29 December

'I think I may fairly make two postulata. First, that food is necessary to the existence of man. Secondly, that the passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state. These two laws, ever since we have had any knowledge of mankind, appear to have been fixed laws of our nature.'

December 29, 2009 · 1 min read

‘Assuming then my postulata as granted, I say, that the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio.’

Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population 1798

Economist and all-round pessimist, Thomas Malthus dies 29 December 1834. According to Malthus, population will always increase faster than the supply of food available for its needs. When this happens famine, disease and war will keep this growth in check.

Socialist critics see his ‘Essay on the Principle of Population’ as a polemic against what Malthus described as ‘systems of equality.’ He believed the abolishment of private property and the redistribution of wealth would eventually mean the comparative poverty of most would be replaced by the absolute poverty of all.


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