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Our President, " Professor" Barack Obama, in a recent attack of Paul Ryan's GOP budget proposal, labelled it as "thinly veiled social Darwinism," showing his misunderstanding of both. Articles have started popping up in the media trying to explain what he meant. I suppose this means that they're going to dig up Richard Hofstadter's revisionist history screed, Social Darwinism in American Thought, which made his reputation in the academic world, showing that neither Hofstadter, nor those that applauded his book, had bothered to actually go back and read Spencer, relying instead on interpretations of Spencer by his ideological enemies. However, in Hofstadter's case there is no excuse for him not being familiar withe the topic he was writing about. So it is more likely that he knew exactly what he was doing in fabricating a caricature of Spencer that would have been unrecognizable to Spencer's contemporaries. The best summary of this smear came out today on Reason Online, by Matt Welch, and the Cato Institute's David Boaz weighs in, below: http://reason.com/bl...winism-nonsense http://www.cato-at-l...cial-darwinism/ The Ludwig von Mises Institute has some excellent essays comparing what Spencer really said to what Hofstadter, et al, claims he said. (e.g., "Herbert Spencer as an Anthropologist," by Robert L. Carneiro. The Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. V, No.2, Spring, 1980. http://mises.org/jou...s/5_2/5_2_2.pdf ). Another excellant essay on this issue is "Origins of the Myth of Social Darwinisn: The Ambiguous Legacy of Richard Hofstadter's Social Darwinism in American Thought," by Thomas Leonard. (2009) http://www.princeton...papers/myth.pdf (forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization) And some guy by the name of George H. Smith, had the temerity to try to set the record straight by including in his book, Atheism, Ayn Rand, And Other Heresies, (Prometheus Books, 1990) a chapter entitled, "Will The Real Herbert Spencer Please Stand Up?" .