I have just discovered something wonderful: The National Library of Australia’s online database of Australian Newspapers from 1803 to 1954 (also available here). It really is a treasure trove! Here is an “old story” from The Mercury (Hobart) Monday 27 November 1933:
FOR at least a century and a quarter, the question of birth control has come periodically under notice. About the beginning of the eighteenth century some persons who today would be called “economists,” and would hold positions on the teaching staffs of universities, made calculations and published them about the effect of the birth rate. They showed conclusively that unless something drastic were done the world would starve to death in less than 50 years…
The calculation was simple. They took the available figures regarding the increase in the birth rate and the figures relating to thc increase of the production of food, and were able, without difficulty, lo show that in another half century the world would be strewn with the skeletons of those millions who would have died. Absurd as that may sound today, the publication of these stories created a veritable panic in England and in other countries.
In these later days, since the discovery of what is called thc “science”‘ of eugenics, there is an agitation for compulsory birth control on the part of those who are supposed to be physically or mentally, or morally, unfit to breed human beings. The German Government is tackling the problem valiantly, but with the knowledge we have of Nazi ideals we may be permitted to wonder whether the selection of those, who may or may not have a part in bringing children into the world will be entirely judicious.
But now comes a new story which brings us back to the original idea. The people of the East are urged to restrict their population increases because thc rate is too high, and there is not enough food for them all. Control of money, control of trade, control of production and of prices, control, in fact, of every mortal thing in the life of men and women from the cradle to the grave is the keynote today of every policy put forward for the salvation of the world.
And now that it is said that there is too much production of food for the world, the cure is to be found in a still further restriction of the number of persons to be available for its consumption. Between eugenics and economics, this old world of ours is getting into a strange tangle of notions and plans.
Take good note of the date of this article. And then read this one on the same page:
Threat from the East
Vital Need of Civilisation
London. November 25.
“With India’s increase of 34,000,000 persons in tho last 10 years, and Japan’s four babies a minute in 1932, it ls time the red traffic light was turned eastward,” says the president ot tho Birth Control International centre in a cablegram to the London conference discussing birth control in Asia under tho presidency of Lord Horder.
Professor Carr Saunders declared that birth control was a vital need of modern civilisation, but the problem was how small the family should be. It could be harmonised with communal needs. If there was not birth control the result would be disastrous. The leading question was whether the human race could be trusted with birth control, as there was danger of contraception threatening civilisation.
Dr. Dugsdale, a pioneer of the movement, said that over-population was tantamount to an excessive death rate, and abbreviation of the life span, owing to insufficiency of necessities and comforts. It was significant that both the
birth rate and death rate In Japan had increased since the era of Industrialisation. Limitation of the birth rate in India, China, and Japan was essential for the world’s peace and tranquillity.
Mr. Eguehi, a Japanese delegate, said that his countrymen were interested on birth control. lt was easy for Westerners to scoff at Japan because of a low standard of living, but Japan would be only too glad if Britain had any scheme for bringing Japan’s standard of living on equality with the West.
Again, note the date… Who was it who said that those who do not learn from th mistakes of history are condemned to repeat them?