David Klinghoffer is promising to deliver some revisionism over at the Discovery Institute:
Starting tomorrow, I would like to devote a couple posts to the thesis that Communism has deeper Darwinian roots than many of us realize. That, in fact, even though Marx had already begun sketching the outlines of his ideas before Darwin published the Origin of Species — the Communist Manifesto appeared in 1848, the Origin in 1859 — he is fairly called a Darwinist. That, finally, the men who translated Marxism into practical political terms in the form of Soviet terror were evolutionary thinkers, just as they themselves claimed to be.
Yup, it is the old Darwin/Marx meme coupled with the evolution=genocide meme, both much beloved to creationists, anti-evolutionists, and cranky conservatives.
Let me repeat something I have posted before: While Marx initially described Origin
as containing “the natural-historical basis of our outlook” and “a
basis in natural science for the historical class struggle,” by 1861 he
was noting that “[i]t is remarkable how Darwin recognises among beasts
and plants his English society with its labour, competition, opening up
of new markets, ‘inventions’, and the Malthusian ‘struggle for
existence’.” Indeed he would view Darwinism as a bourgeois ideology
which mirrored the bourgeois competitive struggle in capitalist
society. Marx’s use of Darwin is underwhelming – he twice mentions
Darwin’s theory in Das Kapital, both as footnotes and neither indicate that he can “fairly be called a Darwinist”+.
These are the only published references of Marx to Darwin. More
importantly, Marx chastised a number of his followers, in particular
Ludwig Büchner and Friedrich Lange for attempting to link his ideas
with those of Darwin. Büchner’s work was described as “superficial
nonsense” and Lange lead Marx to describe the struggle for life as “the
Malthusian population fantasy”. Clearly, Marx was no Darwinist. As Ball
Marx clearly admired and agreed with Darwin’s
having finished off teleology in the natural sciences … [In Marx’s
view] Darwin’s theory of natural selection applies, at best,
only to prehuman, preconscious natural history; it does not apply to
the epoch of human history in which men consciously transform nature
and therefore themselves. (emphasis mine)
accepted the idea of organic evolution and the denial of teleology in
natural science. What he did not however accept were Mathusian
arguments and use of such to explain human history. In other words,
Marx – like many other thinkers of the time – ultimately denied the
efficacy of natural selection.
Clearly, Marx was no Darwinist and cannot “fairly” be called so despite how Klinghoffer may squeal over the next few days.
+ Here are the two footnotes from Das Kapital
(1867). The first occurs in a discussion of tool specialization and the
second in one of the difference between tools and machines. Marx is
clearly not utilizing Darwin’s ideas (“epoch-making” though they may
be) in any meaningful way.
Darwin in his
epoch-making work on the origin of species, remarks, with reference to
the natural organs of plants and animals: ‘So long as one and the same
organ has different kinds of work to perform, a ground for its
changeability may possibly be found in this,that natural selection
preserves or suppresses each small variation of formless carefully than
if that organ were destined for one special purpose alone.Thus, knives
that are adapted to cut all sorts of things, may, on the whole, be of
one shape; but an implement destined to be used exclusively in one way
must have a different shape for every different use.’
has interested us in the history of natural technology, i.e., in the
formation of the organs of plants and animals, which organs serve as
instruments of production for sustaining life. Does not the history of
the productive organs of man, of the organs that are the material basis
of all social organism, deserve equal attention?.