The graph which forms the basis of this entry.
I decided to write this entry based on observations about advocates of various radical ideologies. We tend to be very insular. With the exception of anti-capitalism, there isn’t really any cause that is widely embraced: we usually keep to our one hierarchy and promote destroying it as the one solution.
I hope that writing about many different positions on this blog has spared me this attitude. I have spent a great deal of time writing about at least five of these. My objective here is not to change anyone’s mind but for me to explain my reasoning on why I think these issues are connected.
I have previously described the connection between antinatalism and radical feminism, and between antinatalism and the pro-abortion position. I have also touched on various other connections, but not in a systemic way. In this entry, I want to make more explicit what I see as the various connections between the radical ideologies I’ve written about on this blog.
I admit the nature and number of connections is more or less arbitrary; each position could be subdivided or expanded as desired. I tried to use the concepts and labels that are most used. The one exception is my replacement of the word “anarchism” with “self-government,” as I thought it was more descriptive and more fitting to what anarchism actually is about. Anarchism is supposed to be an ideology against all hierarchies, but anarchists generally seem to have little concern with actually abolishing all hierarchies (religion, government, capitalism… eh, let’s call it a day), as many feminists have learned in their attempts to join anarchist movements.
These ideologies I’ve put on the graph are all radical ideologies, but I haven’t really defined what that means. To me, an ideology is radical if it follows the following principles:
1. It offers a systemic analysis of an issue, showing its structure and cause/effect relationships.
2. It strikes at the root of some issue, identifies a hierarchy or other basic source generating the problems about that issue.
3. It presents a solution: debunking the false beliefs generated by the identified source, presenting the truths that result from the systemic analysis, acting in accordance with those truths.
As a result, these ideologies generally present us with a view of what’s right and what’s wrong. In general, coercion is wrong and freedom is right, hierarchies are wrong and egalitarianism is right, dogma is wrong and critical thinking is right, and so on.
The specifics of course vary depending on the issue addressed, but there is definitely a radicalist mindset. I know that if I talk to a radical, I will tend to be on a similar wavelength, and if I talk to a liberal (I don’t talk to conservatives so don’t even think about it), we’re unlikely to see eye to eye ethically or politically.
In contrast, a “moderate” or mainstream ideology usually follow these principles:
1. It offers an individualized analysis of an issue, reducing everything to agency, consent, and other individual-centric concepts.
2. It offers a superficial analysis which relies on popular beliefs, assumptions, political narratives, etc.
3. It presents a solution which entails working within the system to effect change, without challenging any fundamental premise of that system.
The general ethical corollary to these ideologies is that there’s no such thing as objective right and wrong and that moral evaluations are inherently subjective and arrogant. The whole “values are passé” attitude should probably partially be blamed on post-modernism, but either way it’s a very convenient position for a “moderate” ideology to take. Religious or other dogmatic ideologies hide their subjectivism behind a veneer of idealistic certainty.
So let me go through every connection, giving what I think is the justification for each of them. Keep in mind that these connections do not describe the ideologies in their entirety (e.g. there’s a lot more to children’s rights than just the consequences of procreation).
I also want to point out beforehand that I am not stating every advocate of one side must necessarily be an advocate of the other; I’m making a statement about what I think are the causal relations between them. If you disagree, that’s fine, although I would welcome further comments.
For those wondering, I didn’t include anti-racism because I know very little about race theory (although I do intend to remedy that lacuna).
antinatalism / children’s rights: Antinatalists are concerned not only with procreation being wrong, but also to the deleterious effects of procreation. Natalists hold, for the most part, that procreation is always permissible no matter the consequences to the resulting child. This is an attack on human rights, made acceptable only because it is made against children.
antinatalism / pro-abortion: This connection, I think, is pretty obvious: if one believes that procreation is wrong then abortion, as a means to prevent procreation, is not only permissible but desirable. Contraception is very fallible, and discouraging PIV is unlikely to be successful in a pornography-driven society.
antinatalism / radical feminism: I’ve written about this before. My basic point here is that natalism subsists on the back of women, and natalist arguments always assume (mostly by omission) the exploitation of women’s bodies and labor. Therefore a radical feminist approach, in standing against this assumption, debunks the natalist position and provides justification for antinatalism.
Furthermore, studies have shown that the reduction of harm to women entails lower reproductive rates, because a lot of procreation, especially in countries where genderism is more prevalent, is driven by male entitlement to PIV and the validation of having children.
antinatalism / radical environmentalism: One line of reasoning on procreation being wrong is that humans, for whatever reason, can’t create a liveable environment: crime, poverty, corruption and war seem to be constants of “human civilization.” Environmental destruction and degradation is an increasingly important part of that. Humans are making this planet unliveable and are bringing about the conditions of their own destruction. The dominant economic system does not take into account the well-being of future generations.
So it’s wrong to bring new people into this world when they may very well think this world is not good enough to be born into. Furthermore, it’s been demonstrated that the very worst thing any person can do to attack the environment is to have children: given that fact, it’s hard to understand why anyone committed to the environment would choose to have children or would consider procreation anything but ethically wrong (if not universally, then at least right now).
radical feminism / radical environmentalism: Feminism and environmentalism have a connection in that they are both concerned with the Other: women as objectified, natural life as objectified, women and natural life as targets of exploitation. In fact, women are sometimes objectified by being associated with natural life. But most important is the theoretical framework which underlies both patriarchal exploitation and capitalist exploitation. It’s no coincidence that they use the same language to speak of both (rape, pillage, destroy) and the same arguments of necessity and natural superiority.
radical feminism / anti-capitalism: I have not met any radical feminist who isn’t anti-capitalism, and for good reason: inherent in capitalism’s “may the strongest win” ideology is the perpetuation of structural inequality, women being one of those groups which has always been made unequal. It is impossible to “reform” capitalism because it will always seek to exploit the weaker elements of society: if it’s not women or POC, it’ll be somebody else.
radical environmentalism / anti-capitalism: I think this is a no-brainer, since it is the rise of industrial capitalism which has led to the current environmental crisis. The capitalistic ideology of “expanding at all costs” combined with globalization inevitably leads to environmental destruction on a worldwide scale. To the radical environmentalist, all life is inherently valuable, or at least there’s no reasonable criterion by which we could separate “valuable” from “non-valuable” life; to the entrepreneur, life is only valuable if it can be turned into a resource, which means the destruction, pillage, suffocation of nature.
anti-capitalism / determinism: The rejection of the free will/choice/agency doctrine and the acceptance of determinism implies a number of things about ethics. The most important change is that there is no place for blame in a deterministic worldview. This means that the justification of capitalist inequality through blame becomes indefensible, and ultimately it seems to me that all defenses of inequality reduce themselves to some form of blame (“people get what they deserve,” “they should work harder,” “they were born in the wrong country,” “some of us are born better than others,” and so on). If I am correct in my position that determinism is profoundly anti-inequality, then it is highly incompatible with capitalism.
Another area where eliminating blame entails a great deal of ethical change is our confrontational justice system based on revenge. From a deterministic standpoint, revenge, while a natural human emotion, has no place whatsoever in public policy. The confrontational nature of the justice system is what makes it favor corporations and the power elite over the rights of the individuals.
anti-capitalism / self-government: Another no-brainer there I think, as self-government is by definition the antithesis of all hierarchies, including capital-democracy. Self-government basically means that decision-making and management are made by the individuals concerned by those decisions and management, and decisions are taken in a small-scale, direct and egalitarian way. Every single principle of self-government contradicts representative democracy, workplace hierarchies, public education, the legal system, and so on.