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Social Darwinism Was the Cause of European Domination

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Eric Peacock, Christopher Hodgin

Mrs. Bennett

Humanities 2-4

21 February 2016

Social Darwinism was the Cause of European Domination

        According to humanistic psychologist, Francis Bacon, “man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.” Citizens in the wealthy class of 19th century Europe were, apparently, not exceptions to this generalization, as they developed the belief that they were inherently superior to those of foreign descent. Known as social Darwinism, this deviant belief, without a doubt, played a pivotal role in Europe becoming a major hegemonic world power in the time period of 1750-1914. As it promoted both imperialism and nationalism, social Darwinism united the wealthy class of Europe, who then utilized this newfound belief of superiority to further extend their control over other nations through expansion. Yes, social Darwinism caused the unjust mistreatment of poorer and foreign peoples, but, like it or not, this belief was necessary for the Europeans to create a thriving economy and stronger society.

Social Darwinism has undeniably acted as a catalyst for imperialism by uniting one or more groups of people throughout history. As a plethora of European countries began to discover this philosophy of innate entitlement, competition for land and power became more and more present. As social Darwinism and competition are correlated, it cannot be refuted that it was this sense of urgency to gain power that resulted in European domination. Over time, this intersocietal competition grew into a need to sustain wealth and authority over inferior races and classes. This led to the fall of the fearful lower classes in each nation, as their governing powers felt that “those too weak or ill-equipped to compete, or those who are unwilling and unable to do so, ought not to be given an artificial boost to keep them on Nature’s battlefield” (Dennis 244). As an increasing number of countries eliminated their weaker classes, Europe as a whole became the strongest continent known to man. However, social Darwinism did not merely affect national relations. It can be said with certainty that this belief of vast superiority was used to settle age-old disputes between religious factions. During the time period of 1750-1914, the recent enlightenment caused all of Europe to grow bitter towards the major religions of Europe, with the Jewish people taking the brunt of the oppression. Starting in Germany, Jewish persecution had become commonplace. As Jews were seen as indefinitely lesser beings, more and more middle class citizens dreamed of their extinction, which can be seen through “the fury with which the feeling of hatred to the Jews blazed forth among the townspeople who are Christians” (Reuter 6). In instances such as these, leaders of a nation must identify a way to unite the people so as to strive towards a common goal. The German leaders used a method of unification known as Social Darwinism in order to achieve a compound nation. This theory inevitably brought the dispersed Germany together by creating a common enemy of the people of Germany in the Jews. Without the use of Social Darwinism, it is impossible to imagine a way for Germany to have amassed the wealth, unity, and political power that they did. Yes, the targeting of Jews for discrimination could be considered unethical, but it was a necessary step in order to advance the society and cause imperial progress throughout all of Germany.

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