Obama's "social Darwinism" Nonsense

The president of the United States this week gave a remarkable speech, in which he said, among other silly things, this:

This congressional Republican budget is something different altogether.  It is a Trojan Horse.  Disguised as deficit reduction plans, it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country.  It is thinly veiled social Darwinism.  It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everybody who's willing to work for it; a place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class.  And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that’s built to last  -- education and training, research and development, our infrastructure -- it is a prescription for decline.

Yes, he is talking about a budget that increases spending by $1.4 trillion over the next decade, and doesn't come anywhere near balancing the budget for as far as the eye can see.

Anyway, about that "social Darwinism" crack, Cato's David Boaz has more:

The arbiters of appropriate expression in America get very exercised when conservatives call Barack Obama a "socialist." They treat the claim in the same way as calling Obama a Muslim, Kenyan, or "the anti-Christ."

But headlines this week report that President Obama accused the Republicans of "social Darwinism," and I don't see anyone exercised about that. A New York Times editorial endorses the attack.

Is "social Darwinist" within some bound of propriety that "socialist" violates? I don’t think so. [...]

[N]o one calls himself a social Darwinist. Not now, not ever. Not Herbert Spencer. The term is always used to label one's opponents. In that sense it's clearly a more abusive term than "socialist," a term that millions of people have proudly claimed. [...]

It's always used as a smear of conservatives and libertarians — by the historian Richard Hofstadter, by the fabulist Robert Reich, and now even by the president of the United States.

Read Reason Senior Editor Damon Root's classic text on the old smear: "The Unfortunate Case of Herbert Spencer: How a libertarian individualist was recast as a social Darwinist."

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  • fursa||

    Exactly how many religio-political threads do we need today?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Post-partisan presidents can get away with such demagogy.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    It is thinly veiled social Darwinism. It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everybody who's willing to work for it

    Looks like the President is confusing "opportunity" with "entitlement" again, and equating hard work with prosperity.

    If the latter resulted in wealth, farmers would be the richest people in America.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I'll add the curiousity that progressives always mock those XTIAN BIGOTS UGH when the subject of science comes up, but somehow believe that Darwinism and evolution don't apply in a social context despite their worship of the social sciences.

  • some guy||

    They believe that natural selection works in society, they just don't want it to work in society. They think they can circumvent it with enlightened policy.

  • o3||

    shorter red rocks - people are animals too11!11!!!1

  • Killazontherun||

    Yes, that is what the science tells us, people are animals. You do believe in science, don't you?

  • o3||

    science teaches all abouts scientent beings like peoples

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    o3, paraphrased--alakazoo a magicaroo a herpity derpity doo!

  • juris imprudent||

    [golf claps]

  • R C Dean||

    I'm baffled, personally, by how reducing government spending is inconsistent with upward mobility for those who work for it.

  • ||

    Who is proposing reducing spending?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Isn't Obama saying the Republicans are?

  • Something Pithy||

    That happens when your head is firmly lodged in your ass. The emperor loves his asshat and will never give it away.

  • Old Mexican||

    Obama's "social Darwinism" Nonsense


    So you noticed it, too?

    A New York Times editorial endorses the attack.


    And making a mockery of themselves in the process, as always.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I am a Social Darwinist

    I believe that society should change organically,as the result of individual action.

    Barack Obama is a Social Creationist that believes society must be guided by a dear leader to it's ultimate hellish conclusions.

  • ||

    Nice. I might have to steal that for facebook.

  • Ice Nine||

    It is thinly veiled social Darwinism. It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everybody who's willing to work for it;

    Oxymoron Alert!

  • Old Mexican||

    It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everybody who's willing to work for it;


    People risked their lives throughout history to come to America to enjoy the fruits of the dole... in the president's mind, it would seem.

  • ||

    Anyone who listens to anything Obama says deserves what they get. Haven't you people learned to ignore him by now?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Obama is the ultimate troll.

  • ||

    I thought you were the ultimate troll, Hugh.

  • SugarFree||

    Insult The Urkobold once more like that and he will post your medical records on-line.

  • ||

    Post away! My herpes infection is no secret. My viral load is super low anyway!

  • ||

    President of lulz.

  • SugarFree||

    Hugh? I think Typical Libertarian should be answering reader's questions about relationships.

  • ||

    "Never let him see you cry."

  • robc||

    I think Shumpeter was right about creative destruction. If that makes me a social darwinist, then so be it.

  • robc||

    This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in. -- Joseph Shumpeter*

    *I would have posted as him last week

  • Socialist Barbie||

    But change is hard and that makes it really unfair!!!

  • BakedPenguin||

    But we need those bank teller jobs lost to ATM's - just like we need buggy whip maker jobs. Say, horses are greener transportation than cars...

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I see "Robert Reich" while scanning through and immediately my brain turns off. Nothing to see here that won't piss me off, time to move along.

  • R C Dean||

    I see "Robert Reich" while scanning through and immediately my brain turns off.

    Don't feel bad. Apparently, he has that effect on himself, too.

  • juris imprudent||

    The unfortunate part is that is mouth does not shut off as well.

  • Tim||

    Obama's so full of shit you could spread him on a field and grow crops.

  • o3||

    is the scum racist alluding to his color?

  • Killazontherun||

    Racism here, racism there, racism everywhere! Could you be any more ineffectual?

  • ||

    If he had said "Romney is so full of shit..." you wouldn't be calling him a racist. Science you can be a dipshit sometimes.

    Stick to comedy, it's what you're good at.

  • o3||

    which is what that waz. jeesch

  • ||

    When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it. --Frederic Bastiat

  • sarcasmic||

    And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that’s built to last -- education and training, research and development, our infrastructure -- it is a prescription for decline.

    That's right. There was no education and training before government. No research and development occurs outside of government, and without government there would be no roads.
    If you don't want something to be done by government, you don't want it to be done at all. Because if government doesn't do it, no one will.

  • ||

    Fuck that. Apparently to them there wasn't education, training, research, development, or infrastructure 12 years ago, let alone without government being involved in that stuff at all.

  • sarcasmic||

    That is exactly correct. Fire and the wheel are proof that government existed in some shape or form even in the days of the cave man. For how else could they have been discovered without some sort of government grant funded research and development?

  • William Bruce||

    But... but the wheel industry is different, because of positive externalities and asymmetrical information. And fire is a public good. Sure, you can say, "Let the market handle it," but you already have a lit stick, free-riding on your community's fire. What caveman would discover fire without a claim to everyone's tiger meat? Cavemen don't read Coase. Cavemen can't read. Because education is a public good -- with moral hazard. And externalities.

  • Old Mexican||

    a place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class.


    "You know, like a virus."

    The president has proven once again his total ignorance on economics or, at least, his total disdain for the subject... or the truth, for that matter.

  • sarcasmic||

    The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.
    Thomas Sowell
  • Soc Indv Sparky||

    a place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class.

    And by that he means taking away from the middle-class to redistribute to the wealthy and the poor. But mostly to the wealthy.

  • Lord Humungus||

    the decline of the middle-class could only hasten "progressive" rule.

  • Ken Shultz||

    [N]o one calls himself a social Darwinist. Not now, not ever. Not Herbert Spencer. The term is always used to label one's opponents.

    I think of our individual rights as being a social adaptation that makes some societies outperform others.

    The history of the 20th century would seem to indicate that when societies which prominently feature that adaptation enter into conflict with those that don't, the former triumphs and the latter goes on the ash heap of history.

    If someone called me a social Darwinist, though, the idea that term triggered in people's heads probably wouldn't have anything to do with my belief in the great superiority of societies that prominently feature individual rights. So, the problem with calling me that term is that it's inaccurate.

    However, when I call a president a "socialist" because he nationalized two-thirds of the American auto industry; because he effectively nationalized most of the American healthcare industry; because he sees the federal government's responsibilities, primarily, it seems, as being the engine of economic growth?

    The problem with me calling him "socialist" isn't inaccuracy. It's that his supporters don't like people like me calling it like it is.

  • DWC||

    Is "exercised" the correct word? If not, what should the word be? It sounds sort of right, but not really.

  • Tonio||

    Yes, exercised is the correct word. In this case it means worked-up.

  • juris imprudent||

    Though we can only hope the country is exorcised of Obama in the fall.

  • ||

    Whenever I read shit like this I'm reminded of the great line from The Usual Suspects that "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." The greatest trick Obama ever pulled was convincing the public that he's not a politician. I mean, the guy comes up through the Chicago machine and plays every political angle there is (very effectively, to his credit) and somehow at the same time manages to convince his followers that he's above politics-as-usual. Sometimes I feel like Rowdy Roddy Piper in "They Live."

  • Soc Indv Sparky||

    Before the glasses or after?

  • robc||

    The Usual Suspects?

    Isnt that from Screwtape Letters?

  • robc||

    I wasnt exactly right, the quote I was thinking of:

    “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

  • robc||

    From a google search, it appears that quote doesnt predate The Usual Suspects. I would have guessed late 19th century, Chesterton or somebody. (After my first guess of Lewis, of course)

  • pmains||

    It's from "The Generous Gambler" by Charles Baudelaire. The original is in French, so the translations vary. I found it as "the finest trick", "the greatest trick," and "the loveliest trick."

  • Mr. FIFY||

    "Social Darwinism" = "not Team Blue-minded"

    It's that simple.

  • o3||

    social darwinism = uninsured

    FIFY fify

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Triple Asshole,

    social darwinism = uninsured


    That makes no sense. You didn't fix anything, you just turned it into a non sequitur.

  • Killazontherun||

    OM, you are arguing with a glib monkey. You might as well just offer him an overripe banana. He would not know the difference between it and a sound argument.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I thought 03 was being sarcastic.

    There needs to be a tag for sarcasm, I swear.

  • o3||

    i was.

  • Ken Shultz||

    See?

    Even when I'm right, I'm wrong.

  • Registration At Last!||

    Ooooooh! I LOVE it when Team Blue hits a nerve.

    I personally commit myself to using the term "Social Darwinist" 5,000 times between now and election day.

    I want to see some heads explode, Scanners-style.

    BTW, th link to Spencer whitewashes the latter half of his life out of existence, when he renigged on equal rights and became just another Pinkerton-statist corporate lackey.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    a place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class.

    For those of wondering who "the middle class" are, check this out:

    Understand that only 6 percent of Americans make more than $97,000 a year. So, 6 percent is not the middle class; it's the upper class.
    -Barack Obama

    Anyone making $97,001, Barry's got nothing for you.

  • juris imprudent||

    I don't know when he said that, but the cut-off for top 10% of income is around $120K these days.

    Not that facts matter.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    It be nice if Obama just manned up and stated that he wants to wage war on the capitalist class, the bourgeosie and the petty bourgeosie.

    It'd make his message much clearer.

  • William Bruce||

    You forgot the Kulaks -- unless they are part of the Petty-B. Frankly, I never can remember... What genus is the dodo a member of, again?

    Oh, and Jewish doctors. I might as well go there...

  • AlmightyJB||

    Saw the Andrew Niccol film "In Time" a while back with my wife. Dystopian film where in the future currency is replaced by minutes of one’s life. A leftist vision of the ultimate capitalist future. Anyway the villains went on and on about "Economic Darwinism" and how perfect society was now. The term was used throughout the movie. The ultimate villain even used Darwin’s birthday as a secret code. This Darwin nonsense must be one of the Left's latest memes. Incidentally, black people must not fair very well in this new world since I don’t think there were any in Niccol's future. Come to think of it I don’t remember any in "Gattica" which was another of his films about the future.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Repent, Harlequin!", said the Ticktockman

  • juris imprudent||

    This Darwin nonsense must be one of the Left's latest memes.

    Which is pretty funny considering how Darwin is so central to the great science vs. religion debate. You would think they would be showering him with love.

  • AlmightyJB||

    It goes back to their old 20's 30's progressive "Survival of the Fittest" "Law of the Jungle" anti-capitalist screeds. They just recycle.

  • William Bruce||

    This latest gem of a speech just verifies my prior observation made to a family member: If you append "...since the Progressive Era" to any of our President's statements about American traditions, culture, heritage, politics, etc., you will find them to be indisputably true and utterly unremarkable. Try it when you are bored -- a natural prerequisite for listening to begin with!

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