Capitalist Contexts for Darwinian Theory: Land, Finance, Industry and Empire [Book Review]

Journal of the History of Biology 42 (3):399 - 416 (2009)
When socio-economic contexts are sought for Darwin's science, it is customary to turn to the Industrial Revolution. However, important issues about the long run of England's capitalisms can only be recognised by taking a wider view than Industrial Revolution historiographies tend to engage. The role of land and finance capitalisms in the development of the empire is one such issue. If we historians of Darwin's science allow ourselves a distinction between land and finance capitalisms on the one hand and industrial capitalism on the other; and if we ask with which side of this divide were Darwin and his theory of branching descent by natural selection aligned, then reflection on leading features of that theory, including its Malthusian elements, suggests that the answer is often and largely, though not exclusively: on the land side. The case of Wallace, socialist opponent of land capitalism, may not be as anomalous for this suggestion as one might at first think. Social and economic historians have reached no settled consensuses on the long-run of England's capitalisms. We historians of Darwin's science would do well to import some of these unsettled states of discussion into our own work over the years to come.
Keywords Darwin  Wallace  Malthus  natural selection  capitalism  land  finance  empire  industry  industrial revolution  class  political economy  population
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References found in this work BETA
James Moore (2005). Revolution of the Space Invaders: Darwin and Wallace on the Geography of Life. In David N. Livingstone & Charles W. J. Withers (eds.), Geography and Revolution. University of Chicago Press

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Naomi Beck (forthcoming). The Spontaneous Market Order and Evolution. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

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