Courtesy Reuters

Population and Power in Postwar Europe

THE population of the world is changing rapidly, and the spread of modern technology is giving these changes new political meaning. Yet in the present welter of ingenious political formulations one finds scant recognition of the fact that many of the terms in which international problems are posed have changed since 1918 and will continue to change in the future. There appears to be no general awareness that the postwar settlement, to be just and durable, should take account of the shifting demographic and technological setting.

Of course, these are the views of a demographer riding his hobby. He is not one, however, who thinks that "population change is the cause of war," or that manpower is the only factor in political strength. Let us agree that position, resources, technical skills, economic and political organization, the psychological characteristics of the people, national aims, leadership and doubtless many other factors in addition to the size of population are components of political power and national influence. Let us agree also that numbers do not always count in the same direction -- that Alaska would be stronger with more people but that India and Java might be stronger with half their present populations.

It remains true that at relatively equal levels of economic development sheer numbers count heavily in political strength. They should count even more heavily in the appraisal of future strength because the rapid spread of modern technology will bring power to populations now comparatively impotent. The success with which the Soviet Union has brought to bear the manpower of a population that was relatively ineffective twenty years ago demonstrates that fact. Moreover, in general, technological developments and population change are not independent terms in the equation. They are both dependent variables of the same broad processes of social change that are rapidly altering the world's balance of power. Political formulations that fail to take these changes into account are worse than futile. The world's changing people and power cannot be locked in

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