Book Review: The 9 Lives Of Population Control

The 9 Lives Of Population Control, edited by Michael Cromartie

The real revelation of this short book is the nastiness of population control advocates when their dodgy math and morally abhorrent practices of trying to coerce populations into abortion are called into question as well as the effectiveness of pro-natalists to build alliances with others of like mind on such matters.  Even though this book is written as one of those efforts to bring together people of different worldviews and belief systems when it comes to matters of population control, it is very clear upon reading this book why this particular effort is being promoted by those of a particular view that is hostile to population control, and that is the way that this book is structured to give anti-birth control viewpoints a high degree of respect and consideration, which is not the usual way such viewpoints are treated in many contemporary writings on the problems of the third world.  The book makes a compelling base for birth control as being a means by which corrupt authorities as well as the West tries to cripple the demographic strength of poor people who might become too upset and too numerous over the failures of governments, leading us to view contemporary efforts at baby killing as being akin to the efforts of that wicked Pharaoh of the beginning of Exodus who knew not Joseph.

This book is a bit more than 150 pages long and it is divided into several chapters which mark essays/papers by people, most of whom participated in a contentious conference dealing with population control efforts and their legitimacy.  After a preface by Michael Cromartie, the book begins properly with a discussion of the nine lives of population control by Midge Decter and how failed justifications and efforts to control population based on Mathusian fears or racist eugenics have their justifications change to suit the times with the same goal of coercive control over the population (1).  After that comes a discussion of the premises of population policy, where a pro-population control person gives a response and others comment (2).  After that comes a discussion on how population growth affects human progress, where others give a further word and a response while other people comment (3).  This is followed by a discussion on delusions and reality as they relate to population (4) as well as a discussion from someone else about what really happened at Cairo in the defense of natalism and human dignity as well as the alliance between natalists among Catholics and Muslims (5), after which the book ends with an afterword about the meaning of the presence of children, an appendix on conference participants, notes, and an index of names.

What is particularly gratifying and enjoyable about this book is the way that the positions included are generally critical of the thinking that is behind population control efforts, and this critical attitude appears to have gotten under the skin of those who want to defend coercive population control efforts as necessary.  It may be a bit uncharitable to think so, but I have always found it worthwhile to get under the skin of other people to demonstrate that they are not so self-assured as they think they are, and I tend to enjoy it when people whose views I find abhorrent are nettled by the realization that they are not in control of the narrative and lash out.  Beyond that, though, this book provides a thoughtful way to examine the history and context and moral matters relating to efforts at controlling population, which bring into question the facile assumption that people have that there are too many people on the earth or that the world is benefited by efforts at culling the human population of undesirable peoples even as Europeans, Japanese, and Americans are increasingly unwilling or unable to bear children.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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