Do individuals still employ the philosophies of Social Darwinism and the Gospel of Wealth?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Indeed, the tenets of business competition that allows for Social Darwinism and the Gospel of Wealth are still alive and well.  In terms of whether or not a full embrace of Social Darwinism is present, I think it is something that might be practiced internally, but not spoken or articulated with the brazen degree it was during its zenith in the Industrialization Period.  Certainly, the very fact that government bailouts for individuals and companies exist indicate that, at least publicly, there is a tendency to move away from the ideas of an absolute "winner" and the cost of many "losers."  One cannot imagine an elected official standing at a lectern and saying that their hands are tied because "someone has to win at the cost of someone else."  The fact that both the Republicans and Democrats are trying to effectively court the angry populist and renegade vote right now in upcoming midterm elections would indicate that there an external sentiment that strays from Social Darwinism.  Behind closed doors, though, the principles that allow for one company to collude with forces in government in order to ensure viability is still present.  The Social Darwinist tendency to post wins and profits by any means necessary is also there, though it is not spoke as loudly as it was in previous times.  In terms of Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth, certainly the examples of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to prove to a certain extent that this philosophy is still present.  However, one has to question how strong it is when wealthy individuals are reducing their contributions to universities and institutions of higher learning, citing the current economic crisis as a reason to withhold.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I believe that, in the United States at least, both of these philosophies are alive and well.

In the US, we are very reluctant to have, for example, welfare programs.  We tend to believe that people who are given handouts will not feel compelled to work hard -- they will be protected from the Darwinian competition.  We also tend to feel that the rich have gotten to where they are through merit.

As far as the Gospel of Wealth, there are a number of rich people who have their own foundations.  The most obvious example is Bill Gates, whose foundation has contributed huge amounts of money to various charities.

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