Vox Day on Evolution and Communism

01 September 2007

Musician Theodore Beale (a.k.a. Vox Day) has a ridiculous column up at Worldnetdaily in which he attempts to argue that evolutionary theory inevitably leads to Communism, or is responsible for all the mass-murder under the Soviet Union, or something like that.

"I am content to demonstrate that Darwinism was, and is, a core element of Marxist ideology. "

First off, let's get something straight. Marx's Communist Manifesto was first published in 1848. Darwin's Origin of Species was published in 1859. The core of Communist economic theory was already there before Darwin came along, so it's hard (if not impossible) to argue that evolutionary theory was responsible for this.

The column continues with garbage like this:
"Devious evolutionists have been quick to exploit this general ignorance in an attempt to distance Darwin and his theory of evolution from the crimes of the communist killers of the previous century... these atheists and evolutionists frantically attempt to scrub and scrub away at the historical record, desperate to wash the blood of tens of millions off the hands of their stained ideologies."

Sure, guy. Perhaps you can explain how exactly the theory of evolution is responsible for "the blood of tens of millions."

Theodore tries to support his position by quoting Trotsky:
    Pedants think the dialectic is an idle play of the mind. In reality it only reproduces the process of evolution, which lives and moves by way of contradictions.

    – Leon Trotsky, introduction to "The History of the Russian Revolution, Volume Two"

Is this your best material? What Trotsky is saying here is that there is a parallel between "natural selection" on the one hand, and a method of discussion called "dialectics" on the other. Dialectics is defined as "The art or practice of arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments." Sort of a "survival of the fittest" of ideas. It's a method we still use in our Democracies, and is far from being exclusively Communistic (let alone "responsible for the blood of tens of millions").

Let's see how else Theodore supports his argument:
"in a collection of his 1958 speeches published by the Red Guard entitled "Long Live Mao Zedong Thought", Mao praised 26 men he considered to have demonstrated a fearless intellectual spirit in advancing human knowledge. The only three westerners he saw fit to name were Marx, Lenin and Darwin."
When you look at the actual source, you see that Mao also mentions Confucious and the inventor of the sleeping pill (who was also a Westerner). Mao did not go through this list to catalogue those whose ideas he had drawn upon, but rather: "My purpose in citing so many examples is to show that the young people must surpass the old and the less educated can excel the more educated." So still, there is no real support for Theodore's claim that "Darwinism was, and is, a core element of Marxist ideology."

He continues:
"the direct link between Darwin and communism is less well understood"
Yet Theodore does not explain this link in his entire article. All he seems to be saying is that belief in Darwinian evolutionary theory contributed to the philosophical materialism of several Communist leaders (through the process of dialectics, which they certainly used). Nothing is offered to suggest that evolutionary theory itself contributed to the complex non-competitve economic ideologies of early Communists (which pre-dated Darwin), nor that it was essential to any of the totalitarian techniques used to implement those policies.

In fact, the scientific theory of evolution was explicitly appropriated by the diametrically opposed viewpoint. The self-proclaimed "Social Darwinsts" held an exactly opposite ideology, stressing unrestrained Capitalism whereby the strong survived (economically) and the weak perished. Theodore offers no similar material in his Darwin-Marxism argument. Just vague mentions of "materialism" and gratuitous jabs at atheism:
"The atheism of communist killers such as Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Choibalsan and dozens of other mass-murderous rulers is unquestionable. Explaining how their atheism was the causal factor of their lethal actions is a matter I shall address in detail at a later date."

At a later date, Theodore continues to state that:
"every single major Communist not only subscribed to Darwinist evolution but considered Darwin to be second only to Hegel as a pre-Marxist socialist figure."

This comment ignores the fact that Darwin was not a "pre-Marxist" at all, as well as that the fact that Stalin (the most murderous of all Communist leaders) did not subscribe to Darwinian evolution. Stalin was actually vehemently opposed to our modern evolutionary theory. He banned the teaching of it, and banned all research that even hinted at implicit support of the concept. Some were even executed for this reason. In its place, Stalin appointed the insane, anti-evolutionary Trofim Lysenko.

In the end, it appears that Theodore's argument boils down to something like this: (1) Darwin's evolutionary theory led to broader acceptance of philosophical materialism; (2) Communists also subscribed to materialism (through dialectics), and some cited evolutionary theory as buttressing that position; therefore, (3) evolutionary theory is responsible for all the crimes committed by Communists. It's a ridiculous argument, and deserves nothing but contempt.

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