Weikart: Re-examining the Darwin-Hitler Link
Posted by madcap on February 29, 2008
I agree with Ruse that Hitler’s ideology was not built solely on Darwinism. Nonetheless, Ruse does not seem to realize that Darwinism was a central, guiding principle of Nazi ideology, especially of Hitler’s own world view. Richard Evans, historian at Cambridge University, has explained, “The real core of Nazi beliefs lay in the faith Hitler proclaimed in his speech of September 1938 in science—a Nazi view of science—as the basis for action. Science demanded the furtherance of the interests not of God but of the human race, and above all the German race and its future in a world ruled by ineluctable laws of Darwinian competition between races and between individuals.” This is not a controversial claim by anti-evolutionists, but it is commonly recognized by scholars who study Nazism.
Contra Ruse’s claim, Nazis did not abandon Darwinism because of its racial egalitarian implications. In fact, the vast majority of Darwinists in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries argued that Darwinism proved racial inequality. Darwin claimed in chapter two of The Descent of Man that there were great differences in moral disposition and intellect between the “highest races” and the “lowest savages.” Later in Descent he declared, “At 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.” Racial inegalitarianism was built into Darwin’s analysis from the start. Full article..