22. The development of Social Darwinism
While Charles Darwin was still alive various entities attempted to apply the concepts he had developed, which related to natural selection in nature, to both political and social elements. Under what was termed Social Darwinism, which Darwin had nothing to do with, the strong were meant to get stronger at the expense of the weak, who would correspondingly get weaker. Social Darwinism was a factor in the development of eugenics, authoritarian governments, imperialism, fascism, and Nazism. Following the Second World War the concept faded, but creationists resurrected it as part of their argument against Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which they claimed was dangerous to society as it promoted the concept of survival of the fittest.
Those promoting concepts which are included as examples of Social Darwinism seldom if ever used the term to describe their views. It has nearly always been applied by opponents in a disparaging manner. Supporters of Darwin in terms of evolution and natural selection argued that Darwin’s findings applied to natural events and were devoid of moral judgment. Based on the concept of survival of the fittest, which did not originate with Darwin but with Herbert Spencer, Social Darwinism was a major component of the development of Nazi policies, combined with their belief in a racial hierarchy and opposition to social welfare.