A great discussion. Don't dismiss the tea party, the segment of America their rhetoric appeals to have legitimate grievances, but aren't organized or getting any real answers.
I was disappointed on the caller at the end of the hour, that Prof. Chomsky and Tom Ashbrook choose to tackle the anthropogenic climate change denial part of his question in their limited time, rather than his "the strong survive and that's the way nature is" comment. That underlying value system is a lot of the reason people want to reject climate change, because the problem is the unfettered advancement of the ruling class they dream of joining.
It's Herbert Spencer all over again, who actually coined the phrase "survival of the fittest" and whom many Darwin haters would find themselves in uncomfortable agreement with as he was all about saying the wealth of leading businessmen and ruling families was proof of their essential superiority, and that any program to ease the burden of the poor would only make America weaker. (He was writing such things even before Darwin's evolution work was published.)
The fallacy is on several points. Evolution is a blind and unconscious process, it doesn't prescribe what will work best for survival to reproduction. Evolution is an amoral process; there really is nothing to say that greater success in a Darwinian system is right or good or obligatory, it simply is. Darwinian systems are not competitions of brute strength; Darwin addressed this in Descent of Man, the anarchist Peter Kropotkin explored it in Mutual Aid as a counter to Spencer's popular social "Darwinism," and Richard Dawkins addresses it in The Selfish Gene. Cooperation and social behavior are highly viable strategies for reproduction and survival, and to the extent that genetic factors promote these behaviors, they will be selected for in the Darwinian equation.
Furthermore, the simple statement "the strong survive," ought to give anyone pause, especially as applied to justifying human social and economic arrangements. Our advance, such as it is, as a civilization is very much measured by the efforts we make to ensure it is not merely the strongest and fiercest of us to survive. Our moral advance depends upon putting raw survival and basic human happiness outside the realm of competition, turning competition where we use it into play rather than desperation. If we value anything at all, those values form the seed of a moral system. For all that our nature is torn with opportunistic cheater instincts, social and cooperative behavior are also a strong part of human nature, our natural endowment via the evolutionary process. It's not "the way of nature" to reject a prominent humanistic instinct in favor of a callous approach to individualism and a brigandic approach to capitalism.
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