Whither are We Moving?

Social Darwinism and the Rhetoric of Class Conflict in the United States


  • Tate Luker


In late nineteenth and early twentieth century America, rapid socio-economic change left the nation unsettled. As the social and demographic changes that accompanied commercialization and industrialization began to shift the traditional organizational bases of society, scientific and intellectual trends continued to chip away at conventional understandings of the nature of man and human society. Those who sought to understand these changes found a new organizing principle and new rhetoric in the biology of Charles Darwin, and this rhetoric displayed itself in the language of both the thinkers now known as Social Darwinists and those who opposed them.