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In Las Vegas, Discussing Why Germany Took Social Darwinism All the Way

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I got back on Friday from the Anthem Film Festival and FreedomFest in Las Vegas, which screened The Biology of the Second Reich. In case you missed the film, you can see it on YouTube (find it at the bottom of this post). The screening venue was the “Sin City Theater” at the Planet Hollywood Resort, where the film festival and FreedomFest were held. Given the topic of the documentary, perhaps the name of the theater was appropriate!

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The room was packed out with around two hundred people, including around twenty who had to stand. I was told that they had to turn people away at the door. So it really was standing room only. The audience seemed to like the film.

Festival director Jo Ann Skousen and I introduced the program. I described how the film was developed to commemorate the centennial last year of World War I and how it dealt with the impact of Social Darwinism on Germany in the years leading up to WWI. Afterward, there was a Q&A with George Gilder and myself.

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One questioner pointed out that Social Darwinism wasn’t just a German phenomenon but wanted to know why the Germans took these ideas so much further than everyone else. George and I both noted that in fact Social Darwinism had widespread consequences elsewhere, including in America in the form of the eugenics crusade.

George then talked about Hitler’s Mein Kampf and made some interesting comments about Hitler’s attacks on the Jews in the book which were interlaced with attacks on capitalism and economic freedom. I discussed how German thinkers are known for pressing ideas to their logical conclusion, whether for good or — in this case — for ill in the extreme. Perhaps that is one reason why, in exploring the social implications of Darwinian biology, Germany went even further than other countries.

Photo credit: Eric Garcia, John West.