Foundations of International Politics

By Harold Hance Sprout; Margaret Tuttle Sprout | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Malthus in the Twentieth Century

THE FUNCTION OF this chapter is to provide a framework for thinking about population in the context of international politics. A population may be defined, for our purposes, as the total number of human persons who inhabit a given area. The aggregates with which we are primarily concerned here are national populations: the people who constitute the inhabitants of independent political communities which, in turn, are the units of international politics and the international political system.

National populations may be viewed from various perspectives. They are aggregates of human beings who consume food and other goods and services. They are also producers of goods and services. From still another perspective, human beings appear as the building blocks of all kinds of social systems, including, of course, the nation-state.

Acts of states, to repeat a truism stressed in Chapter 2, are always acts of human persons, though this is too often disguised by the verbal usage which attributes personality to the state itself. The nonhuman apparatus of statecraft--instruments of communication and transport, foodstuffs and raw materials, productive equipment and military weapons, and all the rest-- are products of human imagination, human organization, and human labor. A national population can also be likened to a reservoir from which come politicians, soldiers, civil servants, scientists, engineers, managers, factory workers, farmers, and all the other kinds of performers who carry on the work of an organized political community.

The relative size and qualities of a nation's population are usually of high-priority concern to its rulers and a source of limitations on what they can accomplish vis-à-vis other nations. For these reasons the geographical distribution of population and the characteristics of national populations

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