During our consideration of the Rise of Objectivity we had the opportunity to point out that Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was credited with coining the term biology and he was one of the first to introduce the notion of evolution. However, it is significant for us to note that it is Charles Darwin that is credited with introducing the Theory of Evolution. I draw this comparison because I wish to point out that the fundamental difference between the two is that Lamarck posited the theory of heredity or the inheritance of acquired traits in a less than scientific fashion and was soon discredited. Alternatively, Darwin posited the theory of evolution in a scientific manner. In the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species, Darwin argued that all living things evolved from earlier forms of life by the process of natural selection. Based on his observations of fossils and living organisms during a five-year voyage (1831-36) around the world, Darwin concluded that new species arose as existing species gradually changed in response to environmental conditions.
It remains for us to consider how Darwin’s theory of evolution may have been used as a sounding board against which the racial divide of the 20th century has, by its current manifestations in the early 21st century, become such an entrenched component of the social fabric of Western European societies, especially in the United States of America. For the purpose of the current story, then, we are not interested in considering the relative merits of Darwin’s theory, per se. Rather; we are more appropriately concerned with the impact of his way of thinking on the social infrastructure that was being reconstructed in the image of science. In this context we can turn our attention to the rise of “Social Darwinism”. More specifically, I am interested in the views of Herbert Spencer, considered the leading proponent of the Social Darwinist Movement and the individual credited with having coined the famous phrase, “survival of the fittest”. Before proceeding with our considerations, we need to make a few clarifications regarding historical ambiguity.
We should keep in mind that history is unfolding under the microscope of time and intellectual ideas are being developed everywhere simultaneously. If the time is ripe for certain ideas to become acceptable because the groundwork for their acceptance has already been laid, so to speak, it should not be surprising that who came first or who started what is naturally confusing and can be hard to figure out, especially if we feel the scientistic need to put things in order. That is, Spencer’s ideas regarding the survival of the fittest in economic terms predate the Origin of the Species and yet they are at the base of a movement called Social Darwinism. Such is the nature of the scientistic beast. Let us not forget my metaphor of being an alchemist with a cauldron full of historical elements in which I seek nothing more than to get a feel for what was going on in the broader picture.
In 1864 Spencer wrote a text entitled Principles of Biology wherein he states, “This survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called ‘natural selection’, or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life.” Prior to this publication the term had only been used by the British Economist in his text Social Statics (1851). However, what is important for our consideration is the rider that is attached to its reference in Principles of Biology. Specifically, I am referring to the addition of the statement, “or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life”.
Sidebar: Venting and Seething with Contempt for Modernist Ideology
If I were in a court of law attempting to argue on behalf of a group of blacks, women and Hispanics (et al) for the racial, gender and ethnic discrimination they have received in the United States, the first thing that would happen is that I would have to face an objection by my more than worthy opponent regarding relevance. Thus my opponent, probably a black man or a woman (it always works better when you use one of their own once the Stockholm Syndrome has taken hold), would go on to say that I cannot show any specific correlation between the history of Western European consciousness and the frame of mind of any specific defendant against a charge of discrimination. This is true, I lose.
I’m not trying to say that a scientific approach to refuting claims made within the status quo is not possible. Rather, I believe, as do all lawyers, that virtually any scientific claim can be refuted with countering scientific claims with very few exceptions. My point is that scientific claims do nothing and go nowhere. The system is set-up to absorb any argument whatsoever made by oppressed individuals against their own oppression and discrimination. However, we must not overlook the true artistry of the system in also knowing how to give out sterile victories that serve only to give the illusion of justice.
Consider the time in which our British Economist is writing about the Principles of Biology. Specifically, the text was written in 1864 but this is not the response I am seeking. I am more interested in pointing out that in the United States the rights of slaves were being debated during this same period. That is, White property owners, among which one must include the slaves they owned, were being asked to imagine a world where they would no longer be allowed to purchase, sell or trade black people for slave labor. These are the same property owners that our social contract theorist told us would manipulate the system any way they could to get their way. Still, the system must be allowed to produce at least a semblance of the illusion of justice. Therefore, in 1865 the black man was said to be victorious in the eyes of the law when a legal end to slavery became a reality in the United States with the passage of the 13th Amendment.
Concluding Remarks on Spencer and Racial Difference
We see then that for upper class property owner the system of government of the United States, its constitution and its laws really does work. They simply need to go about maintaining their perpetual advantage in subtle terms. This is precisely where the contribution of Herbert Spencer can be more clearly understood. In a certain sense it can be said to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. After all, there is no law against being able to do business with whomever one please. For the upper class property owner, all they have to do is keep economic opportunities among themselves while learning to balance subsistence wages for the “other” members of society.
In the poorly educated upbringing that I received on the streets of East Los Angeles during the early sixties we didn’t have problems with determining an appropriate distribution of wealth and power. In our little circle we simply took our resources and made sure the leader got the most, the one that did the work got almost as much and everybody else got an equal share. Naturally, if there were extenuating circumstances such as a family emergency, then it would be possible for all of us to give up our shares to help with the situation. The point that I am trying to make cannot be found in the specifics of my example but in the generalizations. That is, the values I learned on the streets involved making sure everybody got something and that we all need to pitch-in and help when there are emergencies.
In non-scientific terms, the sad truth of the matter is that you could take a snapshot of what is now the United States of America at a point in time when the social infrastructure first began its transformation into a newly reconstructed image of science and make some very telling generalizations. For example, the majority of what is now the Southwestern portion of the United States was owned by Mexican landowners and was in fact a different country. Large portions of land in the Southwest and other areas of the United States were inhabited by Indians. In the Southwest these Indians lived in ideological co-existence with their Mexican neighbors because both cultures maintained a harmony with nature. If we fast-forward from 1865 to 1914 (which in one lifetime would now be a man or woman of 49 years) and take another snapshot of the United States, we see that more than a natural amount of change has taken place. Let us consider some of the more interesting occurrences that had an impact on racial relations during this individual’s lifetime:
|1. The Chinese were brought over to work on the railroads but White owners didn’t like them because they brought Tongs to run crime syndicates, drugs to sell, prostitutes and general negatives that made them unwanted. At this point the government passed a law entitled “The Chinese Exclusion Act” that was passed in 1882.
2. Then they brought in the Japanese to work on the railroads. Japanese were certainly a much more controllable breed of worker. Unfortunately, the Japanese were smarter and better than your average White owner and pooled their money, purchased their own property and engaged in competition with the White owners. This was not to be tolerated so the government then passed what was called “The Gentlemen’s Agreement” in 1888. This was necessary because the Japanese didn’t engage in any of the negative activities of the Chinese.
3. During this same timeframe the Indians were moved around, their lands were seized and small, less inhabitable lands were given for them to “live” on with no regard to their well being. Many of them were killed during the period of their resistance anyway.
4. All the property that was owned by Mexican and Spanish people was now in the hands of White owners. Don’t ask; it should be enough to say that they all made some very bad business decisions and signed over their property to some very nice White people that happened to be standing by willing to give them a helping hand. While a large percentage of the previous owners lost their lives and the lives of their loved ones in the process, no unjustifiable acts occurred.
The real bottom line is that this country was built with the use of racial difference as a guardrail to determine the path of power and opportunity. I wish I could do the math for you but it just makes me want to cry. The good news in the eyes of modernist ideology is that none of this can be substantiated by fact and is therefore, unwarranted conjecture. Is it any wonder why I would abdicate traditional academic responsibilities?
A Non-Western European Exception:
It seems patently humorous to me that I should be currently motivated by a greater concern for describing our historical evolution in such a way as to promote a psychic and spiritual liberation from our Western European modernist prison than I am with attempting to reap the benefits and advantages that follow from a mastery of such Western European sensibilities. In other words, even if after reading my story you are convinced that in your heart you know that what I have said is true, such a foundation of mutual understanding between us would, for me, serve as a launching pad to heal psychic disturbances in the human soul in preparation for the fulfillment of the prophesized rising of the new Sun in 2012 rather than in trying to gain the benefits of wealth and prosperity that our social environment might offer. My only explanation for such a total disregard for what the members of our society have been describing as the very goals and objectives of striving for a better life in Western European terms, may be found in the work of a Mexican philosopher and Minister of Education, Jose Vasconsuelos.
In 1925, Jose Vasconsuelos published a text entitled, “La Raza Cosmica” (The Cosmic Race) for the expressed purpose of providing an alternative to the bigoted beliefs of White supremacist that have interpreted the notion of “natural selection” [Darwin] and adopted the phrase “the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life” [Spencer], to claim their superiority to all others. As a basis for refuting such a claim, Vasconsuelos points out that in the Iberian regions of the America continents the conditions exist for the creation of a new race, a cosmic race that contains the genetic codes of the Asians, Black Africans, Native Americans and White Europeans.
I understand Vasconsuelos to mean that like the incestuous blue bloods of European monarchies, when you inbreed you end up with family idiots in the closet. Alternatively, the mestizo, as a descendant of all of the racial bloodlines, will be even stronger in the chain of natural selection. Vasconsuelos believed that the emergence of this fifth race, the cosmic race, is the destiny of the mestizo of the Iberio-American region of the world, the idiots notwithstanding.