[Marxism] Our Place in the World: 1417. On the Population Question: Malthus, Marx and Beyond

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun May 18 14:18:27 MDT 2014

In planet with finite resources, clearly there is a “population 
problem.” A large section of the environmentalist and ecologist 
movements and some ecological socialist believe this population problem 
was first analyzed incisively by Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus among 
the notable English classical political economists more than 200 years 
ago.  Among the same milieu it is common to mock Karl Marx’s critique of 
Malthus’ theory.   In what follows, I will argue that this common belief 
is false and it is at best based inadequate knowledge of either writers. 
  In particular, I will focus on the claim of my ecological socialist 
fellow Saral Sarkar who believes “Malthus was right” and “Marx was 
wrong” on the population question.   As some readers know, this writing 
is part of my discussion of Saral’s recent writings regarding causes of 
the Great Recession.  In these (as well as earlier writings), Saral has 
displayed increasingly hostile to Marx.  While critical appropriation of 
any thinker’s contributions is a welcome method of developing new ideas 
or extending earlier ones, hostility (being critical without due 
process) is an implement to them. Thus, it is alarming to me that Saral 
in his recent essay, Saral treats U.S. President Barack Obama and former 
Vice President Al Gore with more respect than he accords to Marx and in 
his letter he accuses Marx of being “bias” and “wrong” without any 
serious examination of the issues involved.


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