In his later years, Carnegie always used Darwinist expressions in his conversations, statements and writings. In his book Andrew Carnegie, the historian Joseph F. Wall says this:
Not only in his published articles and books but also in his personal letters to business contemporaries, Carnegie makes frequent and easy allusions to the Social Darwinist credo. Phrases like "survival of the fittest," "race improvement," and "struggle for existence" came easily from his pen and presumably from his lips. He did see business as a great competitive struggle... 13
Another of those taken in by Darwinist suggestions was the famous American industrialist John D. Rockefeller, who said that: "growth of a large business is merely a survival of the fittest ... the working out of a law of nature..." 14
One can see one of the clearest instances of the effect of Darwinism on the business world in Spencer's American trip, which Richard Hofstadter describes in Social Darwinism in American Thought:
However imperfect the appreciation of the guests for the niceties of Spencer's thought, the banquet showed how popular he had become in the United States. When Spencer was on the dock, waiting for the ship carry him back to England, he seized the hands of Carnegie and Youmans. "Here," he cried the reporters, "are my two best American friends." For Spencer it was a rare gesture of personal warmth; but more than this, it symbolized the harmony of the new science [Social Darwinism] with the outlook of a business civilization. 15
One reason why some capitalists adopted Social Darwinism was that it absolved the wealthy from any responsibility for the poor. In societies that preserve moral values, the rich are expected to show an interest in helping the poor and needy, and Social Darwinism attempted to eliminate that virtue. In The Golden Door: The United States from 1876 to 1918, science writer Isaac Asimov comments on this ruthless aspect of Social Darwinism:
Spencer coined the phrase "survival of the fittest" and in 1884 argued, for instance, that people who were unemployable or burdens on society should be allowed to die rather than be made objects of help and charity. To do this, apparently, would weed out unfit individuals and strengthen the race. It was a horrible philosophy that could be used to justify the worst impulses of human beings. 16
Just as those who implemented savage capitalism supported Darwinism, so Darwinists supported them. For example, William Graham Sumner claimed that millionaires were "the fittest individuals in society," then made illogical deductions that they therefore deserved special privileges and were “naturally selected in the crucible of competition." 17 In an article about Social Darwinism in The Humanist periodical, professor of philosophy Stephen Asma describes Spencer's support for capitalists:
Spencer coined the phrase survival of the fittest, and Darwin adopted the parlance in later editions of his Origin of Species. ... According to Spencer and his American disciples-business entrepreneurs like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie-social hierarchy reflects the unwavering, universal laws of nature. Nature unfolds in such a way that the strong survive and the weak perish. Thus, the economic and social structures that survive are "stronger" and better, and those structures that don't were obviously meant to founder. 18
But as has already been emphasized, spiritual values and their preservation represent the principal element in the progress of societies. In societies where the spirit of cooperation and solidarity is strong, where people approach one another with compassion and respect, economic difficulties in circumstances can easily be overcome in a spirit of togetherness. But where human relations have disappeared, and people lacking any compassion and understanding regard everyone else solely as rivals, many more destructive effects began to arise, even if there is economic progress. Therefore, all individuals in a society need to produce solutions to raise the quality of life and well-being, to bring about an environment where people can enjoy not just economic but psychological security. Obviously, that can only happen by living by religious moral values. As has been proved countless times, no movement or ideology incompatible with religious moral values can ever provide the well-being, peace and security for which people long.
Savage Capitalism: The Joint Product of Social Darwinism and Irreligiousness
From the 19th century onwards, Darwinist capitalists maintained that only the rich and powerful had the right to live and that the poor, the weak, the crippled and sick were "useless burdens," establishing oppressive systems in a great many countries. In this climate of ruthless competition, it was seen as perfectly justified to exploit, oppress, intimidate, frighten, injure and even kill people. No forms of immoral or illegal activity were prevented or condemned, since these were regarded as "compatible with the laws of nature."
The world has enough resources for everyone, but these must be used in a rational and caring manner. Food goes to waste in many parts of the world, while people in many other countries are dying from starvation and poverty. If these people are to attain justice, the Social Darwinist mentality must be entirely eradicated.
In many countries where people do not live by religious moral values, this system still continues today. The gap between rich and poor is growing at an ever-increasing rate, and the conditions in which the needy live are ignored. According to the propaganda of Social Darwinism, protecting and caring for the poor and needy is a violation of the laws of nature, and since such people are regarded as a burden, no help is extended to them.
Great differences between levels of well-being exist not only within a country, but also between countries. As the level of well-being rises rapidly in the West, famine, sickness and poverty afflict many Third World countries, where people are dying from starvation and neglect. If used in a rational and conscientious manner, however, the world's resources are plentiful enough to provide for all those now abandoned to hunger and poverty.
In order for the world's resources to provide humane conditions, it is essential that Darwinism's intellectual influence be eradicated all over the world. When Darwinist views and understanding are replaced by the moral values of the Qur'an, such problems will naturally be resolved. That is because while Darwinism inculcates the idea of ruthless competition and the oppression of the poor, religious moral values impart compassion, protection, mutual cooperation, solidarity and sharing. For instance, our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) says in one of the hadith, "A believer is not the [mature] one who eats his fill when his neighbor is hungry." 19 These wise words of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) are one of the indications of Muslims' affection and compassion.
In many of His verses, Allah has commanded love, compassion, affection and altruism and given Muslims examples of proper moral behavior. While social Darwinism consists of the rich using the poor and needy as stepping stones in order to rise, Islamic moral values command the rich to protect them. Some of the verses on this subject revealed by Allah are as follows:
Those of you possessing affluence and ample wealth should not make oaths that they will not give to their relatives and the very poor and those who have migrated in the way of Allah. They should rather pardon and overlook... (Surat an-Nur, 22)
They will ask you what they should give away. Say, "Any wealth you give away should go to your parents and relatives and to orphans and the very poor and travelers..." (Surat al-Baqara, 215)
THE 19th CENTURY
Images of Great Britain in the second half of the 19th century. While part of the country enjoyed wealth and well-being, another lived in poverty.
... Eat of them and feed those who are poor and in need. (Surat al-Hajj, 28)
[Believers are] those in whose wealth there is a known share for beggars and the destitute. (Surat al-Ma'arij, 24-25)
They give food, despite their love for it, to the poor and orphans and captives: "We feed you only out of desire for the Face of Allah. We do not want any repayment from you or any thanks. Truly We fear from our Lord a glowering, calamitous Day." (Surat al-Insan, 8-10)
THE 20th CENTURY
Nothing changed, despite the passing of one hundred years. Yet the world's resources are rich enough for everyone to live in comfort. What needs to be disseminated is the altruism, cooperation and solidarity required by religious moral values.
In the Qur'an, Allah also reveals that those who do not help the poor and weak will be rewarded with Hell:
They [the companions of the Right] will ask the evildoers: "What caused you to enter Saqar?" They will say, "We were not among those who performed prayer and we did not feed the poor." (Surat al-Muddaththir, 41-44)
1- Jerry Bergman, "Darwin's Influence on Ruthless Laissez Faire Capitalism," March 2001; http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-333.htm
2- Robert Hunter, Poverty, New York: Torchbooks, 1965
3- Jeanne Stellman, Susan Daum, Work is Dangerous to Your Health, New York: Random House Vintage Books, 1973
4- Otto Bettmann, The Good Old Days! They Were Terrible! New York: Random House, 1974, p. 68
5- Ibid., p. 70
6- Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States, New York: Harper Collins, 1999, p. 255
8- Bettmann, The Good Old Days! They Were Terrible!, p. 71
10- Kenneth Hsu, The Great Dying; Cosmic Catastrophe, Dinosaurs and the Theory of Evolution, New York, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1986, p. 10
11- Joseph F. Wall, Andrew Carnegie, New York: Oxford University Press, 1970, p. 364
12- Richard Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution, 1990, p. 72
13- Wall, Andrew Carnegie, p. 389
14- William Ghent, Our Benevolent Feudalism, New York: Macmillan, 1902, p. 29
15- Hofstadter, Social Darwinism in American Thought, p. 49
16- Isaac Asimov, The Golden Door: The United States from 1876 to 1918, Boston: Houston Mifflin Company, 1977, p. 94.
17- Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution, p. 412
18- Stephen T. Asma, "The New Social Darwinism: Deserving Your Destitution," The Humanist, 1993, 53(5):11, 10/3
19- Sahih al-Bukhari, Al-Adab Al-Mufrad; al-Hakim and al-Baihaqi.