Search

Karl Marx, Darwin and the HMS Beagle

Updated: Oct 2, 2020



In my 3-volume series, "Observational Commentaries on Social Atheism", we shared documents from Creation Scientists detailing numerous connections between Darwinism and Marx. There are some who contest these connections, not wanting the ugly and shameful history of Marxist movements to stain Darwin's image. However, the general argumentation against the connections are rather weak; the idea is that it is not likely Darwin had great influence on Marx, as Origin of Species was published a bit after the fact, in November 1859. Comparatively, the Communist Manifesto was launched in 1848. Granted there is a bit of a time gap between the publishing of the Manifesto and Origin of species, but it is reckless to question the reports of contact between Karl Marx and Darwin on this basis alone. For one matter, Darwin's atheistic evolutionary view as presented in his books had really already kicked off some way through his journeys on the HMS Beagle according to most scholarly reports of history. Well, Darwin's ride on the Beagle ended in October, 1836. Between 1836 and 1848 leaves 12 years. Assuming lecturing was a common habit of Darwin and his friends, which is reasonable considering these were esteemed to be "scholars", and the strong connections between Darwin's homeland areas and Germany, the odds of the two crossing paths in the world of "intellectual elites" is very high. Well, one of the quotations I drew from out right states that Marx even attended lectures and wrote correspondences with Engels regarding Darwin's conclusions. As I quoted in my book: One document from the answering genesis.org website reads[1]:

“Darwinism as a worldview was a critical factor, not only in influencing the development of Nazism, but also in the rise of communism and the communist holocaust that, by one estimate, took the lives of more than 100 million persons. “ [2]

“Marx, together with his forebears, associates and successors, was a doctrinaire evolutionist who tried to build his society on evolutionary premises. There is abundant documentation of this assessment, and few would even question it.[3]

“Beate Wilder-Smith suggested that evolution is:

‘a central plank in Marxist doctrine today. The Nazis were convinced, as are communists today, that evolution had taken place, that all biology had evolved spontaneously upward, and that in-between links (or less evolved types) should be actively eradicated. They believed that natural selection could and should be actively aided, and therefore instituted political measures to eradicate the handicapped, the Jews, and the blacks, whom they considered as “underdeveloped”. ‘ [4]

“Many extremists were active before Darwin published his seminal work, ‘On the Origin of Species’ in 1859, but since religious faith prevailed among both scientists and non-scientists before Darwin, it was very difficult for these radicals to persuade the masses to accept communistic (or other leftist) ideologies. Partly for this reason, Western nations blocked the development of most radical movements for centuries. Darwin, however, opened the door to Marxism by providing what Marx believed was a ‘scientific’ rationale to deny Creation, and by extension, to deny God. “ [5]

“His denial of God, and his knowledge of Darwin, inspired Marx to develop his new godless worldview now known as communism. And like other Darwinists, Marx stressed that his communistic worldview was ‘scientific’ and, as such, employed a ‘scientific methodology’ and ‘scientific outlook’. “ [6]

“Bethell notes that Marx admired Darwin’s book:

‘not for economic reasons but for the more fundamental one that Darwin’s universe was purely materialistic, and the explication of it no longer involved any reference to the unobservable, nonmaterial causes outside or ‘beyond it’. In that important respect, Darwin and Marx were truly comrades’ [7]

“And historian Hofstadter noted that most of the early orthodox Marxists ‘felt quite at home in Darwinian surroundings. On the shelves of the socialist bookstores in Germany the words of Darwin and Marx stood side by side.’ [8]

“Born in 1818, Marx was baptized a Lutheran in 1824, attended a Lutheran elementary school, received praise for his ‘earnest’ essays on moral and religious topics, and was judged by his teachers ‘moderately proficient’ in theology (his first written work was on ‘the love of Christ’) until he encountered Darwin’s writings and ideas at the University of Berlin. Marx wrote tirelessly until he died, producing hundreds of books, monographs and articles. Sir Isaiah Berlin even claimed that no thinker ‘in the nineteenth century had so direct, deliberate and powerful an influence upon mankind as did Karl Marx. ‘[9]

“Marx saw the living world in terms of a Darwinian ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ struggle, involving a triumph of the strong and the subjugation of the weak. “ [10]

“Darwin taught that ‘survival of the fittest’ existed among all forms of life. From this idea Marx believed that the major ‘struggle for existence’ existed among all forms of life. From this idea Marx believed that the major ‘struggle for existence’ among humans occurred primarily between the social classes. Barzun concluded that Marx believed his own work to be the exact parallel of Darwin’s, and that:

‘like Darwin, Marx thought he had discovered the law of development. He saw history in stages, as the Darwinists saw geological strata and successive forms of life... both Marx and Darwin made struggle the means of development. Again, the measure of value in Darwin is survival with reproduction- an absolute fact occurring in time and which wholly disregards the moral or esthetic quality of the product. In Marx, the measure of value is expended labor- an absolute fact occurring in time, which also disregards the utility of the product. Both Darwin and Marx [also] tended to hedge and modify their mechanical absolution in the face of objections.” [11]

“Marx owed a major debt to Darwin for his central ideas. In Marx’s words: ‘Darwin’s book is very important and serves me as a basis in natural selection for the class struggle in history… not only is it [Darwin’s book] a death blow… to “Teleology” in the natural sciences but their rational meaning is empirically explained. ‘ [12]

“Marx first read Darwin’s Origin of Species only a year after its publication, and was so enthusiastic that he reread it two years later. “ [13]

He (Marx) attended a series of lectures by Thomas Huxley on Darwin’s ideas, and spoke of “nothing else for months but Darwin and the enormous significance of his scientific discoveries.” [14]

According to a close associate, Marx was also: “...one of the first to grasp the significance of Darwin’s research. Even before 1859, the year of the publication of “The Origin of Species”- and by a remarkable coincidence, of Marx’s ‘Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy’ – Marx realized Darwin’s epoch-making importance. For Darwin… was preparing a revolution similar to the one which Marx himself was working for… Marx kept up with every new appearance and noted ever step forward, especially in the fields of natural sciences...” [15]

“Berlin states that after he became a communist, Marx detested passionately any ‘belief in supernatural causes’ [16]

“Stein noted that “Marx himself viewed Darwin’s work as confirmation by the natural sciences of his own views… “ [17]

“.. According to Heyer, Marx was ‘infatuated’ with Darwin, and Darwin’s ideas clearly had a major influence not only on him and Engels, but also on both Lenin and Stalin. Furthermore, these men’s writings frequently discussed Darwinian ideas.” [18]

“Marx and Engels ‘enthusiastically embraced’ Darwinism, kept up with Darwin’s writings, and often corresponded with each other (and others) about their reactions to Darwin’s conclusions. “[19]

“The Communists recognized the importance of Darwin to their movement, and therefore rigorously defended him:

“The socialist movement recognized Darwinism as an important element in its general world outlook right from the start. When Darwin published his Origin of Species in 1859, Karl Marx wrote a letter to Friedrich Engels in which he said. “… this is the book (Origin of Species by Darwin) which contains the basis in natural history for our view” … And of all those eminent researchers of the nineteenth century who have left us such a rich heritage of knowledge, we are especially grateful to Charles Darwin for opening our way to an evolutionary, dialectical understanding of nature.” [20]

Prominent Communist Friedrich Lessner concluded that ‘Das Kapital’ and Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ were the ‘two greatest scientific creations of the century’. [21]

“The importance of Darwinism in the estimated 140 million deaths caused by communism was partly because:”

“Clearly, for Marx Man has no “nature” ... For man is his own maker and will consciously become his own maker in complete freedom from morality or from the laws of nature of nature’s God… Here we see why Marxism justifies the ruthless sacrifice of men living today, men who, at this stage of history, are only partly human.” (in his view)[22]

“Halstead adds that the theoretical foundation of Communism”:

“… is a dialectical materialism which was expounded with great clarity by Friedrich Engels in ‘Anti-Duhrung and the Dialectics of Nature’. He recognized the great value of the contributions made by geology in establishing that there was constant movement and change in nature and the significance of Darwin’s demonstration that this applied also to the organic world... the crux of the entire theoretical framework, however, is in the nature of qualitative changes. The is also spelt out by Engels in ‘The Dialectics of Nature’, “a development in which the qualitative changes occur not gradually but rapidly and abruptly, taking the form of a leap from one state to another.” … Here then is the recipe for revolution.” [23]

[1] https://answeringgenesis.org/charles-darwin/racism/the-darwinian-foundation -of-communism: [2] Courtois, S., Werth, N. Panne, J-L., Paczkowski, A. Bartosek, K. and Margolin, J-L, the Black Book of Communism; Crimes, Terror, Repression, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, p. 4, 1999) [3] Morris, H. “That their words may be used against them, Master Books, Forrest, pg. 417 [4] Wilder-Smith, B., The Day Nazi Germany Died, Master Books, San Diego, pg. 27, 1982 [5] Perloff, J. Tornado in a Junkyard, Refuge Books, Arlington, pg.44, 1999 [6] Kolman, E., Marx and Darwin, The Labour Monthly 13(11):702-705, pg. 705, 1931 [7] : Bethell, T, Burning Darwin to save Marx, Harpers Magazine, pg. 37, December 1978 [8] Hofstadter, R., Social Darwinism in American Thought, George Braziller Inc., New York, pg 115, 1959 [9] Berlin, I., Karl Marx: His Life and Environment, Oxford University Press, New York, pg. 31, 1959, Koster, J. The Atheist Syndrome, Woldemuth and Hyatt, Brentwood, pp. 162, 164, 1989, Wurmbrand, R, Marx and Satan, Crossway books, Westchester, pg. 11, 1987 [10] Pannekeok, A. Marxism and Darwinism, Charles A. Kerr, Chicago, 1912 [11] Barzun, J. Darwin, Marx, Wagner: Critique of a Heritage, 2nd Doubleday, Garden City, New York, ph. 8, 1958 [12] Zirkle, C., Evolution, Marxian Biology, and the Social Scene, University of Philadelphia, p. 85-87, pg. 86, 1959 [13] : Colp, Jr., the contracts between Karl Marx and Charles Darwin, J. History of Ideas 35(2):329-338, pg. 329. 1972 [14] Colp, Jr., the contracts between Karl Marx and Charles Darwin, J. History of Ideas 35(2):329-338, pg. 329. 1972 [15] Lessner, F.A. Workers reminiscences of Karl Marx: in Reminiscences of Marx and Engels, Foreign Languages Pub. House, Moscow, pg. 106, 1968. [16] Berlin, I., Karl Marx: His Life and Environment, Oxford University Press, New York, pg. 31, 1959 [17] Stein, G.J., Biological science and the roots of Nazism, the American Scientist, 76:50-58. Pg. 52 [18] Heyer, P., Marx and Darwin: A related Legacy on Man, Nature and Societym, Ph.D. Dissertation, Rutgers University, 1975 [19] Conner, C, Evolution vs. Creationism: in defense of scientific thinking, International Socialist Review (monthly magazine supplement to the Militant) pg. 4, November 1980 Torr, D. (Ed.) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Correspondence 1846-1895, International Publishers, New York, 1934 [20] Conner, C, Evolution vs. Creationism: in defense of scientific thinking, International Socialist Review (monthly magazine supplement to the Militant) pg. 4, November 1980 [21] Lessner, F.A. Workers reminiscences of Karl Marx: in Reminiscences of Marx and Engels, Foreign Languages Pub. House, Moscow, pg. 106, 1968. [22] Eidelberg, P., Karl Marx and the declaration of independence: the meaning of Marxism, intercollegiate Review 20:3-11, p. 10, 1984 [23] Halstead, L.B., Popper: good philosophy, bad science, New Scientist, p. 216-217, 17 July 1980

32 views0 comments