What Are Examples of Social Darwinism?

Examples of Social Darwinism include believing one ethnic group or race superior to others, and objection to efforts supporting humanitarian assistance for all, such as government welfare programs. Social Darwinism essentially prescribes the theories of natural selection, adopted by Charles Darwin, to humans and aspects of human society, such as economics and politics. The theory of Social Darwinism applies the theory of “survival of the fittest” to humans.

Some proponents of Social Darwinism justify acts of racism and thoughts of ethnic superiority on the principles established in Social Darwinism. Proponents argue certain human races and ethnic groups have desirable and strong traits. These groups dominate perceived weaker and flawed groups, and deserve dominion. In Europe, German leader Adolph Hitler used the theory of Social Darwinism to declare the Aryan race supreme and others, particularly Jews and minorities, inferior.

Herbert Spencer, a 19th-century philosopher, receives credit for conceiving the theory of Social Darwinism. Spencer considered the government in Europe established by whites superior in technology, economy and structure to governments elsewhere in the world. Spencer stated natural selection played out in the military and economic dominance of European countries led by white rulers. The strong white race gained power while “inferior” races lagged behind.