Overpopulation or Overmonetization?

Are there too many humans on the planet; or is there too much self-multiplying money-demand?

That elite voices can go on blaming the majority poor as “overpopulation” while blinkering out the exponentially-multiplying money-demand controlled by a fraction of the human population reveals the derangement of this ruling-value system.

The Overpopulation Argument

‘Excessive population growth’ has long been a favourite explanation of downward slide of global life-support systems. The initially plausible logic is that rises of human populations have overloaded the life-carrying capacities of the planet. Yet in fact the global rate of population increase has halved since its peak of 2.2 per cent in 1963. It is still too great a load at 1.1 per cent, the answer might be. Yet not one of the 33 degenerate trends of the cancer system identified here is coherently attributable to population rises. Even the rundown of material and energy resources has been led by vast wastes and unneeded uses by multiplying corporate commodity cycles propelled by private money-sequences serving a fraction of the global population. The real and underlying problem is thus concealed.

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Blaming global population growth for the rising pollution, depredation, depletion and destruction of the planet’s life-support systems is, in short, a fallacy of common cause. In logical form, it is like saying ‘my sore throat caused my headache’ without recognizing flu as the common cause. In committing this fallacy, the overpopulation argument has to blinker out the most basic facts. For while some populations grow fast, others decline: namely societies where women are literate and self-determining. Lack of literacy and self-determination of women is, in turn, typically based in conditions of mass impoverishment. Yet Kerala India has a lower per capita income than most states in India and higher female literacy and a lower birth rate – all supported by state and community programmes. Population growth depends on social conditions, and the most important of these are women’s literacy and decision in child-bearing with social support systems replacing multiple births for family life-security. All of these are elements of civil commons development analysed in the final chapter of this study. This is why developed societies show significant negative endogenous population growth – all of Europe, Russia, Japan, and Canada, for example. What these countries have in common is nearly 100 per cent literacy and social life-support systems and programmes to protect and enable women to exercise informed decision. It is these social conditions which decide whether or not overpopulation is a problem.

Social life-support systems which enable reduction of population and, more deeply, life-coherent demand on resources require social investment and collective regulation – precisely what the reigning system rules out. This is the reason that when endogenous populations decline, the degenerate  trends still escalate. The 'population bomb’ argument blocks out the common cause of these degenerate tends, and that is its ideological function.

Principled Summary of the Cancer Pattern

To summarise the common system cause of the global degenerate trends which population growth cannot begin to explain:

  1. All of these trends are by mutations of past economic ordering to transnationally unregulated private conglomerate money-sequences;
  2. for whose cumulatively life-destructive growth there has been long-term failure of social immune recognition
  3. because of a world system of extra-parliamentary treaties conferring unilateral and unaccountable rights on transnational corporations
  4. which prohibit any intervention in their predatory race to the bottom of no human and ecological life-regulators and standards;
  5. financed by states’ yielding all constitutional powers of money and credit issue to private transnational banks
  6. whose growing investment pattern is depredatory with debt enslavement and casino speculation as cash base;
  7. with cumulative transfer of public revenues and resources to extend and enforce the dominant private money-sequences through every society and domain;
  8. backed by ever more invasive measures including criminal wars and crimes against humanity with impunity.

Only one explanatory frame of meaning is adequate to these advancing pathogenic trends – a cancer system at the global level of reproduction.

Social Choice by Self-Regulation versus Deterministic Explanation and Fate

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There is no inexorable mechanism determining the cancer system independent of social alternative. Mechanical determinism on the level of how we live as human is a human-made disorder. In fact, every step of the cancer system has relied on a no-choice system for everyone but transnational banks and corporations – including thousands of pages of rules and small print protecting only money-sequencer rights enforced across borders with no legislative debate, decided unaccountable to and overriding prior law, adjudicated by secret trade panels of corporate-trade lawyers, and independent and above any democratic process or life-standard.

In still unconnected consequence of this private money-sequencing system of totalizing override of life-requirements at all levels, there is now no known domain of human life or social and ecological life-support systems not in macro decline in life-carrying capacity.

Health scientist José Carlos Escudero concretely concludes: ‘The difference between the current state of ill collective health and a better (and perfectly realizable) one is the mountain of dead bodies being produced every day.’ Medical scientist Sir Michael Marmot specifies the trend that research in the social determinants of disease has shown – people’s lives are more than cut in half or maimed by their socio-economic organization. More exactly, life expectancy is 48 years less in some countries than others, and over 20 years within countries, and the cause of lives destroyed is ‘the circumstances in which people live and work’, and whether or not their organizing systems are ‘meeting human needs’ (still unnamed). Leading the UN Commission on Social Determinants of Health and writing in the leading medical journal The Lancet, Marmot logically reasons: ‘If the major determinants of health are social, so must be the remedies’. He continues, ‘The health of the population is ... is a measure of whether, in the end, a population is benefiting as a result of a set of social arrangements ... From this perspective, globalisation and markets are good or bad in so far as the way they are operated affects health.

Dr Marmot and the WHO thus implicitly agree on the common cause of social well-being and ill-being – the ‘set of social arrangements’ which is ‘good or bad so far as the way they are operated affects health’.

We might here contrast the ruling GDP and other money-value aggregates as standard of living benchmark. A graphic later report of the WHO in 2008 featuring Dr Marmot’s diagnosis declares what GDP is numb to: ‘Inequities are killing people on grand scale.’

This text is an excerpt from The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure, by John McMurtry.