NOTE: I am quite aware that the following entry will be considered crackpot by pretty much everyone, so there’s no need to point that out in your comments. I was going to not allow comments, but I always hate when other people do that on their blog, so just be aware that my deleting policy is gonna be pretty stringent on this one.
If there is a clear-cut case of hierarchy and exploitation, we don’t need to look at government or religion. We only need to look at parenting, the foundation of our psyches.
Parenting takes place within a strict hierarchical system, with the parents at the top and children at the bottom. The parents are designated as being the people who had sex with each other and whose sperm and egg happened to meet and start the breeding process. Based on this process, it is agreed upon that these two people, who generally have absolutely no understanding whatsoever of how to raise children apart from the example of their own parents, will maintain virtually unlimited power over the new human being, within the private confines of their own home and within an intimidating psychological environment where the child’s livelihood depends on pleasing “his” parents, for a duration of approximately eighteen years.
This seems entirely normal to us because that’s what we’ve experienced our whole pre-adult life. But this idea is batshit insane. There is absolutely no reason to arbitrarily designate the people whose involvement stops at contributing bodily fluid (and in the case of the mother, nine months of purely involuntary cell growth) as being the owners of this new human being, not to mention the absurdity of owning a human being to begin with. There is absolutely no reason to make it as hard as possible for these human beings to be protected from abuse, and to keep them as vulnerable as possible to their possible abusers (which are, most of the time, family or extended family members). There is absolutely no reason to leave something as important as child-raising in the hands of people who have absolutely no understanding of child-raising. I think that, if you were to design a system that was authoritarian, as bad as possible for children, and making it as hard as possible for abuse to be prevented, you’d come up with something like what we have today. Add to this the mind-numbing, socially debilitating effects of the public school system and you’ve got a good portrait of the kind of battering a human mind takes during the first portion of its life.
From an Anarchist standpoint, I can see no possible value to such a system. It is highly authoritarian and highly hierarchical. It is also systemic exploitation because it keeps children captive to a lifestyle and a worldview not of their own choosing, basically molding their own life against their will. An extreme example of this is the Amish custom of rumspringa. The vast majority of Amish teenagers, despite the great attraction of outsider life, choose to stay within their community, because they would never see their family again and have been raised to believe that they would be going to Hell. Well, if most of them had the freedom of choice, they probably wouldn’t choose to be Amish wouldn’t they? While I’m sure some people join in voluntarily, the Amish don’t exactly get a lot of people knocking on their doors.
Parenting, even amongst Anarchists, is considered untouchable. This seems to me more like a hypocrisy than anything else. Anarchists, who are supposed to put forward a better way of life and a better sort of society, forbid themselves from examining the source of the psyche of the individuals that compose that society and the kind of consequences it has. This is like saying that we should find ways to improve computers but never question the idea of the transistor or never question the idea of using binary code. Well, why not?
The first objection people bring up is “little children need our help, they can’t take care of themselves, would you rather they die in the streets?” Obviously I don’t want children to die in the streets, and that’s a pretty transparent tactic. Like most objections I get, it’s a very statist tactic, of the “without X, we’d all be screwed” type.
Which leads us to the answer to this objection. If we accept this argument as the justification for parenting, then we must also accept that most people can take care of a child, and therefore it must be the case that anyone has the right to do it. Anyone could be a parent of any child. But this is obviously not how the parenting system works: it cannot exist without the exclusivity of the designated biological parents (or in cases of abandonment or death, foster parents). So obviously this exclusivity is not based on the needs of the child, but on the needs of the parents, and the objection is therefore irrelevant.
Another common objection is, “well you don’t have any clear alternative, so I reject your points.” That’s not a very good objection though, is it? Why do I need to provide an alternative for my points to be valid? That would be like a secular bloke in the Middle Ages going “well, Creationism is pretty wonky, but we have no clear alternatives so I might as well just believe in it.” That’s daft ain’t it? Obviously we don’t need to know every detail of what’s valid in order to figure out what’s invalid. I don’t know for sure what should replace jails and prisons, but I am still aware that the concept of jail is clearly immoral and stupid. So why shouldn’t I be allowed to say the same about parenting?
Now to the last major objection I get: “your position is unacceptable because it leads to the extinction of the human race.”
First of all, that’s bollocks. My personal belief that parenting is evil does not lead to any extinction of anything. Secondly, I don’t actually advocate that people stop breeding, only that unless we come up with a better system, it’s more moral to simply not breed at all. It’s better for society as a whole and it’s better for the individual. There is simply no rational reason that exists to justify someone breeding, and since it leads to an immoral hierarchy, then why do it?
But suppose that people actually believe what I say (which is extremely unlikely, seeing how many people actually listen to me right now) and adopt it on a widespread basis. Would that lead to the extinction of the human race? Obviously not. No matter the ideology, there’ll always be people who will disagree. Some people are still going to breed. So there’ll never be extinction.
And if you say something like “ah Franc so your ideology can only survive if some people don’t believe in it, that’s a contradiction mate.” To that I’d say that if humans did go extinct, it would not die off any faster than any other ideology, so the point is kinda moot. Besides, what’s so important about one’s ideas that they should survive at all costs? Can’t an idea serve its role and then be discarded, in historical terms? Why not?
The other thing is, what’s so bad about human extinction? This is a serious question, I’m not joshing around. I’m not saying I want humans to go extinct, but I don’t see what’s supposed to be so bad about it. Sure it would make one feel a bit depressed, but it’s not bad per se. How could it be? It has to be an amoral statement, because life is a necessary precondition for morality to even enter the picture. If no one’s alive, there’s no moral issue to begin with, there’s no good or bad (unless you include smart monkeys or alien civilizations in the picture). So yea, I’m not saying everyone needs to be a card-carrying member of VHEMT (they don’t have cards anyway), but I’m saying that there’s no reason to reject the idea prima facie.
Another argument I’ve heard is, “even if there’s still some breeding, most people would be old and ugly, society would cease to be productive, etc etc.” Well that’s rather bigoted isn’t it? Besides, that’s an esthetic preference, not an ethical proposition. So what if you think everyone’s ugly? Just masturbate to old pictures of porn models or something. I don’t really see how this is a big deal. Besides, by the time everyone was old, we’d have the technology to slow down aging, no doubt.