BLOODY IDEOLOGIES AND NATURAL SELECTION
Racial inequality, and ethnic discrimination, unfair competition, the oppression of the poor, the exploitation of the weak by the strong, and the idea that might is right, are evils that societies have experienced throughout history. Thousands of years ago, for example, at the time of Prophet Moses (pbuh), Pharaoh regarded himself as superior to everyone else on account of his wealth and powerful army. He rejected Prophets Moses and Aaron (peace be upon them) and even sought to kill them, though they were clearly speaking the truth. Pharaoh also implemented discriminatory policies, divided his people into classes, describing some as "inferior," inflicted numerous tortures on the Israelites under his rule, killed their men aiming to bring their race to extinction. The Qur'an describes Pharaoh's perversions:
Pharaoh exalted himself arrogantly in the land and divided its people into camps, oppressing one group of them by slaughtering their sons and letting their women live. He was one of the corrupters. (Surat al-Qasas, 4)
"Am not I better than this man who is contemptible and can scarcely make anything clear?" (Surat az-Zukhruf, 52)
In that way he [Pharaoh] swayed his people and they succumbed to him... (Surat az-Zukhruf, 54)
And We bequeathed to the people who had been oppressed the easternmost part of the land We had blessed, and its westernmost part as well... (Surat al-A'raf, 137)
Ancient Egypt was by no means the only extremist society where only might was regarded as right, humans were divided into classes, those regarded as "inferior" were oppressed and subjected to inhuman treatment. There are numerous examples of other such regimes, right up to the present day.
In the 19th century, however, these evil practices acquired a whole new dimension. Up until then, measures and policies that had been regarded as cruel, suddenly began to be defended with the falsehood that they were "scientific practices based on facts of nature." What was it that suddenly justified all these forms of ruthlessness?
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was put forward in his book The Origin of Species. Published in 1859, it contained a number of conjectures about the origin of life that led to a most deceptive world view, devoid of any scientific evidence, and a perverted philosophy that denies the existence of Allah and regards "chance" as a creative force (surely Allah is beyond that). Views that man was a kind of animal, and life was a sphere of struggle and fierce competition were accepted as scientific truth.
Darwin did not develop this theory, which was advanced as a result of the 19th century's primitive understanding of science, on his own. Some 50 years earlier, in 1798, Thomas Malthus proposed a number of ideas that had nothing to do with reality, in his book Essay on the Principle of Population. This study-which has now been proven to have no scientific value at all-claimed that population increased far more quickly than food resources, and that therefore, population increase needed to be controlled. Malthus suggested that wars and epidemics acted as "natural" checks on population, and were thus beneficial. He was the first to refer to the "struggle for survival." According to his thesis, far removed from humane values, the poor must not be protected but allowed to live under the worst possible conditions and prevented from multiplying, and sufficient food resources must be reserved for the upper classes. (For details, see Chapter 2, "The History of Ruthlessness, from Malthus to Darwin.") This cruel savagery would certainly be opposed by anyone with a conscience and common sense. Although religious moral values require extending a helping hand to the poor and needy, Malthus-and his follower Darwin-said that these people should be ruthlessly left to die.
The British sociologist and philosopher Herbert Spencer headed the list of those who immediately adopted and developed these inhumane ideas. The term "the survival of the fittest," which sums up Darwinism's basic claim, actually belongs to Spencer. He also claimed that the "unfit" should be eliminated, writing that: "If they are sufficiently complete to live, they do live, and it is well they should live. If they are not sufficiently complete to live, they die, and it is best they should die."1 In Spencer's view, the poor, uneducated, sick, crippled and unsuccessful should all die, and he sought to prevent the state from passing laws to protect the poor.
Spencer possessed a great lack of compassion for people who should awaken feelings of compassion and protection and, just like Malthus, he sought for ways to get rid of them. In Darwinism in American Thought, the American historian Richard Hofstadter makes the following comment:
Spencer deplored not only poor laws, but also state-supported education, sanitary supervision other than the suppression of nuisances, regulation of housing conditions, and even state protection of the ignorant from medical quacks.2
Darwin, powerfully influenced by Malthus and Spencer's ruthless world views, proposed in The Origin of Species the myth that species had evolved by means of natural selection. Darwin was no scientist, and took only an amateur's interest in biology. Under the very primitive microscopes of Darwin's time, cells appeared to be nothing more than blurry blots, and the biological laws of inheritance had not yet been discovered. Darwin's theory, developed with very limited scientific knowledge and under inadequate scientific conditions, claimed that nature always "selected" the fittest with the most advantages, and that life developed accordingly. According to this theory, built on totally erroneous foundations right from the outset, life was the work of chance; Darwin thus rejected the fact that life was created by Allah (Surely Allah is beyond that!). After The Origin of Species, Darwin set about adapting his unscientific theory to human beings in The Descent of Man. In that book, he referred to how the so-called backward races would be eliminated in the near future, and that the more advanced ones would develop and succeed. Darwin's adapting his theory of evolution to human beings, in this book and certain other of his writings, shaped Social Darwinism.
Darwin's erroneous statement that the weak and powerless need to be oppressed, backed up by his unscientific theory, is one of the main factors behind the spread of inequality and injustice.
His determined followers then carried matters forward. The most prominent proponents and practitioners of Social Darwinism's were Herbert Spencer and Darwin's cousin Francis Galton in Britain, certain academics like William Graham Sumner in America, and Darwinists such as Ernst Haeckel, and later fascist racists like Adolf Hitler in Germany.
Social Darwinism quickly became a means whereby racists, imperialists, proponents of unfair competition under the banner of capitalism, and administrators who failed to fulfill their responsibility to protect the poor and needy attempted to defend themselves. Social Darwinists sought to portray as a natural law the oppression of the weak, the poor and so-called "inferior" races, as well as the elimination of the handicapped by the healthy, and small businesses by large companies, suggesting that this was the only way humanity could progress. They sought to justify all the injustices perpetrated throughout history under a scientific rationale. Social Darwinism's lack of conscience and compassion was depicted as a law of nature and the most important road to so-called evolution.
In particular, various American capitalists justified the climate of unrestrained competition they established, according to their own lights, with quotations from Darwin. In fact, however, this was nothing less than a huge deception. Those who attempted to give ruthless competition a so-called scientific basis were merely lying. For instance, Andrew Carnegie, one of the greatest capitalists and one of those caught up in that falsehood, said the following in a speech he gave in 1889:
The price which society pays for the law of competition, like the price it pays for cheap comforts and luxuries, is also great; but the advantages of this law are also greater still than its cost - for it is to this law that we owe our wonderful material development, which brings improved conditions in its train. ... While the law may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it insures the survival of the fittest in every department. We accept and welcome, therefore, as conditions to which we must accommodate ourselves, great inequality of environment; the concentration of business, industrial and commercial, in the hands of a few; and the law of competition between these, as being not only beneficial, but essential to the future progress of the race. 3
According to Social Darwinism the sole objective of a race is its physical, economic and political development. Individuals' happiness, well-being, peace and security appear unimportant. No compassion at all is felt for those who suffer and cry out for help, for those unable to provide their children, families and aged parents food, medicine or shelter, or for the poor and powerless. According to this twisted concept, someone poor but morally upright is regarded as worthless, and that person's death will actually benefit society. In addition, someone rich but morally corrupt is regarded as "most important" for the "progress of the race" and, no matter what the conditions, that individual is seen as very valuable. This twisted logic propels Social Darwinism's proponents towards moral and spiritual collapse. In 1879, another Social Darwinist, William Graham Sumner, expressed this perverted trend's deceptions:
... we cannot go outside of this alternative: liberty, inequality, survival of the fittest; non-liberty, equality, survival of the unfittest. The former carries society forward and favors all its best members; the latter carries society downwards and favors all its worst members. 4
The Nazis first sterilized children with mental or inherited illnesses, and then began sending them to gas chambers. Even children lacking just a thumb became the targets of eugenicist killing.
The most savage adherents of Social Darwinism were racists, the most dangerous, of course, being the Nazi ideologists and their leader, Adolf Hitler. The heaviest cost of Social Darwinism came at the hands of the Nazis, who implemented eugenics, the claim put forward by Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton, to the effect that communities can consist of higher-quality individuals by the elimination of poor genes. They also engaged in genocide using Darwinist statements as a screen, as if these in some way justified their actions. At the advice of Darwinist scientists they exterminated Jews, Gypsies and East Europeans, whom they regarded as inferior races. They slaughtered the mentally ill, the handicapped, and the elderly in gas chambers. In the 20th century, millions were killed by the most ruthless methods in the name of Social Darwinism before the eyes of the world.
The eugenics movement, led by Francis Galton, emerged as another disastrous product of Social Darwinism. Its supporters maintained that human selection was needed to accelerate natural selection, believing that human development itself could thus be speeded up. They inflicted compulsory sterilization on "unnecessary" people in a great many countries, from America to Sweden. Regarded as less than human, hundreds of thousands were operated on against their will, without their families' knowledge or permission. The cruelest implementation of eugenics occurred in Germany, where the Nazis first sterilized the crippled, mentally defective or those with inherited diseases. Unsatisfied, they then began slaughtering these people en masse. Hundreds of thousands were put to death, just for being old or lacking fingers or limbs.