Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When Population Growth was a GOOD thing...

It has been hammered into our brains ever since we were born that overpopulation was one of the fundamental reasons for the poverty and underdevelopment of nations. It holds an exalted position in the vicious cycle of poverty and has been a major thrust of the United Nations Development Program which has sponsored countless programmes to curb overpopulation in the least developing nations.

Many economists of the developed world have come out with papers and evidence to prove that overpopulation is directly correlated to low GDP.

However, Karl Marx, known to all the founding father of Communism, had a fascinating theory about the role of population in economic development of nations.

Marxian political economy theory talks extensively about the core and the periphery - the developed countries bossing over the developing countries, keeping them under their control economically and politically. The agents of control are MNCs, International Organizations and sometimes even NGOs. While this formed the main part of Marx’s theory and the consequent public policy adopted by Marxist governments, neo-Marxism took these assumptions a step further.

Marx stated that overpopulation is NOT a factor in economic growth and development. The neo-Marxists took it a level further by claiming that this agenda was perpetrated by the developed nations through international organizations and economic research agencies as a form of modern genocide. They believed that the developed nations took the developing nations to be inferior and by promoting population control as a feature of economic growth, the developing world would be outnumbered by the developed and soon the former would be eradicated completely.

I'm going to repeat this purely for effect. The neo-Marxists claim that ALL ADVOCATES OF POPULATION CONTROL ARE PERPETRATING GENOCIDE.

The audacity of the neo-Marxists’ claim was obviously met by unanimous opposition from the capitalist world. I am sure the reader of this article would experience similar emotions. Of course, all our textbooks, governments and everything we’ve ever heard has stressed on the primary importance of population control. China, today, stands living proof of the miracles that can be achieved through population control.

How then, does the neo- Marxists’ claim add up?

Marx believed that population growth was a problem in the capitalist world due to the gross inequities and inadequacies of the capitalist system. Inadequacies which the socialist economy endeavored to eradicate, to the extent where population growth was good. So good that the USSR implemented a tax on single child and childless couples and banned abortion.

Similarly, China was lauded for its massive rate of growth. Mao Zedong is quoted to have said that “A large population is a good thing. With a population increase of several folds we still have an adequate solution.”
Neo-Marxists took the cue from these sentiments and championed the cause of population growth. However, with the fall of Communism, their theories were unequivocally disproved by the capitalist world. China itself took a 180 degree turn from their existing policy and undertook the most stringent population control policy ever seen by the word.

The neo-Marxists were left out in the dark and their sole mode of self-defense was to call on dependency theory to explain this contradiction. They claimed quite shamelessly that any reference to population growth as a vice was a purely imperialist move, aimed at modern, hidden genocide and the developing world, including China had no alternative but to cooperate.

It is fascinating how such an unusual, unexpected line of thought has stayed alive long after its vehement disproval. No non-Marxist in the world today could, while in their senses, claim that population growth is an acceptable phenomenon. The world’s unanimous calls for population control in both the developing and developed world have been almost unchallenged, except for the lone voice of neo-Marxism that stands strong.