What is the significance of the quote "the path of progress is strewn with the wrecks of nations" by Karl Pearson?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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This quote is significant in that it is an example of a particularly virulent strain of Social Darwinism, a set of ideas that became very popular among Western thinkers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Karl Pearson was a British eugenicist, and believed that certain races contained inferior genetic elements that rendered them less fit than others. As this quote indicates, men like Pearson interpreted all of global politics as a pitiless struggle between nations and peoples. Those who won out did so because they were the most racially fit. It should be obvious that these ideas could be, and were, employed in support of late nineteenth-century imperialism, the forcible acquisition of territories in Africa and Asia. While Europeans had long held suspicions of the inferiority of other peoples, this new science (long ago discredited, it should be noted) seemed to lend support to their justifications. These ideas would be used later in the twentieth century in support of eugenics programs, Jim Crow laws, and immigration quotas in the United States, and of course in the horrors of National Socialism in Europe.

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