President Obama’s accusation that the Ryan budget is “thinly veiled Social Darwinism” has inspired a raft of indignant, outraged and frantic reactions from several corners of the Right, most of whom have rightly pointed out that the concept of “Social Darwinism” is itself arguably the first Progressive smear, and like the rest of them, is an unpleasant misuse of the tongue signifying absolutely bloody nothing.
A fair point, I must grant these writers, but this is rather like responding to the charge that one is a “poopy head” by pointing out the impossibility of neural tissue coexisting with fecal matter. It misses the point of the insult – and indeed, in so doing, misses the insidious philosophical assumption behind the insult. For you see, unlike “poopy head,” which as an insult tells us only that the person leveling the insult doesn’t like human waste (“Welfare queen” has much the same implication), “Social Darwinist” implies something else entirely. That is, it implies support for the idea that humans, managing their own damn affairs, will produce a better future, not just in the airy, meaningless sense talked about by politicians of both parties, but at the level of hard biological fact.
Confused? Let me explain. Suppose that President Obama had slammed Darwin by calling him a “biological Hayekian,” which, by the way, he is. Nearly every free marketeer in the GOP would – irrespective of their agreement or disagreement with Darwin – have leapt forward with fury asking just what on earth was so bad about Hayek. Yet Obama compares the GOP philosophy to social Darwinism, and crickets chirp about the idea of applying Darwin’s ideas to politics. This is unfortunate, because the only people who have tried to apply Darwin politically – progressives – have mangled his ideas and embarrassed themselves.
Why? Because everything about progressivism runs counter to Darwin. Darwin says the spontaneous order of nature decides which species will and won’t survive. Progressives want everything planned by the State. Darwin says evolution takes time, and we must be epistemologically modest enough to allow for variations among species to see its effects. Progressivism seeks to standardize everything. Darwin says inequality is natural, and indeed biologically productive. Progressives hate it. And finally, Darwin shows us that the failure of one species is sometimes necessary to prevent the spread of unnecessary mutations. For Progressives, every government policy amounts to an unnecessary mutation of society.
This mutual incompatibility between Darwin and the Left is so self-evident that even progressive scientist Richard Dawkins has admitted that “if evolution could vote, it would vote Republican.” By implication then, evolution would not vote for President Obama – and no, paranoid Leftist race baiters, that is not a comment about him being racially inferior. It is a comment about his ideas, about which more later. For now, let us say that this brings us to the issue of what’s really wrong with what President Obama originally said. Suppose the GOP are “Social Darwinists.” What does that really mean? Merely that we believe that the best and brightest of humanity as it currently stands deserves to define the human race for the rest of the foreseeable future. In other words, we believe meritocracy is the natural state of affairs.
And what, we must ask, does that mean President Obama believes in? Based on what you see at his rallies, and indeed in the way he lovingly talks of those who glorify their own failure, we must conclude that President Obama’s entire election strategy is the political equivalent of going back to the dawn of man and rallying the 99 percent of monkeys who didn’t develop sentience against the 1 percent who did, claiming their comparative lack of evolutionary fitness is unfair. And no, race baiters, I repeat – that is not a slur. 99 percent of all the sub-races of homo sapiens still appears to lack sentience sometimes – another thing President Obama is banking on with his election strategy.
So let us call a spade a spade and describe what President Obama really meant to say, but couldn’t because it is politically unpalatable. He meant to say that while Republicans favor the best of the human race, and aim to create policies that encourage behavior in line with the best of the human race, he believes that being a lazy, unintelligent, incompetent, undignified walking confirmation of the idea that humans of all races really haven’t evolved that much beyond being mud (and poop) slinging apes is a right worth protecting as President. Where Republicans seek to hold up the shining light of success as a sun shining over Morning in America, President Obama means to permanently extinguish its relevance.
Democrats, especially in the aftermath of the Bush presidency, loved to hold up their deep regard for the theory of evolution as a sign of their own scientific open-mindedness. Their champion’s “survival of the unworthy” philosophy puts that canard to rest. If the GOP are what Chris Matthews calls “flat earthers,” then President Obama is a “flat curver,” and the curve he wants to flatten is the Bell Curve of history, which he would destroy by rendering all of us equally irrelevant, equally incompetent, equally meaningless data points in an unremarkable, dismal straight line.
The only such straight line that currently exists is the unemployment line. And God permitting, the party of “Social Darwinism” will soon force President Obama to join it.