Adam Wallace of WCR arguing against antinatalism.

WCR is an alt-right (which generally means the American equivalent of neo-nazis) blog which discusses white nationalist issues and an armchair pseudo-philosophy that promotes elitism and hierarchy. Why in the hell would I go to such a place? Because Adam Wallace, one of the writers for that blog, has decided to debunk antinatalism, or at least, what he thinks antinatalism is.

Before his actual debunking, there is a considerable slew of quotes taken from the writings of some historical reactionaries and racists. I will waste no time analyzing that nonsense, as I am only interested in what he has to say about antinatalism. The analysis starts here:

The logical process for the antinatalist is this:

1. Having children is immoral because there is suffering existent in the world.
2. Subjecting someone — or even potentially subjecting someone — to suffering is bad.
3. This is because suffering is always bad.
4. Suffering is what pain induces; the longing for comfort or happiness.
5. Pain exists at the physical, mental and spiritual level.

I shudder to think what Wallace thinks a “logical process” is, because this is not a logical progression, just a disorganized list of points. The only thing in here that looks like an argument is point 1, but alone it makes little sense. You could make some kind of argument by combining points 1, 2 and 3, but it’s not an argument I’ve ever heard from antinatalists. It looks similar to some actual arguments (like the duty argument or the Asymmetry), but in itself it doesn’t make much sense.

Of these five points, the points that would be agreed upon by antinatalists would be points 2, 4 and 5. Point 1 is not logical because the existence of suffering, in itself, does not lead to the conclusion of antinatalism. Point 3 is an arbitrary statement: antinatalists do not necessarily believe that all suffering is bad (at least, based on Wallace’s idiosyncratic definition of “suffering”), merely that suffering only exists because of the existence of human needs.

So let’s start with point 1:

One could say, regarding this claim, that the opposite is true on exactly equal logical grounds. Not having children is immoral because there is happiness in the world, and the wilful (sic), conscious decision not to introduce this scenario to someone — the experience of pleasure, happiness, knowledge, et cetera — is bad.

Despite pretenses of this argument being “logical,” it makes no sense at all. If one does not have a child, who is harmed by the absence of pleasure, happiness, knowledge that this hypothetical child would have had? And if no one is harmed, then how can it be bad? Bad for who? Bad how? This is the extent of Wallace’s “explanation,” so no answer is given.

In the case of suffering, it is very clear who is harmed: the human being who exists and is subject to suffering. We have a moral duty not to inflict suffering on others, and bringing a new human being into this world means inflicting suffering on them. But we have no moral duty to give pleasure to others, therefore the existence of pleasure does not create any moral obligation on our part.

Now to point 2:

Always? Truly? Such a claim depends entirely upon why suffering is bad, which we will address in the next point. We can right now, however, address this notion that the very subjecting of another to something — suffering or no — is not always avoidable. Life has its ways of pushing situations into our experiences whether wanted — intended — or otherwise… The moments of conversation I suffered with a couple of antinatalists are indeed the fault of them for speaking to me and me for listening; but should, by their own logic, the antinatalists not even bothered trying to speak for me for fear of inducing my annoyance or discomfort at the event?

As I already pointed out, suffering (as defined by Wallace as the desire for comfort from pain) is not necessarily bad. However, one may note some hypocrisy on his part here: if he “suffers” so much from dialoguing about antinatalism, then why write an entire (mostly irrelevant) article about it?

That being said, we definitely agree that suffering is unavoidable, but that’s an argument for our side, so I’m not sure why he even brought it up. Perhaps this was a failed attempt at invoking the “life is suffering, so live with it” argument. But antinatalists have an easy answer to such rhetoric: don’t procreate and there’s no need for the suffering to exist. Whatever propaganda line Wallace wants to push about life is irrelevant because antinatalists are against life (a fact which seems to make the neo-nazi foam at the mouth every time he writes about it).

Point 3 is, as he wrote, connected to point 2, but it’s even more easily refuted:

No it is not. Suffering can be extremely valuable.

Of course suffering can be extremely valuable. No one is denying that fact. Antinatalists do not deny that fact, either. So what? Suffering can only be valuable for people who exist. It has no bearing whatsoever on the ethical status of procreation.

Antinatalists declare that suffering is a bad thing within the context of procreation: that a world in which there is less suffering is better than a world in which there is more suffering. From the point of view of a person who already exists, suffering can be very valuable indeed, but no one who exists can face the decision of existing or not existing.

On to point 4, which is basically a word-salad. If you don’t believe me, here is his full answer:

Indeed, but for what end? The antinatalists and other assorted pussies get to this point and claim “Ha! I’ve got you now, breeder scum!” (interesting definition…) without going forth with it. Suffering is a longing for another state, the desire for something else and that something else not yet being attained. It is a doing word, a verb, much like running or speaking. It requires context; a direction. It implies motion, moving, becoming, changing, evolving, mutating, transmuting, et cetera; in short, it implies the living — something is dead, by scientific measure, when the body ceases to change; when cells cease replacing themselves, when chemical reactions in the body which contribute to life such as the process of food digestion in the stomach and gut stop, or when neurons in the brain are no longer active. The physical life is a continuous process of change and moving from one thing to another — and not just on the microcosm of the individual body, but on the macrocosm of ecosystems and foodchains (sic) all over the world, or, to go further still, the ebb and flow of civilisations (sic) and cultures which rise and fall and violently clash with one-another in stunning displays of virility and force. Suffering, change, motion; all this is a part of life.

All of this nonsense to say: living things can suffer, dead things can’t. Great, but that doesn’t prove anything even remotely related to antinatalism. I can state obvious basic biological facts all day too, but that wouldn’t be related to antinatalism either. I could paste the entire Wikipedia entry for “biology,” and that wouldn’t disprove natalism any more than this word-salad disproves antinatalism.

One notes that Wallace outright states that he agrees with the premise in the very first word of his answer, so his answer is of absolutely no use in refuting the “logical process” he lists at the beginning of his analysis.

And finally, point 5:

Again; indeed. In fact pain exists, and it cannot cease to exist. And this is where the fundamental essence of the antinatalist position falls asunder…

To conceive of a world where there is zero suffering we must conceive of a world where there is no longing for differing emotional states. As long as we can consciously distinguish one emotional state from another there could potentially emerge a longing for this state or that. This fits the definition of mental or emotional suffering. In fact, if we are to exist in a world where there is no pain we would indeed have to be unconscious as to not experience anything at all, for if we could distinguish between one emotional state or another — or, further still — one day or another, we would of course introduce the potential of suffering.

I spared you the quote from a prominent proto-nazi that goes between these two parts, but I think the point is still clear: a world without suffering is basically impossible. Again, I fail to see how this is supposed to make some kind of point against antinatalism. The “fundamental essence” of the antinatalist position is that procreation is wrong, and no part of his argument concerns procreation. Antinatalists are not concerned with having a “world with zero suffering,” since such a thing is, as he rightly points out, impossible.

But even if there somehow was zero suffering in the world, antinatalism would not thereby be refuted or fulfilled, if only because two of the four branches of antinatalism, teleological and ecological, would still be completely true (I assume that Wallace, as a reactionary, is referring only to human suffering). Fundamentally, antinatalism is concerned with procreation, not with suffering, a point which he simply does not seem to understand.

26 thoughts on “Adam Wallace of WCR arguing against antinatalism.

  1. Aristocles Invictvs April 27, 2016 at 04:27 Reply

    I have read “The Conspiracy Against The Human Race” so I understand where you are coming from. However unless one defines “suffering” as unequivocally undesirable one cannot make a principled argument for anti-natalism. One can, as Wallace pointed out, argue for the exact opposite, that the denial of the procreative instinct is bad because it extinguishes all probability of happiness, joy, pleasure, i.e. one can quite simply reverse the terms from an anti-natalist position towards a pro-natalist one and the validity of the argument is not diminished. That one can do such a thing shows the weakness of the anti-natalist argument, it becomes merely a matter of personal taste and not a sound imperative towards any behaviour.

    • Francois Tremblay April 27, 2016 at 04:38 Reply

      “However unless one defines “suffering” as unequivocally undesirable one cannot make a principled argument for anti-natalism.”

      Again, antinatalism is about procreation, not suffering, especially not in the very narrow way defined by Wallace. Based on that definition, “suffering” is involved in exactly one antinatalist argument (the desirism argument) out of many. Hardly a refutation.

      “One can, as Wallace pointed out, argue for the exact opposite, that the denial of the procreative instinct is bad because it extinguishes all probability of happiness, joy, pleasure, i.e. one can quite simply reverse the terms from an anti-natalist position towards a pro-natalist one and the validity of the argument is not diminished.”

      I deny my own “procreative instinct,” and let me tell you, I experience plenty of joy and pleasure (with a 100% probability). Your argument is complete and absolute bollocks.

      By the way, funny story, there is no such thing as a “procreative instinct.” Only, in most people, sexual desire. I know you reactionaries want to go back to the past when men were manly warriors and women were lapdogs of the patriarchy, but sex does not HAVE to lead to procreation any more. Really nothing you can do about that one.

      “That one can do such a thing shows the weakness of the anti-natalist argument, it becomes merely a matter of personal taste and not a sound imperative towards any behaviour.”

      Again, you seem to misunderstand what antinatalism fundamentally is. It’s not an imperative, a personal taste, or a statement about suffering. It is the position that procreation is wrong. Why is that so hard for you neo-nazis to understand?

      • Aristocles Invictvs April 27, 2016 at 07:41 Reply

        The natural teleological function of sex is procreation full stop. Why must you always resort to ad hominem attacks? Did I call you any derogatory names?

        “I deny my own “procreative instinct,” and let me tell you, I experience plenty of joy and pleasure (with a 100% probability). Your argument is complete and absolute bollocks.”

        It seems you didn’t understand my point, we are talking about procreation, i.e. the creation of a child. So the point of “experiencing joy and pleasure” was applied to the yet-unborn potentiality called a child, and the argument of not having children is likewise applied to the yet to be realized child.

        “The position that procreation is wrong.”

        Too vague, it is rather the categorical imperative not to have children applied universally. It is tainted by Kantian (through Schopenhauer) philosophy and Christian/post-Christian moral positions. It is an inversion of the imperative of “Be plentiful and procreate”. It is a doctrine which only persons of European or Jewish heritage can be convinced by, as it evolved in that milieu.

        Zapffe’s position is untenable as it relies on a base materialism and biological reductionism, that men are slaves of their earth bound natures. Modern science has shown that certain human functions cannot be explained away by biology. Also the position that the emergence of consciousness was a fatal tragedy is a subjective opinion, not something which can be demonstratively proven. It relies on too much emotive language and melodramatic prose. You assume I don’t understand anti-natalism, yet I have most likely read all the same material you have. I simply have a broader education in philosophy to understand the flaws of the doctrine.

        • Simon April 27, 2016 at 11:31 Reply

          Hey, it’s Simon here. I’m the one responsible for anti-natalism and white nationalism “discovering” each other, and all the visceral mud-slinging that has ensued. It all began when I started posting comments on Adam’s blog, all of which were soon deleted as he frantically tried to erase all evidence of our exchange. Adam’s biggest problem is that he’s religious. Which specific faith or denomination is irrelevant; the point is (as it always is with religious people) that God can do no wrong. “Why, how dare you attempt to hold God accountable for all the gratuitous suffering and evil in the world?!” Indignation is their gut reaction, and they will always make excuses for God regarding the existence of evil, for they would rather have a malevolent God than no God at all. Such is the severity of their dependency. They will never condemn all suffering as gratuitous and unjustifiable, because to do so would be to condemn their God.

          I was a white nationalist for over five years, so I know the ins and outs of the ideology very well. I left the movement only because I was so convinced by anti-natalist arguments. I do not deny race, and I do not deny the existence of genetic inequality.

          The strength of anti-natalism lies in its astonishing ability to predict and energetically refute the counter-arguments of its opponents. This is also the greatest strength of atheism. There is only one flaw in anti-natalism, and that is the fact that nobody benefits from not being born. With this in mind, one is hard pressed to consider the philosophy philanthropically motivated. However, although this is a troublesome logical wrinkle, anti-natalism is 100% accurate in its raw appraisal of the human condition.

          When talking about a potential person, we acknowledge that yes, there may very well be joy in their lives, but we cannot know for certain. Suffering and misery and more intense and enduring than happiness and pleasure, which is another important fact to take into account. Also, I find it quite remarkable how quickly alt-righters will appeal to cognitive relativism – the domain of the dreaded SJW – in order to dodge the perfectly rational charge that suffering is both undesirable and unjustifiable.

          • Francois Tremblay April 27, 2016 at 15:14 Reply

            I can’t exactly blame you, but it would definitely have been better if it hadn’t happened. So far it seems the only people who bother to even cursorily address antinatalism are either right-wing extremists or outright crackpots. I suppose it gives us something to talk about, though.

            • Simon April 28, 2016 at 06:46 Reply

              Better if what hadn’t happened? You know, I must protest against you saying that anti-natalism is not about suffering, because it clearly is. Consider, for instance, if we were living in a world where there was no suffering, no misery, no death… what then would be your motivation to be an anti-natalist? There would be no reason to find life objectionable.

              Also, regarding the censorship of comments, I’m not sure it’s wise. I think deleting comments, especially those from Adam, makes us look as bad as him. Let them be seen, and let his stupidity be seen.

              • Francois Tremblay April 28, 2016 at 15:54 Reply

                “You know, I must protest against you saying that anti-natalism is not about suffering, because it clearly is.”

                They keep trying to argue that suffering is fundamental to antinatalism. It’s not. Fundamentally, antinatalism is about procreation, and there are antinatalists arguments which have nothing to do with suffering at all.

                That being said, is it an important part of it? Yes, of course. No one’s denying that. But saying that suffering is necessary and that we should just live with it is not a proper response to antinatalism.

                “Also, regarding the censorship of comments, I’m not sure it’s wise. I think deleting comments, especially those from Adam, makes us look as bad as him. Let them be seen, and let his stupidity be seen.”

                I think his own entry, and the comments on that entry, are more than enough to demonstrate how stupid and slavish he is. He doesn’t need any more help for that.

                The overlong quotes from proto-nazis and white supremacists in his entry are very telling. It’s a complete follower mentality. Having an original thought is dangerous, after all.

                • Simon April 29, 2016 at 06:08

                  No disrespect, but that doesn’t answer my question, which was, if we were living in a world where there was no suffering, no misery, no death… what then would be your motivation to be an anti-natalist?

                  Comments on that article are getting worse and worse. They’re hacking at the roots of utilitarianism now. Alas, the dreaded word “arbitrary” has been deployed. Don’t these fools know, the minute you describe one thing as arbitrary, you’ve opened the floodgates? Soon enough everything becomes arbitrary! It’s amazing how quickly the alt-righters, when pushed into a corner, will adopt the tactics of SJWs.

              • Francois Tremblay April 29, 2016 at 14:48 Reply

                I didn’t know there was no death, either. The hypothetical is just even more outlandish. I mean, we might as well posit a world where procreation is good and be done with it. The problem is that we don’t live in such a world.

                • Simon April 29, 2016 at 15:25

                  I realise that, but the point I’ve made is that anti-natalism is inseparable from one’s objection to suffering.

                  I think it is of paramount importance now for anti-natalists to address the issue of the neutrality of non-existence. Non-existence cannot be better than being alive, since there is no one for it to be better for. So then it is neutral… but for whom is it neutral? The non-existent entity cannot judge this neutrality as being better. Only we existing people can, and this is logically problematic, for reasons which I hope are obvious to all.

              • Francois Tremblay April 29, 2016 at 15:32 Reply

                The Asymmetry is a comparison between two states of affairs, not between two people.

                • Simon April 30, 2016 at 03:06

                  I don’t see how that answer solves the problem. Can you explain in more detail?

              • Francois Tremblay April 30, 2016 at 03:35 Reply

                It’s not complicated. You said:

                “Non-existence cannot be better than being alive, since there is no one for it to be better for.”

                Which assumes that we’re comparing two people. But we’re not. We’re comparing two states of affairs. The fact that there is “no one for it to be better for” is not relevant.

                BTW, when the thread get this long and I can’t reply to your comments, start a new thread. It’s a lot harder to follow properly right now.

                • Simon April 30, 2016 at 11:13

                  Two different states of affairs, but the whole reason we’re even discussing these states of affairs is because someone would be experiencing them. That is the only thing that makes them relevant and ultimately worthy of discussion. A gigantic meteorite hitting an uninhabited planet far, far away and utterly destroying it could be described as a “state of affairs”, but because there is no one for whom this scenario would be good or bad, it cannot be judged either way. Also, non-existence is not a state of affairs. On the contrary, it’s not even a state at all.

              • Francois Tremblay April 30, 2016 at 14:32 Reply

                You seem to still think in terms of persons, not states of affairs. It does not matter if anyone exists or not for you to evaluate a state of affairs. Likewise, people evaluate the possibility of committing suicide, even if they would not exist in one state of affairs. They’re not comparing people, either.

                • Simon May 1, 2016 at 15:30

                  Sorry but I’m still not content with that answer. Maybe it’s me not understanding, or maybe it’s you. I don’t know. Do you think you could put together an article on it?

                  One more thing. When we say that life is an imposition, who is it we are imposing life on? It implies that a person and their life are two separate things, which they obviously are not.

              • Francois Tremblay May 1, 2016 at 15:43 Reply

                “Sorry but I’m still not content with that answer. Maybe it’s me not understanding, or maybe it’s you. I don’t know. Do you think you could put together an article on it?”

                I don’t see what you don’t understand about this. There’s really not much to explain: the asymmetry is not about comparing two people, but about comparing two states of the world, like a suicide would. What is there more to understand?

                “One more thing. When we say that life is an imposition, who is it we are imposing life on? It implies that a person and their life are two separate things, which they obviously are not.”

                On the future person. The future person is not yet existent. Once you bring it into this world, you’ve imposed a lifespan on them.

                Now stop adding to this thread, as I’ve asked you before. If you want to keep going, start a new thread.

        • Francois Tremblay April 27, 2016 at 15:12 Reply

          “The natural teleological function of sex is procreation full stop.”

          No… that’s definitely bullshit. The sources of sexual pleasure (I will spare your delicate sensibilities and not mention the body parts), and women’s libido peaking at 40, makes it very clear that procreation is at best a secondary role.

          “Why must you always resort to ad hominem attacks? Did I call you any derogatory names?”

          Calm down buddy. I usually don’t even publish comments from my ideological enemies. Wallace tried to have a comment published on here, and I just flushed it. Given what he thinks about us (that we’re worms, vermin, evil, etc), I have no intention of talking to him further or giving him any of my space.

          “It seems you didn’t understand my point, we are talking about procreation, i.e. the creation of a child.”

          I did understand your point, since that’s precisely what I was talking about. It’s still bullshit.

          “So the point of “experiencing joy and pleasure” was applied to the yet-unborn potentiality called a child,”

          Fetuses are unconscious in the womb, they don’t experience anything. And if you’re trying to make the same argument that Wallace made in his entry, well, I already debunked it in my response, which is why I’m not gonna bother repeating it again.

          “Too vague, it is rather the categorical imperative not to have children applied universally.”

          Oh so you know what antinatalism is more than antinatalists do. And I should listen to your refutation of your make-believe version of antinatalism because…?

          “Zapffe’s position is untenable as it relies on a base materialism and biological reductionism, that men are slaves of their earth bound natures.”

          Antinatalism has nothing to do with reductionism.

          ” You assume I don’t understand anti-natalism, yet I have most likely read all the same material you have.”

          Maybe you have, but you’re such an arrogant asshole that you think you can tell us what we believe, instead of accepting our definition and arguments. This is not a discussion we’re having, this is you tilting at straw men. There is no point to continuing this.

          Either accept that we know what we believe in, or get the fuck outta here, because I am not interested in debating straw men.

  2. Simon May 2, 2016 at 05:29 Reply

    Yes but they have to pre-exist beforehand in order for anything to be imposed on them. You cannot impose life on nothingness. Regarding suicide, that’s problematic, because nobody benefits from suicide. You keep saying it’s about states of affairs instead of persons, but I really don’t understand that distinction.

    • Francois Tremblay May 2, 2016 at 06:37 Reply

      “Yes but they have to pre-exist beforehand in order for anything to be imposed on them. You cannot impose life on nothingness.”

      A future person is not nothing.

      “Regarding suicide, that’s problematic, because nobody benefits from suicide. ”

      That’s your opinion. I really couldn’t care less about it.

      “You keep saying it’s about states of affairs instead of persons, but I really don’t understand that distinction.”

      You don’t understand the difference between a person and a state of affairs? Okay. I’m not sure how to help you there. Maybe it’s a language issue. I would advise you to ask people who speak your first language to explain it to you.

      • Simon May 2, 2016 at 08:06 Reply

        We have to use the phrase “potential person” in order to make our point, but you know as well as I do that there is no such thing as a potential person. It is an abstraction.

        It’s not my opinion. Once someone has committed suicide, they no longer exist, so they cannot benefit from no longer existing. There is no respite for them.

        • Francois Tremblay May 2, 2016 at 14:57 Reply

          “We have to use the phrase “potential person” in order to make our point, but you know as well as I do that there is no such thing as a potential person. It is an abstraction.”

          No, it is a real thing. A fetus, for example, is a potential person. Some material entity, or precursor thereof, which will eventually become a person. It is not nothing. Therefore it cannot be equated with nothing.

          “It’s not my opinion. Once someone has committed suicide, they no longer exist, so they cannot benefit from no longer existing. There is no respite for them.”

          You’re a fucking idiot if you think people commit suicide so they can benefit while not existing.

          • Simon May 3, 2016 at 03:28 Reply

            You could be talking about a fetus, but you could also be talking about a prospective person who does not even exist in any physical form yet. The number of potential people is theoretically infinite.

            No need to get nasty. When someone takes their own life, their pain ends, but so do they. They do not experience any relief. So yes, I am left wondering whether suicide accomplishes anything.

            • Francois Tremblay May 3, 2016 at 03:40 Reply

              I’m not “getting nasty.” There seems to be a lot of things which are obvious to everyone but that you don’t understand at all. Sorry, but you’re a fucking idiot. Many fucking idiots have led long and productive lives. Just look at Donald Trump.

              • Simon May 3, 2016 at 05:22 Reply

                Yes you are, because instead of explaining answers to me, you are calling me names. Please remember that you are talking to a fellow anti-natalist here.

                • Francois Tremblay May 3, 2016 at 05:35

                  I already tried to explain basic concepts to you, but it didn’t work. There’s not much else I can do. Sorry.

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