The size of population is held to be an important factor in the misery and suffering of the people. The problem is not too many people. If people could decide what they produce, there would be more than enough food and accommodation for many times the present world’s population. The problem is that only a minority decide – a minority who want to organise production for their own benefit and for no one else’s.
That’s why the ruling class, even the “philanthropists” among them, promote ideas to prove that hunger and poverty are not the fault of the rich for deciding not to produce what people need, but the blame of the poor and hungry for over-breeding and being too many. The Socialist Party denies actual over-population except the excess of class parasites over producers. There is plenty for all in this world of ours – plenty of food, plenty of everything that goes to offer us a healthy and happy life. At this very time, the power of new technology and its capacity can produce more and more with a less and less. Every improvement and advance in science means that all mankind could gain greater security and greater leisure. Yet working people do not benefit by this. They are forced to compete against one another for a bare subsistence. We are told it is Utopian to urge that the workers should turn the technology and the land to the advantage of the whole community.
It is an old disproved argument that the world is destined to explode because of too many people fighting over rapidly diminishing resources. Most ‘natural’ disasters such as famines are cleated by economic policy, not population pressures and it is not ordinary working people to blame for the environmental degradation. Famine itself occurs in a world with an abundance of food that it is routinely dumped and left to rot. Even in countries racked by food “shortages” there is always food to alleviate the famine was available on the market. But the starving were too poor to purchase it.
We have the technological power to prevent hunger. But who holds the key to this technology? The multinationals are motivated solely by profit. The idea that hunger is caused by too many people in the world is just another of the capitalists’ tricks. We all know that people are starving, but the reason is that a few corporations control food supplies and use them to make profits for their shareholders. The population scare is just another way to turn us on each other, to make us think of each other as the enemy. We need to concentrate instead on how to look after each other. A healthy and well-educated people controlling the wealth and technology of society will be able to figure out how many children we should have.
The capitalists concoct pseudo-scientific “theories” that the planet already or soon will have too many people for its possible food supply which is completely bogus. The issues of ecology, poverty and hunger are completely isolated from the social relations which produce them— capitalist relations of exploitation and oppression. Instead, Paul Erhlich, author of the Population Bomb and a founder of Zero Population Growth, calls for compulsory systematic sterilization programs to control the poor “breeding” too much. , some environment activists are infected by the ideas of Erhlich and his predecessor, Thomas Malthus, and fear over-population as an imminent danger. When the Socialist Party upholds the freedom of reproductive choice and family sizes it is accused of fostering rabbit-like propensities within the human species and unlimited procreation of children. The question is: do people multiply indefinitely, and do they wish to? The facts are these. The global fertility rate is falling and many nation’s actual populations are dropping.
A better understanding of the nature of capitalist society would change their opinion. In “Capital” Marx says: “Not only the number of births and deaths, but the absolute size of the families also is in reverse ratio to the height of the wages, that is, to the means of subsistence at the disposal of the various categories of labourers.” Marx furthermore quotes another writer who says: “If the whole world lived in comfortable circumstances, the world would soon be depopulated.” In contrast to numerous environmentalists the Socialist Party maintains that an improved standard of living does not increase the number of births, but diminishes them.
Businessmen teach us that we have too much food viewed from the standpoint of the world market and that makes the production of food unprofitable. The madness is obvious. When the crops have bumper harvests, speculators in grain intentionally allow a part of it to go to waste and ruin, because they know that the price increases at the same rate at which the supply diminishes.
Socialism unless it means the transfer of economic power from a small, greedy and irresponsible elite to the democratic control of the majority means nothing. There is not a lack of food, but a superabundance of food, just as there is a superabundance of the fruits of industry. Just as millions are in need of manufactured products, but cannot satisfy their needs under the existing conditions of property and production, so millions are in need of the most essential articles of food, because they cannot pay for them, although there is food in abundance.