Jewish Perspective On Social Darwinism and the Holocaust
Dr. Arnold Slyper, Director of Pediatric Endocrinology at Loyola University Medical Center said this in one of the articles on Jewish Action Online that I cited in my last post:
Darwinian evolutionary theory captured the popular imagination of the nineteenth century because of the social implications of natural selection as well as its biological implications. If man were no more than a higher functioning animal, argued social Darwinism, survival of the fittest would justify the powerful exploiting the economically and politically vulnerable, since this was the way the natural world functioned. By World War I, many of the implications of social Darwinism, such as colonialism and the extremes of capitalism, had largely become untenable from both a political and moral standpoint. Nevertheless, the Jewish people were to experience firsthand the horrors of this theory when it resurfaced, unbridled, in Nazi Germany.
I was quite struck when I read this, given Abraham Foxman's recent strident and insulting comments alleging that examining the influence of Darwinism on Nazism was an "outrageous and shoddy attempt . . . to trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust." (Many other Darwinists joined in the attacks as well.)
We must never forget the Social Darwinist movement and its effects. We must never ignore the important moral, philosophical and religious implications of Darwinian theory-- no matter how many people want to deny them or sweep them under the carpet.