I’ve run into this circular argument often; it’s painfully in common in Libertarian circles. It’s the idea that being rich is proof of one’s superiority.
The image of the world as an arena of cut-throat competition is seductive. Any trust-fund aristocrat can chuckle about the unpitying law of the jungle and feel like a raw, scrappy survivor. At this point, the richest 1 percent of the American population controls roughly double the wealth in this country that the bottom 90 percent of the population does. If this nation’s staggering economic inequality is just an example of natural selection, then our dysfunctional distribution of wealth is simply proof that all is right with the world. The myth of economic Darwinism justifies the gutting of the American middle class – even as it’s espoused by a GOP that claims not to believe in Darwinism itself.
The article mainly talks about the many alternatives to natural selection, and about how selection can be destructive, not always a benefit. It doesn’t follow up on the most obvious counter to the trust-fund aristocrat’s argument. Does anyone really believe the extremely rich earned their wealth? Is Jeff Bezos actually superior, with greater intelligence and cunning and discipline, than everyone else in the country? It should be clear that while yes, it does require ability to follow through and become a billionaire, these people are beneficiaries of luck, as well, and that they’ve followed a path that gives them rewards grossly disproportionate to their actual talents.
It’s also the case that if you look into the history of social darwinists, the people who most strongly promoted this idea, they tend to be terrible, awful, bigoted people. Social darwinism also predated the actual development of evolutionary theory, and was in many ways contradicted by observation, so as the article explains, too often we see pseudoscience presented as factual science simply by sticking the words “evolution” or “Darwin” on it.