Fw: Berkowitz's review of Singer's *Darwinian Left* /I

Scott Martens Scott.Martens at eng.sun.com
Fri Mar 10 15:41:17 PST 2000

I have to wonder at some of the things Berkowitz is saying.

I don't see Darwinism as much of a source for ethics, and I'm not very interested in Singer, but some things in this review are just dead wrong.

> According to Singer, the longstanding aversion to Darwin on the left
> derives from the view that evolutionary theory teaches that man is by
> nature selfish.

Which leftists? John Maynard Smith was a pretty hard core Marxist. Stephen J Gould is well to the left of centre. Richard Dawkins is a Labour leftist at the very least. Nearly everyone important in evolutionary theory (that I can think of) that has well-known political tendencies is a leftist of some sort. True, some of the postmodernists have problems with evolution, but some postmodernists have problems with science in general. I don't see any real "aversion to Darwin" on the left.

It's too easy to pick out anti-Darwinist (and anti-scientific) thinking on the right.

I find it very ironic that the controversies in evolutionary psychology are almost always between deeply leftist scientists, yet the fallout is almost all taking place among conservative thinkers.

> But what is most
> devastating to Singer's thesis that the left should ground itself in the
> theory of evolution is that the sociobiological interpretation of Darwin
> favored by Singer subverts the extreme egalitarian aspirations in the
> defense of which Singer writes.

How so? I don't see anything in this review that makes that case. The whole point of neodarwinism is that group survival and group well-being matter too. That's a pretty socialist idea. I don't think recognition of the existence of human greed, or of unequal skills, is in any way a conservative idea, only surrendering to it is.

Scott Martens

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list