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.