The Healing of Nations and the Hidden Sources of Their Strife eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 139 pages of information about The Healing of Nations and the Hidden Sources of Their Strife.

[25] H.M.  Tomlinson, in the Daily News.

XIV

THE OVER-POPULATION SCARE

Some cheerful and rather innocent people insist that because of the over-population difficulty wars must go on for ever.  The population of the world, they say—­or at any rate of the civilized countries—­is constantly increasing, and if war did not from time to time reduce the numbers there would soon be a deadlock.  They seem to think that the only way to solve the problem is for the men to murder each other.  This says nothing about the women, who, after all, are the chief instruments of multiplication.  It may also be pointed out that even the barbaric method of slaughter is not practicable.  Although wars of extermination may have now and then occurred in the past among tribes and small peoples, such wars are not considered decent nowadays; and the numbers killed in modern campaigns—­horribly “scientific” and “efficient” as the methods are—­is such a small fraction of the population concerned as to have no appreciable result.  The population of Germany is about seventy millions, and I suppose the wildest anti-Teuton could hardly hope that more than a million Germans will be actually killed in the present conflict—­less than 1-1/2 per cent.—­a fraction which would probably soon be compensated by the increased uxoriousness of the returning troops.

No, War is no solution for the over-population question.  If that question is a difficulty, other means must be employed.  We ask therefore:  (1) Is it a serious difficulty? (2) If so, what is the remedy?

That over-population is in certain localities a serious difficulty few would deny.  China, with her four hundred millions, is probably over-populated; that is, with her present resources in production the population presses against the margin of subsistence and can only just maintain itself.  There is evidence to show that in the past the natives of some of the Pacific islands, isolated in the great ocean and unable to migrate to other lands, have suffered from the same trouble.  Britain is often said to be over-populated; but here quite other considerations come in.  Though it might be pleasant for many reasons to have more land at our immediate command, we cannot fairly say that our population presses against the margin of subsistence, for the simple reason that with our immense powers of industrial production and the enormous wealth here yearly obtained the total, if evenly distributed (anything like as well, for instance, as in China), would yield to every man, woman, and child in the United Kingdom an ample affluence.[26] The appearance here of over-population arises from the fact that while the wage-earners actually produce this mass of wealth, two-thirds of it are taken by the employers and employing classes.  Great portions, therefore, of the actual producers or producing classes are on the margin

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