By Professor Erik S. Reinert, Tallinn University of Technology, and Dr. Richard Itaman, King’s College, London
Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa
At the OECD’s origin, we find the 1947 Marshall Plan that re-industrialised a war-torn Europe. At the very core of the Marshall Plan was a profound understanding of the relationship between a nation’s economic structure and its carrying capacity in terms of population density. We argue that it is necessary to rediscover this theoretical understanding now, in the mutual interest of Africa and Europe.
In early 1947, worries grew in Washington that an impoverished Germany – where manufacturing industry had been forbidden under the Morgenthau Plan – would fall an easy prey to the Soviet Union. US President Truman therefore sent former president Herbert Hoover on a fact-finding mission to Germany. One powerful sentence in Hoover’s Report of March 18 that year zeroed in on the basic problem:
‘’There is the illusion that the New Germany left after the annexations can be reduced to a ‘pastoral state’. It cannot be done unless we exterminate or move 25.000.000 out of it’.1
Hoover understood that the population density of a country is determined by its economic structure: Industrialisation makes it possible to dramatically increase the population carrying capacity of a nation. ‘Exterminate’ was an extremely strong word to use after the horrors of World War II, and everyone understood that there was no place where 25 million Germans could be sent: Re-industrialisation was the only option. Continue reading