Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Social Darwinism and War

The deceptive idea that inter-racial conflict could lead to nations' progressing also laid the foundation for wars. Before World War I, when Social Darwinism was widespread, war was considered the “most appropriate means” for the elimination of the weak and the eradication of people seen as burdens, the survival of the strong, and the development of the human race.
Throughout history, many wars have been fought, but usually they took place within limits, not aimed directly at civilian populations, between the armies of the nations concerned. But in wars waged by Social Darwinist means, the real target was the people, to reduce the “surplus population” of the so-called “unfit” and the allegedly “inferior.”
Before World War I, numerous writings and speeches described the Darwinist bases of war. Richard Milner, a contributing editor to Natural History, the magazine of New York's American Museum of Natural History, writes of the warlike Darwinist views of German intellectuals at the time:
During World War I, German intellectuals believed natural selection was irresistibly all-powerful (Allmacht), a law of nature impelling them to bloody struggle for domination. Their political and military textbooks promoted Darwin's theories as the “scientific” basis of a quest for world conquest, with the full backing of German scientists and professors of biology.72
During those years, General F. von Bernhardi engaged in propaganda on behalf of Social Darwinism. In his book Germany and the Next War Bernhardi maintained that conflict was a biological obligation and the best way of ridding the world of the unfit: “War is a biological necessity of the first importance, a regulative element in the life of mankind that cannot be dispensed with, since without it an unhealthy development will follow, which excludes every advancement of the race, and therefore all real civilization.”73
The idea that war is a “regulative element” cannot be justified in rational or logical terms, nor with scientific facts. War is a destructive force that causes enormous losses of life and property, and its effects on society are enormously difficult to repair.
Nonetheless, those who regarded constant war and slaughter as requirements of so-called civilization continued to call for them. Elsewhere in Bernhardi's book, for instance, he wrote:
War is not merely a necessary element in the life of nations but an indispensable factor of culture, in which a truly civilized nation finds the highest expression of strength and vitality. ... War gives a biologically just decision, since its decisions rest on the very nature of things. ... It is not only a biological law, but a moral obligation and, as such, an indispensable factor in civilization.74
No doubt that one of the greatest errors made by those taken in by such ideas was to assume that war is compatible with human nature and thus, inevitable. In that view, the more people wage war, the more power and vitality they acquire. This is a great falsehood. God has created human beings in such a way that they are happiest when at peace. Chaos and conflict cause terrible tension in the human soul. The most rapid social, economic and cultural progress is made possible in a climate of peace and security. In her book Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, Gertrude Himmelfarb makes the following comment:
For the general [Bernhardi], it was the needs of war that came first, the imperialist adventures and nationalist experiments that followed. For others it was the reverse: the imperialist and nationalist aspirations brought war and militarism in their wake. There were even some who would have liked the virtues of war without the onus of militarism or nationalism; this was social Darwinism in its purest, most disinterested form.75
Sir Arthur Keith, an evolutionist anthropologist and biographer of Darwin, openly admitted that he was all in favor of war. Although he personally liked the idea of peace, he feared the results of such an experiment. Also, he made the illogical prediction that after 500 years of peace, the world would turn into “an orchard that has not known the pruning hook for many an autumn and has rioted in unchecked overgrowth for endless years.”76
Keith's words indicate just how ruthless Darwinist suggestions can make people. Keith believed that the world needed to be “pruned” from time to time, that those “elements” that delayed the strengthening of the world needed to be cut away and discarded. He was openly supporting savagery. The “pruning” referred to by Keith was war, and those who died in war, whom he felt needed to be discarded, were helpless men and women and children. Those taken in by the deceptions of Darwinism feel no sympathy for these innocent people. The theory that in order to strengthen and develop the white race, those regarded as weak may be eliminated led to cruelties never seen before.
Social Darwinism's twisted views are one of the main reasons for the wars, conflict and slaughter that have continued unabated since the 19th century. As a result of the constant calls for war, even some who knew nothing about Social Darwinism fell under its spell.
In the early 20th century, those who came to believe that war was essential were not just a group of marginal ideologues, but a great many journalists, academics, politicians and civil servants.77 They encouraged the eradication of women, children, the elderly and the needy, and the heedless expense of young lives on the battlefield supposedly for the “benefit of humanity.”
These views were shared at the very highest levels. For instance, German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg subscribed to the belief, common among the middle class when World War Ibegan, that conflict between Slav and Teuton was inevitable.78 The Kaiser is known to have held similar views. Many historians regard the wicked claims that war was unavoidable and the cleansing of inferior races was natural and useful as some of the principal causes of World War I.
The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was also one of the most prominent supporters of Social Darwinism in Germany. According to him, the ideal social system should be based on armed conflict: “Man shall be trained for war and woman for the recreation of the warrior; all else is folly.”79 According to Nietzsche's twisted view, life consisted solely of war, and war contained everything within it.
Hitler, a fanatical Social Darwinist and great admirer of both Darwin and Nietzsche, put their warlike views into practice. Combining militarist thinking with the theory of evolution, Hitler said:
The whole of nature is a continuous struggle between strength and weakness, and eternal victory of the strong over the weak.80
These ideas advanced by Hitler and others like him were products of a terrible ignorance. Those who imagined that with the theory of evolution they were basing their militaristic and aggressive thinking on a scientific foundation were merely deceiving themselves. Yet with the tens of thousands of people they induced to follow them, they inflicted ruin on the world on an unprecedented scale.
In an article titled “The Philosophy and Morals of War,” Max Nordau—one of the leaders of the Zionist movement—identifies Darwin as the primary supporter of war:
The greatest authority of all the advocates of war is Darwin. Since the theory of evolution has been promulgated, they can cover their natural barbarism with the name of Darwin and proclaim the sanguinary instincts of their inmost hearts as the last word of science.81
In Darwin, Marx, Wagner:Critique of a Heritage, Jacques Barzun, a history teacher at Columbia University, stated that Darwin stoked the fires of militarism and warfare everywhere:
War became the symbol, the image, the inducement, the reason, and the language of all human doings on the planet. No one who has not waded through some sizable part of the literature of the period 1870-1914 has any conception of the extent to which it is one long call for blood... The militarists of the second half of the century poeticized war and luxuriated in the prospect of it. With relative impunity for themselves, they took it for granted that all struggles in life must be struggles for life, and the death of the loser its “natural” goal.82
In the same book, Barzun described how Europe in particular fell under the influence of Darwinism's racist, militaristic tenants:
In every European country between 1870 and 1914 there was a war party demanding armaments, an individualist party demanding ruthless competition, an imperialist party demanding a free hand over backward peoples, a socialist party demanding the conquest of power, and a racialist party demanding internal purges against aliens—all of them, when appeals to greed and glory failed, or even before, invoked Spencer and Darwin, which was to say, science incarnate. ... Race was biological, it was sociological; it was Darwinian.83
These deceptions, identified and described by many academics, account for the 20th century's history of war, slaughter and genocide.
In God's Sight, Superiority Lies in Piety, Not in Race
Such savagery was not limited to the Nazis. Many parts of the world have experienced terrible catastrophes because of racism. Because of it, hundreds of thousands have been regarded as worthless, humiliated, forced from their homes and enslaved, killed or abandoned to die, treated like animals, and used in pharmaceutical experiments. The examples cited in this book are just a few of the many documented instances of savagery and violence.
The social structure envisaged by Darwinism needs to be accurately identified. Like all other materialist theories, Social Darwinism, maintaining that people are selfish creatures who live solely for their own interests, responsible solely to themselves, can never bring proper moral values and happiness to individuals or to society as a whole. In order to acquire proper moral values and happiness, a person needs to abandon selfish desires. Religious moral values, as commanded by our Lord, teach people how this will be. People's responsibility towards God and the kind of moral values they need to attain His approval are revealed in the Qur'an.
If people have faith in God's commandments and the Book revealed by Him, then they will feel compassion and affection towards others.
Those who love and fear God and obey His commandments, see other people as beings He created, and make no distinctions between them on grounds of race, nation, skin color or language. In every human being, they see beauty created by God, and take pleasure in that beauty. Their faith makes them loving, compassionate and protective. However, someone brainwashed by Darwinism's falsehoods looks down on other races and nations, feels justified in oppressing and even eradicating them, and spreads nothing but tension, unhappiness and fear. The racism and imperialism witnessed in the 19th and 20thcenturies are the result of this Darwinist world view.
In the Qur'an, God has forbidden discrimination on grounds of race and has revealed that people can attain superiority in His sight through faith and their fear of Him:
O humanity! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribe so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in God's sight is the one with the most fear of God. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Surat al-Hujurat, 13)
72. Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution, p. 59
73. Oscar Levy, Complete Works of Nietzsche, 1930, vol. 2, p. 75
74. Himmelfarb, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, p. 417
75. Ibid.
76. Ibid.
77. W. Carr, A History of Germany 1815-1990, 4th. ed, p. 205
78. Ibid., p. 208.
79. Levy, Complete Works of Nietzsche, vol. 2, p. 75
80. H. Enoch, Evolution or Creation (1966), pp. 147-148
81. Max Nordau, "The Philosophy and Morals of War," North American Review, 169 (1889), p. 794.
82. Jacques Barzun, Darwin, Marx, Wagner, Garden City, N.Y. :Doubleday, 1958, pp. 92-93.
83. Ibid., pp. 92-95.

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