Reasons for overpopulation Ruthless Criticism

1 Pope, 2 billion poor, 500,000 capitalists, 500 asylum judges, 4 million unemployed, 100,000 border guards ...
Who here is too many?

Reasons for overpopulation

Comments on the 1994 UN International Population Conference in Cairo

[Translated from GegenStandpunkt 4-94]

Population policy experts and scientists, clerics and women’s libbers, journalists and pediatricians from all over the world agree: humanity is becoming a plague; no later than by 2025, there will be too many specimens of this species populating the globe.

At a UN conference, they dive wholeheartedly into finding strategies that would get at the unrestrained multiplying of the excessive masses of people, and the only debate that arises is over what’s allowable or indecent, practical or misogynistic.

There is a universal consensus about where the problem of an excessive increase in the world’s population is located: namely, in those regions of the earth that contribute more to the UN’s poverty statistics than to the world’s gross domestic product.

In this context, all responsible conference participants and observers swear to the connection between poverty and abundant children, and bear out a nineteenth century theorist whose theories they hold in disdain:

“In fact, not only the number of births and deaths, but the absolute size of families, stands in inverse proportion to the level of wages, and therefore to the amount of the means of subsistence at the disposal of different categories of worker. This law of capitalist society would sound absurd among savages, or even among civilized colonists. It calls to mind the boundless reproduction of animals individually weak and constantly hunted down” (Karl Marx, Capital Vol. I, Chapter 23, “The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation,” p. 796-7).

Journalists and modern demographers discover a different nineteenth theorist, Thomas Malthus, the “first voice to warn” of the population explosion, and praise his farsightedness, although as enlightened people of the twentieth century they can’t quite agree with his actual “population theory” and certainly not his priestly abstinence sermon for the “lower classes.” [1]

Family policy makers who in other centexts praise the joys of motherhood as the highest of feelings suddenly come to the insight that intelligent women have no reason to have children, and therefore want to treat the women of the third world to some A-B-C courses.

Democratic politicians and journalists who couldn’t groan loudly enough when hearing about the “value of unborn life” during the abortion rights debate, now put the otherwise highly-respected Pope Wojtyla on a par with “fanatical Islamic mullahs.”

What’s going on here? It appears that not much has changed in principle since the times of Malthus and Marx. The capitalistic mode of economy has spread over the entire globe, and the dimensions of the “overpopulation problem” have grown enormously with it. This has changed since the times of old Malthus. But otherwise? Otherwise, Marx’s polemic against Malthus gets at the core of the matter today too.


Capitalism separates the people of a society from all natural living conditions and makes their existence – thus also their number – dependent on its success. This success is the growth of private wealth which the capitalist owners achieve in competition with each other. Their demand for wage labor ensures more population. The increasingly effective exploitation of paid labor – the means of competition for capitalist production – periodically and generally makes labor-power superfluous, thus ensures overpopulation.

The natural limits to food production at the end of the twentieth century have long been overcome; technically, it would absolutely be no problem to ensure food for all humanity. This is also not seriously denied by any experts at the UN, UNICEF, the World Bank, or any of the institutions responsible for looking after global poverty. The apparent discrepancy between this poverty, on the one side, and the control achieved over nature and the existing technical possibilities of production, on the other side, is considered by no one – except a few diehard Marxists – to be a devastating indictment of the mode of production which has triumphed worldwide. It is completely self-evident to the bourgeois mind that the economies of the free market economy – well known to be the most suited to human nature – are a highly complex matter that are in no way compatible with such simple intentions as using the available technical possibilities in a planned production to meet the needs of people. Indeed, all supporters of the free market economy tirelessly maintain that this economic mode in particular – and only it – ultimately has no other purpose than the optimal supply of humanity. So that it can unfold these beneficial effects, however, nobody may violate the peculiar laws and objective necessities that “the economy” simply brings forth. It’s functioning then definitely demands victims: on the part of the humans who are allegedly to be supplied. Hence, it is not the people who live and work here who are the determining subjects of this social production, but vice versa. The people are the dependent variables of “the economy” who depend on its autonomous criteria of success. Which leads over and over again to the consequence that people with their basic needs of life become a burden and problem for the economy. An insanity? May be – but an insanity with a system, valid worldwide and not doubted by any responsible democrat or humanitarian.

a) The meaning and purpose of the free market is, as everybody knows, growth, specifically for the purpose of further growth. What should grow so limitlessly is also no secret: It is not the increase of handy, useful objects and the means of production needed for them that is the criterion of success for a happy economy.

Profitability – the surplus in wealth measured in money which is to be extracted from production, above the advance which must be spent for it – is the purpose and standard of all free market production. It is about the production of money, not to have it, but to reinvest it for the purpose of increasing it. To make more money out of money: that’s the quite banal content of the universally desired and promoted economic growth, the concept of capital, which the world’s dominant mode of production is now officially known as. In capitalism, money is not a means for all possible purposes, but the opposite: the purpose for which everything else has to be subordinated – even the livelihoods of people. Because subsistence exists in this system only for money; there is money for the vast majority only in exchange for wage labor; and there is wage labor only in the service of capital and it’s benefit: as a means for its growth. This connection holds so strictly and exclusively that it also works backwards: Wherever capital needs wage labor, there it drags its attendants; where it accumulates, there it agglomerates a population. The capitalist demand for labor-power creates modern migrations: cities on the one hand and devastated regions on the other.

b) The capitalist mode of production has separated people from any spontaneously developed subsistence and all natural living conditions and instead made the existence of the human race dependent on its conditions and requirements. Thus the food supply of the masses no longer depends on the limited capacity of an “aboriginal” subsistence economy. [2] Nor is the “average life expectancy” of a person at the end of the twentieth century an overly natural matter. The capitalistic interest in an extensive commercial use of nature has brought about the systematic development of the natural sciences and thereby, first, created the scientific basis for a system of medical care; second, the contingent social demand for it: There must be enough wage earners who are willing and in the position to take their achievement potential, including health, to the market. So much for the “rapid progress of medicine over the last 100 years” which has led, according to all population scientists, to the alarming “scissors” between constant or increasing birth rates and declining mortality rates. Capitalist progress has also brought some other civilizational achievements. So the poverty that exists today – including the modern mortality rate – is no longer due to an uncontrolled dependence on natural conditions, but generated in a like manner by capitalist business with its criteria for using wage labor. Using the same criteria, in the last decades it has ensured a redistribution of humans over the globe – to its metropolises – and the absolute increase of world population. And it has subjected, in the end, again according to the same criteria of successful growth, the increasing world population to the judgment that quite a few human masses are simply too many.

c) Ever since it has come into existence, capitalism creates overpopulation, and indeed completely independently of the number of humans who currently populate the planet. [3]

In plain language, this “over-” means: certainly available, but superfluous, useless. The same calculation of utility which lets congested urban areas spring up and population figures “explode” again and again condemns substantial parts of the capitalistic human material to an existence without use and hence without any source of subsistence. This superfluousness is the result of a free market practice familiar to everyone: rationalization is, as everybody knows, the means of competition of capitalist enterprises. Bourgeois expertise happily celebrates the application of modern technology to increase the productivity of labor as “labor-saving progress” – and is dead wrong. Capitalism develops technology not as a means to save on labor, but to save on wage payments. The ratio of the two quantities – what the technology costs and what expenses it saves in wages – is the basis and limit to all capitalist progress. This ratio is what matters and not sparing human labor-power by the application of modern machinery. [4] It is not even necessary to study Marx to know this; one only needs to notice the constant whining of all business organizations about high labor costs. It expresses, at any rate, that all capitalistic private owners try to constantly increase the productive power of labor through rationalization in order to lower the wage expenditure per product – and indeed in a measure that the sum of the wage savings exceed the expenditure on new productive facilities. So capitalistic enterprises wage their battle for market shares, so they mutually create in their competition the objective compulsion of business to speed up their efforts to lower the unit wage cost on an ever larger scale. The invention of ever more successful methods of saving on paid labor becomes the condition for success and survival on the capitalistic world market.

For the wage-earning class this means: they are not the beneficiaries of a “labor-saving progress” – their work is not facilitated by the application of machinery, but their wage is reduced. And they are affected by it in two ways: The coexistence of over-work and layoffs is the natural consequence of every rationalization. On the one hand, paid labor is made superfluous – that’s the purpose of doing it, so labor-power is laid off. On the other hand, there is the need of capital to take advantage of the new productive machinery, and to do so as extensively as possible, in order to gain a further competitive advantage. And for the remaining workers that means: overtime, new shift models, flexible work hours, “time management,” as the age-old forms of capitalistic over-work are called these days in a quite modernist way. [5]

So the capitalist mode of production ensures, on the one hand, an ever more intensive exploitation of the employed workers through its methods of competition, on the basis of which it also looks after a more extensive use of labor-power by lengthening the machines’ running times; and on the other hand, it creates continual overpopulation: workers whose labor-power is no longer wanted by the private property owners and who are therefore superfluous according to the valid social standards. Whether these people are ever in demand again as labor-power is not up to them nor their ability nor desire to work[6], but the economic conjuncture of capitalist business. [7]

d) The “changing recovery needs” of the capitals are also entirely familiar to non-Marxists. Every bourgeois head knows that capitalist business life runs in cycles, that a boom is followed by a crisis, etc., etc. – and considers this strange up-and-down of social production as natural as the succession of the seasons. [8]

It’s also no big secret that this up-and-down of capitalistic production leads to the alternating “attraction and repulsion” (in Marx’s way of speaking) of workers. It is also known that in times of crisis, the army of unemployed regularly becomes larger and this enlarged reserve army’s prospects of ever being used again as labor-power become lower and lower. Especially in the Germany of the 90s, this connection can be taken from all public statements on the “post-crisis recovery.” Every politician and therefore any reputable economic research institute wants to know that “despite an emerging boom, relief on the labor market is not in sight.” This labor market is now populated by many millions of officially unemployed. Remember that, in the early 80s, it was considered a moderate to severe national scandal to exceed the “magic threshold” of 1 million unemployed. But leaving aside all the current national ideologies about the “problem of unemployment,” the constantly growing population of workers made superfluous is no mystery. And certainly it is not “despite” a capitalist boom that ever more people are counted in the useless dregs of the society, for whom any future use is no longer in sight. They are counted in it because of the capitalistic booms which are regularly replaced by crises, which capital overcomes with exactly the methods of competition that so regularly lead to boom and subsequent bust: reinforced application of the famous “labor-saving technology,” meaning: the lowering of labor costs through the application of ever more productive machinery. This process takes place with every economic cycle at ever higher levels; fewer and fewer workers always produce ever greater quantities of commodities. Thus capital with the progress of its growth increases the social overpopulation – and also the strata Marx called “absolute overpopulation”: People who have no other chance of survival than to live from wage labor, but just never (or no longer) obtain it. It just belongs to the achievements of capitalism that the immense development of the productive power of labor, the production of ever greater wealth, necessarily creates ever more poverty on the other side. [9]

e) To not (or no longer) be used in capitalism means that people without property are economically superfluous – even more: a social burden. For them, it means having no means of earning a livelihood. A situation which they – as long as the capitalist mode of calculation counts – are not able to change anything about. Because their social usefulness is decided by those people who are rightly called “the economy,” exactly according to the standards that necessarily always lead to nothing but useless, superfluous people. [10] The capitalistically produced superfluousness of unused wage laborers is the essence of modern overpopulation.

This is not altered by the fact that in the modern west overpopulation is managed by the welfare state, so that the socially produced human junk is administered in a way that is useful to the state. And in a way that the working class as a whole, through state-organized compulsory levies on the wage, is charged with the duty of providing basic necessities in some fashion for the working masses who have been made superfluous. Democratic politicians are the first to proclaim, with their incessant complaints about the “strain on” and “abuse of” the welfare state by too many unemployed and a dire “aging of the population,” that the unemployed and the elderly are nothing but a social burden. This is the universally enforced definition of overpopulation. On a side note: in this country, no one ever complains about too many capitalists or elderly rentiers.


Imperialism – the subjugation of the whole world under the interests of capitalistic private property by the state power of capitalistically successful nations – ensures uneven population and overpopulation ratios worldwide. In the countries of the so-called third world, the population is “emancipated” from all natural subsistence conditions without any use for them by the globally dominant businesses existing or a demand for their labor-power even being forseeable. The subjugation of these people under global capitalism and its civilizational achievements is of a purely negative type: they are subsumed to the criteria of useful service to capital, but are not needed. Their poverty is absolute – that is the socially valid proof that they are simply “too many.” The absolute surplus population of the world concentrates in the slums of the third world.

a) It is not true that the “earth is too small” – as the images say – to be able to support the masses of humans who populate it. Nor is it true that, at the moment, not enough food is produced in proportion to “all the hungry mouths.” Demographers and UN experts have gone on record that the whole world is subjected to the condition of earning money, even where there is none to be earned, and that this is what the food supply problem consists in:

“During the past ten years, food production has increased worldwide by 24 percent, faster than the population growth ... Most experts agree that there are no general and global food shortages ... Not so much lack of food but rather of purchasing power is also generally regarded as the reason for under- or malnutrition.” (from the Introduction to the World Population Report 1994)

“Even if enough grain would be produced worldwide – the law (viz. invented by Malthus) remains the same: Many developing countries do not have the money to buy enough food on the world market.” (Helga Kessler, Zeit-Punkte 4-94) [11]

b) It is also not true that the states don’t have money to buy food. The “food” that states need, in the third world as well, somehow or other comes together; in Prime Ministers, generals, guns, central banks, diplomats ... there is no extreme shortage.

It’s just that after 40 years of global capital accumulation, the world of states has sorted itself very clearly. There is a small radical minority of “world economic powers” whose representatives regularly congregate at “summits”; states whose national economies actively determine world capitalism and profit from it. In these states, the comprehensive capitalistic use of land and people is carried out so fundamentally that even the wage laborers who are made permanently superfluous are subjected to a state-organized maintenance. Whether to maintain their usability in case capital on occassion wants to fall back on this reserve; or whether a foreseeably increasing production of pauperized masses whose chances of being used in the future dwindles – it is at least required for ensuring their orderly management. The more the social welfare maintenance of those scrapped by capital reduces to the latter department – and that’s the case in all the leading industrial nations of the first world in recent years – the more social welfare claims are defined as intolerable burdens and slashed accordingly. So even in the leading nations of the world market, it is made clear in practice to the multitudes made superfluous by business that they are nothing more than “dead weight,” thus overpopulation. Nevertheless, the welfare state principle by which the leading industrialized nations manage their entire people as a generally available and usable human material still (temporarily) counts. Every newborn is registered by the state, every child is subjected to compulsory education, and homeless or old people don’t go to the dogs completely unnoticed.

The great rest of the world of states, the states of the so-called third world – knowledgable experts have now extended the scale of the state hierarchy down to fourth and fifth worlds – are characterized by the fact that they can do by and large very little with their people. In the world economy, they perform their services as “raw material suppliers” and “debtor nations.” To the extent that they they have industrial enclaves on their territories at all, their returns are booked from the outset to service their international debts. Others, the remnants of the former real socialist second world which slowly but surely are likewise being counted into the third world, passed through a rapid career from world powers with space and nuclear industries to industrial wastelands. Most members of the UN family of states do not dispose over a political economy which successfully involves the people in a successful money-producing commercial life. Therefore, they command over a population that lacks the basic necessities of life because they do not have the money that is also needed in these states in order to obtain the means of subsistence. These states have also now made it to the civilizational achievement that nothing happens without money – only, no money-making happens there; for these appendages of the world economy, the chance to make money has the nature of a privilege. In this respect, the vast majority of the population there is surplus – as measured by global business needs, there are definitely too many people there. They are treated accordingly.

c) These people are an absolute overpopulation, completely regardless of their number. On the other hand, even their number depends in two respects on the blessings of the capitalistic standards that are valid worldwide.

No state in the world – not even Rwanda – lets its population simply starve. That modern state systems are based on the use of their people belongs long since to the established knowledge of the imperialist world order. Therefore, in every third world country there are health authorities, vaccination campaigns and the like, however rudimentary; nothing but facilities that provide for the everywhere lamented “population scissors”: the average life expectancy increases without the birth rate falling. [12]

Because the comprehensive use of the people has remained at best a never achieved ideal in these states, on the other hand, the health care and safety nets have never gone above such rudimentary programs. And whenever a third world state – mostly in the name of it’s “own socialist way” – has begun straining its budget for the sake of improving the social position of its population, such attempts were quickly discontinued as a rule – at the latest, after interventions by the IMF – as an economically senseless luxury.

The general living conditions in a large part of the world of states at the end of twentieth century look accordingly: The mass of the population is violently uprooted from their old subsistence economy; any other possibility to secure their survival is denied them. How should people who are forced to vegetate under such conditions generally come on the idea or be in the situation to control their reproduction consciously? Nothing is more stupid than the universally popular explanations of modern social scientists, according to whom the natives of the third world supposedly have so many children because they have “no old-age pensions”; “because they must be burned after their death by a son”; “because many sons raise the reputation of a man” ... There is no denying that people send their children to collect garbage because they would just starve without this “support by their descendants.” It is just as undeniable that religious or other tribal idiocies also (or especially) flourish in the worst misery. It is merely just far from true that people would therefore, out of considerations of expediency, incessantly produce young. If in the poorer sections of the population in the industrial states, having children is usually not a matter of free decision, this is even more true of the people in the slums of Africa and Latin America. [13]

d) The capitalism imposed on a world scale declares people not only superfluous, it also ensures the continual growth in the number of these surplus people. And also the imperialistic order ensures that this impoverished population stays there, where it massively accrues. This is not least the modern point of borders: To pin down a growing population with dwindling possibilities of subsistence where their possibilities of subsistence dwindle. So the economic achievements of the free market and the order-keeping achievements of the states not only generally ensure overpopulation, but also the separation where how much of it accrues. With the above-average concentration of poverty in certain parts of the world, the judgment about the human masses there also follows: of the whole world population, they are in any case “too many.”

This judgment includes that those who are “too many” are actually ignored. Merely no civilized person says that so matter of factly. Instead, the civilized world meets in International Population Conferences.


The UN – the diplomatic body that treats imperialism as a whole and in general as a joint project of the active and passive imperialist states – also dedicates itself to the problem of global overpopulation. In a series of international conferences (1974, 1984, 1994), it step by step authoritatively determined the cause of the overpopulation problem: the too large number of human beings. Just as imperialistically proper as it is cynical, the family of states took the position that it would be better if people who are absolutely not needed by global imperialism did not exist and therefore should be prevented in the future. At the September 1994 conference in Cairo, a general exchange of prescriptions for prevention was organized.

a) The International Population Conference in Cairo made headlines especially for the dispute: The Pope along with other incorrigible fundamentalists versus the rest of the enlightened world. This clarified the front for all progressive people. But with all the moral indignation about the “senile Catholic and Islamic men,” what the dispute was actually about was a bit obscured. It was about the question how to best prevent children. That the number of people in the third world absolutely must be reduced was the self-evident consensus. [14]

b) Which people are too many was not a question that preoccupied the conference too much. More precisely, they did not discuss it at all. Instead, the fixed belief that there are without question too many masses was vividly illustrated.

This image is quite simply produced over and over again by presenting an incredible amount of people in close proximity. An impression that quite a lot of German pedestrian malls surely also conveys, but these mass aggregations are not the point. By contrast, none of the correspondents present in Cairo could forego describing in shocking images the crowded close quarters in the slum areas around the Cairo garbage dumps. Incidentally, in all these background stories one certainly finds out what the reasons are for these overcrowded shantytowns. The slum dwellers are mostly people who can no longer live in their former rural villages and see their only chance of survival in the metropolis. When this chance regularly runs out, they rummage through the mountains of garbage that the wealth produced in Egypt discards. This wretched scenario was painted by all the big newspapers on the occasion of the International Population Conference; never omitting reference to the countless children who are made to live in the garbage. And always with the message: poverty is not the scandal, but the fact that the masses are so poor is the proof: There are too many!

The nightmare scenario of a human plague of vermin can also be made clear by means of projections and statistics: The UN Secretary General used precisely 31 minutes and 25 seconds for his welcoming speech – the man from the Süddeutschen Zeitung newspaper timed it and did the math:

“Statistically, the world population has just increased again by about 5,655 people. That’s a small town. Statistically, at the end of the nine day conference, there will be about 2.3 million new citizens on the earth: a nursery as big as Frankfurt and Hamburg put together.” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, September 6, 1994).

No horror when it arises there. Especially if one further develops the old Malthusian claim of an eternal scarcity in food production and adds to it the modern idea of “scarce environmental resources”:

“A rapid growth in population, a consumption of resources which exceeds the level of sustainability, as well as non-appropriate technologies, have a negative influence on the environment. Environmental problems do not stop at national borders. If, for instance, methane or carbon dioxide is emitted into the air, this contributes to the warming of the earth’s entire atmosphere. Although industrial countries still cause the largest share of these emissions, the share of developing countries will increase with rising population figures and rising consumption. The energy consumption in the developing countries is likely to increase between 5 and 7 percent annually, in the industrial countries between 2 and 3 percent yearly.” (Introduction of the International Population Report 1994)

This menacing picture of the future means: growing human masses eat up the globe and its energy resources on the one hand and on the other they also poison it with their unrestrained effluviums. The whole thing is underlined by catchy arithmetical tricks: one divides the energy consumed by the capitalist mode of production and the gunk and poison that it blows into the atmosphere by the number of people in the “industrialized countries” who have to live and work under these (environmental) conditions, and one has the proof: the human being is a greedy resource consumer. For this strictly mathematical argument, it is obviously completely irrelevant that “the human in the industrialized countries” is a little different: those who belong to the creators and beneficiaries of the environment-poisoning business life and the vast majority who are only a resource of capitalistic growth and tend to be counted into the surplus human reserve army; for the latter, environmental filth is not the dues for their plentifulness, but another part of their poverty. [15]

Once this division is made, it allows computation: Now the “crud-per-head” is multiplied by the countless heads of the third world – the result is exactly as catastrophic as is intended. [16] So in the name of all environmentally conscious people, the evidence can be offered that the human species increasingly takes the character of a pestilence.

The cynicism that dominates all debates about the threat of a “world population explosion” is, on the one hand, striking: All the social reasons that in the first place determine the alleged overpopulation as such can be named. Poverty is constantly talked about – and indeed a poverty which does not arise from natural shortages, but is created by the production of wealth imposed all over the world. And then not a further thought is wasted on these social conditions, but only tied up in the affirmative judgment: in the worldwide increase of impoverished masses, one can clearly see that the number of people is the problem!

On the other hand, this view nowadays by no means counts as despicable. Its cynicism is in fact identical to the realism of the imperialist world. That’s why it not only dominated all the conference debates, but makes sense to all well-meaning friends of humanity. At most, they want to discover cynicism in the Pope. And they smell him wherever anyone denies that global overpopulation is virtually a natural disaster whose containment demands the “engagement of the whole family of nations.” Then at its mention any moral human being must be there on cue, so that the proliferation of humanity is arrested just for the sake of the miserable starving masses. It is thus pure humanism to look at humanity, because of its irresponsible massiveness, according to the nobly expressed perspective of pest control. This view is certified as realistic and incontestably righteous by the fact that it is the UN position, thus certified by the authority that is generally responsible for idealizing the imperialist world as a natural order. Cynicism is thus the moral order of the day. [17]

c) In this sense, then, lots of programs to contain the “population flood” were up for debate in Cairo and controversy raged about what’s appropriate in this field, what is reprehensible or unethical. Because one thing was always clear: this is about changing behavior, and that of poorly controlled genitals at that. Hence it was argued always and from all sides morally, thus in the name of the highest human rights: the emancipation of women, freedom of self-determination ...

For example, the following step from women’s world-historical position to modern image gets praised as some great philanthropic finding:

“Personal decision-making over family size and intervals between child births is a human right ... Freedom of choice is a prerequisite for a balance between population development and the limited availability of natural resources on which people live. If obstacles to free choice are removed, families will be smaller and population growth will be slower ... In this context, women have a special role, while both their present and future contributions to human development finds recognition. The invisibility of the woman as an individual – in contrast to her role as wife and mother – is perhaps coming to an end.” (Introduction of the International Population Report 1994)

One may indeed wonder whether such statements do not fit a feminist sociological seminar more than touch even notionally on the plight of an African slum dweller, let alone provide a prospective remedy for it. It just doesn’t matter – because this kind of chatter lays down the valid point of view on the overpopulation problem in terms of the appropriate approach: the problem of a too large number of people is translated into a problem of incorrect reproductive behavior. From there, lots of programs can be debated about how the masses are to give up this procreative behavior that is ultimately damaging “for us all.” Consequently, a lively exchange of manipulation ideas takes place under the highest of moral honorary titles.

In this sense, the universally acclaimed central message of the conference goes: one must start with the “role of the woman,” which is not unimportant, as surely everybody knows, when having children. The “emancipation of women in the developing world” is vigorously demanded – and all enlightened conference delegates and observers are enthusiastic. From there, it is generally only bluster in terms of the women’s movements of central Europe and North America. Terms that even in the countries where they were invented sound somewhat ridiculous as soon as one no longer thinks of career women, which they like to tout, but of women of the lower classes. But it is completely grotesque if demands like “More power to women,” “emancipation instead of the pill” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, September 3, 1994), “open life chances other than motherhood” (Frankfurter Rundschau, September 6, 1994) should be addressed to the impoverished women of the third world. Without a little social basis, the nicest ideological superstructure hangs pretty awkwardly in the air.

The fans of women’s emancipation gathered in Cairo also seem to have a vague notion of this. They have also dedicated themselves to the question of what preconditions must be met so that the emancipation of women – as a condition for the desired drop in the birthrate – makes progress. One has struck a bonanza in two respects: In searching for the obstacles to a self-confident pro-women contraception, one has prepared the insight that smart women don’t let themselves get stuck with children – even if it is because school assignments don’t leave time for the joys of motherhood:

“To demand more rights for women is not a matter of conviction, but simply a factual imperative: Every year a girl goes to school longer means fewer children.” (Reymer Klüver, Süddeutsche Zeitung, September 3, 1994)

A successful redefinition of the need for global education programs: Not so that the masses in the third world can improve their lives, but a little education so that there are ultimately fewer disturbing masses. Even the greatest sourpuss about women’s lib is “factually” not able to deny this goal; the man from the Süddeutsche Zeitung is quite sure of this.

This is pretty much the sense in which the connection between poverty and the blessing of children was secondly pointed out. Precisely said: poverty as an unfavorable condition for birth control was discovered:

“The Action Program of the United Nations ... has been going in the right direction, including in the countries of the South: The construction of a national health care system, integrating family planning and advice; quantitative and qualitative improvements in the national education systems. Tolerable living conditions are a precondition for it.” (Detlef Franke, Frankfurter Rundschau, September 5, 1994)

Here the world stands somewhat on its head: Naively, one might think that the creation of “tolerable living conditions” would be a worthwhile goal which would end the “population problem” once it was realized. By the logic applied in Cairo, the thought is the other way around: What must be present so that the impoverished paupers become, finally, less?! Then the thing about the “precondition” is clear: one first needs a liberated woman who puts the whining old people at home in their place; it needs family planning and counseling centers; and in the end the fight against poverty appears as a condition for it – as the lowest of low conditions, so that the poor of the world reduce their number themselves out of their own free will. At the same time, one has given all realists the relevant information that diminishing them (so easily) probably won’t be possible.

Finally, the world stands completely on its head with the following official idea:

“Not so much a lack of food, but rather of purchasing power is also generally regarded as a reason for under- or malnutrition. It is thus poverty, which despite a saturation of global demand nationally and locally, leads to shortage. Within the domestic sphere, men and older sons have first rights to any type of food. Women and children, especially little girls, are the first affected by under- or malnutrition ... Furthermore, the organization demands an increase in the resources available to women. Often it has been neglected in the past that the food supply is the responsibility of women. The development of human capital, with the inclusion of education and health care, represents an important step.” (Introduction of the International Population Report 1994)

The only thing correctly determined is poverty as a lack of purchasing power. Where it comes from, however, remains in the dark. Instead, this finding makes no difference at all because in the end the matter seems resolved in a battle of the sexes in which everything revolves around the question of which family member may chow down the other’s perpetually scarce food. And it obviously counts as some degree of progress if little boys rather than little girls – or at least both equally – are affected by malnutrition in the future. In any case, according to the UN, it is a big gain if resources are redistributed in favor of women. It is somewhat unclear whether women the whole time are responsible for supplying food – and only the chauvinist experts of the UN have overlooked this fact. Then the unequal feeding of boys and girls would ultimately be a female deed. Or whether the UN wants to tell us that it is actually in women’s nature to be responsible for the food supply, only no one has let them until now. But this is completely irrelevant – the intended message remains the same anyway: The fight against hunger and overpopulation in the world is now waged by “strengthening the self-confidence of women.” And by “developing their human capital” – in view of this idea, one really does not know whether to die laughing or to wonder at the jaded cynicism of the authors of such lines: It’s already a bad joke when workers exploited by capital have their labor-power referred to as “human capital.” The joke gets even worse when in this country the long-term unemployed with no chance of re-employment are recommended to maintain their “human capital” through “education.” Finally, the idea of human labor-power as capital, applied to people whose poverty has its reason precisely in the fact that the capitalist world market has declared them absolutely useless, is ripe for the loony bin.

Then the highly praised prime example of the “development of female self-confidence” in the third world looks like you would expect.

“Between mountains of cotton scrap: Lessons for life. In Mokattam, a shantytown with millions of inhabitants in Cairo, a program can boast modest success in family planning.” (Frankfurter Rundschau, September 13, 1994)

“The future has a patchwork pattern. A private initiative shows how efficiently adapted help can be and that the role of women in the conquest of poverty is crucial.” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, September 14, 1994)

Almost all the newspapers have enthusiastically reported on the same project – there doesn’t seem to be too much choice in such “model projects.” But apart from that, what is there to talk about? Twenty thousand people live on Cairo’s stinking dumps, of whom 320 women and adolescent girls may earn a few dollars a month in a “sewing project.” So one of these third world charity showpiece exhibits changes absolute nothing in the situation of the local masses, but shows, according to the head of the project, that “there is also a lot of joy in the middle of garbage.” And just recently, according to all observers, it provides a classic case in which you can learn

“what empowerment, more rights for women, such as those required by the International Population Conference here in Cairo, really means in the lives of a woman in the third world.” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, September 14, 1994)

To avoid misunderstandings, the man from the liberal Munich newspaper is certainly not criticizing. On the contrary, he considers this sort of “Women Power” a promising contribution to the fight against population growth:

“It’s the job, the money, that gives women the right to say no, no to the desire of men for more children. If they are paid pound notes in their small, red, hot hands, then that gives women confidence and eventually gives them the respect of their men.” (ibid.)

What’s going on here? Is the high ideal of female self-determination, in a fit of honesty, reduced to the vile equation: Money creates freedom? Or is it more about expressing a feminist obsession, that the poverty in the slums is essentially defined as a sexual subjection of women to the eternally horny mafia of men? Or is it rather the perspective of zoologists observing an exotic species where the females respond to the stimulus of money in their “hot, red hands” with decreased mating behavior? Whatever – such are the manipulation ideals by which concerned population experts promise control of the propagative behavior of the superfluous masses.

And this is exactly how the new paradigm of development, as summed up by the head of the UN Population Fund, is to be understood: “Development is anything that gives the individual more freedom of choice.” Even the Frankfurter Rundschau is struck by the fact that this will shelve the old development ideals of past decades:

“In this new definition, development means only development of the abilities and possibilities of individuals by investments in human resources.” (Frankfurter Rundschau, September 13, 1994)

Say goodbye to the idealism of developing the possibilities of people in the third world by lasting improvements in living conditions. Now it means: The (female) masses should develop their self-confidence. The sole meaning of an orderly self-determined consciousness is thereby unquestionably settled: reducing the world’s human surplus. This is not only the epitome of free self-development, but also the epitome of humanity, because an improvement in the living conditions of the impoverished masses is simply not on the agenda of the relevant authorities.


The UN conference in Cairo has established the valid connection between overpopulation – namely, in the third world – and “development”; development has been defined as a fight against the overpopulation problem. Along with all contrary development ideologies, the standpoint that the countries of the so-called third and fourth worlds would ever become full partners in the global capitalist economy has been dropped.

a) The big agreement celebrated by the “UN family of states” at the Cairo International Conference on Population was the diagnosis that the world suffers from an overpopulation catastrophe. This consensus was joined even by the states whose territories are full of the essentially completely useless people of this diagnosis. This was not always so.

“The conference opened on September 5, 1994 by the United Nations is the third population conference in 20 years, but the first in which the developed and developing countries all-out agreed on the need to slow population growth.” (Resolutions of the Cairo Conference, September 21, 1994)

Before this miraculous worldwide consensus was reached, it took 40 years of imperialistic third world aid programs and the victory of the free market economy over the eastern alternative system.

In the early 1970s, the states of the third world were definitely not ready to write off their own people as a superfluous, useless mass. Rather, they looked at them as a potential to be developed for their ambitious national projects and at the time criticized and rejected the “overpopulation problem” proclaimed by the Western “industrial countries” as concealing an “unjust world economic order.”

“At the first conference in 1974 in Bucharest, the developing countries fought the idea put forward by the industrialized world that poverty could be fought by reducing fertility rates. Developing countries argued that economic growth is the key to stabilizing population and development is the best contraceptive.” (ibid.)

The then really existing socialist counter-power, which competed against the leading western powers for spheres of influence all over the world, lent a certain realism at the time to this development idealism:

“Most developing countries, supported by the communist states, were not then ready to commit to population control as an integral part of their development programs. The demands for a New International Economic Order, the completion of decolonization and the struggle against apartheid ranked higher on the political agenda.” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, August 28, 1994)

Ten years later – at the second International Conference on Population in Mexico in 1984 – a significant development in awareness-raising activities was noticable among the administrations of the third world countries: They had distanced themselves more and more from the idea that their domestic populations could ever become comprehensively usable human material for national economies that could compare with those of the world’s leading economic powers. In a growing population, they did not see any “wealth reserve,” but rather a burden.

“At the time of the second conference 10 years later in Mexico, most developing countries had come to the view that rapid population growth was a problem. They were supported in this opinion by the majority of industrialized countries, but not the United States.” (Resolutions of the Cairo Conference)

The USA under Ronald Reagan had re-armed for the last great blow of liberation against the “evil empire.” It took the point of view: If socialism is just wiped out everywhere, it is quite obvious that the storied prosperity will spring up in communities everywhere, and all human problems would be solved by the worldwide introduction of free market economics and democracy! Although

“the USA of the Reagan era ... was isolated in its ultra-liberal stance that the free market economy will automatically solve the problem of population growth (at the population conference in Mexico).” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, August 28, 1994)

But this did not matter to the leading power of the free world at the time. As an ideological superstructure to its imperialistic great offensive, it contributed an extra serving of moral fundamentalism:

“The administration of President Reagan repudiated abortion and reduced financial support for family planning programs.” (ibid.)

It goes without saying that “isolation” did not prevent the superpower USA from determining the concluding document of the conference.

In the next decade, after the capitulation of the socialist bloc and the worldwide imposition of the blessings of the market economy, it has been shown that all things possible have come into being, just not prospering communities all over the world, let alone an alleviation in global poverty. This poverty is now defined as a “ticking time bomb” for the further progress of the social conditions that bring it forth. In Cairo, unity prevailed between the leading powers of the world and the states rated in the second and third, whose leaders also then got praise from authoritative sources for their realism in matters of development:

“The German and French delegates spoke at a press conference about the dramatic rethinking of population issues. ‘Since then (the Mexico Conference) countries have come to the realization that population growth is a threat to real development,’ said Claude Harrel, a French diplomat.” (America Service, September 21, 1994)

The real development of these countries now consists in taking their place in the international economic order in such a way that they are suited for the needs of global business. The local leadership elites have also drawn a lesson from the results of the “development era”: measured by the few services that are in demand and renumerated in these regions by capitalist business and its state guardians, their people are an unproductive, disturbing surplus. [18]

b) In the spirit of this new undisputed realism, the “family of nations” gathered in Cairo has agreed on a few programs to reduce their population burden – who in this “family” will pay how much is still a bit in dispute. But that’s almost beside the point. Because, first, the sums at stake, given the conjured up problem, are rather ridiculous. [19] And secondly, these programs are not to be understood as if rigorous population reduction programs will soon be pulled through in the countries of the third world. A few more condom distribution points will probably be created. And every well that is dug by natives somewhere in the third world as part of the slimmed-down development programs will most likely in the future go under the slogan “help for self-help in the development of female self-confidence.” But that will pretty much be it.

That is, it is not at all easy to foresee that the affected states seriously plan to bring the number of people and their usability in line with the reduction in population. The now enforced ideological justification for not seriously tackling such a thing, despite its alleged urgency and necessity, runs like this: That would be inhumane force! The gladly quoted deterrent example is China under Mao with his forcibly imposed one-child family policy. The truth is that a seriously carried out population adjustment program also assumes a seriously implemented national development program to which the population should be adapted. [20] The developing countries gathered in Cairo have long since said goodbye to any such type of development standpoint. The realism for which their representatives are praised by the diplomats of the leading powers is, in plain words: The governments of the third world states have aligned themselves with the definition of their countries by the imperialistic nations – and today this looks as follows:

c) With the end of the real-socialist counterweight, the position of the imperialist powers toward the states of the third world has changed. The overriding strategic interest of protecting spheres of interest against the eastern alternative in every corner of the globe has been dropped, along with the point of view that counted for decades on the unquestionable usefulness of western “development aid” for the state powers there:

“At the moment, we are reviewing and reorganizing our entire foreign aid. This money is just no longer a child of the cold war. Previously it was: some countries received aid because they allowed the USA to station its fighter jets there or allowed its frigates and destroyers to pass through. That’s over now.” (Timothy Wirth, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs for the U.S. State Department, April 1994) [21]

Since these clearly arranged times are now over, the imperialist states are pushing new cost-benefit calculations relating to the preservation of statehood in the countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia that were formerly not so common. For most of the countries in these regions, simply no positive imperialistic useful purpose can be identified beyond the long since carried out integration into the world market. They are written off as “problem areas” that have left their future as “developing countries” behind. This standpoint more than ever characterizes how the peoples in these countries are viewed. The judgment “too many people” says everything about them – they perturb. They perturb their own governments as useless dead weight – and they perturb the imperialist major powers.

For that, global overpopulation falls more than ever under the category of an “order and security problem”:

“The quickest way we can move forward is if we create security all over the world. And that is a way to stabilize the world’s population.” (Timothy Wirth, ibid.)

The extent to which the paupers of the third world could threaten the security of the USA or the European powers is illustrated by the acting US Secretary of State as follows:

“Take a look in your own backyard: Germany is exposed to extreme external population pressure – by hungry and miserable people who look into your country as if through a window.” (ibid.)

For the solution to this “external pressure,” powers like Germany and the USA, however, as everybody knows, do not to leave it up to “World Population Stabilization Programs,” but their armed border guards and lawyers familiar with the current deportation laws. Their very effective repulsion of “economic refugees” does not stop the world powers from looking at half the world’s population as a possible refugee problem. For this approach, it is also completely irrelevant that the majority of these masses are never ever in a position to fight their way up to the severely restricted borders of the “industrial nations.” The major powers of the world economy see themselves surrounded in a much more global sense: surrounded by “problem areas” and “trouble spots”; by countries on which the verdict is: “Too many people!” and by states which can’t even be counted on for a reliable border security – some sovereigns have yet to provide the imperialist metropoles even this elementary service!

“Population pressure often frustrates the hope for stability at the national and international level. Think, for instance, of the problem of the 20 million refugees which the world tries to cope with. The growth of cross-border migration is caused in part by environmentally damaging population growth. You can not say that rapid population growth in itself is the reason for instability in a society. One should say, however, that Rwanda last year was the country with the highest population density. And it is not irrelevant that Somalia recorded the fastest population growth rate in all of Africa ... Nigeria’s population has tripled in the past 40 years ...” (Statement of U.S. Vice President Al Gore to the International Population Conference, August 31, 1994)

What the man puts on record here with his ploy – “you indeed can not say, but you have to hold” – is an interesting new definition of the cause of the world political order problem which afflicts the imperialist leading power after the end of the east-west confrontation: If civil wars are talked about as a consequence of too big a mass of humans – and no longer as machinations of “evil cliques” who must be cut off by the world’s police under U.S. leadership – then imperialism distances itself in all forms from the results of its global workings. It still pays attention to everything, but no longer sees itself challenged to intervene – to “nation build” – although it makes the affected people responsible for it: They are “too many” – what can you do? Euthanasia is not in the program; so there is an unsolvable order problem that the relevant states have to find a solution for on their own: that is what the creators of imperialist order enforce in their squalid “backyards.”

The judgment “too many people” is fathered by a twin decision of the authorities who are used to supervising the whole world. The first decision concerns the apparent results of the political-economic management of the majority of humankind. The course of business, the exploitation of every part of the world, and their occasional abandonment as maneuverable masses for trade and commerce has led to lots of starving people on the move. This is taken as a result of a regrettable but also unavoidable selection and neither a cause nor reason is sought nor found. On the other hand, one certainly knows one reason: overpopulation, which is unfortunate because the presence of useless masses causes problems for a lot of heads of state, exists because human and national strategies to prevent it are lacking. Furthermore, the universally welcomed “North-South consensus” at the Cairo Conference was that such strategies to prevent it are required if the dangers, uncertainties, and risks of global cooperation on the basis of capitalism are taken seriously.

We have been enriched by a case of the post-modern phenomenon called problem awareness – which changes nothing and nobody. For the global version of the inevitable symbiosis in capitalism of unerringly produced poverty and social ideas, the UN holds one conference after another: a World Poverty Summit and the World Summit on Women are already in the works ...


[1] “In 1798 – there were about a billion people living on the earth – the English parson Thomas Malthus published an essay ... The only 32 year old scholar wanted to pit himself against the social revolutionary attempts inspired by the French Revolution and explain that it is impossible to improve the situation of the lower classes. The reason: The population grows in a geometric progression (2, 4, 8, 16 ...), but the production of food only in an arithmetical one (2, 4, 6, 8 ...). Because people obviously respond to the improvement of their economic situation with unrestrained proliferation, it is morally dubious to improve the lot of the lower classes ... As a solution to the dilemma, the scholar advocated the variant that the Pope preaches today: abstinence ... The skepticism of Malthus regarding the potential to create a paradise on earth has given him a new timeliness in the age of climate catastrophe.” (Michael Sontheimer, Zeit-Punkte 4-94)

“In 1985, nearly 40 percent of the world’s population – and this was 2.4 billion people – lived in the lowest income bracket. This population mass must get out of absolute poverty and show a trend to lower birth rates in order not to double in about 25 years. But since they lack the means, this might be a case of the ‘Malthusian trap’ or ‘poverty trap’ – named after Thomas Robert Malthus, the theologian and economist who in 1798 was the first to prophesize a population dilemma. Their multiplication would proceed more rapidly than food could be procured. The ‘race between stork and plow’ could only be escaped by strict morals. Karl Marx wildly lashed out at Malthus for claiming that natural conditions can’t be completely retransformed. Now it looks as if Malthus after the 19th century now again shapes the 21st.” (Josef Schmid, “The Growing World Population,” supplement to Das Parliament, September 2, 1994)

“What makes Malthus interesting and eternally topical is not his trivial, long discredited theory, but the specific disposition, not to mention spirit, that in truth neither population science nor scientific theory in any other way expresses and provokes contradiction. This contradiction expresses itself especially in the thesis that there is absolutely not a population problem because all social problems are ultimately politically caused. As an idealist, one is tempted to agree with this view. But to be and remain an idealist, one must live as a realist, and this means to reject the idealistic view, without having to bear out Malthus in any way.” (Herwig Birg, “World Population, Development and Environment,” supplement to Das Parliament, September 2, 1994)

[2] Agricultural production is subjected to the business criteria of the world market – whether, how much, which food is produced, and above all at what price it is to be available on the market, is determined by, among other things, the London commodity exchanges, the decisions of the EC Agricultural Commission, and not by droughts or other natural disasters. Moral contemporaries can therefore continually be surprised or upset that beans from Ethiopia are on display in delis while the region is reported to be suffering “a huge famine due to drought.”

[3] If the modern “rediscoverers” of the “Malthusian trap” would not find it so much in Malthus’s message in view of the fact that Malthus certified a population catastrophe for humanity when the world population was about 1 billion people, instead of drawing conclusions about the priest’s “prophetic farsightedness,” they could happily come to the conclusion that the “overpopulation problem” probably has nothing to do with the absolute number of people.

[4] “The use of machinery for the exclusive purpose of cheapening the product is limited by the requirement that less labour must be expended in producing the machinery than is displaced by the employment of that machinery. For the capitalist, however, there is a further limit on its use. Instead of paying for the labour, he pays only the value of the labour-power employed; the limit to his using a machine is therefore fixed by the difference between the value of the machine and the value of the labour-power replaced by it.” (Karl Marx, Capital Vol. I, Chapter 15, “Machinery and Large-Scale Industry,” p. 515)

[5] “The capitalist application of machinery on the one hand supplies new and powerful incentives for an unbounded prolongation of the working day, and produces such a revolution in the mode of production in the mode of labour as well as the character of the social working organism that is able to break all resistance to this tendency. But on the other hand, partly by placing at the capitalists’ disposal new strata of the working class previously inaccessible to him, partly by setting free the workers it supplants, machinery produces a surplus working population, which is compelled to submit to the dictates of capital. Hence that remarkable phenomenon in the history of modern industry, that machinery sweeps away every moral and natural restriction on the length of the working day. Hence too the economic paradox that the most powerful instrument for reducing labour-time suffers a dialectical inversion and becomes the most unfailing means for turning the whole lifetime of the worker and his family into labour-time at capital’s disposal for its own valorization.” (Karl Marx, Capital Vol. I, Chapter 15, “Machinery and Large-Scale Industry,” p. 531-532)

[6] Even people who stand on the side of the road with signs saying “will take any job” must have experienced that they can stick their unconditional willingness to work up their ass if they are not useful for the accumulation of capital. Willingness to work is in any case assumed as self-evident in a society where the vast majority can earn their livelihood only by servicing private property.

[7] “But if a surplus population of workers is a necessary product of accumulation or of the development of wealth on a capitalist basis, this surplus population also becomes, conversely, the lever of capitalist accumulation, indeed it becomes a condition for the existence of the capitalist mode of production. It forms a disposable industrial reserve army, which belongs to capital just as absolutely as if the latter had bred it at its own cost. Independently of the limits of the actual increase in population, it creates a mass of human material always ready for exploitation by capital in the interests of capital’s own changing valorization requirements.” (Karl Marx, Capital Vol. I, Chapter 25, “The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation,” p. 784)

[8] See “What is a crisis?”

[9] “The same causes that have raised the productivity of labour, increased the mass of commodity products, extended markets, accelerated the accumulation of capital, in terms of both mass and value, and lowered the rate of profit, these same causes have produced, and continue constantly to produce, a relative surplus population, a surplus population of workers who are not employed by this excess capital on account of the low level of exploitation of labour at which they would have been employed, or at least on account of the low rate of profit they would yield at the given rate of exploitation.” (Karl Marx, Capital Vol. III, Chapter 15, “Internal Contradictions of the Law,” p. 364)

“Pauperism is the hospital of the active labour-army and the dead weight of the industrial reserve army. Its production is included in that of the relative surplus population, its necessity is implied by their necessity; along with the surplus population, pauperism forms a condition of capitalist production, and of the capitalist development of wealth. It forms part of the faux frais of capitalist production: but capitl usually knows how to transfer these from its own shoulders to those of the working class and the petty bourgeoisie.” (Karl Marx, Capital Vol. I, Chapter 25, “The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation,” p. 797)

[10] “It is already contained in the concept of the free labourer, that he is a pauper: virtual pauper. According to his economic conditions he is merely a living labour capacity, hence equipped with the necessaries of life. Necessity on all sides, without the objectivities necessary to realize himself as labour capacity. If the capitalist has no use for his surplus labour, then the worker may not perform his necessary labour; not produce his necessaries. Then he cannot obtain them through exchange; rather, if he does obtain them, it is only because alms are thrown to him from revenue. He can live as a worker only in so far as he exchanges his labour capacity for that part of capital which forms the labour fund. This exchange is tied to conditions which are accidental for him, and indifferent to his organic presence. He is thus a virtual pauper. Since it is further the condition of production based on capital that he produces ever more surplus labour, it follows that ever more necessary labour is set free. Thus the chances of his pauperism increase. To the development of surplus labour corresponds that of the surplus population.” (Karl Marx, Grundrisse, Notebook VI, p. 604)

[11] A really good example of the mental state generally prevailing today that can no longer, and doesn’t want to, distinguish between the ruling politico-economic conditions and natural laws. Nevertheless, completely unmoved, the woman manages to put on record: It makes no difference for the Malthusian conclusions whether the law of nature purported by Malthus, according to which food production always lags behind population growth, actually exists. Because regardless of this non-existent law, the inferred consequences apply: starving masses are an eternal natural constant of the human condition – if not because of a scarcity of land, then just because of “money scarcity” ... So it must be: the market economy surely springs for grain; but no money – that comes from nature!

[12] How far this type of healthcare is from the public health standpoint carried out in the capitalist leading nations became clear in the recent plague in India and its state management. From every excited report, it could be gathered: The plague has long ceased to be a medical problem, its pathogens, transmission paths and treatment are scientifically understood. And it’s also not that the tetracyclines needed for treating it could not be produced in India. This has nothing to do, as everyone knows, with the reason for the epidemic. It lies in the catastrophic poverty whose elimination in India is not at all on the agenda; and the official control of the epidemic looked exactly like one would therefore expect. The spread is prevented, it is briefly explained to the slum dwellers that they should kill a few rats and pay attention to hygiene in their dirt holes ... And that’s it – until the next flooding of the slums with the ensuing plague or cholera epidemic. All this has nothing to do with a comprehensive healthcare system which maintains the utility of a population according to the demanding criteria of a market leader.

[13] Already Marx knew that capitalist production “... is the forcing house for a really rapid increase in the number of people – since, under capitalist production, misery produces population.” (Karl Marx, Capital Vol. III, Chapter 13, “The Law Itself,” p. 325)

[14] In June 1994, the Papal Academy of Sciences published the following inspiration: “Given the population explosion, a large extent of birth control is inevitable.” (Zeit-Punkte 4-94) Then, on the occasion of the UN proposals for birth control, when the papal family council suddenly took concepts like “imperialism” and “tyranny” into its mouth, it means something like this: “In the view of the Catholic church, the UN plan propagates homosexuality, illegitimate sexual intercourse and abortion as means for family planning.” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, August 22, 1994) How extramarital pleasures and homosexuality could be a means of family planning, the Vatican experts do not say. But they probably mean: Under the guise of family planning, the floodgates are open to every type of smut known to the devil. That’s similar to the view of their Islamic counterparts: “homosexuality, extramarital sex and abortion, stressed Philippine Islamic leaders, are equally condemnable, whether in the Jewish, Christian or Muslim faiths ... Sensible family planning programs, emphasized speakers of both religions, stand in no way in opposition to theological teachings.” (ibid.) The Cairo Conference and the interested international community thereby opened up a very interesting field of debate. Which contraceptive methods come from nature (thus from the loving God), which from the devil; does Koranic exegesis allows the conclusion that the prophet Muhammad was a staunch supporter of coitus interruptus? Questions abound!

[15] The same logic is applied in these calculations, as in the calculation of the per capita gross national product; in one case, the capitalist wealth is “distributed” across the capita of those who are excluded from it, and in the other case, the capitalistically produced destruction of nature is blamed on people who are victims of this increasing contamination as dependent variables of capitalist growth.

[16] The calculation doesn’t get any better if it is made with in critical intention, as proof that “we in the north” live over “our global relations.” Then this leads to such nice concepts as “effective population size.” It should namely “be lowerable by restrictions on environmental consumption in the rich countries, by which the people in the poor countries have more room for their own development.” (Hans-Peter Dürr, Frankfurter Rundschau, September 7, 1994) The same considerations can also be expressed as: How many Indians match one Yankee?: “Between 1960 and 1992, the number of U.S. citizens grew numerically to only around 74 million; ecologically, this equals an explosion of about 1.4 billion Indians.” (Christian Wernicke, “Bread and pills,” Zeit-Punkte 4-94) No matter which way you look at it: If one assumes brutal relations as immutable and seeks to deal with the consequences of the treatment of those affected, the noblest humanism always turns out as cynicism.

[17] It is therefore no wonder that the question whether AIDS – especially prevalence on the African continent – could be a possible contribution to solving the population problem, counts in no case as tasteless gaffe, but is quite officially appreciated in UN reports: “Currently, it is believed that AIDS will have no significant effect on the population growth rates of individual countries. This applies even to those countries where HIV infection rates are high. However, at least in certain regions and in large cities in some countries – particularly in Africa – a negative growth in population will presumably appear as a result of the illness.” (Introduction to the International Population Report 1994)

[18] The objection voiced sporadically by the Islamic states against this view seemed to repeat the old complaints about an “unjust world economic order” – but as farce. When Muslim fundamentalists damn UN programs as an “imperialist attack to roll-back Islam,” they have in fact no alternative development program to offer their masses. Their anti-imperialism exhausts itself in the complaint about the moral decline of customs and the undermining of the teachings of the Koran. Even a rudimentary economic counter-concept can’t really be derived from it. Nor are any pertinent demands from the camp of radical critics of the conference leaked out.

[19] “The world nature conservation alliance criticized the involved states for not committing to any financial obligations. Of the 17 billion dollars for the estimated costs of implementing the program, the rich countries should take over a third, the poor two thirds.” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, September 14, 1994)

[20] In order to avoid any misunderstanding: National development programs, to which the useful human material is to be adapted, is not the cause of communists. They insist on the crucial difference that it is not people who should be adapted to economic programs, but that one should try the contrary for once, the planned organization of an economy that is adapted to the needs of people.

[21] In the past, this guy would probably have gotten in the face of anybody who critically reproached this unequivocal purpose of American foreign aid. At that time, after all, it was beyond any doubt that the free west was active everywhere in the world always only on behalf of “truth, goodness and beauty” and naturally always also in the service of the native populations. But because these times are over now, one can speak openly about one’s own hypocrisies of yesteryear. The journalist from Time magazine is, in any case, the last person who would get excited about such a confession. He is occupied now with more important things: with spreading the new titles in whose name the leading imperialistic powers pursues their policies.