The freedom of women to have only the number of children they wish to have was linked by the eco-feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne to the doctrine of “conscious procreation”. The world human population grew from 1.5 to 6 billion in the 20th century. It might f reach soon a maximum at 9.5 billion, opening a research field on Depopulation and Environment. A slow process, 120 years since the neo-Malthusian Feminists (Emma Goldman, Marie Huot, Madeleine Pelletier, Paul Robin) advocated la grève des ventres at heavy political cost to themselves, and since E. V. Ramaswamy Periyar in the 1920s defended these views. In this chapter, we describe this international social movement that believed in the curtailment of population growth through voluntary decisions. Against Hardin’s doctrine of the “lifeboat ethics”, where the rich avoid poor people to overcrowd our own boat because we will all sink, we believe that “planet Earth is our lifeboat”, and that free mobility is a human right.

INTRODUCTION: THE GRASSROOTS MOVEMENTS FOR WOMEN’S FREEDOM IN RELATION TO RAPIDLY DECLINING POPULATION GROWTH

In ecological macroeconomics, we hold that the industrial economy is not circular but entropic (Georgescu-Roegen 1971). The planet Earth is open to sun energy and this produces photosynthesis, drives the water cycle, and also other biochemical cycles – what Jacob Moleschott in the mid-nineteenth century called Der Kreiskauf des Lebens. Life is “anti-entropic”, “negentropic” as Felix Auerbach, Vernadsky, Schrödinger and others explained in the early twentieth century. But an economy based on fossil fuels from the distant past whose energy dissipates when burnt, and on other materials which are recycled only in part if at all, is an economy that cannot grow much more. Also, today's economy attacks the incredible biodiversity evolved in the “circle of life”, and occupies to excess the overflowing “sinks” for industrial waste (in particular carbon dioxide). It constructs and cements infrastructures whose maintenance will need further amounts of energy and materials. It cannot go on like this. Hence the blossoming of the theories of ecological economics of the “steady state” (Herman Daly 1973), “prosperity without growth” (Tim Jackson 2009) and “Degrowth” (Kallis and Hickel 2020, building on Illich, Latouche and previous authors). The Degrowth hypothesis (as Kallis calls it) is that we could live well under a political economic system that has per capita a smaller energy and materials throughput than in the rich countries at present. I myself belong to this Degrowth school – but I criticize it on two points. First, as the EJAtlas shows, there is very wide geography of environmental movements of the poor and the Indigenous, “degrowth in practice” that the Degrowth school tends to leave aside for the moment because of Eurocentrism and a certain obsession with public policies rather than world grassroots movements. Second, ecological macroeconomics tends to leave demography aside or (as Herman Daly did, but not Georgescu-Roegen) tends to draw anti-migration conclusions from population growth. My own approach is different, it is “feminist neo-Malthusianism”, a doctrine born around 1900. The Degrowth dictionary (D’Alisa, Kallis and Demaria 2014) already included a section that I wrote in favour of “feminist neo-Malthusianism”.

One of the main tenets of the feminism movement is that “the personal is political”. Our most personal relations, our sex life and reproductive life, are part of social and political systems. Most of us humans (of any gender) have been born in patriarchal systems which are slowly changing and eroding under the influence of the feminist movement. Feminism is very possibly the most important social movement of our time (Delap 2020). I would say that the environmentalism of the poor and the Indigenous is the second one in importance. Anti-colonialism and anti-racism are also growing. There are other movements: human rights, p. 660the peace movement, agrarianism, the working-class movement. They are not fashions, they respond to long-lasting trends with socio-structural roots, and they interact and overlap with each other. So, in this chapter we continue the analysis of ecofeminism begun in Chapter 4 but with a new twist by introducing the issue of Population and Resources.

The UN estimated in 2022 that the human population will peak in 2086 at just over 10.4 billion people. But the UN has consistently overestimated population growth. Indeed, one favourable trend towards environmental sustainability is that the human population is likely to reach its peak between 2060 and 2070 below 10 billion. It was 1.5 billion in 1900. In the twentieth century it increased by 400 per cent; in the twenty-first century it will increase by about 50 per cent until it stops growing quite soon. While in some large countries of Africa, population still grows, in most other continents the population is not growing anymore. The issue of population growth has sometimes been left aside by claims that what matters for environmental pressures is the level of consumption. This is partly true. Thus, the “ecological footprint” (adding up the surface used for providing food and wood, and the virtual surface needed to absorb carbon dioxide produced mainly by combustion of fossil fuels), may vary from 0.2 ha to 10 ha per capita, depending on the income. However, when the poor population becomes less poor, then the total footprint increases, so that population growth is very relevant.

The “ecological footprint” (that Rees and Wackernagel popularized after 1990) is the inverse of the “carrying capacity”, a concept from ecology defined as the maximum number of individuals of a species in a given territory (frogs in a lake for instance) that can live sustainably. When applied to humans (as biologists such as Garrett Hardin liked to do), two questions immediately arise: what is the exosomatic level of their consumption, with enormous differences within the human species, and how do the “given territories” come to be “given”? The history of humankind is made of occupation of new territories, change and establishment of frontiers through military means, pandemics and collapse of some populations (as in the Americas after 1492), mass migrations (including those of slave or indentured labourers), and prohibition of migrations and deaths of would-be migrants as at present between Africa and Europe, and Mexico and the United States. Environmental pressures from excessive consumption, and the racist military and police curtailment of the free right to move around are major issues of our times (Mbembe 2020). Against Hardin's doctrine of the “lifeboat ethics” (1974), where the rich avoid poor people coming into and overcrowding our own boat because we will all sink, we believe that “planet Earth is our lifeboat”, and that free mobility is a human right (article 13, Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

The UN Population Report of 2019 points out that in many countries, population is already decreasing. I agree with this. Fertility rates are coming down more quickly than the UN demographers foresaw a few years ago. South India and even India as a whole is a good example. Unfortunately, some patriotic governments are still introducing policies in favour of population growth, sometimes with racist arguments ‒ they prevent immigration and at the same time they give incentives to local population growth. Some people lament the decline in population growth because the number of old people increases (making the payment of pensions more difficult) and because some rural and even urban areas will be abandoned, with negative impacts on payment of rents and perhaps even with bad effects on the care for the environment. Fertility rates have come down from 3.2 per woman in 1990 to 2.5 in 2019, and on average are coming down quickly to 2.1, the replacement rate. Nigeria, Pakistan, the RD Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States are the set of big countries where population will still increase. In 55 countries, the population will decrease by one per p. 661cent by 2050, and in 2060 the reduction will be over 10 per cent. Migrations might change such figures. But altogether it seems that “only” two billion people will be added to the current 7.7 billion before population growth stops, and this is to be welcomed indeed. Some economists will call for more people because this is good for the economy after many decades of saying that economic growth was good for the people!

A slow process, 120 years since the neo-Malthusian feminists (Emma Goldman, Marie Huot, Madeleine Pelletier, Paul Robin) advocated la grève des ventres at heavy political cost to themselves (Ronsin 1980), and since E. V. Ramaswamy Periyar in South India in the 1920s defended women's freedom (Cova 2011, 2020). I have sometimes been blamed for supporting “bottom-up feminist neo-Malthusianism that raises the spectre of population control” (e.g. Nirmal and Rocheleau 2019). Never mind. Present trends are welcome. They will indeed open up a new important research field on Depopulation and Environment. Meanwhile, other social and economic trends are still negative for environmental sustainability.

Of course, environmental problems are not only population problems. From the beginning of political ecology (Blaikie and Brookfield 1987) a strong distinction was traced between population pressure on resources and production pressure on resources. Moreover, new illnesses are spreading, old illnesses are coming back. All this is known, but it does not explain why the feminist movement, which supports women's right to safe birth control and abortion (still illegal in so many countries) as part of comprehensive healthcare, can sometimes forget its own historical role in the demographic transitions. In a book such as this, the framing must be whether there are grassroots movements that, while aware of the fact that many Indigenous groups are disappearing (Chapter 25) and remembering also the demographic collapse in the Americas after the European conquest of 1492, nevertheless preach birth control. The larger the world population, the higher the HANPP will be and therefore the higher the pressure on biodiversity. The larger the world population and the higher its average income, the more difficult it will also be to reach a maximum in carbon dioxide emissions and start its decline.

We have seen the environmentalism of the poor and the Indigenous spreading across borders even if taking different local and ephemeral forms. It shows similarities in grievances and claims. In the same way, the feminist movement (Delap 2020), socially and politically more relevant and successful than the environmental movement, has a common identity and some symbolic dates (8 March) and historical figures across the world. There are many different feminist concerns, most of them centre around the combat against “patriarchy” (a term that comes itself from the movement). For instance, unequal access to education; citizen rights; unequal property rights; social protection for single mothers; unequal distribution of domestic work; an end to violence against women with campaigns based on the evidence from statistics that nobody collected before and which are still not accurate now; labour rights; sexual autonomy; reproductive rights, and others such as complaints against mandatory dress codes forcing women to wear a headscarf (hijab) in Muslim countries. There are shorter-term goals (e.g. securing abortion rights, still controversial in Argentina, Mexico, Poland and even the United States in 2022) within an overall long-term objective, the end of a “patriarchal” society – this would be a historical social revolution that might indeed happen.

There is no feminist central committee or politbureau at world level, or inside any country. There are ad-hoc movements as in Argentina or Iran in 2022. There are many ephemeral or long-lived organizations, some known and many unknown heroines, and also well-known or anonymous women authors of pamphlets, posters, books, documentaries, slogans and songs in the many languages spoken in the world. There are overlaps between movements, as p. 662between feminism and pacifism (as in the famous Greenham Common occupation in the UK in 1985). 2 There are strong overlaps with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) movements. There is also a strong ecofeminism movement that overlaps between environmentalism and feminism. The word ecofeminism comes from the mid-1970s, from Françoise d’Eaubonne (Migliaro 2021). The EJAtlas group has included outstanding contributions by Dalena Tran (2020, 2021, 2022, 2023) in her articles on Women Environmental Defenders killed, and on successful non-violent WED (Chapter 4).

The freedom of women to have only the number of children they wish to have was one of the earlier demands of feminism. It still is. This was linked for Françoise d’Eaubonne to the concern for excessive world population growth. She had absorbed this from the tradition of “feminist neo-Malthusianism” of Emma Goldman and others from 1900. Goldman was a militant anarchist, imprisoned several times for inciting riots and for illegally distributing information against capitalists and states, and on birth control. She identified herself as a “neo-Malthusian”. One might agree that the name was ill-chosen but this is no reason to ignore the evidence that there was a “feminist neo-Malthusian” movement with this name. The emphasis was on “neo”, distancing themselves from the Reverend T.R. Malthus. Most of this chapter deals with this movement of over one hundred years ago, still very relevant today, and too often forgotten by feminist authors (Hartmann 1994).

Governments (as also the Christian churches) were mostly against such feminist neo-Malthusianism that emphasized birth control, or “conscious procreation” in the terminology of the time. As Kallis (2021) explains,

to see the difference between Malthusian scarcity and radical degrowth, consider Goldman. Goldman was a proto-environmentalist. The cover of her magazine Mother Earth celebrated the abundance of an early Spring day – a stark contrast to the bounded Earth environmentalists depict today. She also advocated birth control in the name of free love, so that women could enjoy sexual pleasure free from the yoke of motherhood. Goldman wanted women to stop feeding expendable soldiers to imperialist war machines, and surplus labor to capitalist factories. Limiting population for Goldman was a deliberate political action ‒ a strategy against capital and its need for limitless growth.

In this chapter written with Eduard Masjuan, we study the beginnings of the conscious trend towards declining fertility rates. Around 1900, there was in Europe and America a successful international social movement for “conscious procreation”, which in contrast with Malthus’ views, believed in the curtailment of population growth amongst the impoverished classes through voluntary decisions and in women's ability to choose the number of children they wanted to have. They disagreed with many of Malthus’ ideas, but they agreed on the importance of population growth and they made this clear by labelling themselves “neo-Malthusians”, whatever revulsion the name Malthus might cause. They did not call upon the State to impose restrictions on population growth. They relied rather on a bottom-up type of activism, based on women's freedom, to avoid population pressure on wages and the threat to the environment and to subsistence. The movement was seen as, and indeed it was, a feminist movement struggling for women's freedom. Women had and have the right to choose the number of children they want to have. One hundred years ago, this was a shocking proposition. Defending it required courage. International networking and support were also helpful, and this is what this chapter intends to show.

In the context of this book, this chapter is pertinent for two main reasons: first, it links the issues of population growth and environment; second, it discusses the growth of an p. 663international movement before the age of the Internet, a movement more modest than the international working-class movements at the time or the anti-colonial movement after 1945. If now there is a “digital divide” that subaltern movements try to surmount, in 1900, the pamphlets and posters that were printed and distributed managed to overcome a “literacy divide” particularly discriminatory to women and poor people. Feminist neo-Malthusianism was a movement showing an early facet of the intersectionality between feminism and environmentalism, perhaps the two most important social movements today for the twenty-first century.

MALTHUSIANISM AND THE ORIGINS OF NEO-MALTHUSIANISM

One main concern of human ecology and ecological economics is the balance between human population and natural resources. This is rightly named “the Malthusian question” because Malthus predicted that human population, if unchecked, would grow exponentially while agricultural production would and should grow but only more slowly. However, around 1900, there was in Europe and America a successful international social movement that, in contrast to Malthus’ pessimism, believed that population growth could be stopped among the poor classes by voluntary decisions. Women were entitled to choose the number of children they wanted to have. This neo-Malthusian movement did not appeal to the State to impose restrictions on population growth. On the contrary, it was based on “bottom-up” activism based on women's freedom, the downward pressure of excessive population on wages, and the threat to the environment and subsistence. An excess of population was foreseen, and this led to anticipatory behaviour.

Amartya Sen (1994) has explained that in 1798, Malthus quoted Condorcet's discussion in 1795 on the possibility of overpopulation. Condorcet believed in reasoned human action in order to prevent an overpopulation crisis through increases in productivity, through conservation and prevention of waste, and through education (especially female education) which would contribute to reducing the birth rate. Voluntary family planning would be the solution. Malthus, on the contrary, thought that improving the situation of the poor would lead to larger families. So, the neo-Malthusianism of 1900 can be seen as one moment in a prolonged discussion which started in 1795 and continues today.

Ever since 1798, when Malthus formulated his essay on population, there arose concerns in his country about avoiding the overpopulation of poor people. The alternative to the Malthusian trap, if there was one, went no further than puritan advice on moral restraint, celibacy, delay in the age of marriage and sexual abstinence. It took some time for Malthus’ “remedies” to be transformed. In 1822, Francis Place, a tailor by profession and associate of the utopian socialist Robert Owen, first published in London Illustrations and Proofs of the Principle of Population, in which he did not yet describe the details of the contraceptive methods which he would later anonymously disclose in his so-called Diabolical Hand Bills. Other personalities followed Place and Owen in the same concern, including Richard Carlisle, who in 1825 wrote his neo-Malthusian work entitled What is Love? These and other neo-Malthusian works were broadly disseminated in England during the first third of the nineteenth century; they had public impact and attracted governmental persecution. Neo-Malthusianism travelled to North America via Robert Owen himself, when he founded his communist-inspired colony, New Harmony. As early as 1835, Robert Owen's son, Robert Dale, published the neo-Malthusian booklet entitled Moral Physiology in New York, various editions of which were issued until p. 6641877 in England and the United States. Following this work, Charles Knowlton, a Boston physician, wrote Fruits of Philosophy.

Starting in 1854, concern for the condition of the proletariat and high infant mortality rates was spurred by the English doctor, George Drysdale, who published the first edition of his book The Elements of Social Sciences under a pseudonym. The remedies for overcoming the three evils of poverty, prostitution and celibacy, which the author claimed afflicted humanity, were explained in this work. Drysdale's work inspired the creation of the first neo-Malthusian organization in the world, The Malthusian League, founded by his brother, Charles Drysdale with Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant in London in 1877. The spread of contraception gave way to a drawn-out lawsuit involving those who wanted to re-issue the book by the American physician, Charles Knowlton, in England. The court case involved Annie Bessant and Charles Bradlaugh. It was discussed in many countries.

One key factor in the future development of neo-Malthusianism in continental Europe was Paul Robin's exile in England at that time. He was a member of the council of the First International. His contact with the neo-Malthusian English thinkers led him to propose including the population question in the programme for workers’ emancipation as early as the 1870s, but his calls had no resonance on the international socialist agenda. Despite this initial lack of understanding, the English league's activities in the United States and England led to the spread of neo-Malthusianism around Europe. This is how, via its own theoretical and practical production, the second independent European neo-Malthusian league was founded in the Netherlands in 1881, under the name De Nieuw-Malthusiaansche Bond, the secretary of which was the physician Jan Rutgers, who published the newsletter Het Gelukkig Huisgezin (The Happy Family). From its beginnings, this league had the valuable support of a member of parliament, M.S. van Houten. There is no indication that neo-Malthusianism was legally persecuted in Holland like it was at first in England, but there were two public morality (re-population) leagues which attempted to combat the spread of neo-Malthusian theories and practices, called Rein Levenbeweging, based in Utrecht, with the newsletter Levenskracht; and the Vereeniging tot Bestrijding van het Nieuw-Malthusianisme, based in Gravenhage.

In 1889, in Stuttgart, Germany, the neo-Malthusian league Sozial Harmonischer Verein was created, the secretary of which was the publicist Max Hausmeister. The league's means of spreading information was the newsletter Die Sozial Harmonie. In 1911, the German government ‒ in the phase leading up to World War I ‒ proposed banning the travelling sale of contraceptive products by modifying article 56 of the Industrial Code.

In Sweden, one active propagandist of neo-Malthusianism at the turn of the century was the economist Knut Wicksell who, with the anarchist and socialist Hinke Bergegren, founded the Stockholm Sällskapet för humanitär barnalstring (Stockholm Association for Humanitarian Reproduction). Bergegren (1861‒1936) was jailed in Sweden in 1910 after a public conference entitled “Love without children”. There was a so-called “Hinke Law” against birth control. Bergegren became in 1917 a member of the Communist Party.

The French neo-Malthusian league was created in 1896. In 1877, Paul Robin had drawn attention to the problems posed by Malthus’ law and had published his work La Question Sexuelle. He did not get support from anarchist personalities such as Kropotkin whose technological optimism left aside the world's rising population as a negligible problem. Robin repeated the principles for future generations of “good birth, good education and good social organisation”. Robin's view broke with Malthus’ moral restraint. In its place, he emphasized the need for voluntarily and consciously reducing fertility rates through sexual education, contraception and women's freedom. With this, he proposed taking labour away from capital, p. 665weakening militarism, avoiding forced migration and most importantly, allowing working-class women to decide for themselves when to become pregnant. From France, Paul Robin's neo-Malthusian objectives joined those of the workers’ movement, and this was the neo-Malthusianism that took root in southern Europe and some Latin American countries.

In Switzerland, there was a neo-Malthusian group in Geneva that published the journal La Vie Intime from 1908 to 1914. Its most visible spokesman was Valentin Grandjean (1872‒ 1944), from a Calvinist family, who became a writer and later a Socialist deputy in the Grand Conseil of Geneva from 1904 to 1913. This group was directly influenced by French neo-Malthusianism.

The union of the European and American neo-Malthusian movements materialized in August 1900 in Paris, when the first International Neo-Malthusian Conference was held, and the International Federation of Human Regeneration was created. Attending this meeting were Paul Robin from France, Emma Goldman from the United States, Valentin Grandjean from Switzerland, the Spaniard Ferrer i Guàrdia, Dr Rutgers from Holland, and England's Dr Drysdale. It was agreed that each neo-Malthusian branch with headquarters in each country would be independent, and that committees and groups would be organized either in cultural centres or labour unions.

Therefore, starting in 1900, neo-Malthusianism was organized in western and central Europe, as well as in the United States, where it was spread by Moses Harmann and his daughter, Lily, through the neo-Malthusian newsletter published in Boston, The Lucifer. They were joined by the anarchist Emma Goldman, in addition to sundry doctors and midwives. Thus Emma Goldman (1869‒1940) was a participant in the first neo-Malthusian conference in Paris in 1900. She published Mother Earth between 1906 and 1917. Environmentalists of the 1960s and 1970s revived the title of her journal. She was active as a neo-Malthusian before Margaret Sanger (1879‒1966), who is rightly credited as the main force behind the social and legal acceptance of contraception in the United States. Sanger was an International Workers of the World organizer, and therefore familiar with anarchist ideas. She lived and learned about birth control techniques in Europe, she was friendly in 1911 in London with one associate of Ferrer i Guàrdia (who had been executed in Barcelona in 1909 after an uprising against sending troops to Morocco), and after her return in the United States in 1914, she began to publish the journal The Woman Rebel which supported socialism, feminism and contraception. She was indicted for violating the Comstock Act of 1873 that forbade contraceptives. Sanger no longer used the word “neo-Malthusianism”, which (paradoxically) had become politically too radical, and used “birth control” instead, with emphasis on the prevention of abortions, to be substituted later by even less controversial words, “family planning” or “planned parenthood”.

By 1910, there was a networking international neo-Malthusian bureau with its logo. It was founded at The Hague.

NEO-MALTHUSIANISM IN SOUTHERN EUROPE AND LATIN AMERICA

France

Starting in 1896, but especially after 1900, French neo-Malthusianism was devoted to raising women's awareness of their right to voluntarily procreate when they wanted to, and it advised the proletariat not to have large families in order to be more demanding in their fight for p. 666emancipation from the slavery of wages. It also fostered co-education between boys and girls and sexual education. As Francis Ronsin (1980, pp. 16–22) points out in his classical work on neo-Malthusianism in France, neo-Malthusian propaganda was partly responsible for the lowering of birth rates among the working class. It forged an important presence not only in cities but also in rural areas.

Paul Robin was one of the leaders but several famous women led the movement, among them Nelly Roussel (1878‒1922) who was a proponent of la grève des ventres, “the womb strike” (Delap 2021). She was passionately opposed to women's unwilling reproduction of children as “cannon fodder” for military and economic purposes. Roussel declared that feminism should proclaim above all else the liberty from motherhood, and “she proposed a birth strike, in protest at the state's pro-natalist policies” (Delap 2021, p. 281). She also demanded women's rights to sexual pleasure. She had a reputation as a great orator with a crystalline and loud voice, one of a courageous group that much later, and despite the French state's pro-natalist policies, connected with the feminism of Simone de Beauvoir and the ecofeminism of Françoise d’Eaubonne.

The “Womb Strike” was advocated via the periodicals Régénération (1900‒08), Génération Consciente (1908‒14), Le Malthusien and Le Néo-malthusien (1916‒19), along with public conferences, dramas and prolific artistic production. The sale and dispensing of contraceptives were always accompanied by an explanation of the main point: there was no inexorable “Malthus’ population law”. This systematic propaganda on conscious procreation sparked repression by the French state and the Catholic church because neo-Malthusianism was seen as responsible for the weakness of French demography compared to Germany. The repopulation leagues used religious and nationalist arguments, lamenting the decrease in the birth rate. French neo-Malthusianism came to be viewed as a threat to the fatherland.

The neo-Malthusians of one hundred years ago agreed that poor people had too many children, but they did not believe in chastity and late marriages. They promoted more vigorous “preventive checks” than Malthus had foreseen, exhorting the poor populations of Europe and America to use contraceptives, and to separate love making from child bearing and even from marriage. The movement was careful to insist that they were not Malthusians but neo-Malthusians, devoted to “sexual freedom and parental prudence” (Paul Robin in 1896, cf. Ronsin 1980, p. 70).

Cover of Francis Ronsin's 1980 book: Priests, lawyers, capitalists and the military against a Neo-Malthusian feminist.
Figure 29.1

Cover of Francis Ronsin's 1980 book, Priests, lawyers, capitalists and the military against a neo-Malthusian feminist

Spain and Portugal

Neo-Malthusianism spread from Catalonia through the working-class press, including El Boletín de la Escuela Moderna (Newsletter of the Modern School) and La Huelga General (General Strike) financed since 1901 by Ferrer i Guàrdia, one of the founders of the international neo-Malthusian league one year earlier, and Mateo Morral, the correspondent in Germany for the international neo-Malthusian league magazine headquartered in Paris, Régénération. This paved the way for the creation of neo-Malthusian branches for men or women or both throughout the peninsula. In 1904, the Spanish branch of the Human Regeneration League was formed in Barcelona, and its secretary was the anarchist and first president of Barcelona’s Ateneo Enciclopédico Popular, Luis Bulffi. This federated league, homonymous with the international one in Paris, was devoted to studying the population problem and preaching freedom of choice in motherhood, claiming that unlimited reproductive growth was not possible because the natural environment was limited. One means to spread neo-Malthusianism p. 667in Spain from 1904 to 1914 was the magazine Salud y Fuerza, Procreación consciente y limitada (Health and Strength: Conscious, Limited Procreation), with debates on restricting fertility in light of colonial militarism, overseas migration and the condition of sexual slavery in which proletarian women found themselves. Just as in Spain, the idea of restricting the working-class birth rate in Portugal arrived around 1900 in the working-class media and some medical sectors. From 1902, neo-Malthusianism began to be propagated by a physician who sympathized with anarchism, Ãngelo Vaz. Starting in 1905, the working-class press from Oporto included neo-Malthusian ideas by translating publications by Luis Bulffi, persecuted in Spain. The first Portuguese translation of the booklet Huelga de Vientres: Medios prácticos para evitar las familias numerosas (Womb Strike: Practical Means for Avoiding Large Families) was published with the title Greve de Ventres.p. 668

The reduction in the Portuguese birth rate was estimated at 18 per cent in the five-year period from 1920 to 1924. The decrease began to be noticed in 1911. Neo-Malthusian doctrines were a contributing factor (Livi-Bacci 1972). The classical neo-Malthusian pattern of lower fertility in poorer than in rich sectors of society, could be found in rural southern Portugal with decreasing fertility rates in an area without industrialization and urbanization. Meanwhile, in Lisbon, since the 1930s the birth rate decreased to levels similar to Belgium, Denmark and Finland. In Portugal, dispensing contraceptives was further penalized in 1929 after a protracted patriotic campaign by Catholic bishops and physicians (Freire and Lousada 1982, pp. 1367–1395).

From Oporto it radiated out to Lisbon and Setubal, and then spread to the rest of Portugal. Unlike in Spain, in Portugal there were no exclusively neo-Malthusian periodicals. Paz e Liberdade (Peace and Freedom) was eloquently subtitled as an anti-militaristic, anti-patriotic, revolutionary, syndicalist and neo-Malthusian magazine (Figure 29.2). Not yet explicitly environmentalist because the word was not used politically. Similar journals were O Agitador from Lisbon, Germinal from Setubal, through which information was provided and contraceptive products were sold.

Paz e Liberdade. Revista mensual antimilitarista, antipatriota, syndicalista revolucionaria e neo Malthusiana, 1909.
Figure 29.2

Paz e Liberdade. Revista mensual antimilitarista, antipatriota, syndicalista revolucionaria e neo Malthusiana, 1909

Italy

In Italy, neo-Malthusianism began to be disseminated among poor people at the turn of the century. It emerged as a political response to the high infant mortality rate, forced migration and deplorable working conditions. Contraceptives were advertised and dispensed from the working-class newspaper with the highest circulation in the country, ¡Avanti!, accompanied by refutations of religious prejudices. After much propaganda in the workers’ press, in 1910, the neo-Malthusians sponsored a national conference in Florence on whether the lower classes had the right to voluntarily restrict their procreation. This event marked a point of no return. Over one hundred men and women from all corners of Italy and with diverse ideologies took part: conservatives, revolutionaries, monarchists, anarchists, republicans, socialists and trade unionists, along with professors of medicine, teachers, scholars of sexuality, middle and elementary school teachers, Protestant pastors and Catholic priests. The conference did not reach a unanimous decision on the advisability of spreading neo-Malthusian practices among the proletariat. However, the sociologist Roberto Michels and anarchists including Secondo Giorni and the physician Luigi Berta, decided that spreading the theory and practice of neo-Malthusianism should have a high priority. The leading book on neo-Malthusianism in Italy was published in 1911 by Secondo Giorni. It was entitled L’arte di non far figli (The Art of Not Making Children). Many articles in the anarchist press by the neo-Malthusian doctor, Luigi Berta, provided practical information on how to voluntarily limit births, along with the reasoning behind it, especially the resistance to growing militarism. In 1911, Italy proceeded to invade Tripoli while Spain had an expansionist policy in Morocco. Neo-Malthusian reasoning served to reinforce those who opposed conscription into the military service. This is one of the reasons why neo-Malthusian publications and their editors were to suffer imprisonment and fines.

During this time, neo-Malthusianism was truly international. To this effect, the Universal League of Human Regeneration created the International Neo-Malthusian Bureau of Correspondence and Defence at a conference at The Hague in 1910. It was presided over p. 669 p. 670by Charles Drysdale of London; Dr J. Rutgers of Holland was named secretary, and the Frenchman Gabriel Giroud (Paul Robin's son-in-law) was named treasurer. The legal and political support provided by the International Neo-Malthusian League challenged the persecution in Spain, Italy and even the United States.

Once the initial trials mentioned above were over, in 1913, neo-Malthusian leagues were created in Turin and Milan. In Florence, the anarchists founded an institute that facilitated contraceptives among workers at cost price. In 1913, the magazine L’Educazione Sessuale (Sexual Education) was created by Luigi Berta, Secondo Giorni, Alfredo Polledro and M. Berardelli. Neo-Malthusianism in Italy as an organized movement persisted until 1922, even during the wartime period from 1914 to 1918. All of this took place despite the fact that after the outbreak of World War I, the international neo-Malthusian league was dismembered. With the war, Luigi Berta departed to the Austrian front as a pacifist volunteer in charge of an ambulance and was killed in September 1916. Secondo Giorni, Luigi Fabbri and others went into exile upon the advent of Fascism (Masjuan 2002a, 2002b).

Uruguay and Argentina

Low birth rates characterized Uruguay already at the beginning of the twentieth century, partly because of the neo-Malthusian doctrines spread by Iberian emigrants and refugees. In Uruguay, as elsewhere, neo-Malthusianism was condemned by governments that viewed the country's low birth rate as the nation's bankruptcy. The Spanish league's representatives in Montevideo and the rural regions promoted public propaganda and, to this end, an anarchist Comité Neo-Malthusiano del Río de la Plata was formed in 1907.

In Argentina, the spread of “conscious procreation” among the working class emerged from the arguments on living conditions and the restrictive Residence Law dating from 1902. Foreigners in Argentina were seen as the detritus that Europe expelled from its own soil. The immigrants had to put up with the accusation that they were responsible for all the country's social ills. Given the abusive working conditions existing in Argentina, the main objective the Iberian neo-Malthusians propagated in Argentina was to prevent migration. Their practices gained a following in the anarchist working-class centres. Women with knowledge about obstetrics such as Lola Sánchez, and the poet and painter Félix Nieves initially spread neo-Malthusianism in Argentina.

A group in favour of conscious procreation called Pro-Salud y Fuerza was created in 1908 in Buenos Aires, in association with the International Federation of Human Regeneration. The objectives of the group were: “Spreading and disseminating scientific ideas in order to practise voluntary procreation and contributing to social emancipation and human regeneration”. By 1911, there were already four editions of Luis Bulffi's booklet published by the working-class newspaper with the highest circulation in Argentina, La Protesta, and agitation reached the country's second largest city, Rosario de Santa Fe, through the library, Libertad y Amor (Freedom and Love).

The authorities of the day became concerned when the number of immigrants began to decrease on the eve of World War I. Thus, much later, in 1940, when marriage rates increased and nevertheless birth rates decreased in the federal capital, the responsibility for this was attributed to neo-Malthusianism by Acción Católica Argentina, which at the same time attempted to once again uproot it in the name of Catholic morals and to overcome the “suicide of the white race”. However, when neo-Malthusian practices are introduced, a return to past demographic models does not happen easily.p. 671

Cuba

Some of the first neo-Malthusian groups in Latin America were found in Cuba. Since the turn of the century, the publications from Barcelona had been broadly distributed on the island. In 1907, the Sección neo-Malthusiana de Cuba, part of the International Federation of Human Regeneration, was founded in Havana. Since they were scattered all over the island, the Iberian immigrants led to the presence of neo-Malthusianism in small cities, too, such as Cienfuegos and Manzanillo. Through the widespread practice of readings in the tobacco factories, many works that included doctrines of birth control were shared. With its publication, Pro-Vida (Pro-Life), Cuban neo-Malthusianism made significant contributions to the debates at that time. From this publication, a significant grassroots vegetarian and naturalist movement developed and tried to raise awareness against fictitious needs and for social justice. Theosophers, Masons, socialists and anarchists all took part in this movement.

NEO-MALTHUSIANISM IN INDIA?

Regarding population growth I am of the same opinion as Saral Sarkar, an eco-socialist living in Germany. When Gandhi wrote in 1928 that “The economic imperialism of a single tiny island kingdom [the UK] is today keeping the world in chains. If an entire nation of 300 million took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts”, India meant the whole British India that included today's Pakistan and Bangladesh. The population of this subcontinent has since then swollen from the then 300 million to today's 1,700 million. Yet, not many left-environmental activists are talking about this problem. (https://eco-socialist.blogspot.com/, 28 July 2021)

Anandhi S's work (1998) on early birth control debates in Tamil Nadu claims with persuasive evidence that the neo-Malthusians of Madras in 1890‒1930 were almost all upper-class, upper-caste men, worried about the excessive reproduction of the lower orders. They believed that excessive fertility was a cause of poverty, thus “blaming the victims”. She traces a contrast between those who saw women as merely “reproductive bodies” and those who saw women as "sexual bodies" with a right to freedom. Forgetting the feminist component in neo-Malthusianism, Anandhi S. considers “neo-Malthusianism” a patriarchal and right-wing word, as do Mohan Rao (Rao 1994) and some historians (Ramusack 1989). Also, the neo-Malthusians had eugenic preoccupations. The connections to the world neo-Malthusian movement are unclear. For instance, Murugesa Mudaliar from Madras was in 1880 vice-president of the London Neo-Malthusian League. Annie Besant was living in Madras, and she was internationally known for her public defence of neo-Malthusianism in London in 1877. However, she appears not to have been a central figure in the debates on birth control in India.

So, top-down, male neo-Malthusians saw women as “reproductive bodies”. In this they coincided with the currents opposed to neo-Malthusianism, which also saw women as pure “reproductive bodies”. Anandhi S. makes a distinction between two currents, the Hindu Nationalists and the Gandhians. The Hindu Nationalists opposed birth control for two reasons. First, they wanted more citizens for a future independent India. Second, they opposed birth control because the control of women's sexuality required by the endogamic caste system negated women's freedom to control their own reproduction. Contraception allowed more sexual freedom, and this was dangerous to the caste system. The Gandhians, from the 1920s onwards, and Gandhi himself in his private and public life as explained in his Autobiography, p. 672were concerned about the increase of population. Earlier in his life, Gandhi had defended the right of neo-Malthusians who preached contraception to express their views in the Vegetarian Society of London of which he was secretary while studying law. He himself, however, came to believe in celibacy (brahmacharya). After having four children, he imposed celibacy on himself and his wife. Anandhi argues with reason that Gandhian doctrine is consistent with the view of women as pure “reproductive bodies”. Women's sexual desires were neglected, made invisible, sacrificed. Gandhi, when interviewed by Margaret Sanger in 1932, still opposed “artificial” birth control.

From early neo-Malthusian debates and from the nationalist and socialist ferment, a more radical perspective proposed by E.V. Ramaswami (Periyar) developed explicitly in Tamil Nadu against the Brahminical control of women's sexuality in the 1920s and 1930s. Periyar broke away from the Indian National Congress and formed the Self-Respect Movement in 1926. He developed a political philosophy against caste and religion, in favour of freedom for women. His politics was framed by a search for free and equal citizenship for different social groups (Anandhi S. 1998, p. 159). So, he fought against race, caste and gender inequalities, and he preached birth control. The current feminist emphasis on sexual freedom is not new, and it resonated already in Periyar's radical words, “we recommend that women should stop delivering children… because conception stands in the way of women enjoying personal freedom” (Guha 2010). Periyar focused on women's freedom, explicitly arguing against Hindu religious notions of “purity of blood” and consequent control over women's sexuality. It might be possible to trace the influence of the early neo-Malthusian debates and the Self-Respect Movement on today's lower birth rates in South India as a whole. Thus, when attempting to explain the low birth rate in Tamil Nadu, Zachariah and Rajan (1997, pp. 27–28) notice that education levels for women are low (compared to Kerala), and poverty is high, so perhaps political will and the social reform movements initiated by Periyar have played a role in the demographic transition in South India, that by now has reached India as a whole.

However, among feminists today, the very idea of neo-Malthusianism appears abhorrent. In India, there has been a high reliance on female sterilization, although Indira Gandhi also promoted mass male sterilization (with politically counterproductive effects). Research shows that a declining fertility rate because of female sterilization is linked in India (with the well-known exception of Kerala and other states) to greater female infanticide (because of the preference for male children). This explains the cruel demographic phenomenon of “missing girls” (which also exists in China). Moreover, sterilized women are subject to greater physical abuse by insecure husbands. Women who will not have children get perhaps less food at home than otherwise (Krishnaraj et al. 1998). Such consequences of birth control arise because of gender-biased cultural values and not because of birth control itself. However, there is no denying that such state-imposed population policies are not at all inspired by the feminist movement, and that their consequences are terrible from a feminist perspective, and from a general humanist perspective. On the contrary, it is well understood among scholars in India that “engendering population policy involves moving beyond family planning to focus on changes in social structure that would allow women to make marital and fertility choices free of social or economic constraints” (Desai 1998, p. 49). Notice here, as Periyar had said, that lack of freedom in “marital choices” goes together with lack of freedom in “fertility choices”. Notice also that India has a population density as high as the most densely populated European countries (Caldwell 1998).p. 673

How large will India's ecological footprint become, as its large population hopefully achieves a higher standard of life while preserving “land, water, air and freedom”? Among environmentalists in India, one current definition of neo-Malthusianism is that it is a doctrine that sees “sheer excess in human numbers” as “the primary (or) sole burden on scarce resources” (D’Souza 2003). It is true that neo-Malthusians emphasize population density, although they also take into account per capita consumption and the technologies employed. If one uses “ecological footprint” analysis (Patricia Hynes, in Silliman and King 1999, pp. 196–199, also D’Souza 2003, p. 25) translating food energy, other biomass and fossil fuels into spatial requirements, we see that the average Indian has a low per capita ecological footprint of 0.5 ha. With a population density of three persons per ha, India's ecological footprint is already larger than her territory. It increased fast because of population growth coupled with economic growth. When an appeal is made to “ecological footprint” analysis in order to emphasize wealth as the main threat to the environment, one cannot evade the importance of both consumption per capita and population density. If India went up to a European per capita ecological footprint of about 3 ha, then of course India's footprint would grow six times even if her population would increase no further. The importance of population density would be even better shown by HANPP, “Human appropriation of net primary production” as discussed elsewhere in this book (Haberl, Erb et al. 2007; Haberl, Steinberger et al. 2012).

ECOLOGICAL DISCOURSES OF NEO-MALTHUSIANISM

The neo-Malthusians of 1900 often discussed the carrying capacity of the Earth, as many other authors did at the time (Martinez-Alier 1987, chapters on Pfaundler and Ballod-Atlanticus; and Cohen 1995), framing the question as “how large a world population could be fed”. Thus, Paul Robin's son-in-law, Gabriel Giroud, wrote a pessimistic book on Population et Subsistences published in Paris in 1904. The answers were not conclusive. Today the question must be asked in a different way: how large a human population can be fed and live sustainably at an acceptable standard of living, provided that at least 50 or 60 per cent of biomass production is not pre-empted for human use?

The balance between population and natural resources was one of the concerns of the neo-Malthusians. As the world population reached two billion people in 1914, they were aware that the depletion of resources such as coal, iron and fertile agricultural land was a problem that would take some time to emerge, but one that future generations would face. Others had faith in the technological progress which would come about in the future, providing a solution to “the disorderly growth of the human species” (UASE 1913, pp. 20–26). Most neo-Malthusians acknowledged that they did not know the limits of the Earth's potential to produce, and they recognized advances made in the field of chemistry for fertilizers and hoped for advances to be made for obtaining food. A general opinion was that the growing population on the planet could produce enough for its well-being, were it not for capitalism. However, if population growth continued, limiting birth rates would end up being necessary regardless of which social system prevailed.

The availability of energy was for some a concern at the time. Some foresaw a world population that would reach a maximum of five billion inhabitants by the end of the twentieth century (Antich 1931, p. 28). The means of transport and machinery known at that time could p. 674not meet the needs of a world population of that size. There were disagreements between neo-Malthusian anarchists such as Sébastien Faure and anti-Malthusian anarchists such as Kropotkin who believed that food supply could increase enormously through greenhouse agriculture. Kropotkin was criticized by Popper-Lynkeus (1912), himself a proto-ecological economist and a neo-Malthusian social reformer, because he had forgotten to calculate the energy requirement for heating the greenhouses. Neo-Malthusianism re-opened a discussion on natural resources and the population. Moreover, they were antagonistic towards colonial submission of other lands and cultures in order to secure resources (Giorni 1922). However, at the same time they were described as being anti-socialist because of their emphasis on reducing the size of proletarian families. Some of their critics believed that the greater the number of poor people, the sooner revolution would take place ‒ to which they responded that revolution based on misery would be an utter failure.

CONCLUSIONS: VARIETIES OF MALTHUSIANISM

Similarly to what is happening today with climate change and biodiversity loss, where anticipation leads to action (possibly too little and too late), human demography became in Europe and America socially self-modifying, more so than it had been in other societies (except for small “primitive” groups which closely controlled reproduction). Optimistically, this shows the reflexivity of human action in response to forecasts, predictions or bad scenarios. While Malthus thought that improving the situation of the poor was utterly useless because it would lead to the growth of their population, the neo-Malthusians of 1900 thought that Malthus was wrong. They believed that poor people could and should control births not by chastity and late marriages or by pestilence and wars, as in the Malthusian scenarios, but by contraception. This was a successful movement. They argued that, despite scientific progress, it was legitimate for the defenders of conscious procreation to set forth the issue of excessive population relative to resources. However, there are environmental writers who still ignore the neo-Malthusianism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Between Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population of 1798, and Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb of 1968, there were proposals and movements concerned with population and natural resources which cannot be left aside. Many came from feminism.

European fertility came down not because of state policies, but against state policies. Democratic governments in Europe forbade neo-Malthusian activism as late as the 1920s, and Fascist governments even later. Between 1865 and 1945, the Prussian, and later the German state wanted more soldiers to fight the French, and vice versa. The French state, which had done so much for the depopulation of France in 1914‒18, patriotically forbade the neo-Malthusian movement in 1920 (Ronsin 1980, pp. 83–84). In European history, the words “state population policy” meant attempts to increase population by increasing the birth rate. In America, it meant increasing the immigration of populations of suitable white origins. Recent interventions in China and elsewhere have changed the meaning of “state population policies”. The science of demography was sponsored in France by pro-natalist governments, producing fervent anti-Malthusian scholars such as Alfred Sauvy still after 1945. Demographers have usually been silent on ecology (“this is not my department”), and it fell on a biologist such as Ehrlich to raise stridently again in 1968 the population-environment question given the silence (in the best of cases) not only of demographers but also of many economists. As p. 675was the case in the early twentieth century, the alarm raised by Ehrlich and others influenced behaviours, this time beyond Europe and the United States.

Thus, it is a commonplace to say that Julian Simon was an anti-Malthusian economist of the late twentieth century who saw in a growing population a stimulus to economic growth, while his opponent, Paul Ehrlich, is a noted “neo-Malthusian”. Currently, in some circles any concern for the imbalance between natural resources and human demography is still suspected of being backed by contemporary neo-imperialism (Rao 1994), while neo-Malthusians emphasize that increased agricultural production has been achieved at the cost of excessive energy inputs, loss of biodiversity and increased pollution, being unsustainable. Moreover, Malthus’ concern with human subsistence should be supplemented by concern for the reduced space left to other species because of human population growth and because of the use of agro-fuels.

As we have seen, around 1900, social radicals, including radical feminists, were in favour of limiting population growth, with three main arguments: women's freedom, the downward pressure of excessive population on wages, and the threat to the environment and human subsistence. Many of them were for social revolution and at the same time for “conscious procreation”. Loss of wilderness was less emphasized than potential food scarcity. Two other arguments were added in the European and American context of one hundred years ago: anti-militarism, and resistance to migration overseas.

It is true that top-down neo-Malthusian policies inspired and legitimized by the image of the “population bomb” have caused in recent years many forced sterilizations and large-scale female infanticide in some countries, and they threaten small surviving ethnic groups. However, as we have seen, one hundred years ago in Europe and America, the original neo-Malthusian movement opposed Malthus’ view that poverty was due to overpopulation rather than social inequality, and simultaneously fought successfully for limiting births by exercising women's reproductive rights (to use today's language), appealing sometimes also to ecological arguments of pressure of population on resources. There was an awareness that population growth might have negative effects and its consequences were anticipated.

In Table 29.1, the characteristics of the varieties of Malthusianism and neo-Malthusianism in the last two hundred years are summarized. They have been amended from previous versions of this chapter because of my reading of Giorgos Kallis’ Limits (2021). He says that the world capitalist system invents scarcity to justify continuous economic growth. There is instead an abundance of energy and materials for a world without population growth and with self-limited needs. Kallis also asserts that Malthus did not really believe in “decreasing returns” in agriculture. He believed that food production should and could grow thanks to technical changes.

Table 29.1

Varieties of Malthusianism

Malthusianism MALTHUSIANISM of Malthus: Population undergoes exponential growth unless checked by war and pestilence, or by chastity, birth control and late marriages ‒ all according to Malthus, are undesirable and unnatural/ungodly. Food can grow without limits, but always less than exponential population growth. Hence, periodic subsistence crises.
Neo-Malthusianism of 1900 Human populations could regulate their own growth through contraception. Women's freedom was required for this, and it was desirable for its own sake. Poverty was explained by social inequality. “Conscious procreation” was required in order to prevent low wages, and pressure on natural resources. This was a successful bottom-up movement in Europe and America against States (which wanted more soldiers) and against the Catholic Church. It also appeared in South India (Periyar).
Neo-Malthusianism after 1970 A top-down doctrine and practice sponsored by international organizations and some governments. Population growth is seen as one main cause of poverty and environmental degradation. Therefore, States must introduce contraceptive methods, even sometimes without the populations’ (particularly women’s) prior consent.
Anti-Malthusianism The view that assumes that human population growth is no major threat to the natural environment, and that it is even conducive to desirable economic growth.

In fact, critics of Malthus’ pessimism, such as Ester Boserup (1965), explained that shortening the rotation periods (from swidden agriculture to short fallows to double cropping) did away with scarcity. We also know that (long after Malthus’ death), first the imports of guano, later Chilean nitrates, later the Haber-Bosch process and in general factory fertilizers, bridged in Europe Liebig's and Marx's metabolic gap in the nutrient cycles of phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen (Chapter 21). Malthus would have liked such technical advances (Kallis 2021) but would have retorted that poverty would always be with us because of population growth. He dismissed redistributive policies and he discarded “conscious procreation” and birth control.

One problem in the study of neo-Malthusianism is its relations with the eugenics movement around 1910. It should be clear that neo-Malthusianism raised the proletariat's awareness p. 676about the risk of transmitting hereditary illnesses, including alcoholism, and sexual diseases that wreaked devastation amongst the populations at the time. However, southern European neo-Malthusianism rejected ties with eugenics, as expressed in the language of the time by the neo-Malthusian from Aragon, José Chueca, in 1914:

Although they claim to pursue the same end, the regeneration of the human species, eugenics and neo-Malthusianism have no relationship whatsoever; the former is essentially bourgeois and based on false science, while the latter goes against the bourgeoisie and ranks among the things that truly belong in the realm of science; the former vainly attempts to regenerate humanity by attempting to brutally prevent certain people from reproducing, while the latter aspires to convince people to procreate consciously by affording them the means to prevent fertilisation aiding them in achieving this, since neo-Malthusianism does not wish to impose itself on anyone by violent means, nor does it wish to deny the right to love to the most lowly, the most degenerate of men. (Chueca 1914, pp. 321–322)

Thus, one hundred years ago, Malthus’ pessimistic prognosis was transformed into the idea of conscious, voluntary procreation. Poor people, especially poor women and also men, were deemed responsible for and capable of “conscious procreation”. This was a feminist and proto-environmental movement. Instead, today's neo-Malthusianism of the rich considers the high reproductive rate among the world's poor as a threat to their own environment through migration. Hardin (1974) developed a so-called “lifeboat ethics”. Hence, the need for top-down population policies. Against “lifeboat ethics”, one could say that the planet is our collective lifeboat or spaceship.p. 677

The neo-Malthusianism of 1900 was not a doctrine imposing population policies from above. It was the opposite. In France and elsewhere, it challenged the political and religious authorities of the time through the idea of a “womb strike”, and also through anti-militarism and anti-capitalism. It defended “rational feminism” (as Alexandra David put it). Only strong-willed radicals dared preach contraception in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. One main figure of neo-Malthusianism in Brazil was Maria Lacerda de Moura. She wrote several books in the 1920s and 1930s. One of them was Amai-vos e não vos multipliqueis (Love each other and do not multiply). I mentioned her already elsewhere as a feminist-anarchist-pacifist author. Active feminists in French neo-Malthusianism proposed since 1900 not only contraceptives but also the legalization of abortion. They were persecuted; one of them was confined to a psychiatric asylum, where she died in 1939 (Gordon 1976; Ronsin 1980; Morton 1992; Masjuan 2000).

Responsibility for the birth of children falls normally on both women and men. Among the contraceptive methods recommended by the neo-Malthusian movement in Europe and America, some were geared towards women, but condoms were popular. Vasectomies were endorsed in French anarchist circles in the early 1930s ‒ the state's response was a court case (Ronsin 1980, p. 202).

Notes

1

A previous version of this chapter has been available in English on the web for some time, it has never been printed (Masjuan and Martinez-Alier 2004).

2

Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp eliminates Nuclear Missiles in Berkshire, England (Dalena Tran), EJAtlas.

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