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Yet another reminder why I am not a pacifist

Usually differing opinion should be met with reasoned debate… but sometimes they should be met with statements like “if your side ever managed to get that into law, my response would be to urge people to start shooting at anyone who supports that position”. The notion that state action must be used to reduce the population of this planet falls well into that category for me and so when I see an ‘ethicist’ writing about his reaction to this subject, moreover in the context of him having a child, it does make me wonder what sort of thing different people regard as the final line beyond which they stop talking and reach for the rifle or the semtex.

One reader of my blog last week asserted that “the human population could do with a good 25% knocked out.”

He goes on to suggest that we should: “restrict every woman to a single pregnancy, once she has had that then sterilize her, restrict every man to causing a single pregnancy, after that castrate him, stop ALL forms of artificial preganancy (test tube etc.) This way we will reduce the population – and quite quickly.”

Strong stuff! But it is certainly true that for the last couple of centuries population growth has been inextricably linked with the use of fossil fuels.

Now I do not begrudge ‘Ethical Man‘ his response, but rather than replying, in effect, “steady on chaps”, personally my intemperate inclination would be more alone the line of inviting the person suggesting we need mandatory state enforced population reduction to go jump off a bridge and die, for the greater good of course, if he felt so strongly about it… and the sooner the better.

This is no different to the sorts of people who say about Stalin when his policy of mass murder is brought up “yes but at least he industrialised the Soviet Union”… thereby equating the millions who died in the man-made Ukrainian famine and in the the gulags as, in effect, simply fuel burnt in a justifiable bonfire to power the Soviet Union’s engines. I usually ask such people if they would have accepted they and their families would have been a reasonable cost had they lived in some Soviet village at the time and been deemed expendable as a way to crush anti-communist nationalism, and if not, why not?

The problem I have with this whole discussion is that it grants what is a monstrous totalitarian perspective a polite hearing rather than the sort of response it truly deserves. It strikes me to just dignify the proposition “the state should spay women and castrate men” with “wouldn’t it be better if we just find a way to reduce the fuel we burn?” is to in effect tolerate the intolerable. A far better response, and dare I say a more ethical one, would be “your policy will indeed reduce the world’s population because people like me will put a 10mm hole between the eyes of totalitarian scum like you.”

To accept such vile notions such as forced sterilisation as acceptable to advance, even in theory, is not tolerance… it is moral cowardice. It is a bit like giving a polite airing to the chap who wants to argue that we would all be better off if we just gassed a few Jews, and then tutting gently before calming pointing out the error of his ways… as opposed to throwing him out the door (ideally without bothering to open it first). I know which I think is more appropriate.

56 comments to Yet another reminder why I am not a pacifist

  • I am struck be the sense that these people seem stuck in 1974, when it was just about possible to make a case for the “We are going to overpopulate the world and then most of us are going to starve” position. I do wonder whose arses they have had their heads stuck up for the last 35 years. Since then, every population projection that has ever been produced has overestimated what reality has turned out to be, and if you have actually seen the numbers it is clear that without a dramatic reversal in recent trends, population is going to peak sometime in the next few decades at something considerably less than ten billion and then go into decline. Meanwhile, agricultural productivity continues to increase and the world’s ability to feed its population continues to improve. (The same people who give us this crap also seem to be opposed to improved agricultural productivity, but let’s ignore that for now). Much of the world is instead faced with a demographic crisis in which in a few decades we may find we are dangerously short of the younger people who provide much of the dynamism of a growing economy. I think this risk can be overstated – if you are rich enough and have reached a certain technological level, that will probably compensate – but problems will be greater for societies who buy this crap and forcibly reduce their birthrate before they got rich enough.

    So far, there is one country that has adopted such policies on a large scale – China, of course. China is going to hit the mother of all demographic crises when it is only a middle income country. I have not the foggiest idea what this is going to look like, because we have never seen any such thing in the history of the world. It will be interesting , however.

  • Laird

    People like this haven’t had their heads up their asses for the just last 35 years, but for nearly 200 years, since Thomas Malthus first started writing about this non-problem. At least he had an excuse: he didn’t have two centuries of empirical data refuting his hypothesis. Today’s neo-Malthusians have no such excuse; their only justification is stupidity. Which, of course, is grounds for involuntary sterilization . . . .

  • Alice

    Hey! The comment was on a BBC blog. Really, did you expect anything approaching decent humane logical thinking on a BBC blog? What were you doing reading a BBC blog anyway?

  • Douglas

    Yeahp.

    “The population MUST be reduced for the good of mankind.”

    *BANG*

    I did my part.

  • Douglas

    The irony, in my opinion, is that many of these people are anti war, and in favor of the most strict rules of war that only hurt one particular side. That side being western forces, who generally have lower birth rates than the noble savages they claim to represent.

  • Reminds me of the story from World War Two.

    A French officer in the Leclerc armored division wrote “Mort au Cons !”(Death to the idiots) on his jeep.

    General Lelerc saw this and asked him “So ! You want to kill ‘everybody?”

  • Rich Rostrom

    If my Rabelaisian French is correct, “Mort au Cons” would be better translated as “Death to the cunts!” (In this usage, equivalent to “prick” or “asshole” in English.)

  • Alsadius

    …which makes Leclerc’s response even more reasonable, I’d say.

  • And, in a similar vein “End Racism, Kill Everyone”. (A T shirt available at Onion.com and often worn.)

    The “progressives” among us; the caring, the humanitarians, the ones that ache with concern for the underdog, often seem to be the ones most willing to see millions die in the great cause of environmentalism. Their days are numbered. Their media mouthpieces are in decline and demographically I believe they are meeting their maker. The young are much more pragmatic, a bit shallow perhaps thanks to their blue chinned lesbian teachers but probably quite likely to be more individualistic than my generation.

    The blogosphere is an evolutionary factor in this and its influence is growing exponentially.

    F*** the “progressives” and their hypocrisy !

  • Valerie

    The best rule when dealing with such people is to suggest that they set the example for all of us by erasing themselves.

  • John B

    Hey. You can’t get away from the power of logic, reason, truth and mercy!

    A simple fact is that any civilisation that drops below a birthrate of 2.1 (or is that 2.3?) children per couple is doomed.

    By that calculation Western civilisation as found remaining in European, America, etc is on the way out. Western civilisation is doomed by its obsession to cut its birthrate.
    Meanwhile mass immigration is encouraged from cultures/civilisations that have less regard for the worth of the individual, for mercy, truth, logic and reason and therefore those cultures are taking over Europe, the US, etc.
    We are told we need the younger people from beyond the western civilisation to maintain our pensions as we get older. Which sounds like a demographic version of Keyenesism, to me.

    The people who advocate western couples to have less children are causing the end of western civilisation.
    I think they should know that. I think that fact should be made inescapably obvious to their awareness and perhaps they might realise they are inviting the return of the rule of the mob, the tyrant, the despot of the Dark Ages with all the attendant savagery, mutilations, death, torment, rape, exploitation and horror that that will entail.

  • Kev

    From one of the commenters on that page…

    The world is already overpopulated, we need to return to 1970 levels, and that will take many centuries of a maximum of two children per family legal restriction. I am not going to eat what in my view is disgusting vegan food (I’ve never had a vegan main meal, no meat fish eggs or dairy, that I would choose to eat if there was a meat/fish option) just so couples can have a 3rd maybe even 4th child.

    You couldn’t make it up…

    Still, if the population ever did need to be reduced, the comment threads on pages like that one would make an excellent place to find the first victims, eh?

  • Stephen Willmer

    My school teacher brother-in-law believes that all teenage boys should be compulsorily sterilised unless they pass an intelligence test which the likes of he approves.

    He is the sort of person who sees ‘consumerism’ (i.e. plebs with money) and the right-wing press round every corner and the free market as the root of all ill, a Tom Sharpesque parody of Chomskyite lunacy and staff common room self-reinforced barely-grasped social science insights, sometimes correctly perceiving ills before dashing off in in a mad direction to ‘correct’ them, but usually just boring on in a sonorous monotone which he mistakes for gravitas.

    When he told me of his forced sterilisation plan, I thought he was having me on, trying to flush me out as the latent fascist I assume he assumes I am. But no. Our tax money does indeed employ such a man, entrusting him with the care of hundreds of children.

    I wonder if such monstrosity might have been imagined walking through the doors of Dotheboys Hall.

  • Roswhita

    So…, you’re of the belief then that Bangladesh should of course commence exporting surplus people (as they have already penciled in the UK for colonisation openly and have announced that this is their plan[1]) and not do something to drop their birthrates?

    When do you think we will have enough humans on this planet anyway?

    There are cultures that have the majority of their females producing 5-12 children each…

    So you may not be a pacifist, but neither will those mass produced people without land and a living have the luxury of even choosing to be one, unless they have a death wish.

    So all you’re doing is postponing the inevitable, and showing that you have no idea about how the exponential function works :(

    (hint: if something doubles every n years, then at penultimate year n-1 the available space is 50%. This may seem much, but not when year n comes round…)

    [1]http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/30/rich-west-climate-change

  • john east

    It seems to me that those with their “heads up their arses”, to quote a phrase used above, are those too frightened or too blinkered to look around and contemplate what has happened in just a few generations.

    Even with the deprivation of aids, the population of sub-Saharan Africa has increased dramatically since a handful of trendy lefties decided to “Feed the world”, nearly doubling to over 800 million today from 434 million back then in 1984. All the sentimental idiots achieved was a doubling of the poverty, the starvation, and the suffering.

    The UK is now becoming a hell hole. In my life time population has grown from 50 million to 61 million today, and yet we are importing enough of the world’s fertile poor to guarantee a surge in growth according to the governments own figures to 75+ million by 2050. Imagine the massive social spending that will be required, and all funded by a destroyed industrial base and a financial sector still to be rebuilt following the recent crash. Social unrest in our larger cities seems likely which will guarantee even more draconian socialist governance than we have experienced over the last decade.

    Its no good taking the high moral ground displayed by some of the replies above. The only acceptable debate concerning population today is to pretend that we don’t have a problem, to decry alarmist growth projections, to pretend that numbers will magically stop rising without any intervention, or to attack anyone daring to raise the issue as a malthusian fool.

    Direct intervention may be almost too horrible to contemplate, but simply ignoring or denying that there is a problem, and by default relying on the good old tried and tested methods that mother nature will happily provide (war, disease and famine) could well be the least desirable alternative.

  • Imagine the massive social spending that will be required, and all funded by a destroyed industrial base and a financial sector still to be rebuilt following the recent crash.

    Yes I can easily imagine the social spending required… but rather than ‘massive’, it needs to be zero actually. Get rid of the welfare state completely and the issue of ‘problem’ immigration goes away because the only people who immigrate to the west then are the economically productive ones that anyone sane should be welcoming with open arms (and moreover the more economically productive people are, the less children they have).

    Direct intervention may be almost too horrible to contemplate

    The ‘direct intervention’ needed is eliminating the welfare state in the west completely. And while we are discussing this, the thing that will solve third world population ‘problems’ is economic growth, not sterilisation… more wealth = people having less children and more able to support the ones they do have… and economic growth in the third world requires dramatically less, not more, government intervention in the economy to happen.

    Indeed, if you want to drastically improve the third world and also nibble the population a bit, shooting the Third World’s state kleptocrats and not replacing them with a new lot would help hugely (and for gawd sake stop sending them state foreign aid). This would both enable more grass roots economic growth and serve natural justice… a win-win.

  • Dale Amon

    I see a number of errors above. First, while Europe has a declining population, America does not. The US population, even without immigration, is at the very least stable.

    Next, a couple tail end posters seem unaware of the official demographic figures which show a set of scenarios for population growth. Those of us who have been following these predictions for a few decades have noted that we are indeed on a trajectory that will peak in mid-century and then begin a slow decline. Birth and death curves have already transitioned in many countries from high birth/high death to low birth/low death. This transition is an S curve in which population expands rapidly when death rates fall; culture changes and birth rates then fall as well; the population overshoots somewhat because of the large cohort(s) created at the base of the age structure, but then they flatten out. It is also well known that the fastest way to ensure a rapid transition is to educate little girls. You can’t keep ‘em barefoot, pregnant and traditional once they know there is more to life than what grandma had.

  • Bob Sykes

    Well, the UN publishes three population projections. The press touts either the middle or high projection, but world population follows the low projection. The middle projection assumes all countries have the replacement level birthrate (2.1 children per women per lifetime), but all countries are showing declining birthrates, and most countries have birthrates below the replacement level.

    If, as is most probable, the worlds’s population tracks the low projection, it will peak sometime around 2030 at under 8 billion, and will thereafter go into a long slow decline.

    The economic consequences of declining population are unknown, but the population will be elderly and deflation and falling economic production are likely. Watch Japan.

  • john east

    Perry, I like your arguments. I hope I’m wrong and that you are correct, although the practicality of introducing the libertarian policies we might both wish to see causes me some concern. We are currently on a path to the left, and generations are being raised who accept unthinkingly that the government exists to meet their every need. How do we get these people to vote for self reliance and personal responsibility?

    Dale, I don’t deny that the current view, which is supported by some data, tells us that population growth will stabilise, but there are two observations I would make with respect to this consensus.

    Firstly, and this is totally unscientific on my behalf, I can’t help observing that the idea that left to its own devices population will stabilise is embraced most fervently by the left wing intelligentsia whose views and data are things that I deeply distrust. OK, I can accept that wealth, education, and capitalism can and do join forces to stem population growth, but I don’t see these blessings expanding their influence any time soon. Meanwhile, I see oases of civilisation continuing to stagnate and contract as far as population numbers are concerned, whilst concentrations of poverty and ignorance, in the third world and in the West, will continue to expand.

    My second objection is based on biology. Each and every species throughout the history of life has increased in numbers to fully exploit the environment and resources in which it lives. Population crashes are inevitable in this process punctuated by periods of stability during which death rates equal birth rates. The mechanisms involved are bloody and brutal. Are we so conceited to believe that we are the first species to buck this fundamental law of nature, particularly as the main thrust of the argument against managed population is to do nothing.

  • Kev

    The UK is now becoming a hell hole. In my life time population has grown from 50 million to 61 million today, and yet we are importing enough of the world’s fertile poor to guarantee a surge in growth according to the governments own figures to 75+ million by 2050. Imagine the massive social spending that will be required, and all funded by a destroyed industrial base and a financial sector still to be rebuilt following the recent crash. Social unrest in our larger cities seems likely which will guarantee even more draconian socialist governance than we have experienced over the last decade.

    A lot of big cities in developed parts of Asia are considerably more densely populated than even London. Places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo. They are, by and large, not hell holes. Gangs of hooded youths generally don’t hang around harassing and murdering people. Bystanders don’t very often get killed because the local 13 year old drug lords are having a gang war. One can even walk through vast seas of high rise apartments without getting murdered, or even mugged. Or, hell, even spat at or sworn at.

    I can’t help but wonder if the lack of an

    Imagine the massive social spending that will be required

    attitude might have something to do with it. You mentioned immigration, people just don’t get long term visas to these places unless they have work or study to be getting on with. They don’t pay people from 3rd world countries to sit in a house and have children. They’ll accept people who will support themselves, but the ones who won’t? Well… let Europe take them, eh? Of course, it’s not just immigrants. They don’t really pay their own citizens to do that either, certainly not on the scale of most Western countries. Might be a good place to start…

  • Paul Marks

    As others have noted, this “restrict women to an average of one child” seems to have happened in much of the Western world.

    To maintain itself a population must have a fertility rate of at least 2 children per women (on average) – and many Western nations are at 1 child per women or close to it.

    Genocide by the installment plan.

    In the face of the above asking for yet more “anti population growth” action by Western government is a little odd (to put it mildly). Perhaps it is time to doubt whether such things as the “permissive society” (pushed by a lot of government spending and other action over the last several decades) is actually a good thing – or whether it is a form of suicide for a nation.

    Anyway talking about population increase in the West is rather like shouting “FIRE” during the great flood.

    As for immigration.

    “No problem if…”

    But it is a very big “if”.

    The newcomers will, of course, have no interest in maintaining the local population in their old age (so those who think “the immigrants will pay our pensions and health costs” are deluded), often (although not always) they are comming to collect government welfare (in various forms) for themselves and the children – and that is unstandable.

    However, immigration is only “no problem” if everyone accepts (including the immigrants) that they and there children are not going to get anything – and that must include no government funded education.

    If this is not accepted then immgration fast becomes a big problem indeed – as it is with Latin American immigration into much of the United States, which may provide big business with cheap labour (and the rich with cheap servants), but also costs the taxpayers a fortune (welfare, education for the children, extra police, prison places……).

    By the way immigration can be a problem even if the newcommers are the same ethnic group as the local population and are even from the same country.

    Take Californians – they are fleeing the high government spending high regulating ways of their State (high government spending and endless regulations fully supported by the Californian STATE LEGISLATURE – ignorant people at the “Economist” magazine please note). However, too often Californian immigrants to other States (such as Colorado) carry the idea that the State government should do X, Y, Z, with them.

    When these Californian immigrants arrive in a State they too often vote for politicians who support the same high government spending and endless regulation policies that have ruined California.

    In short they are often a plague.

  • Alice

    All of this was discussed by Charles Darwin (the grandson) in his 1950s book “The Next Million Years”. The last 200 years of industrial & agricultural revolution have been the anomaly in human history & pre-history — a period of greatly expanding capacity to feed humans. The Next Million Years will eventually see a return to the norm — population growth in the good times; population reduction by starvation during the bad times.

    While thinking about Darwin, it is interesting that the lefties (Darwinists to the core) are not more concerned about the trend to few/no children among the intelligent and many children among the least capable — witness the Octomom’s 14 babies, or any housing estate in England’s green & pleasant land. What will be the multi-generational consequence of that?

  • The Next Million Years will eventually see a return to the norm — population growth in the good times; population reduction by starvation during the bad times.

    I doubt it. We will eventually transcend our need to reproduce at more than a casual rate as we enter the transhuman stage of our development, probably a process that will well and truly kick off within the next 30-50 years, so I very much doubt starvation is going to be much of an issue. And once we gain fusion power, high intensity food production becomes even easier, not that I think it will even matter that much.

  • Jerry

    ‘One can even walk through vast seas of high rise apartments without getting murdered, or even mugged. Or, hell, even spat at or sworn at.’

    There are a couple of places in Washington D.C. that I would like to see you try that ’bout 11Pm on a Friday or Saturday. You could get an instant education.

    ‘You mentioned immigration, people just don’t get long term visas to these places unless they have work or study to be getting on with. They don’t pay people from 3rd world countries to sit in a house and have children.’

    Maybe where you are but try L.A. or any of a dozen cities on the U.S. Mexican border and again you may learn that not everywhere is like your neat little belief.

    Visa’s ?? Why when we can get in without one !!

    Pay people to have babies ? You bet and the more babies the more money !!!!

    Stopping that silly ‘policy’ would help.

  • vigil xenophon

    Four words: “Camp of the Saints.”

  • Dishman

    I think the root problem is that many pseudo-pacifists really aren’t. That is, they reject their natural inclinations towards violence, but their neurochemistry keeps peeking through.

    They’re in denial of who they really are, because reality is not “politically correct”.

  • Sunfish

    Direct intervention may be almost too horrible to contemplate, but simply ignoring or denying that there is a problem, and by default relying on the good old tried and tested methods that mother nature will happily provide (war, disease and famine) could well be the least desirable alternative.

    ..almost too horrible to contemplate.

    Interesting word choice there, slick. That means that your “direct intervention is NOT (to you) too horrible to contemplate.

    What sort of direct action are you pondering there, Sparky?

  • Jacob

    The greenies have already started the “direct action” aimed at population reduction. It is done by starving us of energy, which ultimately leads to actual starvation.
    First they killed the nuclear power industry in the West, then they stopped drilling for oil in the US. They stopped power plat construction, refineries, and are trying now to stop the new gas and coal production in the US.
    Population reduction via energy starvation is already underway.

  • Richard Garner

    At work I sold a customer a copy of one of David Attenborough’s first books. My boss, standing next to me as I did so, said to the customer, “Ah, I love David Attenbrough; he has such a wonderful voice.” I responded, “yes. Its a pity that he thinks that the world may have been a better place had you never existed.” The customer said, “well, not you personally,” so I said, “No. That’s why I said ‘May.’ He thinks that many people who presently exist should not, but he is not bothered who, so it could be her, or it could not.”

    I get on well with my customers. You should have heard what I said to the couple buying mugs with Che Guevara’s portrait on them!

  • Tedd

    A simple fact is that any civilisation that drops below a birthrate of 2.1 (or is that 2.3?) children per couple is doomed.

    Other civilizations, perhaps, but not western civilization. Western civilization is defined by ideas and institutions, not ethnicity or geography, so, unlike other civilizations, its survival is not dependent on biological reproduction.

    Will the practitioners of western ideas and the inhabitants of western institutions look and sound different in the generations to come than they have in the past? I’m sure they will. But western civilization will prevail, at least until something better comes along.

  • Other civilizations, perhaps, but not western civilization. Western civilization is defined by ideas and institutions, not ethnicity or geography, so, unlike other civilizations, its survival is not dependent on biological reproduction.

    Exactly so! The reason Islamists hate and fear western civilisation is not mitigated by our low birth rate precisely because they understand what the doom mongers in the west seem oblivious to… they fear western civilisation because it will make their children into… us.

  • Valerie

    Tedd,
    You are only partly correct-ethnicity and geography have much to do with success and stability in a country. Natan Sharansky points this out in his book ”Defending Identity.”

  • Tedd

    Valerie:

    On a case by case basis, I’m sure it’s possible that some countries wouldn’t survive a massive ethnographic shift. But the topic is western civilization, not any one country. As for biological reproduction, so for countries and nations — they’re not necessary to the survival of western civilization. At least, not individually.

  • Tendryakov

    So, Richard Garner, 11.20 28 December, could I ask how many children you’ve got? If a woman gestates for 9 months, gives birth, then has a reproductive rest for three months, she can manage one a year. If your wife does not produce a child a year throughout her reproductive life, you are depriving potential children of life.

  • Tendrakov

    I am always bewildered by the idea that a constant increase in human population is desirable, and also struck by the fact that unlimited reproduction is highly valued both by libertarians, but also the far left, whose values are generally considered to be inimical to those of libertarians. To me it is axiomatic that all other things being equal, a small population, beyond a certain minimum, means a higher quality of life. The more people there are impinging on one another, the greater is the need to regulate their activities. The fewer people there are, the less one’s behaviour impinges on others and consequently we have greater freedom and privacy. You are freer to have a bonfire, play deafening music or chainsmoke on your porch in Montana than you are in Hong Kong or Singapore. More space means bigger houses and gardens, more wilderness for your kids to grow up in. I grew up in rural Worcestershire in the 1950′s, in effect a never-ending adventure playground. Kids in towns don’t have that opportunity. It is no accident that people are willing to pay a premium for a spacious view from their windows, that property is more expensive in the country, that over the past 2-3 decades there has been an increasing exodus of people from London, and other cities, and that they choose to go not to other large cities, but to the country. It is no accident that there there is a popular property programmes called Start A New Life in the Country, but not Start a New Life in the Middle of Manchester. You are more likely to have a second home by a lake or in a forest in Finland, than in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangladesh. Space, to me, and to millions more, means quality of life. Increasing population leads to diminishing quality of life. It’s worth pointing out to transatlantic readers that of the 50 states of America, only one, New Jersey, is as crowded as England, which contains the equivalent of one sixth of the population of the USA.
    And another anomaly which bewilders me on visiting this site: libertarians, so I understand, value rationalism above all else. Yet they seem to have a quasi-religious notion that the species homo sapiens is of such supreme importance that more is always better. And this purely by virtue of the fact that it is the species to which they belong. Wanting to see a limit to their numbers is not being anti-human, it’s valuing moderation, and one’s own quality of life. If you want to see libertarian reproduction at its best, see Bangladesh. Tripled its population to 150-160 million in 50 years. When they do come looking for living space and food, which they undoubtedly will, you know where they’ll be looking, and to whom they’ll be looking to bail them out. But aren’t they already doing that?

  • I am always bewildered by the idea that a constant increase in human population is desirable, and also struck by the fact that unlimited reproduction is highly valued both by libertarians

    I could not care less one way or the other what a given person actually decides to do about reproduction, as long as they do not ask me to pay for it.

    To me it is axiomatic that all other things being equal, a small population, beyond a certain minimum, means a higher quality of life.

    I disagree. I am a city boy. I like being in the midst of lots of people. Civilisation grows in cities. Turnips grow in the countryside.

    I grew up in rural Worcestershire in the 1950′s, in effect a never-ending adventure playground. Kids in towns don’t have that opportunity.

    I grew up in urban London, Los Angeles and Rome in the 1950/60′s, in effect a series of never-ending adventure playgrounds. Kids in the sticks don’t have those opportunities.

    If you want to see libertarian reproduction at its best, see Bangladesh. Tripled its population to 150-160 million in 50 years.

    Ah yes, so Bangladesh is a libertarian paradise where there is hardly any state intervention beyond a minarchist rule of law, there is deep respect for property rights and thus the economy has grown massively, women have been widely educated and the standard of living has surged and the birth rate has consequently plunged and… oh… hang on… ah I get it, you come from some alternate reality, where Bangladesh is “libertarian”, yes?

    And when “When they do come looking for living space and food, which they undoubtedly will, you know where they’ll be looking, and to whom they’ll be looking to bail them out”… finally you say something sensible and make a statement against having a welfare state to “bail people out”. I am not willing to bail people out in Britain, let alone Bangladesh.

  • Kev

    ‘One can even walk through vast seas of high rise apartments without getting murdered, or even mugged. Or, hell, even spat at or sworn at.’

    There are a couple of places in Washington D.C. that I would like to see you try that ’bout 11Pm on a Friday or Saturday. You could get an instant education.

    ‘You mentioned immigration, people just don’t get long term visas to these places unless they have work or study to be getting on with. They don’t pay people from 3rd world countries to sit in a house and have children.’

    Maybe where you are but try L.A. or any of a dozen cities on the U.S. Mexican border and again you may learn that not everywhere is like your neat little belief.

    Visa’s ?? Why when we can get in without one !!

    Pay people to have babies ? You bet and the more babies the more money !!!!

    Stopping that silly ‘policy’ would help.

    You appear to be agreeing completely with me, yet at the same time implying I am some sort of deluded fool. I’m not entirely sure how to take that.

    I’ll make it clear:

    1) The person I was replying to seemed to be implying that population density was the main cause of social unrest.

    2) I pointed out that a number of cities in developed parts of Asia which are considerably more densely populated than big western cities, are also extremely safe by comparison (i.e. as you said, walking around shitty parts of Washington DC or LA at night is a bad idea. In Seoul or Singapore, it’s not particularly dangerous).

    3) I suggested that this may have something to do with the fact that these Asian cities do not have anything close to the same benefits available either for natives or for immigrants. Immigrants do not go to the cities I mentioned seeking handouts, because the only handout they’d get if they can’t support themselves is a deportation order. Natives do not get large sums of money from the government, they work, get support from their family, or are pretty much out of luck.

    4) You then come along at tell me that American cities are dangerous, perhaps because illegal immigrants recieve benefits for having children, and thus what I just said is wrong, despite the fact that it is pretty much identical to what I just said.

    5) I get confused.

  • John B

    Perry, your faith in the strength of western civilisation is touching and I think the view of one who lives mainly in the west.
    Perhaps western liberalism will prevail but for that to work through I think you are looking at the very long haul.
    For now, my perception is that when totalitarianism becomes possible, it becomes inevitable.
    And that I see as being probably the future, as ways of life that are in opposition to western liberalism become dominant, purely by numbers.

  • Paul Marks

    Perry’s point about “transhumans” is an interesting.

    Like so much technology, genetically transformed post humans have been promised since the 1940′s (and before) but (perhaps due to such a large burden of statism and a credit bubble financial system undermining rational economic development) have yet to become an open reality (or they may exist in some secret research base somewhere).

    My own view is that if such beings are beings (i.e. are agents – have free will) they should not be considered the “property” of any individual or company or government than creates them. This is because true “ownership” is the claim of a reasoning will (a person, being, agent) over non reasoning stuff.

    However, all the above may be a moot point if (for example) the People’s Republic of China creates the first transhumans.

    It would be a bit like saying “the Orion project must not be used for destruction”.

    The basic technical problems with the Orion project (including the very small atomic bombs needed to power it) were worked out in the late 1950′s and early 1960s by Freeman Dyson and others – but due to such things as the Test Ban Treaty (banning even small atomic explosions above ground) and President Kennedy being hostile to the Orion project, the whole operation has been “on the shelf” for almost half a century.

    It is unreasonable to assume that the Chinese do not have all the secrets by now – just as they will either steal (or develop for themselves) genetic technology.

    Perhaps there will be a combination.

    Orion type space craft smashing us from great range (trying to fire back would be like two men throwing bricks at each other – with one of the two men being down a well, a gravity well) and transhuman soldiers (with superior speed and coordination and so on) sent in to mop up any remaining resistance.

    Although, as Western Civilization looks set to fall anyway via internal decay, the question arrises “why should the Chinese bother?”

    The Chinese would also be wise to fit their transhumans with either biological or some other form of “kill switch” – in case they ever turned on their masters.

  • Tendryakov

    Mr de H. Your comments have a remarkably leftish tenor to them, namely “I like X therefore you can like it, in fact you bloody well will like it whether you like it or not” (substitute whatever you like for X, diversity, multiculturalism, urban living . . . ). I think I may have hit a sensitive point.
    Let me nail my colours to the mast. I am one of that rather antiquated breed who prefer open horizons, blue remembered hills, forests, fresh air, wild flowers, birdsong, a degree of solitude. By all means live in a city, but there are millions who don’t want to live in a city, whether you approve of it or not. Moreover, the environment you favour, namely an urban environment, is constantly increasing in area, whereas the environment I, and millions of Britons prefer, is constantly diminishing in area, thanks to the increasing population of Britain. Do libertarians believe that people who prefer open spaces have fewer rights than townies? I don’t begrudge you your concrete, bricks and mortar, your traffic, noise, your absence of open horizons. Why do you begrudge me what I prefer?
    And as for Bangladesh, it clearly has a clear policy of allowing people to reproduce without interference. Isn’t this something which libertarians applaud? And don’t libertarians approve of open borders? Which is good, because millions will soon be coming to a city near you, or rather, London, because the British Government would never have the guts to appear hard-hearted or unwelcoming.

    http://http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/30/rich-west-climate-change

  • Tendryakov

    Sorry, I obviously don’t know how to do a link.

  • Mr de H. Your comments have a remarkably leftish tenor to them, namely “I like X therefore you can like it, in fact you bloody well will like it whether you like it or not” (substitute whatever you like for X, diversity, multiculturalism, urban living . . . ). I think I may have hit a sensitive point.

    Incoherent as usual (the name changes but your drumbeat remains the same). I am not the one seeking to impose my tastes at gunpoint, you are, so I fail to see how my views have a “leftish tenor”. Yours on the other hand have always struck me as having a rather fascist tenor.

    You do not get to pick and chose when you describe Bangladesh as libertarian, so unless you think the Bangladesh has all (or even a few) of the things that produce economic growth leading to a stable population, picking one thing out as holding it up as a logical consequence of libertarianism is preposterous.

  • Tendryakov

    I fail to see how my views have a “leftish tenor”. Yours on the other hand have always struck me as having a rather fascist tenor.

    I think I’ve commented on this site about a dozen times, last time being many months ago, so “always” seems somewhat inaccurate. As for the hint at “fascism”, I’m struck again by the similarity to a common lefty tactic. On leftwing blogs I find that a love of the countryside or a disinclination to live in London are both regarded as indications of incipient racism. Pity, I’m expressing what I believe are valid, and widely-held opinions.

  • Gareth

    Tendrakov said

    I am always bewildered by the idea that a constant increase in human population is desirable, and also struck by the fact that unlimited reproduction is highly valued both by libertarians, but also the far left, whose values are generally considered to be inimical to those of libertarians.

    Do libertarians seek constant increases in the human population?

    Anyhow, sticking with your assertion you seem to mistunderstand. The far left tends to dictate people to have children and gerrymander it through state subsidy. Libertarians tend to say ‘How many children you have is your choice and you will bear the cost of looking after them’.

  • Jacob

    Tendryakov,
    I, too, prefer open spaces and less population.
    But, I do not propose imposing restrictions on the reproductive practices of other people.
    Do you ?
    Since you don’t like Bangaladesh’s “libertarian” policies in this domain – how would you modify them?

  • Sunfish

    Do libertarians believe that people who prefer open spaces have fewer rights than townies?

    Do you believe that other people should modify their reproductive behaviors in order to protect you from the monsters underneath your own bed?

    And Jacob had a fair question: What makes Bangladesh “libertarian” and what would you change about them?

  • Tendryakov

    Gareth:
    Libertarians tend to say ‘How many children you have is your choice and you will bear the cost of looking after them’. Yes, in general I agree with that, but the reality is that in this country the government doles out money to high-breeders, who are least likely, in my view, to benefit society. Ever heard of a society which was culturally enriched by Somalians?

    Do I favour enforced restrictions on reproduction? I don’t favour forcible sterilisation and the like, but neither do I favour subsidising the production of children, and I think that the whole issue of disincentives to reproduce irresponsibly is hugely, grotesquely demonised. Take this ludicrous argument that if we don’t reproduce at replacement rate the human race will die out, presented in such a way that the extinction of the human race appears to be imminent. This is so reminiscent of that primitive argument against homosexuality, that if it caught on it would lead to the extinction of the human race in a few years. Populations increase and diminish like everything else.

    Jacob:
    And what would I do about Bangladesh? Let nature take its course, and let the Bangladeshis learn the consequences of existing in a state of reproductive overdrive. Don’t subsidise them, don’t feed them, don’t house them, don’t let them offload their problems on to us. Let them deal with their self-imposed problems. But it won’t happen, because the world isn’t like that. They will be bailed out in various ways, principally by the west, and carry on the way they always have done. Being able to use the rising sea-level card will make it that much easier for them to play on the guilt of westerners.

    What irritates me most is this narrowing down population issues to food and Malthus, namely, that if humans have enough to eat, all’s well with the world. Got enough room to swing a couple of cats? Well then, what more do you want.

  • Tedd

    Tendrakov:

    As with any philosophy, you can’t understand libertarianism by looking at how people who call themselves “libertarian” behave. A person can call themselves anything they like, and, because we’re all imperfect, even if someone genuinely tries to follow any philosophy faithfully he will inevitably fail, to some extent.

    You also can’t understand libertarianism by reading how non-libertarians describe it. Straw-manning is, unfortunately, rampant in political debate, so you will only end up learning why someone thinks that a lot of things that have nothing to do libertarianism are bad ideas.

    To begin to understand libertarianism, you should probably look at its philosophical roots, especially the thinking of Mill and Smith. And, for a more contemporary perspective, I highly recommend Randy Barnett.

    And another anomaly which bewilders me on visiting this site: libertarians, so I understand, value rationalism above all else. Yet they seem to have a quasi-religious notion that the species homo sapiens is of such supreme importance that more is always better.

    This would be Exhibit A in my case against trying to understand libertarianism without understanding its philosophical basis. Neither of these things has anything to do with libertarianism.

    First, what libertarianism values above all else is the absence of force and fraud. You can’t understand anything about libertarianism until you understand that point.

    Second, while it’s probably true that most libertarians value rationalism personally, valuing rationalism is not a tenet of libertarianism per se. For example, most libertarians would probably regard the Amish as somewhat irrational, yet libertarianism supports (and even encourages) the development of such sub-cultures.

    As for population growth, I’ve been reading and hanging around with libertarians for several decades and I have never observed any sort of correlation between libertarianism and any opinion, one way or the other, about population growth. I have never met a libertarian who didn’t think it would be good if the human species survived (although I dare say there probably are some), but that’s probably true of most isms other than environmentalism. The only thing libertarianism says about it is that no government has the right to say who may have children, or how many.

  • ahem

    Pacificism in and of itself is not a virtue. North Korea, which is arguably the largest concentration camp on the face of the earth, is quite peaceful. Slaves usually are.

  • Do I favour enforced restrictions on reproduction? I don’t favour forcible sterilisation and the like, but neither do I favour subsidising the production of children, and I think that the whole issue of disincentives to reproduce irresponsibly is hugely, grotesquely demonised.

    Well then we agree. Poverty and potentially starvation are excellent disincentives to imprudent behaviour. We currently subsidise both unneeded children (i.e. children produced specifically to game the welfare system) and fecklessness, so unsurprisingly we get more of what we pay for.

  • Paul Marks

    If people wish to support charitable trusts that will set up reserves where human settlement is not allowed they are free to do so.

    Environmentalists tend to be wealthy (indeed they include the richest people on the planet) so why they do not just do this (rather than making endless speeches saying government should do X, Y, Z) is strange.

    As for British type climate but with pre industrial revolution level population……

    The South Island of New Zealand.

    However, one does not need to go so far – or even to Scotland or Wales (both thinly populated places).

    There are wide areas of England (with many different types of environment – forests, lakes, hills, mountains, bare plains, marshes…..) with few humans.

    One really does not need to kill off large numbers of other people – one just needs to be fairly well off if one wishes to get away from the crowds.

    But then wealth (for those not born with it) normally requires work – and dreaming about killing people off (or preventing them breeding) is much less irritating than work.

    However, I certainly do not believe that “development” should be helped in any way by government.

    No government roads, or anything else – and no “adoption” (after a certain period of time) of private roads and so on.

    If people want to build housing estates (and so on) let them be self financing FOR EVER.

    No government subsidy – at any time, and in any form (national or local).

    That would prevent most of the developments that people get upset about.

  • Jacob

    Paul,
    You forgot to mention Siberia, Alaska, Canada, South America. Most of the globe is practically empty.
    I really fail to grasp why some people think overpopulation is a problem.

  • Tendryakov

    Yes, Jacob, those excess Bangladeshis being churned out would fit in Siberia, for instance, quite easily, but does Russia want them, and would they like Siberia? I think not. They’ve got their sights set on good old UK.

  • Yes, Jacob, those excess Bangladeshis being churned out would fit in Siberia, for instance, quite easily, but does Russia want them, and would they like Siberia? I think not. They’ve got their sights set on good old UK.

    Indeed, because they know they will be subsidised in the UK and not in Siberia. The problem is not ‘immigration’, the problem is ‘subsidising people’s behaviour with other people’s money’.

  • Jacob

    “and would they like Siberia?”
    Are we under any obligation to provide them a place “they would like” ? It’s their problem.
    I wasn’t made population relocation Czar by God, to assign them places to live.

  • “and would they like Siberia?”

    The sensible (and immaculately libertarian) position on that is “who cares?”