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Population Control

June 2, 2001

More children from the fit, less from the unfit - that is the chief issue of birth control.

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The ideologies of Malthus and Margret Sanger provide the background for the population control policies promoted during most of the 20th century. High population growth rates in low or un-industrialized countries and sinking population growth rates in industrialized countries caused fears among parts of the imperialist elites.

In the fifties, depletion of easily accessible natural resources caused considerable concern among foreign policy advisors, demographers and various ruling class saviours of civilisation.

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After WW II, severe economical disruptions, social turmoil and revolutionary opposition developed throughout Latin America, and also in Asia and Africa. Moreover, nationalist forces posed danger to US imperialist expansion. The rise of independence movements fighting the colonial rule, and the Chinese revolution of 1949 added further concerns. Access to strategic raw materials and essential markets were the key theme. If less and less people claim control over rising portions of resources, while the others shall suffer in ever greater numbers and severity, it is obvious, that there is a problem.

But the US government could not go ahead with mass population control programs without prior preparations of the masses through appropriate propaganda. 'Scientist' and private organizations were put on the 'population issue'.

The Conquest of Public Opinion

... The first inroads into the politically sensitive area of birth control and international population control programs were made by private entities such as the Ford Rockefeller Foundations, the IPPF, and the Hugh Moore Fund.

In 1952, under the sponsorship of the prestigious National Academy of Science, John D. Rockefeller III convened a conference of demographic experts and population specialists in Williamsburg, Virginia, to establish the Population Council. This organization was to provide a previous lacking a previously-lacking respectable base from which to influence professional and academic sectors ...

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Between 1952 and 1958, the budget of the Council was quadrupled, increasing from $4.5 million to $18.3 million. A large part of the 1958 budget was funded the Ford Foundation ($8.4 million), the Rockefeller Foundation ($3.4 million), and the Mellon family ($2.9 million).

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For many decades the testing ground for US economic strategies against non- or less-industrialized countries was Puerto Rico. Operation Bootstrap started in the end of the 1940s and was managed by Teodoro Moscoso. As part of the operation during the 1950s and 1960s Puerto Rico's Economic Development Organisation spearheaded several population initiatives.

In 1958, the Eisenhower Administration established the Committee to Study the US Military Assistance Program. The Commitee was chaired by General W.H. Draper Jr. (formerly Under-Secretary of the Army and US Ambassador to NATO). Other prestigious members of the Draper Committee included General Alfred Gruenther (former Supreme Allied Commander), Admiral Arthur Radford (head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the State Department), and Joy J. McCloy (former head of the WB, who had become chairman of both the Chase Manhattan Bank and the Ford Foundation).

Behind the military concern for the phenomenon of overpopulation remained the fear of raw material shortages ad growing political instability in the western hemisphere. Draper's Committee placed strong emphasis on the population problem ...

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It was the first official body of the US government to advocate neo-Malthusian policies. But despite strong support by key government figures, private foundations remained the major vehicle to promote and implement population programs.

The 'Alliance for Progress' was a reaction on unrest in Venezuela, Northeast Brazil and, in particular, the overthrow of the US-backed dictator of Cuba.

The purpose of the Alliance was: (1) to carry out a smoother transition from agriculture and extractive industry to manufacturing; (2) to provide rapid short-run subsidies to US firms in order to offset effects of the 1958-62 recession in the United States; (3) to engage Latin American nations in long-term development loans with international banks dominated by US financial trusts; (4) to stabilize reactionary and subservient governments in order to stave off nationalism and communism; and (5) to provide new channels for arms sales and military aid to dictorships. In addition, even in the early years of the Alliance, the issue of population control was present.

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In 1962, World Bank President Eugene Black said to the UN Economic and Social Council: "Population growth does not only tend to reduce the flow of investment funds. It also means that the capital invested in industry must spread increasingly thin over the labour force; each pair of hands is backed by fewer dollars of capital. I must be blunt. Population growth threatens to nullify our efforts to raise living standards in many of the poorer countries."

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In 1964, under the direction of Dr. Edgar Berman, an Office of Population was opened within the Alliance. ... In the same year, Berman convinced the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to give two grants for Latin American population studies. They represented the first congressionally-funded support for population work by the Agency for International Development (AID).

Since the fifties, academic think tanks and economists had integrated the population numbers theory into rationales for maximizing benefits to capitalist development projects. High interests bank loans were tied to the import of US technology and were strictly administered.

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Dr. Berman revealed his focus when presenting a simple equation: The political instability of a developing nation can be roughly computed. ... The population growth rate divided by a factor representing economic and social development equals the degree of political instability. show quote reference Likewise Robert Lamson, a social scientist working for the Department of the Army's Civil Defence Office Post-Attack Division: Rapid population growth has made economic growth and stability difficult to maintain in some parts of the world, thereby adding to the need for programs and forces to maintain internal order and to defence against guerrilla warfare. show quote reference With the 1967 State of the Union Address of Lyndon Johnson population control finally become official US strategy against developing countries: Next to the pursuit of peace, the really great challenge to the human family is the race between food supply and population increase. That race tonight is being lost. The time for rhetoric has clearly passed. The time for concerted action is here, and we must get on with the job. show quote reference

The general line of propaganda was developed. The Malthusian ideology was reactivated to provide the intellectual framework for the overpopulation theorists. Population growth is presented as primary reason for poverty and the poor blamed for their suffering and starvation.

At the 1967 US Senate Hearings of Foreign Assistance, Senator William Fulbright proposed inclusion of a special "Title X" amendment to the Foreign Aid Bill in order to furnish $50 million for overseas population control work. In the same year, the Foreign Assistance Act, with full approval of the Executive, specifically earmarked $35 million for population programs under Title X. ... The Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) designated family planning as a "special emphasis" priority program; and in 1966, Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) earmarked 6 percent of its maternal and child health funds for family planning promotion to be carried out in its welfare and health programs.

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AID Allocations under the Foreign Assistance Act
Year million $
1968 35
1969 50
1970 75
1971 100

The Johnson Administration slashed foreign aid expenditures in non-military fields. Furthermore, population programs were made a condition to qualify for US foreign aid and even foreign currency sales of US agricultural surpluses. Lyndon Johnson declared that a balance between agricultural productivity and population is necessary to prevent the shadow of hunger from becoming the nightmare of famine. show quote reference Through its War on Hunger Office, which was established in February 1967 to consolidate all AID activities relating to hunger, population problems and nutrition, population planning became an important part of the Agency's work. The US State Department appointed Philander P. Claxton Special Assistant on Population Matters. Millions of dollars were made available for population projects.

Amendments Enacted: Family Planning Services and Population Research, 1959-1970 show footnote

By the late 1960s, population control had become official US politics. Poor people were in the sights of the US foreign policy planners. The focus was on controlling poverty and by controlling the poor. The first target and test field for the neo-Malthusian projections and population programs was Latin America. Universities, private agencies and foundations established research and clinical programs.