Contrary to conventional wisdom, Thomas Malthus in his An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) did not actually predict a population crisis, but instead merely showed that William Godwin had overlooked an important mathematical truth. Malthus’s treatise did contain a warning, however, that the ideals behind the French Revolution would spawn utopian schemes that would destroy vital social institutions—a prophecy whose realization makes the book worth reading today.

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