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

With Seven Billion People, the Planet Is Habitable, but Not with This Social System

Dec 12, 2011

According to United Nations statisticians, the good planet Earth now has more than seven billion residents–give or take ten million or so.

This new record shows that all those horror stories the so-called “experts” told about runaway population growth and catastrophes resulting from “overpopulation” are nothing but lies. Essentially, demographic growth has slowed, and current projections estimate only a gradual increase, and even an eventual stabilization of the total number of human beings.

Despite the horror stories, the experts have never worried much about too many people. Their worry is about too large a population of poor people. About 2,500 years ago, in slave-holding Athens, certain Greek philosophers feared that the number of free men and property owners would be incapable of controlling and keeping in subjugation the poor, if their numbers became too large.

At the time of the Industrial Revolution in England, the economist Malthus worried at seeing so many workers milling about outside his windows. He wanted to limit their fertility and their numbers, by starving them if necessary.

Forty years ago, certain Western demographers, fearing the arrival of hordes of starving Third World poor coming to devour bowls of cereal from their well-stocked groceries, predicted the explosion of the “population bomb” at the start of the 21st century. Even today, some commentators claim that the poorer countries are poor mainly because their population is too large. The so-called “anti-growth” theoreticians pretend the high number of human beings will destroy the planet.

All these supposed demographic theories share one thing in common: fear of the poor, an eternal reflex of the wealthy.

The problem is not and never has been the number of human beings–it is the way in which society is organized. The serious demographers, U.N. agronomists, and even the U.N. Secretary General, all said on the occasion of the birth of our seven billionth contemporary: rationally organized, the Earth can feed, clothe, educate, and care for well more than seven billion human beings.

But–and obviously the United Nations does not say it–in order to accomplish this, the elimination of oppression is necessary, that is, the elimination of the capitalist organization of society with its law of profit, that impedes all human development and has caused it to go backwards. We must welcome and prepare a different future for the seven billionth human and all those that follow.