"On the first Christmas Day the population of our planet was about two hundred and fifty millions -- less than half the population of modern China. Sixteen centuries later, when the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth Rock, human numbers had climbed to a little more than five hundred millions. By the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, world population had passed the seven hundred million mark. In 1931, when I was writing Brave New World, it stood at just under two billions. Today, only twenty-seven years later, there are two billion eight hundred million of us. And tomorrow -- what?" - Aldous Huxley - Brave New World Revisited - 1958
As the world explodes in violence, war, riots, and uprisings, it is challenging to step back and examine the bigger picture. With airliners being shot down over the Ukraine, missiles flying between Israel and Gaza, ongoing civil war in Syria, Iraq falling apart as ISIS gains ground, dictatorship crackdown in Egypt, Turkey on the verge of revolution, Iran gaining control of Iraq, Saudi Arabia fomenting violence, Africa dissolving into chaos, South America imploding and sending their children across our purposely porous southern border, Mexico under the control of drug lords, China experiencing a slow motion real estate collapse, Japan experiencing their third decade of Keynesian failure, facing a demographic nightmare scenario while being slowly poisoned by radiation, and Chinese-Japanese relations moving towards World War II levels, it is easy to get lost in the day to day minutia of history in the making.
Why is this happening at this point in history? Why is the average American economically worse off today than they were at the height of the economic crisis in 2009? Why is the Cold War returning with a vengeance? Why is the Federal Reserve still employing emergency monetary policies when we are supposedly five years into a recovery and the stock market has attained record highs? Why do the ECB and European politicians continue to paper over the insolvency of their banks and governments? Why did the U.S. support the ouster of a dictator we supported for decades in Egypt and then support the elevation of a new dictator after we didn't like the policies of the democratically elected president? Why did the U.S. eliminate the leader of Libya and allow the country to descend into anarchy and civil war? Why did the U.S. fund and provoke a revolutionary overthrow of a democratically elected leader in the Ukraine? Why did the U.S. fund and arm Al Qaeda associated rebels in Syria who are now fighting our supposed allies in Iraq? Why has the U.S. been occupying Afghanistan for the last thirteen years with the result being a Taliban that is stronger than ever? Why are the BRIC countries forming a monetary union to challenge USD domination? Why is the U.S. attempting to provoke Russia into a conflict with NATO?
Why is the U.S. government collecting every electronic communication made by every American? Why is the U.S. government spying on world leader allies? Why is the U.S. government providing military equipment to local police forces? Why is the U.S. military conducting training exercises within U.S. cities? Why is the U.S. government attempting to restrict Second Amendment rights? Why is the U.S. government attempting to control and lockdown the internet? Why has the U.S. government chosen to treat the Fourth Amendment as if it is obsolete? Why is the national debt still rising by $750 billion per year ($2 billion per day) if the economy is back to normal? Why have 12 million working age Americans left the workforce since the economic recovery began? How could the unemployment rate be back at 2008 levels when there are 14 million more working age Americans and the same number employed as in 2008? Why are there 13 million more people on food stamps today than there were at the start of the economic recovery in 2009? Why have home prices risen by 25% since 2012 when mortgage applications have been at fourteen year lows? Why are Wall Street profits and bonuses at record highs while the real median household income stagnates at 1998 levels?
Why do 98% of incumbent politicians get re-elected when congressional approval levels are lower than whale shit? Why are oil prices four times higher than they were in 2003 if the U.S. is supposedly on the verge of energy independence? Why do the corporate controlled mainstream media choose to entertain and regurgitate government propaganda rather than inform, investigate and seek the truth? Why do corporations and shadowy billionaires control the politicians, media, judges, and financial system in their ravenous quest for more riches? Why has the public allowed a privately owned bank to control our currency and inflate away 96% of its value in 100 years? Why have American parents allowed their children to be programmed and dumbed down by government run public schools? Why have Americans allowed themselves to be lured into debt in an effort to appear wealthy and successful? Why have Americans permitted their brains to atrophy through massive doses of social media, reality TV, iGadget addiction, and a cultural environment of techno-narcissism? Why have Americans lost their desire to read, think critically, question authority, act responsibly, defer gratification, and care about future generations? Why have Americans sacrificed their freedoms, liberties and rights for the false expectation of safety and security? Why will we pay dearly for our delusional, materialistic, debt financed idiocy? - Because we never learn the lessons of history.
There are so many questions and no truthful answers forthcoming from those who pass for leaders in this increasingly totalitarian world. Our willful ignorance, apathy, hubris and arrogance will have consequences. Just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it's not going to happen. The cyclicality of history guarantees a further deepening of this Crisis. The world has evolved from totalitarian hegemony to republican liberty and regressed back to totalitarianism throughout the centuries. Anyone honestly assessing the current state of the world and our country would unequivocally conclude we have regressed back towards a totalitarian regime where a small cabal of powerful oligarchs believes they can control and manipulate the masses in their gluttonous desire for treasure. Aldous Huxley foretold all the indicators of a world descending into totalitarianism due to overpopulation, propaganda, brainwashing, consumerism, and dumbing down of a distracted populace in his 1958 reassessment of his 1931 novel Brave New World.
Is There a Limit?
"At the rate of increase prevailing between the birth of Christ and the death of Queen Elizabeth I, it took sixteen centuries for the population of the earth to double. At the present rate it will double in less than half a century. And this fantastically rapid doubling of our numbers will be taking place on a planet whose most desirable and productive areas are already densely populated, whose soils are being eroded by the frantic efforts of bad farmers to raise more food, and whose easily available mineral capital is being squandered with the reckless extravagance of a drunken sailor getting rid of his accumulated pay." - Aldous Huxley - Brave New World Revisited - 1958
Demographics are easy to extrapolate and arrive at an accurate prediction, as long as the existing conditions and trends remain relatively constant. Huxley was accurate in his doubling prediction. The world population was 2.9 billion in 1958. It only took 39 years to double again to 5.8 billion in 1997. It has grown by 24% in the last 17 years to the current level of 7.2 billion. According to United Nations projections, world population is projected to reach 9.6 billion in 2050. The fact that it would take approximately 70 years for the world's population to double from the 1997 level reveals a slowing growth rate, as the death rate in many developed countries surpasses their birth rate. The population of the U.S. grew from 175 million in 1958 to 320 million today, an 83% increase in 56 years.
The rapid population growth over the last century from approximately 1.8 billion in 1914, despite two horrific world wars, is attributable to cheap, easy to access oil and advances in medical technology made possible by access to cheap oil. The projection of 9.6 billion in 2050 is based upon an assumption the world's energy, food and water resources can sustain that many people, no world wars kill a few hundred million people, no incurable diseases spread across the globe and there is no catastrophic geologic, climate, or planetary events. I'll take the under on the 9.6 billion.
Anyone viewing the increasingly violent world situation without bias can already see the strain that overpopulation has created. Today, six countries contain half the world's population.
A cursory examination of population trends around the world provides a frightening glimpse into a totalitarian future marked by vicious resource wars, violent upheaval and starvation for millions. India, a country one third the size of the United States, has four times the population of the United States. A vast swath of the population lives in poverty and squalor. India contains the largest concentration (25%) of people living below the World Bank's international poverty line of $1.25 per day. According to the U.N. India is expected to add 400 million people to its cities by 2050. Its capital city Delhi already ranks as the second largest in the world, with 25 million inhabitants. The city has more than doubled in size since 1990. The assumptions in these U.N. projections are flawed. Without rapidly expanding economic growth, capital formation and energy resources, the ability to employ, house, feed, clothe, transport, and sustain 400 million more people will be impossible. Disease, starvation, civil unrest, war and a totalitarian government would be the result. With its mortal enemy Pakistan, already the sixth most populated country in the world, jamming 182 million people into an area one quarter the size of India and one twelfth the size of the U.S. and growing faster than India, war over resources and space will be inevitable. And both countries have nuclear arms.
More than half the globe's inhabitants now live in urban areas, with China, India and Nigeria forecast to see the most urban growth over the next 30 years. Twenty-four years ago, there were 10 megacities with populations pushing above the 10 million mark. Today, there are 28 megacities with areas of developing nations seeing faster growth: 16 in Asia, 4 in Latin America, 3 in Africa, 3 in Europe and 2 in North America. The world is expected to have 41 sprawling megacities over the next few decades with developing nations representing the majority of that growth. Today, Tokyo, with 38 million people, is the largest in the world, followed by New Delhi, Jakarta, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, Manila, and Karachi - all exceeding 20 million people.
To highlight the rapid population growth of the developing world, the New York metropolitan area containing 18 million people was ranked as the third largest urban area in the world in 1990. Today it is ranked ninth and is expected to be ranked fourteenth by 2030. The U.S. had the fewest births since 1998 last year at 3.95 million. We also had the highest recorded deaths in history at 2.54 million. The fertility rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is now 83.1 births per 1,000 women, a record low. That combination created a gap in births over deaths that is the lowest it has been in 35 years.
This is the plight of the developed world (U.S., Europe, Japan) and even China (due to one child policy). According to the U.N. report, the population of developed regions will remain largely unchanged at around 1.3 billion from now until 2050. In contrast, the 49 least developed countries are projected to double in size from around 900 million people in 2013 to 1.8 billion in 2050. The rapid growth of desperately poor third world countries like Nigeria, Afghanistan, Niger, Congo, Ethiopia, and Uganda will create tremendous strain on their economic, political, social, and infrastructural systems. Nigeria's population is projected to surpass the U.S. by 2050. Japan, Europe and Russia are in demographic death spirals. China is neutral, and the U.S. is expected to grow by another 89 million people. I wonder how many of them the BLS will classify as not in the labor force.
What are the implications to mankind of the world adding another billion people in the next twelve years, primarily in the poorest countries of Asia, Africa and South America? What does the world think of the U.S., which constitutes 4.4% of the world's population, but consumes 20% of the world's oil production and 24% of the world's food? Will there be consequences to having the 85 richest people on earth accumulating as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion, with 1.2 billion surviving on less than $1.25 per day? Can a planet with finite amount of easily accessible financially viable extractable resources support an ever increasing number of people? Is there a limit to growth? I believe these questions will be answered in the next fifteen years as the dire consequences play out in civil strife, resource wars, totalitarian regimes, and societal collapse. Fourth Turning Crisis cycles always sweep away the existing social order and replace it with something new. It could be better or far worse.
Impact of Over-Population
"The problem of rapidly increasing numbers in relation to natural resources, to social stability and to the well-being of individuals -- this is now the central problem of mankind; and it will remain the central problem certainly for another century, and perhaps for several centuries thereafter. Unsolved, that problem will render insoluble all our other problems. Worse still, it will create conditions in which individual freedom and the social decencies of the democratic way of life will become impossible, almost unthinkable. Not all dictatorships arise in the same way. There are many roads to Brave New World; but perhaps the straightest and the broadest of them is the road we are traveling today, the road that leads through gigantic numbers and accelerating increases." - Aldous Huxley - Brave New World Revisited - 1958
The turmoil roiling the world today is a function of Huxley's supposition that over-population pushes societies towards centralization and ultimately totalitarianism. The relentless growth in the world's population, not matched by growth in energy resources, water, food, and living space, results in increasing tension, anger, economic decline, government dependency, war and ultimately totalitarianism. Huxley believed politicians and governments would increasingly resort to propaganda and misinformation to mislead citizens as the problems worsened and freedoms were revoked. Could this recent statement by our commander and chief of propaganda have made Edward Bernays and Joseph Goebbels any prouder?
"The world is less violent than it has ever been. It is healthier than it has ever been. It is more tolerant than it has ever been. It is better fed then it's ever been. It is more educated than it's ever been."
I'm sure the people living in Gaza, the Ukraine, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Thailand, Turkey, Africa and American urban ghettos would concur with Obama's less violent than ever mantra. Disease (Cholera, Malaria, Hepatitis, Aids, Tuberculosis, Ebola, Plague, SARS) and malnutrition beset third world countries, while the U.S. obesity epidemic caused by consumption of corporate processed food peddled to the masses through diabolical marketing methods enriches the mega-corporate food companies, as well as the corporate sick care complex. Religious wars and culture wars rage across the world as intolerance for others beliefs reaches all-time highs. After three decades of government controlled public education they have succeeded in dumbing down the masses through social engineering, propaganda, and promoting equality over excellence. Obama should stop trying to think and stick to what he does best - golf and fundraising. After reading his drivel, I'm reminded of a far more pertinent quote from Huxley:
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."
The chart below details the fact that 12% of the world's population in countries producing 9% of the world's oil are currently in a state of war. The violence, war, and civil unrest roiling the Ukraine, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan are a direct result of U.S. meddling, instigation, and provocation. The U.S. government funds dictators (Hussein, Mubarak, Assad, Gaddafi) until they no longer serve their interests, engineer the overthrow of democratically elected leaders in countries (Iran, Egypt, Ukraine) that don't toe the line, and dole out billions in military aid and arms to countries around the world in an effort to make them do our dirty work and enrich the military industrial complex. The true motivation behind most of the violence, intrigue and war is the U.S. need to maintain the U.S. petro-dollar hegemony and to control the flow of oil and natural gas throughout the world. The ruling oligarchy's power, influence, and wealth are dependent upon dictating currency valuations and flow of oil and gas from foreign fiefdoms.
In Huxley's 1931 Brave New World fable the world's population is maintained at an optimum level (just under 2 billion) calculated by those in control. This is done through technology and biological manipulation. Procreation through sexual intercourse is prohibited. Creation of the desired number of people in each class is scientifically determined and the classes are conditioned from birth to fulfill their roles in society. When Huxley reassessed his novel in 1958's Brave New World Revisited he didn't argue for an optimum level of population. He simply hypothesized a close correlation between too many people, multiplying too rapidly, and the formulation of authoritarian philosophies and rise of totalitarian systems of government.
The introduction of penicillin, DDT, and clean water into even the poorest countries on the planet had the effect of rapidly decreasing death rates around the globe. Meanwhile, birth rates continued to increase due to religious, social and cultural taboos surrounding birth control and the illiteracy and ignorance of those in the poorest regions of the world. The ultimate result has been an explosion in population growth in the developing world, least able to sustain that growth. Huxley just uses common sense in concluding that as an ever growing population presses more heavily upon accessible resources, the economic position of the society undergoing this ordeal becomes ever more precarious.
It essentially comes down to the laws of economics. Most of the developing world is economic basket cases. They cannot produce food, consumer goods, housing, schools, infrastructure, teachers, managers, scientists or educated workers at the same rate as their population growth. Therefore, it is impossible to improve the wretched conditions of the vast majority, as they wallow in squalor. Unless a country can produce more than it consumes, it cannot generate the surplus capital needed to invest in machinery, agricultural production, manufacturing facilities, and education. The rapidly growing population sinks further into poverty and despair. Huxley grasps the nefarious implications for freedom and liberty as over-population wreaks havoc around the globe:
"Whenever the economic life of a nation becomes precarious, the central government is forced to assume additional responsibilities for the general welfare. It must work out elaborate plans for dealing with a critical situation; it must impose ever greater restrictions upon the activities of its subjects; and if, as is very likely, worsening economic conditions result in political unrest, or open rebellion, the central government must intervene to preserve public order and its own authority. More and more power is thus concentrated in the hands of the executives and their bureaucratic managers." - Aldous Huxley - Brave New World Revisited - 1958
Despots, dictators, and power hungry presidents arise in an atmosphere of fear, scarce resources, hopelessness, and misery. As the power of the central government grows the freedoms, liberties and rights of the people are diminished and ultimately relinquished.
In Part II, I will examine our relentless path towards totalitarianism and war.