I do not pretend that birth control is the only way in which population can be kept from increasing. There are others, which, one must suppose, opponents of birth control would prefer. War, as I remarked a moment ago, has hitherto been disappointing in this respect, but perhaps bacteriological war may prove more effective. If a Black Death could be spread throughout the world once in every generation survivors could procreate freely without making the world too full. There would be nothing in this to offend the consciences of the devout or to restrain the ambitions of nationalists. The state of affairs might be somewhat unpleasant, but what of that? Really high-minded people are indifferent to happiness, especially other people’s. However, I am wandering from the question of stability, to which I must return.
There are three ways of securing a society that shall be stable as regards population. The first is that of birth control, the second that of infanticide or really destructive wars, and the third that of general misery except for a powerful minority. All these methods have been practiced: the first, for example, by the Australian aborigines; the second by the Aztecs, the Spartans, and the rulers of Plato’s Republic; the third in the world as some Western internationalists hope to make it and in Soviet Russia … Of these three, only birth control avoids extreme cruelty and unhappiness for the majority of human beings. Meanwhile, so long as there is not a single world government there will be competition for power among the different nations. And as increase of population brings the threat of famine, national power will become more and more obviously the only way of avoiding starvation. There will therefore be blocs in which the hungry nations band together against those that are well fed. That is the explanation of the victory of communism in China.
The need for a world government, if the population problem is to be solved in any humane manner, is completely evident on Darwinian principles.
A society is not stable unless it is on the whole satisfactory to the holders of power and the holders of power are not exposed to the risk of successful revolution.
First, as regards physical conditions. Soil and raw materials must not be used up so fast that scientific progress cannot continually make good the loss by means of new inventions and discoveries … If raw materials are not to be used up too fast, there must not be free competition for their acquisition and use but an international authority to ration them in – such quantities as may from time to time seem compatible with continued industrial prosperity. And similar considerations apply to soil conservation.Second, as regards population … To deal with this problem it will be necessary to find ways of preventing an increase in world population. If this is to be done otherwise than by wars, pestilences, and famines, it will demand a powerful international authority. This authority should deal out the world’s food to the various nations in proportion to their population at the time of the establishment of the authority. If any nation subsequently increased its population it should not on that account receive any more food. The motive for not increasing population would therefore be very compelling.
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