L'Œuvre 29 septembre 1923

A LOeuvre article 01 natalité et bifteck 1


Commenting on an appeal from Mr. Isaac, I wrote the other day: “Repopulation is not a question of conscience; First of all, it's a question of steak and apples. »
This obviously does not mean that any concern of a moral nature is always foreign to the founding and development of a family, nor that, to have many children, one must be a scoundrel rotten with vices. This also doesn't mean that you just have to eat steak to be sure and almost forced to reproduce. This is to respond to an excellent director of a vegan institute who saw in my article only an apology for the meat diet, and who took the trouble to demonstrate to me at length that you can be very prolific by eating only vegetables. I do not disagree with this, dear sir, but you would not believe how difficult it is to express oneself clearly enough to be heard by everyone. Excusing myself for a formula which could have given rise to so many unforeseen interpretations, I am reduced to explaining it thus, at the risk of repeating myself:
To say that repopulation is a question of steak is to say in another form, only slightly different, that the cost of living is the primary factor in depopulation. If the French hesitate to multiply, it is because in France steak is too expensive, and potatoes too; it is that they have just, very barely, what is necessary for themselves, and that their resources would not allow them to ensure the subsistence of several offspring; it is also that, most often, another consequence of the high cost of living, they are too cramped in their homes to find room for several cradles, etc.
This is not an opinion, it is not even a banal idea, it is only a fact, but it is obvious, and I really did not imagine that the simple observation of this evidence could give room for a mistake and even less for a protest.
The reports from the Marseille congress, however, tell us that, in his opening speech, Mr. Isaac, defending the higher birth council against its "detractors", took a text from my apple steak to try to establish that the problem of repopulation is, first and foremost, a moral question. If Mr. Isaac remains convinced of this, it is his business; I only think with some concern that if we have to wait for the rise of morality to see that of the birth rate follow, there is a strong risk, he and I, of never witnessing this edifying and comforting spectacle.
As for representing us as adversaries, it is such a blatant injustice that I would like to recall, among other initiatives, our recent campaign to prevent our little ones from dying.” If Mr. Isaac, president of the “superior birth council”, is looking for people who are trying to give back to this country the children it is missing, let him find out: he will find them in this newspaper. No doubt, we do not have the same ideas; nor do we use the same methods. But if we judge by the results, the Work is ready to compete with the entire higher council of natality, however “superior” it may be.

Gustave Téry