George Walford: How to End Mass Starvation

For years the (Anarcho-) Socialist Party have been telling us the way to end starvation is to abolish capitalism. Now their own journal shows how wrong they have been.

An article entitled “How Many Die of Famine?” by “ALB,” in the March 1985 issue of the Socialist Standard, speaks of claims that 50 million or 30 million people die of hunger each year and says they are “absurd.” It continues:

To quote such a demonstrably exaggerated figure is to weaken the credibility of those who do so.

The correct figure, it appears, is not 30 million a year but 3.65 million, and those not simply from starvation but from “starvation and hunger-related illness.” The figure is still horrifying, but it is not one-tenth as bad as some of the figures that have been quoted.

ALB goes on to consider hunger and disease and their effects upon the death rate, basing himself (as all “socialist” party writers and speakers do) on capitalist sources, this time the United Nations. He stresses the difference between the developed and underdeveloped countries:

if the same health standards (clean running water, vaccinations, regular medical care) applied in the underdeveloped countries as in the developed countries, then the number of world deaths would be considerably less than they are – the death rate in the developed countries is 9.4 per thousand while in the underdeveloped countries it is 12.1 per thousand. If the death rate were 9.4 per thousand throughout the world then only 41 million would have died [i.e. from all causes GW] in 1980 compared with the 50 million who are estimated to have died that year.

The conclusion seems clear enough: it is in the underdeveloped countries that the millions starve, so the way to end mass starvation, and to reduce the death rate from other causes also, is not, as the party says, to abolish capitalism, but to press on with the development of it. This would, however, have one disadvantage for the “third world;” with development come the “Socialist” Party and its companion groups, proclaiming their “incontrovertible” facts.

from Ideological Commentary 18, June 1985.