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In Justifying Degradation, Darwinism Is Non-Partisan

Dennis Prager devotes his Townhall column today to expanding on the evolutionary theme he discussed on his radio program yesterday. The column is a winner, though I have one quibble.

Prager is commenting on the NY Times op-ed by a Harvard evolutionary biologist who argues that "We have evolved to need coercion." Prager explains:

In order to understand both how silly and dangerous this comment is, one must first understand the role evolutionary explanations play in academic life -- and in left-wing life generally. The left has always sought single, non-values based explanations for human behavior. It was originally economics. Man is homo economicus, the creature whose behavior can be explained by economics.

Rather than dividing the world between good and evil, the left divided the world in terms of economics. Economic classes, not moral values, explain human behavior. Therefore, to cite a widespread example, poverty, not one's moral value system, or lack of it, causes crime.

Recently, however, the economic explanation for human behavior has lost some of its appeal. Even many liberal professors and editorial writers have had to grapple with the "surprising" fact that violent crime has declined, not increased, in the current recession.

In the words of Scientific American, "Homo economicus is extinct."

But the biggest reason for the declining popularity of economic man is that science has displaced economics -- which is not widely regarded as a science -- as the left's real religion. Increasingly, therefore, something held to be indisputably scientific -- evolution -- is offered as the left's explanation for virtually everything.

Prager sagely identifies the most "foolish and dangerous upshot to 'we have evolved to need coercion'":
If we take this claim seriously and use evolution to guide social policy, little that is truly decent will survive. Is there anything less prescribed by evolution than, let us say, hospices? Professor Lieberman writes that humans have evolved into cooperating with one another. But he cannot deny that the basic evolutionary proposition is survival of the fittest. How, then, can an evolutionary perspective demand the expending of energy and resources to take care of those who are dying? And if evolution demands the survival of the species, wouldn't evolution call for other "coercion" -- against abortion, for example?

Which all proves that what the professor really means to say -- and more and more college graduates will be taught -- is this: "We have evolved to vote Democrat."

Read the rest here. I would only differ with Prager's outstanding insight by pointing out that the evolutionary rationale has served and still serves inhumane and inhuman policies of all stripes, liberal and otherwise. Darwinism has justified many obnoxious and evil programs of reform, of the Left and the Right.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat had an excellent column over the weekend noting how, up until World War II, eugenics was a favorite of respectable liberals.

American eugenicists tended to be WASP grandees like Fisher -- ivory-tower dwellers and privileged have-mores with an obvious incentive to invent spurious theories to justify their own position.

But these same eugenicists were often political and social liberals -- advocates of social reform, partisans of science, critics of stasis and reaction.

That's all true, of course. However evolutionary eugenics was carried to its most terrifying extreme by the Nazis, whose monstrous villainy defies easy political categorization but is probably more "of the Right" than "of the Left."

The evolutionary rationale for degrading human beings is non-partisan.

It's consistent in one way, though. Did you ever notice this? Religious faith has been held up by some believers as justifying evil, but it has also motivated men and women to the heights of nobility, love and self-sacrifice. Darwinism, on the other hand, has never served as a justification for ennobling humanity, for venerating life, for pursuing policies that advance or protect anything fine in us.

That's no surprise, since the evolutionary view -- Darwin's anthropology -- sees men and women as animals, nothing more. Only religion has dared to say we are a little lower than angels.