Darwin and empire:
Darwin was a charmer.  He was invited along on the voyage of the Beagle, during which he gathered information about Galapagos finches that remains classic support for the concept of evolution.  The reason for the invitation was that he could keep the captain from getting depressed from loneliness.  He did not publish his ideas until many years later, and only then at the urging of friends who knew that somebody else was going to publish the same idea.  The idea was going to come out, Darwin or no.  And once the debate about it began in earnest he had the support of a man named Huxley who sided with Darwin and the tacit support of Archbishop Wilberforce who took the opposing side.  Wilberforce was no reactionary.  He was in fact an abolitionist, an instinctive liberal.  His argument, according to my genetics professor was simply, “Which would you rather have as an ancestor, an ape or a man.”  As Archbishop, of course, he had a lifetime of experience with the notion that God runs things and not simply in a way to please humans.  Huxley had an easy victory without even changing the terms of the argument. 

I doubt that Darwin’s prestige is simply his charm.  He told people what they wanted to hear, what powerful people wanted to hear and to have other people hear.

This was Victorian England.  The British Empire was at its zenith.  All an empire needs is the will to make one and the cooperation of a sufficient number of properly equipped people.  The industrial revolution provided sufficient wealth and technology.  Newly prosperous masses were disposed to cooperate, but there was a snag.  Running an empire required leaving home.  Given the prosperity, there was not an unlimited number of desperate people.  There was a need for some encouragement.

So far it seems obvious.  The subtle thing is that Darwin provided that encouragement.  According to Darwinian evolution the whole point to life is this “fitness” thing.  It would have been assumed that English were fitter than anybody else.  The point to fitness was having children.  The notion that some mates might be more suitable than others from a biological standpoint simply did not appear and does not now except for a general notion that the less related a mate the better, exactly wrong once you make it past second cousin. 

So the implicit advice was directed toward the young men.  “You are better than other men, fitter.  There is a whole world of women out there.  Sic em.” 

Documentation is lacking.  There was a poem by Rudyard Kipling, an unblushing advocate of empire and of English supremacy.  It is called “The Road to Mandalay.”  I rather like the song, but the message is not good.  It is about a British soldier who meets a Burmese woman, courts her and then leaves her.  He has been a good Darwinian animal even if a cad.  The poem hardly represents proof, but the logic is clear. 

I know of no evidence that young British men thought along such lines nor that the rich and mighty of the realm wished them to.  But it certainly fell in line with what they were wanting.  It is also in line with what the mighty of the earth want now.  This time there is no lack of documentation.  As the British were maintaining a global presence so now the powers that be are pushing a global market, and pushing it hard.  “Globalization will make us all rich.  The biggest risk to our welfare is the risk that we turn back from globalization.  A global market will eliminate the inequities in the distribution of wealth around the world.  There must be free movement of labor, capital, goods, services and information.”  The ECONOMIST magazine, which I like in spite of myself just as I like “Mandalay,” hammers the point every week.  They pile up enormous amounts of evidence.  They no not even claim to be objective about their evidence.  The liberal open market of maximum size and exchanging the maximum number of things is simply their editorial policy.  They admit as much.  Their attitude toward just about anything anybody has doubts about is, “Legalize it and sell it.  The magic of the market will make everybody better off.” 

Their words have a somewhat hollow tone, seeing as how a pure market failure has impacted the lives of just about all of us.  At least they had the decency to be a little embarrassed for a bit. 

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