"This preservation of favourable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection," wrote Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (full text available online here).
It was all a misunderstanding. Charles Darwin called the process of nonrandom elimination of species that he hypothesized from years of field observation "natural selection." It totally works for us with both nature and human nature, but Darwin's flamboyant philosopher friend Herbert Spencer's memorable if misleading "survival of the fittest" survived the winnowing process of cultural evolution to become the meme of choice for generations of elitists who knew little about the scientific method nor the origin of species but all about what was best for us little people out here. Enter stage right Angelo M. Codevilla's American Spectator tour de force "America's Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution":
By 1853, when Sen. John Pettit of Ohio called "all men are created equal" "a self-evident lie," much of America's educated class had already absorbed the "scientific" notion (which Darwin only popularized) that man is the product of chance mutation and natural selection of the fittest. Accordingly, by nature, superior men subdue inferior ones as they subdue lower beings or try to improve them as they please. Hence while it pleased the abolitionists to believe in freeing Negroes and improving them, it also pleased them to believe that Southerners had to be punished and reconstructed by force. As the 19th century ended, the educated class's religious fervor turned to social reform: they were sure that because man is a mere part of evolutionary nature, man could be improved, and that they, the most highly evolved of all, were the improvers.
You must read the whole thing, of course. No mention of the Gramscian march through the institutions, but it touches deeply upon the ur-theme of this blog, the importance of being noticed. In our view it makes the world go 'round. Codevilla nails it:
For our ruling class, identity always trumps.
Just ask Northeast Corridor Fuddy Duddy Peggy Noonan. What's true for Beltway types is true for all mankind, only more so given the stakes, as Codevilla explains:
Like a fraternity, this class requires above all comity — being in with the right people, giving the required signs that one is on the right side, and joining in despising the Outs. Once an official or professional shows that he shares the manners, the tastes, the interests of the class, gives lip service to its ideals and shibboleths, and is willing to accommodate the interests of its senior members, he can move profitably among our establishment's parts.
Yes you, Mitt Romney, for enabling an aide to diss Mama Grizzly Sarah Palin as "not a serious human being." Your days are numbered.