The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

8 Billion People:
Too Many People, or Too Much Capitalism?

Jan 9, 2023

This article is translated from the November 18 issue #2833 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

There are now more than 8 billion humans on the planet. This number is constantly increasing, since every second two more people are born.

The figures are posted by the United Nations. They come from calculations made by demographers and statisticians on the basis of national censuses carried out since 1950, among other sources. In October 1999, their calculations announced six billion people. After the eight billion announced November 2022, a population of 10 billion is predicted by 2050. Commentators worry: Will the planet resist? Will there be enough food and water? Won’t CO2 emissions increase further, and with them, the temperature?

As if famine, drought, global warming and all the catastrophes that befall humanity today essentially depend on the number of humans. As if a few billion more or fewer women and men would allow a fairer distribution of wealth and guarantee the disappearance of the poverty which pushes some to cross oceans at the risk of their lives, with the simple hope of being able to live.

What is at issue is not the number of humans, it is the social system, capitalism, which dominates the planet and all its people, and which restricts the greatest share of the wealth for those who own capital.

The economic system created famines. For example, grains are not produced to feed people, but to be sold or even hoarded in order to raise prices and get maximum profits. The same goes for health care. The pharmaceutical industry only produces drugs to put them “on the market,” as they say. Too bad for those who cannot afford to buy them. The goal is not to treat, but to produce to sell. The same goes for CO2 emissions. We have known for years we must reduce them. But they persist, because the industrial companies responsible for them do not want to give up a source of profit. In fact, the same goes for all aspects which make life so hard for a majority of the population.

Contrary to what we can read or hear every day ad nauseam, it is not a question of convincing each individual person to choose a lifestyle adapted to environmentalism. The problem is not individual. Peeing in the shower is not the solution to save the planet by saving water. Solving the problems of world hunger or global warming does not depend on individual choices, but collective choices. Ending world poverty and the destruction of the environment by capitalism involves the establishment of a society directed and controlled by the people themselves—planning the economy according to the needs of all people and the needs of the planet overall.

There are not too many humans on Earth. There is far too much of this social order which reserves for those who possess capital the greatest share of the wealth produced by those who are all too often deprived of the most basic means of subsistence.