Much ink has been spilt over whether or not Darwin’s ideas had any influence upon other important historical figures and their own ideologies. For example, there is the link – disputed by some, obvious to others – between Darwin’s ideas and Hitler’s racial policies and the Nazi Eugenics program. I have my own opinion of the matter. Leaving this aside for the moment, let’s take a peek at a link between Darwin and Marx. In an 1861 letter to a friend, a certain Mr. Ferdinand Lassalle, Marx critiqued certain books he’d read recently and then made this comment on Darwin’s recent work.
“Darwin’s work is most important and suits my purpose in that it provides a basis in natural science for the historical class struggle. One does, of course, have to put up with the clumsy English style of argument. Despite all shortcomings, it is here that, for the first time, ‘teleology’ in natural science is not only dealt a mortal blow but its rational meaning is empirically explained.”
You may find a record of the letter here:
So what conclusions (if any) shall we draw from this comment? I’ll let you, dear reader, be the judge.