Term Paper on Social Darwinism

This essay has a total of 1462 words and 9 pages.

Social Darwinism

The main proposals put across by Social Darwinism is that people in a society - and
societies themselves - must compete for survival. Also, that some individuals within
species are more predominant than others due to their inherited characteristics and
favourable traits.

Therefore, when these concepts progressed from the public view into European politics, it
gave an all too easy motive for combatant nations to become aggressive.

At the time which Social Darwinism became popular in politics, the nations of Europe were
entangled in a colonial battle. Nations and political leaders believed the terms of this
principle gave them justification to conquer inferior lands.

When mitigating colonialism, politicians such as the German Kaiser Wilhelm II alleged that
it was their entitlement as large, wealthy, and ‘fit' nations to dominate the less
‘fit' races of their colonies.

Where Germany was concerned, Social Darwinism played a considerable role in their forgein
policy as an up-coming power in Europe. In 1890, when the Kaiser forced PM Otto Von
Bismarck to resign, his fairly cautious policy of Realpolitik resigned with him, leaving
vacancy for the Social Darwinist induced Weltpolitik of the Kaiser. This world policy
collided with all conservatism, Kaiser Wilhelm II

and claimed that Germany should become a German Kaiser
world power with a strong 1888-1918
army and large colonial empire - with naval
power to protect it.
The Kaiser saw it as Germany's right to compete in the colonial market, as they were
competent and deserved a share in the less ‘fit' nations. Above all, the Kaiser wanted
"a place in the sun" for the German people. The problem was the only places left were in
the shade. There was very little room left for new colonization in the early part of this

This caused tension on several levels.
Germany was left with but the remnants of the colonial crusade. She was vengeful towards
Britain especially, resentful for her vast empire and powerful European status.

Propagandist movements such as the Pan-German League and the German Colonial League
churned out propaganda to influence the German people and the Kaiser, that Germany would
become a second rate power if she did not make imperialistic actions. Through Social
Darwinism, this would mean succumbing to the more ‘powerful' nations, and failing to
compete in the struggle for survival.

Britain on the other hand (also other significant powers such as France and Russia) felt
threatened by the rise of this challenging and aggravated nation. Germany had already
upset Europe's ‘balance of power', and proved herself to be a prevalent power in Europe,
now she set out to conquer other parts of the world and to contest with Britain's status.

Where the large powers were not concerned, the colonies were feeling strangled and also
felt resentment towards their over-lords.

These ill feelings left Europe in two rival parties, contending for European and world
dominance. It also lead to such events as the 1908 Bosnia-Herzegovina crisis and the 1911
Agadir incident.

All of the above factors lead to the alarming military build up and mobilisation of the European powers.
Social Darwinism had so far justified why the nations colonised the ‘inferior' nations
and races, but along the way, had caught Europe up in a tangled web of deceit and

The nations were now ready to expand their navies, armies, and prepare to engage in war.
Germany and Britain proved to be the major competitors in the arms race, each intensifying
their fighting machines to a phenomenal level. Up until the year in which war broke out,
the powers increased military spending in order to remain the ‘fittest' of the European

Social Darwinism had played its part in the initial aggravation of these opponent nations,
by claiming that life was a competition for supremacy and survival of existence. Nations
attempted rapid take-over of foreign lands to obtain the largest of empires. They then
endeavoured to have the most prevailing armed forces to be the strongest and most fervent
and capable of war. Social Darwinism created hatred and jealousy between and within
nations, initiating divisions and thus, was perhaps a key factor in laying the foundations
for the First World War.



There are many different strains of Social Darwinism and the concept possesses numerous
approaches. It is a complex theory which involves proposals and implications on evolution
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