This is the first part of an e-booklet I’m writing in anticipation of, God willing, my soon to be published e-book: The Malthusian Jump: How to Use an 18th Century Demographer’s Philosophy to Improve Your Life. It will also have actual footnotes.
The name of the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus has become long-reviled in modern society, and over the course of a few words I’d like to explain why this is not only largely undeserved, but a huge mistake. Most of the use of the term “Malthusian” extends not to the good reverend himself, but alleged “neo-Malthusians” who are in fact little but power-hungry statists disguised as economists and demographers. As Malthus’ core teachings not only changed how I live my life, but offer a great survival blueprint in times of economic crisis (which I will, God willing, discuss in a bit more detail in my upcoming book, The Malthusian Jump), their misrepresentation is increasingly used to further social programs which Malthus would have likely condemned as destructive, if not outright sinister.
But does that justify the horrible title? Calling people “crumbsnatchers” implies misappropriation of someone else’s leftovers for legitimacy. Over the course of this essay I intend to demonstrate precisely that: neo-Malthusians, without the veneer of legitimacy given them by attaching this man’s great name and a sentence or two of his writing to justify their factually anti-Malthusian policies, are in fact crumbsnatchers in every sense of the word, without a single valid reasoning to their argument, and you should ignore them. The good news is that even dismantling their dishonest policies can benefit you, the reader, by recognizing what is useful and fairly useless in modern social policy and get you started on a happier, more Malthusian existence.
Chapter 1. The Problem is the Solution
This natural inequality of the two powers, of population, and of production of the earth, and that great law of our nature which must constantly keep their effects equal, form the great difficulty that appears to me insurmountable in the way to the perfectibility of society.
— Thomas R. Malthus
Thus the central goal of “The Population Bomb”, to encourage the adoption of policies that would gradually reduce birthrates and eventually start a global decline towards a human population size that is sustainable in the long run, has been partially achieved.
— Paul Ehrlich
I will freely admit that I am inverting a song title of a very nice Mark Scudder album to demonstrate that Neo-Malthusians operate from a starkly different central premise than Malthus himself: Malthus was less concerned with solving the problem of population in a practical sense than a mathematical one– in fact, Malthus’ central arguments are that population, in the absence of resources, self-decimates.
This is precisely the opposite concern of Ehrlich and other “neo-Malthusians”, who are really just eugenicist sympathizers that don’t want to come out and say it.
For these people, the canard is that resources have already largely been expended: it is now the task of a government, an elite or what have you to reduce that population by hook or by crook! On the other hand, Malthus never envisions a global society that has expended its resources: in fact, his entire argument is based upon regional capacity for production, and in fact limits the depths of the argument to overpopulated areas. “Neo-Malthusian” posers simply pretend that every inch and corner of the world is New Delhi, so it’s time to round up the untouchables and head’em to the gas chambers!
The truth is that according to Malthus, the “problem” of population is in fact its own solution. When population becomes too heavy in regards to agricultural production, it drops itself off to a sustainable level.
The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.
By contrast, “neo-Malthusian” fakes are far more interested in controlling the level of population artificially: through conferences, books and government policies defending basic ideas that Hitler found tasteful, poor Reverend Malthus’ name gets dragged through the mud in the name of a future ideal society, of which opposition can only lead to widespread containment and extermination. In fact, my central argument is that these eugenicist policies, where applied most strictly, in fact, are simply a mask for an elite to have control of a pliable, stupid populace for their own benefit. “Neo-Malthusians” are not interested in sustainable population: they are interested in an idealized population for their own maximum benefit.
In short, they, unlike Malthus, believe in a “perfectible society”– one in which the average Joe and Jane are cogs in a mindless, productive machine at their service. It’s a perfect society– for its architects, such as the Club of Rome, the idiots who built the Georgia Guidestones and its propagandists at the highest levels.
And when you think “population’s gotten too large“, you’ve fallen for the trick.
For the rest of us, though, the payees in this warped system, the solution to self-improvement economically can be easily deduced from Malthus’ writings– simple lessons we can learn from an economy of scarcity.
Consider this going back to school. Let’s begin.
Coming up: Chapter 2. Taking Back Malthus