To The Editor:
Reading the first article in the September COMMENTARY [“This Century of Betrayal,” by Hans Kohn] prompts me to offer a few remarks.
I wonder whether the 20th century has been a century of betrayal of human freedom. Were ever such large and heroic fights ever made before in history for human freedom?
This century has been reaping the consequences of a betrayal that took place in the Ig9th century. The German political militarists of the g9th century joined forces with Charles Darwin and the British biologists of that time to impose an unmoral program upon society. Nor were these biologists entirely naive about it. Quotations from Mr. Darwin’s own pen could be multiplied to show that he himself was well aware of the consequences to society of what he was doing.
If belief in a creative God has anything to do with creative civilization, the English biologist by his own confession betrayed that civilization when he surrendered all reliance upon God. In one of his letters he wrote of his early conviction of God, and of how this conviction was strong in him about the time he wrote the Origin of Species, but that “since that time, it has gradually, with many fluctuations, become weaker . . . and I for one must be content to remain agnostic.”
Darwin was a political philosopher who openly acknowledged his original inspiration as coming from the work of political philosophers. He thought that nature worked according to laws of society that some of the social philosophers had succeeded in making popular. He transferred these ideas to the realm of biology. These invented laws were not humane in their operation. See Herbert Spencer.
Darwin was a racist. He thought that the mind of Greece and the power of Rome found meaning only in the coming of the Anglo-Saxon. He thought that the Caucasians had completely beaten the Turks in the “struggle for existence,” although the struggle between the British and the Turks was in no sense a struggle for survival, but a struggle for economic ascendancy-not existence, but an abundant existence. He said that from the war of nature, famine, and death had come about the noblest of which we are capable—the development of higher animals. “Looking into the world,” he wrote, “at no distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races of mankind.”
So it became possible for Germans to say: “Hegel thought it, Darwin proved it.” It was the 19th century that betrayed our human freedom: this century has fought to preserve it. The betrayal of yesterday opened the way for the crucifixion of today. This line of investigation might easily yield up something that would make the 19th century ashamed of itself, as Judas was, and something that would give us a large ground for pride in the century that is ours. I am beginning to think as I read the constant stream of critical abuse of this century that our magazines are pouring out that they could be in a much better and more encouraging business.
George H. Parkinson
The Christian Advocate