Racism And Herbert Spencer
January 14, 2009, 05:32 AM
Print Friendly and PDF

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.