If Karl Pearson's ideas justified imperial expansion, how could his views/arguments provoke a climate of international violence?I understand that he was a bit of a racist in that he believed that...

If Karl Pearson's ideas justified imperial expansion, how could his views/arguments provoke a climate of international violence?

I understand that he was a bit of a racist in that he believed that civilization was produced by struggle of race with race, and the survival of the fitter race. I'm not sure how to answer the question though. Any ideas?

Asked on by iabulldogs

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would argue that Pearson was more than "a bit" racist, and it is his racial attitudes that would provoke a climate of international violence.

Pearson argued from a Social Darwinist perspective.  He believed that nations competed with one another and whoever was more "fit" would win out in the end.  To Pearson, humankind had to compete or deteriorate.  If people stopped having wars, "natural selection" would stop working on people and the race as a whole would degenerate.

If those views were widely held, you can see how they would create a climate of international violence.  This could happen in at least two ways.  First of all, they would provoke a scramble to colonize "lesser" peoples and that scramble might lead to conflict between European countries over who would rule what.  Second, and more importantly, if you take these ideas seriously, then it is important for your country to go out and fight to make sure that it keeps improving.  People like Theodore Roosevelt believed in this kind of idea, which provided a reason for Roosevelt to ardently back the Spanish-American War.

If you take Pearson's Social Darwinism seriously, countries have to fight wars in oreder to improve themselves and keep from degenerating.  If many countries believe in that, you have climate of international violence.

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