Professor Matthew Connelly on why population control is a furphy

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Late Night Live on ABC Radio National recently ran an interview with historian Matthew Connelly, Associate Professor of History at Columbia University, who has written the first global history of the population control movement.

It is a movement, he says, that has sought to remake humanity with seemingly good intentions but succeeded in causing untold suffering, through unpleasant policies that have not worked.

He characterises it as a movement that aims to “make the poor go away — literally”, and regards it as a grand diversion from the process of forcing ourselves to examine our own patterns of production and consumption. Charting its course as arising with Malthus, morphing into various elements within the eugenics movement, and traversing through American billionaire philanthropy (in the 1960s and 1970s, 90 per cent of donations to international population control were from the US), he maps out its darker side, mentioning the role of the USAID agency in promoting non-sterile, reject Dalkon shields to millions of Indian women as one example of populationist malfeasance.

A must-listen for all those engaged in the population debate here in Australia, where conservative Malthusians currently appear to have the upper hand in the environmental movements. This severely limits the ability, and compromises the opportunity, to propose thoroughgoing and productive critiques of the way we actually run our economy and in whose interests, thereby failing to address the key elements that make this current system unsustainable.

The podcast is still available here as of 2/8/08.

Connelly’s book, Fatal Misconception: the Struggle to Control World Population, is reviewed on Amazon and on the Economist website.

Adelaide Ecosocialist Network intends to purchase a copy and add it to its Network Library — it’s important for us to have good, lendable hardcopy material rebutting local Malthusianism.

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