not selfish gene theory!

hoov hoov at
Mon Nov 29 12:04:42 PST 1999

> Oh say it isn't so! I'm gone a few days and return to find (amidsts dozens
> and dozens of really great posts) that the *the selfish gene* has
> insinuated its way on to the list as respectable banter!!
> The theory is actually a mutation from natural selection theories about
> _differential_ reproduction of _populations_ (based on _chance_ genetic and
> environmental shifts), to an individualist and maximizing model of
> selection resembling nothing so much as the competitive bourgeouis
> market-place in which its metaphors were spawned.
> Maureen

In the late 19th century, Herbert Spencer adopted Darwin's theory to buttress the needs and interests of laissez-faire capitalism. According to his social Darwinism, the Carnegies and Rockefellers were simply the fittest survivors in a world of ruthless competition over scarce resources. Dawkins is simply an update, nothing more, nothing less--and he gets a sympathetic hearing because of the current triumphalism of free-market economics. Nature will back you up if you want its authority. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that someone has invoked it to justify home schooling under the benign eye of the family patriarch! Michael Hoover

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