Another common accusation against antinatalists is that we’re just too damn demanding. We’re frustrated because we demand a “perfect life,” all shiny and bright, and because we can’t have it, we just want to throw a fit, take our toys, and leave this planet forever.
Well, this is a very silly argument. We are not frustrated at all, and we don’t want a “perfect life.” A “perfect life” would be pointless anyway; a life without needs or suffering is a life without pleasure, and a life without needs, suffering or pleasure is not any more different from no life at all. You might as well be a plant.
Antinatalism has nothing to do with how good life is. The pleasures of life, however good they are, cannot be an argument for creating new human lives, because potential lives cannot be deprived of any pleasure anyway.
We look at the facts of life and draw logical conclusions from them. We don’t require anything or demand anything from reality. It is the natalists, by creating human lives, who are requiring reality to conform to their desires for their children. They cry and bitch when life deals a horrid fate to their children, as if they were owned a “perfect life” for their children just because they were dumb enough to take the risk of bringing that child into the world. Instead of admitting that they took a terrible risk and met with failure, they want us to feel sorry for them; but I feel no more sorry than I would for a drunk driver who runs over three people and ends up in jail.
Same for the life-system. It’s impossible for something made by an unintelligent process to be efficient, let alone “perfect.” That much should be obvious. Demanding otherwise would be like praying for something illogical. I don’t do that sort of thing. Evolution is what it is.
Some antinatalists, including myself, may use the pinprick hypothetical. If all the harm one ever encountered in the world was the equivalent of one pinprick, then there would be no reason not to allow this game to continue. It would still be a stupid, pointless, zero-sum game, but at such a low cost it would seem silly to object.
Natalists have used this to argue that we are whining that life is too harmful and that we actually want harm to be a pinprick. But this is nonsense. We don’t demand that harm be a pinprick. Such a demand would be fantastic to the extreme, given the facts about evolution and the life-system. No, I make no such demands.
The gist of this argument, I think, is that natalists are trying to portray us as whiners whose sole aim is to whine about how much suffering there is, and how we have these incredible, unreasonable demands on what reality should be. But this is just bullshit. Our aim is not to whine about how much suffering there is, but to examine the logical consequences of the facts about suffering. We make no demands on what reality should be. The fact that we draw conclusions based on a negative aspect of reality doesn’t mean we want reality to be otherwise. The physicist who makes observations about black holes doesn’t wish for a reality where the universe has no black holes. That’s just a waste of time.
A related argument is the “but harm is a necessary part of life!” argument (by “life” here I assume they mean the life-system). This seems to suffer from what I call the fallacy of misplaced conclusion. What the natalists implicitly want you to think is “harm is a necessary part of the life-system, therefore we have to accept harm”; but the more rational conclusion would rather be “harm is a necessary part of the life-system, therefore down with the life-system.”
Anyway, acceptance of the fact that “harm is a necessary part of the life-system” entails three different attitudes:
(a) We should passively accept all harm.
(b) We should seek to reduce harm.
(c) We should stop perpetuating the life-system.
(a) is pretty much a non-starter, and few people actually take it seriously. (b) is the most popular answer. But (b) without (c) is a never-ending treadmill: if we keep reducing harm in existing human lives, but there keeps being more and more human lives started, we are helping some people at a time but ultimately never getting anywhere regarding the total of harm in the world. So (b) alone can’t be a good solution if we’re actually trying to solve the problem of harm.
It’s common for the natalists to say that we antinatalists don’t care about reducing harm, that we only care about ending the life-system. Let me state clearly that this is a lie. I do not know of any antinatalist who is not interested in reducing harm. One of the primary topics of this blog is Anarchism, which is nothing more than the attempt to reduce harm through socio-political means. It would make no sense for people who are concerned with harm to refuse to reduce harm! This is why most antinatalists preach the end of the consumption of meat, the end of some of our petty addictions, the end of the exploitation of human beings, and most importantly, the end of procreation.
Which brings me to the only really valid antinatalist solution, (b) and (c). Not only must we alleviate people’s suffering, but we must also start narrowing the margins of suffering itself. (b) is about the short term, and (c) is about the long term. To be concerned only with the short term, or only with the long term, indicates that one is not really concerned with helping to end suffering (such as any antinatalist who preaches against Anarchism, which betrays a real lack of concern for suffering in the here and now in the name of an indeterminate future).
Every premise we start from has to be about helping human lives. We cannot argue that pleasure or harm are in themselves rights and wrongs, but rather that pleasure or harm are right or wrong because they affect living human beings. The goal is not to create happy people so we can keep increasing the raw amount of happiness (but also raise the raw amount of suffering), but to make existing people happy, to palliate their negative experiences and sustain their positive experiences.