World War I and Darwinism

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Historian Jacques Barzun observed how Darwinism caused the horrendous brutality of the wars leading up to World War I: "Since in every European country between 1870 and 1914 there was a war party demanding armaments, an individualist party demanding ruthless competition, an imperialist party demanding a free hand over backward peoples, a socialist party demanding the conquest of power and a racialist party demanding internal purges against aliens — all of them, when appeals to greed and glory failed, invoked Spencer and Darwin, which was to say science incarnate."[1]

According to Annika Mombauer, senior lecturer in history at the Open University in Milton Keynes and the author of numerous books and articles on World War I:

Many of the decision makers and, in fact, many ordinary Europeans did feel that war would eventually come. You have to think of another "-ism" -- social Darwinism, this belief that nations and peoples are subject to the same biological laws as animals and that they are going to either rise to the top or they are going to be eliminated in a vying for power."[2]

For more information please see: Darwinism and World War One and Darwinism and the Nazi race Holocaust and Social effects of evolutionary ideology

See also