Natalism is the systematic objectification and enslavement of human beings.

The subsidies given to prop up the hollow joke of natalism are massive. In the US, one program alone (W.I.C.) cost more than seven billion dollars in 2009. Parents also benefit from billions of dollars in various tax deductions, and benefit from a public education system, paid through everyone’s taxes, of more than one trillion dollars. In comparison, the US government spends 300 million dollars in total to subsidize abortions, and Planned Parenthood receives 360 million dollars a year.

The rationalizations for such mind-boggling waste and government power are well-known. We need to keep manufacturing more children because “the economy” needs to keep growing (and by extension, the tax base). We need more slaves on the lines to keep Social Security afloat and wipe rich elderly people’s asses. We need to keep the nation ahead of other, inferior nations. We need to keep the white race ahead of other, inferior races.

To the average person, procreation is purely ego-worship. From the perspective of the ruling class, procreation is not just ego-worship for themselves, but also a manufacturing process. Capitalism is predicated on, and wholly depends upon, constant, never-ending growth. This desperate process can only be driven by two things: finding more efficient ways to generate production or consumption from the people already existing, or creating more people who will produce and consume. Because of this, procreation, immigration, and anything else that raises population is vital for the survival of capitalism (and, of course, baby items alone are an industry worth seven billion dollars).

We already know that children are, and must necessarily be, means to an end for the parents. All the more true is this for nations. New people are a new labor force. New people are new consumers. New people are new workers. New people are new voters. And for imperialist nations, new people are bodies to sacrifice. The nation did not promote your birth, and the birth of millions of others, because it cares about your personality, your skills or your intelligence. The nation promoted your birth because you are potentially an object through which it can bolster its power.

Nowhere is this objectification, and ultimately slavery, more obvious than in the institution of the draft. But it permeates our society, from the prison system with forced labor waiting for millions of people who are condemned for consensual acts, to the millions of “illegal immigrants” who are not protected by labor laws, to the cheap child labor used by parents because they have near-total control over it.

It is an old saw that conservatives are anti-abortion because they want to create as many children as possible so they can die in foreign lands. But it is naive to think that only conservatives are interested in procreation as means to an end. Everyone is by logical necessity interested in procreation, and therefore children, as a means to an end. We come out of an assembly line to be used as tools of ego-worshipping (for the parents), indoctrination (for the schooling system), production and consumption, sacrifice and revenge (for the nation). It is a dehumanizing state of affairs.

It is impossible to reconcile natalist amorality with the Prime Directive. If you are against the imposition of harm, then you have to be against the imposition of harm in all areas; you can’t pick and choose where ethics apply and where they don’t, like Christians choosing which verses of the Bible are literal and which are past their due date.

This leads me to what I call the Amoral Optimist Problem (AOP). The AOP particularly applies when one is talking to natalists who were born in the Western world and have enjoyed its privileges. My argument here is that people who are in this situation and who spout “life is wonderful” propaganda must automatically be considered non-credible, because their privileged lives come at the expense of those who slave in factories and farms to, ultimately, fund their livelihood. The standard Western lifestyle is funded directly by these people, without their consent, and on the basis of their suffering.

Just as in nature, we humans live predatory lifestyles, we cannibalize each other. The well-being of one rich Western person comes only from the hardship of numerous poor people both in their own nation and around the world, as well as the suffering of livestock and agricultural casualties. That is how neo-liberalism operates. So the “life is wonderful” propaganda spouted by a privileged person hides the massive global predation on which this rosy worldview operates, and becomes itself proof of the fact that life is not actually wonderful. Ultimately the optimist is the living proof of the contradiction inherent to his optimism; he is a walking self-refutation.

This is not to say that non-Western people cannot find life wonderful, or that every non-Western person is exploited (many of them are exploiters of the poor within their own nations). I am talking solely about the Western optimists who pipe up to argue against antinatalism with “life is wonderful” propaganda.

Life is a harmful lottery imposed on all human beings. Some people temporarily “win,” and a lot of people “lose.” The privileged Western people who argue against antinatalism are part of the group that has “won” this lottery. It is nothing but an amoral, cruel buttressing of their ego.

The simple fact is that the “life is wonderful” propaganda is innately cruel and vulgar, because it treats the very real suffering of the innocent people who basically live to serve privileged people’s interests as no big deal, and it treats the very real suffering of innocent people and animals in general as no big deal. We’re supposed to look at a child dying of AIDS or leukemia and say “oh no big deal, life is wonderful, don’t look at that child over there.” We’re supposed to look at an elephant breaking a leg and getting eaten by tigers and say “life is so wonderful”? This is the reaction of a sociopath. I mean, you have to be majorly sheltered by privilege and crass ignorance to think that life is wonderful.

And then these Amoral Optimists turn around and confront anyone who even dares to talk about the issue of suffering by calling them “depressed,” “suicidal,” and requesting that they kill themselves. Because their Amoral Optimism can only exist if they obstinately refuse to look at suffering in any way whatsoever, and life does not force them to do so through circumstances, they must therefore marginalize anyone who looks at the issue rationally and draws logical conclusions. The fact is that most antinatalists are not depressed or suicidal, and see no point in killing themselves. Killing ourselves doesn’t solve the problem of harm on this planet. It’s just another ego game that they play (because they equate extinction with “losing”).

The Amoral Optimist slogan is “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” To which one must add, “and if you see, hear or speak about evil, you must be some kind of looney!” But the only real consequence of such an attitude is the persistence of evil.

26 thoughts on “Natalism is the systematic objectification and enslavement of human beings.

  1. Gomi November 1, 2011 at 20:57

    First, saying “life is great” is automatically non-credible, so apparently your view is the only credible one. Convenient, that.

    Second, how is procreation “dehumanizing” when it’s what we’ve done since we came down from the proverbial trees? It’s part of the essence of humanity. That’s doesn’t make it inherently valid, but it also means it’s not dehumanizing. It’s part of humanity.

    • Francois Tremblay November 1, 2011 at 21:05

      You’re just reading what you want to read. Here is the exact quote:

      “We come out of an assembly line to be used as tools of ego-worshipping (for the parents), indoctrination (for the schooling system), production and consumption, sacrifice and revenge (for the nation). It is a dehumanizing state of affairs.”

      • Gomi November 2, 2011 at 05:45

        Yes, but since that statement implies the issue is with our particular cultural response after birth, and natalism is a position before birth (or conception), I figured it couldn’t exactly mean what I was reading it to mean.

        Because if it means what I read it to mean (all issues after birth, not inherent to the human procreative process), then natalism isn’t the issue, but something specific to our culture (and many other cultures currently in existence).

        Kind of like saying “houses burn down, so I’m opposed to houses,” when the issue is the fire, not the house.

        • Francois Tremblay November 2, 2011 at 10:32

          No… it’s like saying “all houses necessarily burn down and make people suffer, so maybe we should stop building houses and think about doing something else.”

          • Gomi November 2, 2011 at 11:18

            So, “all life is necessarily suffering” is credible, and “life is wonderful” is automatically not credible. Like I said, it’s pretty convenient for your argument, when you frame it like that.

            • Francois Tremblay November 2, 2011 at 11:20

              Uh no, I never said ““all life is necessarily suffering,” neither do I believe it. Stop with the straw man.

              • Gomi November 2, 2011 at 12:07

                I took that from your changing the analogy: “all houses necessarily burn down and make people suffer, so maybe we should stop building houses.” I took that to mean “all lives are necessarily suffering, so maybe we should stop having children.”

                • Francois Tremblay November 2, 2011 at 20:18

                  All lives necessarily ENTAIL suffering, yes. Do you deny that?

                • Gomi November 2, 2011 at 20:59

                  To some degree, at some point, yes, people will suffer. People will also, to some degree, at some point, experience joy.

                  All actions include a downside, all the time. It’s the nature of life. But, does the downside outweigh the upside, all the time, or vice versa?

                  This goes back to the subjective point I’ve made before. If you think the suffering is also worse than the joy, regardless of individual, then you’ll think it’s valid to prevent the possibility of creation of more individuals. But, if you think the joy is better than the suffering, in the balance, then you’ll think it’s valid to allow the creation of more individuals.

                  Now, before you gleefully proclaim that argument to be inherently invalid, notice that I didn’t say life is always great. The question is a subjective assessment of whether joy is better or worse than suffering, as an experience.

                  Not logic, not rationality, but subjective emotion.

  2. Francois Tremblay November 2, 2011 at 21:15

    “This goes back to the subjective point I’ve made before. If you think the suffering is also worse than the joy, regardless of individual, then you’ll think it’s valid to prevent the possibility of creation of more individuals. But, if you think the joy is better than the suffering, in the balance, then you’ll think it’s valid to allow the creation of more individuals.”
    Nope. You have a duty not to inflict suffering, but you don’t have a duty to give pleasure.

    “Now, before you gleefully proclaim that argument to be inherently invalid, notice that I didn’t say life is always great. ”
    Your problem is that you equate “taking suffering into account” with “believing there is only suffering” or “believing that life is mostly suffering.” The fact that we have decided to take suffering into account when evaluating life and procreation does not mean that we ONLY take suffering into account.

    • Gomi November 2, 2011 at 21:26

      No, it’s because I think suffering is inherent in everything. So, unless you’re just going to turn around and kill yourself, there’s something out there that you think is worth suffering.

      Suffering can’t be avoided, at this scale. But you and I keep living for a reason. That reason is a subjective opinion that the suffering we experience on a daily basis (from stubbed toes to heartbreak to illness and pain) is somehow worth it.

      And if it’s worth it, then it’s not a reason to prevent the creation of future life. Suffering can never be avoided, so it must be accepted, to some degree. There’s a limit, but this establishes that simple existence isn’t necessarily that limit.

      So, is the suffering inherent in life so great that you’re suicidal, or is it something worth accepting for everything else life has to offer?

      Frankly, I think the problem I’m having is the near religious belief that the suffering of life is so bad, so horrible, that it becomes a reason to halt human procreation.

      • Francois Tremblay November 2, 2011 at 21:40

        “No, it’s because I think suffering is inherent in everything. So, unless you’re just going to turn around and kill yourself, there’s something out there that you think is worth suffering.”
        Suicide also creates suffering, you dumbass. How can you say such a dumb thing?

        “Suffering can’t be avoided, at this scale. But you and I keep living for a reason. That reason is a subjective opinion that the suffering we experience on a daily basis (from stubbed toes to heartbreak to illness and pain) is somehow worth it.”
        False. I don’t think it’s “worth it.” Worth what?
        I don’t kill myself because I have a vested interest in staying alive. But I don’t hold any illusion that this vested interest is nothing but biologically-ingrained bias. Suicide is a purely rational action, but we are not, and cannot be, purely rational beings.

        “And if it’s worth it, then it’s not a reason to prevent the creation of future life.”
        Again, you are acting as if this is a utilitarian issue. It is not, and I have explained many times why it isn’t, including to you on this very thread. Again, the balance of good and evil is not the issue here. You have a duty not to create suffering, but you have no duty to create pleasure.

        “Suffering can never be avoided, so it must be accepted, to some degree.”
        False. The fact that something is necessary for a given system does not mean we should accept it. The alternative is to reject the system in question. I reject the life-system, and you don’t. So what?

        “Frankly, I think the problem I’m having is the near religious belief that the suffering of life is so bad, so horrible, that it becomes a reason to halt human procreation.”
        Who said anything about it being so bad and so horrible? You obviously have not read any of the entries I wrote, especially the entry I wrote about the vast variety of arguments for antinatalism. NONE of these arguments are based on the quantity of suffering,

        Again and again you repeat the same fucking straw man. Read these entries or this conversation is over:

  3. peter cowen November 5, 2011 at 21:05

    WHOA? How on earth is suicide a perfectly rational action?

    There can be no logical justification of suicide that I can think of with all due respect.

    • Francois Tremblay November 6, 2011 at 00:07

      With all due respect, you are fucking insane. How insane do you have to be to believe that no amount of future suffering justifies suicide? Are you one of those cultists for life who refuse to kill even a mechanically-sustained corpse?

  4. Edwin Herdman November 6, 2011 at 01:13

    I think it is better to abstract the problem a bit:
    Imagine an android (or any other form of sentient being). What are some qualities we commonly ascribe to androids? They have logical capacity. They require energy, which may come in the form of solar energy. If meant to be self-sustaining, they have the ability to create or arbitrarily improve parts of their design so that they can autonomously sustain their movement.

    The parts that we do not know about androids, but can guess at: If androids need new parts, or to live for a long while, they can simply create a redundant part. If they wish to retain memories, they copy their data to a second (or third, or some arbitrary number) storage device. If they wish to sense dangerous conditions, they can do so – with a reflexive-like response time without resorting to the genetic, and sometimes misleading, construction of pain. They could construct lubricants out of living materials, and could theoretically keep enslaved animals for that purpose. But there is nothing saying they must do so.

    In all these speculations, we find that we can indeed imagine a form of life that does not suffer and does not increase suffering. It also does not therefore follow that artificial life-forms would not be able to understand suffering if they so choose, and so you might have the interesting dichotomy of artificial life-forms.

    The average philosopher might be tempted to immediately jump to the end case: Why would androids wish to keep living? There is also a constellation of related (and well-known) arguments that muddy the argument.

    I personally feel, though I cannot prove it, that movement by humans in this direction is a worthwhile cause, and one can even construct a genetic viability argument for it – types of neo-humans (or cyborgs, or robots – all may exist together alongside humans in the future) that do not feel pain represent another form of life. While interspecies competition is the usual angle raised, it should be remembered that Darwinian thought allows for interspecies cooperation towards the goal of survival – as there are no privileged types of lifeforms, having not only more diverse members of one species but also more diverse types of species is generally a Good Thing for the survival of life in all its forms (with one big exception which of course has not escaped you – when the life form appears relentlessly predatory, though in spite of the evidence I would point to evidence that humans are capable of concerted effort to the contrary).

    I would also argue that people base many of their beliefs on genetic assumptions – for example, that children bring happiness. Children may be a vector for happiness (to be funny) but they aren’t a necessary condition for happiness.

    More fundamentally, we believe that life is good, but one has to ask two questions: First, is there a reason for life, described as a state in which matter can appreciate itself, as opposed to being inert (and does that…matter)? This is a problem that androids, even if they are “kindler and gentler,” would still have to answer to their own satisfaction. If we assume that life is some kind of cosmic accident, and if we can avoid ascribing “goodness” or “badness” to cosmic futility, or a situation like entropy seeming to doom (though I would argue it actually doesn’t, it just would seem to make it overwhelmingly probable – with respect to quantum mechanics) any form of “life” to an eventual end.

    Secondly, is “life” actually a “good” or “bad” state? We could construct arbitrary scenarios where life, either our form or generally, somehow impairs the structure of the universe or of “privileged” forms of life (remembering that Darwin does not privilege any form of life, as all forms of adaptations can be understood as simply mutations, but one could nevertheless posit something strange and angel-like which does not obey these same restrictions except that we impair their chances at immortal existence, simply by existing).

    Is there an argument against life, generally? And on down the line it goes – the assumptions begin to fall apart when one wishes to find a foundation for specific human beliefs, because it seems that we are simply existing along the same lines as our ancestors did, except now from a slightly different vantage point in terms of leisure. Our wealth respective to that of our distant ancestors has not moved the indifference of the cosmos, if that is the true situation.

    I would like to stress, then, that any reason for supporting the argument for or against natalism seems to be one that is in fact based on more of the same hidden, almost opaque genetic assumptions that the others are based on; when we talk about “ethics” in this sense it is clear to me that we are not necessarily moving beyond simple assumptions about “goodness” and “badness.”

    I would like to go on record in stating that there is something of substance to Gomi’s insistence that “suffering is inherent in everything,” in the sense that even if one removes our intense conception of pain, and reduces it to just the possibility that even robots (ignoring souls for the moment) might be confronted with ultimate futility or an ultimate “heat death of the universe!” So far, however, there is merely the perception that this will happen, and I think that quantum mechanics allows a potential out, even assuming “entrapment” within our universe. This would appear to present the challenge of trying to prove a negative, in trying to prove that there is the possibility of not suffering while retaining life, if you accept (as I think there is good reason to) this extended definition of life as merely something that can appreciate the state of the cosmos and deliberate on itself (moving to Descartes’ fallback as well as the next step, if it helps to mention him without calling on him for support). So far, however, I think that it is a very real and intriguing possibility, and it would simply not be prudent to blindly assume that life entails suffering. We can look furthermore to the Greek Stoics for some support – even if there are some adverse situations in the world, true happiness could be said to come from not focusing on those adverse situations.

    Of course, this won’t be very interesting to some. However, I do think that the idea of creating diverse, sustainable forms of life that do not fall into many of the pitfalls Mr. Tremblay mentions is reason enough to support the creation of such lifeforms, if not to try to move ourselves (as human individuals) along such a path. I personally will likely stay “just” a person, as I feel that we will live on in as real a sense as any if only our ideas survive. And I cannot discount the very magnetic and natural draw that having offspring has for me – even if only a few.

    On record, I would like to note that the long-standing efforts which characterize the modern world to protect babies do indeed have many of the consequences that Mr. Tremblay mentions; Sarah Blaffer Hrdy’s “Mother Nature” chronicles many of these. From the seventeenth and eightteenth centuries, at least, the appearance of public institutions for supporting children has been expensive, has prolonged great suffering, has not been especially effective (in some of those institutions death rates were above 80 percent at times) and it is not demonstrated to provide societal benefits in the sense that these children appear, having been nearly abandoned, to have a strong disadvantage and so more apt to live a life of crime. One of the authors of the book Freakonomics has advocated a theory that there is a causal relationship between the appearance of birth control and the decline of crime in the United States – since children who would not have been supported by their parents would have gone on to become proportionately more disadvantaged and more apt to engage in crimes.

    Not much needs be said of the recent ill-considered, ill-fated effort to redefine personhood, as seen on the ballot in Mississippi. Unintended consequences will again reign here, and the effort may actually strengthen federal guarantees for abortion.

    As a final thought – I have been fascinated by the while that (as in the android example) one can not only posit a better state of affairs than exist now, but one can also imagine a world in which every thing that exists would be better than exists now, from the quality of a post to the straightness of a child’s teeth. And having more people instead of fewer definitely would seem to improve the chances of there being better and faster progress in the world. The problem, however, is not just that it would be naive to assume that the increased rates of progress are due to the exploding world population (I think that’s demonstrably false, especially as most of those people are born to poor families) but that the world cannot sustain all those people – the world is too small and too poor to serve as a universal library of all the world’s possible good things, since the number of good things could be thought of as infinite.

    On the other hand, I would like to leave by mentioning that there are some real and good reasons for having more children, as seen throughout history. The relationship between poverty and number of children is a positive one, in a numeric sense, because more children give more opportunities for life to succeed – when your children are all equally disadvantaged, and you are disadvantaged, not only do they provide more hands to help with the work; they also are more children to provide a successor.

    While I would agree that it is time for a rethinking, we cannot forget the tenacity of our forebears in surviving when most of our ancestors’ relatives died without children. Historically, high fecundity is the only thing that kept the species alive, as it does for every other species. As a general principle, I think it prudent not to fool around with successful methods unless there is a good reason for it (of course, there are many good reasons for rethinking this system, but they are basic ones).

    • Francois Tremblay November 6, 2011 at 01:21

      Thank you for posting a novel’s worth of beliefs, suppositions, feelings and hypotheticals. Is there anything you really want me to read in all this, or is it just for your enjoyment? You can get a blog and write entries like this, you know. You don’t need this blog.

    • Annie July 22, 2012 at 20:36

      On a farm without proper equipment, or in poor households, children are needed as “hands,” that is, as a workforce. But our society has advanced to the point where mostly people have the opportunity to make enough money on their own, and where children would only be a drain on their resources because of compulsory schooling (which, while it gives less opportunities to parents, gives more to the children and is therefore good). In our society, then, what is the justification for continuing to have children?

  5. Edwin Herdman November 6, 2011 at 11:59

    I’ll leave you to bask in the glow of your own unchallenged “beliefs, suppositions, feelings and hypotheticals,” then.

    p.s. Using a hypothetical is a necessary component of serious philosophy, else you artificially limit yourself to “real” alternatives which are just a subset of possible states, without seeing the broader picture, which is a trap you have fallen into here.

  6. kabinett November 10, 2011 at 22:48

    Please note however that WIC is only POSING as a sop to natalism.

    It is in fact government welfare for corporate agribusiness–a direct transfer of tax dollars to corporations who mark up food for profit.

    • Francois Tremblay November 11, 2011 at 01:06

      Sure, I agree, but how is WIC not a support of natalism as well?

  7. Theodore James Marcott January 9, 2012 at 13:03

    I see a possible inconsistency with the anti-natalist mindset. If I understand the premise, anti-natalists generally do not believe in dieties, nor any kind of afterlife. If it is the contention of anti-natalists, that souls or minds or beings come from oblivion only to end in oblivion, then the suffering (as well as the pleasures of life) would end in oblivion. If the consciousness mind and all of it’s experience ends in oblivion, then the suffering will be as if it had never existed at all. If I am correct in my interpretation of the belief system of anti-natalism, and the corresponding version of reality, then it would seem that whether or not people procreate, there would be little (if any) meaningful difference.

    • Francois Tremblay January 9, 2012 at 13:48

      Specifically which antinatalist argument or subset are you addressing?

    • Gomi January 9, 2012 at 14:55

      Things don’t need to be eternal to have meaning. Just because someone might believe there’s no afterlife or soul, doesn’t mean they can’t believe in meaning during the transience of life.

      Speaking as an atheist who doesn’t believe in afterlife or the soul (though not a natalist), the suffering in a person’s life has meaning within the context of their life. Just because that life ends discretely doesn’t mean that meaning never was.

    • Brian L December 30, 2014 at 19:39

      It’s fucking meaningful to me! I’m fifty years along, and it seems to be an eternity to me! Don’t you ever minimize my suffering by telling me it’s just a blip of consciousness that will evaporate when I return to oblivion! What was my fifty plus years of bullshit for? Nothing, you malignant fuck!

      I apologize for my language Francois, but Marcott is a fucking insensitive arsehole. And I never want to hear that bullshit again about anyone’s suffering being minimalized…. And yes, I realize this is an old post. But it’s new to me as a reader….

      • Francois Tremblay December 30, 2014 at 19:43

        I don’t care about “language,” but either way… I think it’s warranted in this case.

  8. […] Pro-abortion advocates see the other two positions as tyrannical, albeit for different reasons. The main difference is that, unlike the other positions, the pro-abortion position is most concerned with the harms brought about by childbirth, the creation of which is not only criminal, but dwarfs any other ethical concern. Compared to this, the harm of abortion, even considering the possibility of abortion being murder, is inconsequential. Also consider my past discussion of procreation as a form of slavery. […]

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