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The publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species in 1859 had far reaching consequences. One of the most important notions in his ground-breaking book was the claim that no species is fixed. Rather “a well marked variety may …. well be called an incipient species,” demonstrating that nature is not static but a continuum where varieties beget species. Assuming that man was a part of nature, a concept many scientists had come to accept, this principle could be extended to include human societies. Thus, by applying the principles of evolution, human stock could be manipulated and improved. Evolutionary principles were also applied to justify particular ideologies and human social organisations. Traditionally, Social Darwinism was defined in narrow terms, as a right-wing view. Modern historians have revised this view, claiming Social Darwinism encompasses a larger range of ideologies and evolutionary doctrines. Social Darwinists used evolution to justify laissez-faire capitalism, but not to the extent that traditional historians imply. Eugenics was a radical application of …
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