Why do the ideologues of demographic security give so much attention to ecological problems?

In its different formulations, the ideology of demographic security resumes, while modernizing it, the well known doctrine of living space. It was in the name of the Aryan race's right to living space, presumed indispensable, that the Nazi state launched its wars of territorial expansion.

a) There is reason to redouble our guard when the ideologues of contraception and contragestion accompany their discourses with warnings to people about "the deterioration of the environment" and "the exhaustion of natural resources." Parallel to the discussion on demography, the talk about the ecosystem is regularly called to the rescue of the anti-birth harangues. It risks dissimulating the same motives and being called in to "legitimize" the same programs for curbing the poor population.

Just as in the time of Malthus, they tone down the capacity of man to add a "plus" to nature, and they insist that the "human cattle" be kept within the limits technocrats are employed to define.

b) The powerful people of the entire world have put to work here, for their own profit, the doctrine of living space which their precursors invoked in favor of race. However, invoking the right to living space goes further here than at the beginning of the century. In effect, the rich and powerful intend, not only to preserve their present well-being, but they try to apply in some way to their descendants a preemptive right over natural resources as well as the means to control them. Knowing that the poor will not be able to add any value to them, the rich reserve their use in advance. In some way they are purchasing the future.

c) This concept of living space allows the US in particular to reinterpret its idea of its frontier.1 This was understood to mean a constantly moving border reached by explorers. These latter intended to replace the "natives" -sometimes by killing them- in order to enjoy the benefits of the natural resources that, according to them, the "natives were incapable of appropriately exploiting". This frontier moved toward the South and toward the West: It also moved toward the Southwest by annexing territories belonging to Mexico. But this frontier hasn't stopped moving even now, in the figurative sense, toward the Latin American continent, regarded since Monroe, as the "garden" of the United States. The U.S. continues to consider the region as crucial to its sphere of influence.

d) The wealthy countries extend their "preemptive right" to knowledge and know-how. They jealously guard for themselves the important areas. For example, by taking advantage of GATT, they carefully choose what knowledge they are disposed to share. The US withdrew from UNESCO once it realized that countries of the Third World claimed a "new world order" of information. The US and other wealthy countries know that a large population, if it is well formed, is a source of development because it is favorable to exchanges. But how can we forget that all the totalitarian regimes endeavored to impoverish these exchanges, thereby fixing nations in their undeveloped state?

e) Thus we see the close connection that exists between the campaigns to control human life and the conservationist mentality. The powerful of this world regard their security as the foundation of their rights -not only of their right to control the whole of the world's population, but also to control all the resources, including the intellectual resources.

Now this obsessive fear about security engenders, in individuals as well as societies, an avarice of a new kind and inhibits creativity. Such avarice consists in invoking the internationalization of human society and the market in order to withdraw from the poor the disposal of their natural resources. The rich and the powerful want to perpetuate the present; they only want to control future birth rates. But it's bad foresight, because by emphasizing that an infant costs, they loose sight of the fact that there will normally come a day when it will bring in money. Like all the avaricious, the rich think of the future as the overcautious consolidation of their present well-being. They refuse to make the least projection, for it would lead them generously to call into question today's practices in the name of a more just world with greater solidarity that we would like to see blossom tomorrow.

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  1. Cf. Peter Bauer, The Development Frontier (Boston: Harvard Press, 1991).

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