In a budget speech last week, Barack Obama accused Republicans of embracing “thinly veiled social Darwinism.” In this week’s Excursions, George H. Smith argues that the President doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
It is clear that “social Darwinism” and “survival of the fittest” were intended by Obama to evoke feelings of fear and disgust. It is highly doubtful that Obama knows anything about the history of these ideas, and it is even more doubtful that he cares. A concern for truth is not the coin of the political realm. But these expressions have long been of interest to me, mainly because the great libertarian Herbert Spencer is frequently said to have originated social Darwinism.