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History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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and the influence on darwin…//Review of Alex de Waal, ‘Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine’

June 22nd, 2018 · No Comments

The greatest danger comes from a perspective on famine that is both fatalistic and wrong: a belief that, as Thomas Malthus put it in 1798 in the first edition of An Essay on the Principle of Population, “gigantic inevitable Famine” stalks humanity due to the intrinsic tendency of human communities to grow faster than the output of foodstuffs. So “with one mighty blow,” Malthus says, famine “levels the population with the food of the world.” Mass starvation, then, is in effect the revenge of supply on demand. Borrowing a term from the social theorist Ulrich Beck, de Waal calls this understanding of famine a “zombie concept”: one that “cannot be killed by normal means, and with limitless endurance keeps coming back to torment and infect the living.”

Source: Review of Alex de Waal, ‘Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine’

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