Category Archives: Antinatalism

“Maternal love” is a humbug.

We talk romantically about the love between parents and their children, especially when those children are at their youngest. We write books about it, write poems about it, make sculptures about it. We praise it as the greatest feeling that exists. I think it’s absolute bullshit. I think we made up this concept to bolster procreation.

I also think it is a very dangerous concept and that it brings a lot of suffering. Women are indoctrinated to believe that having children is the greatest thing they could possibly do, and that the bond between a mother and her child is the greatest bond that can exist. We have seen the disastrous results of this dogma; not only does it ruins women’s lives, but it also isolates them emotionally, so that they are unable to get help or support.

You have to differentiate between “maternal instinct” with “love.” Those are already two completely different things. While many mothers do have a maternal instinct, many others do not, as the stories demonstrate. This is what makes the difference between being a happy mother and going through a living Hell. The existence of the maternal instinct, of maternal bonding, is not in question. It is biologically necessary in order to keep women in bondage in a monogamous, patriarchal society.

In reference to women, but in a comment which can equally apply to the way we treat children in our society, Andrea Dworkin says in Intercourse:

Who can love something that is less than human unless love is domination per se?

Now think about this concept of maternal love. How can you love a baby? Not in the “I love disco” sort of way, but in an emotional connection between two people? How can there be an emotional connection when one of the two parties is barely a person? Love can only exist between equals; the concept of a grown person loving a baby is asinine.

No less a feminist thinker than Simone de Beauvoir opined as such:

There is no maternal instinct; rather motherhood makes women’s body to be ruined. Motherhood makes women’s soul to be lost. Pregnancy is a sad story that occurs in women between her and her tragic story. Fetus is a parasite that feeds on the mother’s body. A woman who gives up herself to the nature is like a plant and animal. If your wife is assumes this nature, she is like a plant and animal. She is Woman Incubator.

Women are indoctrinated to believe in “maternal love” in order to fulfill their gender role of being “nurturers” and of being the primary caretakers of children. The best way to force someone to remain with someone else (even with abuse) is through love and hope of change. There is always the factual hope that eventually the child will no longer be completely dependent on the parents. So women must hang on and raise the child, because no one else will.

Here’s another problem. The primary emotion of a parent is not love but fear: fear that their child will not turn out “right,” fear that other people will think their child is not “right,” fear that their child will not love them, fear that their child will not follow in their footsteps. Love and fear cannot co-exist.

Here’s another problem. Who knows if the maternal instinct really exists at all? After all, those mothers who confess to not having any maternal instinct also say that they lie about it to other women in order to not be ostracized. How do we know they’re not all lying? How could we tell, really? (when I say “we,” I naturally assume none of my readers are mothers, a pretty safe assumption since this is an antinatalist blog)

Alison made an interesting comment to me on this topic. She noted that the claims of a maternal instinct is very similar to the claims of people who are “born-again.” They are both strong emotional reactions following a traumatic event and a complete change in one’s life.

And yet we know from some atheist testimonies that some “born-again” experiences are faked or greatly exaggerated. What if they all are? How could we tell the difference? Once again, there is a strong incentive for “born-again” people to lie about what has actually happened to them.

I am not stating for a fact that no one has ever had a “maternal instinct” or a “born-again” experience. I am simply saying that we don’t really know one way or the other, and that the claims being made by the true believers are prima facie dubious.

The illusory desire for control.

From Everyday People.

I’ve written about why free will is philosophical and scientific nonsense. But there is a deeper problem with the concept of free will: it’s not even falsifiable.

If free will could be true, it would mean that we can “choose” between alternatives when confronted with a decision. In real life, we can’t prove this in any way because we can’t retake the same decision twice. Every decision is different, and we don’t have a time machine to go back to any decision we’ve taken in the past. So not only is free will not scientifically valid, but free will cannot possibly be scientifically valid!

Sure, one can still believe in free will even though it cannot be scientific. But the same can be said of other unfalsifiable belief systems like Creationism or astrology. So that’s not a particularly interesting question.

Here’s a more interesting question: why do they believe? The way they talk, I think the answer has to do with wanting to feel like you’re in control. They believe that without this belief in free will, humans must necessarily lose control over their morality and become depraved.

You will probably note that this is the exact same thing they say about atheists. I will address this later.

When I talk about “being in control,” I am referring mostly to two things: 1. understanding what’s going on and one’s role with a reassuring certainty and 2. being able to make choices based on these understandings (note: this is not the same thing as the control mentality I’ve discussed before, although obviously they are related). We’re talking here about control at any level: control over oneself, control over family, control over one’s environment, control over life, control over one’s future.

Take a simple example such as Christianity and the afterlife (which represents control over one’s future). The believer knows that there is a Heaven and a Hell, and that people go to either of them when they die. The believer’s duty is to believe in Jesus’ plan of salvation for them. By choosing to do so, one can ensure an afterlife in Heaven, with absolute certainty.

When faced with the rebuttal that ey might not actually go to Heaven, the believer has little response but to reiterate eir faith, because it is the faith that brings certainty. If one has faith, one will go to Heaven. The issue here is not to actually know anything but rather to live in the utmost confidence. Reliance on facts cannot bring certainty and therefore cannot fulfill the desired function of making one feel in control.

Perhaps the most recently famous case of an ideology which sells an extreme form of control is The Secret, which tells you that you can get whatever you wish for, if you wish for it the right way. Another such case is Scientology, which claims that at the highest levels you can achieve “cause over MEST” (mastery of matter, energy, space and time).

Of course such ideologies can never deliver what they sell. But it is also no coincidence that both ideologies are almost ridiculously optimistic, i.e. that suffering is secondary and that one can lead a charmed life, if one follows a certain method to the letter. Optimism, like positive thinking, always buckles under the weight of reality, and control provides the way to reassure oneself that everything is going according to one’s will.

Positive thinking is another ideology which relies heavily on control. I have previously highlighted the proto-fascistic language used to symbolize the amount of control a positive thinker must maintain. It requires the individual to repress natural urges and bottle emself up, a surefire recipe for loss of control and guilt.

Many conspiracy theories feed into this need also. It may seem strange to posit that believing that one is ruled by shadowy and omnipresent forces leads one to feel more in control, but it is the certainty involved in “knowing” the secret truth that is reassuring:

The power structure: government, academia, corporations… take your pick. Whatever flavor of paranoia you favor, it can fit into the widespread panic that shadowy elites are not just in control of your life but actively hiding the truth from you. Clearly, this reflects the complexity of modern society and the alienation many feel from the structures of power, which impact our lives from afar. Unable to understand how society actually functions, it becomes reduced to a conspiracy by powerful elites keeping us from our alien destiny. By revealing this truth, their power will evaporate and you, the powerless Everyman, can finally take your rightful place among the chosen. Yes, you, the lowly middle-class worker drone who hates big government and thinks that PhDs want to keep you oppressed, you too can commune with aliens and stick it to the Man.

Control implies reassurance through belief. In the case of failure of a traditional belief (such as the failure of Creationism), the one thing a control freak can never say is “I don’t know,” because this completely nullifies the effect of belief. Instead of saying “I don’t know,” the believer must either make up false data, or ignore the problem. In real life, individuals and groups will choose one or the other branch as the new tradition to follow (“theistic evolution” or “Intelligent Design”).

Coming back to the issue of depravity resulting from loss of control, I’ve mentioned that free will proponents and religious people share the belief that once you abandon their pet belief system you will lose control of yourself, murder, rape, steal, and so on (that is to say, you will no longer be a moral agent but be reduced to what they see as an animalistic state, even though other species can be moral agents too).

What’s interesting is that it seems to me that the believers implicitly prove that their supposed control is really entirely subjective. Some free will proponents argue that even if free will does not really exist, we must still promote it as a concept because otherwise people will go rampant. So they admit that it is the belief, not the fact of the matter, which retains control. Likewise, religious believers claim that atheists are evil even though [they also believe that] God exists. How is that possible unless it’s the belief that’s operating, not God?

Of course it seems obvious to us that control is subjective. The concept of losing control is hard for people to imagine, but it remains solely in the imagination. Despite the belief that people can “lose control” and become animalistic, there really is no such thing as a nihilist. There are people who claim to be nihilists, but as far as we can tell they behave more or less like everyone else.

The thing about deconversions to atheism and determinism is that they are not a loss of control but a loss of meaning. And a loss of meaning is always temporary, because the creation of meaning is second nature to human beings. We do it all the time whether deliberately or nilly-willy, and we even have whole masses of people whose job is solely to do this for others. It does not take long for a new atheist or determinist to realize the meaning vacuum, and then to start filling it up (so what happens after we die? how does the universe work?).

The human mind, like nature, abhors a vacuum. If nihilism actually means anything, its meaning must lie in that short, unstable period between abandoning one framework of meaning and replacing it with another or others. Such a state cannot be permanent.

I do want to make clear that I am talking here about illusory mental control which really refers to meaning. I am not talking about actual control over one’s bodily or mental functions. That’s an entirely different issue, and one which is genuinely worrisome and scary.

I think we can observe from true believers that control does not work. The more people obsess over being in control, the more that need controls them in turn. The attempt to control oneself leads to obsession which leads to compulsion. The supposed signs of “loss of control” are observed in all kinds of people, including true believers. All that is left is a hollow shell of the procedures which supposedly bring about control, such as religious rituals, self-censorship, aggressiveness and passive-aggressiveness, and childish dogmas.

“So, just kill yourself!”

Some critics of the pessimist often think they have his back to the wall when they blithely jeer, “If this is how this fellow feels, he should either kill himself or be decried as a hypocrite.” That the pessimist should kill himself in order to live up to his ideas may be counterattacked as betraying such a crass intellect that it does not deserve a response. Yet it is not much of a chore to produce one. Simply because someone has reached the conclusion that the amount of suffering in this world is enough that anyone would be better off not having been born does not mean that by force of logic or sincerity he must kill himself. It only means he has concluded that the amount of suffering in this world is enough that anyone would be better off never having been born. Others may disagree on this point as it pleases them, but they must accept that if they believe themselves to have a stronger case than the pessimist, then they are mistaken.

Naturally, there are pessimists who do kill themselves, but nothing obliges them to kill themselves or live with the mark of the hypocrite on their brow.

Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, p.50

Making the case for antinatalism.

One of my Antinatalist Antelopes, summarizing antinatalism in as short a fashion as possible.

A while ago I wrote a case for atheism, ostensibly to be made in fifteen minutes (although I didn’t time it, and interpret “fifteen minutes” as a relatively short period of time, meaning that the case must be short and to the point). I have not yet done the same with antinatalism.

First, I believe that people vastly exaggerate the counter-intuitiveness of antinatalism because they associate antinatalism with human extinction. I do agree that human extinction is not a comfortable proposition to consider, but the issue of human extinction is a practical one, not a theoretical one. As a matter of fact, antinatalism is an extremely small group which cannot influence whether people will keep breeding or not.

Antinatalism itself is nothing more or less than the proposition that procreation is ethically wrong. And that proposition, I think, is pretty intuitive; we are empathic and do, in general, wish to spare people from hardships. It’s just harder to do the math where potential lives are concerned, and things like the Non-Identity Problem do occlude our view of the problem.

No, I doubt that antinatalism is particularly unintuitive, but rather that people do not think, and often outright refuse to think, about their decision to have children. I don’t think most people actively reject antinatalism or actively support natalism, I think they just go along with the implicit indoctrination they’ve been given by their family and the society around them.

Explicit natalism is another story entirely. Those who adopt such a view are mostly religious fanatics who are motivated by fear and ignorance. The desire to breed is a symptom of the death culture, more specifically our dismal view of death and eternity; religion has bamboozled people, even seculars, into believing that having children extends our selves into eternity. The idea of extinction triggers not only the fear of one’s death (through the non-survival of one’s progeny) but also the fear of species death (or “losing the game”).

My case for antinatalism will follow the same general structure and shortness that I used for atheism, the main difference being that I don’t need to take a positive position because antinatalism already is a positive position. In this case, I intend to give a very, very brief overview of each branch of antinatalism (philanthropic, misanthropic, ecological and teleological) as well.

1. People’s reasons to breed are irrational.

If you stop and listen to the reasons people provide to have children, you will find uniformly that they are extremely bad. VHEMT provides a long list of the most used reasons. On the whole, they either reflect superstitious beliefs, laziness or fear. I have never heard any reason for breeding from an actual parent that wasn’t one of those things.

Now, I realize that this is not an argument in itself, but it casts a great deal of doubt on the ethical nature of procreation. Which leads us to our next point…

2. There can be no good reasons to create new human lives.

All the purposes we attribute to individuals or mankind as a whole are rationalizations entirely made up by humans to justify their actions, because only sentient beings can have needs and purposes. At best a given individual can exist in order to alleviate other individuals’ suffering, but there is no need for those other individuals to exist in the first place.

3. Procreation goes against our core social values.

All societies lay down a basis of mutual respect, consent, duty not to harm others, not subjecting people to unwanted risk, and so on, in order to protect people’s cooperative abilities. Procreation goes against these core values because it ignores consent issues, it normalizes the creation of harm, it normalizes exposing new human beings to the innumerable risks of existence, and so on.

By and large societies ignore these facts because of the Western familial hierarchies, where the father rules over the mother, who rules over her children. This means that the individuality, rights and needs of children are by and large ignored. We also completely deny the responsibility of parents when they bring damaged persons into this world, or when their children suffer through their negligence. But this is not fair or just. If you have any sense of justice, you should be repulsed by this attitude. And this is only one piece of evidence for my last point…

4. This world is not nearly as good as most Westerners would evaluate.

It may be argued that this proposition is inherently subjective and that only the person can judge whether the world is good enough for them. But this speaks precisely to the point that parents do make that decision for their children and think nothing of it.

There are people today who regret their existence. Antinatalists are one obvious such group. Some proportion of the million or so people who kill themselves every year may also be included. There are also plenty of people today who, while not regretting their existence, wish that the world was a lot, lot better than it is. All radicals I think would fit in this group, as well as many people who are on the fringe of political discourse, and probably a few believers in the mainstream as well. If a significant percentage of people agree on this, then we must concede that any child may grow up to agree as well.

Because of the optimistic bias in our brains, we tend to evaluate our lives as being far better than they actually are. Also, any Western-centric and human-centric analysis entirely omits the suffering we delegate onto the Third World and other species. It is easy to conclude that life is worth living when we force other living beings to suffer in our place, but this is a piss-poor excuse for an evaluation.

My point is that there are powerful counter-arguments to the general belief that the world is good enough to have children in.

5. So what is the alternative?

We need to stop this “perpetuation of the species” bullshit. There is no reason to perpetuate the species. It’s more important to take care of the people who are already alive than to make new ones. We need to take a greater perspective and work to reduce the suffering of all sentient life on this planet instead of bringing more suffering into it.

The Axis of Woman-Hating

From Cyanide and Happiness.

Radical feminism and antinatalism are two topics I’ve written a great deal about. While there are some obvious connections between them, I haven’t written a great deal about them except for PIV. Yet there is more there to talk about, I think.

I’ve discussed before why I think natalism ultimately equates to woman-hating, both in its lower-class extreme version (the Quiverfull cults) and in its higher-class pseudo-intellectual version (the Bryan Caplan types). While there is no inconsistency between antinatalism and woman-hating (and yes, I’ve talked to a few woman-hating antinatalists), a consistent natalist must be woman-hating explicitly or implicitly.

In a sense, though, this is only a result of the fact that natalism inherently supports the status quo, because our institutions depend on population growth for their health and survival. Think about the global arguments for natalism: procreation drives the economy, procreation drives innovation, procreation helps fund other people’s retirements. Obviously an economy is an economy of some country, innovation supports some country’s economy, retirements are paid by some country. Ultimately procreation is nothing more or less than an extension of nationalism.

I didn’t mention the individualist argument that people are happy, therefore we should make more of them, although I’ve already addressed the general form of this argument. I will merely note that the argument loses a lot of its credibility by ignoring the objectively measured loss of happiness by the parents.

Natalism is also part and parcel of other status quo ideologies. White racists, for example, preach procreation by white couples to prevent the world from getting taken over by the “inferior races” (or as they like to say now, other races are not inferior, white people are just better). Democratic votes are decided on sheer numbers, which can only be raised by procreation or immigration. And of course the State can only get more money by raising taxes or expanding its tax base.

So you get what I call the Axis of Woman-Hating: natalism, anti-feminism and traditional genderism. All these issues are directly related to each other. Traditional genderism states that it is part of the woman’s role to give birth and raise children for her man/society. Anti-feminism argues that women rebelling against their gender role as mothers causes the degeneration of society. Natalism assumes that the role of women is to breed, and that women’s values are irrelevant.

Within the confines of decency and morality Women are rightly sexual objects to Men. Nature designed us that way and the survival of the species demands it.
(bold mine)

I am using this quote not as a typical example of reasoning, but as an illustration, int that the three elements in bold here illustrate the connection I’m talking about: anti-feminism (women are sex objects) -> genderism (nature designed us that way) -> natalism (survival of the species).

The connection presents itself to us in the larger historical concept as well. According to The Creation of Patriarchy, by Gerda Lerner, the source of woman-hatred is actually the need for equal sex ratios in horticultural societies, coupled with the higher death rate of women because of the hardship of childbirth. This led to wars for women and their reproductive capacities, to women being treated as a resource, and then a progressively lower and lower status for women as they become enslaved to patriarchs and then State interests. Lerner proposes that slavery itself was made possible by the prior experience that men had of grouping women as an inferior class.

So you’ve got here a direct connection: procreation is the historical cause of traditional genderism. Anti-feminism, as a reaction to feminism and its attacks against traditional genderism, obviously started much more recently, but the periodic anti-feminist backlash has defined feminism almost as much as feminist causes.

I can well imagine someone arguing, so what? What does it matter if they are connected in origin? Why should we care about what happened four thousand years ago? Because the male desire to own and control female sexuality was at the root of male domination and continues to be at the root of male domination today. Men as a class dictated and dictate to women as a class how they should behave as sexual beings. The main difference is the main form of power behind that domination: no longer condign power (outright force) but rather compensatory power (money, insofar as women make far less than men) and conditioned power (fear of “being a bitch” or “being a whore/slut”, pornography and prostitution, propaganda about women’s bodies and how to present as a woman).

[I]t is not women who are reified and commodified, it is women’s sexuality and reproductive capacity which is so treated. The distinction is important. women never became “things,” nor were they so perceived. Women, no matter how exploited and abused, retained their power to act and to choose to the same, often very limited extent, as men of their group. But women always and to this day lived in a relatively greater state of un-freedom than did men. Since their sexuality, an aspect of their body, was controlled by others, women weer not only actually disadvantaged but psychologically restrained in a very special way.
The Creation of Patriarchy, Gerda Lerner, p213-214

This control of female sexuality drives what we call gender roles. Women are indoctrinated to be submissive and sexually desirable to men, to not spread their sexuality around and ideally remain virgins for their husbands, to think and feel in a way favorable to mothering and unfavorable to independent existence, and to internalize their inherent inferiority no matter what they do. Man puts woman on a pedestal so he can more easily throw her down when she breaks the gender rules.

A panoply of gynocidal practices such as the legal inferiority of women (including the criminalization of contraception and abortion), forced childbirth, prostitution and pornography, rape as strategy in warfare, suttee, foot-binding, neck rings, the burning of witches, honor killings, female genital mutilation, anorexia, and cosmetic mandates, amongst others, have served either as guarantee of women assuming their role or punishment for refusal to take the role.

By linking radfem and antinatalism through procreation as the ultimate female role, I am not claiming that ending procreation would end the Patriarchy or that ending the Patriarchy would end procreation. But I am arguing that both have common historical roots, a common goal and a common enemy. I also don’t expect radfems reading this to become antinatalists or antinatalists reading this to become radfems. There is a need to keep the two ideologies separate, as their arguments and lines of reasoning are completely different, but they ultimately support each other and I see no reason why antinatalists who are not woman-hating and radfems who are not admirers of motherhood should not cooperate ideologically. I consider myself to be both (a radfem ally, of course, not an actual radfem) and I see no discord between the two.

“Suffering is not really bad!”

I’m sure the 1.5 million children who will die of starvation this year look forward to all the wisdom they’ve accumulated.

Benatar’s Asymmetry is one of the strongest arguments for antinatalism, and it is grounded on the psychological concepts of pleasure and suffering or pain. So there is some grounds for attacking it on a subjectivist basis. So you get people who say things like:

“Suffering is not really bad, that’s just a matter of outlook.”

There are two aspects to this proposition, an objective and a subjective aspect. Subjectively, it may be true that some instances of suffering serves some emotional purpose, and may not seem bad. But when we speak of suffering or pain being bad within the context of the Asymmetry, we mean that it is objectively undesirable for the organism. A large proportion of organisms, including humans, naturally seek to escape pain because they have been equipped with nociceptors which make them aware of damaging stimuli.

First, take an extreme example like becoming a quadriplegic. One may argue that this horrifying experience leads us to learn something about ourselves or to live a better life (by whatever criterion one has decided to judge a “better life”). But whether that’s true or not, it is objectively true that the person would have been better off not losing their legs, because no one (as far as I know) desires to lose their legs, let alone to go through the suffering entailed by losing one’s legs (in a car accident, from flesh-eating bacteria, or whatever other cause).

The subjective rationalization is brought in after the fact to justify the fact that the victim’s happiness eventually tends back towards its baseline value. I imagine the implicit logic is something like this:

1. Objectively, my life should be terrible.
2. But I feel perfectly fine.
3. Therefore, there must be some reason why my life is not actually terrible.

Now, I am aware that there are quadriplegic people who suicide themselves, but there are also perfectly healthy people who suicide themselves. I don’t think suicide is often related to physical suffering.

I know how natalists think, and no doubt they’ll accuse me of devaluing the lives of quadriplegics. But I don’t think that saying someone was dealt a bad hand means that they are devalued. I believe that bad things happen to people regardless of the value of their lives, and indeed that at least some bad things happen to everyone, although some get a lot more than others. Suffering does not serve some design or greater purpose; it generally either just happens or is the result of injustice.

We have a long tradition of thinking otherwise. Christianity has long taught that suffering serves God’s plan. The quintessential example of this belief is the story of Job, where God and Satan bet over the loyalty of a man by killing his entire family and destroy all his possessions. The lesson of the story is given by God itself, who gives a long speech that can basically be summarized as: “I’m the ALMIGHTY GOD, motherfucker, so you shut the hell up.”

But it must be that there is some purpose for suffering, because otherwise the Problem of Evil remains unresolved and God must be seen as a cruel overlord (which it actually is). In present time, a lot of Christians believe that suffering serves a purpose of punishment for sin and discipline of the sinful… when it happens to someone else. When it happens to a loved one, the best thing a Christian can say about fatal instances of suffering is that God wanted to “bring them back home,” but other instances are supposed to teach us some lesson about faith or hope.

Related to this is the Christian belief that one person being saved when a hundred died in a horrible tragedy is “a miracle.” People’s horrible suffering glorifies God, because God is a tyrant and, like all tyrants, God’s power is demonstrated by how much others suffer for it.

Nowadays we turn to positive thinking and the New Age to tell us what to think. There we get told that “everything happens for a reason” and that the world is fundamentally just because bad things only happen to bad or misguided people. This of course is usually implied because otherwise proponents would be accused of unusual cruelty, but the implication is clear enough.

So it seems that the proposition that suffering is not bad can only be made by blaming the victim in some way. How could it be otherwise? If suffering is not bad, then no one can be a victim, so people who see themselves as victims must be simply misguided. Furthermore, if the world is just, it must be the case that anyone who suffers deserved it, either due to a past life, a lack of faith, or being insufficiently “evolved.”

There is no evidence that there is any truth to these views. As I’ve already posited, suffering has no greater purpose beyond that imposed by humans. Therefore we don’t have any possible counterpoint to the objective fact that suffering is bad.

Even if there was such a greater purpose, it would not erase the existence of suffering, nor would it turn that suffering itself into a good thing, or even a not bad thing. Suppose that we take a mild example, such as going to the dentist. This entails a certain amount of discomfort and pain. The end result, the second-order good, of this process is clean teeth, which is clearly desirable. But obviously it is not the suffering that we seek; if we had the choice, I think we’d all rather have the clean teeth without the pain! The pain itself is bad regardless of the second-order good.

This reasoning applies to all examples of second-order goods: we suffer through the pain in order to reap the results. In most cases these supposed second-order goods are really rationalizations, such as the claim that suffering “builds character” or “makes us glad to be alive.” I don’t think anyone would willingly undergo suffering for such nebulous and dubious gains. Rather, they are rationalizations people make up after the fact, when no obvious benefit is forthcoming.

And then there is the case of overwhelming, fatal suffering. People die of illness every day, and there’s no possible benefit to those people who die. People may argue, as they are wont to do, that the death still benefits others; apart from being offensive, such reasoning also does not demonstrate that suffering is not bad, merely that it is supposed to be not bad for someone else than the victim. So what? That’s like saying that the violent gang-rape of one woman is not bad because it might inspire other women to be more careful. Utilitarianism is an arbitrary and unjustified standard, and whether the sum of pleasure is greater than the sum of suffering is of no importance.

The Asymmetry compares a state with person X with a state without person X. In the former, pleasure is good, while suffering is bad; in the latter, no one is deprived of the now absent pleasure, while no one suffers the now absent suffering.

What changes if we assume that pain is not bad, or even good? Nothing. Even if we assume that pain is good, the state without person X is still one where no one is deprived of the now absent (good) pain. At best, if all pain is good, we would end up in a neutral situation. But it’s obvious that at least some pain cannot be good, as I’ve already pointed out, so we can never get into this situation in the first place.

“We’re all here for a reason!”

From Akimbo Comics.

There is an interesting thing that people say, and I think they say it without really thinking about what it means, and that’s something like:

“We’re all here for a reason.”
“Each person has a mission in life.”
“We have a purpose to fulfill on this world.”

Because people who use this ploy usually seek to explain some instance of suffering or to infuse some meaning in our lives, I will call this the purpose rationale.

I think these sayings are interesting because they tie together religious and natalist threads, and their corollaries (such as the anti-suicide position and the Christian relativist position). It goes to the core of what it means to support the life-system (i.e. evolution/God’s design, depending on who you ask, leading to the variety of life that we see today, as well as future lives).

Supporting the life-system is an indefensible position, and arguments in its favor are equally indefensible.

But even if it was defensible, the purpose rationale still couldn’t trump the net negative of human lives. Given the fact that we rely on other people’s labor (which is in most cases harrowing and vastly underpaid, and in some cases forced, labor) in order to be fed, clothed, able to communicate and be entertained, and even work ourselves, our lives start as a net negative. As well as being imposed life by one’s parents, we are also an imposition on everyone else. Furthermore, our decisions sometimes hurt other people, which also pushes us further into the negative side.

So, while we can decide to self-assign ourselves some kind of greater purpose, or we can even decide to constantly lie to ourselves in order to brainwash ourselves into believing we will someday fulfill a greater purpose, these purposes cannot justify the existence of a human life.

Of course it’s possible to trivialize the notion of a “purpose” so much that it applies to everything we do. In that sense, we all have a “purpose,” and so does a virus or bacteria. But what about babies who die while being born? What about little children who die before fulfilling any kind of supposed purpose?

Well, at that point the believers in God-purpose-giver or universe-purpose-giver reply that they were on this planet to teach us compassion or love or some crap like that. I think that’s fucking disgusting. The death of a little child is not worth any amount of compassion added to humanity. Ethically, speaking, no sacrifice is worth it unless it is voluntary and carries with it the possibility of eradicating a far greater suffering. To praise the involuntary and pointless suffering of a baby is just plain fucked up.

But there is a deeper point here. These ideologies see human beings as instrumentally valuable, i.e. that their value is contingent on their use for something or someone else. In the case of Christianity, that someone would be God; in the case of the New Agers or other universe-as-purpose-giver ideology, that someone is usually other people (in that they believe that the universe arranges events, including other people’s actions, for or against you, depending on your attitude, karma, or level of “evolution”).

I didn’t mention that the soul is primordial to their understanding of purpose. The soul is half pseudo-scientific gobbledygook, half religious gobbledygook. But it’s the soul that gets tasked, not the body! Well, that wouldn’t really change the facts, even if the soul did exist.

I don’t believe in any god, or in a sentient universe that responds to us, or in any other kind of purpose-giver. I also do not, and cannot, believe that human lives exist for the sake of something or someone else. All human lives are inherently valuable.

This may make it seem like I believe in a greater purpose; but saying that human lives are inherently valuable necessarily means there cannot be a purpose-giver, because the latter would make human lives instrumentally valuable. But I don’t believe we are self-made either; free will and self-ownership are lies used to get people to buy into the “participate in the capitalist games” purpose. No external purpose can ever be valid. And internal purposes, as I’ve pointed before, can be nice, even noble, but don’t justify human lives.

Breeding is selfish, natalism is selfishness made into a social value.

From Dinosaur Comics.

Selfishness is the moral position that one should act only for one’s self-interest. When used consistently as an ethical principle, selfishness leads to institutionalized competition, a constant war of all against all, where power, not intelligence or compassion, controls what gets produced, what ideas are popularized, and the kind of rules one lives under.

A selfish person is one who constantly reduces everything, even global issues, to “me, myself and I.” Everything should be about what they want, what they desire, what they value, without regard to the fact that others may disagree and that we need to respect other people’s wants, desires and values as long as they don’t interfere with ours.

Breeding is the most selfish activity I can imagine. Having children is all about “me, myself and I.” People have children because they want a mini-me they can mold to their desires, because they want to perpetuate their bloodline or DNA, because they want to hide their homosexuality, because they want to prove their capacity for virility or motherhood, because their narrow and vain religious beliefs forbids them to abort, and so on. The most important reason, I think, is that breeding grants one a higher status: people with children are considered more valuable e.g. in workplace privileges and in health decisions. Basically, they hold society hostage because their children’s livelihood depends on theirs.

Breeding can never be in the interest of the child, simply because the child in question does not exist at the time of the decision, not even as a potential. So breeding can never, by simple logic, be in the interest of the future person. So in whose interest is it? The fucking parents, always the fucking parents, those ego-filled parasites who expect society to praise them for having had sex and to raise their children for them. I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I sympathize with children, and have nothing against them, it’s the parents I hate.

The selfishness of parents extends so far beyond breeding. When their children are growing up, they expect everything around them to adapt to the existence of their precious possessions. They demand that adults without children curb their behavior for their own petty benefit, instead of taking a more active part in parenting. We need censorship and self-censorship because they can’t take the time to regulate what their children watch or hear, we need to allow them to bring their screaming babies everywhere because they can’t afford babysitters, we need to lie to each other about sexual and physical abuse to not bruise parents’ egos, and all the panoply of nonsense that slips under the door in the name of “what about the children?”

What can my family and friends do for me? What can my workplace do for me? What can society do for me? It’s all about “me,” “me,” “me,” “me,” “me,” never about anyone or anything else. And then they whine about child support, one of the only mechanisms in this fucking crazy society that exists to support children’s interests!

And don’t get me started about imposing religion, gender, nationality and politics on a little child who cannot possibly comprehend or actually hold any of these social roles, because ey is not yet a social agent, and crushing their freedom and vitality with them. If you’ve done that to your child, and all parents have, know that I hate you and your kind.

Yea, you can come yap in my face about how your little baby is so pritty pritty and how ey goohs and gaahs and how you’re so fucking happy that you think you’re gonna have a heart attack every time the baby open eir eyes. So what? I can cite counter-examples. Anecdotes don’t prove shit, and if you had any interest in the truth at all you’d at least know that.

Insofar as breeding goes, parents’ mind seem to be comatose; their justifications for the act are curiously and completely absent, to a point where they seem as nonchalant about such a grave act as a fish would be flippant about the existence of water. We’d call this ridiculously negligent behavior if people put so little thought into any other major decision of their lives, like buying a car or a house, what to study in college, whether to leave one’s religion, or who to marry. And yet when people take the decision to forcibly bring a new life into this world, in defiance of all the principles of ethics we otherwise so dutifully give lip service to, people are expected to praise them?

Furthermore, as dimasok points out in the comments, bringing a new life in to this world is a far more momentous act than the others I’ve listed, since it involves the life of another human being. So there can be no comparison between the two: compared to the grave consequences of breeding, decisions about what to consume or what to study are of little relative importance.

And they don’t give a shit about the effects of their decision on the rest of society and the world. They don’t care that we have more than seven billion people, that their lifestyle has an impact on their environment and the environment of the world, that their child will only get to live a Western lifestyle because of the exploitation of people in the Third World, that we didn’t ask to be burdened with more children in our society, and so on. They don’t give a shit because it doesn’t affect them very much. After all, one child is just a drop in the bucket. They don’t give a fuck what we think.

And why should they? We as a society keep telling them that they have a right to breed and that nothing can ever change that. So why should we blame them for feeling entitled to breed and being callous about it? They are merely agreeing with, and acting on the basis of, what they’ve been taught.

I haven’t really talked about natalism specifically, but the case is not much better. We are told by court jesters like Bryan Caplan that natalism is validated by the need to constantly feed the capitalist system, to drive consumption, to drive innovation, and so on. At no point do they discuss the interests of the child, because the issue does not even register on their radar.

We know that these natalists are really doing it to sell books and get their articles read, that the primary objective of these books and articles is to provide the rationalization for breeders to feel as if they are doing something un-selfish, socially positive, progressive. They are engaged in the manufacture of mass delusion, a mass delusion which is not even necessary since most people just have children without thinking anyway. This lack of necessity explains why natalist thinkers are not in high demand yet, although growing panic about birth rates might create a more vibrant market for their brand of lies.

Natalist arguments, like theological arguments, set out to use rhetorical sleight of hand to prove a preordained conclusion: that breeding is desirable and ethically justifiable. But these arguments can only be valid if capitalism, with its uncontrollable growth and resulting need for constantly spiraling consumption and production, can itself be justified. If capitalism is undesirable, then there is no need for natalism. And capitalism is undesirable. There is no need to put profit before people, there is no need to benefit the elite of society against the masses of workers and unemployed, there is no need to kill and exploit people in the Third World for our lifestyle. There is just no need for capitalism to exist, and if there is no need for capitalism to exist, then there is no need for natalism.

I know what many of you must be thinking, that it’s “common knowledge” that it’s the childfree and antinatalists who are the selfish ones. But this is pure projection. I can’t speak for the childfree community, but most people I know became antinatalists out of compassion for all life and anger at the suffering we inflict on each other. The projection enrages me because I don’t know a group of less selfish people than antinatalists. It is a Big Lie delivered by a bunch of selfish people to tar noble and just people.

Life is an imposition. What is selfish about not wanting to impose one’s will on other human beings? What is selfish about wanting the human beings that do exist to live the best life they can, without burdening them with more lives to feed and clothe? What is selfish about not imposing a new life on the society around us?

Natalists claim that it’s selfish to not want children because people who don’t have children end up not having to sacrifice their free time, money and well-being (even health) for children. One could say the exact same thing about a drug addiction. Is not having a drug addiction selfish? Since when is not sacrificing oneself to an evil cause selfish?

Breeding is a mass delusion. Natalism is a crock of shit meant to support that mass delusion. Together they are a clusterfuck of lies, projections and impositions.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 162 other followers