Thre Views of Social Darwinism Essay

Thre Views of Social Darwinism Essay

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The concept of Social Darwinism was a widely accepted theory in the nineteenth-century. Various intellectual, and political figures from each side of the political spectrum grasped the theory and interpreted it in various ways. In this paper, we will discuss three different nineteenth-century thinkers and their conception of Social Darwinism. The conservative, Heinrich von Treitschke, and liberal Herbert Spencer both gave arguments on the usefulness of competition between people on a global scale. The anarchist, Peter Kropotkin, refuted the belief of constant competition among members of the same species and emphasized mutual aid.
Heinrich von Treitschke's defense of Social Darwinism was a direct result of his view on the state and nation. He believed that only brave nations could stand the test of time, and argued that nations who did not showcase their power would eventually be preyed upon and parish. Treitschke makes this clear when he states, “History wears thoroughly masculine features; it is not for sentimental natures or for women. Only brave nations have a secure existence, a future, a development; weak and cowardly nations go to the wall, and rightly so.” (Treitschke, 11). He believed that competition between nations reflected the superiority of the victor.
Treitschke proclaimed that there were two main functions of the state, the second is for the state to make war and is most important for understanding his defense of Social Darwinism. He believed that only through war would a great nation succeed. In his thought, he takes the idea of competition between animals that Darwin argued, and placed them on a global scale where nations competed for superiority. Competition between nations was the only way t...


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...ociety. He gave the examples of labor unions, voluntary associations, and grassroots societies.
To Heinrich von Treitschke, conflict was necessary to forge great states and enhance society. Historical progress was a result of war, which weeded out the weak in society. Along the same lines, Herbert Spencer believed that war was a force that advanced society and cleansed inferior, and weak peoples from the globe. Peter Kropotkin rejected these interpretations of Darwin's theory and argued that sociability and cooperation were the true enhancers of all species. Each argument reflected the broader worldview that these men had due to their respective ideologies. Treitschke based his view on the tradition of warfare, Spencer did much the same but refuted war due to its necessity for subordination, and Kropotkin focused on the inherent cooperation of individual species.

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