Social Darwinism and the Gospel of Wealth

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A clearer explanation on what Andrew Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth Article is saying?

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In Andrew Carnegie’s article "The Gospel of Wealth," Carnegie discusses the proper ways to deal with inequality in wealth. He starts off by discussing how inequality in society formed, noting that in earlier societies, leaders and their followers lived essentially the same lives. He goes on to say that innovations in management and technology gradually led to a civilization where both laborers and the owners of production have better lives than in earlier societies, but the improvement for the laborers was much smaller than for the owners of production. This occurred because manufacturing improved over time, lowering the cost of goods and improving quality. Those who owned the manufacturing concerns gradually accumulated wealth and created more production capacity. Carnegie believes that this is the natural state of things. Either an enterprise produces profit and grows, enriching the owners, or it produces losses and shrinks, making the owners poorer. This naturally leads to a society where there are the poor laborers and the rich production owners. He feels there is nothing wrong with this and, in fact, that this competition makes life better for everyone by driving innovation and reducing the cost of goods. After this point, Carnegie focuses on the best ways the wealthy can distribute their money.

Carnegie believes there are three ways the wealthy can do this: give their money to their family upon their death, pass it to the state in the form of estate taxes, or administer it during their lives for the public good. He believes that giving it to family is a poor way to distribute the money because it will make family members live a life of idleness, which is bad for them in the competitive society that Carnegie believes is natural. Thus, he thinks that estate taxes should be very high to discourage this, as the state could use the money better than the family. In turn, he believes that this will encourage the wealthy to administer their money during their lives for the betterment of society, because they can control where the money goes. This charitable giving solves inequality, while not subverting what Carnegie believes to be the natural state of production. Carnegie calls this his Gospel of Wealth.

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Andrew Carnegie believed in the concept of the Gospel of Wealth. Carnegie believed there was nothing wrong with people making a lot of money. These people shouldn’t be ashamed of themselves for being successful. However, because some wealthy people believed in the concept of Social Darwinism, the rich often appeared to be greedy and unsympathetic to those who were less fortunate. Social Darwinism believes in the concept of survival of the fittest. If somebody isn’t able to make it economically or financially in the world, that was just too bad for that person even though the reasons for their lack of success may not be their fault. The Gospel of Wealth was a concept used to soften the harshness of Social Darwinism. The Gospel of Wealth was a philosophy that the wealthy had an obligation to be charitable. The wealthy needed to use their good fortunate to promote social progress and to help the less fortunate. This principle led to many charitable donations being made to help communities throughout the country to improve conditions for all of the citizens. These donations could be used to establish parks, libraries, and art centers. The Gospel of Wealth was a way for the rich to share their fortune by benefiting the rest of society in various ways.

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