Social Darwinism: The Best Approach Essay Sample

10 October 2017

During and after the Gilded Age. because of the great alterations of Industrialization. the American government’s engagement in modulating the concern universe was a hotbed of controversial argument. Some felt that the manner to accomplish greater economic and societal growing and to repair society’s jobs was through Social Darwinism and Individualism. Social Darwinism was a theory. that what a adult male worked for was all he deserved to have. and that no 1 should give assistance to anyone. because they must’ve non worked every bit difficult as they should hold. Individualism was basically the same thought that any adult male could lift from whatever beginnings they were born to. to every bit high as he wanted if he worked and utilized his capablenesss and strength of will to the uttermost. In contrast others felt that the authorities and the wealthy should be more involved in modulating the economic system and assisting the hapless and destitute out.

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They felt that while America had become an industrial giant with the bend of the century. her ethical motives and human values had been left in the old century. Big concern proprietors and authorities functionaries had abandoned all values. existent or imagined for self-profit.

Walt Whitman. a poet who invariably had sung the congratulationss of America’s democracy. civilization. and strength. now wondered whether her mercenary chases had made her have a “hollowness of bosom ( R. D. Heffner. A. Heffner. 220-221 ) . ” By traveling through the beginnings of these two positions. and the grounds of who profited from the thoughts. Social Darwinism will be shown non to hold been the best route for the United States authorities to take in regard to the economic system in specific and the citizens of the state.

The Gilded Age was an epoch that extended from the late 1870’s to the late 1890‘s. The term Gilded Age came from a book by Mark Twain and Charles Warner. entitled The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. The writers were subtly seeking to state the populace that although the new inventions the epoch had brought shone and sparkled like gold. beneath the innovations. industrialisation. and economic growing. poorness. offense and great category distinction festered. During the epoch of the Gilded Age. the United States’ attack to the so mostly lasseiz-faire economic system was a subject of great argument in the state ( Appleby et al. 458 ) .

The concentration of wealth in the United States was clustered at the really point of the societal pyramid. In early 1900’s. there were about 30 billionaires in the United States. Rockefeller. Carnegie. Frick. Ford. and an array of railway builders and moneymans topped the list. The degree of category inequality was so great that the labourers had a really. really weak bargaining point. There were non that many other topographic points to work. and so the employers were able to put low rewards and insecure working conditions with no fright of resistance. Strikes were either broken up by force or ignored. and new workers took the topographic point of the old rebellious 1s ( Heffner. 219 ) . Many of the large concerns did non utilize just concern tactics. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust finagled the Railway companies into giving him discounts on transportation costs. out of consideration of his sheer cargo majority. He freighted ( below the belt ) for much less than the little concerns. Most of the large concerns besides sought to do some kind of monopoly over their country of trade.

Whether perpendicular ( All the Fieldss involved with the concern ) or horizontal ( All of a certain concern ) monopolies. they got the whole field under their control. coercing the other rivals out of concern with below unjust monetary values. Other large companies used incorrect or even harmful steps to increase their net income borders. The meat field for one did non waver at utilizing rancid and decomposing meat in their merchandises to salvage money. For their land meat they used spoiled meat they could non sell. offal and even rat meat. Unfortunate worlds who fell into the mammoth bombers were assorted in excessively. Upton Sinclair. a journalist. wrote the fabricated book The Jungle. to convey this freak into the public’s oculus. Another journalist named Samuel Hopkins Adams published a series of articles depicting what went into the medical specialties and pharmaceuticals people bought. Many of the so called medical specialties were simply flavored or colored H2O that the companies claimed would bring around a assortment of ailments. Others were contained substances such as caffeine. intoxicant. or even opium.

Consumers had no thought if the medical specialties would be harmful to their wellness or good. Nor did they acquire any confidences that the medical specialty would work as claimed. No authorities section was in charge of doing certain there was no false advertisement. The American people read these literary plants and rebelled against the disgusting methods companies were utilizing to do money. Many readers even became vegetarians ( Appleby et al. 530 ) . President Roosevelt and the Congress responded to the public indignation with the passing of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906 ( Axelrod. 224-225 ) .

But inequality and the one sided power battle did non intend that the common workers were wholly exempt from the wagess of industrial advancement. The growing of the United States economic system meant benefits for each category. Many Americans were much better off in the Gilded Age than they had been earlier. Urban workers in peculiar. had a huge betterment in the quality of life over the class of the Gilded Age. Government was little at about all degrees. so revenue enhancements were highly low. Most of the affluent people for illustration. paid 1 % of their income in revenue enhancements. Most people’s life style improved as a consequence of electricity. plumbing. and good nutrient were cheaper to obtain. However. for those who did non or could non work. life was really tough. There was no authorities intercession in the like of public assistance or nutrient casts. Nor any type of life insurance for those who were injured in work. or who merely could ne’er vie with other. more qualified workers ( Krugman. 19-20 ) . These were the people for whom the Gilded Age was genuinely simply aureate and non gold.

This clip period was when the thought of individuality began to derive widespread popularity. This thought was that any adult male could lift from whatever beginnings he was born into. to every bit high as he wanted if he worked and utilized his capablenesss and strength of will to the uttermost. This wholly American belief which we continue to keep until today. led to reaching of one of the theories people wanted the authorities to follow towards the economic system. Social Darwinism. This construct was adapted by Herbert Spencer from Charles Darwin’s book. On the Origins of Species by Means of Natural Selection. on development. Darwin claimed that life on Earth had evolved through a procedure he dubbed natural choice. Speciess that adapt to alterations in their environment become strong and unrecorded on. and species who can non accommodate. merely die out over clip. Spencer took this thought and adapted it to human society. He claimed that human society developed by the same regulation. So what happens if persons or the authorities interferes and helps the lower. inadaptable 1s? The human species will weaken. He called it. ‘Survival of the fittest’ . This became the catch phrase of Spencer and his group of followings. who were called the Social Darwinists ( Appleby et al. 459-461 ) .

One of Spencer’s followings. William Graham Sumner. said that. “Society does non owe any work forces a living… The fact that a adult male is here is no demand upon other people that they shall maintain him alive and sustain him… if he fights it with the same energy and endeavor and accomplishment and industry as any other adult male. I can non conceive of his failing…” He felt that the authorities would hold to assist everyone if they helped merely a choice few. It wouldn’t be executable. Work forces have to work hard to win and it’s no one’s duty but their ain. because no 1 owes them anything. If one does his ain work. and tries his hardest. he can non neglect ( Appleby et al. 465 ) .

Not surprisingly. large industrialists heartily embraced this impression. as it was really similar to the thought of laissez-faire. a authorities intercession free economic system that they wanted to maintain. John D. Rockefeller. proprietor of the immense Standard Oil Trust. said that the growing of tremendous concerns like his ain were “merely the working out of the jurisprudence of nature” ( Appleby et al. 459 ) .

These thoughts had footing in fact. They went back over a hundred old ages to Adam Smith in 1776. when he wrote The Wealth of Nations. He claimed in his book. that states would thrive if they let their economic systems run with no intercession. simply operate on the natural Torahs of supply and demand. Business proprietors would seek to turn out the largest sum of goods and services at the lowest monetary values. and competition would maintain the economic system traveling. “The unseeable manus of self-interest” would maintain the concerns headed in the way of community service. This ‘hand’ was the chase of net incomes ( Harris and Antel. 456 ) . To most people in the Gilded Age. this type of economic system seemed to be working. as the Social Darwinism ; individualistic economic system had clearly prospered for both employer and employee. though non proportionately. Businesss were dining and the quality and criterion of life was bettering. But while this was in kernel true. it did non include those luckless plenty non to hold a occupation in the flourishing large concerns. The bulk of people lived a manus to talk being. in crunching poorness. The urban worker saw a rise in his net incomes and his quality of life but non so for the rural population ( Krugman. 19-20 ) . The future beyond what most people could see right so was non as rose-colored.

The concerns were acquiring bigger and bigger. and while there still was a infinitesimal spot of competition shortly at that place would non be. and there would be lone monopolies. This would do monetary values and quality to be at the caprice of the monopolies. because the inducement to maintain people as consumers would travel off. There would be nowhere else for the consumers to travel ( R. D. Heffner. A. Heffner. 222 ) . As Social Darwinism became more and more outstanding in treatments of the government’s attack to the economic system and large concerns. new theories sprang up in resistance of this construct. Andrew Carnegie. was an industrialist like Rockefeller. who ran a colossal steel company ( Appleby et al. 459 ) . However. Carnegie had a instead different position on the subject of Social Darwinism. He felt that Social Darwinism was excessively rough. He advocated a construct he called the Gospel of Wealth. This doctrine held that affluent people should non merely concentrate on themselves and on wining. but should besides believe of the other less fortunate people.

“In confering charity. the chief consideration should be to assist those who will assist themselves…“ This meant that affluent people should non merely give charity. but they should utilize their wealth to assist those in demand. by doing them able to assist themselves. They should construct schools. infirmaries and museums. Rich people should supply chances for the hapless to better themselves both culturally and educationally. He said. “The adult male who dies rich. dies shamed. “ Carnegie himself built libraries across the state. Others who followed his lead. besides started major philanthropic plants by opening the Salvation Army. the YMCA and other charity organisations ( Appleby et al. 466 ) . A fillip to his theory of Social Gospel was that Carnegie influenced many of the other so called ‘robber barons’ to make the same. Rockefeller himself. one of the greatest of the unjust concern tactic users. created the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research and established the Rockefeller Foundation ( Axelrod. 213 ) .

Another large theory about poorness was published in a book called. Advancement and Poverty. by a journalist named Henry George in 1879. It chiefly discusses all the points of the national argument traveling on throughout the state about authorities intercession in the economic system. in the Gilded Age. In the book. George says. “The present century has been marked by a colossal addition in wealth bring forthing power” ; this he continues should hold established poorness as. “a thing of the yesteryear. ” Alternatively it has made the “gulf between the employed and the employers turning wider ; societal contrasts are going cardsharp. ” In contrast to what the Social Darwinists said. George explains that the individualistic economic system is doing society’s jobs worse ( Appleby et al. 465 ) .

To battle the theories of Social Darwinism and its like. in 1883. Lester Frank Ward published the book. Dynamic Sociology. In his book. Frank argues against the construct of Social Darwinism by stating that worlds do non follow the same forms as animate beings. because we can be after to make the hereafter we desire. His thoughts came to be known as Reform Darwinism. He alleged that cooperation between people was the key to success and competition ruined it. Government should modulate the economic system ; promote instruction and halt poorness. instead than merely allowing things happen as they will ( Appleby et al. 465 ) .

Criticism of Social Darwinism appeared in literature excessively. in a new manner called naturalism. They challenged the thought that adult male can alter his destiny by stating that sometimes fortunes and coincidence. life makes a adult male fail through no mistake of his ain. An illustration of an writer who used naturalism in his plant was Jack London. He wrote many books of man’s weakness in the face of nature’s might. turn outing that adult male can non truly alter his ain destiny ( Appleby et al. 46 ) . There were many Americans across the state who were pro authorities intercession in concern. and against large concerns monopolising the economic system. Small concern proprietors and husbandmans had become particularly incensed at the large business’ and railway companies. The large concerns shipped such big sums of goods that they were able to acquire unjust discounts and lower transportation costs from the railway companies. while those smaller concerns paid much higher rates. The Federal authorities did non reply these concerns for a long clip. Both of the political parties believed that large concerns had the same belongings rights as persons. So. many province authoritiess began go throughing Torahs modulating railway rates in their position. But in 1886. the Supreme Court ruled in the instance of Wabash. St. Louis. and Pacific Railroad V. Illinois. that merely the federal authorities could modulate interstate commercialism and provinces could non modulate railway rates between provinces ( Appleby et al. 463 ) .

There were many felons during this period that the American populace made heroes of urban fables. dime novels. and ulterior films and telecasting. One of the violators put on a base like this was Jesse James. a stealer and phase manager brigand. Why did the American populace non abhor these stealers and slayers. but really adored them? Because their victims were large companies like the railway companies and large Bankss. who took the common man’s money to stash in their vaults. The public saw those establishments as 1s who daily robbed the public anyways. The existent victims were people who were non lucky plenty to hold been born a Rockefeller or his equal. In the point of view of that clip. the large companies were like the Sheriff of Nottingham. while the criminals were Robin Hoods. The authorities was considered merely every bit bad as the large concerns. It passed Torahs merely to gain the rich. while the common adult male got nil. To sum up the large business’s sentiment of the general population. William H. Vanderbilt. a railway baron. infamously said. “The public be [ blasted ] . ” He was stating that we will make what we want. the common adult male does non count ( Axelrod. 210-211 ) .

In 1887. public force per unit area forced Congress into action to seek and rectify the large concerns control over the free market and their slack manner of handling the single consumer. President Cleveland signed the Interstate Commerce Act. This act created the Interstate Commerce Commission ( ICC ) . This was the first federal jurisprudence to seek and modulate trade and concern. It limited railway company’s rates to “reasonable and just” monetary values. It forbade companies to give discounts to high volume users and made it illegal to bear down higher rates for shorter draw. It was non truly effectual because it had to trust on tribunals to implement its opinions.

Another jurisprudence passed by Congress to seek and cut down the control of large concerns over the economic field was the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890. It was created to seek and modulate trusts in concerns. It prohibited “any combination… or confederacy in restraint of trade or commercialism among several states” . It didn’t work for a few grounds ; it was excessively mistily worded. it was ill enforced and it was weakened by judicial reading. The Supreme Court ruled that it did non use to fabrication. because fabrication was non interstate. It had really small existent impact on concerns. it was more important for set uping a case in point ( like the ICC ) than it was for being effectual ( Appleby et al. 464 ) .

So in 1914. President Woodrow Wilson created the Federal Trade Commission ( FTC ) . to supervise American concerns. Unlike the ICC they could really carry through some of their purposes because they could look into companies and order them to “cease and desist” if they were prosecuting in unjust concern tactics. such as discounts. Congress besides passed the Clayton Anti-Trust Act. It outlawed some patterns that hurt competition. It banned restrictive sale and monetary value favoritism. This act clarified some of the issues and give voicing that the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was excessively obscure upon ( Appleby et al. 539 ) .

In today’s modern twenty-four hours society. Social Darwinism is really much non in consequence. The authorities non merely has strict control over large concerns in the affair of trusts. pools and the similar. but it besides has legion plans to assist the unfortunate and needy. Welfare. societal security. and nutrient casts are merely some of the plans that are set up to halt any one from traveling hungry. In a manner though. it is really somewhat darwinistic. If you want to acquire these free benefits. you have to travel out at that place and assist yourself.


Appleby. Brinkely. Broussard. McPherson. Ritchie and National Geographic. The American Vision. The McGraw-Hill Companies. Inc. . 2010. Axelrod. Alan. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to American History. New York: Penguin Group ( USA ) . Inc. . 2006. Walter Harris. and Gerson Antell. Economicss: Institutions and Analysis. New York: Amsco School. 2005 Publications. Inc. Heffner. Richard D. Heffner and Alexander. A Documentary History of the United States. New York: New American Library. a division of Penguin Group ( USA ) . Inc. . 2009.
Krugman. Paul. The Conscience of a Liberal. New York: W. W. Norton and Company Inc. . 2007.

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