Culture Darwinism

When Social Darwinism found Africa …

Spread the love

Well, the Social Darwinists did not find Africa as it was. But they sure found the Africa they were looking for. 

In his Telegraph review (August 16, 2010) of David Olusoga and Casper W Erichsen’s The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism, “an impressively researched account of the killing fields of Namibia,” Ian Thomson admits he is “chilled”:

Hitler’s murder of Jews and Slavs was, the authors concede, “unique” in its scale and industry, yet they manage to find many connections between the Nazis’ murderous social Darwinism and the Kaiser’s barbarism in Namibia. Hermann Göring’s father, Dr Heinrich Ernst Göring, served as the first Commissioner of German South West Africa, orchestrating that barbarity, before becoming the Kaiser’s ambassador to Haiti in 1893. The notorious brown shirts worn by the Nazi storm troopers had originally served as uniforms in Namibia.

 

[ … ] 

A great deal of the book is devoted to the social Darwinists and eugenicists in late-19th-century Germany who helped to create new values of totalitarian dominance. Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, with its brutally materialist account of nature as bleak survivalism, was made to serve as justification for the extermination of Namibian tribes and, later, for Hitler’s biological anti-Semitism. In a racist age, nature was seen as a competitive market place, where black people were born to be mastered and the fittest survived. Armed with callipers and craniometry charts, the Kaiser’s race engineers were keen to measure the severed heads of Nama tribesmen: handle-shaped ears, prehensile feet and other “apish” stigmata were considered telltale atavisms. Civilisation, according to these pseudo-scientists, depended on the separation of races, not on their harmonious integration. 

Read more here

It’s nice to see that Richard Weikart has some company in carefully researching the social Darwinist roots of Nazism and other fascisms. 

To those Darwinists who yawn, “Why can’t people forget this?,” I am afraid the answer is, we never really remembered it until recently. Whitewash wears off eventually, you know. It’s better just to acknowledge the role popular Darwinism played in the bloody utopias of the twentieth century. Many churches have learned this in recent decades, with respect to their own sins.

13 Replies to “When Social Darwinism found Africa …

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    I’m always amazed at the level of denial that many Darwinists display when confronted with the fact that Hitler’s final solution was based directly on his quest to purify German blood of inferior races:

    BBC Auschwitz: The Nazis and the ‘Final Solution’ Episode 01 [1/5]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6jnawYwm3E

  2. 2
    LarTanner says:

    Well, why is it that when Sam Harris talks about the ability of science to address meaning and morality, everyone seems to say “you can’t derive ‘ought’ from ‘is,'” but when comes to Hitler (or social Darwinism, or eugenics, etc.) everyone is perfectly willing to say that the bad ought was derived from the Darwinian is?

    Are we agreed, then, that science (and Darwinian evolution in particular) can say something about moral good and evil? Or is the idea that it can only and always lead to evil?

  3. 3
    nullasalus says:

    Well, why is it that when Sam Harris talks about the ability of science to address meaning and morality, everyone seems to say “you can’t derive ‘ought’ from ‘is,’”

    The problem with Harris from theistic perspective isn’t with his deriving an “ought” from an “is” – plenty of theists believe it’s possible. The problem is A) calling this “science”, and B) that the repercussions that come from it are distinctly problematic for atheism. Which is why atheists in particular had problems with Harris’ ideas on that front, while Natural Law philosophers shrugged and said “Aristotle/Aquinas already said as much. And your utilitarianism is intellectually abominable.”

    Of course, Sam Harris’ “atheism” is looking more and more suspect anyway. Though it’ll be downright amusing if one of the four horsemen of atheism goes pan(en)theist.

  4. 4
    andrewjg says:

    LarTanner@2

    Good question. I think you are confusing ought with motivation. The argument is not being made that Darwinism leads to ‘oughts’ but merely that is provides motivation for subjective preferences. In this case the German race is considered superior to the immigrants therefore in order to ensure the stronger race is not weakened a course of action is assumed. But it never reaches an objective ‘ought’ for all people.

  5. 5
    Eocene1 says:

    Larry Tanner:

    ” but when comes to Hitler (or social Darwinism, or eugenics, etc.) everyone is perfectly willing to say that the bad ought was derived from the Darwinian is?”
    ======

    It’s a total waste Larry to defend Darwin’s principles as having bad influence on the pseudo-sciences of mankind’s horrible past. It’s a fact. Holocaust, Aparteid, Australian Aboriginal Genocide, Eugenics, etc. Those are just the facts as human’s in power took Darwin at his word in his book, “The Descent of Man” and manipulated it for their own hideous purposes.

    There’s a more important question here Larry and most Evolutionist’s never THINK to ask it. Rather than wasting time defending what is truly a known fact (whether right or wrong), why not ask your opposers why Christendom supported all those Darwinian principles injected into Crimes Against Humanity Science” ???

    In 1926 Germany before the Nazi’s came to power, a census was taken and 40+ million said they were Evangelical and 20+ million said they were Catholic. The truly more important question here should be, “Why did those Christians support such what they viewed as atheistic Darwinian principles ??? Why support Aparteid ??? (Dutch Reformed church just recently apologized for it’s part in history) Watch the film “Rabbit Proof Fence” and ask, why did the Protestant Churches take the lead in this aboriginal geneocide backed by evolutionary superior race justification ???

    Those are the better questions Larry and like your side’s non-admission to anything Darwinian regarding Holocaust, they won’t give a straight answer either. But truly both sides should.

  6. 6
    LarTanner says:

    nullasalus,

    The problem with Harris from theistic perspective isn’t with his deriving an “ought” from an “is” – plenty of theists believe it’s possible. The problem is A) calling this “science”, and B) that the repercussions that come from it are distinctly problematic for atheism.

    So your (A) claim is that the moment science addresses moral questions it’s not “science”? Regarding (B), I honestly have no idea what specific “repercussions” you mean, since apparently those repercussions somehow involve for deities and/or other supernatural entities to have been involved at some point.

    andrewjg,

    I think you are confusing ought with motivation. The argument is not being made that Darwinism leads to ‘oughts’ but merely that is provides motivation for subjective preferences.

    I think, then, that the argument being made is open to several counter questions. What -ism doesn’t provide motivation for subjective preferences? In the case of fascism and Nazi Germany, we all know the facts of Martin Luther’s profound influence on German anti-semitism. There’s a direct and ineradicable line from Luther to Hitler. We also all know the facts of the complicity and partnership of the Catholic church with the pre-WWII fascist regimes. In the cases of Lutheranism and Catholicism, there is clear compatibility with Nazis/fascists from the standpoint of both religious beliefs and institutionalized practices and rituals.

    Now, taking “what happened,” theoretically, to life on earth and applying it to “how we are justified to behave,” practically, obviously had horrible effects that are rightly condemned. Nevertheless, I think that latter question is a good one.

    It seems to me exceedingly easy to derive “ought” from “is.” Everyone seems to do it. The question, then, is a matter of the best “ought” (or oughts) and the validity of the “is.”

    Many specific religions and religious sects claim to have a valid and stable “is.” But what are these claims based on? Often the basis is another claim: a revelation or miracles. Then there are etiological stories, where stories of the past dramatize origins and conflicts of today (“today” as in when the stories are first told/written).

    Many people find this kind of “is” persuasive and personally helpful. My point is, though, that a skilled thinker can get from most any “is” to any desired “ought.” Why, as in the original post, do we place the blame on the “is” and not on (a) the “ought” and (b) the reasoning process that connected the two?

  7. 7
    proponentist says:

    The “ought” that is derived from Darwinism is not an “ought” at all. It’s an “is”. It is determined by the worldview. It just happens. If it was an “ought” there would be some choice and some moral responsiblity.

    Hitler was fulfilling the “is” of Darwinism. If Darwinism is true, then Hitler is a logical and reasonable evolutionary/determined development from it.

    If people believe Darwinism to be true, they may impose an “ought”, but that’s not necessary. Evolution is the cause. The response just “is”.

    Harris is self-contradictory because he claims a worldview where there is only “is”. He then imposes “oughts” on top of it, but those oughts do not point to any universal meaning or standard. There can be no real accountability — and that’s what’s necessary for any “ought” to exist.
    Instead, we would have Harris’ own personal “meanings”, which are accidental, unnecessary and ultimately meaningless anyway in his world.

    So, he tries to derive an ought from an is and therefore contradicts himself. His world of “is” permits anything — and that’s why Hitler is perfectly at home there.

    As for your claim that genocide is consistent with Lutheranism and Catholicism, you might want to consider the first principles of those belief system once again.

  8. 8
    LarTanner says:

    Imagine that person X is a “Darwinist.” This person generally agrees that life on earth, including human life, evolved from common ancestors through processes such as mutation, drift, natural selection, and so forth.

    Your contention appears to be that person X should say and do nothing in the face of popular dictator who is imprisoning and killing a specific ethnic segment in his county, a person who also makes war on neighboring countries (and imprisoning/killing “undesirable” ethnic segments there, too).

    Your contention may alternatively be that person x has no necessary reason to voice opposition or even take stronger action to oppose the dictator. If so, I may have to agree. Many countries pre-WWII, particularly those who touted themselves for values of love and justice, failed to act or to oppose the fascist dictators.

    Hitler specifically was as happy in the land of “Gott mit uns” as anywhere else. His agenda against ethnic undesirables was driven by the religious fervor of an awful man like Luther, whose “On the Jews and Their Lies” makes violent anti-Semitism a moral and national mandate.

    Catholicism, too, is constituted on the violent hatred of Jews. The traditional “Good Friday”/Easter masses are evidence enough of this. Misogyny and subservience are also part of the doctrinal DNA. I dare say none of this is controversial.

    But I never stated or implied that either Lutheranism or Catholicism were “consistent with genocide.” I said they both were consistent with the brand of fascism represented by Hitler and Mussolini, who each found comfort and aid from major religions.

  9. 9
    Eocene1 says:

    Larry Tanner:

    “But I never stated or implied that either Lutheranism or Catholicism were “consistent with genocide.” I said they both were consistent with the brand of fascism represented by Hitler and Mussolini, who each found comfort and aid from major religions.”
    =====

    I agree, but what you conveniently refuse to recognize is that the religion of atheism was also a major influence. Hitler’s righthand man Martin Bormann was a staunch athiest and I must say in the purest, unadulterated and unhypocritcal sense. Bormann convinced Hitler towards the end of the war to shut down religious schools. Unlike most modern day HYPOCRITICAL atheists, Bormann refused to let his own family celebrate Christmas or any other supposed religious celebration.

    The bottom line is that there were no real differences between Catholics, Protestants and Atheism when it came to WWII. Both had no problem killing their fellow Protestant, Catholic or Atheist for the Nazi State. Unfortunately for mankind, all three of these groups are in many ways the mirror image of each other, the truly real differences having to do with politics. This isn’t some rediculous Clintonian debate about “it depends on what your definition of “is” is.” This is about all three inept groups offering any real lasting solutions and benefits to humankind.

    Getting back to the O.P. there is no doubt that Hitler and the Nazis used Darwinian standards and principles guide and direct them in their irresponsible justification of such a hideous ideology. The blame goes squarely on the shoulders of all three groups for letting it happen. Until all three acknowledge this horrible shameless error and the part they played in it’s birth, there will be nothing more than the same usual circular spin game by all parties with no one coming off the winner. The real losers are those imprisoned, tortured and executed and all three religions without exception are at fault for it.

  10. 10
    proponentist says:

    Imagine that person X is a “Darwinist.” This person generally agrees that life on earth, including human life, evolved from common ancestors through processes such as mutation, drift, natural selection, and so forth.

    Right. This person believes that his decisions and responses to any situation are determined by his evolutionary heritage. There is not “ought” or “should” in that worldview. There’s just “is”. You do what you do. Hitler did things. Apes do things. Bacteria do things.

    Your contention appears to be that person X should say and do nothing in the face of popular dictator who is imprisoning and killing a specific ethnic segment in his county,

    My contention is that the word “should” means something because it is measured against a moral, unevolvable, immaterial standard. Darwinism denies that and therefore, whatever “ought” a person applies to a situation in the Darwinian view is unnecessary and purposeless. The Darwinist does not know what “ought” to happen. There are no goals in the Darwinian view.

    a person who also makes war on neighboring countries (and imprisoning/killing “undesirable” ethnic segments there, too).

    You might find it interesting and informative to review various moral theories from mainstream Darwinian thinkers. You’ll find there justifications for rape, murder, cannibalism … genocide is not a problem at all with Darwinism. It’s perfectly consistent with it. True, no moral actions are “required” from Darwinism — so anyone who imposes an “ought” on the system is incorrect. But nature, in the Darwinian view cannot command or forbid any human action.

    Your contention may alternatively be that person x has no necessary reason to voice opposition or even take stronger action to oppose the dictator. If so, I may have to agree.

    Exactly. This is the heritage of Darwinism. So, this follows.

    Many countries pre-WWII, particularly those who touted themselves for values of love and justice, failed to act or to oppose the fascist dictators.

    Here you seem to be changing the topic. If you agree that Darwinism does not impose an “ought” and it is perfectly consistent with Nazism, then we’re agreed.

    His agenda against ethnic undesirables was driven by the religious fervor of an awful man like Luther, whose “On the Jews and Their Lies” makes violent anti-Semitism a moral and national mandate.</blockquote.

    Hitler was consistent with Darwinism. You're trying to say that Luther's hatred of the Jews is equally consistent with Christianity.

    Catholicism, too, is constituted on the violent hatred of Jews. The traditional “Good Friday”/Easter masses are evidence enough of this.

    You’ve applied some inflammatory language and claimed this as evidence. It’s pretty simple to refute your idea that Catholicism is “constituted on violent hatred of Jews” and that proof of this is found in Good Friday prayers for the spiritual welfare of the Jewish people.

    But I never stated or implied that either Lutheranism or Catholicism were “consistent with genocide.” I said they both were consistent with the brand of fascism represented by Hitler and Mussolini, who each found comfort and aid from major religions.

    Hitler and his followers were condemned by the Catholic Church, so no — this parallel doesn’t work.

    Darwin’s ideas are consistent with genocide and they remain so today.

  11. 11
    LarTanner says:

    proponentist,

    You take too many logical leaps and elide/excuse too many facts for me to engage you. Your first statement, for example, is out of left field:

    This person believes that his decisions and responses to any situation are determined by his evolutionary heritage.

    How do you know the person believes this? What is the connection between general agreement with a Darwinian model for life’s evolution and a philosophical position on human decisions and responses? You’re conflating very different things, and it’s just plain sloppy.

    Unfortunately, the rest of what you say isn’t any better. For instance, Luther’s published views on Jews was absolutely consistent with Christianity, at least his Christianity. For another example, does not the traditional Good Friday liturgy refer to the “perfidious Jews”?

    The current reference to the Jews in the mass is no less offensive: “Let us also pray for the Jews: that our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men.”

    Even this diluted language permits a straight line from “let’s pray they see the light” to “let’s knock some sense into them, in the Lord’s name.”

    Thanks for the discussion, but I don’t see any reason to continue.

  12. 12
    proponentist says:

    Even this diluted language permits a straight line from “let’s pray they see the light” to “let’s knock some sense into them, in the Lord’s name.”

    I find that to be totally absurd and offensive. It “permits a straight line” … actually your warped logic is frightening. Anyone you try to enlighten is therefore necessarily a target for your violent assault. It’s a “straight line” from your hope that someone learns from you to a physical attack.

  13. 13
    Eocene1 says:

    Proponentist:

    “I find that to be totally absurd and offensive. It “permits a straight line” … actually your warped logic is frightening. Anyone you try to enlighten is therefore necessarily a target for your violent assault. It’s a “straight line” from your hope that someone learns from you to a physical attack.”
    =======

    Perhaps you should visit Larry Tanner’s own blog and take special note of his love affair with the materialist bible, “Urban Dictionary” ??? At least it will illustrate for you where he’s coming from and why he thinks and reasons the way he does.

    Also never under-estimate the materialist’s ability to employ the powerful philosophical religious concept of Maya(illusion) when real world answers are wanting. How was it put once, “Even a Cuckoo reveals it’s own name and where it’s coming from” ???

Leave a Reply