April 18, 2008


Darwin and the Nazis (Richard Weikart, 4/16/2008, American Spectator)

Where did the Nazis get the idea that some human beings were "lives unworthy of life"?

As I show in meticulous detail in my book, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany, the Nazis' devaluing of human life derived from Darwinian ideology (this does not mean that all Nazi ideology came from Darwinism). There were six features of Darwinian theory that have contributed to the devaluing of human life (then and now):

1. Darwin argued that humans were not qualitatively different from animals. The leading Darwinist in Germany, Ernst Haeckel, attacked the "anthropocentric" view that humans are unique and special.

2. Darwin denied that humans had an immaterial soul. He and other Darwinists believed that all aspects of the human psyche, including reason, morality, aesthetics, and even religion, originated through completely natural processes.

3. Darwin and other Darwinists recognized that if morality was the product of mindless evolution, then there is no objective, fixed morality and thus no objective human rights. Darwin stated in his Autobiography that one "can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones."

4. Since evolution requires variation, Darwin and other early Darwinists believed in human inequality. Haeckel emphasized inequality to such as extent that he even classified human races as twelve distinct species and claimed that the lowest humans were closer to primates than to the highest humans.

5. Darwin and most Darwinists believe that humans are locked in an ineluctable struggle for existence. Darwin claimed in The Descent of Man that because of this struggle, "[a]t some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races."

6. Darwinism overturned the Judeo-Christian view of death as an enemy, construing it instead as a beneficial engine of progress. Darwin remarked in The Origin of Species, "Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows."

These six ideas were promoted by many prominent Darwinian biologists and Darwinian-inspired social thinkers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. All six were enthusiastically embraced by Hitler and many other leading Nazis. Hitler thought that killing "inferior" humans would bring about evolutionary progress. Most historians who specialize in the Nazi era recognize the Darwinian underpinnings of many aspects of Hitler's ideology.

All Hitler did was apply Darwinism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 18, 2008 6:22 AM

And to the New Soviet Man.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 18, 2008 12:42 PM

Hitler "applied" chemistry and physics, too, but that says nothing about chemistry or physics.

And if Hitler was such a fan, why is it that Darwin and natural selection are never mentioned in Mein Kampf?

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 18, 2008 1:07 PM

Didn't the Reign of Terror occur before Darwin? All Hitler did was make it more organized and point it in a different direction.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at April 18, 2008 2:58 PM

God designed us using Darwinism.

Posted by: why couldn't have at April 18, 2008 6:50 PM

That's what most of the 13% who avow Darwinism believe, but that's because they don't realize the two are mutually exclusive.

Posted by: oj at April 18, 2008 7:35 PM

The comparison is pluperfect--Darwinism and Jacobinism are just the logical outcome of Rationalism

Posted by: oj at April 18, 2008 7:38 PM