Joined: May 2002
|Quote (kevinmillerxi @ Feb. 26 2008,13:08)|
|I forgot to address the Holocaust. No, I won't teach my kids that Darwin initiated the Holocaust, because that is patently untrue. However, I won't shy away from explaining how social Darwinism and the science of eugenics--which was founded by Darwin's cousin Francis Galton as an attempt to apply Darwin's theory on a social level--were contributing factors to Hitler's views on race.|
In that case you will be a (personal expletive deleted) liar. Racism and bigotry are far older than Darwin, and older than the sciences. They have been justified by every sort of argument, mostly religious and nationalistic. The genocides in the Bible were used as Nazi justifications more than any nonexistant mention of Darwin.
Rev. Donal Kerr, Emeritus Professor of Ecclesiastical History,
St. Patrick's University, Maynooth, Ireland has written on the massive ideological support the "new science" of economics privided to justify the deaths of thousands during the Irish Potato Famine.
Trevelyan, whose influence was paramount, summed up this attitude when he said that the Famine was "the judgment of God on an indolent and unself-reliant people." It was "the cure...applied by the direct stroke of an all wise Providence in a manner as unexpected...as it is likely to be effectual!" As God had "sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson, that calamity must not be too much mitigated." In other words, the Famine was God's will and we should not alleviate it too much."
However, following the publication of "Origin of Species" there was a great interest in the potential for human improvement by the application of biology. The most active centers for this thinking, called Social Darwinism, were in the United States, and secondly in Germany. The origin of Social Darwinism was of course British; particularly from the writing of Francis Galton, and Herbert Spencer. The notion of evolution was used in these nations primarily as justification of the political status quo- basically the poor underclass were inately "inferior" and there was no moral onus to care for them.
The political and economic situation in late 19th century Germany led to a huge polarization between Left and Right, and this is how the notions associated with Social Darwinism in England and the United States came to such different and disastrous results in Germany.
The man most responsible for Germany's "racial hygiene" Rassenhygiene and author of its founding articles and books was Alfred Ploetz. His 1895 work particularly argued aginst medical care for the "weak" as this would alow them to reproduce more than the "fit." His ideal of "fitness" was the wealthy. Ploetz established the Society for Racial Hygiene, Gesellshaft für Rassenhygiene, in 1905 which grew to 1,300 members by 1930. Curiously, the Racial Hygiene movement opposed birth control, and in the words of Max von Gruber (1914) "the so-called women's liberation movement." This latter point was echoed by American eugenicists who objected to birth control as part of an "antibaby strike" by emancipated women. Today's US religious right-wing fits hand and glove.
The German racial hygienists prior to the 1920s were not particularly concerned with "race" in the sense we use it today, but were concerned with their notion of race=national identity, and race=the totality of humankind. Ploetz (1895), for example, felt it necessary to explicitly state that his was not an anti-Semitic program, citing the achievements of Jesus, Spinoza and Marx in particular and rejected that there was any such thing as a "pure race" anywhere in the world. Similarly, he denied that interracial breeding was at all harmful, and referred to the notion of hybrid vigor; interbreeding of races was "a means of increasing fitness and as a source of good variations." Notably, Willhelm Schallmayer, winner of the 1900 Krupp Prize for his essay on evolution and political development of the state, urged that the singular Rassehygiene be used (rather then the plural Rassen-) to emphasize the focal unity of the human species.
None-the-less, Ploetz did maintain in 1895 that there were intellectual differences between the Caucasians and Negroes citing 1890 American studies of literacy rates! (The absurdity of this is patent, but even today there are similar arguments presented by radical conservatives). More sinisterly, Ploetz together with F. Wollny and Fritz Lenz, organized a secret Nordic division (Ring der Norda) within the Society for Race Hygiene from the very beginning. Fritz Lenz would become the leading Nazi racial theorist. His 1917 article "The Rebirth of Ethics" directly brought the thinking of Arthur Comte de Gobineau into German racial theories. Well before Darwin's Origin, Gobineau published his Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races in 1853-1855 which proposed that "racial vitality" was the driving force of history, and that the "white" races were superior to the "colored" races. Initially this work was only popular in the American slave states, following the biblical arguments of the Negro's bearing the "curse of Ham." American and European creationist theories of the "pre-Adamites" went so far as to claim that Negroes had been created on the Genesis fifth day with "other beasts of the field." Gobineau's claim that the German Volk represented the last pure Nordic population attracted Lenz who reintroduced Gobineau into German racist theories.
What was outstanding and uniquely German was the domination of the racist Nordic movement by medical doctors. This had several important consequences, one being the prominance given to inherited disease and secondly the willingness to take direct "curative action" as a public health program.
Leading figures of the Nordic movement wrote for the Politisch-anthropologish Revue edited by Ludwig Wolttmaann, M.D. ( e.g. Rüdin, Lentz, Fisher and Schallmayer). The right wing of the racial hygiene movement, the Nordic supremacists, that ultimately became the Nazi medical establishment was virtually the creation of medical publisher Julius Friedrich Lehmann. Lehmann joint the Nazi party in 1920, and was the first Nazi to recieve the party's "Golden Medal of Honor" in 1934. Actually, by 1930 it was nearly impossible to distinguish between the Nordic/Nazi and the transformed Rassenhygiene movements. At that time, some people still attempted to separate what they viewed as the medical and scientific study of human genetics from the Nazi dominated Rassenhygiene, but within Germany they were suppressed.
There is a hightly significant passage in Evans pg. 92-93:
|"The minutes [taken by Dr. Paul Otto Schmidt] for the second day's meeting, on 17 April 1943, recorded a statement by Reich Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, in Hitler's presence, to a point made by Hungarian Admiral Horthy: "On Horthy's retort, what should he do with the Jews then, after he had pretty well taken all means of living from them-- he surely couldn't beat them to death-- the Reich Foreign Minister [Ribbentrop] replied that the Jews must either be annihilated or taken to concentration camps. There is no other way."|
Hitler almost immediately confirmed Ribbentrop's explicitly murderous statement at some length: Hitler: "Where the Jews were left to themselves, as for example in Poland, gruesome poverty and degeneracy had ruled. They were just pure parasites. One had fundamentally cleared up this state of affairs in Poland. If the Jews there didn't want to work [in Third Reich concentration camps], they were shot. If they couldn't work they had to perish. They had to be treated like tuberculosis bacilli, from which a healthy body could be infected. That was not cruel, if one remembered that even innocent natural creatures like hares and deer had to be killed so that no harm was caused. Why should one spare the beasts who wanted to bring us Bolshevism more? Nations who did not rid themselves of Jews perished." (references and footnotes are found in Evans, 2001:92-93)
Here we have Hitler, in his argument to Hungary's Admiral Horthy, invoking not an übermench racist position, but an anti-Bolshevik, and nationalist one. His analogy is to disease and there is no argument based on the notion of evolution. Hitler never tried to draw rhetorical support from Social Darwinism arguing in Mein Kampf, it is not present in the text. Science in any event was at most merely a twig on the trunk of his anti-Semitism. His opposition is to what he considered a Marxist threat, not drawn from Darwin, which was more a rationalization of his hatred than its origin.
The Nazi Office of Racial Policy held thousands of public meetings a month promoting anti-semitism and attacking “muddle-headed humanitarianism” (Humanitätsduselei) or, what we call “liberalism” today. The theoretical models and dominant metaphors Hitler drew from did not include evolution at any event, but the Germ Theory of Disease, and Christianity. In 1938 the Nazi "Office of Racial Policy" publication Inromationsdienst Martin Luther’s advice on the “proper” treatment of Jews was given prominent display:
| ... to put their synagogues and schools to fire, and what will not burn, to cover with earth and rubble so that no-one will ever again see anything there but cinders ... Second, one should tear down and destroy their houses, for they do also in there what they do in their schools and synagogues ... And third, one should confiscate their prayer books and Talmud, in which idolatry and lies, slander and blasphemy is taught” From Proctor 1988: 88. |
The founder of Protestant Christianity was a greater inspiration to the Nazis than any scientist. Science, politicized by the same conditions that radicalized both Left, and Right in Germany, was used as justification for actions long advocated as “Christian.”
In fact, the Nazis has the works of Darwin publically burned along with the books of Ernst Haeckel (Guidelines from Die Bücherei 2:6 (1935), p. 279). Die Bücherei, the official Nazi journal for lending libraries, published these collection evaluation "guidelines" during the second round of "purifications" (saüberung).
6. Schriften weltanschaulichen und lebenskundlichen Charakters, deren Inhalt die falsche naturwissenschaftliche Aufklärung eines primitiven Darwinismus und Monismus ist (Häckel).
Guidelines from Die Bücherei 2:6 (1935), p. 279
6. Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Häckel)
Readers interestd in an honest assesment of the history of the Nazis and their "science" of Racial Hygiene should read the following works;
Evans, Richard J.
2001 Lying about Hitler New York:Basic Books.
1999 (orig. 1925) Mien Kampf Ralph Manheim, translator. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Proctor, Robert N.
1988 Racial Hygiene: Medicine Under the Nazis Boston:Harvard University Press.
Edited by Dr.GH on Feb. 26 2008,15:22
"Science is the horse that pulls the cart of philosophy."
L. Susskind, 2004 "SMOLIN VS. SUSSKIND: THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE"