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Monday, 30 July 2012


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The Impressionists didn't call themselves Impressionists either.

Your argument, it seems to me, is a worthwhile point in terms of intellectual history and the history of science, but you need to clarify it. Was there a body of thought, significant if not dominant, during the gilded age and progressive era which was based around the proposition that naked competition would produce the fittest classes of persons, who would then obtain political, cultural and economic power? In other words, is it truly a bogey man, as you argue, or a real phenomenon, identified by a misnomer perhaps and in need of refinement and disambiguation, as the wiki-kids say, but an actual and significant phenomenon none the less. It seems to me more of the latter. I'm no Americanist or Intellectual Historian, but the portion of the material I know best, related to the devolpment of Scientific Racism, would suggest to me that there was in fact a broad current of evolutionary thought applied to the social realm which, in fact, shaped both the terms of political debate and the direction of political policy.

In which case, I think what you want to argue is that Social Darwinism wasn't, strictly speaking, Darwinian, not that it didn't exist.

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