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The Population Control Holocaust by Robert Zubrin

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Recommended article. Bob Zubrin (not an Objectivist to my knowledge) (The Case for Mars) surveys the topic of population control as an example of an ideology he calls anti-humanism, which he also claims underlies environmentalism, xenophobia, racism, socialism, fascism, and several other phenomona which Ayn Rand would identify as collectivism.

The Population Control Holocaust webpage, The Population Control Holocaust Adobe pdf

I became aware of the article via a post at the blog Next Big Future. I have no opinion on "The New Atlantis", the journal publishing this article as I had never heard of it before and have not surveyed its back-issues.

First two paragraphs:

There is a single ideological current running through a seemingly disparate collection of noxious modern political and scientific movements, ranging from militarism, imperialism, racism, xenophobia, and radical environmentalism, to socialism, Nazism, and totalitarian communism. This is the ideology of antihumanism: the belief that the human race is a horde of vermin whose unconstrained aspirations and appetites endanger the natural order, and that tyrannical measures are necessary to constrain humanity. The founding prophet of modern antihumanism is Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), who offered a pseudoscientific basis for the idea that human reproduction always outruns available resources. Following this pessimistic and inaccurate assessment of the capacity of human ingenuity to develop new resources, Malthus advocated oppressive policies that led to the starvation of millions in India and Ireland.

While Malthus’s argument that human population growth invariably leads to famine and poverty is plainly at odds with the historical evidence, which shows global living standards rising with population growth, it nonetheless persisted and even gained strength among intellectuals and political leaders in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Its most pernicious manifestation in recent decades has been the doctrine of population control, famously advocated by ecologist Paul Ehrlich, whose bestselling 1968 antihumanist tract The Population Bomb has served as the bible of neo-Malthusianism. In this book, Ehrlich warned of overpopulation and advocated that the American government adopt stringent population control measures, both domestically and for the Third World countries that received American foreign aid. (Ehrlich, it should be noted, is the mentor of and frequent collaborator with John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor.)

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Overpopulation was the global warming of its day (1950s - 1970s). Paul Ehrlich, mentioned above, was one of its leading lights. It pretty much disappeared after that, mainly because people saw that it was false and always had been (also mentioned above). The information also emerged that the countries that were supposedly cases in point, mostly in Africa and Asia, had no reliable birth, death or census records and had incentives to overestimate their populations.

In recent months I've seen signs of a (weak) revival. The good news apparently is that global warming has been so discredited that its partisans are reduced to digging up their old failures.

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  • 3 months later...
Amazing book, and one that I agree with 110%. I really hope humanity gets its act together and starts to colonise space within my lifetime. Or, at least, I hope we start to harvest space resources e.g. asteroid mining. The future!

There is a single ideological current running through a seemingly disparate collection of noxious modern political and scientific movements, ranging from militarism, imperialism, racism, xenophobia, and radical environmentalism, to socialism, Nazism, and totalitarian communism. This is the ideology of antihumanism: the belief that the human race is a horde of vermin whose unconstrained aspirations and appetites endanger the natural order, and that tyrannical measures are necessary to constrain humanity. The founding prophet of modern antihumanism is Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), who offered a pseudoscientific basis for the idea that human reproduction always outruns available resources.
Not sure that communism, in its original form, saw humanity as vermin. Didn't it see humans as heroic, but valued them en masse more than as individuals? Marx certainly had a low opinion of Malthus for precisely the same reasons as this book lays out. Of course, communist states in practice did end up seeing humans as vermin.

Following this pessimistic and inaccurate assessment of the capacity of human ingenuity to develop new resources, Malthus advocated oppressive policies that led to the starvation of millions in India and Ireland.

I've heard arguments that the Indian and Irish famines could have been averted, but instead were left to run their course to avoid "interfering with the market"...

While Malthus’s argument that human population growth invariably leads to famine and poverty is plainly at odds with the historical evidence, which shows global living standards rising with population growth, it nonetheless persisted and even gained strength among intellectuals and political leaders in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Its most pernicious manifestation in recent decades has been the doctrine of population control, famously advocated by ecologist Paul Ehrlich, whose bestselling 1968 antihumanist tract The Population Bomb has served as the bible of neo-Malthusianism. In this book, Ehrlich warned of overpopulation and advocated that the American government adopt stringent population control measures, both domestically and for the Third World countries that received American foreign aid. (Ehrlich, it should be noted, is the mentor of and frequent collaborator with John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor.)

I've heard some say that limiting reproduction would preserve individual freedoms. Fewer people = more land per person, etc.
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I am halfway through Zubrin's Merchants of Despair. It's a good read. I had no idea that so many of these terrible organizations were ideologically related (e.g. Greenpeace and the Nazis).

He makes more than a few comments about the atheism of the people he dislikes and Christianity as a source of respect for the individual and individual rights, so my money is on him not being an Objectivist.

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