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John G. West Political Scientist and Cultural Critic

In Las Vegas, Discussing Why Germany Took Social Darwinism All the Way

Published at Evolution News
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I got back on Friday from the Anthem Film Festival and FreedomFest in Las Vegas, which screened The Biology of the Second Reich. In case you missed the film, you can see it on YouTube (find it at the bottom of this post). The screening venue was the “Sin City Theater” at the Planet Hollywood Resort, where the film festival and FreedomFest were held. Given the topic of the documentary, perhaps the name of the theater was appropriate!

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The room was packed out with around two hundred people, including around twenty who had to stand. I was told that they had to turn people away at the door. So it really was standing room only. The audience seemed to like the film.

Festival director Jo Ann Skousen and I introduced the program. I described how the film was developed to commemorate the centennial last year of World War I and how it dealt with the impact of Social Darwinism on Germany in the years leading up to WWI. Afterward, there was a Q&A with George Gilder and myself.

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One questioner pointed out that Social Darwinism wasn’t just a German phenomenon but wanted to know why the Germans took these ideas so much further than everyone else. George and I both noted that in fact Social Darwinism had widespread consequences elsewhere, including in America in the form of the eugenics crusade.

George then talked about Hitler’s Mein Kampf and made some interesting comments about Hitler’s attacks on the Jews in the book which were interlaced with attacks on capitalism and economic freedom. I discussed how German thinkers are known for pressing ideas to their logical conclusion, whether for good or — in this case — for ill in the extreme. Perhaps that is one reason why, in exploring the social implications of Darwinian biology, Germany went even further than other countries.

Photo credit: Eric Garcia, John West.

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.
Discovery Institute