Daniel De Leon editorial : Survival of the Fittest


Daniel De Leon
Survival of the Fittest
from The Daily People, July 17, 1900
reprinted in The People March 9, 1996
Date: Wed Mar 06, 1996 9:18 pm EST
Subject: De Leon on the Fit and the Unfit
The People
March 9, 1996
Vol. 105 No. 21


Capitalism is a two-class system in which the idle ruling class is fit for nothing except riding the back and sucking the life out of the producing working class.



(DAILY PEOPLE, July 17, 1900)

The class struggle going on in society today has brought to the surface certain phrases and catchwords which at first sight seem brand new, but which, examined closer, are seen to be but the revamped mouthings of dead and gone robbers and parasites. Thus, "the survival of the fittest" blatantly struts about as a phrase evolved from a scientific study of nature, by the atheistically inclined pundits, and is given as a reason, explanation and excuse for the existence of the capitalist class and their rule of plunder and rapine. Yet it is only the ages-old cry of "it is the will of God" -- an invention that did such good service for other and cruder robbers before the capitalist class rough-handedly took possession.

The idea which is sought to be conveyed by the term "survival of the fittest" is that the capitalist possesses those qualities of brain and brawn which eminently fit a man to win the prize in the struggle for life. According to this, the Goulds, Havemeyers, Morgans, Vanderbilts, Rockefellers and the rest of the owners of wealth and wage slaves, acquired their capital by virtue of their greater fitness, and, consequently, being "the fittest," are alone and preeminently fit to survive.

Incapable of operating or managing the industries of the countries, degenerates, mentally and morally; tainted of blood; in war as cowardly as they are bloodthirsty in time of peace, they stand convicted as the most "unfit to survive" of any class that ever held sway -- if by "fit" is understood "worthy."

The proletariat, conducting and carrying on the industries of the nation; producing all the wealth in times of peace; safeguarding and saving life and property; fighting the battles in times of war; giving proof of their virility, strength and courage in every way commendable, they yet furnish the strongest test, by resisting the steady stream of pollution which pours down from their masters, of their "fitness" -- by "fitness" being understood "worthy."

No longer does the outworn plea of "it is the will of God" serve as cloak for robbery; and in the arena, marked out by the cry of "the survival of the fittest," the proletariat, strong mentally, physically and morally, alone is fit. It will throw down and end the existence of the debauched, degenerate and useless capitalist class -- with whom "fitness" means capacity for crime -- and then lay deep and strong the foundation of a society of workers; where the lying cant of "the survival of the fittest" will be changed to the truthful and natural "survival of the best."