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The Darwin Centenary

As this month is the hundredth anniversary of the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, a book that raised a storm in its day, we are devoting considerable space in this issue to Darwinism and its relation to Marxism, particularly as Marx published the first section of his main work the same year.

Darwinism is an outlook based upon certain fundamental propositions put forward by Charles Darwin, just as Marxism is an outlook based upon certain fundamental propositions put forward by Karl Marx. Books by both of them were published in 1859 which clearly stated their fundamental propositions, and each devoted the rest of his life to accumulating facts in support of the theories that had been put forward. In both instances their theories have been enriched and qualified in certain directions by subsequent investigation, but in neither instance has the accuracy of their fundamental propositions been affected.

Human nature and human behaviour

Steven Pinker is a leading representative of the school known as “evolutionary psychology”. Their basic position is that humans today still have, not just the same physical brain as the first members of homo sapiens (which is uncontroversial), but also the same mental make-up, i.e. that we think and react as if we were still primitive hunter-scavenger-gatherers living in small bands on the open grasslands of East Africa (where, again, it is generally agreed our species first evolved). In fact, they go further and argue that Darwinian principles apply just as much to these psychological traits as to our physical anatomy and physiology and that they, too, evolved through natural selection – the survival of the most fitted – out of those of that particular line of ape-like creatures from which homo sapiens is descended. Hence their name of “evolutionary psychologists”.

Socialism and Darwinism

Socialists are reproached for being revolutionists, by alleged Darwinians, (who have never studied evolution) as well as by some psuedo Socialists, who pretend to apply Darwinism to social movements. Both sections object to revolution, as unscientific. This objection can only arise from a misunderstanding of evolution, or from a deliberate attempt to switch the working-class off the revolutionary path. Socialism, as expounded by the S.P.G.B, through its official organ and its lecturers, is essentially scientific, never pandering to ignorance or prejudice, or attempting to escape from scientific truths by bowing to unscientific sentiments. This being so, and science being considered from the standpoint of evolution, we must consider the laws of evolution.

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