So much for why Wilberforce ought to be put on the £10 note. But what about reasons why Darwin's portrait ought to be removed? I can think of three good reasons.
1 FOUNDATION FOR RACISM
Darwin’s portrait should be removed from the £10 note because his theory of evolution justifies racism.
If you accept Darwin’s theory, then it follows that different parts of the human race may be at different stages of evolution, and indeed, may have evolved from different apes. For example, in 1923 the German evolutionist Klaatsch wrote a book titled The Evolution and Progress of Mankind in which he argued that Caucasians were evolved chimpanzees, the Orientals were descended from orang-utans while Africans came from gorillas.
It is true that Darwin (born in 1809, three years after the abolition of the slave trade) opposed slavery, yet he also said that one of the strongest pieces of evidence for evolution was the existence of living 'primitive races.' What we call ‘missing links’ were not thought of as missing at all in Darwin’s day, but alive and living in Africa and aboriginal Australia. Darwin placed these people evolutionarily between the 'civilized races of man' and the gorilla. It was not unreasonable, therefore, to enslave these peoples just as we get certain animals to work for us. As Dr. Don Boys puts it in his article ‘Evolution: Basis for Racism!’, “Darwin and his disciples were not only pseudo-scientists, but they were also radical, rabid racists!”
In light of this, it is not surprising to find evolutionary theory on by leading advocates of racist ideology, such as Arthur Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chamberlain.
Professor James Joll, who has taught history at Oxford, Stanford and Harvard explained about the relationship between Darwinism and racism in his book Europe Since 1870:
“The ideas of Darwin, and of some of his contemporaries such as the English philosopher Herbert Spencer, …were rapidly applied to questions far removed from the immediate scientific ones… The element of Darwinism which appeared most applicable to the development of society was the belief that the excess of population over the means of support necessitated a constant struggle for survival in which it was the strongest or the 'fittest' who won. From this it was easy for some social thinkers to give a moral content to the notion of the fittest, so that the species or races which did survive were those morally entitled to do so.
“The doctrine of natural selection could, therefore, very easily become associated with another train of thought developed by the French writer, Count Joseph-Arthur Gobineau, who published an Essay on the Inequality of Human Races in 1853. Gobineau insisted that the most important factor in development was race; and that those races which remained superior were those which kept their racial purity intact. Of these, according to Gobineau, it was the Aryan race which had survived best...” (James Joll, Europe Since 1870: An International History, Penguin Books, Middlesex, 1990, p. 102-103)
Darwinism is still used to justify racism today. On their website, the American neo-fascists organisation National Alliance writes,
“Our world is hierarchical. Each of us is a member of the Aryan (or European) race, which, like the other races, developed its special characteristics over many thousands of years during which natural selection not only adapted it to its environment but also advanced it along its evolutionary path. Those races which evolved in the more demanding environment of the North, where surviving a winter required planning and self-discipline, advanced more rapidly in the development of the higher mental faculties.” (From the article ‘General Principles: The Law of Inequality’)
2 FOUNDATION FOR EUGENICS
Darwin’s portrait should be removed from the £10 note because his theory of evolution justifies eugenics.
Darwinism has also provided the basis for the theory of self-guided evolution known as eugenics. The modern field of eugenics was formulated in 1865 by Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Darwin who used the idea of natural selection as the basis for arguing that only the fittest should be allowed to survive. The theory was adopted by prominent thinkers such as Alexander Graham Bell and W.E.B. DuBois but fell out of favour after Ernst Rüdin got hold of the idea and incorporated it into Nazi rhetoric. It has only recently started to make a comeback.
Thirty-seven years after the publication of The Origin of Species (1859), Darwin left the door open for Eugenics when he wrote as follows in The Descent of Man:
'At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time, the anthropomorphous apes. . . will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla. ... It has often been said ... that man can resist with impunity the greatest diversities of climate and other changes; but this is true only of the civilized races. Man in his wild condition seems to be in this respect almost as susceptible as his nearest allies, the anthropoid apes, which have never yet survived long, when removed from their native country.' (Darwin, Charles, 1871, republished 1896. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex; The Works of Charles Darwin, D. Appleton and Company, New York (First edition by AMS Press, 1972) pp 241-242)
In the sixth chapter of The Descent of Man, Darwin speculated that ‘survival of the fittest’ pressures would eventually eliminate both the black race, which he considered inferior, and other 'lower races'. In addition, he concluded:
'I could show [that war had] done and [is] doing [much] . . . for the progress of civilization . . . The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date . . . an endless number of lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.'
It is not hard to see how this idea of ‘higher races’ eliminating ‘lower races’ provides the ideological underpinning for the practice of self-guided evolution known (eugenics).
3 FOUNDATION FOR FASCISM
Darwin’s portrait should be removed from the £10 note because his theory of evolution justified fascism.
Like Darwin, Hitler believed that some living races still possessed ‘ape status.’ This was the ideological underpinning for his project of mass extermination of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and Russians. ‘Take away the Nordic Germans, and nothing remains but the dance of apes,’ remarked Hitler during a speech in Munich in 1927.
In his book Mein Kampf, Hitler expanded on this idea, appealing to the idea of evolution to establish the superiority of the Aryan race:
"If nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior. Why? Because, in such a case her efforts, throughout hundreds and thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile." [Also see Jerry Bergman, ‘Darwinism and the Nazi Race Holocaust’, Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 13 (2): 101-111, 1999]
Hitler was greatly influenced by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). Nietzsche took Darwin’s idea of the survival of the fittest and theorised that evolution would continue to progress until human beings turned into a superman. ‘The superman’ wrote Nietzsche ten years after Darwin’s Descent of Man,
‘is the meaning of the earth….Man is a rope stretched between beast and Superman – a rope over an abyss…. Man is great in that he is a bridge and not a goal.’ (From Nietzsche’s book Thus Spake Zarathustra)
To reach this goal to which all evolution was striving, Nietzsche argued that something more was required than merely survival. It required the Will to Power. Man, according to Nietzsche, was not just the passive product of evolution, but could actively accelerate this progress forward. That is exactly what Hitler hoped to do. In his article ‘From Darwin to Hitler in Two Easy Steps’, Regis Nicoll writes,
"Inspired by Darwinism’s “survival-of-the-fittest’ and fuelled by Nietzsche’s Will to Power, Hitler sewed a crimson thread that would eventually run through Stalin, Mussolini, Khrushchev, Mao Tse-tung, and Pol Pot, and at the expense of over 100 million human lives." (Regis Nicoll, ‘From Darwin to Hitler in Two Easy Steps’, Salvo magazine, autumn 2006)
Working on the principle that nature eliminates the weak, Hitler believed he was called to help the process of evolution along. In Auschwitz, the theory that only the fittest survive was implemented with brutal consistency. As Sir Arthur Keith puts it well:
"We see Hitler devoutly convinced that evolution produces the only real basis for a national policy…The means he adopted to secure the destiny of his race and people were organized slaughter which has drenched Europe in blood." (From the book Evolution and Ethics, by Sir Arthur Keith)
Nazism also built on the Darwinian belief in the inevitability of human conflict. As Harun Yahya remarks,
"Both the eugenical murders, which were propagated by Ernst Haeckel and performed by the Nazis, and the Nazi mass murders of war years had a common philosophical ground: The idea that humans are mere animals and there is a perpetual conflict among their races. Nazis did not hesitate to kill hundreds of thousands of children for this cruel idea." (From the article Racism And Social Darwinism)
Harun Yahya also points out that
"a heavy Darwinist influence can be seen in all the Nazi ideologues. When this theory, which was given form by Hitler and Alfred Rosenburg is examined, one sees concepts such as 'natural selection,' 'selective mating,' and 'the struggle for survival between the races,' which are repeated dozens of times in Darwin's The Origin of Species. The name of Hitler's book Mein Kampf was inspired by Darwin's principle that life was a constant struggle for survival, and those who emerged victorious survived. In the book Hitler talked of the struggle between the races, and said: 'History would culminate in a new millennial empire of unparalleled splendour, based on a new racial hierarchy ordained by nature herself."
These are some of the many reasons why Darwin's portrait on the £10 note ought to be replaced by Wilberforce. It is also shows how wrong ideas can have some pretty serious consequences. An idea can have more power than a thousand armies.
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