Nature Not to Blame
|January 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Archive, Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Lack of Justice, Not “Overpopulation,” Causes World Hunger
Nature Not to Blame
Below is the text of a radio broadcast by the Justice Party of Australia. Every nation ought to have a Justice Party. Does yours?
Many people have been exercised by the problem of the relation of population to resources, or in other words, whether there are too many people in the world relative to the amount of food available. There is a mainstream opinion, particularly among academic economists, that world population is increasing too rapidly in relation to the resources available.
Recently however, there appeared a book entitled “Geography of Hunger” by Josue de Castro, Chairman of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. This book provides a vivid account of the appalling disease and undernourishment prevalent throughout the world; two-thirds of the world’s population is suffering from undernourishment. But de Castro provides ample evidence that this state of affairs is not due to the niggardliness of Nature or the bungling of the Creator.
Of the fifty percent of the globe’s soil that can be cultivated, only ten percent is being used, and furthermore production in most places could be increased enormously by the use of scientific agricultural improvements. It is estimated that there are eight acres per head of population, suitable for cultivation by modern methods, whereas it is calculated that two acres per head are sufficient for the production of food. At present only one acre per head is in use, and even that at far less than its full capacity by modern technical standards.
An important cause for this situation is land monopoly. De Castro’s book is full of cases where only a small percentage of the population holds the most part and the best of the land. This applies to many countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, India, Morocco, Iran and Iraq. This leads to inefficiency in production and to waste of resources.
On the one hand, there is often nothing to prevent privileged landholders from withholding large tracts of land from use or from using their land badly, for they are not being required to contribute to revenue in accordance with the community created privileges which they enjoy. On the other hand, the peasant realises that no matter how hard he works the most of his produce will be swallowed up in rack rent. Some say it is useless to try to introduce modern agricultural techniques to Asiatic peasants, but under the circumstances the reluctant attitude of the peasants is quite understandable. A fancy government-supplied tractor is of little use to the peasant if the landlord derives all the benefit. Such assistance to under-developed countries should be given only on the condition of genuine and radical social reform.
The foregoing situation is important to us in Australia in at least two ways. Firstly, scientific advances have so reduced the effect of distance between countries that events in Asia inevitably affect us. When the underprivileged millions of Asia and elsewhere awaken and begin to realise that poverty is not inevitable, then, social and economic justice must be done or else there will be chaos.
And secondly, we in Australia must put our own house in order. Our food production is not as it could be. Land is being aggregated into larger holdings. Community created land values are being appropriated by private individuals, instead of being used as the source of government revenue. We are imposing absurd trade barriers against goods from Asia so that it becomes harder for these needy countries to buy our food.
The Justice Party has the answer. Our policy would remove trade barriers which hamper the distribution of wealth and nullify the benefits of division of labor on the international sphere. Our policy would also bring natural resources into use so that all of mankind’s material necessities could be met. This it would achieve by the practical step of requiring landholders to pay revenue to the government treasury in accordance with the community created value of their land. This policy is the practical means of harmonising justice, i.e., opportunity to all and privilege to none, with genuine liberty. Help us to make this a reality in Australia, and so ultimately, throughout the world.
— G.A. Forster
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