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Mistaking Darwinism and Capitalism

Mistaking Darwinism and Capitalism

Darwinism refers to the understanding that species evolve through natural selection. As it turns out, there are other ways that species evolve, such as through sexual selection and artificial selection, but the term “Darwinism” refers specifically to evolution through natural selection.

So, how does it work?

Well, species evolve through natural selection when a natural environment makes it easier or harder for a given animal to survive and procreate. Animals that are a good fit for their natural environment have an easier time surviving and procreating in that environment than those animals that are not a good fit for their environment.

This is what is meant by the term “survival of the fittest”.

In other words, the animals that are the best fit for their natural environment are able to survive most easily and can go on to procreate accordingly. So, as their environment changes, the animals that fit with their environment are naturally selected to continue living in that environment. This causes species to evolve (or change) according to the changes in their environment.

While this understanding of Darwinism is fairly accurate, Americans’ common misunderstanding of Darwinism is not.

Since the early 20th century, it’s been common for people to mistake “survival of the fittest” with “survival of the superior”. What this means is that people have misunderstood “survival of the fittest” as implying that only the most superior of a species get to survive.

Seeing as pretty much everyone would like to survive, believing that only the most superior get to survive is a recipe for continuous conflict. After all, who gets to decide who’s superior and who’s not?

What Darwinism actually implies is that, to survive as a species, we need to adapt well to our environments by fitting into them well, both as we change and as they change.

As for Capitalism, it refers to a type of economic system that relies on investable assets (known as capital) being privately owned. The core idea behind Capitalism is that public ownership of investable assets tends to result in the depletion of those assets instead of the growth of those assets. So, Capitalism encourages the exponential growth of private investable assets instead of the gradual diminishment of public investable assets.

While this understanding of Capitalism is fairly accurate, Americans’ common misunderstanding of Capitalism is not.

Since the early 20th century, it’s been common for people to mistake “private asset growth instead of public asset depletion” with “placing public assets under private ownership”. What this means is that people have misunderstood “private asset growth instead of public asset depletion” as having assets be private instead of public.

Seeing as pretty much everyone would like to have more assets than fewer, believing that Capitalism supports making public assets private is a recipe for continuous conflict. After all, who gets to decide which public assets go into which private hands?

What Capitalism actually implies is that the growth of public assets is best facilitated by growing assets privately and then giving them to the public, such as through taxes.

Like the common misunderstanding of Darwinism, the common misunderstanding of Capitalism assumes a need to fight for superiority. This perceived need to fight is part of American culture’s longstanding glorification of violence.

Whether in news, politics, or entertainment, American culture has chosen conflict over cooperation since… well, the American War of Independence. This attitude of choosing to fight and assert superiority is partly why the United States of America continues to engage in a long-standing series of wars and invasions going back more or less to its inception.

America’s fixation with fighting for superiority is why the American military budget exceeds the budgets of the next 10 biggest militaries in the world combined. It’s why America has the most private guns and ammunition in the world. It’s why American movies glorify guns and violence more than in any other country.

America’s fixation with fighting for superiority is why American politics has talked about winning “the war on drugs” and “the war on terror” despite it being literally impossible to wage war on either — much less to win such wars. It’s why America has by far the most prisoners in the world per capita. It’s why American politics has only 2 large political parties, so as to provide a clear “us versus them” distinction when fighting for political superiority.

America’s fixation with fighting for superiority has been used to justify systemic greed, racism, sexism, and supremacism leading to large-scale abuses of both Americans and non-Americans. So, it’s important to understand that the American attitude towards both Darwinism and Capitalism is very, very mistaken.

Neither Darwinism nor Capitalism require fighting for superiority. Neither Darwinism nor Capitalism offer justifications for violence, greed, racism, sexism, or supremacism. Neither Darwinism nor Capitalism need to change in order to end the fight for superiority and replace it with cooperation among equals. Rather, it’s American culture that needs to change — and now is a great time to start.

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