The loose application of Darwin's biological concepts to the social world, where they did not
apply, also buttressed imperialism, racism, nationalism, and militarism—doctrines that preached
relentless conflict. Social Darwinists insisted that nations and races were engaged in a struggle for
survival in which only the fittest survive and deserve to survive. In their view, war was nature's
way of eliminating the unfit.
Karl Pearson, a British professor of mathematics, stated in
Life from the Standpoint of Science
History shows me only one way, and one way only in which a higher state of civilization
has been produced, namely the struggle of race with race, and the survival of the
physically and mentally fitter race…The path of progress is strewn with the wrecks of
nations; traces are everywhere to be seen of the sacrifice of interior races, and of victims
who found not the narrow way to perfection. Yet these dead ppl are, in very truth, the
stepping stones on which mankind has arisen to the higher intellectual and deeper
emotional life of today.
The most important of the radical Young Hegelians was Karl Marx. Marx retained Hegel’s
overarching principles that history contains an inner logic, that it is an intelligible process, and
that a dialectical struggle propels history from a lower stage to a higher stage.
The thought of the early socialists influenced Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who, in the second
half of the 19
, became the most influential formulators and propagators of socialism. There were
also Christian communitarians, who protested the treatment of the poor and the unsettling
conditions caused by industrialization. These Christian “socialists” urged believers to share their
property and labor and live together in model communities. For Marx, by necessity a new social
order entailed the destruction of the bourgeoisie.
Interpreting history in economic terms, Marx predicted that socialism would replace capitalism.
He called for the proletariat to overthrow capitalism and to establish a classless society.
was born of
German-Jewish parents (both descendants of prominent
rabbis). To save his job as a layer, Marx’s father converted to Protestantism. Enrolled at a
university to study law, Marx switched to philosophy. In 1842, he was editing a newspaper,
which was soon suppressed by the Prussian authorities for its outspoken ideas. Leaving his native
Rhineland, Marx went to Paris, where he met another German, Friedrich Engels (1820-1895),
who was the son of a prosperous textile manufacturer. Marx and Engels entered into a lifelong
collaboration an became members of socialist groups. In
, they published the
which called for a working-class revolution to overthrow the capitalist
system. Forced to leave France in 1849 because of his polit views,
Marx moved to London, where
he spent the rest of his life.
Short of funds, sometimes wife and daughters lived in dreadful poverty. In London, Marx spent