Edward Isaacson.

The Malthusian limit, a theory of a possible static condition for the human race online

. (page 1 of 17)
Online LibraryEdward IsaacsonThe Malthusian limit, a theory of a possible static condition for the human race → online text (page 1 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



\



EERSTE NEDERLANDSCHE '

V©rz»k»ring-Maatschappij op het Leven
•n tegen Invaliditeit.



THE MALTHUSIAN LIMIT



THE
MALTHUSIAN LIMIT

A THEORY OF

A POSSIBLE STATIC CONDITION

FOR THE HUMAN RACE



BY

EDWARD ISAACSON



WITH THIRTY DIAGRAMS



METHUEN & GO. LTD.

36 ESSEX STREET W.G.

LONDON



First Published in igi2



HB
871
173 m



PREFACE

Hansen's theory of the Bevolkerungs-
strom, or population current, is in soci-
ology what the theory of the circulation of the
blood is in medicine. This book owes much to
him. My earlier data have been drawn largely
from American conditions ; the differences
between them and those in Germany, which
Dr. Hansen knows best, led me to my first new
idea — that the nearness or remoteness of the
Malthusian limit is the key to these differences
in conditions.

This brought me to the theoretical considera-
tion of a static condition, and the generali-
zation of a two-class system, which covers
Hansen's three classes in a different perspec-
tive, and seems the logical extreme. This gives
a long-needed division of the troublesome
question as to whether the family or the
individual is the unit of society. Provide
recognition for both, in distinct classes neces-
sitated by understood conditions, and the whole
social organism seems simplified.

vii

i liSC09



viii THE IMALTHUSIAN LIMIT

As the book grew, it appeared that the key-
note to the forces and movements involved in
the discussion is not economic, but pedagogical ;
it is what Solomon and Socrates and Confucius
have all told us : that wisdom is better than
riches. In other words, what makes a fecund
class is not the possession of land, but the
intelligence which enables them to get and hold
control of the first condition of existence — food
supply ; and the permanence of the land-hold-
ing class is due to the educative influence of
their mode of life, which automatically makes
abler men of them than life in the cities does.
The same pedagogical key — conditions which
make automatically one environment or mode
of life contribute more to intelligence and will-
power than another, appears in other lines of
thought in the book.

If I had had more time and opportunity, I
should have verified quantitatively many of the
data which I have used in a general way. It
makes, however, no difference with the main
theses if the facts differ b}^ centuries or millions
of square miles from the estimates I have used,
which are in all cases the best accessible to me.
The quantitative facts in man}^ cases are not
known accurately to any one. Many of the



PREFACE ix

straight lines in the diagrams are generahza-
tions of curves which could be actually plotted
if statistics were available.

I have no desire to initiate any propaganda
in favour of the establishment of a system of
society different from the present one ; I have
simply taken up what seems to be an actual
tendency in the normal course of evolution, and
thought it out to the logical extreme. It has
thrown much light for me upon many of the
puzzling questions of the day, and I hope it may
do the same for others. If new arguments can
be drawn from the book in favour of such
recognized salutary measures as the *' Back to
the land " movement and efforts for world
peace, and against over-hasty Socialism and
indiscriminate charity, I shall be glad to have
contributed my mite to the work of human
progress.

E. I.



CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

PAGE

Rapid increase in the numbers of the human race ; due to in-
creased facihties of transportation — Possible full population
of the earth before a.d. 2200 — Possible delay by increased
production of food, but Malthusian limit inevitable in
time — Rapid occupation of new countries — Problem of static
condition must be met ....... xxi

CHAPTER I

POPULAR OPINION OF CITY AND COUNTRY LIFE

City population recruited from the country — Vices in cities ;
soundness of country hfe basis of national prosperity —
Cities important for higher successes — Fruition stage of
society ; growth stage in country — City has produced great
men, but generally of patrician stock — Country-bred on the
whole more successful ....... i

CHAPTER II

ADVANTAGES OF COUNTRY LIFE : THE YEOMAN

Yeoman taken as the best type of country life — Farm work
done by farmer and sons, household work by wife and
daughters — Sound physical condition the result — Surround-
ings less favourable to disease than in cities — Mental
qualities ; habits of observation ; manual training —
Moral qualities : training of the will by steady application —
School opportunities of country children fit them for city
as well as country life ; those of city children do not fit them
for country life and they have nothing which does ; there-
fore they cannot succeed in country — City-bred persons
seldom go to country to earn their living ... 4

xi



xii THE MALTHUSIAN LIMIT

TACK

CHAPTER III

CITY CONDITIONS : THE PATRICIAN

Country-bred persons lack knowledge of city conditions at
first — Advantages which country children have can be ob-
tained by city children, but at great relative expense —
City persons having had such advantages often better
adapted to succeed in cities, but not for propagation of the
race — Inherited wealth necessary to keep a city family at a
high standard — Patrician class recognized very generally
by society in history, because it has turned out able men ;
" noblesse oblige " — If wealth fails, family must die out or fall
into a lower class ........ g

CHAPTER IV

THE PROLETARIAN

Expenses of living greater in the city than in the country —
Impossible for lower classes to bring up children success-
fully in city ; proper opportunities for work and play lacking ;
work which children must do, if any, not suitable for them —
Impossible for such children to become farmers ; they must
remain in city, and steadily deteriorate in successive gene-
rations . . . . . . . . . .13

CHAPTER V

THE MOVEMENT FROM COUNTRY TO CITY

Difficulty in defining types : differences in farming population ;
landed aristocracy compared with yeoman ; higher and
lower classes in cities — Tendency to increased costliness of
standards of living — " Race suicide " in patrician class —
" Three generations from shirt-sleeves to shirt-sleeves " ;
different meaning of the two sets of shirt-sleeves — Elimina-
tion of the unfit in proletarian class — " The submerged
tenth " — Summing up : (i) Country tends to produce more
capable men, except in the patrician class ; (2) Expense of
bringing up children much less in country than in city.
(3) Country-bred people can succeed in city ; city-bred
people cannot succeed in country — Current of population
under theoretical simple conditions — Actual conditions
more complex, but the law still obtains . . . -15



CONTENTS xiii

PAGE

CHAPTER VI

SURPLUS CLASS

Law of Malthus broadly founded on facts — Surplus class
always in existence, even in a stationary population —
Fecund class related to society as members of family ; surplus
class as individuals only — Rights and duties of the two
classes accordingly different — Old moral codes designed for
the fecund class only — Surplus can be governed by such codes
if not too numerous — If surplus is in considerable numbers
old code works badly — Such conditions in great cities at
present ; such cities a new social phenomenon — Diseases,
wars, and famines less fatal than formerly — Improved
agriculture employs a smaller proportion of people — Surplus
class likely to increase in future — Surplus class more mobile
than formerly, while agricultural class must be stable ;
difference thereb}' accentuated — Necessary to consider care-
fully problems of surplus class — old morality founded on
unhmited expansion of population — If limit of subsistence
is approached, elimination of surplus takes place ; how shall
this be done with least waste and suffering ? . . .22

CHAPTER VII

THEORETICAL STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Economy of the beehive : populated from the minimum
number of individuals, surplus of the weaker sex eliminated,
surplus of the stronger sex made neutral and performs all the
duties except those of the queen bee — If human society
were organized on analogous principle ten per cent of the
women, and less than one per cent of the men, could keep
up the numbers of the race — With family conditions as at
present, one-third or less of the population will keep up the
numbers — Importance of problem of surplus — Analogy of the
forest — Possibilities of regulation . . . . .26

CHAPTER VIII

THEORY OF THE FECUND CLASS

Rights and duties of members of the class — Majority of the
product of the class in men goes to the surplus — All in-



xiv THE MALTHUSIAN LIMIT

fAGE

dividuals in any way inferior should be placed in the surplus
at once — Hopeless individuals eliminated or unsexcd —
Mental and moral qualities for members of the class. Integer
vitcB the ideal ; no vices permissible — Conditions for the
production of best human stock — Diversified farming best ;
wholesale work of any kind detrimental ; factory life worst of
all — Industrial production not a disadvantage if done
under proper conditions — Too sparse a population disadvan-
tageous ; grouping of dwellings advisable ; gives better
opportunities for co-operation and social intercourse — Num-
ber of families to be kept invariable. Cities would have a
purely adult population ; no proletariat, and no patrician
class unless special provision is made ; such special pro-
vision would require some of the industrial work to be done
by the fecund class ; patricians brought up among the pro-
fessional classes in the country, etc. — Difficulties of adjusting
wages to family demands obviated if the fecund class have a
monopoly of food supplies ... ... 32



CHAPTER IX

ECONOMIC STATUS OF THE SURPLUS "CLASS

With room for expansion, surplus is inconspicuous among
fecund class, and must be governed by economic and moral
code of that class, which holds that it is normal for all to
have children — Pressure of population leads to lower wages
and increase of celibacy — Individuals of the surplus must be
treated as human beings \vith full rights and duties, not as
derelicts — Must give their best work to society, and are en-
titled to all legitimate enjoyments — Better compensation for
intellectual work is reasonable — But little naeded by each
individual to cover what it is economy for him to provide
for himself — Ostentatious wealth a social aim which would
disappear — Most of the necessities, and many luxuries, best
provided on a wholesale plan, as in the family hotel, etc. —
City to be much more specialized to a centre of business than
at present — Provision for old age or sickness . . ,42



CONTENTS XV

I'AGE

CHAPTER X

THE MORAL STATUS OF THE SURPLUS CLASS

Three sets of motives for moral choices : (i) Inherited instincts ;
(2) Early habits and teachings ; (3) Intelligent reasoning
— First two only transmissible to surplus ; therefore over-
whelming tendency to subject all to moral code of fecund
class — Different standard, however, necessary for surplus,
because their rights and duties are different — Physical vigour
less important for surplus — Surplus freer to sacrifice self for
general good — Higher altruistic ideals possible for surplus —
Organization under such ideals familiar in history : Roman
Catholic Church — Incentives : work can be done of too high
a character to be rewarded in material equivalents — Family
ties of all sorts except parentage can be strong — Esprit de
corps — Rights of surplus — Vice and crime defined — Waste of
money and minor personal vices of surplus would be crimes
if practised by fecund class : Use of alcohol as illustration —
Control of sex relations most important matter in the whole
situation — Sexual appetite a normal one and its use not a vice
— Its consequences very important, and safeguarding of chil-
dren most important interest of humanity — Ideal of morality
for fecund class in this respect not practicable for surplus —
General continence cannot be enforced. Prostitution only
expedient — Surgical means repugnant and of questionable
efficacy — Childless marriage only solution ; but to be
moral, women niust earn their living . . . .49



CHAPTER XI

THE RELATION OF WOMEN TO THE PROBLEM

Parenthood makes more difference in the life of a woman than
of a man. Four types of women from the " sexuo-eco-
nomic " point of view. (A) Mater familias. (B) iralpa, (C)
Unmarried member of family. (D) Self-supporting woman.
In ideal two-class system A and D are normal and permanent,
B non-existent, C transient and unimportant — In present
order A only recognized as normal and permanent — Two
propositions as basis for present ethics : (i) Fecundity de-
sirable for all; (2) Mating always followed by offspring —



xvi THE MALTHUSIAN LIMIT

PAGB

This ideal suitable only for new country — Safeguarding of
family all-important — Man recognized as head of family ;
society deals with family through him only — This forces all
women to type B, before they can reach type A ; tN'pc B
moral under this condition ; otherwise B is immoral under
all circumstances — With pressure of population all in-
fluences tend to make B permanent — B has no useful
occupation ; Game of " Social Duties " — Type D competes
with heads of famiUes for means of livelihood and reduces
share of each family, which is the unit of the fecund class ;
therefore D is immoral when the fecund is the only class ;
therefore, opposed by old morality — D becomes, when there
is a surplus, in some cases the highest moral type, but has
to overcome inertia of old code of morals — Economical
objections first overcome — Difficulty of overcoming opposi-
tion of conventional morals to new forms of sex relation —
Menage litre (type BD) frequent result — AD only permanent
composite type which is moral under two-class sj'^stem —
Most plans of reformers attempt to estabhsh some form of
this type ; not approved by the common sense of the race
— " Women's rights " for the surplus class : (i) To marry
and earn her own living ; {2) More liberal divorce laws for
her than for the fecund class ; (3) Equal compensation
with men for the same work . , . . . .58

CHAPTER XII

THE PRACTICAL WORKING OUT OF THE THEORY

Two-class plan in line with usual process of evolution — Static
condition requires uniform density of the world's population
— Ideal condition probably with less than all that could
possibly be fed — Fecund class to be engaged in agriculture —
Best place for them middle region of drainage basin —
Cities much smaller than now — City dwellers to live in large
general homes, giving greatly increased economy in providing
for them — Social ostentation of women of type B eliminated
— Social Ufe in the co-operative home ; simple, but not
ascetic — Small cities at centres of industry — Possible in-
dustrial army, with promotion to settled life in cities — Much
of present transportation of goods rendered unnecessarj' by



CONTENTS xvii

PAGE

static condition — Commuters unknown — Work of fecund class
primarily production of new members of society — Reasons
for preferring agricultural life for this purpose — Agricultural
land analogous to brood comb of beehive — Regular succes-
sion of children in each family — Location of schools and other
educational institutions — Large amount of leisure from
mechanical work under system — Higher occupations :
reading, social intercourse, travel : Plan in its entirety im-
possible without radical changes — Value of discussion . . 74



CHAPTER Xni

" DAS EWIG-WEIBLICHE "

Basis of theory assumed ; its advantages — Surplus class
never recognized by law or custom ; helpfulness of dis-
cussion of such a distinction — Woman question ; elimination
of type B great gain — Divorce question ; strict rules for A,
freer for D — Present troubles largely due to B — domestic
service ; for A done by C, for D by others of same class —
Most of domestic servants at present part of social game of
B — Dress ; present custom suitable for A, unsuitable for D 93



CHAPTER XIV

THE WAGES QUESTION

Elements of production : land, capital, management, labour —
Combinations of functions ; yeoman exercises all four —
Competition — In new countries no monopoly in land —
Competitive system good in such condition — Basis of wages —
With increased population land ownership becomes monopoly
— Change of meaning of capital : newer meaning, owner-
ship of means of production and a right to a share of pro-
duct without effort on part of capitalists — Illustration of con-
ditions by hypothetical small party on limited land area —
Static condition necessitates new theory of wages : share
in general product rather than equivalent for work done —
Share of family necessarily greater than of individual —
By making clear distinction between classes this can be in-
telligently adjusted .......

b



xviii THE MALTHUSIAN LIMIT

PAGE

CHAPTER XV

LAND TENURES, CAPITALISM AND PROPERTY IN GENERAL

Land tenures — \'aluc of land depends upon opportunity for pro-
duction — Ownersliip of real estate dangerous monopoly only
when land is too valuable for agriculture — Fecund class can
have private ownership of farm land, other land and means
of production, worked by the surplus class, held by public
ownership — Modern capitalism essentially share-holding in
general resources of society ; does not need personal ability
— Modem manager important ; always belongs to capitalist
class — Graphic representation of industrial changes —
Currents of population . . . . . . .116

CHAPTER XVI

SOCIALISM

Graphic representation of outcome of present conditions :
capitalism increases ; employee class kept at minimum living
wage ; as pressure increases margin of comfort decreases,
until all are in equal want, and return to savagery inevitable
unless numbers are intelligently reduced — Sociahst idea
— Socialism belongs to modern industrial class ; instance
from " Looking Backward " — Sociahst desire better op-
portunities for family life — Results would be rapid increase
in numbers without increase in intelligence — Final catas-
trophe of capitalist system would come still more rapidly —
Capitalism conserves resources and teaches necessity of re-
stricting numbers — Illustration by hypothetical mill stream
and adjoining country — Explanation of Socialism : repre-
sents industrialism carried to the extreme. Socialists are
those who should belong to surplus class in static condition 133

CHAPTER XVII

ANARCHISM AND THEORIES OF GOVERNMENT

Anarchist's ultimate ideal same as that of Socialist — Group
action always necessary — Usual procedure — Pubhc business
tends to build up a ruling class — War and religion give op-
portunities for usurpation of power — Business functions of
government require general intelligence — Dangers of govern-
ment obviated by static conditions on two-class basis —
Suffrage questions . . . . . . . • ^45



CONTENTS xix

PACE

CHAPTER XVIII

THE LOGICAL OUTCOME OF THE THEORY IN PRACTICE

Assume theory put in practice — Objections to capitalism —
Futility of Socialist programme for solution — Solution by
two-class theor}' — Graphic representation of tendency —
Theoretical ideal reached without distress . . • I54

CHAPTER XIX

DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW COUNTRY ON A TWO-CLASS BASIS

Study of resources — Establishment of breeding-place and of
cities — Control of commerce — Precautions against capital-
ism ; new countries at present show dangers of system —
Undesirable labourers . . . . . . .160

CHAPTER XX

OVERPOPULATED COUNTRIES

Quantitative study of resources — " Back to the Land " —
Misconceptions of the meaning of the phrase — Must mean
back to the yeomanry, not for individuals, but for the
race — Ehmination of the proletarian — -Troubles with Mrs.
Grundy and the clergj' — Important task of medical pro-
fession — Patrician class — Measures for making most of it in
transition period — Dangers of palliative measures for poor of
cities — Tendencies towards Socialism wholesome if affecting
only surplus class . . . . . . . .164

CHAPTER XXI

UNIVERSAL CONSIDERATIONS

Humanity progresses by consciousness of larger and larger
group interests, through the necessity for defence against
aggression from other groups — Arbitration and tribunals —
Organization gives greater individual freedom within group
— Graphic representation of different forms of government
and group action — Dynamic majority — Practical but legally
unrecognized forms of authority — Constitutional govern-
ment impossible without general literacy — Necessity of united
action against something outside of group only motive for



XX THE MALTHUSIAN LIMIT

lAGE

altruism — Danger of overpopulation gives such a motive for
whole race — Changes in belief necessary — Numbers no longer
important . . . . . . . . .176

CHAPTER XXII

A BASIS FOR UNIVERSAL ORGANIZATION

World peace — Necessity for each country to feed itself — In-
dustrial warfare ; its waste to be prevented — Commerce no
longer an advantage, but for the whole race a waste — Its
advantages not economic, but pedagogical — Ideal of static
condition division of earth's surface among small unit groups,
each based on proper number of fecund families — Exchange
of intelligence among such groups — Advantages for free in-
dividual development . . . . . . .185

CHAPTER XXIII

CLIMATE AND RACE

Northern nations most enterprising — Analysis of influence
of climate — Zone best suited for man ; corresponds to
yeoman class in single country — All people in this zone
capable of high civilization — Zone divided among four
races ; Germanic, Latin, Slav, Mongolian — Four divisions :
Western Europe, China, Russia, North America — These
four groups dominate entire earth — Problems of each group
— China and Russia independent of other groups — North
America and Europe allied — Western Europe should adopt
static condition and give up local rivalries — Motives — Navy
question — Possible international navy — Advantages of such
a plan — Tariff wars . . . . . . .192

CHAPTER XXIV

PRACTICAL MEASURES FOR INTERNATIONALISM

Europe now at zenith of influence ; other groups bound to
outstrip it — Difficulties in relation to the tropics — Ideal
conditions equitable trade and not domination — Europe
alone now dynamic majority in all world questions, but
cannot maintain position — For its interest to use influence
in favour of world peace — Modern possibilities for spread of
information — International commissions — Possibility of per-
manent international assembly — Its possible functions and
methods — Questions for its consideration — Significance of
universal calendar — Necessity for conservatism in action . 205



INTRODUCTION

THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION FOR THE
HUMAN RACE

ACCORDING to Mulhall, the population of
l\. the earth at the time of the Roman
Empire was 54,000,000, and by the fifteenth
century the population of Europe had reached
about the same figure. In the year 1800, the
population of Europe was about 170,000,000,
and in 1900 their descendants, at home and
in America and elsewhere, numbered over
500,000,000. No country of which we have
reliable statistics at different times shows an
actual falling off, except from emigration,
unless it is from temporary causes like a great
war or pestilence. Where emigration has kept
down the numbers at home, of course the
emigrants have increased in still greater numbers
as, for instance, the Irish in America. There
are no statistics available for the Oriental
nations which date back far enough to give an
equally good impression as to their increase in

6 2 XXI



xxii THE MALTHUSIAN LIMIT

population ; but since Japan and India have
had regular enumerations, there appears an
increase comparable with that of Europe.

A study of the relative rates of increase for
periods of twenty-five years shows a very great
acceleration in the last period. This is easily
accounted for by a law which is a commonplace
in all systems of political economy. It is well


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryEdward IsaacsonThe Malthusian limit, a theory of a possible static condition for the human race → online text (page 1 of 17)