Social Darwin's Theory Of Natural Selection

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The attitudes and perceptions held about Indigenous Australians by Australians of European descent have changed over two hundred years of colonisation. Social Darwinism is among the leading ideological paradigms that have formed and maintained attitudes and perceptions, and influenced laws from 1770 to the present. Darwin’s theory of natural selection is a biological theory about how new species are formed and existing ones become extinct. Darwinism maintains that variations between existing organisms within a species confer differences in their survival and reproductive success. Progeny that inherit advantageous characteristics have an enhanced ability to survive and reproduce, ensuring that, over time, adaptive change will modify a…show more content…
They are governed by animal laws which urge them blindly forward upon tracks they scarce can choose for themselves. … when we think of the agile forms that once held dominion over these widely forested lands; when we see them vanishing with terrible speed to be but a memory of the past, the contrast affects our feelings, even though our intellects refuse to be moved, recognising the working of a law above that which man makes for himself (ed Stone 1974, pp. 100-101). A Darwinist perspective on the ‘survival of the fittest’ was frequently appealed to in vindication of the colonialist policies of white settlers. There are many such justifications in the literature of the day (Stone 1974, p. 46). Social inequality Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a new problem appeared for white Australia; how to treat children of mixed race. From the perspective of Social Darwinism, full-blooded Aborigines were dismissed as destined for extinction and isolated to ‘stations’, but it was feared that those of mixed race ‘would breed up to become a social menace’ (Beresford & Omaji, p. 34). The Roth Royal Commission (Western Australia, 1905) also reflected this fear. If [they] are left to their own devices under the present state of the law, their future will be one of vagabondism and harlotry … and [they] will spend their lives in gaol or as prostitutes. (Beresford & Omaji 1998, p.…show more content…
Commonwealth of Australia 1937, Aboriginal welfare, Initial conference of commonwealth and state Aboriginal affairs authorities, Government Printer, Canberra. Dobzhansky, T 1960, ‘Species after Darwin’, in A century of Darwin, ed S Barnett, Mercury, London, pp. 19-55. Griffiths T 1996, Hunters and Collectors: The Antiquarian Imagination in Australia, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne. Hawkins, M 1998, Social Darwinism in European and American thought, 1860-1945; nature as model as nature as threat, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. Markus, A (ed) 1974, From the barrel of a gun: The oppression of the Aborigines, 1860-1900, Victorian Historical Association, Melbourne. Neville A 1947, Australia's Coloured Minority: Its Place in the Community, Currawong Publishing, Sydney. Smith, L 1999, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, University of Otago Press, Dunedin. Stone, S (ed) 1974, Aborigines in white Australia: A documentary history of the attitudes affecting official policy and the Australian Aborigine, 1697-1973, The Griffin Press, Adelaide. 2006, Laissez-faire, viewed 10 June 2006,

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