William Graham Sumner – Social Darwinist

1243 words - 5 pages

William Graham Sumner – Social Darwinist
Sumner was the follower of Darwin’s ideas and Herbert Spencer’s, Social Darwinism. He is considered to be vigorous and influential social Darwinist in America. He was a professor at Yale College. He developed the concepts of Folkways, diffusion, and ethnocentrism. He is not as big as Spencer but his ideas were bold enough to be recognized. He played three important roles in the development of American thought, he was a great Puritan preacher, an exponent of the Classical pessimism of Ricardo and Malthus, and an assimilator and popularizer of evolution. He was able to build a bridge between the economic ethic set in motion by the Reformation and the thought of the nineteenth century.
William Graham Sumner came from a hard working family. He grew up in the environment where he was taught to respect Protestant economic virtues. Hard work and efficiently utilizing money leads to the result in success. After reading, Illustration of Political Economy written by Harriet Marti he became aware of the wage fund doctrine, and other theories associated with that. His understanding of capital, labor, money and trade were based upon the book, Illustration of Political Economy. He published books like Earth hunger, The Absurd Effort to Make the World Over, The Forgotten Man, Folkways and others. His intellectual ideas were passed through the columns of popular journals and from the lecture platform, he waged a holy war against reformism, protectionism, socialism, and government interventionism.
Sumner was very influenced with the Spencer’s ideas. He was unclear about the Spencer’s ideas about creating a systematic science of society after his graduation. However, Spencer’s proposals aided Sumner’s initial ideas. After analyzing the Spencer’s ideas, Sumner was able to build link between social science to history and other subjects. After glancing into Darwin, Haeckel, Huxley and Spencer works he was very influenced with the ideas of evolutionism.
Sumner also developed his first principles from the Malthus, Malthusian theory of population. According to Sumner the foundation of human society is man-land ratio. Man fulfils most of his needs from the soil, and the mutual relations in the process of getting something from the soil is directly based upon the proportion of the population to the available soil. When the population exceeds the land supply hunger arises, warfare arises until the relative proportion is met, people move across the world for survival, and militarism and imperialism grows. He stated in one of his popular essays that, the pain human being has to go through is because of the struggle against nature. We think it is because of the struggle against other human beings but in truth we are fighting with one another for our share of nature. He further adds that Capital is only formed because of its benefits of having it. A person who possesses capital has control over other person who has less capital...

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