Tag Archives: social darwinism


18 Sep

Throughout the world, in democracies and dictatorships, in old countries and developing countries, we see a destructive process, which I have named “wealthyvolution.” It is the social human evolution of a group characterized by extreme wealth. Through a process similar to “biological” (Darwinian) evolution, almost every country has developed a “Royalty” class that has the accumulation of massive limitless fortunes as its major goal.

Before I continue with this concept, I need to make clear that I believe in capitalism (with limitations), have run several successful private businesses for profit, and there are many very rich people who are decent and good citizens. Everyone should be able, and even encouraged, to acquire some wealth. I enjoyed the challenge of creating companies and making them at least moderately profitable.

This discussion is concerned with the development of a class of individuals that ruthlessly acquire massive wealth, often through governmental corruption, and at the expense of the non-rich. Much of the corruption is through lobbying congressmen and through other types of unethical influence. Many of the loopholes in our (USA) tax code, which benefit the rich, have resulted from this influence. It is well known that over the last 20 or 30 years, income for the wealthy class has risen steadily — and has been level or even lowered for the rest of us. What is the “basic cause” for this process.

The familiar “biological” evolution has as its basis, these major elements: 1. Survival of the fitest, 2. Natural selection, 3. Relatively permanent variations in offspring, and 4. Death.

Social groups (and many other entities) can go through a similar evolutionary process. The entity in biological evolution is individual species. The entity in “wealthyvolution” is a group of very rich humans. Examples of such groups could be industrialists, politicians or military officers. Let us look at the four elements of biological evolution mentioned above, as applied to groups.

Element 1 says that a group of persons that are effecient and effective and more likely to survive and prosper that those that are less effective. For Element 2, there is a selection process, but it is somewhat different from “natural” processes. The processes are familar to most of us and fall under the categories of social, political, and business. Simply put, a group will survive and grow if its members are prosperous and cooperative. Element 3 suggests that effective methods developed by the “Royal” group can be retained and utilized for long periods of time. Continuing our analogy, element 4 for a group would be turnover: people leaving and joining the group (by death, birth, etc).

What can be learned from this comparison of biological and social evolution. Biological evolution says that if you are superior you are more likely to survive and reproduce. “Wealthyvolution” says something similar: if your group makes more money and has more power (influence, etc.) then it will survive, grow, and cause the extinction or suppression of competing groups. The competing groups are you and me, the non-rich, the middle-class, the poor, and even some of the moderately rich.

There are important psychological factors that promote the acquisition of wealth far beyond what is needed for good easy living. Many rich people were poor at one time and were afraid of unexpected losses. Their early fears can continue far beyond what is appropriate. Many were trained by their parents or teachers to be competitive. Many have never associated with poor people and do not understand their real problems. I suspect that for many, acquiring great wealth is a “game” (like gambling, for example) and the obsession with the game causes them to ignore the destructive consequences. Their efforts are often cheered on by friends and associated executives. A top executive is supported by employees of lower rank who know the way to advancement.

Where can we see this evolutionary process at work? Here are some examples. A recent US Supreme court decision made it easier for rich people to provide massive campaign contributions, allowing them even more influence over legislation beneficial to rich people. “Trickle-down economics” says that if you give rich people more money, it will trickle down to the rest of us (this has never happened). A century ago in the USA very rich people consolidated their resources and made themselves more profitable at the expense of others. Fortunately, this resulted in “anti-trust” legislation which helped to solve this problem. The government allows very rich people to use “off-shore” accounts to escape paying their full share of taxes. During the last 100 years, tax rates for rich people were gradually diminished, by influencing congressional decisions. A paradox of government is that many officials are very rich and there is a clear conflict of interest: rich people voting on legislation affecting their own income.

Certain congressmen propose budgets that provide lower taxes and subsidies for people already extremely wealthy. Oil companies and farmers that are very successful continue to get government subsidies. Many ordinary citizens do not have the ability to see through the untruthful statements used to support this anti-social agenda, and vote against their own interests. We need better education.

Very rich people often deny that poverty is serious, or say that poor people are lazy and do not deserve any help. They do not recognize that poverty can be caused by gigantic medical bills, accidents, theft, investment problems, lay-offs due to economic conditions, bad advice, and many other factors that have nothing to do with laziness.

How do the non-rich feel these effects. First of all, they pay higher than necessary taxes and have lowered salaries. They get decreased services, such as fewer teachers, police and fireman. Programs that traditionally helped poor people, such as food stamps and unemployment compensation are diminished or abolished. We see massive increases in educational and medical expenses. Unions that have helped middle-class workers have been attacked. Certain politicians make demands for lowered government spending (usually on programs that help the poor) so that more money can go to the rich people.

It is a “natural” and expected process that some very rich people will strive to acquire wealth far beyond what is required for good living. Genuinely moral people see this as greedy and immoral. It is also “natural” for the non-rich to struggle against this process. When leaders go too far, there are massive protests and even revolutions. A study of history shows that in most cases, violent revolutions have been caused by rich leaders taking too much from the rest of the population.

5. “Social Darwinism”

5 Apr

Today, President Obama said that the Republican empowerment of the top Rich is  “Social Darwinism.”  I have a scientific background and a long term interest in evolution  (Darwinism), so I was fascinated by this term. In my younger days, I think I was aware of it, but currently did not remember much about it. When I thought about it, I could easily guess the meaning, but did some research on its usage.

First, let me state the basic principles of evolution: survival of the fittest, variation in offspring with new traits that can last at least several generations, and death.  Stated in another way, animals that are best adapted to an environment tend to live longer and reproduce. The “fittest” are most likely to mate and pass their superior genes on to the next generation. If animals did not die, reproduction would diminish and there would be no variation. It is important to also understand that evolution is dispassionate, not good or bad, does not have any goals, and is just a fact of nature. It explains many things about our structure and where we came from, and is one of the most solidly supported facts of science.

Social evolution is something I have thought about for many years, so I was immediately interested in the term “Social Darwinism.” Historically, the term has acquired a very negative meaning. It refers to people who are rich and powerful and believe that they have a right to dominate other classes because they are the fittest. How do they know they are so fit, because they actually are successful, at least in making money.

My writings on social evolution have been purely explanatory, and without any value judgments.  If you look at the principles of evolution just described above, then you can see the application. The fittest groups tend to survive, there is variation in their traits, and members die or retire from the group. The point for me is that it is the “nature” of the world or groups and animals to evolve. Groups that are not “fit” tend to die out.

Obama’s point is that certain rich people look at their success, decide they are the fittest, and justify their greed and misdeeds because it is in line with biological evolution. Of course, not all rich folks are greedy, and many are quite willing to give back through charity and/or increased taxes. And I should clarify that I think there is nothing wrong with being rich, it is the extremes that are disturbing — like the recent major shift of money from the middle class to the wealthy. But the greedy rich should be more cautious because history is replete with accounts of revolutions (violent and otherwise) designed to stop the abuse. The non-rich may not be as “fit” but they have numbers on their side, and good-hearted rich people to help them.

In future writings, I intend to further discuss evolutionary concepts, and their broad range of applications, ranging from micro-organisms, to groups, to giant stars.

I have to add a final thought. Just because a presidential candidate has been successful in business, does not mean that he will make a good president. Business leaders learn to make themselves and their investors lots of money, and basically to ignore as much as possible, employees or citizens that they might harm. And often they ignore the success of the business itself, as long as they can draw money out of it. Presidents have a different and much more complex imperative. They must consider the overall success of the country, all its citizens,  its relationships with other nations, and a Congress that may not cooperate.