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  Social Darwinism for Dummies
Art Posted by Xnoubis on April 17, 2001 @ 11:20 AM
from the melee-of-revealing dept.

Weakest Link
Anne Robinson, host
NBC

When I tuned in to NBC's new game show, "Weakest Link," my only thought was to indulge my taste for domineering women. And indeed, although what I'd read in the paper about host Anne Robinson sounded intriguing enough, she exceeded by far my fondest wishes. But that wasn't all I found.


If somehow you hadn't heard, "Weakest Link" (originally a hit on British television) pits eight contestants against one another to win a jackpot by answering trivia questions. What makes it unique is that each round concludes with the contestants voting to remove one of their company for the rest of the game, the one member considered to be the "Weakest Link." Not only that, but the votes are displayed publicly, and the ostracized member has to listen as the former teammates explain in humiliating detail why they voted against him or her, before exiting along the "walk of shame." As if that weren't enough, Anne Robinson piles on insults against everyone in sight, brutally -- but with style. Finally, the losers are filmed venting their rage backstage in order to demonstrate that there is no good sportsmanship going on here.

Appalling. Sick. But very, very funny.

What occurred to me watching this spectacle, though, is that this is Social Darwinism stripped down to its bare essentials. We've been seeing it in shows like "Survivor" for a while now, but by streamlining and exaggerating the Darwinist core, "Weakest Link" impacts us with a startling directness.

As I've often written before, I'm no fan of Social Darwinism, whether I see it in the Republican Party, laissez-fair economics, or Thelema. In a way, I see it as the fundamental error in the way our world is going. So this is why I go to great lengths to advocate that Thelemites distance themselves from Social Darwinism, even though a significant portion of Crowley's writings can be read as supporting the idea.

What "Weakest Link" shows us in high relief is exactly what is wrong with holding "Survival of the Fittest" as the central principle of society. We laugh (well, I laughed) at Anne Robinson's put-downs, but we remember the humiliation of the losers. And we realize that we don't want to live our lives that way.

A homeopathic remedy works to correct an imbalance in the body by slightly increasing that imbalance, so that the body's immune systems kick in. Similarly, I see "Weakest Link" as having the potential to wean us away from the cruel competitiveness of our society by amplifying that competitiveness and really rubbing our noses in it. Also, I think that it effectively illustrates the ugliness of emphasizing "on the low men trample" (as a principle of external relations) before "Love is the Law."



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    Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
    by Nexist on Thursday April 19, @12:08PM
    I support Social Darwinism, but with a difference, I feel it should be used as an applied science, rather than as a justification. Our society rewards certain traits & punishes others. Any lasting change needs to address what society rewards & punishes.

    The problem lies with matching the system well enough to get the power to implement the desired changes.

    Perhaps I should refer to it as "Social Eugenics". LOL.

    A final note. While survival of the fittest is certainly more catchy, we know that it is merely survival of the "fit enough".

    • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
      by Xnoubis on Thursday April 19, @01:22PM
      I'm sure that long-time readers will be aware that you and I are dramatically opposed on this issue.

      But I am curious to know: have you caught the silly little show? Does it reflect on the issues of Social Darwinism at all for you?


      • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
        by Nexist on Thursday April 19, @09:42PM
        Uh, no. Currently, I watch 1 hour of TV a week (Andromeda, if you must know) & when I get cable again, it will be two (gotta watch that Farscape). Other than occasional shows on History, Discover, et al, that summs up my TV viewing habits.

        I haven't truly enjoyed TV since I was 15 (I am now 34). I have actually tried to watch more, but I get bored (Buffy and Law & Order wer the most successful, I actually watched half a season of them).

        Anyway, I find TV insulting most of the time & Sitcoms, "Drama" (nighttime soap operas) and "real" TV are the most insulting. Lest it seem that I am anti-TV, my wife & children often watch the thing (& I usually refrain from commenting -- though I broke down with that truly vile "Temptation Island" & ridiculed it pretty heavily).

        As for the shows relevence to "Social Eugenics", I do not know the question level (Is it "Who wants to be a Millionaire" or "Jeapardy"), but I assume it caters to the same intelligence level as "Survivor" and the like, a more active form of America's Stupidest, er Funniest, People/Videos, Etc. Look at what is promoted, stupidity. It is representative of why we need to take hold of the reins of societal expectations & move them up, rewarding creativity, intelligence, honor & diligence. WHo should get the million dollar prize, some guy who "accidentily" placed his testicles on the BBQ (unfortunately after siring children) or a poet (no matter how atrocious their poetry is)?


        • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
          by Xnoubis on Friday April 20, @11:17AM
          The level of the questions on "Weakest Link" is pretty low, and yet the contestants are able to answer shockingly few of them. The game does reward what little intelligence there is, but what makes it unusual is the explicit way that it punishes, and the focus that it provides on the anguish of the punished. For someone opposed to Social Darwinism, like myself, it thus provides an encapsulated, simplified illustration of what's wrong with the idea. What I would have found interesting would have been an explanation from a supporter of Social Darwinism of how the show is not a valid parallel of the idea.

          (I've found that the show gets much less interesting after the first viewing, by the way.)


          • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
            by Nexist on Saturday April 21, @04:24PM
            This is try two. IE crashed as I was previewing. Damn MS products.

            Anyway, I am hardly your typical "supporter of Social Darwinism". I think the principle is sound, but I reject that everything is as it should be.

            If we change what is rewarded, then natural progression will cause changes in the nature of humanity.

            Anyway, this was to be much longer, but my interest in trying to recreate what I was going to say has waned a bit. I will see if I have enough for a future article.


            • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
              by Xnoubis on Monday April 23, @10:12AM
              > I think the principle is sound, but I reject
              > that everything is as it should be.

              Come again?

              > If we change what is rewarded, then natural
              > progression will cause changes in the nature of
              > humanity.

              Agreed. I have no objection to planning what is rewarded; I think of that as "social engineering." There is great potential for mischief in that undertaking, but society does it inevitably, so we might as well put some thought into it. Karl Popper supported the idea of "piecemeal social engineering," whereby we attempt to improve society on the basis of trial and error, implemented in small steps in an open, rational, and democratic fashion. This would be in opposition to the idea of reforming society on the basis of some overriding ideology, as was seen in the advent of Communism and Fascism.

              My objection to what I think of as "Social Darwinism" has to do with what is not rewarded. Those who don't fit in with society's ethos -- are they punished, ignored, or nurtured? I agree with Crowley's stance in Liber Aleph that there is a minimum standard of support that society guarantees its citizens. Society may reward those who provide some service to it; but it at least provides the basics of survival for all.


              • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                by Jon Auviere on Monday April 23, @10:53AM
                Would it not be fair to say that you don't have an objection to evolution but to collectivism and dogma? In my book, dogma has always been opposed to evolution (darwinism). The question - Why do you think Crowley favored the implications of natural selection? - should be extensively explored. - Any conclusion is quite interesting to say the least.


                • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                  by Xnoubis on Monday April 23, @11:07AM
                  Yes, it is interesting. I want to draw a sharp distinction between Darwinism and Social Darwinism. Darwinism, or evolution, attempts to describe (accurately, I would say) an aspect of the universe as it is. Social Darwinism attempts to formulate a response to evolution, specifically: if there is a weeding out that takes place in nature, should we not formulate a conscious intention of what is to be weeded out? And the problem with that lies with human fallibility. People may sometimes know what to eliminate, but often, the baby is thrown out with the bath water.

                  This isn't so much a problem on a limited scale, like a country club, because misfits can form their own clubs, and country clubs that are too restrictive become stagnant. But in a state, there is often nowhere else to go.


                  • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                    by Jon Auviere on Monday April 23, @11:23AM
                    Well, there is always room for political discussion as you introduce the term "state". But I feel I cannot comment on this any further. That is, I don't think the word you're looking for is a state, but a forum or group of society. Like the article suggests, an intellectual group that is fast on its toes. The idea is that no matter how you dish it out, it is still human evolution. The weakest link is always a factor, because it influences the whole. For instance, natural influences include starvation. Do the people who preach about saving the world really care? No, World trade means that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer... There are no ethical standards. So why fall into that trap?


                    • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                      by Xnoubis on Monday April 23, @12:59PM
                      > I don't think the word you're looking for is a
                      > state, but a forum or group of society.

                      Well, if we look at the "Weakest Link" as a model of a limited group, it doesn't illustrate much. Snobbery, maybe. What interested me about it was what it implied as a model for society in general.

                      > For instance, natural influences include
                      > starvation. Do the people who preach about
                      > saving the world really care?

                      There are groups that seek to eliminate world hunger. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, for one, has reduction of hunger as one of its main priorities. If you mean, do U.S. politicians really care, I agree: generally, they don't.

                      > World trade means that the rich get richer and
                      > the poor get poorer...

                      As it's being conducted now, yes. Just the sort of thing that the game show illustrates to me.

                      > There are no ethical standards.

                      Are you saying that, because very few people care, no one should?


                      • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                        by Jon Auviere on Monday April 23, @04:27PM
                        >Well, if we look at the "Weakest Link" as a model of a limited group, it doesn't illustrate much. Snobbery, maybe.

                        There is an example of schoolyard behavior. But it is the one who appears different, not necessarily the weakest link, that is scoffed at.

                        >What interested me about it was what it implied as a model for society in general.

                        It is a big society. You'd have to be more specific.

                        >If you mean, do U.S. politicians really care, I agree: generally, they don't.

                        Well, actually I meant "world capital" and how it affected all people from various ranges. There is a book coming out by one Jewish lady that covers this, titled, "Money makes the world go round" (or something to that effect), which should be an interesting read.

                        >Are you saying that, because very few people care, no one should?

                        No. I'm saying it's a matter of priority. To do one thing in which the most are affected but the least tread on. And on a much smaller scale, it is plainly a matter of culture. The British just seem more "real" to me. There is a wise saying that goes something like this. If you don't expect it then you will be turned off by it, if you do expect it but it never comes you are disheartened by it. Therefore expect the unexpected, and let sleeping dogs lie.


              • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                by Nexist on Monday April 23, @10:48PM
                Typically, both those who promote & denigrate Social Darwinism see it as a rationalization for accepting things as they are. The Poor remain poor because they are unfit, and the Rich Become or stay rich because they are fit. The definitions of Fit & Unfit are based upon the assumption that our society is based upon "good" principles, which is where I disagree. I think our society is structure so that the backstabbing scoundrel can become rich & powerful, thus ensuring that the tendencies for backstabbing are passed on.

                My problem with "Social Engineering" (& the reason for its general failure to acheive its goals) is that it tends to work from the Blank Slate model. All men are not biologically equal, and any effective social engineering should take this into account. No matter how much money one spends, someone without the "knack" for higher mathematics will not grasp them, & attempting to force them means denying their intrinsic nature.

                Further, it is impossible to implement "Social Engineering" without an over-reaching ideology -- or at least so it has proven. An Ideology is necessary to provide the standards toward which to aspire. The problem with the Social Engineering aspects of Communism, Fascism & National Socialism (actually Fascism had the least of these problems) was the "unnatural basis" for the Ideology. Communism presupposed the Blank Slate, & that all could be made equal in talent and skill, whereas National Socialism presupposed a superiority based upon race which erroneously supposed that the most stupid defect of Aryan ancestry was superior to any non-Aryan (they tended to get around this by pronouncing Defects as signs of impurity & shipped them off to Dachou). Fascism did not presuppose either of these (at least "pure" Fascism of Italy).

                Society rewards & punishes based upon what it values. If you don't like the standards, change them. This brings us back to my original supposition, Social Darwinism as Social Eugenics.


                • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                  by Jon Auviere on Tuesday April 24, @06:40AM
                  >National Socialism presupposed a superiority based upon race which erroneously supposed that the most stupid defect of Aryan ancestry was superior to any non-Aryan>

                  Not true. Germans who were born with severe birth defects were at one point terminated by doctors who assessed them. I hardly think this qualifies them as 'superior to any non-Aryan'. The old government of Germany (before the Nazi Party took over) were considered the least superior, scratch that, lower than dirt. They weren't "true Germans" to the Nazi's, but rather scoundrels who brought down their race to a disgusting level, which was true at that time by the great depression.


                  • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                    by Nexist on Tuesday April 24, @08:23AM
                    I addressed that. Defects were addressed by denouncing them as being evidence of a lack of purity. The old government (Wasn't it called Weimar, or something -- I need coffee) were guilty of betraying their race -- a method used to reconcile how the "Master Race" had become subject to "Mud Races". This betrayal -- the betrayal of Blood, Honor & Country -- is what lowered their status. It does get complicated, & I did generalize, but when one accounts for this, the statements hold true.


                • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                  by Xnoubis on Tuesday April 24, @11:08AM
                  > Typically, both those who promote & denigrate
                  > Social Darwinism see it as a rationalization
                  > for accepting things as they are.

                  Well, this denigrator of Social Darwinism sees it as only one influence of many on how things are. Many Conservatives, Libertarians, and laissez-faire capitalists have Social Darwinist leanings. But there are many Liberals, Communitarians, Humanists, and others who do not. In my experience, Social Darwinist sentiments are generally taboo in mixed company.

                  > My problem with "Social Engineering"

                  I should mention that I consider Social Darwinism to be a subset of Social Engineering. An illustration of what can happen when Social Engineering goes wrong. But I'll assume from context that you are referring to what I was calling "piecemeal Social Engineering" (I'll just say PSE).

                  > the reason for its general failure to acheive
                  > its goals

                  One of the characteristics of PSE is that it will always be imperfect, by its own terms. Since there is no overarching Ideology for society to conform to (other than the rather abstract, minimal one of openness), there will always be room for improvement, always something new to learn. Given that, I think that the Western Democracies have had some notable successes with the idea, in the U.S. and especially in Europe. I'm thinking especially of the progess that's been made towards the equality of the races, genders, and sexual orientations. Very far from perfect, but greatly improved.

                  Where the Western Democracies, above all the U.S., are coming into trouble is that PSE is being eclipsed by an extreme capitalist ideology. I think we need to take a good look at Europe, the U.K., and Canada as models of societies with many of the same values, but that have not been so entirely overrun by the ideologies and influence of the wealthy and powerful. In the U.S., as Lawrence Lessig said, the "government has been captured." In most of the other Western Democracies, the ball is still in play.

                  > Further, it is impossible to implement "Social
                  > Engineering" without an over-reaching
                  > ideology -- or at least so it has proven.

                  The proof to me points in the opposite direction. Top-down Social Engineering has been thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the world (the Western world, at least). Some of the difficulties that the U.S. is experiencing in international relations is due to the perception that it is attempting to enforce "market fundamentalism" on the rest of the world.

                  The difficulty with an ideology is that it is a model of reality (and thus imperfect, as all models are), the reality in this case being the will of the individuals involved. If we continue to strive for ways in which individuals can make their wills known and respected, we can continue to minimize the coercion necessary to the viability of the collective. An ideology based on some formulation of "true principles" will be tyranny as long as it's imposed on those who don't agree with it.

                  Yes, some imposition is inevitable. But it seems intrinsically Thelemic to seek to diminish such imposition wherever possible -- doesn't it?


                  • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                    by Nexist on Tuesday April 24, @04:18PM
                    Well, this denigrator of Social Darwinism sees it as only one influence of many on how things are. Many Conservatives, Libertarians, and laissez-faire capitalists have Social Darwinist leanings. But there are many Liberals, Communitarians, Humanists, and others who do not. In my experience, Social Darwinist sentiments are generally taboo in mixed company.

                    Both groups address Social Darwinism as an assumed fact &, to my mind, fatalistic. The Pro-Group you mention uses it to justify their attempts to promote themselves via the current system. The Con group denies so as to promote their own ideologies (which revolve around the "Blank Slate" model). Social Darwinist sentiment is taboo because most people want to hide from the fact that we are each different & that no matter how much cash is spent, or grand ideas implemented, there will never be a one size fits all method of happiness.

                    I should mention that I consider Social Darwinism to be a subset of Social Engineering. An illustration of what can happen when Social Engineering goes wrong. But I'll assume from context that you are referring to what I was calling "piecemeal Social Engineering" (I'll just say PSE).

                    In its broader sense, Social Darwinism (or more appropriately, Social Eugenics) is a form of Social Engineering, and any method that does not attempt to eradicate or ignore inherent differences between men is some form of Social Eugenics. PSE, which is what most think of when they talk about Social Engineering, is the contrasting (imo) branch. Unfortunately, its success requires that men be regarded as a homogenous mass. That is why PSE plans tend to cater to the Lowest Common Denomonator.

                    One of the characteristics of PSE is that it will always be imperfect, by its own terms. Since there is no overarching Ideology for society to conform to (other than the rather abstract, minimal one of openness), there will always be room for improvement, always something new to learn.

                    Do you really believe this. PSE has an over-reaching objective of mass homogenization & the destrustion of uniqueness. To excel is "evil" as it breaks from the norm & illustrates the difference between men. The dichotomous mindset which has plagued the West for ages has destroyed any chance for PSE to succeed in bettering the Human Species -- In order for there to be "winners" (those who excel), there must be those who "lose" (those who are mediocre). Social Eugenics doesn't buy into this false mindset.

                    I'm thinking especially of the progess that's been made towards the equality of the races, genders, and sexual orientations. Very far from perfect, but greatly improved.

                    These are mere social perceptions, assuming you mean legal and moral equality, and not the foolish goal of homogenity. While these are related to Social Darwinism (for they are rewarded & Punished based upon Societies Standards) they are hardly what I am criticizing (in fact, these can prove my point that by changing what is rewarded & punished, we make changes in our society) however these are not tied, imo, to such things as nobility, honor, etc.

                    As for ideology, I think that you are dismissing the very real and totalitarian nature of the system you back (PSE). It is as dangerous & as foolish as those which drove NS & Communism.

                    Imposition is an inevitable part of society. The nature of the society determines what is imposed, to what degree & the rewards & punishments used to enforce the imposition. Thelemic is as Thelemic does, I cannot say one way or the other. It may be someones will to be imposed, another to impose -- success is thy proof & all that rot.


                    • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                      by Xnoubis on Tuesday April 24, @04:43PM
                      What on earth?!

                      It's going to take me a while to wrap my head around your terminology. I know that what you're objecting to has little or nothing to do with what I'm saying, but I'll do my best to meet you half way for the sake of discussion -- when I can figure out where that is.


                      • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                        by Nexist on Tuesday April 24, @04:57PM
                        We agree that society needs restructuring. I think we differ on our "immutables" & "transcendants".


    Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
    by Xnoubis on Wednesday April 25, @01:30PM
    Nexist,

    Once more into the breach...

    I think that, before I'm able to clarify the differences between our opinions, I've got to get a handle on what your opinion is.

    I don't understand what you mean when you say that both the adherents and the opponents of SD address it as an assumed fact. I can see that some adherents might, but surely opponents would say that society does not work along Darwinist principles, and we should not attempt to make it do so.

    I think I hear you saying that opponents of SD believe that there is a one-size-fits-all method of happiness. Why do you say that?

    You seem to say that PSE attempts to eradicate or ignore inherent differences between men. So is it more correct to say that there are some people who are fit to rule, and that those who are fit to rule, should rule?

    Is saying that "everyone has the right to a voice in their governance" the same thing as regarding men as a homogenous mass?

    By what standard is the Lowest Common Denominator measured?

    Why do you say that PSE has an objective of mass homogenization? Who exactly holds this as an objective? What is their motive?

    How does PSE destroy uniqueness? In what way do incremental and participatory processes brand excellence as evil?

    How does dichotomous thinking defeat PSE?

    Are you saying that SD does not use dichotomous thinking?

    When I pointed out progress in race, gender, and sexual orientation issues as evidence of PSE achieving some of its goals, you responded with a paragraph that's so cryptic to me, I can't even formulate it as a question. Can you clarify it, maybe?

    Are you saying that Thelema has no position on the issue of people being imposed upon?

    What do you mean by "immutables" and "transcendants"?

    • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
      by Nexist on Wednesday April 25, @03:19PM
      I think that, before I'm able to clarify the differences between our opinions, I've got to get a handle on what your opinion is.

      That would make this dialogue a bit more productive ;)

      I don't understand what you mean when you say that both the adherents and the opponents of SD address it as an assumed fact. I can see that some adherents might, but surely opponents would say that society does not work along Darwinist principles, and we should not attempt to make it do so.

      There reasons for claiming that it does not tend to be based upon "morals", SD isn't "fair" because of who gets to excell -- both sides, in there conception of SD assume that the current system in place is correct. Just as Creationists attack Evolution via the "Straw Man" technique (creating a false position that can be attacked), so too do the opponents of SD attack a doppleganger, rather than the real principles.

      This is understandable, since the principles are so simple that they really aren't very arguable. Society rewards and punishes those who conform or manipulate it. Those who can conform/manipulate rise to power. These tendencies are passed on as Genetic Impulses and (usually) Molded into a proper fomrat in the next generation. This next generation then assumes/rises to power in the system.

      I think I hear you saying that opponents of SD believe that there is a one-size-fits-all method of happiness. Why do you say that?

      Programs of PSE tend to be operated on the idea that differences between people are indoctrinated, rather than inherent. Looking at the track record of failed social programs, be it welfare or intensive learning, most fail because they assume this blank slate model.

      So is it more correct to say that there are some people who are fit to rule, and that those who are fit to rule, should rule?

      I would think this to be obvious. I would rather have someone competent in charge rather than an idiot.

      Is saying that "everyone has the right to a voice in their governance" the same thing as regarding men as a homogenous mass?

      No, but while I support the right of every ininformed dumbshit being able to spout off their worthless opinion, decision should be made by the competent and capable (exact method of establishing this criteria -- & minimizing its abuse -- under development).

      By what standard is the Lowest Common Denominator measured?

      By the most incompetent. If two students are learning Math, the faster is held back by the slower, as the instructor has to spend more time helping the slower catch up. Ideally, there should be two classes, one for each student -- however money is tight, so the bright is sacrificed for the dim.

      Why do you say that PSE has an objective of mass homogenization? Who exactly holds this as an objective? What is their motive? How does PSE destroy uniqueness? In what way do incremental and participatory processes brand excellence as evil?

      Mass Homogenization is the end result of promoting the LCD & holding back those who excell. Unfortunately, because of their dependence on the Blank SLate Model, they feel that they are trying for the equilization of the Human Species & the creation of a new order of being where each and everyone is intelligent & creative. They ascribe their failures on this score to the imperfection of the technique, rather than to the errors in the underlying model.

      How does dichotomous thinking defeat PSE?

      The same way that it defeats everything, by creating a false need to prove oneself right, & the assumption that if they are right, they must be wrong.

      Are you saying that SD does not use dichotomous thinking?

      Nope, it gets tripped up by many of its supporters in the same way.

      When I pointed out progress in race, gender, and sexual orientation issues as evidence of PSE achieving some of its goals, you responded with a paragraph that's so cryptic to me, I can't even formulate it as a question. Can you clarify it, maybe?

      I will try later, I thought I was clear, so I will need to think about it.

      Are you saying that Thelema has no position on the issue of people being imposed upon?

      Yes

      What do you mean by "immutables" and "transcendants"?

      Everyone has their own unique perspective on the nature of the underlying universe. THese assumptions about the nature of existence influence our perceptions of the world about us, the behaviors of ourselves, and the behavior of those we perceive.


      • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
        by Xnoubis on Wednesday April 25, @04:47PM
        >> opponents would say that society does not work
        >> along Darwinist principles
        >
        > There reasons for claiming that it does not
        > tend to be based upon "morals"

        A common argument held by opponents of SD is that cooperation is as great a component of human interaction as is competition, if not greater. I think this is true, but true or not, it isn't based on morals.

        > both sides, in there conception of SD assume
        > that the current system in place is correct

        I don't see how you can say that for either side. Opponents don't want SD, but don't necessarily think that what we've got now is correct (I'd place myself in that category). Proponents are just as likely to say that our society harms itself by not basing its policies on evolutionary doctrine (much as you seems to do). Who, other than the politicians currently in power, really defends the status quo?

        > the principles are so simple that they really
        > aren't very arguable. Society rewards and
        > punishes those who conform or manipulate it.

        That the system rewards those who can work skillfully within it isn't in dispute. The argument concerns whether society is well served by punishing, eliminating, or intentionally neglecting some portion of its citizens. There's punishment for those who violate the rights of others, or compromise the security of the people, but I mean punishment of those who fall short on some scale, such as wealth, intelligence, or racial purity.

        > These tendencies are passed on as Genetic
        > Impulses

        That's Lamarkian inheritance of acquired characteristics, and thus bad biology, unless you mean "genetic" in a metaphorical sense. Perhaps memetics would suit your purposes, as memes (if you buy into the idea at all) behave in a Lamarkian fashion.

        But wait -- you do mean "genetic," don't you? You're saying that those who are fit to rule tend to pass that ability to their offspring? You believe in the validity of a hereditary ruling class?

        > Programs of PSE tend to be operated on the idea
        > that differences between people are
        > indoctrinated, rather than inherent.

        That doesn't seem intrinsic to PSE at all -- quite the contrary. Exactly because everyone is different, policy can't be dictated on the basis of general principles. People have a need to make their voices known. Rule should come from agreement, and not by force, to as great an extent as possible, because it is force that ignores the difference between individuals.

        By the way, it doesn't really seem to me that social Darwinism and piecemeal social engineering are a real dichotomy. The opposite of piecemeal social engineering would be monolithic, top-down social engineering. I don't have a name for the opposite of social Darwinism, but it would probably be the idea that cooperation, rather than competition, is the driving force of society. That could be a part of where our differences lie. I certainly don't want a society that's devoid of competition. Do you want a monolithic, top-down social order?


        • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
          by Nexist on Thursday April 26, @05:31PM
          A common argument held by opponents of SD is that cooperation is as great a component of human interaction as is competition, if not greater.

          Oh, I stand corrected. The basis for there argument is based upon a basic ignorance on the nature of evolution, especially in regards to "pack" animal structures.

          I don't see how you can say that for either side

          I am saying that the straw man being attacked is such.

          but I mean punishment of those who fall short on some scale

          But is "not rewarding" the same as "punishing", that is more to the point. I will bring my friends over & feed them (i.e. dinner). This is, in effect, a reward. If you are not my friend, I will not do so. Am I now punishing those who are not my friends? Perhaps, but I am not going to feel sad for it, nor waste time with guilt. In the same vein, society administers rewards and punishments.

          You're saying that those who are fit to rule tend to pass that ability to their offspring? You believe in the validity of a hereditary ruling class

          I believe that there is a higher tendency among the offspring to be a capable ruler. This doesn't discount someone "rising up" or the degredation of the line through various factors. Usually it took several generations of inbreeding, lead pipes and the like before the line became corrupt.

          Btw, I do believe in memes. I find the Evolutionary Model useful on nearly every level of being.

          By the way, it doesn't really seem to me that social Darwinism and piecemeal social engineering are a real dichotomy.

          They're not, If PSE is subservient to SD, then we get what I was calling Social Eugenics (at least as I understand what you mean by PSE via these threads).

          I don't have a name for the opposite of social Darwinism, but it would probably be the idea that cooperation, rather than competition, is the driving force of society.

          Considering that cooperation exists so as to better facilitate the individuals ability to compete, that cannot be the opposite of SD -- though as I stated prior, I don't believe I hold "typical" SD ideas.

          Do you want a monolithic, top-down social order

          Gads, no. I am a Militant Anarcho-Syndicalistic Neo-Tribalist (actually, I have dropped several descriptors, labels are so limiting).


          • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
            by Mordecai on Friday April 27, @12:05AM
            >I am a Militant Anarcho-Syndicalistic Neo-Tribalist (actually, I have dropped
            >several descriptors, labels are so limiting)

            You could be even less limited as an Anarcho-Neo-Tribalist. Most people haven't a clue what Syndicalism is and think that Anarcho-Neo-Tribalists are Militants by definition.


            • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
              by Nexist on Friday April 27, @06:37PM
              Well, my ideas would be the same. I think Syndicalism is good for it should make economics subserviant to the people, rather than the opposite (both Capitalism & Marxism tend to place the people in service to the economy).

              Then again, there isn't much data on Syndicalism available, it looks to have been co-opted by Marxists (http://www.anarchosyndicalism.org), so I may drop it for Anarcho-Corporatist. That way I have a way & method for living.

              I think you are right on the natural militancy though


              • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                by Nexist on Friday April 27, @07:00PM
                Evidently, I am not a Syndicalist. I think the whole Class Struggle mythos is Crap, rending the fabric of social cohesion.

                Unfortunately, it appears that Corporatism has also taken on a different meaning than what it meant when I first adopted it. Sigh.

                I'll create my own damn label for the economic system, give me a week. ;)


          • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
            by Xnoubis on Friday April 27, @09:57AM
            > at least as I understand what you mean by PSE
            > via these threads

            Getting out the actual source material would probably help here.

            From Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies (Fifth edition, 1966. Princeton University Press):

            Vol. I, pp. 158-159: "Before proceeding to criticize Utopian engineering in detail, I wish to outline another approach to social engineering, namely, that of piecemeal engineering. It is an approach which I think to be methodologically sound. The politician who adopts this method may or may not have a blueprint of society before his mind, he may or may not hope that mankind will one day realize an ideal state, and achieve happiness and perfection on earth. But he will be aware that perfection, if at all attainable, is far distant, and that every generation of men, and therefore also the living, hava a claim; perhaps not so much a claim to be made happy, for there are no institutional means of making a man happy, but a claim not to be made unhappy, where it can be avoided. They have a claim to be given all possible help, if they suffer. The piecemeal engineer will, accordingly, adopt the method of searching for, and fighting against, the greater and most urgent evils of society, rather than searching for, and fighting for, its greatest ultimate good. [...] In favour of his method, the piecemeal engineer can claim that a systematic fight against suffering and injustice and war is more likely to be supported by the approval and agreement of a great number of people than the fight for the establishment of some ideal. The existence of social evils, that is to say, of social conditions under which many men are suffering, can be comparatively well established. Those who suffer can judge for themselves, and the others can hardly deny that they would not like to change places. It is infinitely more difficult to reason about an ideal society."

            Vol. II, pp. 237-239: "[Critical rationalism] with its emphasis upon argument and experience, with its device 'I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort we may get nearer to the truth,' is, as mentioned before, closely akin to the scientific attitude. It is bound up with the idea that everybody is liable to make mistakes, which may be found out by himself, or by others, or by himself with the assistance of the criticism of others. It therefore suggests the idea of impartiality. [...] Its faith in reason is not only a faith in our own reason, but also -- and even more -- in that of others. Thus a rationalist, even if he believes himself to be intellectually superior to others, will reject all claims to authority since he is aware that, if his intelligence is superior to that of others (which is hard for him to judge), it is only in so far as he is capable of learning from criticism as well as from his own and other people's mistakes, and that one can learn in this sense only if one takes others and their arguments seriously. Rationalism is therefore bound up with the idea that the other fellow has a right to be heard, and to defend his arguments. It thus implies the recognition of the claim to tolerance, at least of all those who are not intolerant themselves. One does not kill a man when one adopts the attitude of first listening to his arguments. [...] Also the idea of impartiality leads to that of responsibility; we have not only to listen to arguments, but we have a duty to respond, to answer, when our actions affect others. Ultimately, in this way, rationalism is linked up with the recognition of the necessity of social institutions to protect freedom of criticism, freedom of thought, and thus the freedom of men. [...] This is why rationalism is closely linked up with the political demand for practical social engineering -- piecemeal engineering, of course -- in the humanitarian sense, with the demand for the rationalization of society, for planning for freedom, and for its control by reason; not by 'science', not by a Platonic, a pseudo-rational authority, but by that Socratic reason which is aware of its limitations, and which therefore respects the other man and does not aspire to coerce him -- not even into happiness."

            > I am a Militant Anarcho-Syndicalistic
            > Neo-Tribalist

            If that means that those who fall short within your tribe can move on to a different tribe, than the most pressing of my concerns is addressed.

            Is that what you're saying, though? When you talk about changing what society rewards and punishes, are you speaking on the scale of some subset of society, the members of which are free to go elsewhere? Like a "Social Eugenics Brotherhood," who agree to some measure of competence that would determine who called the shots, and who also agree to some kind of breeding program to reinforce those traits? I wouldn't want to join that club, but if the people who ranked low on the measure of competence could cross the street and join my "Fuck Big Brother" club, I wouldn't be too worried about its existence.


            • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
              by Nexist on Friday April 27, @06:47PM
              Whew, I'll need to digest the quotes.

              If that means that those who fall short within your tribe can move on to a different tribe, than the most pressing of my concerns is addressed.

              The right to free association is the primary "right" in my perception of society. If you do not like it, & also the flipside of if we don't like you, you can leave & either begin your own tribe or join a pre-existing one which better suits you.

              I envision several neo-tribes spanning the globe, & I see the individuals belonging to several neo-tribes. Currently we already belong to several. Our friends are one tribe, our work another, our church/order another, and so on.

              The theory is that -- in true "Darwinian" fashion -- the best of the tribes will succeed. Tyranny will be opposed by the internetworking of tribes (the Neo-tribes) and in best interests (e.g. Tribe NS is jack booting Tribe JW, so the surrounding tribes restrain Tribe NS, sort of like Nations do now, but ideally it wouldn't be for profits sake).


              • Re: Social Darwinism for Dummies
                by Sam Webster on Saturday April 28, @07:45AM
                > The right to free association is the primary
                > "right" in my perception of society. If you do
                > not like it, & also the flipside of if we don't
                > like you, you can leave & either begin your own
                > tribe or join a pre-existing one which better
                > suits you.

                Okay, fine. I'll stop worrying. :-)


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