Pernicious Amorality Infiltrates Modern Social Darwinism
A deadly doctrine lies at the heart of modern evolutionary social theory. The next Hitler will love this creed.
The old Social Darwinism—largely frowned on today, even by evolutionists—produced some of the most hideous evils the world has ever seen: eugenics, genocides, and world wars. Tyrants marched their armies into neighboring countries, imprisoned and tortured millions, and wiped out less-evolved “primitives” all in the name of “survival of the fittest.” Darwin had taught them, these tyrants said, that nature was a struggle to gain the top of the hill, no matter how ruthless or cruel the means. Some even chastised the compassionate, arguing that they were hindering “natural selection” which knew nothing of compassion. Kindness was actually hindering the progress of mankind, they said.
Today’s evolutionists respond that the old Social Darwinists “misunderstood” Darwin. Now we have New Coke. A kinder, gentler Darwinism is trendy today. A recent book by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods, Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity (see review in Phys.org) sounds like the polar opposite of the old Social Darwinism.
The term “fittest” is often associated with animals who are physically stronger or of more value than others, but being “fit” can also include an organism’s ability to communicate well with others in its group, which can provide an evolutionary advantage. For example, more social animals can form alliances with each other and protect each others’ young, so the whole population stays stronger in terms of number.
Too bad for all those 100-million-plus victims of experts who “misunderstood” Darwin. Such a shame. Actually, the statement only says that fitness “can” include kindness, not that it “does.” And when it does not, as in the cases of Hitler and Stalin, it is just as much an evolutionary strategy as friendliness. Today’s Darwinists talk like they have everything figured out, including the emergence of altruism (sacrificing oneself for the good of the group). They can write equations for this in their models, and make it sound very scientific. But Darwinian altruism, friendliness, and cooperation, as flowery as they look for the press, have a poisonous root: they are inherently amoral.
Revealing the Root
Darwinians have become very adept at burying the root. They may not even be aware of it much. They focus their attention on the outgrowths of their models, as various “selection pressures” affect populations of bacteria, rabbits or cichlid fish in an African lake. Their papers can include differential equations, charts and perhaps even some experiments on “model organisms” like microbes or slime molds. They believe that their models help understand various outcomes of populations that either thrive, fight, cooperate, or go extinct. To them, it’s all a game. They call it “game theory.” Afflicted with the Yoda Complex like dispassionate observers of organisms on an exalted plane, they can model scenarios of imaginary populations competing for resources (see Dr Bergman’s article on Malthus, whom Darwin admired, from 26 April 2019).
But here’s the rub: human organisms (in their thinking) follow the same models, which are completely amoral. The modern Social Darwinism, just like the old Social Darwinism, shares this common poison: the pursuit of fitness by natural selection. NS is equivalent to the Stuff Happens Law because whatever happens is an acceptable outcome of Darwin’s mechanism. Que sera, sera. Whatever will be will be. If it is a thriving ecosystem, fine. If it is genocide, fine. There may be a dark side of this farce, but it is equivalent to the light side. It’s all subjective. Those who fight for the “dark” side believe the other side is evil. The endless struggle for the golden apple of “fitness” drives a war of all against all, offering only pockets of safety until the next aggressor shows up.
It may be hard to see this in evolutionary writing. A new preprint on bioRxiv about “multilevel selection” looks very innocuous – boring, even. The models deal with populations of microbes in test tubes. Big deal. They never directly apply their models to human populations (although other papers like this frequently do). But hidden within the jargon are the pernicious concepts that, if applied to human populations, could justify atrocities worse than those in the 20th century. Before reading, picture Hitler taking over Czechoslovakia against his word on the grounds that his race, the superior German Aryans, needed more “living space.”
In most multispecies multilevel selection (MLS) models, offspring communities are generated by random assembly of individuals in numbers reflecting sizes of parental communities releasing them (MLS1), or by differential community dispersal based on a community-level trait such as size (MLS2). In both, offspring communities colonize vacant spaces: different communities never compete for the same space. Here we propose a third MLS type (MLS3) where multispecies communities disperse (migrate) into already-occupied spaces, larger communities more frequently. Conspecific variants compete, often opposing selection for community size against fitness within species. This makes the outcome of MLS3 less apparent than MLS1 and MLS2 where such tension is absent. Our simulations show that, if community size depends strongly on reduction in the fitness of individual community members, such a reduction (comprising a sort of inter-species altruism) will evolve. The framework we present represents a step toward conceptualizing community coalescence in the context of metacommunities.
Did you see it? The Germans “migrate” into “already-occupied spaces” leading to “tension” and “reduction of fitness of individual community members” as thousands of Czechs and Poles, with bullets to the head, fall into mass graves.
These authors, including W. Ford Doolittle (remember his mystical “It’s the Song, Not the Singer” theory of selection? See 3/04/18), would likely be outraged at this suggestion this his model fits what Hitler did. But on what grounds could they disagree? To them, every organism, including Homo sapiens, is a product of the same selection principles that govern bacteria. If bacteria create “tension” by “migrating” into the space of another population, well, too bad. Humans do that, too. Individuals may suffer. Their fitness gets reduced. Some “simulations” of their model, they said, “depends strongly on reduction in the fitness of individual community members“.
The collective, continuing to evolve, advances (in some cases) until “a sort of inter-species altruism” evolves. What sort, exactly? In an ant colony, a worker caste emerges, doing all the work for the queen. In human populations, a prison sub-population in death camps works itself to death to serve the greater good of the State. Some altruism.
Why is Nazi Germany a comparable “scenario” under social Darwinism? Because evolutionary “altruism” is not self-sacrifice based on love or a moral principle. It is simply the behavior of certain organisms that are observed to get nothing for their efforts to help the “fitness” of the collective.
This is why we fight Darwinism so hard at CEH. Darwinism is not only silly (“Stuff Happens”—wow, how insightful). It is evil at its core, because it is amoral. Gone are the classic virtues of true altruism (“Greater love hath no man than this, that one give his life for his friends”). Gone is integrity. Gone is love. Gone is all the beauty of the intellectual world, the rich history of art and music and literature, the philosophical quest for the good, the true, and the beautiful. Gone is conscience. These are all illusions. In Darwin’s world, everything is an aimless, mindless, purposeless, amoral, selfish pursuit of fitness — that shape-shifting, undefined value that could represent anything. Anything that represents anything is indistinguishable from nothing.
Too bad that these seven Darwinians don’t realize that they just cut off the limb they’re sitting on. Their paper means nothing either. According to their own belief system, it is just their evolutionary strategy for fitness within their sub-population known as Academia.
Darwinism is the death of meaning. Darwinism is the death of humanity. And don’t ever think that the toxic effects inherent in Social Darwinism a century ago, including the suffering and death of millions, has been exhausted under this pernicious, amoral doctrine.