A preview of “Official Stories,” from Ch. 8 “Darwin is Dead.” What is Darwinism? What does it actually offer? Is it a science, or a philosophy? We’ll explore the question – and get some hard answers in the book.
Survival of the Fittest
by Liam Scheff, from “Official Stories.”
We have grown up with the expression. We use it when we see someone fail at something so miserably, so spectacularly, that we can only acknowledge the triumph of disaster. It is the phrase that college boys use to mock a fraternity brother who falls down the stairs drunk, or leaps off a hotel balcony into a pool below, hitting the diving board on the way down, breaking some number of bones in the process, having consumed more alcohol than is almost physically possible.
“Survival of the fittest!” The phrase is now commonplace. It has been employed in schoolyards, by scientists and leaders of nations, alike. Its philosophy has been embraced by the likes of Mao Tse Tung, Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler. Which should bother people, but doesn’t. So, what does it mean?
Darwin saw that the island finches were different, slightly. Some had longer beaks, some shorter. Some birds were a little taller, larger or smaller, with a little more or less of a wingspan. Some really hated “Sex and the City” while some found it tolerable, though it really described the lives of the gay men who wrote the show more than actual women in New York. I mean, come on, a new guy every week? That’s boy’s town.
Because Darwin had to exclude the idea that things had always been this way and that these changes had been made by magic, or a god or spirit, he had to come up with a naturalistic explanation. And he tried. He called it “natural selection,” which is pretty tricky. Because it turns the old Christian God into “nature,” and makes you think that it didn’t. But almost no one noticed, because they so wanted to get rid of the damned Church, meddling in everybody’s bloody business.
I mean, really. Burnings at the stake, witch-huntings, endless taxation. Scandal after scandal with the clergy. Some of the monasteries were more like jelly-making whorehouses than places of reflection and worship. “Screw them,” said the new scientific elite. “We’ll support the best contender, even if it is a dog.”
And here it is: “Natural selection” and “survival of the fittest.” Let’s unspool it in a little dialog I call, “Define your terms.”
Critical Thinker: What is natural selection?
– Darwin: It is the process by which some are selected for survival.
CT: Who does the selecting?
– Darwin: Nature.
CT: But what is nature?
– All the things that happen in the natural world, that men do not create.
CT: Isn’t that a little broad? What things?
– Life, birth, death. All natural processes.
CT: That’s a bit circular, isn’t it? So, what is “nature?” How does it work?
– Nature follows natural laws. “The laws of nature.” I’m sure you’ve heard the expression before.
CT: Sure, I’ve heard it. But isn’t that a little self-defining? Okay, fine, I’ll bite. “The laws of nature.” And who upholds the laws?
– Nature does.
CT: But, how? Can you go to jail if you break a law of nature? Are there “nature police” to keep you in line, if you try to get around, say, gravity?
– Don’t be ridiculous! You can’t break a law of nature. They’re immutable. It’s just the way things are.
CT: You mean, there are patterns and forces in place that are constant. You don’t know how or why. And you don’t call that a supernatural force? You’re saying that life exists and so do planets and galaxies. You call all of it “nature.” You then deny its intelligence, or will. You then label it “accidental,” despite it being in every part, impeccably ordered and wildly creative? And you call this “random chance?”
I have discovered that this line of inquiry quickly makes Darwinists fume and either curse you out for “misrepresenting their ideas,” or turn away in angry silence.
But it’s a fair question. What is this thing they call “Nature?” As Darwinists use it, it’s a stand-in for “undefined cosmic intelligence,” and because it’s not spelled G-O-D, Darwin got away with it. But don’t say this to Darwinists, they’ll hiss and cry like intemperate foxes. But, more on that later.
In Darwinism, “nature” “selects,” those who are “fit.” And so the “fit survive.” Which brings us to the famous phrase. Darwin didn’t pen the expression, his cousin did, but it stuck and soon Darwin was using it too. And “Survival of the fittest” became the catch-phrase of two world wars and the 20th Century.
Darwin said that competition among members of a species winnowed out those who were not “fit,” and allowed the “fittest” to, yes, “survive.” The next generations, therefore, looked more like the “fit” than the “unfit.”
And man, did this idea take off. So much so that an entire science of “fitness” boomed in the early 20th Century right here in the United States. “Eu” (good) “genics” (breeding) was the name of the game. Eugenics. The science of good breeding – and everyone wanted you to be into it.
Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood, was deeply in favor of the reproductive rights of those most “fit” people to procreate. And very opposed to the baby-making of the “unfit.” She wanted them to be assigned to “concentration” camps, where they would be sterilized and freed from the terrible burden of their unfitness.
She also called them “feeble-minded, imbeciles, morons” and “idiots,” too. But, remember, these were the scientific terms of the age. You can look it up.
In 1939, Margaret founded the Negro Project and drew in African-American ministers and leaders to spread the gospel of birth control to the masses. Well, the masses of African-Americans, who were, to her way of thinking, over-breeding and probably not “fit.”
But not just African-Americans, also the very poor. It was seen as very important that the very poor also were given all of their rights to be prevented from baby-making, as a matter of “fitness.” As this science grew, doctors and scientists founded centers of research in universities throughout the country, in institutions of advanced medicine, like Stanford, Yale, Harvard and Princeton, with big funding from big names like Carnegie, Rockefeller and Harriman (Brown Brothers Harriman was a bank that really helped Germany get on its feet in the 30?s and 40?s – see Chapter 2).
Even the Supreme Court judge, Oliver Wendell Holmes, was a fan. In 1927, he voted against the right of a young woman named Carrie Buck to make babies. At 17, she had been raped, became pregnant and given birth to a healthy child. Naturally her foster-parents had her committed to an institution for “epileptics and the feeble-minded” because of her “promiscuity.” (The rapist was their nephew, by the way). The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with their ruling. She was given a surgery to cut and remove her fallopian tubes. Because, said Justice Holmes, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
And maybe it was. Hey, I wasn’t there. Certainly Carrie Buck didn’t agree and from my admittedly strange quasi-libertarian point of view, I think that really should have mattered more. But, whatever. It was science. And law.
And there’s nothing like obeying the law! Thirty-three states ratified the Holmes decision and brought sterilization to their citizens. By 1981, 65,000 people had been sterilized in the U.S. Fitness abounded!
The fashion spread to Europe, where Sweden, Switzerland and even Germany, if you can believe it, embraced the science of “good breeding,” and began forcibly sterilizing the “idiots” who weren’t fit, by the tens of thousands. Sweden really got into it, sterilizing 63,000 people, mostly women, by the mid 1970s.
Germany took it even further and had a great time with it. They not only sterilized – they actually went the next logical step and started euthanizing (which is like “putting to sleep,” or “killing”) mental patients and disabled children. Which they kind of did in secret. Which is surprising, because it was scientific and they should have been proud as they were helping the “fit” to “survive.”
But this one bit of shyness didn’t prevent them from really taking it all the way and developing a system to just get rid of all the idiots and unfit people all over Europe. The gypsies, homosexuals, artists and protestors and, you know. The Jews. All the Jews they could round up. They brought in millions of them!
And they got IBM to tattoo numbers on people’s wrists to keep track of who was unfit and who was to be “put to sleep” (and also cooked, gassed, shot, buried alive, tortured, experimented on, made into soap and lampshades and buried in mass graves or incinerated). And it was a big success.
Problems with Survival of the Fittest
If I am quoted from this book, I hope the reviewer will note that the above passage exhibits a form of extremely bleak humor called “irony.” Because that is what happened. The Holocaust, the most shocking, disgusting, disgraceful, heart-shattering episode of depravity in our collective memory, was a medical and scientific project.
You can squirm and protest and say that they were “perverting the science.” But you’ll agree that eugenics was the science of the day and the Holocaust was, in the coldest sense, a logical extension of “fit” and “unfit,” if from an entirely sociopathic point of view. A point of view, however, embedded in Darwin’s idiotic philosophy. Because it was never a science.
. . .
It will be available In Europe on Amazon (as of 6/3/12) and will be on Kindle in late July, 2012