Letters to the Editor - Winter 2000

By Jack Parsons
Volume 10, Number 2 (Winter 1999-2000)
Issue theme: "Ober borders: gateways for criminals and terrorists"


While expressing my appreciation of David Simcox' generally favourable review of my new book, Human Population Competition, and of the journal for commissioning it, I hope I may be granted a little space to correct a factual error and offer a couple of counter-balancing opinions. In any review of a very large book (in this case 800 pp.), crammed with facts, it is easy to misread or misremember bits of it and Mr. Simcox has mistakenly attributed my description of the highly effective Australian Aboriginal surgical population control, subincision, to another desert people, the Kalahari Bushmen. The original Australians don't get much credit for their achievements these days and they deserve full credit for this.

The reviewer gently takes me to task for including the U.S. 'removal' (his term) of millions of illegal settlers from the U.S. within my general category of population 'expulsions.' In the latter I include a wide range of examples from many parts of the world - including extradition for alleged crimes. Of course these U.S. removals are very different from, say, the Serbian 'cleansing' of Kosovars, but for me both qualify as non-voluntary movements out of one country or region into another, i.e. expulsions.

In another section he correctly notes that I argue that the flow of births is a result of 'a shifting balance between ... human drives shaped by a host of different influences' (his words), only to accuse me - again mildly - of adopting a 'reductionist approach.' I must confess that I find these two allegations, cheek by jowl, rather hard to reconcile.

Linked to this is the rather weightier criticism that while making 'a good theoretical case for competitive breeding,' I 'offer little empirical data establishing the fact or the importance of the competitive drive in birth decisions in different societies.' He does qualify this by asking 'Does such data even exist?' and I have to agree that I was not able to produce a 'full causal chain' such as a lawyer or judge may demand.

However, I do feel that in this case the criticism is rather unbalanced on two counts. The first is that the book is already huge, leaving little or no chance of pursuing this quest, and the second is that I do in fact provide a very great deal of evidence at both micro and macro levels, linking clear rationales and statements of belief in and of policy on numbers and power, accompanied by higher birth and growth rates. These include Welsh Nationalists in my own adopted country, the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo, the Jews v. the Arabs/Palestinians of Israel and region, Muslims in many regions, and many others. Perhaps the most dramatic of these is provided by Iran after the Revolution, where the whole voluntary birth control movement was systematically demolished and the country set on a course for population disaster until the light dawned and the whole policy was dramatically reversed. (A 'double volte-face,' I call it).

To give credit where it is due I think I should make it clear that the terms homocontracipiens and homo progenitivus, which Simcox seems to attribute to me, stem from that seminal but much-neglected work, The Next Million Years (1973), by C.G. Darwin (Charles's grandson).

Of course, as Simcox strongly implies, there is a need for a great deal more work on these pressing problems. In fact the main objects of my book are to stimulate further research and to open up public debate on this profoundly important but hitherto taboo subject within the context of the pressing ecological constraints within which human societies must exist. I very much hope that both book and reviews will jog consciences and aid in this process.

Sincerely yours.

Jack Parsons

South Wales, UK