Compare and contrast the demographic perspectives of Thomas Malthus and Karl Marx with respect to the causes and consequences of population growth..
It has currently become fashionable to argue that excessive population growth stands in the way of economic growth and that underdeveloped countries should take measures to reduce their rates of natural increase. Population growth appears today as the major factor determining underdevelopment and population control is advocated as the most urgent and necessary step if development is to be eventually achieved.
Within the context of the developed countries it is argued that their pressing problems such as urban blight, crime, pollution, environmental deterioration, etc. would have greater possibilities of being satisfactorily solved if population growth were to be curtailed.
Abstractly considered, the relationship between scarce resources and a continuously increasing population turns the arguments in favor of population control into "self-evident truths" which can only be rejected by the unthinking and the dogmatic. From a Marxist viewpoint, such "self-evident truths" are but reifications of concrete historical, social, political, and economic relations which should be taken into account if the population issue is to be at all understood. Just as in the 18th century the English ruling classes fought the impact of the French Revolution with military and ideological weapons among which Malthus' "Essay on Population" was perhaps the most important, today the ruling classes are bringing back the Malthusian argument in an effort to increase their control over the growing number of the dispossessed. Like Malthus, contemporary socio-economic theorists view excessive population rather than social institutions and social relations as the main source and barrier to the solution of social problems. It is, therefore, the purpose of this paper to present an Marxist critique and a Marxist alternative to the Malthusian and...