The unaccountable tyranny of parenting.

I have previously said that there are three principles which, combined, create a conspiracy of silence around child abuse:

1. The inviolability of the home (“a man’s home is his castle”/”they have a right to privacy”).
2. The agreed-upon ownership of the rights of children (“we can’t intervene in family decisions”/”it’s their child, they can do whatever they want”). Note that I say agreed-upon to specify that it is a fiction: the concept of a human being owning oneself, or another, is logical nonsense.
3. The perceived necessity of the modern family structure (“there’s no possible way to change the system”/”the family structure is natural”/”the family hierarchy is ordained by God”).

Do these three principles trump the fact that we are still faced with widespread (albeit no longer officially tolerated) child abuse within Western families?

The inviolability principle is only supported by one ethical concept that I know of, and that’s the right to privacy. But the right to privacy cannot possibly trump a child’s bodily integrity, so that’s a non-starter. Since we otherwise have no privacy objections about stopping violent crimes against adults, the only possible reason why anyone would disagree would be because they consider children’s lives less important than adult lives.

The agreed-upon ownership of children is, from an egalitarian standpoint, easily refuted: children are human beings and, like all human beings, they deserve to be free. Of course parents claim they don’t own their children at all, but it’s hard to see any significant difference between owning someone and controlling every single aspect of their lives, including their property and their labor; the dispute is mainly one of semantics (note that I am not arguing that children are agreed-upon slaves: “property” and “ownership” are different things).

The perceived necessity of the family structure is perhaps the most persuasive of all three principles. When people sincerely believe that there’s no possible alternative to the current system, they will be ready to support any abuse or violence done in its name. After all, what other choice do we have?

Religion is perhaps the strongest shield behind which child abusers can hide. The misopedic nature of the three major religions (Chrisitanity, Islam, Judaism) is well known and we usually permit people to maim and abuse children openly if it’s done in the name of a religion, although the sexual scandals in Catholicism have eventually been pushed into the public limelight.

Our idea of a monogamous, self-contained family system is most definitely not a natural necessity: most primate species, including our closest relatives the chimpanzees and the Bonobos, do not live in this fashion. Furthermore, human societies have exhibited a wide variety of child rearing regimes, from the modern kibbutzim, to the concept of extended families, to the social raising of children in modern hunter-gatherer societies.

If none of these principles hold water, then the conspiracy of silence we’ve erected around child abuse is absolutely pointless. We let children suffer for no good reason apart from the monstrous ego of parents, who are unaccountable tyrants.

If Absolute Sovereignty be not necessary in a State, how comes it to be so in a Family? or if in a Family why not in a State; since no Reason can be alledg’d for the one that will not hold more strongly for the other?
Mary Astell

When discussing these issues, one is often asked, because of the perceived necessity of the family structure, “but what’s the alternative?” Denying the truth of profound suffering because you can’t imagine a viable solution immediately is a neat thought-stopping trap, but it’s just a trap. The truth is the truth regardless of your ability to imagine how to act upon that truth. Pointing out a current injustice does not confer a burden of proof to provide alternatives to the current unjust system.

But here we must make a distinction between the family structure and childism. Childism comes in many forms and expresses itself in many institutions, of which the family structure is only one. Although childism cannot be eliminated without also changing the family structure, eliminating the family structure would not end childism.

There is no alternative to childism apart from ending the prejudice, affirming that children are full human beings, and implementing this position in public policy.

As for the family structure, that’s a different story. I’ve already named a few existing alternatives which, although not widespread, are known to be superior to the current monogamous agreed-upon ownership system. As I’ve discussed before, there are three core issues that need to be addressed in connection to families and childism:

1. Some children are randomly born in “good” families and others in “bad” families, resulting in some getting abused and others not.
2. The economic concept of poverty imposed on children.
3. The indoctrination of children on a massive scale.

Issues 1 and 2 exist because one or two parents (by virtue of having sex and giving birth) are given ownership of the child, meaning that the child shares in the parents’ social status and depends on their mental state (whether benevolent or hostile). Issue 3 exists because it is in the interest of parents to ensure that their children are “successful.” This “success” justifies various forms of indoctrination:

* The child must appear “normal.”
* The child must be ready to compete against their peers, either as students or as workers.
* The child must be “intelligent” and competent.

These are not needs of the child, they are parental needs. And in order to fulfill those needs, parents will do whatever they can: pay for expensive private education, threaten or punish the child when they fail to live up to grade expectations, coerce or browbeat their child to enroll in various sports or activities, enforce gender, religious, and cultural norms, and threaten or punish the child for failing to follow those norms.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of this indoctrination is that not only does it not work, but it hurts children far beyond the initial coercion, threat or punishment, and in some cases wounds their ego so much that they become less able to deal with the world, having therefore the opposite effect of what was (foolishly and callously) intended.

Actually, studies have shown that people who have more competitive personalities are less likely to “succeed,” not just in business but across the board. There is also no correlation between stamping one’s individuality out and being “successful.” There is a correlation between “intelligence” as defined by our schooling system (domestication system) and “success,” but only insofar as our society is set up to equate “intelligence” with “ability to be successful” (i.e. get a professional job and make more money).

But more important than “success” is personal happiness: the sole measure of whether any form of parenting is helpful, if we are to talk at parenting at all, should be whether it helps form happy, healthy adults who are relatively mentally undamaged from their upbringing. By that standard, all these forms of indoctrination are complete, abject failures. Why? Because they are based on disrespecting the child’s values and desires, and molding children to adapt to parts of society they have little or no reason to support.

Before we answer the question “what is the alternative to our current system, parenting/pedagogy within a modern family structure?”, we must first establish some fundamental principles giving the parameters of what we should consider justified and unjustified:

* There is no a priori reason for a child to have only one or two parents. Having sex and giving birth do not, and cannot, logically grant an ownership claim on another human being.

* There is no logical justification for the bizarre concept of “poor children,” even in a capitalist system.

* Parents are usually the least qualified people to raise “their” children. If we do not allow unqualified people to provide child care for money, then we should not allow unqualified people to provide child care just because they don’t get paid for it.

* Children have a right to develop independently, to the highest standard of health, and to happiness in the present, not just in the future. No one may sacrifice a child’s present in the name of eir future.

Based on these principles, we can come to some conclusions. First, that we must not make a child’s well-being depend on the economic status of one or two individuals based on the accident of birth. Second, and perhaps most obviously, the people in charge of raising children must have some qualifications to do so. Third, all rules regarding child-raising must have one objective only, and that is the well-being and freedom of the child according to the child’s own values and desires.

Any system which breaks any of these conclusions is unjustified. So, given that, what would a non-childist child-raising system be like? It’s hard to say, because there’s so little incentive right now for people to look at alternatives in child-raising, even in leftist circles. People are too concerned with “compassionate parenting” (an oxymoron in itself) to think about going beyond parenting.

However, I do think that democratic schools like Summerhill School give us a first sketch of an alternative system. We know that it works but we have no idea how far a system like this could go: as long as States keep their stranglehold over “education,” there will be no place for further experimentation.

The Deep Green Resistance Strategy

An Antinatalist FAQ.

1. What is antinatalism?

The core of the antinatalist ideology is the ethical position that human procreation is wrong.

More broadly, antinatalism can be described as the ethical position that the procreation and continuation of sentient life (i.e. lifeforms that feel pain) is wrong, insofar as humans have a considerable impact on the procreation and continuation of sentient life on this planet.

2. What are the lines of reasoning for antinatalism?

There is no generally agreed upon classification, but on this blog I use the classification made by filrabat. I have decided to use it because it seems to fit the natural division of arguments as used by Benatar and others, which makes it very useful.

The classification divides antinatalist arguments in four general categories:

* Philanthropic antinatalism encompasses deductive arguments centered around the undesirability of exposing new lives to harm. Arguments in this line include Benatar’s Asymmetry and other harm/benefit asymmetries, the consent argument, and anti-frustrationism.

* Teleological antinatalism, as the name indicates, encompasses arguments about the lack of purpose or justification for procreation. A good example of this approach is Gary Mosher’s famous aphorism “there is no need for need to exist.”

* Ecological antinatalism encompasses arguments about the harm that humans inflict on other forms of life on this planet. VHEMT is the main proponent of this position.

* Misanthropic antinatalism encompasses arguments which aim to show that the world or human societies are not good enough to bring new lives into them. This includes the risk argument, amongst others.

3. What is the difference between antinatalism and childfreedom?

Childfreedom refers to people who have consciously decided not to have children. It is not an ethical position but a personal decision. A childfree person may or may not agree with the proposition that procreation is wrong.

Likewise, an antinatalist person may or may not be childfree. Some people have had children before realizing the dubious ethical nature of breeding.

4. What about this “efilism” I’ve heard some antinatalists talk about?

Efilism is a word used by Gary Mosher to designate his personal worldview, which he says he arrived at independently from antinatalism. He uses that word to emphasize his belief in the undesirability of all new sentient life, not just new human lives.

5. Who is Gary Mosher?

Gary Mosher is a person who maintains a number of Youtube accounts, including most notably inmendham, dedicated to antinatalist issues. He has been a tireless promoter of antinatalism for many years, especially to atheist groups. He lives in Mendham, New Jersey.

6. What is VHEMT?

VHEMT is an organization based around promoting ecological antinatalism. The URL is vhemt.org and it’s promoted by one Les U. Knight.

7. Are you all just depressed people?

No. While depressed people may be naturally attracted to antinatalism because of its realistic view of human existence, one does not have to be depressed to be an antinatalist. Many antinatalists become proponents of the position because they were convinced by the arguments (as in my case) or based on personal experiences.

8. Why don’t you kill yourself?

This is definitely a commonly asked question by opponents of antinatalism, and shows how kind they are. Wishing death on people who disagree with you is not a good sign of mental health.

But beyond that, the question reflects a fundamental lack of understanding of what antinatalism is about. Antinatalists are not against the continuation of life, they are against the creation of new life. Killing yourself ends your own suffering, but it also creates more harm to the people you leave behind.

For more, see this entry I wrote answering this question.

9. What about all the good things about life?

Antinatalists acknowledge that most human lives contains benefits as well as harms, and that both are an important part of our lives. However, we can’t simply “cancel out” benefits and harms, and the existence of benefits does not nullify the existence of the harms that antinatalist arguments are based around. While we should seek those benefits while we are alive, they do not form a justification for bringing new people into this world.

Again, I’ve written an entry related to this topic.

10. Isn’t the natural result of your ideology the extinction of the human race? That’s an insane position, you can’t honestly believe that?

First, it is not true that the “natural result” of antinatalism would be human extinction, for the simple reason that many people will not accept antinatalism no matter what. Breeder entitlement is extremely powerful.

Second, there is no justification that can be given for the continuation of humanity, showing that it is an arational position at best (see this entry for further explanation). The belief that we shouldn’t be doing things of this magnitude if we have no justification for them is not “insane,” but rather a pretty natural response.

11. I want to write about antinatalism, even though I am against it. Any recommendations?

Don’t do what everyone else does, which is to go off on what they think antinatalism is about without even bothering to read the arguments or what any antinatalist believes. At least have the confront to actually read what it’s about. Then criticize it.

If you’re willing to jump in and ask us some hard questions, then you should be willing to answer some as well. I would recommend these 12 questions as a starting point for further discussion.

12. What are the main books expounding the antinatalist ideology?

The two earliest texts discussing antinatalism as an ideology of its own are L’art de guillotiner les procreateurs : manifeste anti-nataliste (2006), by Theophile de Giraud, and Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence (2008), by David Benatar.

Other books of interest include The Conspiracy against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror (2011), by Thomas Ligotti, Confessions of an Antinatalist (2010), by Jim Crawford, and Every Cradle Is a Grave: Rethinking the Ethics of Birth and Suicide (2014), by Sarah Perry.

Interview with Rev. Ivan Stang, leader of the Church of the Subgenius

As a Subgenius, I always enjoy reading about Ivan Stang’s work in founding the Church and where it all comes from. I thought this interview on In-Sight was particularly interesting.

3. Before moving into the core discussion on the design, development, and foundation of the Church of the SubGenius, you have discussed the core elements of any religion, what three things does any religion need to have to flourish?

A religion really needs only one thing: to make believers feel like they’re better than everyone else. A perceived oppressor and a perceived savior are helpful, but the main thing is telling people what they most want to hear.

I have observed seemingly educated people falling for the most blatantly ludicrous notions simply because it was what they most wanted to believe. As my Pappy said recently, “I believe what I need to believe.” To me that sadly sums up the human condition. I have seen some extreme and depressing examples of this, resulting in my having to personally deprogram the gullible from my own fake cult! In some notable cases, I failed.

Quotes from The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

“Precisely how the system of mass incarceration works to trap African Americans in a virtual (and literal) cage can best be understood by viewing the system as a whole. In earlier chapters, we considered various wires of the cage in isolation; here, we put the pieces together, step back, and view the cage in its entirety. Only when we view the cage from a distance can we disengage from the maze of rationalizations that are offered for each wire and see how the entire apparatus operates to keep African Americans perpetually trapped.

This, in brief, is how the system works: The War on Drugs is the vehicle through which extraordinary numbers of black men are forced into the cage. The entrapment occurs in three distinct phases, each of which has been explored earlier, but a brief review is useful here. The first stage is the roundup. Vast numbers of people are swept into the criminal justice by the police, who conduct drug operations primarily in poor communities of color. They are rewarded in cash – through drug forfeiture laws and federal grant programs – for rounding up as many people as possible, and they operate unconstrained by constitutional rules of procedure that once were considered inviolate. Police can stop, interrogate, and search anyone they choose for drug investigations, provided they get “consent.” Because there is no meaningful check on the exercise of police discretion, racial biases are granted free rein. In fact, police are allowed to rely on race as a factor in selecting whom to stop and search (even though people of color are no more likely to be guilty of drug crimes than whites) – effectively guaranteeing that those who are swept into the system are primarily black and brown.

The conviction marks the beginning of the second phase: the period of formal control. Once arrested, defendants are generally denied meaningful legal representation and pressured to plead guilty whether they are or not. Prosecutors are free to “load up” defendants with extra charges, and their decisions cannot be challenged for racial bias. Once convicted, due to the drug war’s harsh sentencing laws, drug offenders in the United States spend more time under the criminal justice system’s formal control – in jail or prison, on probation or parole – than drug offenders anywhere else in the world. While under formal control, virtually every aspect of one’s life is regulated and monitored by the system, and any form of resistance or disobedience is subject to swift sanction. This period of control may last a lifetime, even for those convicted of extremely minor, nonviolent offenses, but the vast majority of those swept into the system are eventually released. They are transferred from their prison cells to a much larger, invisible cage.

The final stage has been dubbed by some advocates as the period of invisible punishment. This term, first coined by Jeremy Travis, is meant to describe the unique set of criminal sanctions that are imposed on individuals after they step outside the prison gates, a form of punishment that operates largely outside of public view and takes effect outside the traditional sentencing framework. These sanctions are imposed by operation of law rather than decisions of a sentencing judge, yet they often have a greater impact on one’s life course than the months or years one actually spends behind bars. These laws operate collectively to ensure that the vast majority of convicted offenders will never integrate into mainstream, white society. They will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives – denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Unable to surmount these obstacles, most will eventually return to prison and then be released again, caught in a closed circuit of perpetual marginality.”

***

“The petition argued that the Court’s decision was a dire mistake; if the decision were allowed to stand and prosecutors were compelled to explain gross racial disparities such as the ones at issue, it would be a ‘substantial step toward invalidating’ the death penalty and would ‘paralyze the criminal justice system’- apparently because severe and inexplicable racial disparities pervaded the system as a whole. Thirteen days later, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed itself, holding that the fact that 98.4 percent of the defendants selected to receive life sentences for repeat drug offenses were black required no justification.”

***

“A report in 2000 observed that among youth who have never been sent to a juvenile prison before, African Americans were more than six times as likely as whites to be sentenced to prison for identical crimes. A study sponsored by the U.S. Justice Department and several of the nation’s leading foundations, published in 2007, found that the impact of the biased treatment is magnified with each additional step in the criminal justice system. African American youth account for 16 percent of all youth, 28 percent of all juvenile arrests, 35 percent of the youth waived to adult criminal court, and 58 percent of youth admitted to state adult prison. A major reason for these disparities is unconscious and conscious racial biases infecting decision making. In the state of Washington, for example, a review of juvenile sentencing reports found that prosecutors routinely described black and white offenders differently. Blacks committed crimes because of internal personality flaws such as disrespect. Whites did so because of external conditions such as family conflict.”

***

“More African American adults are under correctional control today- in prison or jail, on probation or parole- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. The mass incarceration of people of color is a big part of the reason that a black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The absence of black fathers from families across America is not simply a function of laziness, immaturity, of too much time watching Sports Center. Thousands of black men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away for drug crimes that are largely ignored when committed by whites.”

***

“The sincerity of many people’s racial beliefs is what led Martin Luther King Jr. to declare, ‘Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.’ The notion that racial caste systems are necessarily predicated on a desire to harm other racial groups, and that racial hostility is the essence of racism, is fundamentally misguided. Even slavery does not conform to this limited understanding of racism and social caste. Most plantation owners supported the institution of black slavery not because of a sadistic desire to harm blacks but instead because they wanted to get rich, and black slavery was the most efficient means to that end. By and large, plantation owners were indifferent to the suffering caused by slavery; they were motivated by greed. Preoccupation with the role of racial hostility in earlier caste systems can blind us to the ways in which every caste system, including mass incarceration, has been supported by racial indifference- a lack of caring and compassion for people of other races.”

***

“The notion that a vast gulf exists between ‘criminals’ and those of us who have never served time in prison is a fiction created by the racial ideology that birthed mass incarceration, namely that there is something fundamentally wrong and morally inferior about ‘them.’ The reality, though, is that all of us have done wrong. As noted earlier, studies suggest that most Americans violate drug laws in their lifetime. Indeed, most of us break the law not once but repeatedly throughout our lives. Yet only some of us will be arrested, charged, convicted of a crime, branded a criminal or felon, and ushered into a permanent undercaste. Who becomes a social pariah and excommunicated from civil society and who trots off to college bears scant relationship to the morality of crimes committed.”

***

“It is fair to say that we have witnessed an evolution in the United States from a racial caste system based entirely on exploitation (slavery), to one based largely on subordination (Jim Crow), to one defined by marginalization (mass incarceration). While marginalization may sound far preferable to exploitation, it may prove to be even more dangerous. Extreme marginalization, as we have seen throughout world history, poses the risk of extermination.”

***

“Given that poor and working-class whites (not white elites) were the ones who had their world rocked by desegregation, it does not take a great leap of empathy to see why affirmative action could be experienced as salt in a wound. Du Bois once observed that the psychological wage of whiteness put ‘an indelible black face to failure.’ Yet with the advent of affirmative action, suddenly African Americans were leapfrogging over poor and working-class whites on their way to Harvard and Yale and taking jobs in police departments and fire departments that had once been reserved for whites. Civil rights advocates offered no balm for the wound, publicly resisting calls for class-based affirmative action and dismissing claims of unfairness on the grounds that whites had been enjoying racial preferences for hundreds of years. Resentment, frustration, and anger expressed by poor and working-class whites was chalked up to racism, leading to a subterranean discourse about race and to implicitly racial political appeals, but little honest dialogue.

Perhaps the time has come to give up the racial bribes and begin an honest conversation about race in America.”

***

“If colorblindness is such a bad idea, though, why have people across the political spectrum become so attached to it? For conservatives, the ideal of colorblindness is linked to a commitment to individualism. In their view, society should be concerned with individuals, not groups. Gross racial disparities in health, wealth, education, and opportunity should be of no interest to our government, and racial identity should be a private matter, something best kept to ourselves. For liberals, the ideal of colorblindness is linked to the dream of racial equality. The hope is that one day we will no longer see race because race will lose all of its significance. In this fantasy, eventually race will no longer be a factor in mortality rates, the spread of disease, educational or economic opportunity, or the distribution of wealth. Race will correlate with nothing; it will mean nothing, we won’t even notice it any more…

The uncomfortable truth, however, is that racial differences will always exist among us. Even if the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration were completely overcome, we would remain a nation of immigrants (and indigenous people) in a larger world divided by race and ethnicity. It is a world in which there is extraordinary racial and ethnic inequality, and our nation has porous boundaries. For the foreseeable future, racial and ethnic inequality will be a feature of American life.”

***

“[M]ass incarceration is predicated on the notion that an extraordinary number of African Americans (but not all) have freely chosen a life of crime and thus belong behind bars. A belief that all blacks belong in jail would be incompatible with the social consensus that we have ‘moved beyond’ race and that race is no longer relevant. But a widespread belief that a majority of black and brown men unfortunately belong in jail is compatible with the new American creed, provided that their imprisonment can be interpreted as their own fault. If the prison label imposed on them can be blamed on their culture, poor work ethic, or even their families, then society is absolved of responsibility to do anything about their condition.

This is where black exceptionalism comes in. Highly visible examples of black success are critical to the maintenance of a racial caste system in the era of colorblindness. Black success stories lend credence to the notion that anyone, no matter how poor or how black you may be, can make it to the top, if only you try hard enough. These stories ‘prove’ that race is no longer relevant. Whereas black success stories undermined the logic of Jim Crow, they actually reinforce the system of mass incarceration. Mass incarceration depends for its legitimacy on the widespread belief that all those who appear trapped at the bottom actually chose their fate.”

***

Pathologizing civil rights is a stupid strategy.

It seems to be a common strategy for people seeking civil rights to pathologize their activity or preferences as a way to garner sympathy, but, as Brave Lucky Game points out, this doesn’t really make any sense logically.

The same influence also has some effect on the fat rights scene—sure, mostly by concern trolls, and not so much with the “fat rights scene” (it’s largely rejected by, well, everyone). The script goes pretty much the same way: “It’s so horrible to live a life that’s so fat and disgusting because of that fat and disgusting body. Haven’t they suffered enough? I mean, being fat is worse than anything!”

In a slightly different way, pathologizing children is used to “fight for their interests,” too. Look at how inferior they are! Look at how ignorant and illogical they must be to not know everything about civilization! Clearly, their brains just don’t work right, and that’s why they’re pure and innocent. And let’s not forget that many cultures assume that being a teenager is essentially an unfortunate temporary mental illness.

And to another point, it’s something that pisses me off a lot in the “pro-choice” community. Nobody ever wants an abortion; it is a horrible, bad, wrong thing that we’d absolutely do away with if we could figure out a way to stop women from whining about their rights. Because, really, come the fuck on—it goes beyond adoption, beyond financial and emotional means, beyond every ridiculous fucking excuse out there: sometimes, you just don’t want your genes to go on. Sure, 99.999% of everyone with a uterus would prefer “not getting pregnant in the first place” to having an abortion. But pathologizing abortion—and the choice to have one—is just more support for the concept that abortion is a horrible, shameful thing, no matter who you are.

The NIP and mainstream ideologies.

Ideologies which go along with the status quo usually remain unquestioned, or only lightly questioned, even when they are blatantly irrational. Ideologies which go against the status quo are immediately seen as suspicious and must meet very high standards to be even potential discussion material.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I classify antinatalism (as well as more or less everything else I write about on this blog) in the latter category. What that means, in practice, is that antinatalism is subjected (whether this is done consciously or, more likely, unconsciously) to standards to which mainstream ideologies would never be subjected.

A great example of that was given to me by reader Brian L. in a comment to my entry on the Non-Identity Problem:

Economists, ecologists, and others I can’t think of off the top of my head, talk about future people, their impact, and how they will be impacted. Yet no one calls them on a NIP. Why just us? Am I not understanding, or do I understand enough that I see through the NIP issue as a non-issue?

The Non-Identity Problem, if you don’t know about it, is an objection sometimes presented by opponents of antinatalism. It consists, to explain it simply, of denying reasoning based on future persons because it’s irrational to base your reasoning on things that don’t actually exist.

As I pointed out in my entry, the NIP not only doesn’t address most antinatalist arguments, but it’s also plainly wrong and contradicts basic intuitions. If one person is designing a product and another person find out that a flaw in the design would make it lethal to its user, it would be imbecilic for the natalist to come in and say that there’s no point in arguing about flaws because the product does not exist yet. This is not logic or philosophy that should be treated seriously, it’s a sad incapacity to understand cause and effect that should be treated with pity.

The NIP is imbecilic, but the point that Brian L. raises to great effect is that we don’t hear such nonsense applied to ideologies like economics or ecologists. There’s no lack of people ready to use any excuse to fight against ecological concerns, but somehow no one has stumbled upon the great argument “we can’t ever talk about the well-being of future generations because they don’t exist, and nothing that doesn’t exist is worth talking about.”

We also don’t hear such nonsense applied to scientific disciplines which predict the creation of novel entities, such as physics or biology. People don’t go up to physicists who make predictions of what will happen in a supercollider to say “well, the particles you’re talking about don’t exist yet, so there’s no point in talking about this, and you’re full of it.” That would just be silly.

Although they do tend to be rather stupid, it is highly likely that the natalists who use the NIP are intelligent enough to understand basic causality and induction, and their use of the argument is almost certainly disingenuous.

I think that in practice it becomes a variant of the “well, that’s life” argument. There’s no point in arguing about the interests of a non-existing person in not coming into existence, and when they do come into existence, then they have to take the bad along with the good. At least that’s the common way of reasoning about it.

As I pointed out in my refutation of the NIP, antinatalists are not concerning themselves with the interests of non-existing people, whatever that would mean. Another point I’ve made many times is that it makes no sense to treat the good and bad of life as if they canceled out or compensated for each other.

But more importantly, it shows how eager they are to escape the irrefutable conclusion that non-existence is better than existence. They have so little to argue against it that they’d rather just ignore it entirely. All the natalists I’ve seen argue, from the stupidest Youtube commenter to the sophisticated academics (e.g. David Wasserman in Debating Procreation, or stupidest man alive Bryan Caplan), can’t do anything but try to ignore the arguments as much as they possibly can and focus with laser precision on the ice creams, or even just on the illusion of ice creams (such as that provided by hedonic adaptation).

As I said in my reply to Brian L., they must reject antinatalist arguments at all costs, even at the cost of looking like complete morons, because it’s too painful for them to contemplate that the arguments might actually be right. Much like a religion addict, a drug addict, an alcoholic, or a politics addict, any excuse is good enough to rationalize getting their next fix. But at least you can get a sense of self-righteousness out of being a religion or politics addict; I don’t really see what being a natalism addict gets you, especially since virtually no one in the world disagrees with you. And it sure doesn’t beat drugs or alcohol.

PIELC 2014: The False Solutions of Green Energy – Wilbert & Foley

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