On Enlightenment — David Stove

Everything I had heard, and probably everything you had heard, too, about Thomas Malthus is false. Malthus’s name is the one touted continuously by “environmentalists” as the sage who predicted that the world would eat itself to death by overpopulation. Malthus’s name was more current in the 1970s when Paul “Population Bomb” Erlich was crying that the sky had already fallen, and that if people didn’t vote for democrats and didn’t stop having babies doom would soon follow. Erlich, of course, was wildly wrong (not that his absurdities stop him from having a devoted following still).

Malthus’s true theory, as neatly explained by Stove, is a steady-state one that says a population—human or elsewise—will increase to the limit of the food supply and then hover around this equilibrium. If the food supply increases, so does the population; if it decreases, again, so does the population. Malthus says nothing about how increasing population will cause food supplies to disappear. What are the implications of this? Well, read Stove. He’ll tell you.

One section in this book is entitled, “So, You think you are an egalitarin?” And, yes, I did think so. Until I read what this means. A favorite essay, later in the book, is “The Columbus Argument”, which is the strategy used by “innovators” to foist unwanted reforms onto an unwilling public (it’s also the argument used by nut jobs who have claimed to build, among other things, “zero-point” limitless energy machines). A must read.


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