This volume represents a major critique of the way Malthusian thinking has influenced capitalist development policy in the modern period, as well as in the past. It highlights the strategic role of Malthusian ideas in the defence of capitalist political economy when confronted by struggles for equality and human progress. The leading historical example the author takes offers a major reassessment of the origins of the Irish Famine. His contemporary case study focuses on the Green Revolution, which the author analyzes in terms of a broad Western strategy of capitalist agricultural development in the face of peasant insurgency.
Finally, the book examines how the political economy of underdevelopment is currently being obscured by alarm over the environmental impact of over-population, and how such Malthusian concerns represent the poor, not as victims of capitalist development, but as perpetrators of environmental destruction.