Thursday, August 9, 2018

"Vulgar?" - A Footnote

Other than the one time that Yisrael Gutman uses the term "Social Darwinism" it is used only one other time in the paper cited below, with an often used pre-prefix that I should have mentioned in my longer post.

In 1988, the German social researcher Hans-Ulrich Wehler called attention to an attitude that, he asserts, typified the racial and political anti-Semites who preceded Hitler: “The vulgar Social Darwinism that characterized the style of Hitler and the many Nazis had become one of the ideological components of their Weltanschauung long before 1917. . . .Hitler’s crazed ideas and hatred of Jews originated in the poisoned egg of German and Austrian anti-Semitism. The new racial-political anti-Semitism of the post-1870s era led explicitly and rather quickly to extermination.

The often seen phrase "vulgar Social Darwinism" is a further distancing of Darwinism (natural selection) from its reality of application in the world.  To which my reaction is, natural selection is as inherently "vulgar" as it is racist and homicidal.

Considering Darwin's elucidation of Darwinism, natural selection in the human species in The Descent of Man is a tale told in terms such as:  "With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health," exactly the Ursatz of Nazi ideology, and elaborated in such terms as "In Sparta, also, a form of selection was followed, for it was enacted that all children should be examined shortly after birth; the well-formed and vigorous being preserved, the others left to perish."  and Darwin also bewailing the evils of civilization allowing the poor and wretched to live in terms of animals in a commercial breeding operation, "It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed."   Considering that Darwin was bewailing the effects of civilization, not allowing people to die in squalid misery, babies to die like flies, lauding the salubrious effects of "savages" killing people, where do they find any kind of refined Darwinism?   The vulgarity of Darwinism was built into it from the start, the Nazis weren't the ones who put it there.  And I haven't even gone into the topic of Darwin on the salubrious effects of "savage" military conquest and genocide and on the topic of sex.

I could also go [and have gone] into the works of Thomas Huxley, Francis Galton, Ernst Haeckel, W. R. Greg, and others Darwin cited as reliable science and the entire later-day intellectual descendants of all of them to find passages as depraved as any you'll find out of Hitler and Goebbels, as I pointed out last month, including things said about the very people that the Nazis murdered in the millions.

The "new racial-political anti-Semitism of the post-1870s era" was informed by the theory of natural selection, it was an inevitable result of the widespread acceptance of natural selection in the German intellectual, political class even as it met some stiff resistance which it overcame.  As Hitler was born in 1889 and virtually all of the major figures in Nazism were born during the same period and slightly after, that was the world view they grew up with as certainly as my generation was indoctrinated in the phony post-war eugenics-free Darwin that co-exists so ubiquitously as its refutation available to be read in the plainest of terms in the words of Darwin.  Nazism is a product of that "post 1870" era, not the middle ages which would have been entirely remote from the imagination of the Nazis.  Their concept of medieval Europe was as colored by the late 19th century world they grew up in as it is for the people whose knowledge of it comes from Hollywood and video-games (today's  Ring des Nibelungen), what fuels the imagination of so many of our contemporary American Nazis.  If I were fifty years younger, I'd punch the next Nazi that calls himself a "Celt" and knock his goddamned teeth down his throat.  I'd do it for my parents who fought the goddamned Nazis.

In his study of the thinking of German military officers during the First World War, Headquarters Nights, Vernon Kellogg, an eminent American biologist (and Darwinist, even a eugenicist) who was a fluent speaker of German, said that "neo-Darwinism" permeated the thinking of the German intellectual class, of which so many of the German military officers were members.

Well, I say it dispassionately but with conviction: if I understand theirs, it is a point of view that will never allow any land or people controlled by it to exist peacefully by the side of a people governed by our point of view. For their point of view does not permit of a live-and-let-live kind of carrying on. It is a point of view that justifies itself by a whole-hearted acceptance of the worst of Neo-Darwinism, the Allmacht of natural selection applied rigorously to human life and society and Kultur.

Passing by the obvious attempt of Kellogg to distance Darwin from what he actually did say. as those who call it "Social Darwinism" do, when his description of what they were planning could have come from paraphrasing The Descent of Man,  these "neo-Darwinist" military officers, including many who had scientific educations, were the same group of people who would invade other countries and begin the slaughter ordered by the Nazi high command, the same military that had already set up the first genocide of the 20th century in East Africa with the help of the German scientific establishment in the decade before World War I brought Kellogg into contact with the military officer he'd gone to university with.  I wonder if Kellogg knew about that earlier genocide and if he did, why he didn't mention it.

Update:  Well, I'd wanted to write about the collusion of Devin Nunes and Cathy McMorris Rodgers this morning.  I've warned you before that I've got tons of material on this topic that I've never used, yet.  I think I have shown that I know what I'm talking about and where the primary documentation can be found to support my arguments.   I will note that was one of the things the critics said about Daniel Goldhangen, that he relied primarily on secondary sources, which I've avoided because those not only make arguments weaker, they are vulnerable to the ideological intentions of those who write those secondary sources.

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