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Darwinism and popular culture: Darwinism and politics a really bad mix?

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Everybody’s talking politics now. It’s enough to make me replace my “ant motel” traps with “politician motel” traps.

Oh, wait. The National Enquirer beat me to it. Yesterday, I voted in the advance poll (Canadian General Election October 14), so I can mostly just plug my ears in peace.

But passing by in the news stream, I noticed a column explaining why Teddy Roosevelt had his flaws as a US Prez. In “Choosing the right role model” (October 5, 2008), George Will offers some interesting information about Teddy:

Having read Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” at age 14, and having strenuously transformed himself from an asthmatic child into a robust adult, he advocated “warrior republicanism” (Hawley’s phrase). TR saw virtue emerging from struggle, especially violent struggle, between nations and between the “Anglo-Saxon” race and lesser races. Blending “muscular Christianity,” the “social gospel” — which sanctified the state as an instrument of moral reclamation — and Darwinian theory, TR believed that human nature evolved toward improvement through conflict.

Well, that’s classical Darwin fascism, all right.

TR invested the materialist doctrine of evolutionary struggle with moral significance for the most manly “races.” He wanted the state to rescue America from the danger, as he saw it, that a commercial republic breeds effeminacy. Government as moral tutor would pull chaotic individualists up from private preoccupations and put them in harness for redemptive collective action.

Sounds to me like a recipe for government paying a ton of tax money for a zillion civil servants to poke their collective nose into the smallest corner of everyone’s business and promote laws against everyone who offends them, on the theory that we are “helping” evolution.

It’s nice to see that someone other than the usual suspects like Richard Weikart ( From Darwin to Hitler) and John West (Darwin Day in America) is talking about Darwinism’s actual effects on society.

Also just up at The Post-Darwinist:

Does the study of evolution have practical benefits for science or medicine?

Intellectual freedom in Canada: As election nears, the green, dark forest is stirring!

Michael Reiss, you sinned against the wrong god

Further to a friend’s comment on how intelligent design is applied to crime detection

Intelligent design: Chance cannot do all that atheists (and theistic evolutionists) hope

What people need to remember is that evolution should not be applied to society in terms of evolutionary theory. It neglects our human natures in the hopes of "bettering nature". JoeMamma77
Oh fair enough, PannenbergOmega! One thing I try to discourage is "anachronism" - that is, assuming that historical characters saw as "history" what they in fact did not see at all because it was future. Most thinkers in TR's day thought that government should meddle in a vast variety of enterprises that we now leave to private individuals or societies (clubs, churches). Bitter experience put an end to eugenics, for example. And the idea that big government can improve people's characters would not seriously be entertained today except by a fascist or a theocrat. TR doubtless didn't foresee any of that, and few did. But there is some value in seeing what people of his stature in those days did think, and why they did so. O'Leary
TR is still one of my heroes. "Bully!" PannenbergOmega

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