740. Joan Robinson to Harrod , 19 January [1938] [a]

[Replies to 739 , answered by 741 ]

3 Trumpington St., Cambridge

19 January [1938] [1]

My dear Roy

Why do you insist on arguing when it is obvious that our difference is emotional and cannot be resolved by argument? I suspect the main force of your feelings is derived from 5. which you call patriotism. [2] The argument from posterity merely begs all the questions.

The way I look at it is this:--either "remedial measures" (a) can be effective or (b) they cannot. No one denies that there is at [b] least a strong case to be made out for a smaller as opposed to a declining population. If (a) no point in your campaign--we need another kind of campaign to mitigate the <costs> of decline. If (b) let us wait 50 years and then start applying remedial measures. There is a long time lag, but what matter, there is plenty of time.

Your argument about natural selection etc. seems to me to be a mass of non sequiturs & self contradiction. If you merely say that it is a bad prospect if the intelligent & decent people die out & leave the world to Nazis and Roman Catholics you could make out a case, but you seem to be saying something more complicated.

If you really want to deny the poor women the privilege of abortion under aseptic conditions which our own periods already enjoy all I can say is that I am very much shocked. How does this attitude differ from the "persecution" you purport to be defending [c] us from? But actually you ought to be on the other side, for the problem is not unwanted children but women who ruin themselves--I shouldn't be surprised if the survival rate were actually raised by legalising abortion.

I should like some more light on the experience of other nations who are ahead of us--France Sweden etc. Surely evidence can be got from them which would either strengthen or modify the results of mere extrapolation?

Yours always

Joan Robinson

  1. 1. Year read from postmark.

    2. Letter 739 , [jump to page] .

    1. a. ALS, three pages on two leaves, with envelope addressed to Christ Church, in HPBL Add. 72737/3-5. Reproduced by kind permission of the Provost and Scholars, King's College, Cambridge.

      b. Ms: «a least a».

      c. Ms: «deffending».

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