Social Darwinism and the Gospel of Wealth

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What is the premise of Andrew Carnegie’s “Gospel of Wealth”?

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Andrew Carnegie makes no qualms about being wealthy and prosperous in the industrial capitalist world of early Twentieth Century America.  In many respects, he need not offer apologies.  Carnegie started his journey to the top one percent at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid.  What is clear from the essay ...

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Andrew Carnegie makes no qualms about being wealthy and prosperous in the industrial capitalist world of early Twentieth Century America.  In many respects, he need not offer apologies.  Carnegie started his journey to the top one percent at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid.  What is clear from the essay is that Carnegie is a proponent of the notion of Social Darwinism, or "survival of the fittest" applied in the socio-economic realm.  He feels that the wealthy are the superior members of the society and have earned their money through talent and hard work.  Where Carnegie departs from the camp of the Social Darwinists is in his belief in philanthropy.  The Gospel of Wealth is fairly critical of those individuals that die wealthy.  He forwards the belief that it is the responsibility of the wealthy to help the lower classes.  He does not advocate almsgiving as he feels that the poor cannot adequately make decisions about what to do with these handouts.  Carnegie suggests using wealth to create opportunities for the inferior classes to make self-improvement.  Carnegie believes that building libraries, universities, and museums with personal wealth will somewhat level the playing field between the classes.  

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