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John Passant

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June 2010



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Memo to the environmental racists: Australia is not full

The only thing Australia is full of is environmental racists and their cousins – the Hansonite racists.

Julia Gillard dog whistled to both when she backed away from Kevin Rudd’s commitment to a ‘big Australia.’ 

Rudd’s crime was to welcome a population prediction from Treasury of 36 million by 2050. There are 22 million people here at the moment.

Rudd of course was expressing the logic of the bourgeoisie – that unplanned undemocratic growth is good for profit and therefore good for us all.

Gillard is echoing the Hansonism of fear – that dark skinned people are our enemy and if only they would stop increasing their numbers we would be alright.

Hers is the principle of pragmatism – get elected no matter what the costs. If that means  sending messages about race and population she will do it.

We have seen this barbarity before – in New South Wales where power itself is the raison d’etre of the Labor Right and therefore of its Government. And New South Wales is such a successful Labor Government isn’t it?

The very governments which cut funding to transport, health and education, which refuse to adopt renewable energy, which create the problems in working class areas, will now blame ‘population pressures’ (i.e brown skinned people) for the problems they, the capitalist governments, contribute greatly to.

A planned and democratic society could overcome these problems in fairly short order by reorienting our wealth to address human need, not to make a profit.

On cue the environmental racists have come in with talk about sustainability. Evidently there are too many people in Australia but the Malthusian ruling class warriors offer no justification for this analysis.

They point to  poverty, starvation, climate change, overcrowding,  lack of water and soil degradation. They then assume without proof that it is too many people who cause these problems.

News flash to the Malthusians.  The way we organise production is the problem.  The mad drive for profit by a small minority and the undemocratic nature of that incessant growth mania is the problem, not people.

Take food. There is more than enough food produced to feed every person on the planet very well. People are starving not because there are too many of us but because it is not profitable to feed the one billion who are starving. 

Global warming is not caused by more people. It is caused by a profit system addicted to cheap forms of production at the expense of the planet. Putting profit before people is the logic of capitalism and global warming its necessary outcome.

The environmental racists don’t challenge this – they reinforce the profit system and hence its destruction of our home.

Australia is the worst polluter per capita not because our big brown land has too many people – the idea that the most sparsely populated country on the globe  is overpopulated is absurd – but because our bourgeoisie is committed systemically to processes which spew forth CO2. It cannot do otherwise without threatening its competitiveness and the expropriation of value from its workforce.

Environmentalists who adopt population as the problem walk hand in hand with the outright racists. They give succour to anti-immigrants (and sometimes are indistinguishable from them). From there it is not a big a step to see all people coming into Australia, including refugees, as enemies. 

If people are the problem, stopping them coming to Australia is a seemingly logical solution. The fact that most immigrants are non-whites means that opposing immigration, even if supposedly only on environmental grounds – grounds which have no justification in reality – is racist to its core.

None of the ideas of the anti-human environmentalists are new. Malthus wrote his ‘Essay on the Principle of Population’ in 1798. He argued the world was overpopulated then, when there were less than one billion people.

He argued, as the neo-Malthusians do today in targeting population growth in underdeveloped countries, that any increase int he living standards of the poor would see them have more children and this would lead to famine and disease. Equilibrium would then be restored.

For Malthus inequality (and smallpox and slavery) were good and natural.  His defence of capitalist relations meant that he opposed soup kitchens.

Modern day environmental Malthusians  adopt the same logic. Too many people means starvation.  So we need in this narrow view to reduce the population – through enlightened intervention n developing countries, the modern day equivalent of the white man’s burden.

The amount of food produced depends on the type of society at the time. Capitalism’s technological advances mean that today we could comfortably feed everyone if we wanted to, that is if we overthrew capitalism and its constraints on humanity.

The market is not the solution to global warming, to a billion people starving. It is the cause of our problems. 

Only a new society based on thorough going democracy and production organised to satisfy human need can address and overcome poverty, starvation and global warming. And racism.



Comment from peter piper
Time June 29, 2010 at 10:08 am

You are right that there is probably more than enough food to go round the planet, but that doesnt mean we open the floodgates for every sort of riff raff and turban wearing individual that wants to enter the country (and bring their toothless non-English speaking old grandparents with them). We’re full.

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time June 29, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Although there are real racists and including environmental racists around, your post doesn’t actually help the debate in the environment movement very much. There are many genuine environmentalists, who are quite anti-racist, but have contradictory views on immigration and/or population growth for what they see as important environmental reasons. Most of them are somewhat more sophisticated and well meaning than the old-fashioned Malthusians you take to task here.

As I said, there are also real racist “environmentalists” as well, and populationists whose environmental interest only is there because it seems to fit their Malthusian hobby horse.

But the majority of environmentalists are not racists in my (extensive) experience. Once you start labeling people who disagree “racist” (even if they do have a policy in common with the racists) you cut off the chance for debate. It might make a few of them think a bit, but I bet most will just stop listening.

As an aside: I would also question whether most immigrants are non-whites. Many workers and immigrants are from Europe and NZ and quite white. I don’t think it’s at all clear (unless you have more detailed info? I don’t have time to check right now)

Comment from John
Time June 29, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Thanks Ben. I think there are two responses. First that the sustainability argument is per se anti-human and therefore, in the present context racist. And it gives succour to the hansonite version of racism. The immigration figures? I did an analysis in one of my other posts of Immigration’s figures so I’ll try to find them.

Comment from dl
Time June 30, 2010 at 12:36 am

I know that from a revolutionary perspective, you could plausibly render this perspective null (new houses could easily be built given the inclination), but I have never seen anybody try to seriously review the link between housing prices, immigration and its effect on the extant Australian people ( and no, I am certainly not referring to whites in particular.)
By this I mean that its fairly safe to say that immigrants probably produce a net benefit for Australia’s economy, but what of the converse effect that it has on property prices & its corrolary, the increasing inability of the average Working class- Middle class person to afford a home. I do realise that a lackadaisical effort toward land rezoning by local and state government & natural population growth play their fair share of a role ( the impact of foreign buyers seemed to be trivial at best, and mostly geared toward upmarket housing), but there is no doubt that immigration is having an upward pressure on housing prices, especially in metropolitan areas. Just sayin’.

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