LETTER:Identifying the fascist mentality

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From Mr Julian Smith

Sir: Felipe Fernandez-Armesto asserts in his commendable article on fascism that "exponents of the selfish gene seem to vindicate Hitler's divine commandment, thou shalt preserve the species", as an example of how "modern science has confronted us with a nakedly amoral and aggressive natural world".

While it may be true that some scientific analyses of nature do rightly underline this ruthless, relentless process, I don't think that the scientists themselves can be blamed - unless, of course, their science is informed by fascist opinions. The "selfish gene" hypothesis of Richard Dawkins is based on the author's belief that yes, it is a cruel world, the weak will go to the wall, and the strongest will take the power, unless moral human beings take steps to prevent this. Fascism in all its forms is therefore something that proponents of the "selfish gene", or at least its originator, are implicitly and implacably opposed to.

Science and scientists are no more or less of a threat to freedom than they ever have been. Yes, scientific endeavours must be monitored and policed to avoid the occasional disaster. But scientists have yet to become the new SS.

Yours faithfully,

Julian Smith

London, W3

9 October