Racism And Herbert Spencer
January 14, 2009, 05:32 AM
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Louis Bayard [email him] attacks nineteenth century philosopher Herbert Spencer in the liberal Washington Post, equating Spencer's Social Darwinism with racism, and accusing him of uttering "paeans to the Aryan race " with a "quasi-scientific panache." Damon W. Root [email him] defends Spencer in the libertarian journal Reason, saying, (correctly) that Spencer uttered no such paeans.

Both men are missing the point—Spencer's The Man Versus The State, which you can read online, was written in 1884, in a Britain where virtually everybody was white. Thus, his meditations on welfare policy have no racial component, because the question simply didn't arise. If he had lived in multi-racial society with its differential rates of crime and welfare use, I assume he would have said something.