The role of immigration in Italy’s recent election

How important were immigration issues in the recent electoral triumph of Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia party? TOP’s chief Italian correspondent gives us her analysis.

by Gaia Baracetti

History does repeat itself – but not in the obvious way. One could fear we’re witnessing a second March on Rome exactly a century after the first, but the rise of the far-right in Italy in 2022 is very different from the rise of the far-right in 1922, because the country itself has changed so much. A century ago, Italy was bursting at the seams, preparing for invasion and aspiring to empire; now it is old, wary and worried about its loss of sovereignty.

The world, and much of Italy itself, has reacted to Giorgia Meloni’s electoral victory with worry and dismay. Many appear to be convinced that Italy has gone fascist once again. I must admit that as an Italian I feel a bit defensive here; so, before I get into the link between population issues and Meloni’s victory, I’d like to offer a couple clarifications.

First of all, it’s not really much of a victory. At 64%, the turnout was the lowest ever for a general Italian election. Of all valid votes, just over a quarter went to Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia party; thanks to our complicated electoral system and in particular to the portion of first-past-the-post seats, the right-wing coalition got a disproportionate amount of MPs in both the Camera and the Senato. But only about 15% of eligible voters actually voted for the party led by Meloni. It would be fair to say that most of the electorate is either against her or indifferent to her, rather than supportive of her.

Nor is this vote some kind of death knell for Italian democracy. It’s clear where Meloni’s nostalgia lies, even though she refuses to call herself a “fascist”; but in her political practice she seems to take very seriously Italian democratic institutions. She led what was virtually the only opposition to yet another unelected Prime Minister presented to the country as its only possible saviour, and tried to get a woman elected as President of the Republic, as opposed to forcing the old man who had literally already packed his bags to stay a few more years for lack of better options, which is what ended up happening. Finally, unlike many other politicians, she has been single-minded from the start, never party-hopped, never compromised her – unsavory, to many – beliefs. Italians are no longer used to politicians who appear to actually believe in what they are saying. If her true colors are different, we are about to find out.

Let’s now get to the core of why Giorgia Meloni did so well in a country that has Fascism explicitly banned in its Constitution. There are many factors involved. Every other party has been tried and has disappointed. Her brand of populist conservativism is currently more appealing than both the economic liberalism championed by her rivals, and the social liberalism that some (though not many) Italians feel has gone too far. She is expected to defend national interests in the European Union. She promises generous child benefits.

Italy is considered by Italians themselves a country that traditionally leans to the right. What we mean by “right” changes with time. Giorgia Meloni is a socially conservative, proudly Catholic nationalist. She opposes illegal mass migration to Italy – and this is probably the chief reason she got so many votes.

Of all European countries, Italy is probably the one that has the worst reputation in terms of migration compared to its actual record. Spain uses police and even military troops to push back migrants in its overseas territories. Croatian police are guilty of serious abuses against migrants, including torture. France sends them back to Italy, which is prevented by its own tribunals from sending them back into Slovenia. NGOs from all over Europe pick up asylum seekers stranded in the Mediterranean (on purpose, many believe) and dump them on Italian coasts. In 2019 the German captain Carola Rackete rammed a navy vessel off the coast of Italy while attempting to break a blockade in order to unload rescued migrants in a Sicilian port. She was let go, while former Northern League Interior minister Matteo Salvini is on trial for kidnapping for having blocked the ships in the first place. Many Italians support people like Rackete for saving lives, while others feel that rescue operations create a perverse incentive, or that Italy has lost control over its borders and is being hypocritically blamed by other European countries that at the same time refuse to take their fair share of migrants. Or – most controversially – that judges have gone from impartial arbiters to political actors with their own agenda.

Italians are a welcoming people. Mediterranean cultures naturally tend to be, and our mountains have been safe havens for fugitives for centuries. We are already very mixed due to our ancient history, not to mention often too busy fighting each other to notice foreigners. I believe also that we possess a culture of empathy. Hate crimes occur, but are infrequent. Even the very racist Fascist regime, at least until it passed anti-Jewish laws, considered “Italian-ness” more a matter of culture, politics and choice than of blood. It did not share the Nazi obsession with racial purity. Memories of our own recent out-migration make us more sympathetic to those now seeking a better life here.

But even Italians seem to have reached their limit. Refugees and economic migrants keep coming, to the tune of hundreds of thousands a year. They mostly either cross the Mediterranean or walk along the Balkans and enter from Slovenia. The centers that were set up to welcome them are full – and expensive to run. Organised crime has figured out how to profit from the situation. One Roman boss was heard saying “you can make more money with migrants than with drugs”. For a country that was traumatised by past invasions, but not built on a common project of migration, seeing our cities change so rapidly has been disorientating.

Syrian refugees arriving by boat. Photo by Ggia.

We are obliged by our Constitution to offer asylum, but it is difficult to tell apart those fleeing conflict from those who are just looking for a job. Many come from countries, such as Bangladesh or Tunisia, that are not at war. There are many young men. Often they lie about their age, sometimes blatantly, in order to obtain the protection reserved for minors. Women and children receive more sympathy, but also resentment at the perceived support they will get in a country where many native couples feel they cannot afford the children they want. If they are refused a permit, illegal immigrants almost never go back to their country – they are often found time and again still in Italy, even when they have committed crimes. When an asylum application is rejected, an appeal is almost automatic. The courts cannot handle all the work and get bogged down.

There are issues with regular migrants, too. Due to gang violence some parts of our cities are becoming no-go areas. There have been many alarming news stories about attacks by youth gangs. The media usually only says which city their members are from, or whether they are Italian citizens. I believe this is a deliberate omission. I looked up a few cases, and more often than not the members turn out to have been migrants or children of migrants.

Italy has a corruption and illegality problem, and migrants are often victimised. Whether legal or not, and especially in the latter case, migrants are frequently abused in the workplace (including by other migrants). Gioia Tauro, Foggia, the Agro Pontino… migrants are exploited at an almost industrial scale, out in the open, in dangerous, unsanitary camps that no one seems able or willing to fix or dismantle. Many, though not all, Italians can afford to refuse such working conditions – but poor migrants cannot, especially when they are staying here illegally and have no recourse. This, and a lack of law enforcement, means that conditions will not improve. In her campaign, Giorgia Meloni claimed to be “more humane than the left” because “illegal migration is in the interests of big capital.” This begs the question: is she willing to go against “big capital”?

Her solutions – such as a naval blockade of Italy – are probably not feasible. Matteo Salvini, who also owed much of his former popularity to anti-migrant sentiment, promised repatriations but never delivered. In the latest elections, his party collapsed. If Giorgia Meloni miraculously does succeed where her frenemy Salvini failed, and finds a way to stem the human flow that does not break some international treaty or law, wouldn’t “big capital” complain when the flood of fresh workforce becomes a trickle?

Giorgia Meloni has a plan for this, too. She is expected to bin the controversial reddito di cittadinanza, Italy’s latest and most comprehensive social security measure, which many accuse of discouraging people from working. But she plans to give Italy the work force it supposedly needs, without importing it, by pro-natalist policies.

Meloni is saying she will not make abortion illegal, but she supports “conscientious objection” by doctors, which would severely limit access to abortion and which many believe should be abolished. In its manifesto, the Fratelli d’Italia party is explicit in its desire to support family, parenthood, and natalità – a strong birth rate. Migration is presented mostly in legal, cultural and security terms. There’s a reference to antisemitism and drug dealing as if they were a prerogative of foreigners. But there is nothing about the link between population growth and the environment.

No party in Italy, or at least no party that I know of (and I’ve looked into any I could find), claims that Italy is overpopulated, despite its high population density. No one makes a connection between the sorry state of our environment and the number of people living in it. There seems to be a consensus that economic growth is good and that demographic decline is bad. The only real difference is what to do about it: let more migrants in, or harness the repressed reproductive potential of natives?

This is one of the main reasons why, in the recent election, I couldn’t bring myself to cast my vote for anyone at all. All parties, from the extreme right to the extreme left, seem to be under the spell of more: more people, more economic growth, more public expenditure, more money for core constituencies… It has been a long-running debate of ours whether Italians have the politicians they deserve, or worse (no one finds them to be our betters). Sometimes I do get the impression that on certain issues, such as overpopulation, Italians have more of a clue than their representatives and the media. If this is the case, it has yet to manifest itself in electoral politics.

 

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53 thoughts on “The role of immigration in Italy’s recent election

      1. Gaia, I am lost in admiration. You are succinct, but cover all issues and concerns. I don’t think I have ever read a better exploration of the hazards facing all Nations as they try to steer a course through convergent ecological and financial whirlwinds. In my opinion, no steering is possible unless Overpopulation is dealt with, at both global and national levels. Only once it has been dealt with (don’t ask me how!), can the action of steering resume.
        Yet isn’t that what “government” means? – steering? – from Greek kybernan “to steer or pilot a ship, direct as a pilot,” (the root of cybernetics); the -k- to -g- sound shift is perhaps via the medium of Etruscan, says an etymology dictionary. Engineers use “govern” for thermostats or anything that reins in a process when it overheats or goes too far or too fast – so for them a “Governor” is a kind of braking mechanism to prevent breakdowns or fatal accidents, i.e. it is a benign form of limitation of absolute freedom (because checks and balances are needed in all systems, often quite simple ones such as negative feedback loops are sufficient unless positive feedbacks or vicious circles have become entrenched and have thus “run amok”).

  1. All so true, across the globe.

    Sadly, the answer is better “democracy/governance”, economic development and birth control in source countries. But who has the right or ability to bring that about.

  2. Sadly issues related to migration are going to get more complicated and dangerous with climate catastrophe. Even migration within big countries like India have become point of heated political struggle and rise of regionalism.

    1. I think a lot of people treat mass migration as a poor-to-rich world, dark-to-white, international affair, but there’s actually a lot of mass migration within countries and similar populations that creates resentment – I’m thinking of riots against other African immigrants, by black South Africans, in South Africa. Mass migration has also played a role in destabilising countries in the Middle East, eg. from Palestine to Lebanon, from Iraq to Syria (both Lebanon and Syria are seriously overpopulated countries).
      In Italy, the Northern League started out as anti-Southern Italians and anti-Rome, and only later became a national party asking for votes in the South (and getting them!)

  3. For Sub-Saharan Africa and migration, I think the evidence suggests that overpopulation and its consequences are far more important factors than climate change. Another point is that migration within the continent is more important, in terms of people affected, than migration out of Africa/Sub-Saharan Africa. Of course, climate change is going to make things worse, but its effect is strongest in northern (polar) regions.

  4. Thank you, GB, for once again explaining something as complicated as Italian politics with such clarity and compassion. It’s too bad that you were unable to bring yourself to vote in the recent election because none of the candidates made the connection between overpopulation and the environment.
    Do you have any idea why Italians seem to understand the connection while their politicians don’t? Or is it the case that those politicians simply chose to obscure facts in their quest to win votes? The popular journalist/blogger Francesco Costa says Italy’s political structure is designed to prevent any one faction from gaining dictatorial powers; if this is the case, might it have led to a sense of complacency on the part of the electorate?

    1. Claire, not all Italians do make the connection. Italy is still a Catholic country, and even if this pope once let it slip (in the Philippines, which is a different story) that we shouldn’t breed like rabbits, the Catholic religion is still pro-birth and pro-“family”. And pro-immigrants. Not just the politicians, but also the media are always talking about the low birth rate as a national shame and saying that we need more people. Another reason, of course, is because a growing population is good for business, and business is always over represented in the public debate because it has money and clout. Finally, we are a very old country, and selfish pensioners (they really *are* a selfish lot) are worried about who will pay their pensions more than anything else.
      It is apparent not just from Italian history, but from most Western history since at least the Roman Empire and Christianity, that our culture considers the environment as something to be exploited. It’s in the Bible! To reverse millennia of this won’t be easy, although we need to do it.

      As for politics, we do have a Green party, but they are seen as ineffective and out-of-touch. They don’t consider the overpopulation connection either, at any rate, because of the reasons outlined recently on this blog. Neither seem to do the climate protestors. I considered voting for the leftist Greens anyway, but in my constituency their candidates where the two politicians most responsible for the construction of a parking lot in my hometown that I spent months protesting. That’s another problem: our current electoral system doesn’t let you choose a candidate, only a party. We really hate this, but no one has changed it yet (parties in power change the electoral system every few years to suit their current situation, and it always backfires on them).
      Another problem is the urban-rural divide in environmentalism – an urban class that might be more inclined to be wealthy, vegan, pro-animals, anti-hunting, and kind of clueless, and a rural class that understands food production and, instinctively, the ecosystem, but is less affluent, pro-growth in its own way, and that in order to survive needs to make money off a depleted environment. The wolf saga is a great example of this conflict.

      It’s not just the political system that is designed so that a faction will not prevail – it’s Italy itself that is naturally like this. I’d say Fascism was a bit of an exception, although also not really – it’s typical of us to refuse personal responsibility by looking for a strong man to save us, then get disappointed and brutally turn on him.
      Italy is a very diverse country with strong local identities, rivalries and history going way back. It also tends to be divided along ideological lines and even foreign allegiances (now it’s pro/against the US and EU, in the Middle Ages it was guelfi vs ghibellini…) Our governments don’t last, leaders come and go, etc. Unfortunately, for the sake of stability and continuity many politicians are trying hard to have either a “bipolar” or a “presidential” system, both of which are unsuited to our national character, I believe. Personally, the thing that worries me most about Meloni is her intention to make us a presidential republic. We’re not France. We have a way of accommodating a very diverse country through a political system that represents most and makes sure no one is every happy, with might be a good thing.

      1. “it’s typical of us to refuse personal responsibility by looking for a strong man to save us, then get disappointed and brutally turn on him.” Sounds like the USA, except that his fans haven’t turned on our ex-president yet, and neither has the Republican party. Still, hope springs eternal.
        Sorry your Greens are not green enough, maybe the younger generation will force change? Is there an Extinction Rebellion presence?
        I hope you have some like minded people for moral support, if nothing else.

  5. Scientists called for Zero Population Growth 50 years ago;
    they were looking at our ecological footprint & projecting
    into the future, & nobody else was!
    If we had stayed at world population 4 billion, we
    wouldn’t have climate change, the refugee crisis,
    decimation of wildlife, & environmental degradation!
    Extending life spans artificially by suppressing
    communicable diseases is a selfish decision at the
    expense of other critters, future generations, and
    the environment!
    Each species has natural enemies that keep its
    numbers in check. The U.N. projects that we’ll
    rise to 9 then 10 billion & level out. Is that
    the plan? What’s the plan? Who’s the author of
    the plan? I was talking to a professor in 2020,
    & he said: “There is no plan.”

  6. Agreed. Paul Erlich was a a foretellervofvproblems as was Malthus a long long time ago.

    Science overcame thealthusxpredictions, and Erlich’s with the green revolution.

    But the latter has had unintended consequences, especially in relation to consumption, pollution and habitat destruction.

    But how to get the world onside to address EVERY issue, not just climate change.

    And climate change is a function of all the other issues.

  7. Claire, I did a quick search about Extinction Rebellion and overpopulation (in Italian) and I found an overpopulation-denying article, another in which a member of ER talked about not wanting children for the climate but other interviewees dismissed the solution, and not much else (could be the search engine).
    Honestly, although I see a place for protest movements, I am more of a fan of practical solutions and leading by example. Every time the FFF kids or someone like them shows up, I see older people pointing out at how they still have their smartphones, their new clothes, their holidays, etc.
    A lot of it is theoretical – “if only we all did this…”. We need practical solutions too. I’m looking into food and fiber production and I see how hard it is to be sustainable in the current system. I earn less, consume less than my peers, and see how hard it is to keep up – not in an envy sense, but just paying for a house, participating to social events, paying for medical care even… And no one buys your stuff because it’s more expensive and less convenient.
    People are often dismissive of personal, non-systemic changes. Then when we ask for systemic changes no one has any idea how things should be done, because we’re all protesting or writing papers, while the farmer is plowing with his huge subsidised tractor, underpaid Africans are picking tomatoes under the sun, and the factory is churning out stuff as usual.
    I get lots of moral support, like – lots! Then wake up, go do work that doesn’t pay off, and out of all the moral-supporting people no one shows up to help.

  8. You’re entitled, GB, and I can relate about the hypocrisy.
    From the Department of Unsolicited Advice: get one of those “supporters” to write Stanley Tucci’s handlers at CNN. He’s all the rage on TV here, eating his way through every region of Italy. Maybe he would be interested in your efforts at practical solutions and alternatives to industrial farming. He did a segment about the slow food movement in Italy that was interesting.

    1. Thanks, I’ll look into it.
      Food is an interesting issue because it’s so split. On the one hand, everyone is talking about local, “authentic”, Slow, sustainable, you name it, “Food”. We’ve got endless shows about food, chefs, food travel, food celebrities, etc.
      On the other hand, that kind of sophisticated, yet traditional food is nowhere near available to everybody. So the masses, while they might watch food shows, are eating industrially-produced stuff.
      In the Italian language there’s this fad now of saying “food” as opposed to the Italian word which would be “cibo”. As if there was a fundamental difference between the two, which are both things you eat. The language almost unconsciously recognises that there are two kinds of food: the one we aspire to, and the one we eat. “Food waste” is “spreco di cibo”; not “spreco di food”, because “food” (when this word is used in Italian) is a luxury.
      It’s similar with all the “agriturismi”, “fattorie didattiche”, etc. I call them Potemkin farms. Many small-scale farmers, finding it impossible to compete with industrial enterprises or even imports if they just produce food, diversify and charge people to do outdoor activities, pet donkeys, go for walks with lamas, you name it. People love this kind of stuff, without realizing it’s all fake and it’s got basically nothing to do with the food they actually eat everyday. Same with my wool: people *love it* when I go spin by hand in a market or Medieval fair. But very few people actually buy it, or even buy pure wool anymore.
      The advice I hate the most (yours is welcome ;)) is: why don’t you open a “fattoria didattica”? Cause there’s definitely money there. But I don’t want to pretend to be producing food, damn it! I want to ACTUALLY DO IT!

  9. Case in point: https://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2022/10/09/immigrati-in-italia-le-entrate-per-lo-stato-superano-le-uscite-e-contro-il-calo-degli-italiani-in-eta-da-lavoro-servono-piu-stranieri/6829114/

    In a nutshell: “we need more people”. The arguments are the usual ones; the interesting thing is how blatantly dishonest and self-contradictory they are.

    For example: we need more children otherwise the schools won’t have enough pupils (and teachers might lose their job). Everything is like this: it’s not that the economy exists to serve the people; people exist to serve the economy.
    Migrants, being mostly young, aren’t as much as a burden for the healthcare sector, that services mostly old people. What this omits is that migrants themselves will get old and need care at some point. Even more illogically: both healthcare and schools cost money, but, in order to prove that more immigration is good, the opposite rationale is applied to similar situations: more children is good because otherwise the schools would be empty, but less old people is also good because hospitals are expensive (no one is worried about hospitals not having enough people to take care of and being forced to make workers redundant).
    I could go on with another manipulative examples from the same article but I don’t want to get too mad.

    1. Here’s my 2002 letter to the New York Times:
      Who Let the Deer Out? Nov. 19, 2002
      To the Editor:
      ”Deer Send Ecosystem Into Chaos” says the whitetail population has been
      restored to the level of 200 years ago, but sprawl has confined it to
      patches of habitat, and we have decimated its predators.
      The human population is the one out of control. I suggest we stop
      producing influenza vaccines, and let Mother Nature back in the driver’s seat.
      –DAVID POLEWKA, Chapel Hill, N.C.
      https://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/19/science/l-who-let-the-deer-out-986925.html

      1. David, I think contraception is a better way to reduce numbers with minimal suffering. Arguing for letting people die from preventable diseases won’t make you, the cause and even the deer popular, and rightly so.

  10. It’s hard not to get mad about illogical arguments that are self-serving as well as short sighted. The emphasis on individualism and ‘what’s in it for me’ rather than society as a whole has gotten worse during my lifetime.
    I don’t know of a cure. You are to be commended for keeping on trying.
    Here is an old English ditty: “The law locks up the man or woman Who steals the goose from off the Common; But lets the greater felon loose Who steals the common from the goose.”

    1. Nice one! And we are all stealing the common from the goose, even the very poorest of us – in the poorest Nations of the World too. Of course some humans are stealing more than others, but it is a sliding scale of involvement. Hardly anyone lives truly sustainably now – a few people have gone back to the land, and really are “off-grid”, and a few have never left it – but not many, proportionately. I would hate to live “off-grid” – far too boring. That is why massive de-population, somehow or other, is the only way out – and not looking all that feasible, at the moment, without the intervention of the coldly impartial Four Horsemen (who have been pronounced dead by Science, but I am not so sure about that).

  11. GB: In La-La Never Never Land, anything goes, you can do whatever
    you want and get away with it, and the only thing on the table
    is what you put there, and you can ignore everything else!
    But the Real World is different; in the Real World, everything
    is always on the table, at all times!

    Since my letter was published, we’ve added 1.6 billion people,
    a 25% increase! I think we should stop making MMR and Covid shots, too.
    Suppressing childhood diseases allows monstrous forms to proliferate!
    Suppressing diseases of the elderly only gives more years of infirmity!
    Dr. William Osler, the “Father of Modern Medicine”, said:
    “Pneumonia is the old man’s friend!” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Osler

    Here’s the Good News: you don’t have to like the way Nature works;
    you just have to accept it!

    1. I had not heard of Osler – yet he should be a household name. The list of ailments bearing his name because he discovered or helped discover them is staggering. Then there are his empathetic dictums about listening to the patient, increasing personal interaction between hospital doctors and patients, etc. He is a rare blend of high intellect with empathy. It is curious that he had an aversion to “primitive” humans and their lifestyles – but I guess we all do if we are honest. Certainly “primitive” people themselves can’t wait to go to school, get hot showers, get smartphones, avoid parasites, etc. etc. On the other hand, some of the most intelligent people in the world are small-scale farmers, either having been this for generations or having gone back to the land from desk jobs which bore and depress them. Surely there has to be a way of combing Nature Conservation with high literacy? But we will only find the way AFTER global population has gone back to 1 billion, or 2 billion at most. Population reduction is the sine qua non for everything. If this sounds simplistic, why can’t it be simple? There is no law against simplicity. It just does not create many “jobs” (a horrible word), in fact it rather tends to remove them.

      1. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean the benefits
        will outweigh the costs in perpetuity! It could take an
        extended period of time before all the true costs become
        apparent and realized! That’s how we overturned lead paint,
        leaded gasoline, asbestos, CFCs, DDT, Thalidomide, etc.

  12. Wonderful report and too bad this can’t be made more public. Unfortunately, at one time it was public knowledge but no more.

    I lived in Germany 15 years and when the Soviet Union started to crumble floods of ‘refugees’ headed west. Germany was and is still trying to overcome it’s past history and welcomed immigrants. Unfortunately, the flood swamped the average German and resources became in short supply (one reason the, even then controversial, gas pipeline from Russia was started. More energy was needed to supply an increasing population. Finally the people got fed up and the then chancellor, Helmut Kohl was defeated. When the wall between east and west came down east Germans fled to the west for better working conditions. They found few jobs as the immigrants held most of the low skilled work. That created violent demonstrations, homes were burnt and people killed.
    Then, and still, most of W. Europe is experiencing a negative birth rate and Italy led the pack in the negative population growth. Industry is committed to growth at any means and the comment: ““illegal migration is in the interests of big capital” is spot on including the U.S. In the end the cause of all our ills is the almost religious belief in the ‘cornucopian’ economic model. A more sustainable form of economics has been around for years, and it is slowly emerging but it cannot keep up with the growth of human population.

    1. It’s interesting how race riots or hate crimes are always presented in these terms and not as conflicts over jobs or resources. Of course, that should never justify them, but I think that going from “our citizens are stupid and evil” to “we should be careful with this and take it slow as it can breed resentment” might be an improvement.
      Then, of course humans can be horrible and violent and always find excuses to attack others from time to time.

      1. Scientists studying genetics have found all humans share 99% of the same genome. Our only differences are cosmetic and culture. There is no such thing as race. However, racism does exist but to me in name only. What does exist is tribalism and anyone studying nature and non human species clearly see there is no difference in behavior when it comes to competing for resources. You are right about this being mostly about resources. To me tribalism is an environmental issue and as we use more critical resources things will get worse.

  13. Thanks very much Jack for your insights, which corroborate Gaia’s. I would be interested in the sustainable form of economics which you say is emerging. Late stage capitalism is clearly returning us to feudalism.

    1. Claire, look into steady state economy, or degrowth (different things). There’s more, these things have been written about for ages even though they struggle to become mainstream. Some “degrowthers” are overpopulation denialists but not all.

    2. It’s been a while since I learned about this and, as usual, it is complex and covers a lot of ground. I did a search and found:https://econation.one/sustainable-economy/ There was once an economist who lived on the island I live. He created a group known as “Facing the Future” and enlisted a few other businessmen to go around teaching about overpopulation and economics.The organization took off and was bought by some instructors in the Seattle area. I have lost track of the group but looked it up and here is an overview: https://cedar.wwu.edu/ee_ftf/

      1. Thanks Jack for the links. From the little I’ve read, Facing the Future seems to be aimed at curriculum for grade schools, and makes a lot of sense.
        Gaia, I explored steady state economy a bit and noticed Herman Daly’s name figured prominently. Some of the links I followed contained clear definitions and helpful information, thanks.
        As for denying life saving treatment to those deemed unfit, I’m afraid expressing that idea would weaken the movement to limit population through voluntary means and open it to charges of social Darwinism. At the same time, as an octogenarian I bemoan extraordinary attempts to prolong life and deny my right to die.

    3. Not sure what state you live in but in my state, Washington, as well as some dozen others, Death with Dignity is a legal program. My late partner used it for her death process and I have become a huge advocate.

  14. GB: Telling the truth is not a popularity contest!
    That’s why politicians keep kicking the can down the road!
    The purpose of natural enemies is to remove the unfit!

  15. I think that when it comes to death, various issues are conflated: it’s one thing to force people who are incurably ill or very old to keep living against their will, another to impose treatments that are deemed by the person concerned worse than a natural death, and yet another is prioritising treating the young at the expense of the old or viceversa, or denying a cure to those who want it. I too am dismayed when very old people who are not even enjoying their life anymore are pressured or forced to accept invasive and expensive treatments, while the young cannot afford even a routine procedure or check up.
    I am never in favour of denying people who want them life-saving treatments. Unless our economy collapses so much that you have to choose whom you can save, but we’re definitely not there (perhaps this happened in the very early stages of the Covid pandemic).
    At any rate, unless we are talking about very young people who have yet to have children, and want them, the impact on population numbers of just letting people die would be minor. The death rate might make a difference in the short term, but since we all die eventually the only thing that makes a difference in the long term is the birth rate.

    1. You have touched on a subject (religion) we have not discussed, I think. Let me give you a link to a letter that was posted in all 3 of our local papers. I wrote the letter in response to an editorial about suicide prevention and it included religious efforts to reduce suicide. It made me mad and hence the letter. There is a link to a NPR report.
      https://www.sanjuanjournal.com/letters/an-honest-discussion-about-end-of-life-care-letter/

      1. “To say that euthanasia programs are unnatural and goes against God’s plan, while at the same time, using all 21st century means to extend a life is pure hypocrisy.”
        Exactly! I never understand how you should not make a decision about when to die because that’s up to God, but then you can decide when NOT to die by taking medicines. It can’t be both. Either you assume any disease is God’s will, so abolish all medicine, which is absurd, or accept that medicine gives you a choice and, if you decide to refuse it or it doesn’t help anymore, suffering or not should be your choice. Often people who ask for euthanasia are about to die anyway, but in a long, painful and even undignified manner.

        There were some high profile cases lately in Italy of people who fought for a dignified death either for themselves or their loved ones when they had been in a coma for years with no hope for recovery. The Parliament wouldn’t pass a law, and it certainly will not do so now, given how the recent elections went. Thankfully, society is a bit ahead of politics here too and people are getting this option more and more thanks to doctors and courts, but we still don’t have a proper law. This guy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marco_Cappato risked jail because he accompanied a man who was paralised and blind, and in pain, to get euthanasia in Switzerland. Under Italian law there are heavy penalties for helping people commit suicide. I have a lot of respect for Marco Cappato, as he took serious personal risks for his principles, has compassion, and makes a point of distinguishing between people who are depressed and people who have a physical irreversible and painful condition.
        None of this is really relevant to overpopulation though.

      2. One statement I originally made in my first draft was: people say they can’t wait to meet Jesus, but not just yet.” I had to reduce the letter due to space constraints so deleted this comment. Problem is, in the country our Medicare actually pays for end of life care so it is a way to generate funding for hospitals. Of course many hospitals here are being taken over by the Catholic care centers and they absolutely forbid anything that even smell like euthanasia.

        In a way it is a topic about overpopulation in that our soaring population is not just about new births but people living longer. We ‘seniors’ supposedly are also to blame. Policies that keep us from making important decisions, not just for ourselves but the planet are a big part of the problem. There is a program here known as Final Exit: https://finalexitnetwork.org/ If the state won’t help us then it’s time for us to help ourselves. Thank you for your link and adding important information to this, a complex, subject.

  16. Yes it is relevant. We use resources to keep people alive against their will
    Those resources( dollars in reality) could be used to sustain the functional humans. Furthermore, the person wishing to end their pain also takes one more (or many more) from the planet. It is a minuscule reduction, .but a reduction nevertheless.

    1. Yes but I wouldn’t frame it that way. Resources wasted to keep people alive against their will, with this I agree, and it’s often how those people themselves feel. But I don’t see it as “offing one more human” – we will all die, and if we’ve already reproduced or will not do so it doesn’t matter that much how long we live, in the long run (provided that life expectancy doesn’t increase indefinitely, but it won’t).

      1. If we reduced the average life span by a number of years,
        then more of the parents’ estate would go to their kids,
        instead of to doctors and caregivers.

      2. Yes, but that’s not a very good argument. It’s like saying: “if I die now, you can all take my money, instead of me spending it to take care of myself.” How is that better? It’s only an improvement if we believe that being/needing a doctor or a caregiver is not a good thing in itself. Which in this case it probably isn’t. Being a doctor for old people isn’t terribly popular, and being a caregiver, while rewarding for some people, is really hard and sometimes frustrating work.

        At any rate I think that inheritance is a very unfair thing, because it gives people an advantage they have not earned or deserved. Once I proposed substituting it with a redistribution of a person’s belonging to society, allowing for its children / spouse to buy it first if they wished.
        Everyone thought I was crazy.

  17. Problem is, most people leave their ‘estate’ to family members. I have one daughter who is well off. My partner had 3 kids who were also very well off so we decided to leave our funds to various organizations. We focused on such organizations as sexual violence awareness programs, Planned Parenthood (for her) and EngenderHealth https://www.engenderhealth.org/ (for me) and Freedom From Religion Foundation https://ffrf.org/ Religion is the main force driving population gains today. My daughter, being my representative, gets a small portion and she is fine with that. Reducing the influence of religion, giving people more choices in family size and having better choices for end of life programs are all needed to reduce our excess population. This a non-violent way we should manage this issue. Unfortunately, we are failing and nature will have her way, which is not pretty or fair.Nature cares not a bit for any of her offspring.

  18. QUORA: What is the future of Europe?
    answered by J. Stopl, Lived in The Czech Republic, July 4
    It for sure seems as if Europe is now quickly approaching a very significant period of instability. This period will partially happen all over the world, but there is a number of factors that are mostly specific for Europe and I believe that Europe will experience one of the most significant relative drops in its situation. The thing is that there is now a whole plethora of issues that are all coming up at once and it is close to impossible that Europe could handle all of them, since almost every one of them is serious enough to cause very serious disruption. Those issues are serious ageing of populations, dramatic overindebtedness of many European economies connected to inherent flaws baked into the project of Euro, technological falling behind that is causing big European economies, including Germany, not to be able to compete with other key economic players like USA and east Asian countries, delusional climate-related policies leading to total dependability on imported fossil fuels from Russia, inability or unwillingness to project power onto the outside world, and certain inability, mainly among western Europeans, to truthfully access the real situation of the continent and act accordingly. This is connected to global issues like de-globalisation, soaring prices of many essential raw materials, Russian expansionism, potential famine and climate related migratory waves and many others.
    Now I will quickly go through the issues one by one. [ . . . ]
    https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-future-of-Europe-1

  19. QUORA: What is the future of Europe?
    answered by Liam Johnson, 4 years ago
    Personally I am very pessimistic about the future of Europe. And the reason is simple – birth rates. The birth rate of native white Europeans is one of the lowest in the world. I believe in Germany it is barely at replacement level. On Europe’s doorstep, however, you have Africa, with the highest birth rate in the world. Once global warming strikes, that huge population is going to move. It is already happening. Pretty much every day boatloads of young African men land in places like Italy (illegally of course, but that doesn’t seem to matter). Then you have migration from the Islamic world as well.

    The problem is that Europe is bitterly divided. On the one hand, you have a liberal elite who dominate politics and the media. These people are generally white, well-educated and ashamed of Europe’s past. On the other hand, you have huge numbers of white Europeans (a silent majority) who fear Europe becoming an Islamic, Africanized continent, and who increasingly despise their own liberal elite. When they get a chance to hit back they often do (Brexit, for example). The consequences of all this will be terrible. The migrant crisis has already led to Brexit, a surge in populism, Marine Le Pen in the run off for French president and, most scary of all, a revival of German nationalism. The AfD currently have around 15% support. What will happen when there is a truly mass exodus of Africa’s booming population? It could quickly jump to 20%, 30%…

    https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-future-of-Europe-1

    1. It’s not just an elite vs non-elite thing. Significant sectors of the (mostly white) working classes, unemployed and middle classes are pro-migrants. Parts of the elite, I would say not the very top, might be anti-migration, though it’s hard to say how sincerely.

      1. migration is bi-directional. Often people leave a country and if people entering said country were equal to those leaving it would be ZPG. More and more it seems the ‘elite’ derive their income from investments. Today a I read a loooong report about Howard Schultz. He came from a poor family and his father was a NY taxi driver who often got taken advantage of by his employers. Howard vowed not to be one of those employers and to be the good guy in heading a company. Unfortunately, he is being torn between doing right with his employees and appeasing his investors who demand profits. This is the world we live in, the world of corporate dominance and profits based on constant growth.In the end we will all will suffer.

  20. GB: [more families could afford this if the elders didn’t live so long]
    Why You Can’t Find Child Care: 100,000 Workers Are Missing
    Where did they go? To better-paying jobs stocking shelves, cleaning offices
    or doing anything that pays more than $15 an hour.
    By Dana Goldstein, Oct. 13, 2022, NY Times
    ….child care is already a leading household expense and a service that is
    unaffordable for 60% of the families who need it, according to the Treasury Dept….
    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/13/us/child-care-worker-shortage.html

    1. Technology is often a big part of the problem and this includes social technology. Why should those living in their later years, many of whom are productive members of society, have to ‘step aside’ “if the elders didn’t live so long” so that more can have more kids!? When I was growing up one member, usually the male, of the household could provide enough income for the whole family. Guess what, more demand on resources meant higher costs and then both members were often needed. Perhaps the increasing cost of childcare (sort of mass care for kids) is just another sign our demand is outstripping the available resources.

  21. The anti-profit brigade continually overlook the issue of investment. No profitable return means no investment. No investment means no jobs.
    Even “work” is an investment and the earnings are PROFIT

    No profit, no work.

    1. I don’t understand what this has to do with the topic, but at any rate, earnings and profit are not the same thing. You can have an income even in a non-profit situation. Profit is what you get after you’ve subtracted expenses from earnings. Salary is an expense.

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