Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Charles Darwin Vs Karl Marx | Philosophy Tube

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Hi! Welcome to Philosophy Tube, I teach people about philosophy. Today were learning about Charles

Darwin. Were gonna talk about where he got his ideas, how he impacted the way a

lot of us still think about loads of stuff today, and some of the people who took his ideas and did interesting, sometimes

horriblel, things with them. Well talk a little bit about what Victorian Britain was like, theres

some stuff later on about God and religion, and were also gonna touch on eugenics and social Darwinism

too. When I started researching this video I found that it is surprisingly very relevant to current

events, although this video will hopefully just be a nice relaxed ramble through the woods. Youll

have seen that its sponsored, but Im not gonna keep any of that money - if you stick around

at the end youll find out where Im donating it. So! Ive got

my backpack, got my sunscreen, I've got my water bottle!

Lets go on an adventure!

Were walking through quite a famous and ancient bit of English woodland - I wont say

where exactly, but its really quite beautiful. You can sometimes see deer in here and theres

a spot a bit further in where you can pick wild blackberries, although it's possibly a little early in the season for blackberries at the moment.

But it's really atmospheric; theres a lot of beautiful animal and plant life in the English countryside.

And if you and I were walking along here together in the early 1800s we might have had

a chat on the latest theories about where all this life came from. People back then knew about

fossils - they'd discovered the remains of all these weird and wonderful creatures

that they knew werent around any more, including some dinosaurs. So they knew that life on Earth

hadn't always been the way it is now. They could see that species go extinct,

but they were curious about where new species come from.

So what actually was Charles Darwins theory, what did he actually say? Well, in a nutshell he said - a species,

like wood pigeons, is made up of individuals who all vary ever so slightly

from each other. You might think wood pigeons are all the same but if you take the time

and look close each individual has different traits. A trait is a word here that meanscharacteristic


Nobody at that time knew why animals of the same species vary

but they could see very clearly they do. And species breed, obviously, which means they increase in numbers

but at the same time most of them die - like a salmon can lay thousands of eggs,

but most of them never reach maturity. I mean they can't do otherwise wed all be knee

deep in salmon by now. Theres disease, predation - a greatstruggle for survival.’

Thats an important idea, the struggle for survival, hang onto that one were gonna come back to it later.

At the same time we can see that offspring tend to resemble their parents.

You know, youve get two tall people and they have a baby and the baby grows up to be tall; or you get two spotted wood

pigeons and they produce a spotted wood pigeon. You never get like two pigeons

and they make a jellyfish. There seems to be a kind of general rule that offspring get

their traits from their parents.

And Darwin realised - maybe some of the individuals in a species will have traits

that give them a tiny advantage in the struggle for survival. Again, dunno why, but maybe

some of the pigeons are born with just slightly different shaped feathers that allow them to fly a tiny bit faster

and they outrun the hawk. And theyll be more likely to survive and breed than the pigeons

that dont have the special feathers, and since we know that offspring tend to resemble their

parents that means that advantageous traits are more likely to get passed on. And he called this tendency

Natural Selection.

Holy crap! Now we know where new species come from!

cause if you let that process play out on a long enough timeline

- the advantageous traits are always the ones that get passed on - the species will very gradually change

and if it goes long enough eventually the organism you end up with will be something

totally different than what you started with.

And that is where all of this, including me, came from.

That's wild, innit?

I love these uh, I love these trees just off to the side here - look at this!

Look at how it's all like - it's all bunched up and all carbuncled it's like a...

It's like an old witch has been imprisoned inside it or something. I dunno how they get like that, but...

It's really quite pretty.

Darwin wasnt actually the first guy to come up with an idea like this. He figured out

the Natural Selection stuff yeah, but even when he was a kid people were already talking about evolution

and discussing its implications. And there was this other scientist called Jean-Baptiste Lamarck who came up with

a theory of evolution that was wrong, as it turns out, but very very influential.

Lamarck was a Frenchman and he was like, “Oh hoh hoh, Iave solved ze mystery!” And he

said if an animal acquires a trait during its lifetime, then it will pass that trait on.

The classic example is giraffes: you start off with an animal that looks a little bit like a

deer and over its lifetime its always stretching up its neck to get the leaves that are just a little bit higher

and after a lifetime of doing that its neck actually gets a tiny, tiny bit longer. And then

it passes that trait on to its kids and its kids do the same thing and after enough generations

of stretching and stretching, they get really long necks and you get a giraffe and thats where new

species come from!

Uh, and they were wrong. As it turns out evolution doesn't really work like that. Nowadays we're pretty sure

(As far as I know; I'm not a biologist.)

That organisms dont pass on traits that they acquire during their lifetime, it seems to be more

they pass on the traits that theyre born with, like Darwin said, but Lamarckism as it was called was a pretty

solid go at figuring all this out!

So - thats Darwin, and that is all cushty. But the title of the video though is Charles Darwin Vs

Karl Marx. And the most important question is obviously who would win in a fight? To which the

answer is obvious: Charles Darwin was a pretty sickly guy whereas Marx was always getting into

scraps and scrapes. He would almost certainly win uness he was drunk, whichhe often was, so uh

yeah, probably actually itd be a draw.

Darwin puts his theory in a very famous book called On The Origin of Species - comes out

1859. We know that Marx read it and like a lot of people he was very impressed. Eight

years later Karl comes out with his own book, very famous philosophy and economics book called Capital

and he actually sent Darwin a copy which Darwin only read the first hundred pages of, which is

kindof fair enough cause Capital is 1,000 pages long and it the first 200 are pretty dull

and then it gets to the spicy stuff.

So you probably know that Marx was a communist, so what does that mean?

Alright, uh, I will try to explain it simply.

Communists say, “Theres two kinds of people in the world, right?

There's the people who get money by working for a living, and there's the people who get money by owning stuff.

Specifically the stuff that other people make. Like Elon Musk! He doesnt

put the Teslas together, he doesn't even design them! He's got other people who do the actual work.

And yeah you know he puts up the capital and he takes theriskbut you can throw

as much money and as much risk as you want at a sheet of metal, it will not turn into a Tesla. The

only reason the whole operation runs is cause we're doing the work, he just owns the

company and when they sell the Teslas that somehow means he gets to keep the lions share of the money that comes in.”

And the Communists are like, “Thats a silly system. Who came up with that?"

"What if instead all the people who do the actual

work owned the factory together and then they could share the money between them

so we don't really dont need Elon Musk, hes just like an extra level

on top kinda siphoning off the cream. We don't really need him. He should go and get an actual job instead of mooching off

the work that we do. And actually if we do that and then we own the factory between us,

we can vote on how long we want our shifts to be, we can vote on how we wanna invest the profits,

we can control our working environment a lot more, like um...

Oh it'll be just like uhhhh

whats that word - um...


And Elon Musk goes, “Naw you cant do that cause I own it, its my property!”

And the communists go, “So...

So we're supposed to be living in a democracy but 99% of the time we spend living in and working in an environment that's like a mini-dictatorship,

you just control it and you control what happens to all the money.

And the only thing stopping us from having full democracy and having a better quality of life for everyone... is property law?

Well that sounds like an easy fix! Why - why dont we just reform property laws?”

And then Elon Musk goes,

Thats communism. Im calling the police!”

I think I'm probably gonna have some communists being a little bit cross at me in the comments!

I know I've simplified it, I know I have, but

thats because the video isnt about communism.

Just like there were people who believed in evolution before Darwin, there were people who were communists

before Marx. There were a lot of people were like, “This job sucks, our jobs suck, we want full democracy!

We wanna get rid of Elon Musk - we don't need him!”

And a lot of them were actually quite fond of Lamarck - they were like, "Well you know, by struggling

the working people of the world we'll be improving ourselves, and then we'll pass those traits on!"

And a lot of them believed that

human beings descended from apes - that was an idea that was already floating around before Darwin - and they were like,

"If we're all descended from apes that's a pretty solid basis for assuming that we're all equal.

God didn't make Elon Musk the CEO of Tesla! We can change society if we want to man!

So Marx reads Darwin and hes like, “OMG Yes!"

This guy - he's saying that species emerged

through natural laws that can be explained

by science and that's, that's what Im trying to do with Elon Musk!” Marx thought that he

could explain loads of stuff about society and answer loads of really big questions

by doing a kind of natural laws/science look at "Why Does Elon Musk own so much stuff?"

Like how come your job feel like a miserable grind all the time?

How come your rent goes up, but your wages dont? Why do we have economic crashes and recessions?

Why do the richest countries in the world always have an unlimited supply of tear gas

and riot shields, but cant they manufacture enough masks for everyone during a pandemic?

And Marx was was like, “Lads, Ive figured it out!"

I've done a science! And I've done a natural history! But I've done it on society!

and it explains everything and its all in my thousand page book!

Starting to get a little bit muddy here!

Gonna have to watch our footing I think!

Don't wanna have filth welling up around my ankles!

Speaking of filth though,

What was society actually like back in those days? What was the vibe in Victorian Britain?

Well, uh the vibes were not good!

At that time Britain was very very seriously engaged in invading other countries, and murdering

people and stealing their stuff, we loved doing it man, we loved stealing people's stuff. We even loved it so much

that we put up a bunch of statues to the people who were best at murdering people and stealing

their stuff. And a whole cultural and scientific discourse springs up to try and justify this.

So along comes Charles Darwin, hes born into a very, very wealthy family, very very elite.

But hes a bit of a wasteman, as we say in England, like he studies medicine for

a bit and he studies theology for a bit but hes always goofing off, like he's always going out cause his real passion is natural

history - he likes being in nature and collecting insects and stuff. So one day he's age 22 and he gets

this invitation to go on a boat called the Beagle that's sailing around the world, mainly he gets invited so that the

Captain can have someone to talk to who isnt working class, but Darwin really wants to go, he begs his Dad

and eventually his Dad says, "Yeah go on." So he sets off on this voyage around the world which turns out to take five years.

And also on board the Beagle are three Fuegians, thats people from Tierra Del

Fuego, their names were el'leparu, o'run-del'lico and yok'cushly, and they had been - kidnapped

or possibly bought, we arent really sure - during a previous voyage and taken back

to England. And they were - they were exotic curiosities, basically.

People were interested in, "Can we "improve the savages" Can we "civilise" them?"

They were given new names and they were dressed up all fancy, and they were taught to use a knife and fork.

And they met the King!

People wanted to see, in a kinda

Lamarckian way - can we give them traits that we want them to have, and then we can send them back

and then they'll pass those traits to the other "savages"

and that will make it easier for us to exterminate their way of life and steal all of their stuff!

And so on the Beagle these three guys were brought back to Tierra del Fuego!

And when they get there el'leparu, o'run-del'lico and yok'cushly happily rejoined their original

society, they were like, “Oh thank God! Youll never believe what all these weird white people

are doing in Victorian Britain! Give me back my loincloth this tie is ridiculous!”’

Much to the dismay of their captors. And this encounter has a strong impact on Darwin: we

we've got his notes from the voyage and we can see that wherever he goes around the world hes

always very interested in people that he sees as primitive or savage, not always in an unsympathetic way

but always he looks at the world having grown up in a society that thought it was okay to treat other people

as if they were animals. And in fact not only did they think it was okay - the whole economy depended on that happening!

But there is this really interesting bit in his notes where he says that although

the Fuegians may seem savage they're very well adapted to their environment. They might stick out a bit in London, but they're very well fitted

to Tierra del Fuego. So way before he starts talking about Galapagos tortoises and finches

and all of the famous stuff you might have heard of in school we can see that the pieces are starting to come together.

But colonialism was not the only vibe that Darwin was picking up on - he was also very influenced by

a philosopher called Thomas Malthus!

Thomas Malthus was an English scholar and 11 years before Darwin was born, he

wrote a very famous work called An Essay on the Principle of Population, which was hugely

influential and still is, alarmingly, because as we will see Malthus was wrong!

Malthus says there are two things human beings need to continue the species,

and they both start with the letterF’ - Number One is Food, and Number Two is... Mating.

But, he says, our ability to breed is much stronger than our ability to produce food.

And he predicted, wrongly as it turns out, that the more food we make the more we will breed.

And he predicted this cant go on forever: sooner or later we will exhaust our ability

to produce food and we will have an enormous hungry population. And this idea

of the struggle for survival in which not everyone can live was a major influence on

Darwin, who cites Malthus by name a couple of times in "Origin."

Malthus was specifically interested in humans though, and in a very Thanos-like way he thinks

he has a solution to this overpopulation problem. He says that all benefits and aid to the poor

should be stopped, and furthermore that to be poor and dependent on other people

is morally disgraceful. He says that providing for those in need will make the them wasteful

and unable to think of anything but satisfying their immediate desires: the poor all spend too

much time in the ale-houses, he says, when they should be working and saving responsibly cause if

we make life too easy for them theyll breed us into oblivion.

SCROOGE: I know how to treat the poor!

My taxes go to pay for the prisons and the poorhouses, the homeless must go there.

BUNSEN: But some would rather die!

SCROOGE: If they'd rather die then they'd better do it! And decrease the surplus population!

Its rare that people are as explicitly Malthusian as Scrooge these days but

a lot of that stuff is still hanging around. When people talk about overpopulation as if its the cause of climate change, when they talk about

humanity being the real virus, orwe need to sacrifice grandma to reopen the economy,’

or just Thanos in the Avengers - the idea that there isnt enough to go round, so some people, usually

the ones who dont have very much to begin with, need to be sacrificed so the rest of us can

live is not true but a lot of people still think and act like it is sometimes.

Good news though - it isnt true! Malthus was just factually incorrect because we are

a lot better at producing food now than we were in his day: we now have enough resources to give

food, shelter and clothing to every human being on Earth, we could even increase the

population some and we would still have enough. The idea that we are overpopulated or there

are too many mouths to feed or there isn't room is a myth! He was also wrong when he predicted

that birth rates would just keep rising: a lot

of affluent countries including mine have seen their birth rates falling or holding steady for

for a lot of reasons, one of which is that we have reliable birth control.

But this isnt Facts Tube: this is Philosophy Tube, and there are some even more interesting

philosophy problems here, cause

philosophy's kinda like jazz, its less about the arguments you make and it's more about the arguments that you dont make

and Marx might point

out that Malthus conveniently misses a lot of stuff. He rails against the poor who spend

their money on beer instead of saving it responsibly but the idea that working in the Tesla Factory

might make you so miserable that you spend your money on instant gratification just to feel happy doesnt seem

to occur to him. The fact that saving money is no guarantee of anything cause rich a-holes

can tank the economy and wipe your savings with no consequences to them so why would

you bother saving in the first place? also doesnt occur to him. He seems to think that poor people

are just fools, rather than perfectly sensible people operating inside

a framework that he has never seen the inside of.

He also doesnt seem to seriously consider the possibility of redistributing

resources. He says there isnt enough food, and there isnt enough food

for everyone to eat like a Lord, fair enough. But Marx might say that

we dont have to have Lords. Malthus says that everyone, including rich people,

should have fewer children, but he misses the fact that rich families with fewer children still consume more

resources than poorer families with more children. Most human beings have and consume very little,

and the danger is coming from a tiny number of people who own everything

who consume the rest of us off a cliff! Malthus treats that situation as unalterable

and Marx would be like, "Well actually if we had full democracy we could change it if we wanted to!

No wait, Elon, dont call the police again!

Malthuss doctrines are still useful to explain away the disasters of the wealthy

as the biological and moral defaults of the poor. Through a Malthusian lens, redistribution

looks ludicrous. If there is simply not enough to go around, no system of resource distribution

will solve the problem. All of this is rather convenient if youre the one with the resources to start with.”

So, Malthus is often portrayed as this cruel, inhuman Scrooge, or alackey of the bourgeoise

as Marx called him. But I wanna emphasise that he was also a Christian minister, and

I think that might help explain why he believed this stuff and why he didnt see

the problems. Malthus says that we should remove all the social safety nets so human beings

who are naturally lazy and irresponsible, will work hard, and by working hard they will not

only be happier but also worthy of heaven. His last two chapters in particular talk

about how the struggle for survival inspires Christian virtue and how all this

cruelty is ultimately for the best because we have a chance at eternal life.

Theres a spiritual idea here that hard, painful work is what you on Earth to do

an idea that Marx would strongly disagree with. I think we need to read Malthus as a theodicy

- a theodicy is a technical term for an argument that tries to explain why there is evil in

the world but why God still exists and loves us.

And given that Malthus had such a religious outlook, its kindof ironic that he ended up influencing Darwin...

Ive stopped for a bit of a break. Its always important to stay hydrated when youre on a hike.

Mm. Refreshing.

So, Darwin was very influenced by Malthus: there's all that stuff about

sex and death and the environment. But his theories also had profound

implications for religion.

And the reason they did is that Darwinism seems to show that we were not designed. We weren't

created. I mean I studied Christian theology at university and I was told that humankind

was made so that we could know and love God and, through His sonJesus, eventually come

to occupy a state where we exist with God forever in the afterlife. That's the meaning of life, that's what I was told.

And Darwin showed that the first bit of that, the idea that we were created, isn't true.

The fact that natural selection happens on its own is a very serious challenge to the idea that

humanity has any kind of divine destiny.

And in his time as now there were people who said, “Well how can all of

this have come about by chance?”

Theres an example Ive seen somebody use where he says, ‘If I look at my fridge

and the fridge magnets, the letters, they're all jumbled up then its fair to say that someone's

just chucked the letters on randomly, but if I look at it and it spells out a message

likePlease buy some milkthen I know that someone put that there! Theres no way that happened by chance, right?"

And this is based on a very old misunderstanding of what 'chance' and 'randomness' actually mean.

Variation does happen by chance, but natural selection is not random.

Its not random that the slower pigeons get eaten: they get eaten cause they're slower. Natural selection is a kind of

filter that weeds out all the variations that dont survive as effectively. So if we were

chucking fridge magnets at your fridge but they're special magnets that only stick

to the fridge if the message makes sense, then we would actually expect to see messages that make sense.

And in Darwins day there were some who came back and they said, "Okay, you don't know why variation happens though!

You not figured that one out yet! Maybe natural selection is a godless process

but perhaps God is controlling evolution behind the scenes? Maybe God is where the variations come from?

Nowadays though we actually do know where variations come from: they come from

genetic mutation. And th thing about mutation is just because a mutation would

be useful doesn't affect its chances of happening. You might think that if we take a bunch of mice and we put them in

a very snowy environment, and then we hop in our TARDIS and we travel forward a million years

Theres gonna be a bunch of adorable woolly mice running around,

cause they'll have mutated thicker coats and the ones with thicker coats that keep them warm will have survived and reproduced.

But no.

Its very possible that we get to the future and theres a just a bunch of dead mice.

Because the genetic mutation that would have caused them to develop thicker coats just

never happened. Just because a mutation would be useful doesnt mean its gonna happen

and most mutations are actually harmful or neutral in terms of your chances of surviving.

So again, the process that produced all life including us dont require a designer

to keep going, so theism, the position that there is a

God who creates us for a reason, loves us and cares about us, might be in serious trouble. Not that there aren't replies to thus, and not that it isn't

still a very popular position, including with evolutionary biologists it must be said, so if thats

how you wanna live your life then hey no worries.

Okay! That was a nice lunch break, but I think it is probably time to keep going!

oooo! Someone's been building spooky structures in the woods!

I've seen Blair Witch Project, I know you shouldn't interfere with stuff like this!

Religion wasnt the only controversy that Darwin became embroiled in. Darwin was a Whig - thats

W-H-I-G’ - and so were most of his family. They were a political party, the Whigs,

and in his lifetime their ideology came to dominate British society to the point where even today

a lot of peoples ideas in Britain about what society is and what it's capable of have descended from

(are evolved from, you might say!) Whig philosophy.

And in the 19th Century they believed in things like free market competition and free trade. They supported

the abolition of slavery and they wanted this society

in which everyone was on equal footing and everyone could compete: they thought that would lead to the best outcome.

Marx and the Marxists - not a big fan of this idea.

Not the freeing the slaves stuff,

they were obviously in support of that, but they did some natural laws and some science

and they predicted that if you have free market competition and free trade then over enough time it will funnel wealth

into the hands of a smaller and smaller group of Elon Musks. The advantages of free markets will then begin to become undermined

as that group of people tries to hold onto their money and power.

I did a video about this a while

ago talking about the video game industry. They predicted that it would happen over a century ago.

So the Whigs had egalitarian spirit, like kinda, like ish? Darwin was also very against slavery for instance

- but they had also read a lot of Malthus and they wanted to get rid of all the

benefits and all the aid for the poor and they pretty much succeeded - during Darwin's lifetime this philosophy became

government policy, they really did strip back a lot of the social safety nets. And it

didnt work - cause what it actually does is intensify competition for jobs by putting the squeeze on the poor

so wages go down, profits for Elon Musk go up but everyone else is kinda miserable.

So miserable in fact that these policies were very unpopular: there were riots, there was a general strike in

the 1840s, the British Army and the police were sent in and they just murdered working class people in the streets.

And the right wing press took the side of the murderers.

Meanwhile, to Darwins left there were

these radicals and these socialists and these atheists who were saying that Malthusian policies were

cruel and unnecessary, and also remember they were then ones saying human beings descended from apes and so

we dont need divinely appointed Elon Musks.

And Darwin was kinda caught in the middle because he scientifically agreed with the radicals,

but he was also a Whig: he owned property, in terms of his social circle and his personal

beliefs he supported the Whig establishment. And in this atmosphere, Darwinism was downright

dangerous in the same way that global warming is kindof a dangerous idea now because it kinda

makes it look like the people in charge of society shouldnt be in charge!

And Darwin delayed publishing for a long time because of this.

Where he succeeded was not just figuring out the actual mechanism of natural selection, but also framing it in such a way that it didn't

seem too radical. When he did eventually put out Origin of Species in 1859, decades after he started working on it, he very deliberately

did not comment on human evolution. And there's a lot of Malthus in there - so he wrote

a version of evolution that the middle class could kinda roll with. Again, kindof like

global warming: you can frame it terms of, “We need to do communism now or everyone on earth

will boil!” and even if youre right Elon Musk is still gonna call the police, or you can

be like, “Hey, why dont airline companies promise to plant some trees by 2075!” and

the establishment goesOh okay cool so we dont actually have to change anything then.” And in

particular there was one establishment philosopher who was just waiting for someone like Darwin to come

along, and that guy's name was Herbert Spencer.

Herbert Spencer was a philosopher alive at the same time as Darwin.

He published his famous book Social Static just a few years before Darwin brought out Origin. And

he too thought that all social safety nets and aid for the poor should be scrapped.

He supported whats calledlaissez faire,’ where you have a small

government that doesnt do a lot of regulations or interference cause they'll only end up messing it up!

Government, he says, is a necessary evil at best!

And Spencer was very influenced by Malthus. He kept a lot of the stuff about hard

work being what you're here to do and the brutality all being part of a grander plan but he wasn't a Christian

and he cut out all the religious stuff:

"The poverty of the incapable, the distresses that come upon the imprudent, the starvation

of the idle, and those shoulderings aside of the weak by the strong... are the decrees

of a large, far-seeing benevolence.”

So by the time we get to Spencer this idea that hard work is your lot in life

has been secularised. With Malthus you have a miserable life of toil but maybe you

get to go to Heaven afterwards. With Spencer... Nah, you have a miserable life of toil but

markets and competition and wars are ultimately good for society.”

Even though Spencers ideas were around before Darwin published, nowadays we would call them

Social Darwinism - the idea that we just need to step back and allow competition, and that will improve society

even though it means there will be some losers. And when Darwin

published Origin, Spencer, was all over it, like Marx, he too went, “Yes! Everything Ive been saying it's all right here!

Science vindicates my ideas! Competition

and struggle means progress. ‘Survival of the fittest!’

Spencer reminds me a little of some modern conservatives. Ill be keen to hear from

conservatives in the comments; if you think Im way off please tell me. But hes not saying that

things have to stay the same. On the contrary he's saying the opposite! Things will change, naturally and for the better

if we use a light touch and don't do a lot of government regulations

cause they always mess things up! Theres a British science writer called Matt Ridley

who wrote a book in 2010 called The Rational Optimist in which he says basically that - society

will evolve and progress naturally with the help of the free market if we just stand back and don't jump in to mess it up!

And if youre the sort of person like Spencer or Darwin or Malthus or Matt Ridley who is

born pretty near the top of society and generally improves your lot in life over time then

we can see how that makes sense - why mess with a system that for you and everyone you

know seems to be working? Matt Ridley is a Viscount: he inherited his land and his title

and his position as the chairman of a major bank in my hometown which he then crashed,

destroying thousands of people's jobs and wiping their savings, and he didn't go to prison or lose his mansion!

He's a famous author now and was made a Lord. It seems strange to me that

a man like that can espouse the value of free market when as far I can see hes never

been anywhere near one in his life, but of course he thinks that things will just improve if we dont do anything:

nobody's ever forces him to face consequences before and his life just keeps getting better and better! If you

believe that evolution is a process of improvement then you will understandably not want anyone

to mess with it!

But heres a counterargument you could make - evolution doesnt reallymake progress

in the sense that we think of technological or moral progress. It doesnt improve anything.

Every organism on Earth is already about as well-adapted to its environment as it can

be: they have to be otherwise theyll be dead. You might think, “Oh, pandas arent very well evolved:

they only eat one thing and it takes them ages to breed!” But pandas have been on Earth for 20 million years.

And its not their fault theyre dying out. It's ours.

Evolution is not a process of improvement, it's a process of change: diversification and specialisation.

People in Victorian England might have liked to think of themselves asmore evolvedthan Fuegians,

but thats not really how it works. Spencer might have thought Darwin's ideas vindicated his philosophy

but its a bit of a reach.

Spencer wasnt completely heartless though: he says of course this seems harsh

and of course people want the government to help the poor, that seems it's the compassionate

thing to do. But if a mother only gave her child sweets out of compassion

we wouldnt say that was good; and if a doctor refused to perform a necessary operation

out of compassion because it would be painful then we wouldnt say that was good either.

I think you can sometimes tell quite a bit by the examples a philosopher uses. Spencer says that private

charity is great but people who want the government to help the poor are like irresponsible

parents, or cowardly doctors, and thats quite telling cause that means he thinks

poor people are like children, or patients. Those are both situations in which there's

someone in a position of authority. Spencer identifies with that person and wants you to identify with them too.

Whereas Marx might say, “Why is it your decision what happens to the poor?

Why isnt it their decision?”

In contrast to the Social Darwinists who say things can only get better, Marx tried to offer

a different perspective and say, “No, look, this is what its actually like when you have to work

for a living! The struggle for survival is getting worse

most people and when progress is made it isnt cause the market evolves it, its because

they refuse to go back to work until their demands are met!” Poetically, Spencer and

Marx are buried opposite each other.

The opposite of progress, of course, is degeneration, or going backwards. And as soon as

Darwin published Origin a lot of folks with social Darwinist values suddenly got very

worried about degeneration, and they opened the book on one of the darkest chapters of the 20th Century.

Did you know theres a mathematical formula for making the perfect cup of tea? You must

heat the water to 82 degrees celsius - that's 180 Fahrenheit for all you Americans - and you

must let it sit for eight minutes.

Oh! Perfect.

There's something very comforting about a cup of tea.

You know, as a parent you want the best

for your child, dont you? Want to give them every ease and comfort in life,

and certainly to protect them from making any sort of... permanent decision...

that might weaken their chances in life.

Theres a terrible fear that comes with parenthood, the fear that

something beyond your control might happen to them, that despite every effort the apple

might fall far from the tree. And even though it isn't your fault what they choose to

do with their life... you blame yourself!

I'm sorry.

I suppose its on my mind because - ordinarily Im a travelling

salesman, I like to get about all over, but because of this virus business Ive

been stuck indoors, reconnecting with my family - and with that fear. I think about

my so - my daughter!

My little girl!

Shes having some trouble finding who she is, and I worry for her.

You know a while ago, I was on a farm, nattering away to the farmer and he

was explaining how they can breed animals with certain characteristics. You know you breed

a bigger cow and you get more roast beef out of it, that sort of thing. It took millions of

years for them to evolve naturally, but now in a few generations we can improve them.

Isn't that ingenious? And I thought, “Gosh, wouldnt it be a relief if we could do

that with people?” If we could improve ourselves in the same way, we could raise an entire generation

of Einsteins or Churchills. I think it would be

an enormous comfort to a parent to have the power to select the best possible future for ones child.

It's taken millions of years for mankind to progress to where we are, but now it seems that progress

has stopped. We arent out with the lions and the tigers anymore, were all stuck indoors.

Natural selection doesnt apply. Oh the population is ballooning - some

people cant seem to take responsibility for their reproductive habits - but genetically

we arent going anywhere, its more a sort of stagnation and thats... not good for the nation, is it?

Not to mention the expenditure. My god, look at this virus, how much its costing

us to keep large numbers, mainly economically inactive numbers, alive. Oh its terrible of course!

In an ideal world we would have enough for everyone to earn their place - but there simply isnt any slack in the system!

Human history is one of sacrifice

and I think its naive to assume that we can create a society that lasts a thousand

years without sacrificing a few p- ...

A few things.

Do you have a match?

Eugenics was developed by Francis Galton, who was Charles Darwins cousin. In a nutshell,

its the idea that people with good traits should reproduce more whilst those with bad

traits should reproduce less.

Galton worried that natural selection had stopped operating on humans. He thought

that people with inferior traits who would otherwise have died because they werent fit

to survive were being kept alive through things like vaccination and insane asylums and

were in danger of outbreeding the superior people.

He believed that traits like intelligence, morality and even whether or

not you're likely to break the law - could be taught, yeah - but were were strongly biologically heritable - heritable means capable

of being passed on to children.

So far, not too different from social Darwinism. Theres similar stuff here about

there not being enough competition these days and worries about unfit people breeding,

but where Galton took the next step was he

wanted society to change so that we could artificially select for the best traits. He

was a little bit fuzzy on the details but he thought we should begin by gathering data

on families and their traits and to do it he pioneered some statistical

techniques that mathematicians still use.

If a twentieth part of the cost and pains were spent in measures for the improvement

of the human race that is spent on the improvement of the breed of horses and cattle, what a

galaxy of genius might we not create!”

Again, this isnt Facts Tube, but I would be remiss if I didnt point that the science

here is dodgy. Even prehistoric humans cared for their sick and injured, its not a modern civilisation thing that's somehow stopped evolution,

Arguably we evolved to do it!

As mentioned before, evolution doesnt make progress so

the idea of degeneration or backwards progress isnt supported. And a lot of the science that's been done to try and prove that things

like intelligence are heritable is very questionable.

So - the usual story with eugenics is that Galton invented it, and he perverted Darwin because

he just wanted to be racist, and then it really caught on in the USA where they forcibly sterilised

tens of thousands of their own people because they believed they had inferior genes, and

then the Nazis copied the Americans and took it one step further and started exterminating people

they thought were inferior, and when the rest of the world found out what the Nazis had done we were all so horrified that we stopped doing eugenics!

Thats the version I was taught, and it turns out

Its a little more complicated than that!

Eugenics meant a lot of very different things to different people. You might have heard the

phrasenature Vs nurture’ - some eugenicists disagreed about how much

traits really were determined by biology and and nature and how much they were down to society.

Some of them did say that race is a reliable

predictor of inferiority, others said, “No, race has nothing to do with it - anyone can

have inferior genes!” Some of them said it was horrible to contemplate doing eugenics in their own countries!

But that it was fine to do it to foreigners! They also disagreed about

how much violence they thought was okay - some of them supported forced sterilisation, others just wanted

to imprison the ones they thought were inferior, some of them supported racist immigration laws to stop the racially inferior from

coming in. So - it was a broad class of views and ideas.

There were feminist eugenicists who said women shouldnt be pressured into marriage because it allows

men with inferior traits to reproduce; there were antifeminist eugenicists who said women

should have as many babies as possible to better the superior population. There were white supremacist

eugenicists like the Nazis; and in New Zealand there were Maori eugenicists who worried about

Darwin definitely had some eugenic ideas but as a Whig he would have opposed the eugenics of the USA and the Nazis.

The United States did get very violent with racist immigration laws and forced sterilisation

it's true. But when discussing eugenics it might be a mistake to only

focus on forced sterilisation. For one thing, countries like New Zealand, Australia, and

the UK very nearly legalised it. Winston Churchill was really pushing forfeeble-minded people

- which was a catchall term for the criminal, the mentally ill, and often LGBT folks

- to be forcibly sterilised so they couldnt pass on theirinferior genes.” The fact that

these countries didnt pass sterilization laws was often more down to luck than lack

of desire, and in some cases there was no law but they just did it anyway.

The Nazis did go in hard on eugenics and they did copy it from the Americans. They started

out sterilising anybody with conditions like blindness, deafness, alcoholism, or who

were mixed race, and then they moved on to just murdering about 200,000 disabled or

institutionalised Germans and then they worked their way up from there.

But it might also be a mistake to think that eugenics went away after the Nazis. The word

is pretty much tainted, yeah - no-one calls themselves a eugenicist anymore. But a lot

of people still think like Malthus and the social Darwinists and still think it would

be good science or ethics to control who breeds. The United States still coerces prisoners

into being sterilised to cut jail time.

Countries like Finland and Japan still sterilise transgender people and that is eugenics.

You are inferior. And we do not want you to breed because you will make more inferior people.”

Who is inferior? And who is superior? And who gets to decide that?

And what if the "inferior people" don't agree?

Marxists were divided on eugenics: a few of them believed in it. They did say,

We dont know how many folks with superior genes never get a chance to shine

cause theyre born working class!” but that's not objecting to eugenics on moral or scientific

grounds - they just didnt think Elon Musk should be in control of it.

Other Marxists were very much against it, like trade unions here in the UK: they knew from experience that

the police were more likely to arrest working class people and call them degenerates and criminals

than rich people! They didnt much fancy getting arrested for nothing as usual and then also sterilised!

And interestingly, Marxism can provide a strong critique of eugenics. But in order to explain

it, Ive gonna have to make you breakfast:

Welcome to my kitchen, sorry its a little bit of a mess, I share it with three other people.

Lets learn about fetishises.

This is an egg.

TOMSKA: It's egg time!

Marx talked about fetishes but he didnt mean like a sexual fetish, he meant an object

that is used in a ritual and is thought to possess spiritual power, like a voodoo doll.

Again like Darwin, he was picking up on the colonialism vibe cause the idea of a fetish was invented by anthropologists

who wanted to believe that West African people were incapable of abstract thought

and needed a literal object to represent their beliefs. Like,

"Oh how silly, they're worshipping the statue! Lets steal all their stuff!

and then Im going to pray to a crucifix and eat a communion wafer, which definitely

aren't fetishes because of reasons!”

And Marx was like, well theres no reason a fetish object has to be used in a religious

ritual! Like the statue of Churchill in Parliament Square is used in all kinds of

British rituals! It represents an idea, it's thought to be very significant and powerful, but just not in a magical way!

So, breakfast.

Theres a play called Young Marx about Karls life - Charles Darwin is a character in it -

And theres a brilliant scene where Marx is cooking breakfast

for his family and he suddenly has an epiphany and he says,

I dont know who laid this egg!"

And his daughter says, “Chickens lay eggs Daddy, not people.”

And he says no, the point is, in the olden days like say under feudalism, I would know the

guy in the village who made these sausages, I would know the chicken keeper who kept

the chickens who laid the eggs.

A sausage could explain my life!"

"Its a map of my social relations and a reminder me that I am connected to my fellow human beings!"

But, nowadays - no no no no.

Those social connections arent there.

I have no idea who provided my breakfast.

My only point of contact with the people who worked to make it is cash.

And cash tells me nothing about my connection to my fellow human beings.

It circulates everywhere.

I don't have those connections anymore. I am, in a word, alienated from them.

Instead of an interaction with a person I get - product.

And after a lifetime of being surrounded by products, I forget about the people. But theyre

all still out there - the only reason this food exists is because somebody worked to provide it.

Im not talking about the people who own the farm,

I don't mean the Elon Musk of farming!

I mean the people who took care of the animals and turned them into food and delivered them.

What are those people's lives like?

Are they paid enough? Are their working conditions safe?

What are their problems?

What if we have the same problems? What if our problems have the same political causes?

Isn't that a dangerous idea?

Im putting hot sauce in my omelette;

the hot sauce is Communism!

The commodity has become a fetish - the thing that can be bought and sold in exchange for

money has taken the place of people.

We are no longer a society of human beings, we are a society of things.

Also, Marx doesnt really talk about this but there were also some animals involved here!

Did they get a good deal?

Did the chicken get a good deal? Probably not.

JAY: "Don't ask questions, just consume product and then get excited for next product!

Okay, thats commodity fetishism but what does it have to do with eugenics?

Well, we can do commodity fetishism with traits or genes. The trait - like intelligence

- or the gene - is like a product, we fixate on that and we forget that the only reason

it has any value at all is cause its inside of a person.

For example, theres a great book by Native Studies Professor Kim Tallbear called Native

American DNA where she says a lot of DNA Ancestry companies market themselves to people who

think they might have Indigineous ancestry. Like, “Hey you can discover

what tribe you belong to, you can find out your roots, maybe you could claim youre a minority!”

But even assuming that the science is good

and sometimes with these companies it's just

tribal membership isnt genetic. Every tribe has their own citizenship rules. You can have the ancestors

but not be part of the living community. Just cause youve got the DNA doesnt actually mean

a fat lot because

your genes cannot tell you who you are.

This is fetishism, she says, its taking people and hiding them and replacing them with - product!

And - if you send your DNA to an ancestry company - who owns that data? Do they sell

it to Elon Musk pharmaceuticals? Do they share it with the police? Remember Galton wanted

to gather all that data on families so scientists could do statistical analysis with it? Gathering

data is a form of surveillance! Ir order to do it you have to be in a position of power over

the person whose data you are gathering. Can they say no to that surveillance?

If they do, can they still participate in normal life? Are the data gatherers elected

or are they dictators? If they lose it or there's a security problem or they misue it can we vote them out?

Dont ask questions - just consume product!"

Not that you have to be a Marxist to object to that: disability rights activists, Marxist

and otherwise, have long standing objections to eugenics for obvious reasons. The philosophy

of the disability rights movement is a bigger topic than I have time to get into: it would

take a lot of research that I haven't done to do it justice, and I would rather own that

than throw something slapdash out and convince you I'm an authority, but if like me you are ignorant and curious theres a free

link in the description to a very easy article by a writer called Mel Baggs that I found

very interesting.

I wish I could give you a neat and easy way to avoid commodity fetishism, and if this

was a BBC documentary Id probably wrap up with something like this:

So the next time you buy a box of eggs, why not take a moment to thank Britains hardworking farmers?

Giving us high quality produce eggs-actly when we need it.

But it doesnt work that way unfortunately! Marx didnt think that commodity fetishism was

something we'd be able to overcome as individuals, but rather that we would have to very drastically change society.

After Karl Marx died, his buddy Engels compared him to Darwin - said he was like the Charles Darwin

of politics and in a way he was probably more right than he could have known. Both men were

very much shaped by colonial Britain. Both of them

had thousands of people coming after them adding to what they said and being inspired by it and occasionally

doing horrible things on the basis of it. Both men have had huge and ongoing impact

on society today, impact that I think we've yet to see the full extent of really. And I think its

worthwhile to trace the ancestry of big philosophical ideas because now you know how these guys came up with their

ideas, and you can see at every little stage that it might have worked out differently.

And now you can be like, "Well would I have thought about it that way, or would I have thought something else?"

I think that's quite intellectually empowering.

Oh hey, you know how in my last few videos whenever I quote a philosopher the text animates onto

the screen? I got a special computer program to learn how to do that, its actually really hard.

I very nearly spent quite a bit of money on a course to learn how to do it.

But then do you know what I did? I went to Skillshare. You've probably seen them

sponsoring YouTube videos before - theyre an online learning community, theyve got

thousands of videos you can watch and you can learn how to do new skills. A lot of them are geared towards

creative people, so I looked at their videos on After Effects and on Text Animation and I

learned everything I needed to learn. It was genuinely very useful!

Normally membership of Skillshare is less than $10 a month with an annual subscription, but there's a special link in the description and the first 1,000 people

to click the link it will get a 2 month trial of Skillshare Premium absolutely free.

I dont think Im allowed to say how much they gave me, but I'm not keeping it anyway;

Im donating it all to the Knights and Orchids Society - theyre an organisation that helps

black LGBT people in rural areas specifically of in the American South. I figured that a lot

of the attention lately has gone to black and queer people in major cities so, I wanted

to send some love to my fellow queers in the countryside!

Right, well!

I'm almost out of water so it's probably time to head back...

I've got no idea where the f**k I am!

TOMSKA: It's time for egg!

The Description of Charles Darwin Vs Karl Marx | Philosophy Tube