Darwin´s theory of evolution and the disputed political doctrines of the XXth century

Foto: Eduard Olaru

Both in the scientific world and in society, the most difficult accepted idea from Darwin´s theory of evolution was the selection one. Even during Darwin´s life, until the beginning of 20th century, when the discoveries of genetics offered the biological basis of individual characters variability (the gene), the scientific world accepted evolution, but it was reserved against natural selection. One of Darwin´s closest friends and co-workers who helped him impose his theory, considered the idea of selection irrelevant in evolution (Ernst Haeckel), and many researchers simply did not accept it.
Briefly, people accepted evolution, but did not accept selection because, as seen later, selection had frightful implications in politics, society, philosophy. If man was an animal like any other animal, evolution would be the result of natural selection, just like it is at every other species.
Eugenic is one of the consequences of the idea of natural selection. Eugenic (from Greek words « eu », good and genes « born ») was a scientific, political and moral ideology whose apogee was reached in the first half of the 20th century, but which was then abandoned after the Nazi Holocaust and association with racism.
After reading « The origin of species », Francis Galton, Darwin´s cousin and an important biologist (he introduced statistics in biology), considered that human civilization, through helping weak and handicapped people, eludes from natural selection, human populations thus being in danger of falling in some kind of mediocrity. Like Darwin, Galton noticed that some human features, both intellectual and moral, are hereditary, so they could be improved through selection, like farmers improve the features of plants and animals through artificial selection.
Galton exposed his ideas for the first time in « Hereditary Talent and Character » (1865), but in great detail in the book « Hereditary Genius » (1869).
This book is free on the internet. If someone has the patience to read it, he will discover how benign are those recommendations, especially the social ones, for improving the qualities of human populations. Galton simply makes the eulogy of society encouraging people with intellectual and moral abilities to have many children. These persons of both sexes should be encouraged to marry young and the selection of partners to be made based on the criteria of talents and moral qualities, and not of wealth and social origin.
In most of the developed countries, this really happens. It is interesting that Galton criticizes The Chirch, which was a factor of negative selection, brave and non-conformist people were often persecuted, on the other hand, some of the talented people were attracted within the Church, where celibate stopped them from procreating. Taking into consideration the xenophobia and racial hatred generated then by the Nazism, which embraced eugeny, it is interesting that Galton was satisfied by the quality immigration in Great Britain, giving the example of the asylum obtained by the Huguenots in his country. Maybe if Galton had seen what the Nazi did with the intellectual Jews, Romany artists, etc., he would have been very upset.
But always, as it happens in present with the interpretation of Koran, which doesn´t say anything about the Islamic veil, and the crimes of Islamic terrorists are serious sins, any idea can be distorted and used as support for political doctrines which are often criminal, eugenic generated numerous abuses and crimes starting with he Unites States (where it first appeared), then in Germany, Australia, and other countries like Sweden ( !).
Although there were no criteria for the superiority of human features, numerous ethnical groups, from Afro-Americans to Jews, Romany, aboriginal Australians were subject to abuses starting with sterilization, forced adoption of children and even killing.
Ill people, especially the mentally ill and persons with low intelligence quotient were also sterilized or even killed. But Darwin and Galton are not guilty for that. Existent prejudices in certain environments led to those violations of human rights. There was no science in those acts, and most certainly no Darwinian evolution. There aren’t now and there weren’t then data which certify the biological superiority of the white people, especially of the Northersns, as the Nazi claimed. On the contrary, the attempts to show that the white race is the most evolved, with the most numerous neotenic features (many typically human features being considered consequences of the neoteny, meaning the maintenance at adult of some features from the previous stages of development) failed.
Also, when the Jews were exterminated in Nazi camps as they were an inferior race, some of the most important ideas in the science of those times, starting with physics (Albert Einstein) and ending with psychology (Siegmund Freud) belonged to Jews. Then more than ever Jews could not be considered human waste. But it seems this did not matter. There are contemporary researchers who cite even Hitler´s admiration for Jews´intelligence, and his approach was more anti-eugenics, as he wanted to eliminate the supremacy of this minority in many fields of social, economic and scientific life.
Beyond these suppositions, we can say that eugenics in Hitler´s policy was a simple tool. As he declared, he used the anti-Jewish sentiment that was very intense in Germany, to offer the people a common enemy, a recipe that has been tested for millennia, having the effect of increasing the social cohesion. Jews were exterminated not because Hitler considered them an inferior race, because « nobody defended them ».
Hitler used pseudoscience like he used, allegedly, Nietzsche´s phylosophy. This philosopher, who was said to have inspired the Nazism, had a great admiration towards Jews and criticized anti-Semitism, even recommending the expulsion of the most ardent Jew-baiters, ideas that were presented in Amurgul idolilor.
Eugeny entered a period of silence after the Second World War Two. It is about those measures of active eugeny, but passive eugenic, in its soft forms, exists now too. Genetic advices, choosing the sex of a child, in order to avoid a genetic disease, even that recent law (mothers´ law) that wants to encourage women with a career to have more children, are forms of eugenics.
Another doctrine that led to numerous crimes in the past century, which was said to be inspired by Darwin´s ideas, is the communism. Unfortunately, communism precedes Darwinian evolutionism. The Manifesto of the Communist Party appears at London in 1848, and « The origin of species » in 1859. Otherwise, communism denies from the start the human nature, the attempts of creating « the new man » can be considered rather Lamarckian, meaning they suppose direct intervention of the environment in the evolution of organisms. Soviet science in Stalinist period promoted the ideas of a Lamarckian, Lisenko, when important Darwinian researchers (Vavilov) were sent to call-up camps where they died.
Te extermination of intellectuals and democratic politicians can be considered artificial selection. Communism embraced Darwin´s evolution theory because it was the only materialistic theory accepted in science that explained the origin and evolution of the human being.

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