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On Revolutionising the Darwin Industry

On Revolutionising the Darwin
Industry: A Centennial
Retrospect
Jim Moore

The centenary of Darwin’s death has come and gone amid
perilous times. In 1882 England’s leading naturalist was
interred at Westminster Abbey as ‘Fenian outrages’ convulsed political opinion on the eve of the Phoenix Park
assassinations (Moore, 1982). A century, later the Irish
troubles persist, while Europe reels under the impact of
cruise missiles and the Western world wallows in recession
and political reaction.

Meanwhile neo-creationism in
America has come of age, sociobiology looks forward to its
decennial, and the Left worldwide contemplates ‘the fragments’ after the centenary of Marx’s death in 1983.

Orwell’s nightmare vision of a technocratic dystopia has
not come to pass,but an urgent doubt remains as to where
we are heading, as socialists, scholars, and citizens.

Industry and its apologists continue to set the pace for
better or worse, and the so-called ‘Darwin industry’ is no
exception (Ruse, 1974). A spate of books has marked the
recent centenary, no less than the outpouring at the hundredth anniversary of the Origin of Species and the sesquicentenary of Darwin’s birth in 1959 (Loewenberg, 1959,
1963). In this essay I propose to assess some of the recent
literature and to point the way towards an alternative
future in Darwin scholarship.

Like any other industry

Darwin’s is a potent name to conjure with at all levels of
public opinion, now that the BBC has twice aired its
seductively beautiful tale, ‘The Voyage of Charles Darwin’

(RaIling, 1978; cf. Keynes, 1979). Reactions to the great
man’s life, work, and theories may thus serve as a useful
index of wider social and political trends. Not so, however,
on the conventional scholarly assumption that the primary
sources pipe the tune to which researchers are obliged to
dance.

On this view, the history of the Darwin industry falls
into two main periods. The first period lasted some 80
years, when Darwin’S family and admirers published collections of letters, transcriptions of journals, notes, and notebooks, and a variorum text of the Origin of Species in its
six editions. This period took in the Darwin centenaries of
1909 and 1959, and ended in 1967 with the publication of
the addenda and corrigenda to Darwin’s four species notebooks as transcribed under the suprvision of Sir Gavin de
Beer, Director of the British Museum (Natural History). The
second period, beginning in 1968, has seen the first-fruits
of this devoted editorial work as well as its continuation.

We now possess the text of Darwin’s two crucial ‘meta-

physical’ notebooks, which earlier editors neglected, together with a collection of notes that Darwin himself labelled ‘old and useless’ (Gruber and Barrett, 1974), a geological notebook (Herbert, 1980) and reading notebooks
(Vorzimmer, 1977), the manuscript of Darwin’s ‘big book’ on
species, of which the Origin was an ‘abstract’ (Stauffer,
1975), a calendar of Darwin letters in the American Philosophical Society (Carroll, 1976), several transcriptions of
letters scattered elsewhere (e.g. De Beer, 1968; Moore,
1977), two volumes of Darwin’s Collected Papers (Barrett,
1977), and – inevitably – a full-blown concordance to the
first edition of the Origin of SpeCies (Barrett et aI, 1981).

On the basis of these invaluable sources, so ‘professionalism’ would have it, we may look forward confidently to a
third major period of Darwin research beginning in, say,
1988, with the sesquicentenary of the ‘discovery’ of natural
selection, the last Darwin bean-feast before the bicentenary in 2009. This ‘third age’ of the Darwinian spirit will
find scholars vying to upstage their colleagues’ ever closer
interpretations of the primary documents with a vigour renewed periodically by the appearance of successive volumes
of Fred Burkhardt and David Kohn’s monumental Collected
Letters of Charles Darwin (in preparation).

The history of the Darwin industry may of course be
seen in an entirely different light. As the Grand Old Man
of Darwin scholarship in North America, John C. Greene,
indicated ten years ago in his ‘Reflections on the Progress
of Darwin Studies’, the current efflorescence of research
did not simply result from the increasing availability of primary sources or from the stimulus of the 1959 celebrations.

No post hoc, propter hoc here. Rather, according to
Greene, the growth of the Darwin industry (including the
publication of its primary sources) must be seen in the context of ‘(1) the emergence of the history of ideas as an
academic discipline in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s; (2) the
crystallisation of the modern synthetic theory of evolution
by natural selection in the same period; and (3) the rapid
expansion and professionalisation of the history and philosophy of science as an academic discipline in the years following World War 11’ (Greene, 1975, pp. 247-48). To this
helpful contextuating analysis should be added (4) the successful struggle for recognition in the history and philosophy of science of interpretations inspired broadly by a
‘critical sociology’ of knowledge that held appeal for
younger scholars affected by the political upheavals of the
mid-1960s and later (Shapin, 1982). Viewed in the light of
these four trends, the history of the Darwin industry begins
to look like the history of any other industry: an enterprise, or congeries of enterprises, that both expresses and
13

shapes the broader cultural movements of their time.

Thus, to put it provocatively, the Darwin industry as
we know it would probably not have come into existence
without: (1) the charismatic dualism of A.O.Lovejoy, who
founded the Journal of the History of Ideas in 1940 as a
bastion of America’s liberal intellectual heritage in the
face of totalitarianisms of the Left and Right; (2) the
eugenic preoccupations of the Cambridge mathematician
R.A. Fisher, who contributed decisively to the synthetic
theory of evolution, and the ‘proletarian science’ of T.D.

L ysenko, whose Lamarckism became a perfect foil for the
neo-Darwinian synthesis once the Cold War had been
joined; (3) the leadership of the neo-positivist historian
George Sa.rton and President James B. Conant, a former
director of the Manhattan Project, in teaching the history
of science at Harvard during the early 1950s, the fillip
given the subject about the same time by the Marxist
scientists Joseph Needham and J.D. Bernal, and by their
associates in Cambridge and London, and – most important
– the ‘expansion and professionalisation’ of the history and
philosophy of science on both sides of the Atlantic in new
departments and new institutions funded by governments
fearful of Soviet technological supriority after the launching of Sputnik in 1957; and finally (4) the impact in Britain
of younger academics like Jerry Ravetz and Bob Young
(both, not incidentally, American expatriates) on their students and colleagues beginning in the later 1960s, when
many radicals found support in the writings of neo-Marxist
theoreticians such as Herbert Marcuse for a relativist historical critique of scientific domination (Young, 1973).

No doubt these were just some of the necessary conditions for the emergence of the Darwin industry in the last
25 years. As if further evidence were needed to establish
the historical contingency of this collective enterprise, not
just on the publication of primary documents, or on centennials, but on fundamental social and economic forces, I
need only mention the present plight of Darwin scholars:

the contracting market for their academic monographs; the
sweeping closure of history of science departments in
Britain and America, the early retirement of senior academics, the freezing of posts, and the accompanying
decline in enrolment of career-minded graduate students;
and, last but not least, the direct threat to Darwin
research projects, like the Collected Letters, from funding
bodies susceptible to political influence by the religious
and political Right. No one today can argue that the
Darwin industry has its own inherent momentum or develops
according to an internal logic of its own. The workforce is
too vulnerable, their subject-matter is too controversial,
their products too readily become obsolete.

FUNERAL “OP

MR~’. DARWIN.:~·-·’,.

~

WESTMINSTER ABBEY,
Wednesda!l, .April 26tl,. 1~82.

AT

!alJmit tlJt

12

O’OLOCK PRECJSELY:’

~tartrat

Eleven o’clock to tho
CHOIR (Entrance by West Cloister Door, Dean’s
Yard) .

G. G. BRADLEY, D.D.

Dean.

B.D.-No Penon will be admitted. exoept in mourning.

A decade’s diversification

Turning, then, to these products, the output of the Darwin
industry, what sorts of literature have appeared in the
decade since Greene magisterially surveyed the progress of
Darwin studies? If we confine attention to researches that

14

have reached the status of a separate monograph, as I
intend to in this review, there are first of all the primary
texts and reference works, as mentioned above. Second,
there are a number of specialised studies dealing with
periods or themes in Darwin’s life and work. Individually I
shall classify these, for lack of better terminology, as
either ‘hard’ or ‘soft’, depending on how well each interacts with the appropriate range of published and unpublished manuscript sources. Third, there are the biographies,
and fourth, a wide range of contextuating historical discussions that divide broadly into (a) general interpretations
of the significance of Darwin’s work and theories within
various milieux and (b) interpretations that emphasise the
particular social and political impacts of Darwinian evolution. Lastly, there is a group of collective works prepared
in conjunction with the 1982 centenary, none of which falls
neatly into any of the preceding categories.

All but one of these five categories are represented by
the books listed at the end of this review, so let me begin
with a word about the category unrepresented, namely, biography. I shall return to this subject later, but it is worth
observing here that there is no lack of biographical studies
of Darwin (cf. Churchill, 1982). Between 1967 and 1975 at
least seven such works appeared (Olby, 1967; Moorhead,
1968; Marshall, 1970; Crowther, 1972; Chancellor, 1973;
Bunting, 1974; Fletcher, 1975), excluding the Ladybird
Books version of Darwin’s career (Peach, 1973), which
might well have served as the basis of the recent BBC
series. Since 1980 there have been no less than five more
studies, and all future biographers must be indebted to
Richard Freeman for publishing in 1978 a most helpful,
though error-prone, ‘companion’ to the Darwin corpus. The
problem with these biographies is that they are either
popular, sixth-form-oriented lives of a famous scientist, or
lavishly illustrated decorative tomes suitable for the coffee
table, or, at best, competent productions written by nonspecialis ts.

The slim Darwin biographies in Oxford’s ‘Past Masters’

series and Fontana’s ‘Modern Masters’ series (no mistresses)
were prepared by an animal physiologist and a zoologist
respectively (Howard, 1982; George, 1982). Both are presentist in orientation, both stress ideas and theories at the
expense of the rich texture of Darwin’s cultural experience
(cf. Jahn, 1982); and although the author of the latter book
published a good biography of Alfred Russel Wallace
twenty years ago (George, 1964), a gross factual error in
the first sentence of her first chapter does not inspire the
reader’s confidence. The big biographies of the recent centenary have complementary limitations. After years of
painstaking research, Irving Stone, the octogenarian master
biographer of Jack London, Clarence Darrow, and many
others, elected to publish the results as his eleventh ‘biographical novel’, The Origin (1980). Peter Brent, on the
other hand, a novelist and sometime biographer, after only
three years’ work in the Darwin papers at Cambridge
completed a book that the US publisher has had the temer- .

ity to tout on its dust jacket as the ‘definitive’ biography,
Charles Darwin: ‘A Man of Enlarged Curiosity’ (1981). Like
Stone’s novel, but less fastidiously and engagingly, Brent’s
account brings to prominence some neglected aspects of
Darwin’s private life and offers a pen portrait or two of
exceptional clarity and insight. But neither work, any more
than those of the scientist-biographers, really gets to grips
with the breadth and depth ot the Darwinian literature.

Even less can be said for Bratchell’s 140-page collection, which falls lightly into my first category of primary
sources. Worse books of the genre (e.g. Daniels, 1968) as
well as better ones (e.g. Vanderpool, 1973) appeared years
ago in the United States, but The Impact of Darwinism
seems especially remiss for perpetuating time-worn vanities
and traditional misconceptions into the 1980s. It is doubtful, for example, whether evolution was ‘the key concept’

in 19th-century science (pp. 9, 13); it explains nothing to
state that ‘the time was ripe, the intellectual atmosphere
was well prepared’ in the 1850s for Darwin’s theory of evo-

lution (p. 44). Bratchell offers a fair selection of primary
texts to illustrate the background of Darwin’s theory, the
controversy that it engendered, and the prose and verse
reflections of Victorian litterateurs. But several passages
reprinted from the Origin of Species alone of Darwin’s
works tend to leave the false impression that Darwin was
uninterested in human origins and people’s place in nature.

This editorial oversight may be no accident, for Bratchell
holds that ‘Darwin was saddled with many things of which
he was completely innocent, and the relevance of theories,
such as those of social Darwinism, to Darwin’s own writing
is tenuous indeed’ (p. 70). Remarks like this in a book intended to foster (in students?) ‘a clearer understanding of
our own intellectual and literary inheritance and outlook’

(p. 8) are simply irresponsible, the more so when only two
of the numerous Darwinian authorities cited by the author
were published since 1971 (cf. Shapin and Barnes, 1979).

When will there be a practical collection of British texts
to stand alongside the 460-page anthology edited by Diego
Nunez, El Darwinismo en Espana (1977), with its lengthy
editorial introduction and magnificent concluding ‘Bibliografia y Cronologia del Darwinismo en Espana (1859-1900)’?

Durables and throwaways

j
J

We come now to my second category, which I have divided
into ‘hard’ and ‘soft’. Here the three outstanding books of
the past decade are hard in both senses of the word: their
close analyses and sophisticated use of manuscript sources
require a high level of critical concentration from readers
who wish to appreciate their arguments. To Be An Invalid
(1977) by Ralph Colp, Jr., is likely to remain the definitive
interpretation of Darwin’s famous ill-health. Colp, a professional psychiatrist and long-time Darwin scholar, concludes
that most of his subject’s symptoms were psychogenic in
origin, for Darwin experienced severe anxieties over the
difficulty of proving his theory of natural selection and
over some of its ‘ideological implications’. This analysis is
at least compatible with the conclusions of Edward Manier,
a philosopher and historian of science, in The Young
Darwin and His Cultural Circle (1978). Manier looks carefully at the influences on Darwin’s metaphysical and moral
beliefs as reflected in the logic and language of the first
drafts of his theory. The ‘cultural circle’ is thus in reality
a purely intellectual one, but this does not detract from
Manier’s highly nuanced assimilation of the young naturalist
to early-Victorian times. In The Development of Darwin’s
Theory by Dov Ospovat, a Harvard-trained historian of
science, who died tragically in 1980, aged 33, extends
aspects of Manier’s analysis to include the community of
naturalists surrounding Darwin before the publication of the
Origin of Species in 1859. Again, the Darwin that emerges
is a man whose thought was ‘shaped by the social and cultural conditions’ under which he worked. Ospovat concludes
hopefully that we should look at the change in Darwin’s
theory during these years ‘as a microcosm of the more general development from a philosophy of nature and man
appropriate for an agrarian and aristocratic world to one
suitable for an age of industrial capitalism’.

The ‘soft’ literature of the last ten years merits less
comment on the whole, but in some ways it is just as significant. Darwin in the New World (1981) by J.J. Parodiz is
a curious production, without contents page, running heads,
bibliography, or index. This would suggest that the publisher is a ‘vanity press’ were it not for the famous name of
E.J. Brill emblazoned on the cover. Parodiz is an Argentine
whose purpose in writing is ‘to give a value of recency to
the historical background’ of Darwin’s account of his
travels in South America. The three pages of background to
the situation in March 1833, when ‘Darwin reached the
Malvinas (Falkland Islands)’, are additional evidence, if it
were needed, that the Darwin industry does not work in a
vacuum. Arnold Brackman’s A Delicate Arrangement (1980)
is also curious, but rather as an American attempt to tilt
Darwin’s halo by implicating him in a familiar political

ploy, a ‘cover-up and conspiracy’. The victim is Alfred
Russel Wallace, from whom Darwin allegedly purloined the
‘principle of divergence’ on the eve of writing the Origin
of Species. Brackman makes an ingenious case, and his bedevilling of a sainted scientist is worthy of emulation. But
he rushed in where real angels fear to tread and he burnt
his hands. It is not every week that Science prints a
3,500-word review of the historical monograph, let alone
one contributed by a historian and editor of the Collected
Letters of Charles Darwin (Kohn, 1981).

Neither ingenious nor curious is Barry Gale’s 200-odd
page Evolution without Evidence. Its significance lies
chiefly in its amazingly reflexive analysis of Darwin’s 20year delay in publishing the Origin of Species.

‘Given the limitations on space under which Darwin
was working, the complex nature of many of the
topics he was considering, our ignorance of so many
of the phenomena he used to support his theory, the
potentially fatal nature of the various objections
that could be raised against his ideas, and the scant
evidence Darwin was able to provide to suport some
of his most basic premises, I think a reader might
justifiably wonder how Darwin could conclude anything about the origin of species.’

(p. 140)
For ‘origin of species’ read Origin of Species; for ‘Darwin’

read ‘Gale’. Evolution without Evidence looks as though it
reached its penultimate form about ten years ago and since
then has had bits and pieces tacked on. Perhaps in another
ten years it would have matured, if Gale made use of more
manuscript evidence.

But the reflexivity goes farther. Gale, although professionally trained as a historian of science is currently a
senior government official in the research and development
area of the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. His
last chapter introduces some ‘new conclusions’ under the
title ‘Darwin as Scientist-Manager’.

‘He had an innate sense of, and aptitude. for, planning and managing an enterprise – in my opinion, the
quintessential element in all successful management
efforts. He seemed to know instinctively what to do
under a variety of circumstances and to be able to
make the most of a given situation. He had what we
today would call good “street sense”.’

(p. 151)
Combined with Darwin’s ‘salesmanship’, ‘strategic capabilities’, and ‘charm’, Gale finds these traits ‘crucially important’ to the ‘interim’ achievement of the Origin of Species.

‘Darwin,’ he declares, ‘was the scientist-manager par excellence’ (pp. 5, 151, 152). Unfortunately the same traits do
not necessarily make for credible interpretations in the history of science, and Evolution without Evidence, whatever
else it may be, is striking evidence of the possible negative
effects of the Darwin industry’s acculturation.

Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation (1979) by
Neal C. Gillespie is made of tougher stuff, although it too
relies on published sources alone. ‘From a positivist or
whiggish standpoint,’ as I have written elsewhere,
‘the book’s interpretation is, on the whole, unimpeachable.

Yet within
that
interpretation
Gillespie refuses to proceed in a conventional
manner and portray Darwin as a secular “hero”,
praising his vision of nature as “thoroughly naturalistic”, and discussing his theological language “as
merely poetic or rhetorical or as some sort of elaborate deception”. Instead he presents a Darwin with
all (or most) of the theology left in, a Darwin whose
attack on special creation, from the outset of his
researches up through the wr i ting of the Or igin of
Species, was veritably in the interests of a
“grander” conception of the Creator.’

(Moore, 1981, pp. 192-93).

Much can be said against Gillespie’s larger interpretation,
which strikes me as an odd conflation of Comte and
Foucault, but his book will remain a waymark in the hist-

15

oriography of Darwin’s metaphysical beliefs.

By far the most original, allusive, and profound discussion of the cultural matrix of Darwin’s writing to appear in
recent years – a work comparable in some ways to Manier’s
Young Darwin but less intimidating and more accessible – is
Darwin’s Plots by Gillian Beer. It is seldom recognised that
women have occupied the vanguard of Darwin scholarship
since the turn of the century, when Henrietta Darwin
Litchfield edited her mother’s personal and family letters.

Between 1933 and 1967 Nora Darwin Barlow, a granddaughter, published five major editions of Darwin manuscripts, and in 1952 her cousin, Gwen Darwin Raverat, contributed her evocative family reminiscences, Period Piece.

Further specialized research has been carried out by Jane
Oppenheimer (1959), Gertrude Himmelfarb (1962), Barbara
Beddall (1973), Yvette Conry (1974), Mea Allen (1977,
1982), and most recently by Sandra Herbert (1980, 1982),
Karen Hunger Parshall (1982), and Janet Browne (1982,
1983a, 1983b). Collateral studies of Darwinian contexts
have been published by Jill Conway (1972), Ruth Schwartz
Cowan (1972), Gay Weber (1974), Carol Dyhouse (1976),
Cynthia Eagle Russett (1976), Mary Winsor (1976), Jean
Russell-Gebbett (1977), Lorna Duffin (1978), Donna Haraway
(978), Susan Sleeth Mosedale (1978), Elizabeth Fee (1979),
Greta Jones (1980), Muriel Blaisdell (1982), and Ruth
Barton (1983). What places Gillian Beer within this scholarly tradition and distinguishes her among its members is her
thorough grounding both in the Darwinian corpus and in
Victorian English literature. In these respects she probably
has more in common with Darwin himself than do the great
majority of his interpreters. Add to these qualifications her
critical grasp of the multivalency of language, the function
and complexity of metaphor, and the philosophy of
narrative form, and the first 150 pages of her book seem
quite equal to merging the Origin of Species once and for
all into the literary discourse of its time.

Space prevents me from doing justice to this half of
Darwin’s Plots or to its later studies of George Eliot and
Thomas Hardy. Beer moves easily from Faust to Feyerabend
via Freud, from Whewell and Wordsworth to Virginia Woolf.

She lingers over specifically feminist concerns and exemplifies her own commitment by editing the personal in. It is
refreshing, though somewhat breathtaking, to read
discussion of the myth of ‘metamorphosis’ that begins with
examples drawn from the speech of the author’s infant
child, then ranges through Ovid, Linnaeus, Goethe, and Von
Baer up to C.H. Waddington, all within the space of one
page. The affinities of Darwin’s Plots with recent efforts
at revising the history of evolutionary naturalism are perhaps best revealed in a passage that concludes a discussion
of the Origin of Species as ‘an unusually extensive fiction’:

‘There is ••• a sense in which we hold Darwin responsible for his history of the world, as thoughhe
had created rather than simply recorded the processes he describes. There is some justice in that too,
because the highly individualistic yet culture-bound
language of The Origin with its terms like ‘the
struggle for life’, ‘the great family’ and ‘natural
selection’, its ransacking of contemporary ideologies, has had consequences beyond the control or
cognisance of the text which engendered them. So
Darwin is in a creationist dilemma. He wishes simply
to record orders which in no way depend upon him.

But because of his highly-charged imaginative
language and the need to invent fresh terms and to
forge new metaphorical connections, he appears to
undertake an individual creative act. His text has a
progeni tive power. He seeks to express the equivalence of man with all other forms of life but the
power of his writing and the novelty of his narrative make it appear that Darwin, man’s representative, has as much created as described.’

(p. 103).

F or Beer, however, there is no crea tio ex nihilo, no revolutionary disjuncture in Darwin’s works. At most their dis-

a

16

course was destabilising. Darwin himself valued ‘continuity
of culture and insight’ and the ‘congruity of his images
with previous myth-systems’ (p. 37). Such views, I predict,
will contribute much towards a fresh understanding of
nature’s place in Victorian society.

Fit for human consumption

This brings into purview the contextuating literature of the
Darwin industry, to which numerous substantial additions
have been made in the past decade. Cynthia Russett’s
Darwin in America (1976) is mainly about Darwinism and
Herbert Spencer. ‘Darwinism, as a set of ideas,’ she begins
rather tautologously, ‘was an intellectual phenomenon first
and foremost, whatever social consequences its popularisation may secondarily have caused. ••• The challenge of
Darwinism was not directed to practice but to thought.’

Michael Ruse, a philosopher, scarcely improves on this analysis in The Darwinian Revolution (1979), where scientific,
philosophic, religious, and socio-political ‘factors’ in midVictorian Britain are kept quite separate. Darwin, however,
is the ‘hero’ of Ruse’s ‘story’, so students of this textbook,
like those of Russett’s, will have a good deal of un learning
to do when one day they are furnished with a fully contextualist account of evolutionary naturalism in the 19th
century. Meanwhile David Oldroyd’s wider-ranging text,
Darwinian Impacts (1980), and the essays collected in John
Greene’s Science, Ideology, and World View (1981) may
prove more relevant to the needs of socialist scholarship in
the classroom.

Other interpretations of the broader significance of
Darwin’s work and theories have been pitched to a narrower academic audience. The Eclipse of Darwinism (1983) by
Peter Bowler has only just appeared, but it promises to
shed much-needed light on the bewildering variety of antiselectionist theories of evolution that proliferated in
Europe and America at the end of the 19th century. My
book The Post-Darwinian Controversies (1979) treats
Protestant responses to Darwin in Great Britain and
America in the context of some of these theories. The
Edge of Contingency (1979) by Harry Paul discusses Roman
Catholic reactions in France and Thomas Glick’s Darwin en
Espana (1982) contains a chapter on the Spanish celebration
of Darwin’s centenary in 1909, an epilogue on public opinion in Spain after the Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’ of 1925, and
four important appendixes, all prefaced by a translation of
the author’s wide-ranging essay from The Comparative
Reception of Darwinism (ed. Glock, 1974). Two exemplary
studies have been published by Italian scholars, Darwinismo
a Firenze (1977) by Giovanni Landucci and Charles
Darwin’s ‘storia’ ed ‘economia’ della natura (1977) by
Giuliano Pancaldi, a modest volume that ranges lucidly
from the roots of Darwin’s theory in political economy,
through the reactions of Marx and Engels, to an essay on
‘Darwinismo ed evoluzionismo in Italia, 1860-1900’.

Alfred Kelly’s compact book, The Descent of Darwin,
takes its place among this international literature as the
first substantial study of the popularisation of Darwinism to
appear in any language. Kelly is interested in ‘who the
popularisers were, what their motives were, what they said,
to whom they said it, how they changed Darwin’s ideas, and
what their impact was on German society’ (p. 4). The chief
popularisers to figure in the book are the ‘medical materialists’ Moleschott, Buchner, and Vogt, the zoologist Ernst
Haeckel, and his own popular iser Wilhelm Bolsche, whose
Love-Life in Nature (1898-1901) transformed Haeckel’s
mechanistic monism into ‘a new scientific folk religion’ (p.

56) of erotic panpsychism. In analyzing the messages, audiences, and. impacts of the popularisers, Kelly is conscious
of writing the ‘social history of ideas’. Popular Darwinism
(or Darwinisms, as he suggests) can be seen as a ‘cultural
extension of -the radical democratic spirit of 1848’. It
began as ‘a pseudopolitical ideological weapon for the progressive elements of the middle class’, then in the 1880s it
became ‘a simple faith in the triumph of justice’ among the
workers. The bulk of its influence lay on ‘the left half of
the political, cultural, and social spectrum’ (pp. 5-8).

Here Kelly conducts a sweeping revision that looks
both convincing and controversial (Chapter 6). The neat
link between the popularisers and Nazi ideology via Blutund-Boden social Darwinism is, he argues, a figment of historians who fail to make clear distinctions. ‘There was no
way that the Nazis could fully accept Darwinism.’ In the
guidelines issued by the Nazi Propaganda Ministry in 1935
the literature of popular Darwinism was officially proscribed. Kelly does not deny any relationship between
Darwinism and Nazi ideology but he insists that the connections are ‘far more tenuous, indirect, and problematic than
is commonly assumed (p. 122) – just the opposite, in fact,
of the connections between popular Darwinism and socialism. The last chapter of The Descent of Darwin, ‘Darwin,
Marx, and the German Workers’, is sobering. Working
people typically achieved political awareness through the
literature of popular science, i.e. popular Darwinism, which
was consistently anti-establishment in tone. Marxism, an
incompatible Weltanschauung, lacked effective popularisers,
and theoreticians like Engels and Kautsky were making it
into a science. So nature replaced history as the engine of
social change Haeckel replaced Hegel. This adaptation of
Marxism to mainstream intellectual life had ‘a debilitating
effect on revolutionary consciousness’, for Darwinism
tended to obscure the role of praxis. The German worker
became a natural evolutionist rather than a political revolutionist. The promotion among the masses of evolutionary
neo-Marxist thought, Kelly observes, reflected the ‘larger
failure’ of the German Soclal Democratic party ‘to develop
real alternatives to bourgeois culture’ (p. 135).

reflect the failure of some left-wing intellectuals in the
20th century to develop real alternatives to bourgeois
social science. The Descent of Darwin appeared too late
for Heyer to benefit from its insights, as did a very clever
piece of polemic by Yves Christen (1981), which exactly
controverts his argument. But Heyer inexplicably ignores
other important contextuating discussions of Darwinian
social and political thought, including several with special
relevance to his attempts to assimilate Marx to Darwin
(Lecourt, 1976; Cravens, 1978; Bannister, 1979; Jones,
1980; Naccache, 1980). In fairness, however, Heyer does not
claim to be a historian. He is an anthropologist and an apologist for an open-ended ‘biosocial’, rather than a narrowly
reductionistic sociobiological, approach to the human
sciences. He thinks that neither approach is a resurgent
form of social Darwinism, for their belief in an innate
human nature ‘does not invariably lead to a justification of
the status quo’. On the contrary, the work of Lionel Tiger
and Robin Fox strikes Heyer as having ‘more radical implications than ••• they themselves suspect’, and he gratefully
expresses indebtedness to ‘those oft misunderstood scholars’

(pp. xv, 255).

Perhaps Heyer has in mind a passage like this one from
Tiger and Fox’s The Imperial Animal (1974):

‘It is ••• natural to man to create hierarchies, to
attach himself to symbolic causes, to attempt to
domina te and coerce others, to resort to violence
either systematic or lunatic, to assert, to connive,
to seduce, to exploit. ••• It is difficult to envisage
the possibility of human society without violence,
disease, selfishness, oppression, and injustice.’

How views like this can be understood to have other than
radically destructive implications for a social science that
takes the name of Marx is quite beyond me. Rather, I find
them fairly congruent with some of Darwin’s own beliefs. If
Heyer’s politics is what I hope it is, I should have thought
he would want to guard himself against these particular
implications when citing the work of Tiger and Fox.

But above all Heyer wants ‘a biosocialscience with a
Marxian focus, which might draw from sociobiology but not
be governed by it’ (p. 221). To this end his strategy is to
get Darwin, Marx, Engels, Kautsky, and even Kropotkin
(‘probably the most authentically Darwinian political philosopher who ever wrote’) on his side, while disposing of
Marcuse and critical theory. This requires a willingness to
hear the young Marx (especially in the Paris Manuscripts)
and the elder Marx speaking with one voice, an attempt to
patch up the Engels-Marx relationship, and generally a
Whig historiography that ignores, minimises, or refutes
views now disreputable and underscores those with which
we now agree. The outstanding example of this last tactic
is Heyer’s handling of social Darwinism, that ‘great misnomer’ with which ‘Darwin’s ideas ••• are invariably and
wrongly linked’ (pp. 23, 146). In the light of John Greene’s
1977 article, ‘Darwin as a Social Evolutionist’ (reprinted in
Greene, 1981), this interpretation can no longer be offered
with impunity, any more than the statement, ‘Marx’s politics were predicated on the belief that in order to change
the world, one must first understand it’ (p. 23) can be
uttered with conviction in the light of the Theses on
Feuerbach of 1845.

Defective (collective) merchandise

Kelly’s analysis is not only sobering, but opportune. It
helps us see the problems and the peril in books like Paul
Heyer’s Nature, Human Nature, and Society, books that

The last category of literature churned out by the Darwin
industry in recent years is the books of collective commemoration. No less than six such volumes will soon have
appeared in the wake of the 1982 centenary, but as a contributor to most of them (Berry, 1982; Chapman and Duval,
1982; Conry, 1983; Kohn, 1984; Durant and Moore, in
press), I must confine my remarks to Evolution from Molecules to Men. The dust jacket reproduces the photograph of
a tense and rigid Darwin, aged 45, that a sensitive scholar
once suggested shows ‘the strain of the long years of
delay’ in publishing his theory (Gruber and Barrett, 1974, p.

17

96). I suspect it illustrates the requirements of midVictorian portrait photography, but the image serves nicely
as a metaphor of the book. Here, cheek-by-jowl, thrown
into strained propinquity by the editor, D.S. Bendall, just as
they were during the Darwin Centenary Conference at
Cambridge in July 1982, are the makers and shakers of
modern evolutionary thought – Ernst Mayr and Richard
Dawkins and Franc;ois Jacob and E.O. Wilson; Maynard
Smith, Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin among
others – with a sprinkling of historians and philosophers of
science for good measure and an introductory essay by Sir
Andrew Huxley, the grandson of T.H. and President of the
Royal Society.

When ,I was sent the proposal for this book by
Cambridge University Press and asked for my evaluation, it
made no provision for a humanistic reflection on the problems of evolution. I insisted on one or more contributions
from social theorists or philosophers. These now appear in
a very demanding essay by Bernard Williams on evolutionary ethics and in the Epilogue that immediately follows.

John Passmore, a veteran of the 1959 centenary (Passmore,
1959) and the author of The Perfectibility of Man (2nd edition, 1972) prepared the Epilogue during the Darwin Conference as he listened to the papers. Although by no means
radical, his urbane overview and assessment is the best way
into the twenty-seven highly technical chapters of Evolution from Molecules to Men. I shall return to it in due
course. But some of the chapters are important and accessible enough to deserve particular comment.

The opening contributions by Huxley and Mayr distil
the complacent authority of the neo-Darwinian establishment. To the critic of natural selection Huxley replies
first, ‘Have you read the Origin of Species?’ then, ‘Have
you read Fisher’s Genetical Theory of Natural Selection?’

If either answer is No, Huxley instructs us, ‘You are entitled to disregard anything he says’ (pp. 9-10). Huxley
claims that Darwin ‘kept off mental phenomena’ in the
book. ‘Darwinism as expressed in the Origin and the
Descent of Man’ relates ‘only to bodily features’ (pp. 14,
16). Since Darwin devoted between three and four chapters
to mental evolution in the Descent (Chapters 3-5, 19), we
are presumably entitled to disregard anything Huxley says
about the history of modern biology. This is a mistake that
Mayr would not have made, although the historical expositions for which he is justly famous tend to serve the same
prerogatives that Huxley defends. Darwin to Mayr was an
‘intellectual revolutionary’, a ‘great man’, ‘pioneering’ and
‘bold’, whose anti-essentialism, gradualism, and population
thinking make him the perfect precursor of scientists like
Ernst Ma yr. ‘Socio-economic conditions’ had little or no
impact on Darwin’s scientific thinking: ‘the uniqueness of
individuals, ••• the superfecundity of reproducing individuals, and ••• the struggle for existence among animals and
plants’ are, after all, not Malthusian, but ‘natural history
concepts’ (p. 33). ‘Ideology,’ indeed, has always furnished
barriers to evolution, but Darwin penetrated them all
’empirically’ •
After
this
preliminary
genuflecting
Richard
Burkhardt, writing on ethology, suggests that we view it as
ritual self-legitimation (pp. 441-42) – it is a relief to encounter historians and philosophers of science who remain
somewhat sceptical of current orthodoxies. Jonathan Hodge
draws on the latest Darwin scholarship in a rich, judicious,
and characteristically iconoclastic discussion of ‘Darwin’S
general biological theorising’. He proposes that the mediating context between Darwin’S theorising and earlyVictorian society should be found in the social sphere of
“‘radical” dissent from national and metropolitan orthodoxies in politics and religion’ rather than in ‘any direct tie to
capital through laissez faire’ (although radical dissent and
laissez faire were, I would suggest, quite inseparable at the
time). David Hull points out that Darwin and his followers
‘continued to treat species as natural kinds, albeit very
peculiar ones’ that could not be characterised by their
common ‘natures’. This analysis has a political payoff, and
18

Hull puts it bluntly to all would-be Darwinians:

‘If species in general lack natures, then so does
Homo sapiens as a biological species. If Homo
sapiens lacks a nature, then no reference to biology
can be made to support one’s claims about “human
nature”. Perhaps all people are “persons”, share the
same “personhood”, etc., but such claims must be
explicated and defended with no reference to
biology (p. 76).

The passage is one of the highlights of the book. Another
comes in the essay by Garland Allen, in some ways a man
after Hull’s own heart. Allen concludes his study of mechanical, holistic, and dialectical materialism in post-Darwinian biology with a personal note on ‘how to develop our
own thought processes beyond the obvious and necessary
limitations of the prevailing philosophical view’:

‘Darwinian theory was born and has developed in an
age founded on the principles of temporal gradualism and mechanistic philosophy. This was historically
in tune for a theory developing out of mid-19th century industrial society. It need not be a view appropriate to what has been learned in the intervening
century since Darwin’s death – either in the biological or in the social/philosophical realm. In our
traditional mind-set, gradualism is comfortable,
rapid change – revolution in the political, social or
philosophical sense – is uncomfortable. Even on the
microscale we seek consistent theories and views.

We try to ignore, shove under the rug, or minimise
contradictions, or opposing tendencies within what
we think are the realities we try to describe. Perhaps another way of viewing ourselves, our thought
processes, and our actions, is to seek out contradictions, to look for a change, even rapid change, and
thus to see such change (and this means sometimes
rapid, qualitative change) as inevitable in the real
world, a component of the reality in which we live.

Perhaps in this way we will be able to grasp the
dynamics of the evolutionary process -‘ biological
and social – in a more holistic, and ultimately more
realistic way.’

(p. 101).

offer this extended passage not only for its congeniality
but because it is so rare in books of this kind, or in any
other Darwinian books for that matter, to find a committed
scholar addressing himself and ourselves so personally and
practically.

Among the more strictly scientific contributors,
Richard Lewontin has produced one of the clearest, boldest, and most provocative essays in the volume. He resumes
a theme enunciated by Allen, the dialectical interaction of
gene, organism, and environment, in which ‘each is both
cause and effect in a quite complex, though perfectly analysable way’ (p. 276). Conventional Darwinism has objectified these elements and thus testifies to ‘the power of a
long-held ideology’, the mechanistic reduction ism of
Newtonian science. ‘If the hundredth anniversary of the
death of Darwin is not to mark the death of Darwinism’,
Lewontin warns, ‘we need to struggle for its transformation’ (p. 284). In a remarkable example of ‘applied’ history
of science, Stephen Gould also addresses a theme of Allen’s
by analysing the fruitful contradiction between an independent macro-evolutionary theory based on paleontology
and a reductionistic micro-evolutionary theory grounded in
popUlation genetics. The way out of the impasse for Gould
is the concept of hierarchy, or levels of organisation. This
implies a new essentialism in which the essences are materially contingent ‘genetic and developmental coherences
(‘programs’ or ‘systems’) that resist selective pressures of
the moment, and impose a higher level, or macroevolutionary, constraint upon change within local populations’ (p.

362). Gould, a paleontologist, agrees with Lewontin, a population geneticist, that ‘external selection and internal production and constraint’ may furnish a new metaphor to replace the ‘trial-and-error’ metaphor of anti-essentialistic

neo-Darwinism.

But soon the critics descent. Francisco Ayala argues
that, although macro-evolution cannot be reduced to microevolution ‘(at least at the present state of knowledge)’,
this is not because of a hierarchical organization of life
with emergent properties at higher levels. ‘The issue of
emergent properties is spurious’ – ‘ill-founded, or at least
unproductive’ – he says. ‘It cannot be settled by discussion
about the “nature” of things or their properties, but it is
resolvable by reference to our knowledge of those objects’.

Since scientific theories consist of propositions about the
natural world, ‘only the investigation of the logical relations between propositions can establish whether or not one
theory or branch of science is reducible to some other
theory or branch of science’ (pp. 398, 399). Epistemological
considerations such as these do not, however, constrain
Gould and Lewontin’s other major critic, Richard Dawkins
(of The Selfish Gene), who seems to have had the advantage of access to the published version of Gould’s paper
before he completed his own modest piece, entitled
‘Universal Darwinism’. In this ‘preliminary contribution to a
new discipline of “evolutionary exobiology”‘, Dawkins tries
to show that ‘Darwinism rests on a securer pedestal than
that provided by facts alone’. It is by far the most overtly
theological contribution to Evolution from Molecules to
Men, for in opposing Gould, Dawkins confesses himself a
strict pan-adaptationist.

‘I suppose people like me might be labelled neoPaleyists, or perhaps “transformed Paleyists”. We
concur with Paley that adaptive complexity demands
a very special kind of explanation: either a Designer
as Paley taught, or something such as natural selection that does the job of a designer.’

(p. 404)
Dawkins’s point is that natural selection is quite able to
usurp the Divine attributes, including omnipresence. (His
next book, I am reliably informed, is entitled The Blind
Watchmaker.) He wagers that ‘life all around the universe
••• will always be recognisable as Darwinian life’. Natural
selection ‘may be as universal as the great laws of physics’

(p. 423).

Finally, E.O. Wilson explains the significance of his
theory of ‘gene-culture coevolution’. Over against ‘a few
modern Luddites’, he calls for an extension of ‘new scientific procedures into the deeper reaches of human nature in
order to provide solutions to those residual problems that
combine to defy simple economic and technological solutions’ (p. 552). Whereupon William weighs in with his argument that a ‘correct understanding’ of human evolution has
the effect of discouraging attempts to construct a naturalistic ethics. Then Passmore has the last word. He is surprised to find ‘the ideas of those paradigmatic nineteenthcentury figures, Hegel and Marx, resuscitated as a
twentieth-century methodology’ (p. 571) in Lewontin’s
work. He is also worried about the standard charge that

Darwinism is a tautology. Dawkins claims universality for
Darwinism in terms that might suggest that it is ‘logically
inconceivable’ for evolution to occur in a different way on
a different planet, that natural selection is implicit in the
very definition of evolution. In which case the tautology
charge would stick.

But even if Dawkins were more circumspect, there
remains the anthropological view that Darwinism is a cultural myth. This concerns Passmore as well. He admits that
many biologists and popularisers of Darwin in the last century have read him, and reported him, to be presenting a
new form of the ‘classical myth in which through a series
of terrible vicissitudes, the hero – Homo sapiens – finally
emerges, triumphant’. Or Darwinism has simply been seen as
occupying ‘a societal niche, left empty by the decline of
Christianity, as a creation-story’ (p. 573). Much of the
material in Evolution from Molecules to Men is, Passmore
insists, intended to counter this interpretation by stating
Darwinism so precisely that it will be seen ‘as a science
replacing myth, rather than as a rival myth’. Darwin’s ‘true
scientific accomplishment’ is thought to be best revealeq,
by the removal of ‘metaphysical accretions’ (pp. 574, 575).

Whether or not the entire enterprise to which he refers
amounts to a new kind of myth-making Passmore does not
say, but my overwhelming impression of the book is that
evolutionists today are no less helped, or hindered, by
metaphysics than they were in Darwin’s time.

Socially useful products

The Darwin industry cannot be revolutionised in the ordinary sense of the word. A collective enterprise pursued by a
thousand individuals in a thousand places in a thousand different ways is invulnerable to a board-room coup. Workers’

control is irrelevant in a traditional craft-based cottage
industry, and an alternative corporate strategy devised by
Darwinian shop stewards would never take effect. The
labour process might be altered through more genuinely
collaborative research, but so far only. the editors of
Darwin manuscripts – De Beer and his crew, Gruber and
Barrett (1974), and recently Kohn, Smith, and Stauffer
(1982) – have demonstrated the long-term advantages of
working together rather than competing apart. Indeed, with
the isolation and increasing vulnerability of academic
Darwin specialists, it seems unlikely that collaborative
research will lead to any less arcane results in the immediate future. A more feasible form of revolutionary historical
practice, therefore, might be for individuals to concentrate
on creating some revolutionary new products. ‘Much as we
would like to slip into an unconcerned condition and describe historical events as they really were,’ Greene told his
fellow-liberals ten years ago, ‘our concern for the present
and future fortunes of mankind prevents us and makes us
shape the past in the light of some desired future’ (Greene,
1975, p. 252).

What society today needs from the Darwin industry
above all else are two books: (1) a general introduction to
the so-called ‘Darwinian Revolution’ that will hold its place
for a generation as a textbook in universities across the
world; and (2) a subtle, textured and thoroughly accessible
portrait of Darwin that will command the respect of Darwin
scholars, meet the demands of professional biographers and
historians, and grip the imagination of the general reading
public.

The first of these books could be written today.

Students are not well served by existing textbooks, which
are either too broad in their coverage (Oldroyd, 1980) or
too narrow and naive (Ruse, 1979) or simply too old
(Eiseley, 1958). None of them, of course, is written from a
socialist standpoint. But there are difficulties in constructing a new general introduction to the so-called Darwinian
revolution. The first one is the concept of the Darwinian
revolution itself. I maintain (although I cannot argue here)
that a measure of the revolutionising of the Darwin industry will be the extent to which the concept of a Darwin-

19

ian revolution drops from the minds and vocabulary of students of history. This, however, is not likely to occur overnight, least of all among those who would appear best qualified to tackle the problem of Darwin’s place in the historical transformation of Western views of nature, society,
and humankind over the last 150 years: namely, the many
Darwin scholars for whom ‘revolution’ is an approbative
catchword (intellectual revolutions only need apply) with
which to associate Darwin’s name.

So a second problem in furnishing a new account of the
‘Darwinian transformation’ (for lack of a better term at
present) is finding someone to do it. With the increasing
specialisation of the Darwin industry, the old-style generalists have almost vanished from the field. Gone are the days
when English litterateurs like Basil Willey or even specialists in Victorian studies like Philip Appleman would offer
scholarly interpretations of Darwin’S life and work. The
subject has been professionalised, and the ritual humiliation
of Gertrude Himmelfarb twenty-five years ago for daring to
fault the great scientist’s theory in a book entitled Darwin
and the Darwinian Revolution is still a cautionary reminder
to those who would offer critical reflections on Darwinian
history. Yet, ironically, historical generalists, students of
Victorian studies, English litterateurs – these are precisely
the people best qualified to contextuate Darwin’s life and
work, and to disabuse us of self-congratulatory notions like
the Darwinian revolution. This is why Darwin’s Plots is so
significant. Beer is the first such person in a very long
time to have combined a specialist understanding of
Victorian culture with an insider’S knowledge of the
technicalia of the Darwin industry, and to have brought her
research to a book-length conclusion. We can only hope for
more from her, and for more researchers like her.

MISAPPREHENSION.

JlGrJ JaM (indign41tt). u 00.. AI.ONG, ‘LIU, DO:M’T STAND LOOKING AT ,.. …T Walo. 1 O.u.L IT IH.6.IIlU’1TI. O’ TREK PUl”AN& DUWINITP I
1 DON’T B:lLI.YE IT ‘a A. BI1
LIlt. HIi. I”

[DulicAttd to H471{fi1t9 OommiUtu

Would-be writers of the new textbook that, it seems to
me, society today requires could do worse than consult two
recent volumes intended for the popular academic market.

Philip Kitcher’s Abusing Science is as its title suggests, not
the place to look for a radical critique of the scientific
community and the construction of scientific theories. Evolutionary theory has been enlisted in support of numerous
appalling causes, Kitcher states (p. 196), but ‘this fact says
very little about evolutionary theory itself’. (How little?)
‘Virtually any morally neutral, or even morally good, doctrine can be misused for evil purposes.’ (So is Darwinism
neutral or good? What about ‘Creation-Science’?) But, such
20

matters aside, Abusing Science is a model of simple, direct
pellucid prose. Its ‘case against creationism’ is all the more
powerful for its sheer accessibility, and writers of historical texts, who equally have cases to make (albeit not always
against such formidable popular opponents), would do well
to emulate Kitcher’s style.

The other popular book worth looking at is Darwin for
Beginners by Jonathan Miller and Borin Van Loon. Here
accessibility is achieved by a racy and sometimes hilarious
text (replete with annoying errors) built around delightful
cartoon illustrations. I have long believed that a musical
comedy based on the life of Darwin could do the subject and its stuffier historians – enormous good. This is the
nearest we possess to my desideratum, although I have seen
lyrics and heard music for just such a production, which an
accomplished American writer has been preparing over the
last ten years.

Certainly a producer of the BBC
Shakespeare might also entertain the project, but to get my
support he would have to transcend ‘the conventional, not
to say “conservative” approach’ that he ‘deliberately
adopted’ in the text of Darwin for Beginners ‘in an effort
to make this difficult subject accessible’. ‘It could be
argued,’ Miller writes almost abashedly in the last paragraph of the last page of text, ‘that I have culpably overlooked the social implications of evolutionary thought and
the concealed class-interests in the various theories’ (p.

176). Then he refers his readers inter alia to scholarly
articles by Bob Young. It is a pity that he could not also
have mentioned an authoritative popular book that does for
the Darwinian transformation what the collected essays of
Stephen Gould have done for contemporary evolutionary
theory.

The second socially useful product that the Darwin
industry should undertake is an engaging portrait of
Darwin. Janet Browne asked in 1983, ‘Why ••• is there still
no good biography?’ and her question becomes more urgent
in view of the numerous substantial biographies of notables
like Marx and Freud (Browne, 1983a, p. 285). The answer,
however, should be obvious by now. The Darwin industry
has become specialised to such an extent that Darwin
studies (to change the figure) are a historical minefield.

Even the angels among us fear to tread where interpreters
like Brackman can be exploded in a flash by the sensitive
and powerful devices of Darwin experts. And since these
experts possess hard-won insights into a vast store of unpublished manuscripts, their division of labour is impregnable until the major transcriptions are completed, texts
and scholarly apparatuses are edited, and all the evidence
is on the table. One would be ill-advised, for example, to
publish a major biography of Darwin before the multivolume Collected Letters has appeared.

But in another centennial article Janet Browne waxes
hopeful. She looks forward to ‘new developments in the
“industry” – by historiographic invention, not necessity’

(Browne, 1982, p. 280). Chronological accounts of Darwin’s
life could easily give place to a narrative structured, say,
by the public and private dimensions of his career or by
the shifting ‘cultural circle’ of which Darwin was a member. ‘Ingenuity,’ she stresses, will be a positive advantage
to the biographer. I want to underscore these remarks
without, at the same time, subscribing to Brown’s assessment that ‘evolutionary theory has been overused as an
example of the way social and political ideas (such as
Malthus’ account of population) can be translated into biological debate’ (p. 279). On the contrary, I think the
Darwin industry has only begun to show its ingenuity in
contextuating Darwin’s life, work and theories. Further
progress will be indicated by the degree to which the pure
waters of Darwin’s science are muddied by the rich surrounding soil of political economy, natural theology, urban
radicalism, and provincial Dissent. Equally, the Darwin
industry will only produce something of benefit to society
if in a new biography Darwin’s affective life is shown to
modulate his theories: his affinities for romantic poetry no
less than his notorious ill-health and – a subject surprising-

ly neglected – his sexual politics.

All this will require greater efforts to alter the division of labour than have hitherto been made in the Darwin
industry. Here socialist scholars could surely take the lead.

But our job cannot be merely to ‘shape the past in the
light of some desired future’, even if Greene found this
inescapable. The Darwin industry, and much else besides,
will only begin to be revolutionised as we allow the present to set the agenda for constructing interpretations of
the past that appear both more hopeful and more authentic
than those by which historians flatter and condone the
present. The future of humankind could depend on our
success.

The major sources used in this retrospect are:

Bratchell, The Impact of Darwinism: Texts and
Commentary Illustrating Nineteenth Century Religious,
Scientific and Literary Attitudes, Avebury Publishing
Co., 1981, 140pp, l8.99 pb
Dov Ospovat, The Development of Darwin’s Theory: Natural
History, Natural Theology, and Natural Selection,
1838-1859, Cambridge University Press, 1981, 301pp,
l25.00 hb
Barry G. Gale, Evolution without Evidence: Charles Darwin
and ‘The Origin of Species’, Harvester Press, 1982,
238pp, l18.95 hb
Gillian Beer, Darwin’s Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in
Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction,
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1983, 303pp, l17.95 hb
Alfred Kelly, The Descent of Darwin: The Popularization of
Darwinism in Germany, 1860-1914, University of North
Carolina Press, 1981, 185pp, l15.95 hb
Paul Heyer, Nature, Human Nature and Society: Marx,
Darwin, Biology, and the Human Sciences, Greenwood
Press, 1982, 266pp, l23.95 hb
D.S. Bendall (ed.), Evolution from Molecules to Men,
Cambridge University Press, 1983, 594pp, l18.00 hb
Philip Ki tcher, Abusing Science: the Case against Creationism, Open University Press, 1983, 213pp, l5.95 pb
Jonathan Miller and Borin Van Loon, Darwin for Beginners,
Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative Society,
1982, 176pp, l2.95 pb
D.F.

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Faber
AlIan, Mea, 1982, ‘Charles Darwin and the Botanical Sciences’, in Chapman and Duval,
1982, pp. 259-90
Bannister, Robert C. 1979, Social Darwinism: Science and Myth in Anglo-American Social
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Barrett, Paul H. (ed.), The Collected Papers of Charles Darwin, 2 vols., Chicago, University of Chicago Press
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Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’, First Edition, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press
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Cravens, Hamilton, 1978, The Triumph of Evolution: American Scientists and the
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Crowther, J.G., 1972, Charles Darwin, London, Methuen Educational
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21

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Number 9

July 1984

The prospects for socialism
SOCw. MOVEMENTS AND SOCIOLOGY
Alain Touraine
A DEFENCE OF CORPORATISM
Stewart Clegg, Geoff Dow & Paul Boreham
CORPORATISM, DEMOCRACY & MODERNITY
J ulian Triado
HABERMAS & GIDDENS ON MARX
Johann Arnason
SOCW.IST IABOUR & COMPUTERS
G. Carchedi
R.W. CONNELL – A CRITIQUE
Rob White
plus Ann Gouley and Phil Hind on the CPA
split, Patricia Springborg on democracy,
Ulysses Santamaria on Marx against Marx,
discussion and reviews.

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Marx and Politics
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