It may seem that the concept of globalization is a very new one, and that
the growth of free trade and its accompanying controversy belong to our era
alone. In fact, the 1860s saw an explosion of trade between nations, accompanied
by a doctrine of free markets unbridled by government intervention. Unlike
today, though, many of the free marketeers of this earlier era were willing to
apply their logic outside the realm of economics, to human societies and to
human beings themselves.
These are the Social Darwinists (sometimes called Social Positivists) whose thinking stood behind the great economic expansion, was challenged by a global recession, and ultimately fell out of favor in the United States when the princely accumulation of wealth and power by a generation of Robber Barons was recognized as jarringly undemocratic.
The intellectual grandfather of the Social Darwinists was a Frenchman named August Comte, who argued that the progress of science would ...