Some help with Social Darwinism and the Social Gospel, please.Social Darwinism used the idea of “survival of the fittest” to make a case for a laissez-faire approach to business. Social...

Some help with Social Darwinism and the Social Gospel, please.

Social Darwinism used the idea of “survival of the fittest” to make a case for a laissez-faire approach to business. Social Darwinists thought the government should not regulate business because only the best should last. Write a few sentences explaining some of the government’s actions around the turn of the century that social Darwinists would not have approved of.

Then think about another philosophy that developed in the late nineteenth century. The Social Gospel taught that it was a person’s duty to help others in need, not just prepare for an afterlife. Write a few sentences describing some of the actions that people took to practice the beliefs of the Social Gospel.

Expert Answers
mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Social Darwinism is the belief that only the strongest and the fittest survive. When used in dealing with the economy, it means the government should have little to no role in dealing with economic issues. Social Darwinists would have been dismayed by many of the laws that were passed during the Progressive Era. They would have been against laws that regulated business practices. For example, they would have opposed the creation of the Federal Trade Commission, the Meat Inspection Act, the Hepburn Act, child labor laws, and the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts.

Another concept that developed around 1900 was the idea of the Social Gospel. This was a belief that those who were more fortunate had an obligation to use their wealth to help people in need. For example, Andrew Carnegie donated money for the establishment of libraries. Carnegie believed he should help people do things for themselves, so they could improve their situation in life. Libraries gave people an opportunity to become more educated. Additionally, settlement houses were established to help poor people. The YMCA was also created to help young people. The concept of the Social Gospel was that help should be provided to people in need.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The overall premise of the question seeks to analyze the modern day implications of Social Darwinism and the Social Gospel.  Indeed, there are some logical incompatibilities between both. Part of this is because of their fundamental premises.  On one hand, the Social Darwinists would have read reality in the light of competition, that there are distinct winners and losers.  Those who win do so because of their strength, austerity, and mental dexterity.  Their victory is well deserved and those who did not win simply did not match up.  At the same time, the Social Gospel does not preach reality as a "win/ loss" paradigm, but rather through a more collaborative venue.   The current economic crisis might evoke different reactions out of both.  In this light, the Social Darwinists would disparage the idea of a government bailout, the notion of creating regulations on mortgage companies and banks, and the criminalization of predatory lending practices.  The believers in the Social Gospel would laud those who are giving more to food shelters and creating more opportunities for job training and placement to those who have been dislodged by the recent turn in economic affairs.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Social Darwinists would have disapproved of anything the government did to help protect the weak.  They would have disapproved of measures meant to help the poor and measures meant to prevent small businesses from being swallowed up by monopolies.  So, they would have disliked minimum wage and maximum hours laws.  They would have disliked Theodore Roosevelt's trustbusting and other things like that.

The Social Gospel argued that people should act to help the less fortunate.  People who adhered to this belief tended to push for political reforms such as those that the Social Darwinists didn't like.  They also did things such as creating church-run hospitals and setting up the YWCA to help poor women.

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