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Birth Control
by Halliday G. Sutherland
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BIRTH CONTROL

A Statement of Christian Doctrine against the Neo-Malthusians

BY

HALLIDAY G. SUTHERLAND, M.D. (Edin.)



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

THE ESSENTIAL FALLACIES OF MALTHUSIAN TEACHING

Section 1. MALTHUS AND THE NEO-MALTHUSIANS. (a) Malthus (b) The Neo-Malthusians

Section 2. TEACHING BASED ON FALSE PREMISES. (a) That Population progresses geometrically (b) That Food Supply progresses arithmetically (c) That Overpopulation is the cause of Poverty and Disease

Section 3. THE ROOT FALLACY

Section 4. WHAT OVERPOPULATION MEANS

Section 5. NO EVIDENCE OF OVERPOPULATION (a) In the Suez Canal Zone (b) In "Closed Countries" like Japan

Section 6. A NATURAL LAW CHECKING FERTILITY

Section 7. OVERPOPULATION IN THE FUTURE

Section 8. HOW NATIONS HAVE PERISHED

Section 9. PHYSICAL CATASTROPHES (a) Disease (b) War

Section 10. MORAL CATASTROPHES

CHAPTER II

THE FALSE DEDUCTIONS CONCERNING POVERTY

Section 1. BIRTH-RATE AND POVERTY (a) Famines (b) Abundance (c) Wages

Section 2. POVERTY IN GREAT BRITAIN DUE TO OTHER CAUSES (a) Under-development (b) Severance of the Inhabitants from the Soil

Section 3. CAUSES OF POVERTY IN INDIA

Section 4. POVERTY IN FACT CAUSES A HIGH BIRTHRATE (a) Malthusianism is an attack on the Poor (b) A Hindrance to Reform (c) A Quack Remedy for Poverty

Section 5. POVERTY AND CIVILISATION

CHAPTER III

HIGH BIRTH-RATES NOT THE CAUSE OF HIGH DEATH-RATES

Section 1. POVERTY AS NOW EXISTING

Section 2. HIGH BIRTH-RATE NOT THE CAUSE OF HIGH DEATH-RATE: PROVED FROM STATISTICS (a) Canada (b) Connaught

Section 3. A LOW BIRTH-RATE NO GUARANTEE OF A LOW DEATH-RATE

Section 4. VITAL STATISTICS OF FRANCE

Section 5. COEFFICIENTS OF CORRELATION

CHAPTER IV

HOW RELIGION AFFECTS THE BIRTHRATE

Section 1. FRENCH STATISTICS MISINTERPRETED BY MALTHUSIANS

Section 2. EVIDENCE FROM HOLLAND

Section 3. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Section 4. THE SAME RESULTS IN ENGLAND

CHAPTER V

IS THERE A NATURAL LAW REGULATING THE PROPORTION OF BIRTHS AND DEATHS?

Section 1. THE THEORY OF THOMAS DOUBLEDAY REVIVED

Section 2. MR. PELL'S GENERALISATIONS CRITICISED

Section 3. THE LAW OF DECLINE

Section 4. ILLUSTRATED FROM GREEK HISTORY (a) Moral Catastrophe in Ancient Greece (b) The Physical Catastrophe induced by Selfishness

CHAPTER VI

THE FALLING BIRTH-RATE IN ENGLAND: ITS CAUSES

Section 1. NOT, AS MALTHUSIANS ASSERT, DUE MAINLY TO CONTRACEPTIVES

Section 2. DECLINE IN FERTILITY DUE TO SOME NATURAL LAW

Section 3. AND TO CHARACTER OF OCCUPATION.

Section 4. AGGRAVATED DOUBTLESS BY MALTHUSIANISM

CHAPTER VII

THE EVILS OF ARTIFICIAL BIRTH CONTROL

Section 1. NOT A PHYSICAL BENEFIT (a) A Cause of Sterility (b) Neuroses (c) Fibroid Tumours

Section 2. A SCANDALOUS SUGGESTION

Section 3. A CAUSE OF UNHAPPINESS IN MARRIAGE

Section 4. AN INSULT TO TRUE WOMANHOOD

Section 5. A DEGRADATION OF THE FEMALE SEX

Section 6. SPECIALLY HURTFUL TO THE POOR (a) Affecting the Young (b) Exposing the Poor to Experiment (c) Tending towards the Servile State

Section 7. A MENACE TO THE NATION (a) There is a Limit to lowering the Death-rate (b) Birth Control tends to extinguish the Birth-rate (c) A Danger to the Empire (d) The Dangers of Small Families

Section 8. THE PLOT AGAINST CHRISTENDOM

CHAPTER VIII

THE RELIGIOUS ARGUMENT AGAINST BIRTH CONTROL

Section 1. AN OFFENCE AGAINST THE LAW OF NATURE

Section 2. REFLECTED IN THE NORMAL CONSCIENCE

Section 3. EXPRESSED IN THE SCIENCE OF ETHICS

Section 4. BIRTH CONTROL CONDEMNED BY PROTESTANT CHURCHES

APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VIII

A NEO-MALTHUSIAN ATTACK ON THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

CHAPTER IX

THE TEACHING OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON BIRTH CONTROL

Section 1. A FALSE VIEW OF HER DOCTRINE

Section 2. THE ESSENCE AND PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE

Section 3. ARTIFICIAL STERILITY WHOLLY CONDEMNED

Section 4. THE ONLY LAWFUL METHOD OF BIRTH CONTROL

Section 5. CONCLUSION

BIBLIOGRAPHY



BIRTH CONTROL



CHAPTER I

THE ESSENTIAL FALLACIES OF MALTHUSIAN TEACHING

Section 1. MALTHUS AND THE NEO-MALTHUSIANS

Birth control, in the sense of the prevention of pregnancy by chemical, mechanical, or other artificial means, is being widely advocated as a sure method of lessening poverty and of increasing the physical and mental health of the nation. It is, therefore, advisable to examine these claims and the grounds on which they are based. The following investigation will prove that the propaganda throughout Western Europe and America in favour of artificial birth control is based on a mere assumption, bolstered up by economic and statistical fallacies; that Malthusian teaching is contrary to reason and to fact; that Neo-Malthusian practices are disastrous alike to nations and to individuals; and that those practices are in themselves an offence against the Law of Nature, whereby the Divine Will is expressed in creation.

(a) Malthus

The Rev. Thomas Malthus, M.A., in 1798 published his Essay on the Principle of Population. His pamphlet was an answer to Condorcet and Godwin, who held that vice and poverty were the result of human institutions and could be remedied by an even distribution of property. Malthus, on the other hand, believed that population increased more rapidly than the means of subsistence, and consequently that vice and poverty were always due to overpopulation and not to any particular form of society or of government. He stated that owing to the relatively slow rate at which the food supply of countries was increased, a high birth-rate [1] inevitably led to all the evils of poverty, war, and high death-rates. In an infamous passage he wrote that there was no vacant place for the superfluous child at Nature's mighty feast; that Nature told the child to be gone; and that she quickly executed her own order. This passage was modified in the second, and deleted from the third edition of the Essay. In later editions he maintained that vice and misery had checked population, that the progress of society might have diminished rather than increased the "evils resulting from the principle of population," and that by "moral restraint" overpopulation could be prevented. As Cannan has pointed out, [2] this last suggestion destroyed the force of the argument against Godwin, who could have replied that in order to make "moral restraint" universal a socialist State was necessary. In order to avoid the evils of overpopulation, Malthus advised people not to marry, or, if they did, to marry late in life and to limit the number of their children by the exercise of self-restraint. He reprobated all artificial and unnatural methods of birth control as immoral, and as removing the necessary stimulus to industry; but he failed to grasp the whole truth that an increase of population is necessary as a stimulus not only to industry, but also as essential to man's moral and intellectual progress.

(b) The Neo-Malthusians

The Malthusian League accept the theory of their revered teacher, but, curiously enough, they reject his advice "as being impracticable and productive of the greatest possible evils to health and morality." [3] On the contrary, they advise universal early marriage, combined with artificial birth control. Although their policy is thus in flat contradiction to the policy of Malthus, there are two things common to both. Each is based on the same fallacy, and the aim of both is wide of the mark. Indeed, the Neo-Malthusian, like Malthus, has "a mist of speculation over his facts, and a vapour of fact over his ideas." [4] Moreover, as will be shown here, the path of the Malthusian League, although at first glance an easy way out of many human difficulties, is in reality the broad road along which a man or a nation travels to destruction; and as guides the Neo-Malthusians are utterly unsafe, since they argue from (a) false premises to (b) false deductions. We shall deal with the former in this chapter.

Section 2. TEACHING BASED ON FALSE PREMISES

The theory of Malthus is based on three errors, namely (a) that the population increases in geometrical progression, a progression of 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, and so on upwards; (b) that the food supply increases in arithmetical progression, a progression of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on upwards; and (c) that overpopulation is the cause of poverty and disease. If we show that de facto there is no overpopulation it obviously cannot be a cause of anything, nor be itself caused by the joint operation of the first two causes. However, each of the errors can be severally refuted.

(a) In the first place, it is true that a population might increase in geometrical progression, and that a woman might bear thirty children in her lifetime; but it is wrong to assume that because a thing might happen, it therefore does happen. The population, as a matter of fact, does not increase in geometrical progression, because Nature [5] places her own checks on the birth-rate, and no woman bears all the children she might theoretically bear, apart altogether from artificial birth control.

(b) Secondly, the food supply does not of necessity increase in arithmetical progression, because food is produced by human hands, and is therefore increased in proportion to the increase of workers, unless the food supply of a country or of the world has reached its limit. The food supply of the world might reach a limit beyond which it could not be increased; but as yet this event has not happened, and there is no indication whatsoever that it is likely to happen.

Human life is immediately sustained by food, clothing, shelter, and fuel. Food and clothing are principally derived from fish, fowl, sheep, cattle, and grain, all of which tend, more so than man, to increase in geometrical ratio, although actually their increase in this progression is checked by man or by Nature. As regards shelter there can be no increase at all, either arithmetical or geometrical, apart from the work of human hands. Again, the stock of fuel in or on the earth cannot increase of itself, and is gradually becoming exhausted. On the other hand, within living memory, new sources of fuel, such as petroleum, have been made available, and old varieties of fuel have been used to better advantage, as witness the internal-combustion engine driven by smoke from sawdust. Moreover, in the ocean tides is a vast energy that one day may take the place of fuel.

(c) Thirdly, before anyone can reasonably maintain that overpopulation is the cause of poverty and disease, it is necessary to prove that overpopulation actually exists or is likely to occur in the future. By overpopulation we mean the condition of a country in which there are so many inhabitants that the production of necessaries of livelihood is insufficient for the support of all, with the result that many people are overworked or ill-fed. Under these circumstances the population can be said to press on the soil: and unless their methods of production could be improved, or resources secured from outside, the only possible remedy against the principle of diminishing returns would be a reduction of population; otherwise, the death-rate from want and starvation would gradually rise until it equalled the birth-rate in order to maintain an unhappy equilibrium.

Section 3. THE ROOT FALLACY

According to Malthusian doctrine overpopulation is the cause of poverty, disease, and war: and consequently, unless the growth of population is artificially restrained, all attempts to remedy social evils are futile. Malthusians claim that "if only the devastating torrent of children could be arrested for a few years, it would bring untold relief." They hold that overpopulation is the root of all social evil, and the truth or falsehood of that proposition is therefore the basis of all their teaching. Now, when Malthusians are asked to prove that this their basic proposition is true, they adopt one of two methods, not of proof, but of evasion. Their first method of evading the question is by asserting that the truth of their proposition is self-evident and needs no proof. To that we reply that the falsity of the proposition can and will be proved. Their second device is to put up a barrage of facts which merely show that all countries, and indeed the earth itself, would have been overpopulated long ago if the increase of population had not been limited by certain factors, ranging from celibacy and late marriages to famines, diseases, wars, and infanticide. The truth of these facts is indisputable, but it is nevertheless a manifest breach of logic to argue from the fact of poverty, disease, and war having checked an increase of population, that therefore poverty, disease, and war are due to an increase of population. It would be as reasonable to argue that, because an unlimited increase of insects is prevented by birds and by climatic changes, therefore an increase of insects accounts for the existence of birds, and for variations of climate. Nor is it of any use for Malthusians to say that overpopulation might be the cause of poverty. They cannot prove that it is the cause of poverty, and, as will be shown in the following chapter, more obvious and probable causes are staring them in the face. For our present purpose it will suffice if we are able to prove that overpopulation has not occurred in the past and is unlikely to occur in the future.

Section 4. WHAT OVERPOPULATION MEANS

In the first place, the meaning of the word "overpopulation" should be clearly understood. The word does not mean a very large number of inhabitants in a country. If that were its meaning the Malthusian fallacy could be disproved by merely pointing out that poverty exists both in thinly populated and in thickly populated countries. Now, in reality, overpopulation would occur whenever the production of the necessities of life in a country was insufficient for the support of all the inhabitants. For example, a barren rock in the ocean would be overpopulated, even if it contained only one inhabitant. It follows that the term "overpopulation" should be applied only to an economic situation in which the population presses on the soil. The point may be illustrated by a simple example.

Let us assume that a fertile island of 100 acres is divided into 10 farms, each of 10 acres, and each capable of supporting a family of ten. Under these conditions the island could support a population of 1,000 people without being overpopulated. If, however, the numbers in each family increased to 20 the population would press on the soil, and the island, with 2,000 inhabitants, would be an example of overpopulation, and of poverty due to overpopulation.

On the other hand, let us assume that there are only 1,000 people on the island, but that one family of ten individuals has managed to gain possession of eight farms, in addition to their own, and that the other nine families are forced to live on one farm. Obviously, 900 people would be attempting to live under conditions of dire poverty, and the island, with its population of 1,000, would now offer an excellent example, not of overpopulation, but of human selfishness.

My contentions are that poverty is neither solely nor indeed generally related to economic pressure on the soil; that there are many causes of poverty apart altogether from overpopulation; and that in reality overpopulation does not exist in those countries where Malthusians claim to find proofs of social misery due to a high birthrate.

If overpopulation in the economic sense occurred in a closed country, whose inhabitants were either unable or unwilling to send out colonies, it is obvious that general poverty and misery would result. This might happen in small islands, but it is of greater interest to know what does happen.

Section 5. NO EVIDENCE OF OVERPOPULATION

In a closed country, producing all its own necessities of life and incapable of expansion, a high birth-rate would eventually increase the struggle for existence and would lead to overpopulation, always provided that, firstly, the high birth-rate is accompanied by a low death-rate, and secondly, that the high birth-rate is maintained. For example, although a birth-rate was high, a population would not increase in numbers if the death-rate was equally high. Therefore, a high birth-rate does not of necessity imply that population will be increased or that overpopulation will occur. Again, if the birth-rate fell as the population increased, the danger of overpopulation would be avoided without the aid of a high death-rate. For a moment, however, let us assume that the Malthusian premise is correct, that a high birth-rate has led to overpopulation, and that the struggle for existence has therefore increased. Then obviously the death-rate would rise; the effect of the high birth-rate would be neutralised; and beyond a certain point neither the population nor the struggle for existence could be further increased. On these grounds Neo-Malthusians argue that birth-control is necessary precisely to obviate that cruel device whereby Nature strives to restore the balance upset by a reckless increase of births; and that the only alternative to frequent and premature deaths is regulation of the source of life. As a corollary to this proposition they claim that, if the death-rate be reduced, a country is bound to become overpopulated unless the births are artificially controlled. Fortunately it is possible to test the truth of this corollary, because certain definite observations on this very point have been recorded. These observations do not support the argument of birth controllers.

(a) In the Suez Canal Zone

In the Suez Canal Zone there was a high death-rate chiefly owing to fever. According to Malthus it would have been a great mistake to lower this death-rate, because, if social conditions were improved, the population would rapidly increase and exceed the resources of the country. Now, in fact, the social conditions were improved, the death-rate was lowered, and the subsequent events, utterly refuting the above contention, are thus noted by Dr. Halford Ross, who was medical officer in that region:

"During the years 1901 to 1910, health measures in this zone produced a very considerable fall in the death-rate, from 30.2 per thousand to 19.6 per thousand; the infant mortality was also reduced very greatly, and it was expected that, after a lapse of time, the reduction of the death-rate would result in a rise of the birth-rate, and a corresponding increase of the population. But such was not the case. When the death-rate fell, the birthrate fell too, and the number of the population remained the same as before, even after nearly a decade had passed, and notwithstanding the fact that the whole district had become much healthier, and one town, Port Said, was converted from an unhealthy, fever-stricken place into a seaside health resort." [6]

Moreover, Dr. Halford Ross has told me that artificial birth control was not practised in this region, and played no part in maintaining a stationary population. The majority of the people were strict Mohammedans, amongst whom the practice of birth control is forbidden by the Koran.

(b) In "Closed Countries" like Japan

But a much more striking example of the population in a closed country remaining stationary without the practice of birth control, thus refuting the contention of our birth controllers, is to be found in their own periodical, The Malthusian. [7] It would appear that in Japan from 1723 to 1846 the population remained almost stationary, only increasing from 26,065,422 to 26,907,625. In 1867 the Shogunate was abolished, the Emperor was restored, and Japan began to be a civilised power. Now from 1872 the population increased by 10,649,990 in twenty-seven years, and "during the period between 1897 and 1907 the population received an increment of 11.6 per cent., whereas the food-producing area increased by only 4.4 per cent.... According to Professor Morimoro, the cost of living is now so high in Japan that 98 per cent, of the people do not get enough to eat." From these facts certain obvious deductions may be made. So long as Japan was a closed country her population remained stationary. When she became a civilised industrial power the mass of her people became poorer, the birth-rate rose, and the population increased, this last result being the real problem to-day in the Far East. In face of these facts it is sheer comedy to learn that our Malthusians are sending a woman to preach birth control amongst the Japanese! Do they really believe that for over a hundred years Japan, unlike most semi-barbaric countries, practised birth control, and that when she became civilised she refused, unlike most civilised countries, to continue this practice? There is surely a limit to human credulity.

The truth appears to be that in closed countries the population remains more or less stationary, that Nature herself checks the birth-rate without the aid of artificial birth control, and that birthrates and death-rates are independently related to the means of subsistence.

Section 6. A NATURAL LAW CHECKING FERTILITY

During the past century the population of Europe increased by about 160,000,000, but it is utterly unreasonable to assume that this rate of increase will be maintained during the present century. It would be as sensible to argue that because a child is four feet high at the age of ten he will be eight feet high at the age of twenty. Moreover, there is evidence that, apart altogether from vice, the fertility of a nation is reduced at every step in civilisation. The cause of this reduction in fertility is unknown. It is probably a reaction to many complex influences, and possibly associated with the vast growth of great cities. This decline in the fertility of a community is a natural protection against the possibility of overpopulation; but, on the other hand, there is a point beyond which any further decline in fertility will bring a community within sight of depopulation and of extinction.

Section 7. OVERPOPULATION IN THE FUTURE

It is a fallacy to say that overpopulation is the cause of poverty and disease, and that for the simple reason that overpopulation has not yet occurred. For the growth of a nation we assume that the birth-rate should exceed the death-rate by from 10 to 20 per thousand, and it is obvious that in a closed country the evil of overpopulation might appear in a comparatively short time. The natural remedies in the past have been emigration and colonisation. According to the birth controllers these remedies are only temporary, because sooner or later all colonies and eventually the earth itself will be overpopulated. At the British Association Meeting in 1890 the population of the earth was said to be 1,500 millions, and it was calculated that only 6,000 millions could live on the earth. This means that if the birth-rate throughout the world exceeded the death-rate by only 8 per thousand, the earth would be overpopulated within 200 years. It is probable that in these calculations the capacity of the earth to sustain human life has been underestimated; that the earth could support not four times but sixteen times its present population; and that the latter figure could be still further increased by the progress of inventions. But, apart altogether from the accuracy of these figures, the danger of overpopulation is nothing more or less than a myth. Indeed, the end of the world, a philosophic and scientific certitude, is a more imminent event than its overpopulation.

Section 8. HOW NATIONS HAVE PERISHED

Before speculating on what might happen in the future, it is well to recollect what has happened in the past. The earth has been inhabited for thousands of years, and modern research has revealed the remains of many ancient civilisations that have perished. For example, there were the great nations of Cambodia and of Guatemala. In Crete, about 2000 B.C., there existed a civilisation where women were dressed as are this evening the women of London and Paris. That civilisation perished, and even its language cannot now be deciphered. Why did these civilisations perish? Surely this momentous question should take precedence over barren discussions as to whether there will be sufficient food on the land or in the sea for the inhabitants of the world in 200 years' time. How came it about that these ancient nations did not double their numbers every fifty years and fill up the earth long ago?

The answer is that they were overcome and annihilated by the incidence of one or other of two dangers that threaten every civilisation, including our own. These dangers are certain physical and moral catastrophes, against which there is only one form of natural insurance, namely, a birth-rate that adequately exceeds the death-rate. They help to illustrate further the fallacy of the overpopulation scare.

The following is a general outline of these dangers, and in a later chapter (p. 70)(see [Reference: Dangers]) I shall quote an example of how they have operated in the past.

Section 9. PHYSICAL CATASTROPHES

Deaths from famine, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions are confined to comparatively small areas, and the two physical catastrophes that may seriously threaten a civilisation may be reduced to endemic disease and war.

(a) Disease

Disease, in the form of malaria, contributed to the fall of ancient Greece and Rome. In the fourteenth century 25,000,000 people, one-quarter of the population of Europe, were exterminated by plague, the "Black Death," and in the sixteenth century smallpox depopulated Spanish America. Although these particular diseases have lost much of their power owing to the progress of medical science, we have no right to assume that disease in general has been conquered by our civilisation, or that a new pestilence may not appear. On the contrary, in 1805, a new disease, spotted fever, appeared in Geneva, and within half a century had become endemic throughout Europe and America. Of this fever during the Great War the late Sir William Osler wrote: "In cerebro-spinal fever we may be witnessing the struggle of a new disease to win a place among the great epidemics of the world." There was a mystery about this disease, because, although unknown in the Arctic Circle, it appeared in temperate climates during the coldest months of the year. As I was able to prove in 1915, [8] it is a disease of civilisation. I found that the causal organism was killed in thirty minutes by a temperature of 62 deg. F. It was thus obvious that infection could never be carried by cold air. But in overcrowded rooms where windows are closed, and the temperature of warm, impure, saturated air was raised by the natural heat of the body to 80 deg. F or over, the life of the microorganism, expelled from the mouths of infected people during the act of coughing, was prolonged. Infection is thus carried from one person to another by warm currents of moving air, and at the same time resistance against the disease is lowered. Cold air kills the organism, but cold weather favours the disease. In that paradox the aetiology of cerebro-spinal fever became as clear as the means of prevention. The story of spotted fever reveals the forces of nature fighting against the disease at every turn, and implacably opposed to its existence, while man alone, of his own will and folly, harbours infection and creates the only conditions under which the malady can appear. For example, during two consecutive winters cerebro-spinal fever had appeared in barracks capable of housing 2,000 men. A simple and effective method of ventilation was then introduced. From that day to this not a single case of cerebro-spinal fever has occurred in these barracks, although there have been outbreaks of this disease in the town in which the barracks are situated.

There are many other diseases peculiar to civilisation, and concerning the wherefore and the why an apposite passage occurs in the works of Sir William Gull.

"Causes affecting health and shortening life may be inappreciable in the individual, but sufficiently obvious when their effect is multiplied a thousandfold. If the conditions of society render us liable to many diseases, they in return enable us to establish the general laws of life and health, a knowledge of which soon becomes a distributive blessing. The cure of individual diseases, whilst we leave open the dark fountains from which they spring, is to labour like Sisyphus, and have our work continually returning upon our hands. And, again, there are diseases over which, directly, we have little or no control, as if Providence had set them as signs to direct us to wider fields of inquiry and exertion. Even partial success is often denied, lest we should rest satisfied with it, and forget the truer and better means of prevention." [9]

Medical and sanitary science have made great progress in the conquest of enteric fever, diphtheria, scarlet fever, measles, and whooping cough. The mortality from bronchitis and from pulmonary tuberculosis has also been reduced, but nevertheless tuberculosis still claims more victims in the prime of life than any other malady. It is a disease of civilisation and is intimately associated with economic conditions. The history of tuberculosis has yet to be written. On the other hand, deaths from certain other diseases are actually increasing, as witness the following figures from the Reports of the Registrar-General for England and Wales:

Disease. Number of Number of deaths in Deaths in 1898. 1919.

Diseases of the heart and circulatory system 50,492 69,637 Cancer 25,196 42,144 Pneumonia 35,462 38,949 Influenza 10,405 44,801

In view of these figures it is folly to suppose that the final conquest of disease is imminent.

(b) War

War, foreign or civil, is another sword hanging over civilisations, whereby the fruits of a long period of growth may be destroyed in a few years. After the Thirty Years War the recovery of Germany occupied a century and a half. During the fourteen years of the Taiping rebellion in China whole provinces were devastated and millions upon millions of people were killed or died. In spite of the Great War during the past decade, there are some who would delude themselves and others into the vain belief that, without a radical change in international relations and a determined effort to neutralise its causes, there will be no more war; but unless the nations learn through Christianity that justice is higher than self-interest the following brilliant passage by Devas is as true to-day as when it was written in 1901:

"True that the spread of humanitarianism and cosmopolitanism made many people think, towards the end of the nineteenth century, that bloodshed was at an end. But their hopes were dreams: the visible growth of national rivalry and gigantic armaments can only issue in desperate struggles; while not a few among the nations are troubled with the growth of internal dissensions and accumulations of social hatred that point to bloody catastrophes in the future; and the tremendous means of destruction that modern science puts in our hands offer frightful possibilities of slaughter, murderous anarchical outrages, and rivers of blood shed in pitiless repression." [10]

Malthusians may inveigh against wars waged to achieve the expansion of a nation, but so long as international rivalry disregards the moral law their words will neither stop war nor prevent a Malthusian country from falling an easy prey to a stronger people. On the contrary, a low birthrate, by reducing the potential force available for defence, is actually an incentive to a declaration of war from an envious neighbour, because it means that he will not hesitate so long when attempting to count the cost beforehand. In 1850 the population of France and Germany numbered practically the same, 35,500,000; in 1913 that of France was 39,600,000, that of Germany 67,000,000. [11] The bearing of these facts on the Great War is obvious. In 1919 the new Germany, including Silesia, had a population of just over 60,000,000; whereas, in 1921, France, including Alsace-Lorraine, had a population of 39,200,000. Thus, despite her victory in the war, the population of France is less to-day than it was seven years ago.

Section 10. MORAL CATASTROPHES

In view of past history only an ostrich with its head in the sand can profess to believe that there will be no calamities in the future to reduce the population of the earth. And apart from cataclysms of disease or of war, empires have perished by moral catastrophe. A disbelief in God results in selfishness, and in various moral catastrophes. In the terse phrase of Mr. Bernard Shaw, "Voluptuaries prosper and perish." [12] For example, during the second century B.C. the disease of rationalism, [13] spread over Greece, and a rapid depopulation of the country began.

The facts were recorded by Polybius, [14] who expressly states that at the time of which he is writing serious pestilences did not occur, and that depopulation was caused by the selfishness of the Greeks, who, being addicted to pleasure, either did not marry at all or refused to rear more than one or two children, lest it should be impossible to bring them up in extravagant luxury. This ancient historian also noted that the death of a son in war or by pestilence is a serious matter when there are only one or two sons in a family. Greece fell to the conquering Romans, and they also in course of time were infected with this evil canker. There came a day when over the battlements of Constantinople the blood-red Crescent was unfurled. Later on all Christendom was threatened, and the King of France appealed to the Pope for men and arms to resist the challenge to Europe of the Mohammedan world. The Empire of the Turk spread over the whole of South-Eastern Europe. But once more the evil poison spread, this time into the homes in many parts of Islam, and to-day the once triumphant foes of Christianity are decaying nations whose dominions are the appanage of Europe. In face of these facts it is sheer madness to assume that all the Great Powers now existing will maintain their population and prove immune from decay. Indeed, the very propaganda against which this Essay is directed is in itself positive proof that the seeds of decay have already been sown within the British Empire. Yet, in an age in which thought and reason are suppressed by systematised confusion and spiritless perplexity, the very simplicity of a truth will operate against its general acceptance.

From the theological point of view, the myth of overpopulation is definitely of anti-Christian growth, because it assumes that, owing to the operation of natural instincts implanted in mankind by the Creator, the only alternative offered to the race is a choice between misery and vice, an alternative utterly incompatible with Divine goodness in the government of the world.

[Footnote 1: The birth-rate is the number of births per 1,000 of the whole population. In order to make a fair comparison between one community and another, the birth-rate is often calculated as the number of births per 1,000 married women between 15 and 45 years of age, as these constitute the great majority of child-bearing mothers. This is called the corrected birth-rate.]

[Footnote 2: Economic Review, January 1892.]

[Footnote 3: So says the Secretary of the Malthusian League. Vide The Declining Birth-rate, 1916, p. 88.]

[Footnote 4: Bagehot, Economic Studies, p. 193.]

[Footnote 5: To assign a personality to "Nature" is, of course, a mere facon de parler; the believer holds that the "course of Nature" is an expression of the Mind and Will of the Creator.]

[Footnote 6: Problems of Population, p. 382.]

[Footnote 7: The Malthusian, July 15, 1921.]

[Footnote 8: Lancet, 1915, vol. ii, p. 862.]

[Footnote 9: The New Sydenham Society, vol. clvi, section viii, p. 12.]

[Footnote 10: Charles S. Devas, Political Economy, 1901, p. 191.]

[Footnote 11: Revue Pratique d'Apologetique, September 15, 1914.]

[Footnote 12: Man and Superman, p. 195.]

[Footnote 13: By rationalism we mean a denial of God and of responsibility for conduct to a Higher Being.]

[Footnote 14: Quoted by W.H.S. Jones, Malaria and Greek History 1909, p95.]



CHAPTER II

THE FALSE DEDUCTIONS CONCERNING POVERTY

From the original root-fallacy Malthus argued that poverty, prostitution, war, disease, and a high death-rate are necessary in order to keep down the population: and from the same false premises birth controllers are now arguing that a high birth-rate causes (1) poverty, and (2) a high death-rate. The steps in the argument whereby these amazing conclusions are reached are as follows. Before the death-rate can be lowered the social conditions of the people must be improved; if social conditions are improved there will be an enormous increase of population in geometrical progression; the food supply of the country and even of the world cannot be increased at the same rate; and therefore there will be greater poverty and a higher death-rate unless the birth-rate is lowered. Thus Malthusians argue. In view of the false premises on which their argument is based, it is not surprising to find that their deductions are erroneous and contain many economic and statistical fallacies, to the consideration of which we may now devote our attention.

Section 1. BIRTH-RATE AND POVERTY

The first false deduction of birth controllers is that a high birth-rate, by intensifying the struggle for existence, increases poverty. In order to bolster up this contention, Malthusians quote three arguments concerning (a) famines, (b) abundance, and (c) wages, and each of these arguments is fallacious.

(a) Famines

The prevalence of famines is quoted as a proof of reckless overpopulation. Now a famine may occur from several different causes, some within and others beyond the control of man, but a failure of crops has never yet been caused by pressure on the soil. On the contrary, famine is less likely to arise in a country whose soil is intensively cultivated, because intensive cultivation means a variety of crops, and therefore less risk of all the crops failing. Moreover, during the past century famine has occurred in Bengal, where population is dense; in Ireland, where population is moderate, and in Eastern Russia, where population is scanty. The existence of famine is therefore no proof that a country is overpopulated, although it may indicate that a country is badly governed or under-developed.

(b) Abundance

Malthusians also claim that by means of artificial birth control we could live in a land of abundance. They point out that, as the population of a new colony increases, the colonists, by applying the methods of civilisation to the rich soil, become more and more prosperous. Eventually there comes a time when capital or labour applied to the soil gives a maximum return per head of population. Once that point has been reached any further capital or labour applied to the soil will produce a smaller return per head of population. This "law of diminishing returns" may be illustrated by a simpler example. Let us suppose that during one year a market garden worked by one man has produced vegetables to the value of L10. During the second year the garden is worked by ten men and produces vegetables to the value of L200. It is obvious that the work of ten men has produced twice as much per head as the work of one man, because each man has produced not L10 but L20. During the third year the garden is worked by twenty men and yields vegetables to the value of L300. The total yield is greater, but the yield per head is less, because each man has produced not L20 but L15. The point of maximum production per head has been passed, and the law of diminishing returns is operating.

By restricting the birth-rate Malthusians would limit the population to the number necessary for maximum production per head. Now, in the first place, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, in the case of a country with various industries, to decide when the line of maximum production had been passed at any given time. Moreover, it would be utterly impossible to fix this line permanently. In the case of our market garden the introduction of intensive horticulture might mean that maximum production per head required the work of forty men. Again, the very phrase "maximum production per head" implies sterling moral qualities in the workers, and an absence of drones; and sterling moral qualities have never been prominent in any nation, once the practice of artificial birth control has been adopted. Lastly, the Christian ideal requires for its realisation, not a maximum, but an adequate supply of food, clothing, shelter, and fuel. Christianity teaches that to seek after the maximum enjoyment of material things is not the chief end of man, because the life of a man in this world is very short compared with his life in eternity.

(c) Wages

The Wages Fund Theory is an economic reflection of the Malthusian myth. This theory assumes that a definite fixed sum is available every year for distribution as wages amongst labourers, so that the more numerous the labourers the less wages will each one receive. From this theory Malthusians argue that the only remedy for low wages is artificial birth control. They carefully refrain from telling the working classes the other aspect of this Wages Fund theory—namely, that if the workers in one trade receive a rise in wages, a corresponding reduction must be made in the wages of others, so that a rise in wages here and there confers no real benefit on the labouring classes as a whole. That is merely one illustration of capitalist bias in the Malthusian propaganda. In any case, economic science has discarded the Wages Fund Theory as a pure fiction. No fixed or definite sum is available for wages, because the wages of a labourer are derived from the produce of his work. Even in the case of making a railway, where wages are paid before the work is completed, the money is advanced by shareholders on the security of the proceeds that will eventually accrue from the produce of the labourers.

Section 2. POVERTY IN GREAT BRITAIN DUE TO OTHER CAUSES

(a) Under-development

Even if the theory of birth controllers, that a high birth-rate increases poverty, were as true as it is false, it could not possibly apply to Great Britain or to any other country open to commercial intercourse with the world; because there is no evidence that the supply of food in the world either cannot or will not be increased to meet any actual or possible demand. Within the British Empire alone there was an increase of 75 per cent. in the production of wheat between 1901 and 1911. [15] In Great Britain there has been not only an increase of population but also an increased consumption of various foods per head of the population. Moreover, if Britain were as well cultivated as is Flanders we could produce all or nearly all our own food. [16]

The truth is that in countries such as England, Belgium, and Bengal, usually cited by Malthusians, as illustrating the misery that results from overpopulation, there is no evidence whatsoever to prove that the population is pressing on the soil. On the contrary, we find ample physical resources sufficient to support the entire population, and we also find evidence of human injustice, incapacity, and corruption sufficient to account for the poverty and misery that exist in these countries. This was especially so in Ireland during the first half of the nineteenth century. [17] Moreover, so far from high birth-rates being the cause of poverty, we shall find that poverty is one of the causes of a high birth-rate (p. 69).

(b) Severance of the Inhabitants from the Soil

It was not a high birth-rate that established organised poverty in England. In the sixteenth century the greater part of the land, including common land belonging to the poor, was seized by the rich. They began by robbing the Catholic Church, and they ended by robbing the people. [18] Once machinery was introduced in the eighteenth century, the total wealth of England was enormously increased; but the vast majority of the people had little share in this increase of wealth that accrued from machinery, because only a small portion of the people possessed capital. More children came, but they came to conditions of poverty and of child-labour in the mills. In countries where more natural and stable social conditions exist, and where there are many small owners of land, large families, so far from being a cause of poverty, are of the greatest assistance to their parents and to themselves. There are means whereby poverty could be reduced, but artificial birth control would only increase the total poverty of the State, and therefore of the individual.

From early down to Tudor times, the majority of the inhabitants of England lived on small holdings. For example, in the fifteenth century there were twenty-one small holdings on a particular area measuring 160 acres. During the sixteenth century the number of holdings on this area had fallen to six, and in the seventeenth century the 160 acres became one farm. Occasionally an effort was made to check this process, and by a statute of Elizabeth penalties were enacted against building any cottages "without laying four acres of land thereto." On the other hand, acres upon acres were given to the larger landowners by a series of Acts for the enclosure of common land, whereby many labourers were deprived of their land. From the reign of George I to that of George III nearly four thousand enclosure bills were passed. These wrongs have not been righted.

"To urge," wrote Professor Bain, "that there is sufficient poverty and toil in the world without bringing in more to share it than can be provided for, implies either begging the question at issue—a direct imputation that the world is at present very badly managed—or that all persons should take it upon themselves to say how much poverty and toil will exist in any part of the world in the future, or limit the productiveness of any race, because inadequate means of feeding, clothing, or employing them may be adopted in that part of time sometimes called unborn eternity. As a rule, the result usually has been: limit the increase of population without adequate cause, and the reaction causes deterioration or annihilation." [19]

Lastly, there is evidence that poverty has existed in thinly populated countries. Richard Cobden, writing in 1836, of Russia, states: "The mass of the people are sunk in poverty, ignorance, and barbarism, scarcely rising above a state of nature, and yet it has been estimated that this country contains more than 750,000 square miles of land, of a quality not inferior to the best portions of Germany, and upon which a population of 200,000,000 might find subsistence." [20]

Section 3. CAUSES OF POVERTY IN INDIA

In reality chronic poverty exists both in the thickly-peopled and in the thinly-peopled regions of India, and therefore the overpopulation theory is an inadequate explanation. Moreover, there are certain obvious and admitted evils, sufficient in themselves to account for the chronic poverty of India, and of these four are quoted by Devas. [21]

"(1) The grave discouragement to all rural improvement and in particular to the sinking of deep wells, by the absence outside Bengal of fixity of tenure, the landholder having the prospect of his assessment being raised every fifteen or thirty years. (2) Through most of India the unchecked oppression of usurers, in whose toils many millions of landholders are so bound as to lack means or motive for the proper cultivation of the soil. (3) A system of law and police totally unfit for small cultivators—witness the plague of litigation, appeals as 250 to 1 in England, habitual perjury, manufactured crime, and blackmailing by corrupt native police, all destructive of rural amity, co-operation, and industry. (4) Taxation oppressive both in quantity and quality: demanded, on pain of eviction and imprisonment, to be paid punctually and rigidly in cash, instead of optionally or occasionally in kind, or flexible, according to the variations of the seasons; moreover, levied on salt, raising the price of this necessity of life at least ten times, often much more; when precisely an abundant supply of salt, with the climate and diet of India, is a prime need for men and cattle."

Section 4. POVERTY IN FACT CAUSES A HIGH BIRTH-RATE

As will be shown in Chapter V, poverty is generally the cause and not the result of a high birth-rate. The Malthusian doctrine has been and is to-day a barrier to social reform, because it implies that humane legislation, by encouraging population, will of necessity defeat the aim of those who desire to improve the conditions of the poor by methods other than the practice of artificial birth control. To a very great extent Malthusian teaching was responsible for the Poor Law of 1834, the most severe in Europe, the demoralising laxity of the old Poor Law being replaced by degrading severity. Again, as recently as 1899, a Secretary of State reiterated the Malthusian doctrine by explaining that great poverty throughout India was due to the increase of population under the pax Britannica. Now the truth is that if the social conditions of the poor were improved, we have every reason to believe that their birth-rate would be reduced, because as civilisation in a community progresses there is a natural decline in fertility. Hence:

(a) Malthusianism is an Attack on the Poor

Both the supporters and the opponents of Malthus are often mistaken in considering his greatest achievement to be a policy of birth control. Malthus did a greater and a more evil thing. He forged a law of nature, namely, that there is always a limited and insufficient supply of the necessities of life in the world. From this false law he argued that, as population increases too rapidly, the newcomers cannot hope to find a sufficiency of good things; that the poverty of the masses is not due to conditions created by man, but to a natural law; and that consequently this law cannot be altered by any change in political institutions. This new doctrine was eagerly adopted by the rich, who were thus enabled to argue that Nature intended that the masses should find no room at her feast; and that therefore our system of industrial capitalism was in harmony with the Will of God. Most comforting dogma! Most excellent anodyne for conscience against acceptance of those rights of man that, being ignored, found terrible expression in the French Revolution! Without discussion, without investigation, and without proof, our professors, politicians, leader-writers, and even our well-meaning socialists, have accepted as true the bare falsehood that there is always an insufficient supply of the necessities of life; and to-day this heresy permeates all our practical politics. In giving this forged law of nature to the rich, Malthus robbed the poor of hope. Such was his crime against humanity. In the words of Thorold Rogers, Malthusianism was part and parcel of "a conspiracy, conceived by the law and carried out by parties interested in its success, to cheat the English workman of his wages, to tie him to the soil, to deprive him of hope, and to degrade him into immediate poverty." When Malthusians enter a slum for the purpose of preaching birth control, it is right that the people should be told what is written on the passports of these strangers.

(b) A Hindrance to Reform

The teaching of birth control amongst the poor is in itself a crime, because, apart from the evil practice, the people are asked to believe a lie, namely, that a high birth-rate is the cause of poverty and that by means of birth-control their circumstances will be improved. By one advocate of birth control this weak reasoning and inconsequential sentimentality have actually been crowded into the compass of a single sentence: "We must no longer be content to remain indifferent and idle witnesses of the senseless and unthinking procreating of countless wretched children, whose parents are diseased and vicious." [22] It is true that disease, vice, and wretched children are the saddest products of our industrial system; it is also true that a helpless baby never yet was guilty of expropriating land, of building slums, of under-paying the workers, or of rigging the market. Therefore instead of preventing the birth of children we should set about to rectify the evil conditions which make the lives of children and adults unhappy. Like many other policies advocated on behalf of the poor, birth control is immoral if only on this account, that it distracts attention from the real causes of poverty. In Spain birth control is not practised. I do not say there is no poverty in that country, but there is no poverty that resembles the hopeless grinding poverty of the English poor. For that strange disease, artificial birth control is a worthless remedy; and it were far better that we should turn our attention to the simple words of Cardinal Manning: "There is a natural and divine law, anterior and superior to all human and civil law, by which men have the right to live of the fruits of the soil on which they are born, and in which they are buried." [23]

(c) A Quack Remedy for Poverty

Artificial birth control is one of the many quack remedies advertised for the cure of poverty, and G.K. Chesterton has given the final answer to the Malthusian assertion that some form of birth control is essential because houses are scarce:

"Consider that simple sentence, and you will see what is the matter with the modern mind. I do not mean the growth of immorality; I mean the genesis of gibbering idiocy. There are ten little boys whom you wish to provide with ten top-hats; and you find there are only eight top-hats. To a simple mind it would seem not impossible to make two more hats; to find out whose business it is to make hats, and induce him to make hats; to agitate against an absurd delay in delivering hats; to punish anybody who has promised hats and failed to provide hats. The modern mind is that which says that if we only cut off the heads of two of the little boys, they will not want hats; and then the hats will exactly go round. The suggestion that heads are rather more important than hats is dismissed as a piece of mystical metaphysics. The assertion that hats were made for heads, and not heads for hats savours of antiquated dogma. The musty text which says that the body is more than raiment; the popular prejudice which would prefer the lives of boys to the mathematical arrangement of hats,—all these things are alike to be ignored. The logic of enlightenment is merciless; and we duly summon the headsman to disguise the deficiencies of the hatter. For it makes very little difference to the logic of the thing, that we are talking of houses and not of hats.... The fundamental fallacy remains the same; that we are beginning at the wrong end, because we have never troubled to consider at what end to begin." [24]

Section 5. POVERTY AND CIVILISATION

A modern writer is burdened by many words that carry an erroneous meaning, and one of these is the word "civilisation." Intended to mean "The Art of Living," this word, by wrong usage, now implies that our method of combining mental culture and bodily comfort is the highest, noblest, and best way to live. Yet this implication is by no means certain. On the contrary, the spectacle of our social life would bring tears to eyes undimmed by the industrial traditions of the past hundred years. This I know to be true, having once travelled to London in the company of a young girl who came from the Thirteenth Century. She had lived some twelve years on the Low Sierra of Andalusia, where in a small sunlit village she may have vainly imagined our capital to be a city with walls of amethyst and streets of gold, for when the train passed through that district which lies to the south of Waterloo, the child wept. "Look at these houses," she sobbed; "Dios mio, they have no view."

[Footnote 15: Memorandum issued by the Dominions Royal Commission, December 3, 1915 (p. 2).]

[Footnote 16: Prince Kropotkin, Fields, Factories, and Workshops, 1899, chapter iii.]

[Footnote 17: Vide The Economic History of Ireland from the Union to the Famine, by S. O'Brien (Longmans, 1921).]

[Footnote 18: William Cobbett, Social Effects of the Reformation. Catholic Truth Society (H. 132), price 2d.]

[Footnote 19: Quoted by F.P. Atkinson, M.D., in Edinburgh Medical Journal, September 1880, p. 229.]

[Footnote 20: Ibid., p. 234.]

[Footnote 21: Charles S. Devas, Political Economy, 1901, p. 199.]

[Footnote 22: British Medical Journal, July 23, 1921, p. 131.]

[Footnote 23: Quoted in Tablet, November 5, 1921, p. 598.]

[Footnote 24: Quoted from America, October 29, 1921, p. 31.]



CHAPTER III

HIGH BIRTH-RATES NOT THE CAUSE OF HIGH DEATH-RATES

Section 1. POVERTY AS NOW EXISTING

The second contention of birth controllers is that a high birth-rate, by increasing poverty, causes a high death-rate. In the first place, there is no doubt that poverty, necessary features of which are mal-nutrition or insufficient food and bad housing, is directly associated with a high death-rate, although this view was once shown by the Lancet to need important qualifications.

"With respect to the greater mortality amongst the poor than the rich, we have yet to learn that the only hope of lessening the death-rate lies in diminishing the birth-rate. We have no proof as yet that the majority of the evils at present surrounding the poor are necessarily attendant upon poverty. We have yet to see a poor population living in dry, well-drained, well-ventilated houses, properly supplied with pure water and the means of disposal of refuse. And we have yet to become acquainted with a poor population spending their scant earnings entirely, or in a very large proportion, upon the necessities of life; for such is not the case when half the earnings of a family are thrown away to provide adulterated alcoholic drinks for one member of it. Until reforms such as these and others have been carried out, and the poor are able and willing to conform to known physiological laws, it is premature to speak of taking measures to lessen the birth-rate—a proposal, be it said, which makes the humiliating confession of man's defeat in the battle of life." [25]

It will be seen that the qualifications practically remove the question from dispute. [26] If the conditions of the poor were thus altered, poverty, as it exists to-day, would of course disappear. As things are, we find that a high death-rate is related to poverty, as is proved, for example, by the death-rate from tuberculosis being four times greater in slums than in the best residential quarters of a city.

The correct answer to the birth controllers is that a high birth-rate is not the cause of a high death-rate, because high birth-rates, as shown in the previous chapter, are not the cause of poverty, but vice versa. Moreover, all the statistical evidence goes to prove that in this matter we are right and that Malthusians are wrong.

Section 2. HIGH BIRTH-RATE NOT THE CAUSE OF HIGH DEATH-RATE: PROVED FROM STATISTICS

In China, where there is said to be a birth-rate of over 50 per 1,000, and where over 70 per cent. of infants are helped to die, the high death-rate is due clearly to degraded social customs. In the slums of Great Britain the high death-rate is also due to degraded social conditions. It is not due to the birth-rate. Of this the proof is simple, (a) Among the French Canadians, where the average family numbers about nine, this high birth-rate is not associated with a high death-rate, but with the increase of a thrifty, hard-working race. In Ontario the birth-rate went up from 21.10 in 1910 to 24.7 in 1911, and the death-rate fell from 14 to 12.6. (b) Again, in 1911 the corrected birth-rate for Connaught was 45.3 as against a crude rate of 24.7 for England and Wales; and in Connaught, where there is no need for Societies for preventing Parents being Cruel to their Children, the infant mortality rate [27] is very much lower than in England, although the birth-rate is much higher and the poverty much greater. In Bradford, a prosperous English town which pays particular attention to its mothers and children, the infant mortality in 1917 was 132 per 1,000 and the birth-rate 13.2. In Connaught, where there are no maternity centres or other aids to survival, but on the contrary a great dearth of the means of well-being, the infant mortality was only 50, whilst the birth-rate was actually 45! [28] So untrue is it to say that a high death-rate is due to a high birth-rate.

Section 3. A LOW BIRTH-RATE NO GUARANTEE OF A LOW DEATH-RATE

Again, birth controllers claim that a low birthrate leads to a low infant mortality rate. Now, it is really a very extraordinary thing that, whatever be the statement made by a Malthusian on the subject of birth-control, the very opposite is found to be the truth. During the last quarter of last century a falling birth-rate in England was actually accompanied by a rising infant mortality rate! During 1918 in Ireland [29] the crude birthrate was 19.9, with an infant mortality rate of 86, whereas in England and Wales [30] the crude birthrate was 17.7 with an infant mortality rate of 97, and in the northern boroughs the appalling rate of 120. In England and Wales the lowest infant mortality rate was found to be in the southern rural districts, where the rate was 63, but in Connaught the rate was 50.5. This means that in England a low birth-rate is associated with a high infant mortality rate, whereas in Ireland a high birth-rate is associated with a low infant mortality rate. [31] These cold figures prove that in this matter at least the poorest Irish peasants are richer than the people of England.

Section 4. VITAL STATISTICS OF FRANCE

The Malthusian claim that a low birth-rate leads to a low death-rate is also disproved by the vital statistics of France.

"The death-rate of France has not declined at the same rate as the birth-rate has, and, while the incidence of mortality in France was equal to that of England in the middle of the seventies, the English mortality is now only five-sevenths of the French. England thus maintains a fair natural increase, although the birth-rate has declined at an even faster pace than has been the case in France....

"The French death-rate is higher than is the case with most of her neighbours, and it can quite well be reduced. The reasons for her fairly high mortality are not to be found in climatic conditions, racial characteristics, or other unchangeable elements of nature, nor even in her occupations, since some of the most industrial regions have a low mortality." [32]

I have tabulated certain vital statistics of twenty Departments of France.

The following table, covering two periods of five years in twenty Departments, proves that the death-rate was lower in the ten Departments having the highest birth-rate in France than in the ten Departments having the lowest birth-rate.

TABLE I

THE TEN DEPARTMENTS HAVING THE HIGHEST BIRTH-RATE FRANCE 1909-1913 1915-1919 Rates per 1,000 population Still- Rates per 1,000 births population Departments. Living Deaths Natural per 1000 Births deaths births increase births

Moselle 27.6 16.5 +11.1 - 14.7 15.4 Finistere 27.2 18.1 +9.1 4.0 15.9 18.2 Pas-de-Calais 26.8 17.4 +9.4 4.2 - - Morbihan 25.7 17.8 +7.9 4.4 15.0 19.0 Cotes-du-Nord 24.5 20.6 +3.9 4.2 14.4 20.0 Bas-Rhin. 24.3 16.2 +8.0 - 13.3 16.1 Meurthe-et- Moselle 23.2 19.2 +4.0 4.3 - - Lozere 22.6 17.3 +5.2 4.2 12.4 17.5 Haut-Rhin. 22.4 16.0 +6.4 - 10.3 15.4 Vosges 22.0 18.7 +3.3 4.7 - -

Total Averages 24.6 17.7 +6.8 4.2 13.7 17.3

THE TEN DEPARTMENTS HAVING THE LOWEST BIRTH-RATE IN FRANCE

Cote-d'Or. 15.4 18.2 -2.8 3.1 9.9 20.5 Allier. 15.1 15.7 -0.6 3.3 8.4 18.8 Gironde 15.1 17.3 -2.2 4.5 10.1 21.2 Haute-Garonne. 15.1 20.4 -5.3 4.0 9.0 22.5 Lot 15.0 21.0 -6.0 4.5 7.5 20.6 Nievre 14.9 17.4 -2.5 3.2 8.8 20.0 Tarn-et-Garonne 14.9 20.1 -5.1 4.7 7.9 20.7 Yonne 14.4 19.1 -4.7 3.8 8.9 22.0 Lot-et-Garonne 13.7 19.1 -5.4 4.4 7.4 20.1 Gers 13.2 19.2 -6.0 4.1 6.8 19.8

Total Averages 14.6 18.7 -4.0 3.9 8.4 20.6

Moreover, the figures show that, prior to 1914, the Departments with the lowest birth-rate were becoming depopulated. On the other hand, the enormous fall in the birth-rate throughout the country from 1915 to 1919 is a memorial, very noble, to the heroism of France in the Great War, and to her 1,175,000 dead. Certain other facts should also be noted. In France the regulations permit that, when a child has died before registration of the birth, this may be recorded as a still-birth; and for that reason the proportion of still-births appears higher than in most other countries.

Malthusian claims are thus refuted by the vital statistics of France; but it should be clearly understood that these figures do not prove that the reverse of the Malthusian theory is true, namely, that a high birth-rate is the cause of a low death-rate. There is no true correlation between birthrates and death-rates.

Section 5. COEFFICIENTS OF CORRELATION

As birth controllers rely very much upon statistics, and as figures may very easily mislead the unwary, it is necessary to point out that the Malthusian contention that a high birth-rate is the cause of a high death-rate is not only contrary to reason and to facts, but is also contrary to the very figures which they quote. A high birth-rate is often associated with a high death-rate, but a general or uniform correspondence between birth-rates and death-rates has never been established by modern statistical methods. To these methods brief reference may be made. A coefficient of correlation is a number intended to indicate the degree of similarity between two things, or the extent to which one moves with the other. If this coefficient is unity, or 1, it indicates that the two things are similar in all respects, while if it be zero, or 0, it indicates that there is no resemblance between them. The study of correlation is a first step to the study of causation, because, until we know to what extent two things move together, it is useless to consider whether one causes the movement of the other; but in itself a coefficient of correlation does not necessarily indicate cause or result. Now in this country, between 1838 and 1912 the birth-rate and the death-rate show a correlation of .84; but if that period be split into two, the correlation from 1838 to 1876, when the birth-rate was fluctuating, is minus .12, and in the period after 1876 the correlation is plus .92. This means that the whole of the positive correlation is due to the falling of the death-rate, and that birthrates and death-rates do not of necessity move together. [33]

After a careful examination of the vital statistics for France, Knud Stouman concludes as follows:

"In France no clear correlation exists between the birth-rate and the death-rate in the various Departments. The coefficient of correlation between the birth-rate and the general death-rate by Departments (1909-1913) was 0.0692+-0.1067, and including Alsace and Lorraine—0.0212+-0.1054, indicating no correlation whatsoever. A somewhat different and more interesting table is obtained when the correlation is made with the mortality at each age class:

TABLE II

Under 1 year 0.3647 +- 0.0986 1-19 years 0.4884 +- 0.0816 20-39 years 0.6228 +- 0.0656 40-59 years 0.5028 +- 0.0801 60 years and over 0.2577 +- 0.1001

"A peculiar configuration is observed in these coefficients in that a quite pronounced positive correlation exists at the central age group, but disappears with some regularity towards both extremities of life. If the mortality has any influence upon the natality this cannot be in the form of replacement of lost infants and deceased old people, therefore, as has frequently been suggested. That a high death-rate at the child-bearing age should be conducive to increased fertility is absurd, neither does it seem likely that a large number of children should make the parents more liable to diseases which are prevalent at this period of life. The reasons must, then, be looked for in a common factor.

"Now the only disease of importance representing the same age-curve as do the correlation coefficients is tuberculosis. This disease causes in France 2 per cent. of the deaths under one year, 24 per cent. of the deaths from 1 to 19 years of age, not less than 45 per cent. from 20 to 39, 18 per cent. at ages 40 to 59, and less than 2 per cent. at the ages over 60. Will a high tuberculosis mortality, then, be conducive to great fertility, or do we have to fear that a decrease of the natality will be the result of energetic measures against tuberculosis? Hardly. The death-rate may be reduced, then, without detrimental effects upon the birth-rate.

"What can the factor be which influences both the tuberculosis incidence and the birth-rate? We know that the prevalence of tuberculosis is conditioned principally by poverty and ignorance of hygiene. The Parisian statistics, as compiled by Dr. Bertillon and recently by Professor L. Hersch, show a much higher birth-rate in the poor wards than in the richer districts, and the high birth-rates may be furnished largely by the poorer elements of the population. A comfortable degree of wealth does not imply a low birth-rate, as is abundantly shown elsewhere, and one of the important questions which suggest themselves to the French statistician and sociologist is evidently the following: How can the intellectual and economic standard of the masses be raised without detriment to the natality?

"We believe that the time is opportune for solving this question. The past half-century has been lived under the shadow of defeat and with a sense of limitations, and of impotence against fate. This nightmare is now thrown off, and, the doors to the world being open and development free, the French people will learn that new initiative has its full recompense and that a living and a useful activity can be found for all the sons and daughters they may get. The habit of home-staying is broken by the war, and new and great undertakings are developing in the ruined north-east as well as in the sunny south." [34]

[Footnote 25: The Lancet, 1879, vol. ii, p. 703.]

[Footnote 26: Poverty is a term of wide import admitting many degrees according as the victim is deprived more or less completely of the ordinary necessities in the matters of food, clothing, housing, education, and recreation. As used by Malthusians and spoken of here it means persistent lack of one or more of these necessary requisites for decent living. Vide Parkinson, Primer of Social Science (1918), pp. 225 sqq.]

[Footnote 27: The infant mortality rate is the number of deaths of infants under one year old per 1,000 births in the same year.]

[Footnote 28: See Saleeby, The Factors of Infant Mortality, edited by Cory Bigger. Report on the Physical Welfare of Mothers and Children, vol. iv, Ireland (Carnegie U.K. Trust), 1918.]

[Footnote 29: Fifty-fifth Annual Report of the Registrar-General for Ireland, containing a General Abstract of the Numbers of Marriages, Births, and Deaths, 1918, pp. x, xxix, and 24.]

[Footnote 30: Eighty-first Annual Report of the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England and Wales, 1918, pp. xxiv, xxxii, and xxxv.]

[Footnote 31: This is also the emphatic testimony of Sir Arthur Newsholme, in his Report of Child Mortality, issued in connection with the Forty-fifth Annual Report of the Local Government Board (dated 191?), PP. 77-8.]

[Footnote 32: Knud Stouman, "The Repopulation of France," International Journal of Public Health, vol. ii, no. 4, p. 421.]

[Footnote 33: Dr. Major Greenwood. Vide The Declining Birth-rate, 1916, p. 130.]

[Footnote 34: International Journal of Public Health, vol. ii, no. 4, p. 423.]



CHAPTER IV

HOW RELIGION AFFECTS THE BIRTHRATE

Section 1. FRENCH STATISTICS MISINTERPRETED BY MALTHUSIANS

The fact that Malthusians are in the habit of citing the birth-rate in certain Catholic countries as a point in favour of their propaganda is only another instance of their maladroit use of figures: because for that argument there is not the slightest justification. The following paragraph from a recent speech [35] in the Anglican Church Congress by Lord Dawson, Physician to the King, is a good example of their methods in controversy:

"Despite the influence and condemnations of the Church, it (artificial birth control) has been practised in France for well over half a century, and in Belgium and other Catholic countries is extending. And if the Roman Catholic Church, with its compact organisation, its power of authority, and its discipline, cannot check this procedure, is it likely that Protestant Churches will be able to do so? For Protestant religions depend for their strength on the conviction and esteem they establish in the heads and hearts of their people."

I have italicised the closing words because it would be interesting to know, in passing, whether anyone denies that these human influences also contribute to the strength of the Catholic Church. Among recent converts to the Faith in this country are many Protestant clergymen who may be presumed to have known what claims "on their conviction and esteem" their communion had. Moreover, in France, amongst recent converts are some of the great intellects of that country. If it be not "conviction and esteem" in their "heads and hearts," what other motive, I ask, has induced Huysmans, Barres, and others to make submission to Rome?

Secondly, it is true that for over half a century the birth-rate of France has been falling, and that to some extent this decline is due to the use of contraceptives; but it is also true that during the past fifty years the Government of France has made a determined but unsuccessful effort to overthrow the Catholic Church; and that it is in so far as the Government has weakened Catholic influence and impeded Catholic teaching that the birth-rate has fallen. The belief of a nation will not influence its destiny unless that belief is reflected in the actions of the citizens. Father Herbert Thurston, S.J., [36] thus deals with the argument implied:

"Catholicism which is merely Catholicism in name, and which amounts to no more in the supposed believer than a vague purpose of sending for a priest when he is dying, is not likely to have any restraining effect upon the decline of the birth-rate. Further, it is precisely because a really practical Catholicism lays such restrictions upon freedom in this and in other matters, that members of the educated and comfortable classes, the men especially, are prone to emancipate themselves from all religious control with an anti-clerical rancour hardly known in Protestant lands. Had it not been for these defections from her teaching, the Catholic Church, in most countries of mixed religion, would soon become predominant by the mere force of natural fertility. Even as it is, we believe that a country like France owes such small measure of natural increase as she still retains almost entirely to the religious principle of the faithful few. Where the Catholic Church preserves her sway over the hearts of men the maintenance of a vigorous stock is assured."

In the first place, it is noteworthy that the birth-rate varies with practical Catholicism in France, being much higher in those Departments where the Church is more flourishing. As was shown by Professor Meyrick Booth in 1914, there are certain districts of France where the birth-rate is higher than in the usual English country districts. For example, the birth-rate in Finistere was 27.1, in Pas-de-Calais 26.6, and in Morbihan 25.8. On the other hand, in many Departments the birth-rate was lower than the death-rate. This occurred, for example, in Lot, Haute Garonne, Tarn-et-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne, and in Gers. In the two last-named Departments the birth-rates were 13.6 and 13.0 respectively.

In the following table I have tabulated more recent figures concerning the vital statistics in these two groups of Departments, and rates for the two periods of five years, 1909-1913, and 1915-1919, in each group are compared.

It will be noted that in the three Departments, where practical Catholicism is most flourishing,

TABLE III

1909-1913. 1915-1919.

Departments. Rates per 1000 Still- Deaths Rates per 1000 population Births under population per 1 year Living Deaths National 1000 per Births Deaths Births Increase Births 1000 living births

Finistere. 27.2 18.1 +9.1 4.0 116.7 15.9 18.2 Pas-de-Calais 26.8 17.4 +9.4 4.2 135.3 — — Morbihan. 25.7 17.8 +7.9 4.4 113.7 15.0 19.0

Total Averages. 26.5 17.7 +8.8 4.2 121.9 15.4 18.6

Lot. 15.0 21.0 -6.0 4.5 148.0 7.5 20.6 Haute Garonne. 15.1 20.4 -5.3 4.0 121.3 9.0 22.5 Tarn-et-Garonne 14.9 20.1 -5.1 4.7 134.7 7.9 20.7 Lot-et-Garonne. 13.7 19.1 -5.4 4.4 112.0 7.4 20.1 Gers. 13.2 19.2 -6.0 4.1 102.4 6.8 19.8

Total Averages. 14.3 19.9 -5.5 4.3 123.6 7.7 20.7

there is a high birth-rate, and moreover that in these Departments both the death-rate and the infant mortality rate is lower than in the five Departments with the lowest birth-rate.

Professor Meyrick Booth's comments are as follows:

"The above five departments (in which the decline of population has been most marked) are adjacent to one another in the fertile valley of the Garonne, one of the wealthiest parts of France; and we may well ask: Why should the birth-rate under such favourable conditions be less than half that which is noted for the bleak district of Finistere? The noted statistician, M. Leroy-Beaulieu, has some interesting observations to offer upon this paradoxical state of things. Considering the country in general, and these districts in particular, he notes that the most prolific parts of France are those in which the people have retained their allegiance to the traditional Church (in the case of the Pas-de-Calais we have a certain degree of adherence to the orthodox faith combined with the presence of a large mining population). M. Leroy-Beaulieu expresses the opinion that the Catholic Church tends, by means of its whole atmosphere, to promote a general increase of population; for, more than other types of Christianity, it condemns egoism, materialism, and inordinate ambition for self or family; and, moreover, it works in the same direction through its uncompromising condemnation of modern Malthusian practices. He draws our attention, further, to the new wave of religious life which has swept over the haute-bourgeoisie of France during the last few decades; and he does not hesitate to connect this with the fact that this class is now one of the most prolific (perhaps the most prolific) in the nation. Space forbids my taking up this subject in detail, but it appears from a considerable body of figures which have been collected that, while the average number of children born to each marriage in the English Protestant upper middle class is not more than about 2.0 to 2.5, the number born to each marriage in the corresponding class in France is between 3.0 and 4.0. Taking the foregoing facts into consideration, it would appear that Roman Catholicism—even in France—is very considerably more prolific (where the belief of the people is at all deep) than English Protestantism. This applies both to the upper and lower classes." [37]

In all probability Lord Dawson was unaware of the foregoing, but there is one fact which, as a Neo-Malthusian, he ought to have known, because the omission of this fact in his address is a serious matter. When referring to France as a country where birth control had come to stay, Lord Dawson did not tell his audience that the Government of France has now suppressed the only Malthusian periodical in that country, and has proposed a law, whereby those who engage in birth control propaganda shall be imprisoned.

Section 2. EVIDENCE FROM HOLLAND

As regards other countries, Holland is usually described as the Mecca of Malthusians, being "the only country where Neo-Malthusianism has been given the opportunity of diminishing the excessive birth-rate on eugenic lines, i.e. in the reduction of the fertility of the poorest classes," [38] and where a "considerable rise in the wages and general prosperity appears to have taken place side by side with an unprecedented increase of population." When we come to investigate this claim we find that, of the eleven provinces of Holland, two are almost entirely Catholic, these being North Brabant, with 649,000 inhabitants, and Limburg, with 358,000 inhabitants. On the other hand, in Friesland, with 366,000 inhabitants, not more than 8 per cent, are Catholics. The vital statistics for 1913 are quoted by Father Thurston, S.J.:

"... We find that in Limburg the crude birth-rate is 33.4, in North Brabant it is 32.5, but in Friesland it is 24.3. Of course, this is not the beginning and end of the matter. In North Brabant the death-rate is 16.36, in Limburg it is 15.28, in Friesland it is only 11.21, but the fact remains that in the two Catholic provinces the natural increase is 16.17 and 18.15, while in the non-Catholic province of Friesland it is 13.15. Further, no one can doubt that in such densely populated districts as North and South Holland and Gelderland the Catholics, who number more than 25 per cent, of the inhabitants, exercise a perceptible influence in raising the birth figures for the whole kingdom. The results would be very different if the entire country adopted Neo-Malthusian principles." [39]

Section 3. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

As was proved by the census of religions in 1906, the United States of America is becoming a great stronghold of the Faith. In Massachusetts the Catholic Church numbered 1,100,000 members, whereas the total membership of all the Protestant Churches was 450,000. In Illinois there were about 300,000 Methodists and 1,000,000 Catholics. There were 2,300,000 Catholics in the State of New York, and about 300,000 Methodists, while no other Protestant Church numbered more than 200,000. The New England States, once the home of American Puritanism, are now great centres of Catholicism.

Professor Meyrick Booth [40] explains this remarkable change as being due to two causes: (1) The influx of large numbers of European Catholics, who cling tenaciously to their religion; (2) the greater fertility of these stocks as compared with the native population. Moreover, he has tabulated the following statistics:

TABLE IV

State. Population Chief Religious Bodies Births & Birth (1906) Deaths rate per (b. and d.) 1,000

Indiana 2,700,000 Methodist 233,000 b. 36,000 13.0 Prot. Episcopalian 102,000 d. 36,500 Disciples 118,000 R.C. 175,000 Iowa. 2,224,000 Methodist 164,000 b. 36,000 16.0 Lutheran 117,000 d. 20,000 Presbyterian 60,000 R.C. 207,000 Maryland. 1,295,000 Methodist 137,000 b. 19,000 15.0 Prot. Episcopalian 35,000 d. 20,000 Baptist & smaller, about 100,000 R.C. 167,000 California. 2,377,000 R.C. 354,000 b. 32,100 14.0 Prot. bodies about d. 32,400 (All Churches weak) 250,000 Kentucky 2,290,000 Baptist 312,000 b. 35,000 15.0 Methodist 156,000 d. 18,000 R.C. 166,000

In these States the birth-rate is low; in three there are actually more deaths than births; and in all five the proportion of Catholics is comparatively small. These States may be compared with five others, in which the Catholic and the foreign elements are well represented:

TABLE V

State. Population Chief Religious Birth and Birthrate (1910) Bodies Deaths per 1000

New York. 9,113,000 R.C. 2,280,000 b. 213,000 22.0 Jews (?) 1,000,000 d. 147,000 Methodist 300,000 Presbyterian 200,000

Rhode Island 540,000 R.C. 160,000 b. 13,000 24.0 Baptist 20,000 d. 8,000 Prot. Episcopalian 15,000

Massachusetts 3,336,000 R.C. 1,080,000 b. 84,000 25.0 Congregational 120,000 d. 51,000 Baptist 80,000 All Protestants together 450,000

Michigan 2,800,000 R.C. 490,000 b. 64,000 23.0 Methodist 128,000 d. 36,000 Lutheran 105,000

Connecticut 1,114,000 R.C. 300,000 b. 27,000 24.0 Congregational 66,000 d. 17,000 Prot. Episcopalian 37,000

In these States the birth-rate is very much higher than in the former. Furthermore, a New York paper [40] investigated the birth-rate in that city with special reference to religious belief, and concluded that the different bodies could be graded as follows with respect to the number of children per marriage: (1) Jews, (2) Catholics, (3) Protestants (Orthodox), (4) Protestants (Liberal), and (5) Agnostic. Professor Meyrick Booth, who is himself a Protestant, concludes his survey of the evidence as follows:

"looking at the situation as a whole, there is good reason to think that the Protestant Anglo-Saxons are not only losing ground relatively, but must, at any rate in the East and middle East, be suffering an actual decrease on a large scale. For it has been shown by more than one sociologist (see, for example, the statement in The Family and the Nation) that no stock can maintain itself with an average of less than about four children per marriage, and from all available data (it has not been found possible to obtain definite figures for most of the Western and Southern States) we must see that the average fertility of each marriage in this section of the American people falls far short of the requisite four children. Judging by all the figures at hand, the modern Anglo-Saxon American, with his high standard of comfort, his intensely individualistic outlook on life, and his intellectual and emancipated but child-refusing wife, is being gradually thrust aside by the upgrowth of new masses of people of simpler tastes and hardier and more natural habits. And, what is of peculiar interest to us, this new population will carry into ascendancy those religious and moral beliefs which have moulded its type of life.

"The victory will be, not to those religious beliefs which most closely correspond to certain requirements of the abstract intellect, but to those which give rise, in practice, to a mode of life that is simple, natural, unselfish, and adequately prolific—in other words, to a mode of life that works, that is Lebensfaehig." [41]

As things are, the original Protestant stock of America is being swamped by the growth of the Catholic, the Jewish, and the Negro population. Moreover, the United States is faced by the grave problem of a rapidly increasing coloured race. Despite this fact the American Malthusians are now demanding that a National Bureau should be established to disseminate information regarding contraceptives throughout their country! And what of the other reformers? They also are very busy. They have already abolished those cheering beverages from grapes and grain, or rather they have made alcohol one of the surreptitious privileges of the rich. They are seeking to enforce the Sabbath as a day of absolute rest, not for the glory of God but in order that tired wage-slaves may have their strength renewed for another week of toil in the factories and the mills. Again, they would uproot from the homely earth that pleasant weed whose leaves have made slaves of millions since the days of Sir Walter Raleigh. All these things would they do. There are some things the reformers have not done, and these things are recounted by an American writer, Dr. Anthony M. Benedik:

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