(image from the Punk Chevron gallery)
This is perhaps the most bizarre argument against antinatalism that I’ve seen. Even more bizarrely, it’s actually pretty popular. Here is an example of its use:
In practical terms a voluntary antinatalist plan of action is a practice in dysgenics – as those most concerned about the human condition are the ones who cease to breed by their own choice. Fuck, even Ted Kazynzki understood this when he urged those who opposed continued growth of the human population to breed as much as practical.
Those of you who remember this entry of mine will realize that this is another instance of gradualist lunacy. Antinatalists, who believe that having children is evil, are asked to have children in order to try to change the system from within. This is a hard slap in the face to anyone who is honest in eir antinatalist beliefs. It is about as profoundly insulting as asking an anti-abortion protestor to become an abortion doctor so ey can try to change the system from within. I don’t think it is unkind to call this attitude pure lunacy.
That aside, how would that even work? How could you “oppose continued growth” by “breed[ing] as much as practical”? Both sides of the proposition are exact opposites. Does one oppose the government by voluntarily paying more taxes? Does one oppose abortion by knifing pregnant women in the street? This is a ridiculous contradiction. Is any scientific study going to come out proving that higher population growth rates are correlated with future lower population growth rates? That’s a preposterous belief, if that’s really what they believe.
The most important point, however, is that child indoctrination is no longer the way by which information propagates, and hasn’t been for centuries. I don’t know why people still believe this to be the case. It is true that if a child is indoctrinated, there is a good chance that ey will retain these beliefs as ey grows up. The effects of this indoctrination vary wildly depending on the social context: in today’s Western societies, religious indoctrination is failing more and more rapidly.
Apart from the fact that indoctrination is a vicious attack on the rights of children which no antinatalist would take part in, it is clearly not the only means by which ideas propagate. Otherwise there would be no antinatalists today! Obviously, no antinatalist living today became so by inheriting it from their parents. So why should we expect that antinatalists will never become antinatalists except if their parents are? This is not even the case today, and there is no particular reason to believe that this trend will reverse in the foreseeable future.
Likewise, there have always been Buddhist monks, even though no one, by logical necessity, was born to a Buddhist monk. So the desire to become a Buddhist monk does not come from childhood indoctrination either. Same thing for childfree families in general; the person who thinks this argument is convincing has to explain why the concept of childfreedom is currently booming. Did all these childfree people come from childfree parents? Give me a break.
This childish account of idea propagation also presents a profound logical problem. If ideas are adopted on the basis of childhood indoctrination, then how could new ideas start? Obviously they could not be the result of childhood indoctrination, as no parent would, at least at the beginning, believe in them. So logically, no new idea could possibly ever arise. This is obviously nonsense. If new ideas could be “bred out,” then they would never have existed. Antinatalism would have never existed. And yet clearly it does.
Apparently the mentally retarded who use this argument think we live in a world with no Internet, no books, no newspapers, no television, and no one has any friends with different opinions on anything. They think that once we believe something as a child, we never, ever change our minds.
There is one area where ideas are still mostly based on indoctrination, and that’s religion. But antinatalism is not a religion, and is not even on the religious radar. Furthermore, even in the area of religion, childhood indoctrination is less and less effective compared to other methods (you know what they say: first you’re a Christian, then you go to college). But this would be all the more true for antinatalism; children notoriously rebel against attempts to indoctrinate them to out-norm ideas, and antinatalism is definitely out-norm. Relying solely on parental indoctrination would indeed result in antinatalism being “bred out.”
People don’t become antinatalists on the basis of their childhood indoctrination. How they do become antinatalists is actually pretty varied. Some people say that they became antinatalists (without knowing the word, of course) very early in life. Most have become antinatalists in the past years, some due to the rise of antinatalist discourse on Youtube, some due to the books published on the topic.
In all cases that I know, the person arrived at the position by careful consideration of their own observations or the observations of others. No one I know became an antinatalist on the basis of their parents’ say-so, or that of any other person in a position of authority. And indeed, how could anyone become an antinatalists on their parents’ say-so? They would surely realize, after a certain age, the hypocrisy and cruelty of their own parents advocating antinatalism. So how could that possibly work?