NOTE: I’d rather you actually read the entry first and address something I wrote instead of just writing comments about how stupid human extinctionism is. Thanks.
I’ve recently turned around in favour of human extinction. I talked about parenting being immoral, and that as long as this hierarchical system exists we should not breed, which inevitably led people to tell me “but surely you don’t believe humanity should just disappear?” At first I was very reluctant to discuss the issue, but now I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, human extinction is a good idea.
When I get into that issue, however, people will always say some variant of “mankind must perpetuate.” The idea of the human race ceasing to exist seems to be simply unacceptable.
First I have to clarify that I am not talking about the arguments supporting reproduction for the sake of the “country.” States do thrive on population and need to keep a growing population in order to keep the economy on the upside and keep the whole scheme going. But although I strongly oppose such reasoning, that’s not what I am arguing against as an extinctionist. I am arguing specifically against the notion that the human race, humans as a whole, must seek perpetuation of itself (through its individuals, of course).
To me, the proposition that “mankind must perpetuate” is a strange statement, worthy of analysis. On the basis of what necessity must the human race perpetuate itself? Is is an ontological necessity? Certainly not. There is no possible reason why human beings cannot disappear from the world, and indeed it is a possibility that is often considered in various contexts as being realistic.
Is it an ethical necessity? But that’s incongruous because ethics assumes the existence of human beings and human action in the first place. Therefore, saying that mankind must perpetuate for ethical reasons is a circular argument, because it would require one to assume that we can judge that a scenario where ethics does not exist is worse than a scenario where ethics exists, which implies some standard that is above ethics itself.
Is it a moral necessity? Surely this is just as impossible, because a scenario where there are no humans necessarily excludes morality as well. It cannot be the case that for me such a scenario is immoral, because “I” would be dead and therefore my values would not enter the picture at all.
It can be argued that we think morally about things that may happen long after we die (such as leaving a legacy). It can also be argued that an extinctionist program might bring about things during one’s lifetime which an individual may not like (such as the absence of children), thus putting it within the realm of morality. I agree with these points, and I obviously don’t think everyone should be a human extinctionist. I certainly don’t expect the extinctionist program to fit everyone’s values, just as I wouldn’t expect any ideology, true or not, to fit everyone’s values.
That being said, I don’t think either of these points justify a statement of necessity. While I may prefer to leave a legacy for future generations, it doesn’t create obligations in my own mind. As for what would happen in an extinctionist scenario, I don’t personally believe that they outweigh the benefits.
What about teleological necessity? Teleology always remains the refuge of the neurotic, and I think this case is no exception. Just as Christians believe that without immortality our lives have no meaning, many people seem to believe that without species immortality our lives have no meaning. But there’s no more reason to believe in one premise than the other. The meaning we impute to our lives comes from our own values and feelings, and there’s no reason to bemoan the fact that either our lives or the life of our species may or may not continue after a certain point.
Indeed, it is that very limitation, the fact that every choice we make does operate on a scarce resource (that is to say, time) that gives it meaning. To take an extreme example, the decision of the terminally ill patient to end his life is of great meaning and purpose. Why should we not say the same about collectively ending the life of a perpetually ill society?
Of course we can change the question and ask, not “mankind must perpetuate,” but “it is better for me if mankind perpetuates?”, or more simply, “is it better for me if people keep having children?”. I think this question is a great deal more interesting. My position on the issue is based on three main points:
1. Having children is a major corruptive influence on people. It seems to be almost inevitable that people who become parents also become more statist and more religious than they would be otherwise, mostly because of the fears they have about their children. I believe that a society which stops making children will inevitably become less morally corrupted, and that it would be a profound change.
(note that this point assumes that parenting would still exist, which seems rather likely whatever happens)
2. There is a tremendous amounts of resources involved in the manufacturing and buying of products from the childcare industry. These resources could be used, both by the parents themselves and by society at large, for more constructive endeavours (if society is still under a State and therefore unfree, this would of course be largely useless).
3. Even if humans do not go extinct, a major decrease in population could only have greatly beneficial effects on freedom and happiness as a whole, on economic terms (less people to feed with the same amount of land, less economic inequality possible, also see point 2), on political terms (less democratic pressure due to lesser population size, less power to concentrate, also could possibly give rise to stateless areas, or at least increase the amount of areas isolated from State intervention), on ecological terms (less human impact on nature, lower depletion of resources), and on social terms (less children means more care and attention devoted to each of them. less unwanted children means lower crime rates for society as a whole, conflicts would decrease due to the greater availability of resources).
In fact the other two points I raised are also effected by a drastic population decrease, and I consider drastic population decrease and extinction scenarios to be similar enough to warrant bundling them together as a general rule. Both agree that we need to stop breeding as much as possible, and they merely disagree on the extent to which we should do so.
Finally, please note that my position is not political, and that I do not advocate killing people, taxing them for having children, or forcing them to not have children. Insofar as politics goes, I am an Anarchist first, as it should be.