Codevilla: "Darwinism corrupted Northern and Southern thinkers equally"
Angelo Codevilla's new book The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It has been stirring enviable attention since it first appeared as an essay in The American Spectator. "Magnificent," writes David Goldman at First Things. "I felt like I had just plunged head-first into 50-degree water."
New York Times blogger Tom Kuntz says:
Few articles have resonated with conservatives this year as much as Angelo M. Codevilla's essay...It says America is divided between an elite, government-dependent "ruling class" -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- and a majority "country class": families, businesses and institutions not dependent on subsidies and privileges.
Excerpt from the book:
Human equality made sense to our Founding Fathers, because they believed that all men are made in the image and likeness of God, because they were yearning for equal treatment under British law, or because they had read John Locke.
It did not take long for their paradigm to be challenged by interest and by "science." By the 1820s, as J. C. Calhoun was reading in the best London journals that different breeds of animals and plants produce inferior or superior results, slave owners were citing the Negroes' deficiencies to argue that they should remain slaves indefinitely. Lots of others were reading Ludwig Feuerbach's rendition of Hegelian philosophy, according to which biblical injunctions reflect alienated human beings' best fantasies, or, in the young Karl Marx's formulation, that ethical thought is "superstructural" to material reality. By 1853, when Senator John Pettit of Ohio called "all men are created equal" "a self-evident lie," much of America's educated class had already absorbed the "scientific" notion (which Darwin only popularized) that man is the product of chance mutation and natural selection of the fittest. Accordingly, by nature, superior men subdue inferior ones as they subdue lower beings or try to improve them as they please. Hence, while it pleased the abolitionists to believe in freeing Negroes and improving them, it also pleased them to believe that Southerners had to be punished and reconstructed by force. In short, Darwinism corrupted Northern and Southern thinkers equally. As the nineteenth century ended, the educated class' religious fervor turned to social reform: they were sure that because man is a mere part of evolutionary nature, man could be improved, and that they, the most highly evolved of all, were the improvers.
Thus began the Progressive Era....