You are here

No population explosion in a classless society?

History records that Karl Marx had a fierce disregard for Thomas Malthus and his theory. Blaming the poor for their poverty was just not on for the socialist revolutionary from Trier, Germany. The system---capitalism---was to blame for everything. Dump capitalism, institute socialism, and people will presumably stop bonking. For Frederick Engels, socialism was like salt peter, it alone "makes possible that moral restraint of the propagative instinct which Malthus himself presents as the most effective and easiest remedy for over-population."

This attitude still can be found in contemporary Marxist literature. Joel Kovel, for example, in the introduction to his book The Enemy of Nature, anticipated that critics would fault him for not giving sufficient weight to questions of population growth. He made no apologies. "At no point (in the book) does overpopulation appear among the chief candidates for the mantle of prime or efficient cause of the ecological crisis.I see it as a secondary dynamic-not secondary in importance, but in the sense of being determined by other features of the system. I remain a deeply committed adversary to the recurrent neo-Malthusianism that holds that if only the lower classes would stop their wanton breeding, all will be well; and I hold that human beings have ample power to regulate population so long as they have power over the terms of their social existence. To me, giving people that power is the main point, for which purpose we need a world where there are no more lower classes, and where all people are in control of their lives."

The problem Joel, is that while we are waiting for your utopia to arrive, the world is adding 80 million people a year. We have to try to do something to stop that now.

And by the way, what was the socialist track-record in halting population growth in the third world, when "the people" were control of their lives (but apparently not of their hormones)? How did they do in Kenya, Tanzania, and Egypt under Nasser. How are they doing under the Marxist Mugabe in Zimbabwe? Why after trying their "classless" society did the Communist Chinese government find it necessary to institute a one-child policy?

Marxists still, after 150 years, engage in the fantasy that our species need obey no limits, that abundance is at hand if the world is rationally and democratically organized under "worker's control". "Malthus was right in asserting that there is always a surplus population; that there are always too many people in the world; he is wrong only when he asserts that there are more people on hand than can be maintained from the available means of subsistence."

Engels made that statement more than a century ago, before Peak Oil. Modern Marxists have no such excuse.

The second to last word goes to my comrade, Chairman Albert Bartlett:

"Modern agriculture is the use of land to convert petroleum to food."

The last word is mine, a corollary of the above:

"Oil depletion. The ultimate contraceptive."

Comments

Whereas it is true that a number of additional measures should be taken to ensure a Total Fertility Rate less than 2.0 and, preferably, closer to 1.0 (temporarily), it is also true, as I have written at dematerialism.net/CwC.html#_Toc149364223, that, in a society in which everyone's share of the sustainable community dividend were equal regardless of every other consideration (pure communism), intentional excessive procreation would not occur to provide, for the parents, cheap labor and support in old age. As I have discussed in the above URL, in dematerialism.net/Chapter%209.html, and elsewhere, excessive procreation would be eliminated in, for example, China if the Communist Party would embrace pure communism as defined above. Every objection to such a program has been answered.

Both communism and capitalism disturb the algorithms of incest avoidance which cause children to move away from their parents to find mates, which manifests in patterns of population spacing reflecting distribution of clans. This occurs in most animals including humans. Capitalism disturbs this algorithm by buying, selling and aggregating land, and encouraging large populations of landless workers to labour for landowners and manufacturers in producing and consuming. Without many landless workers obliged to labour to survive, you would not be able to find people to man factories. Communism similarly reorganises populations to work land for mass production rather than to simply make their living from the properties they were born on and share with their clan or the clan they married into.

The author of dematerialism netsite is correct to blame child labor for encouraging landless workers to have children to improve their income.

In Russia there was contraception available and I don't think that child labor was encouraged, but in China perhaps it was. Was this a difference? My impression is that Russia and the Soviet Union did not suffer from overpopulation.

Overall the bigger the population the less democracy, the less control by individuals of their environment and the actions of the other members of the population, including their leaders.