Monday, 21 March 2011

Malthus, the Irish famine and Easter Island

I watched a documentary recently where the Irish famine (1845-1852) was the topic of discussion. Like most people who've heard about the famine only in passing, I assumed that there was a great potato blight without any other context to place this almost total decimation of a people.

But there were other factors that were brought into play by other human beings who had political, social and economic interests in trying to destroy the Irish people (famine and genocide). As it turned out, other crops and livestock were completely untouched by the blight and could have saved the million or so poor souls who died in the famine, and the other million or so who were displaced into a diaspora had the rich,  "interested" aristocracy and the English crown acted even just a little bit humanely.

There is a mathematical "justification" for right-wing inaction to help the poor and disenfranchised called "Malthusian population dynamics" that says that human populations have a tendency to grow exponentially while food and other necessary resources only grow linearly; that poverty is the natural state for the overly-breeding subhumans; that evil and adversity can create good and beneficial conditions (ostensibly) for the deserving, prosperous upper-classes.

There is an island called Rapa Nui (Easter Island) that has been used by many, many people to validate Malthus's warning of ever-impending catastrophe of over-population. But by the time the Dutch admiral Jacob Roggeveen "discovered" Easter Island there was a population of about 3,000 indigenous people thriving on the island. Little doubt the natives exploited not only the "fruitful" land resources but also the fish and other aquatic resources to live and survive for millenia. But through Roggeveen's eyes this was a "barren" land peopled only by potential slaves, the uncooperative rest died of sport and bounty and disease not long after Roggeveen's discovery, leaving the island without people.

Inuit also live in a "barren" land and have lived so for also millenia. The apparent barrenness of the land is misleading to the ignorant. We are a maritime people. Extreme rightwing sociologist, Frances Widdowson and her emasculated husband have written that the Canadian Arctic should be depopulated so its resources may be extracted with impunity by right of Canada. According to her, aboriginal peoples do not have "culture" because we have no "technology" (none that could tame Nature anyhow, I guess), at best a subspecies of humanity.

Ringwing ideology is not racist nor is it culture-specific: it attacks any and all peoples not worthy of their consideration, anyone that stand in their way and interests. Gadhafi called his own people "rats" and vermin that should be exterminated. No one can make this up. History has written it.

Jay

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