Coming Plague (added comment)
berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Tue Aug 8 13:50:12 EST 1995
On Tue, 8 Aug 1995, Jim Owens wrote:
> In article <3vtilm$rbu at jive.cs.utexas.edu> Paul Wilson,
> wilson at cs.utexas.edu writes:
> > 2. Plagues have killed significant fractions of large populations
> > before. Even if a plague only killed of 1/3 of the people in
> > the world, it could be pretty inconvenient, both for those killed
> > and the survivors trying to keep the world economy going after
> > the disaster.
> This may read as terribly insensitive, so I apologize in advance.
> Five or so years ago I read a series of three books translated from
> French. The author, whose name I have forgotten (Memory is the second
> thing to go -- I've forgotten the first!) looked at world history from an
> economic perspective. He found that for the century after Plague killed
> 1/3 of the world's population the economic lot of the peasants was
> greatly improved. The hardships caused by all the deaths was confined to
> the years of the Plague. After that the common people were considerably
> better off than before for 3 or 4 generations.
> As long as there are enough survivors plagues are awful only while people
> are dying. The rebuilt world will be better than the old one, at least
> for a while.
> One of the first to go in the next plague,
> Jim Owens
Thanks for a piece of a from-a-coffin humor (recalling
Peter Breugel's "Triumph of Death").
As I was growing in the Soviet Union in 1950s something
similar was on occasion implicated in "justifying"
Stalin's purges and Gulag, which according to
Solzhenitzyn's esimates exterminated about 10 to 15 % of
the total population.
Greta Garbo in "Ninotchka" (1939) playing a Soviet
NKVD emissar in France is saying "_the mass trials
have been a great success, comarades. In the future
there will be fewer but better Russians_".
Also popular rythm was "menshe narodu, bolshe
kislorodu" (Fewer people, more oxygen).
Similar effect we observe in research funding: to
leave funder fewer ("the best") and exterminate the
rest. [ essence of "selectivity" policy of the
Canadian NSERC ]
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