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Overpopulation Myths

The Slaughter of the Innocents

 A Neo-Malthusian Fable

 It seems strange at a time when proletarians are being butchered by millions, to find Neo-malthusians still advocating the reduction of the population as the cure for all social ills; yet such is the case. In a booklet ['How to Prevent Pregnancy.' G. Hardy, Paris, 19l6.] recently published in English it is roundly asserted that the limitation of births “means simply the suppression of misery, the solution of the social question.” Simply that!

 Socialists are in no way opposed to the diffusion of complete scientific knowledge in sexual matters; they fully recognise the right of men and women to limit the number of their offspring on grounds of personal health and comfort. Neo-malthusians, in fact, have a wide field for useful activity, but their ambitions outstrip their means. They offer a check pessary for the earthquake!

Limits to Capitalism

One of the barriers to the spread of our ideas is “the media”. This is not just because the media consciously sets out to put forward the prevailing ideas of capitalism but because, as the saying goes, “bad news is good news” and sells newspapers. An example of this is the preoccupation of the media with “doom merchants” such as The Club of Rome. Who instigated a research programme resulting in a book called The Limits of Growth, in 1972. This became world-famous for its forecast of overpopulation and exhaustion of resources, especially food.

That was the bad news. The good news, however, was completely ignored by the media. This was the subsequent report made in connection with a project on “problems of population doubling and food supply” also instigated by the Club of Rome. In this report the authors compute the “upper limit of what can be grown on all suitable agricultural land” and in so doing contradict the “Limits to Growth”.

Myth of Overpopulation

According to T. A. Pahl. in a letter in the Johannesburg Star (27 February) under the heading ‘Villain is high birthrate', “irresponsible black birthrate" is the cause of poverty, hunger disease, housing problems. unemployment, etc. This racist version of discredited Malthusianism is just as false as it was originally, in 1798.

Of course, no proof is offered, nor is possible. for this miserable doctrine. On the other hand, according to Dr Org Marais. Deputy Minister of Finance: “About 1.7 percent of the total tax-paying public pays 73 percent of the country's tax” (Star, 16 February). The Receiver of Revenue has also shown that about one-third of workers in this country do not earn enough to be liable for any Income Tax.

Notes on Economic History (11)

The Theory of Population

As Adam Smith's doctrine spread, it was elaborated and modified. Attempts to develop his ideas led to endeavours to explain the poverty and misery of the working class and all the defects that had become apparent during the rapid development of Capitalism, from the time of publication of his Wealth of Nations.

Two contrasted attitudes appeared. One was a condemnation and a criticism of conditions—this led to ideas about Socialism. The other was a pessimistic resignation, accepting the conditions and declaring them to be the result of the working of natural laws. This was the views held by Malthus. Malthus was responsible for two important works; in 1820 his Principles of Political Economy was published preceding by some 22 years his Essay on the Principle of Population, first published in 1798, and for ever associated with his name.

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