Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/595

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.






I MUST assume it to be generally known that in last year's Congress of German Naturalists and Physicians, held at Munich, a prominent member incidentally referred to the points of contact between Socialist Democracy and Darwinism, as also to the momentous and redoubtable consequences which might thence ensue. These words of certainly well-meant admonition were received with delight by all those who in any event can not tolerate the doctrine of descent, and who accordingly heartily approved of making Darwinism responsible for the most exciting social phenomenon of the time.

It is, of course, all right enough if certain representatives of Socialist Democracy think they can with the aid of Darwinism add force to their opinions; but they jumble together doctrines which either are irrelevant, or which mutually exclude one another.

This fact, indeed, is recognized by another portion of the Socialist-Democratic party, who hold that the socialistic idea must have supplanted the Darwinian principle as applied to the human race, before the new form of society can be realized and made to stand.

The political economists have now for more than a century been studying the "Struggle for Life" in its bearings on the weal or woe of mankind yet not until the advent of Darwin did they consider the problem understandingly. Under what forms individuals and classes compete with one another; in what way this struggle is to be ennobled for the benefit of the race—these and other like questions are agitated on all sides, as witness one work among many, namely, A. Lange's thoughtful book, "On the Labor Question" ("Ueber die Arbeiterfrage"). It is not, therefore, with this well-known point of contact with Darwinism that we have to do, but with the special application of ostensibly Darwinian results to the justification and the execution of the Socialist-Democratic programme.

Although it has been raining "Quintessences of Socialism" for the instruction of the public, nevertheless we must briefly explain how far Socialist Democracy, as realized in the future, purports to be the ultimate term of a natural development.

Having passed through the period of absolute Inculture, a period which might be roughly characterized by community life in troops and minor family groups under the leadership of strong male individuals, traces of which are found in the mammoth and reindeer caves, man next entered the less rude condition of the hunter and the nomad where-

  1. Translated from the "Deutsche Rundschau," by J. Fitzgerald, A. M.