Woolas’s population obsessions

This short article, just published on Red Pepper’s website, draws attention to the connection between the discredited population-control programmes that were such a feature of the 20th century, and the anti-immigrant policies of the present:

http://www.redpepper.org.uk/Unhealthy-obsessions

It was inspired and informed by a fascinating history of population control by a young Columbia University historian, Matthew Connelly: “Fatal Misconception: the struggle to control world population” (Belknap Press, Harvard 2008).

The strong message that comes through Connelly’s research is that immigration controls and population controls are two facets of the same, destructive, nationalist ploy of defining and treating people as “populations” (e.g. the unemployed, claimants, Muslims, illegal immigrants,  etc.) rather than as individuals with complex lives of their own, who are entitled to respect: a tendency very apparent in the recent outpourings of Immigration Minister Phil Woolas.

What’s encouraging about Connelly’s book, is that it shows these kinds of policy not only don’t work, but can be defeated, and may even be at their most fragile just when they seem most invincible.

Bob Hughes

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