs higher than room temperature.

    My IQ score is lower than my age – I shouldn’t be here in this discussion, which is above my pay grade 😉

  21. 21
    drc466 says:

    A_B,

    Before commenting on other’s intelligence, you might want to check your own ability to be logical.

    In 14, you state:

    Thank you for showing your ignorance. “Favoured races” was part of the subtitle of Origin of Species. And it referred to races of animals. His first book mentioned almost nothing about humans.

    But this is the same strategy of misinformation that creationists use to discredit evolutionary theory. Good thing that it doesn’t fool anyone with IQs higher than room temperature.

    Yet, in 18 you follow up with:

    Darwin was hesitant to include humans in his theory. He still had enough of the religious brainwashing to think that humans were above the animals. But he smartened up. Something that creationists have not yet done.

    So, basically, what you are saying is that the logical conclusion of Darwinism is that humans are simply a different form of animal, and that Darwin eventually “smartened up” to that conclusion. Therefore, “Favoured Races” would apply to humans just the same as it would apply to animals, and Darwin “smartened up” to this conclusion. So, whatever his original intent for the phrase, you would admit that it is appropriate to use the phrase “favoured races” to both animals and humans, whether Darwin (in his ignorance?) originally intended it that way or not – favored races can be equally applied to humans or animals in the Darwinian view.
    Meaning that you have justified leodp’s usage of the statement “The idea of one group of humans ascending over rest and prevailing is at least logically consistent with the Darwinian view of the, ‘favored races’.”, the same statement for which you scorned him.
    Fortunately, logical thinking doesn’t seem to correlate to IQ absolutely, so I will not presume to make any statements with respect to your IQ, whether Fahrenheit or Celsius scaled.

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    CH, 9: In 1914 – 18, as a note, Mr Theodore Roosevelt was no longer a leader of a nation, and all the more so in 1917 – 18. Where also, the US was an associated power not a full ally. If you had spoken to some of Churchill’s flaws and blunders that would have been more relevant. Great men can make BIG mistakes, e.g. how the Dardanelles campaign was run. Also, the weakness in which he tried a flanking thrust in 1914 with was it the Royal Marines sent to help the Belgians. (That had an echo at Arras in 1940, with the armoured counter-attack that panicked Rommel at was it two battalions strength. And in North Africa, until Montgomery, it seems want of adequate force scale for his schemes was a consistent problem.) KF

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: In Chs 5 – 7 of Descent of Man, CRD drew out issues regarding human races, putting the English (Saxons) in the driver seat over the Celts (Irish esp. but also their cousins the Scots). And, when a moral hazard emerged in the opening words of Ch 6 — in response to a point on scarcity of remnants — he SHOULD have seriously faced it. That specific pattern had implications almost immediately, and onwards until the issues of “Scientific” Prussianism and those of the 1940’s came out. Issues on eugenics also need to be faced. KF

  24. 24
    Dionisio says:

    #14, #19 follow-up

    In high school there was a course on machine tools. The instructor was sick the day we had to learn how to make a metal chess pawn on a turning lathe.

    The substitute asked us to set the cutting tool at a certain angle relative to the axis of rotation of a cylindrical piece of metal.

    One of my classmates asked what kind of angle, Fahrenheit or Celsius? The substitute instructor responded that we did not have to worry about that detail at that moment. The whole class (except one student) burst in loud laughing.
    I was the one who didn’t laugh. It took me a while to get it. 🙁

    My kids say ‘poor dad’ 😉

    Maybe that’s why some folks here get upset at or ignore my simple questions sometimes?

  25. 25
    Dionisio says:

    News,

    Sorry for my previous OT postings in this thread, but I could not resist the temptation to comment on the closing statement in #14.

    I’ll try to behave better next time. Please, forgive me. Thank you.

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    I should note:

    1 –> Strategy makes for strange bedfellows.

    2 –> Prussia (there was no unitary German state in WWI, the states were in effect confederated under Prussian Imperial leadership) saw itself as leading a rising power and sought to dominate.

    3 –> By a silly Naval arms race, it alienated a hitherto friendly Britain, which found itself having to ally with Japan and France — the traditional enemy — to secure trade routes while it pulled its focal naval effort home.

    4 –> By 1905 when staff talks were held, Britain was being pulled in with the France-Russia Counter-weight to Germany.

    5 –> Austria and the Turks were weaker allies of Prussia, and Austria’s Balkan interests set up conflicts with Russia . . . which through a terrorist incident that was mis-handled, led to war.

    6 –> Prussia’s 2-front mobilisation plan locked in general war, especially the cynical invasion of Belgium.

    7 –> The prospect of Prussian military and naval control of the other side of the Channel, multiplied by the invasion and rape of Belgium, were enough to drag in Britain, even if ties to France had been weaker. Recall, where the Thames Estuary comes out.

    8 –> Prussian militarism indisputably took on racially tinged social darwinist colour. Where this was generally thought to be well founded scientifically — as the eugenics movement demonstrates.

    9 –> Multiply by military and naval technological revolutions, and a bloodbath was inevitable once war was on the cards.

    10 –> And the sobering fact is, WWII was more of this, just the big bleed-out of German manpower and the horrific price to break it were paid on the East front. 5 – 13 million Russians on the battlefield, 25 millions overall.

    11 –> It is NOT a coincidence that it was from 1942 that the tide shifted, with El Alamein I — the defensive fight under Aukinlech — and the second Russian Summer campaign that ended up at Stalingrad as markers.

    12 –> Of course the Battle of the Atlantic and the long struggle over Germany are also key, bleeding Germany technologically. The 88 mm guns shooting down bombers would have been a big difference in the E for knocking out Russian tanks, and the focus on subs cost a lot of steel and manufacturing power. (I think the Allies should have targetted electricity more, too.)

    So, there is a fair quantum of broader context, but the focal issue on the attitudes undergirded by Darwinist thought about the value of the human being as an individual, should not be swept under the carpet.

    And the IS-OUGHT gap faced by evolutionary materialism should give us serious pause.

    KF

  27. 27
    leodp says:

    Dionosio: you are Fahrenheit funny! LOL (I can relate because I’ve asked my share of “duh” questions… once just after the instructor had announced that, “there’s no such thing as a stupid question”… somehow time doesn’t erase the embarrassing memory of them 🙁 )

    drc466: thanks for the back up…

    A_b: Cigars can be carcinogenic.

    KF: as always, informed and to the point. Thanks.

  28. 28
    bornagain77 says:

    semi related: A man of faith with a firm grip on reality – 23 Aug 2014
    Rowan Williams has deftly punctured the New Atheists’ accusation that religious belief is at odds with reason
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....ality.html

  29. 29
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Drc466

    Before commenting on other’s intelligence,..

    Where did I comment on anyone’s intelligence. Ignorance has nothing to do with intelligence. It is just a lack of knowledge. I am ignorant with respect to nuclear physics and quantum mechanics. Does that mean that I am not intelligent?

    Claiming that Darwin was referring to race in the way that we currently do is ignorant of how it was being used in the subtitle of Origin of Species. If he was referring to human races in the title, why did he not talk about human evolution, except in the very broadest sense, in this book?

  30. 30
    Mung says:

    Arcatia_bogart:

    I am ignorant with respect to nuclear physics and quantum mechanics. Does that mean that I am not intelligent?

    Your cat is less ignorant with respect to nuclear physics and quantum mechanics than you are. Or was that Schrodinger’s cat?

  31. 31
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Your cat is less ignorant with respect to nuclear physics and quantum mechanics than you are.

    Quite possibly. After all, he is able to get us to do whatever he wants us to do, and gives nothing in return.

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