For the past 200 years, apologists for oppression have argued that human numbers, activities, and liberties must be severely constrained because there just isn’t enough to go around. Since such policies require the existence of overlords empowered to do the necessary constraining, intellectuals exposing this line of thought have never lacked sponsors.We would have had billions of starvation deaths, but for technological advances.
The most influential member of this tribe was Thomas Malthus (1766–1834). An employee of the East India Company College (renamed Haileybury College in 1862), Malthus’s theory that poverty is caused by human reproduction outrunning resources provided useful justification for the brutal policies of his employer in India and allied interests in Ireland in his own time, and, as I discuss in my book Merchants of Despair, has served as the ideological foundation for most of the worst human-caused disasters over the two centuries since.
It was not just the Roman masses who were poor, in both body and spirit. The richest man in late Republican Rome, Crassus, never owned a map of the world, a newspaper, a piece of sheet music, or any piece of paper, for that matter. He never looked through a glass window, let alone a telescope or microscope, and so was completely unaware of the existence of either the universe of the very large or the very small. He never heard a symphony, a piano concerto, or a piano.Thank straight White Christian men for all of those advances.
The fundamental issue is this: Are humans consumers or creators? If we are consumers, then, at some level, the Malthusian dogma must be true, and human activities and liberties must be suppressed, making tyranny necessary. But if we are creators, then our freedom to invent must be maximized, and the proper role of government must be to protect human liberty at all costs.The creators are only about 1% of the population. They have created enough to keep all the parasites alive, so far. But many parts of the world are overpopulated, and would do better with fewer people. There are too many people in India, China, Africa, Japan, and even California. At least there are some creators in California and Japan.