The two antinatalisms.

Antinatalism as a visible movement is very, very new, so there’s bound to be disagreements on how the movement should proceed. The most prominent at the moment seems to be whether antinatalism should be an open or closed ideology. This clash must be resolved rationally if antinatalism is to have a future.

As you probably expect, I’ve taken a strong stance: I am decidedly on the “open” side. But I will try to be fair to both sides in defining their stances.

The “closed” side is composed of people who believe that antinatalism, being the ultimate solution, is therefore the only solution and (in more extreme cases) the only thing antinatalists should ever talk about. As far as I can tell, that’s pretty much the alpha and the omega of their argument. Talking about oppression, prejudice, unfairness, and so on, is pointless because we should concentrate solely on ending life. Anything that happens in between is not our problem and has no relevance to antinatalism or antinatalists, is a waste of time, is ridiculous, and so on.

This has the unfortunate consequence of making antinatalism a closed ideology, since no other ideology can possibly be relevant to it, can possibly inform our understanding of it, and antinatalism cannot possibly inform our understanding of anything else either.

The “open” side is composed of people who believe that antinatalism, while being a fundamental solution, is only one piece of the puzzle. While not necessarily taking only radical positions, they tend to take some other radical positions that complement antinatalism.

Radicalism is the position that there is something (or many things) fundamentally wrong with human societies. What this something is varies depending on the radical ideology you follow: it can be overt hierarchies (anarchism), religion and pseudo-scientific ways of thinking (New Atheism), the Patriarchy (radical feminism), the delusion of volition, or any other number of things. Radicals are anti-gradualists because any gradualist attempt to change society must necessarily take place in a system which possesses these flaws.

A “closed” advocate might reply that of course there’s something fundamentally wrong with human societies, but it doesn’t matter since human societies should not exist anyway. But such an answer misses the point.

For one thing, it’s obvious to me that natalism cannot be fully understood without the context provided by other radical ideologies, it does not exist and evolve in a vacuum. Therefore, in order to understand our enemies, we must first understand what’s wrong with society. I also think that antinatalism can inform our understanding of other ideologies, and vice-versa (I’ve been doing as much with my concept of how radicalism works).

For another, people are suffering right now because of neo-liberalism, the (in)justice system, religious oppression, the rape culture, and will continue to suffer up until the point of either voluntary or involuntary extinction of the human race. To refuse to talk about social change because you think it’ll never happen is one thing, but refusing to support ideologies which aim to relieve suffering because they don’t fit your narrow worldview is just moral perversity.

Of course one can always say that it’s not gonna happen. But the same thing could be said of antinatalism. So what? Antinatalism is still true even if it’s unrealizable (note: I am not saying it actually is unrealizable). So are the premises that underlie radical social change. So what if it never happens? Working towards it is still better than not doing so, or actively fighting against it, if only for the sake of individuals who could be relieved of suffering in the meantime.

This is not an unusual sort of dispute. It seems to me that all single-issue radicals have this same mindset of “my solution is the only solution” and bitch at all those who put forward other ideologies.

5 thoughts on “The two antinatalisms.

  1. anyasok May 24, 2013 at 21:44

    I assume by closed antinatalists you were referring to people like me.. which is fine really because its not a misinformed opinion at all. I have a separate blog where I put links to various videos about transhumanism and the resource based economy which I also mentioned to you before. To initiate ANY sort of global change, we need to get rid of work and money first and foremost.

    • Francois Tremblay May 24, 2013 at 21:52

      Then it sounds to me like you’re not a closed antinatalist.

      • anyasok May 24, 2013 at 21:54

        Perhaps not in a way you thought i was. Perhaps what clued you in were my constant reminders at the end of every post that everything needs to go back to nothingness whereas your posts don’t really end on that note as they’re normally self-contained pieces about a given subject.

        • Francois Tremblay May 24, 2013 at 21:55

          You weren’t on my mental list of people who disagree with me on this point, if that’s what you were thinking. I fully support pessimism (or nihilism, or whatever you want to call it).

  2. Brian L December 30, 2014 at 14:19

    I’m glad I read this article. I was wondering why you still cared about how or why society should move forward, but I see I am on the closed side of the coin, not believing humanity can improve. But at least now I understand where you are coming from, Francois. I wish I had your ‘ faith’, for lack of a better term…. Cheers, and best for the new year.

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