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Moderated by: Weird Occurance Lord Denida

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Antinatalism and promortalism

Posted 2 Weeks ago by Grey Echelon

I don't know if this is is required to be in hot takes but I'd prefer it here regardless for multiple reasons. I guess move it there if it needs to be there. I'm not just not looking for a debate or I don't think that this may cause debate despite the weird, or questionable nature of it. At least not here but I could be wrong. We got a disclaimer system here too anyway so I barely see the point. Especially since one of these topics have been brought up before and supported by a rather controversial figure and it hasn't specifically.

Anyway. Since these are obscure topics, especially the latter I think I should provide some basic definitions for these. And also while they may be lumped together by some or the latter wants to piggyback off of the former, they are not the same and in fact the antinatalist subreddit outright rejects their attempts and seek a more positive if not even life-affirming approach. I don't use reddit much but I looked at the antinatalist subreddit (among others) because it sometimes interests me and sorta fell down a rabbithole. And while "promortalism" seems to be a term invented by obscure communities I think it's sort of a useful term for some things.

Antinatalism: Essentially, this assigns a negative value to birth and sees it as morally wrong even in contrast to natalism, which is more birth is good. The reasons for this are many, and anyone curious I'd encourage to look deeper into it. It has a lot of negative associations, but I don't think it's an inherently bad idea at all. I don't consider myself an antinatalist per se, but I do sympathize and I don't intend to ever have offspring if possible. There are some associations with racism and eugenics people make, but I feel like people are overreacting and those are the bad eggs, and while antinatalism may not be the best idea itself, it certainly isn't inherently tied to those things and I do believe a lot of people who take it up as their own idea want the best for everyone, not just to indirectly kill off the weak or races they don't like subtly. If those things could be attributed to antinatalism in general, honestly I think they could be applied to abortion in general as well which I think is stupid of course.

Promortalism: taken from their community "is the philosophical position that for any sentient being, it is always better to cease to exist." and they also support "right to die" which is basically, people are allowed to end their life or undergo voluntary euthanasia if they so choose and "right to die" also seems to be supported for a variety of reasons, however some self-proclaimed "promortalists" take it a lot further but I'll get into that later.

And also one more because I think it's relevant since it only focuses on humans

Voluntary human extinction movement and related ideas: this is basically the description of promortalism but only applied to humans. This also has nothing inherently to do with antinatalism, but is often lumped in too.

Anyway, while antinatalism is of course rooted in pessimism, many try to work with it constructively, for example they won't go around saying "we should all die we'd be better off" and such, instead they often want to make the best of it and reduce suffer as much as possible, and that is the goal of antinatalism ultimately: to reduce suffering. Antinatalism is about ending the problem BEFORE it starts. And of course, there are also many people who end up enjoying life and many antinatalists are of course aware of this, but the view is that if many others are only born into suffering is it not at least considerable to raise awareness to that possibility and might it even be worth putting a stop to it? Especially with so many things wrong with the world today that will likely only get much worse in the future, many see it as irresponsible. However, this doesn't mean that antinatalism is supposed to be enforced or that it's supposed to take people's choice away to have birth, far from it often. While yes, the idea can used for that it is not inherently that at all. Many just think that people should be educated for why it's a good idea and that it should be their own choice and no one elses. And again, I sympathize with this because I often think about what if I was never born? And would I be experiencing all the negative I do now even if it's on and off and I enjoy life other times and is it necessarily worth that? And because I can't turn back the clock and ensure I was never born. And in not wanting to have offspring, I suppose I am practicing antinatalism. Though, I'm not sure I subscribe to it as a general idea necessarily either because I'm not sure it's all a moral bad. Honestly? I kind of lean that way but not inherently. The endgoal does NOT just seem to be erasing all life contrary to popular belief.

And as for promortalism... this I can also sort of understand... to an extent. I do at least sometimes think in some situations all life has the potential for suffering and may be brought into something they didn't ask for, sometimes it is rather apparent with animals too. If someone chooses to end it, if they're sure that's the only way maybe it's not necessarily bad. My concern there is when someone may be convinced into it. However, the problem comes in when these people are start taking up violent ideas or possibly when they think that all life should cease to exist at once, suddenly and painlessly. The random violence idea is stupid and bad. While I sometimes sympathize with the idea that non-existence and thus everything ceasing to exist suddenly and painlessly is ideal, I do have a lot of issues with it, such as people and animals aren't choosing that themselves. And also at the rate we're going climate change may eventually do that anyway and we should probably be trying to mitigate climate change regardless anyway, not the alternative because it's going to be real hell before everyone just dies. So ultimately, promortalism regardless realistically has less merit and may be more prone to unneeded harm and suffering, which kind of ruins the point.

As for voluntary human extinction movement and similar, pretty much the above applies except I think these people actually tend to be better intentioned. less bad applies. I sympathize with these more than promortalism.

So what do you all think? is there any possible merit in these ideas? I think at the very least antinatalism some merit.

There are 39 Replies


I am an absurdist and I have a different moral foundation than these people, so no, I don't think they have any inherent merit.

2 Weeks ago
galbraith

I think at the very least antinatalism some merit.


I think not wanting kids is a valid choice that women / couples shouldn't be penalized for, but disagree that birth is inherently bad.

I understand promortalism makes a lot more sense.
Having a choice like that as a rational adult - capable of perceiving impact, consequences, and suffering - makes sense to me.
But then again, I'm a pretty huge proponent of individual autonomy in most cases.

¤¤♅êîrÐ Øccu®@n瀤¤

2 Weeks ago
Weird Occurance

I am an absurdist and I have a different moral foundation than these people, so no, I don't think they have any inherent merit.

What moral foundation contradicts it exactly?

I understand promortalism makes a lot more sense.

I feel that sometimes. Though I personally think antinatalism has less... moral questions I guess.

2 Weeks ago
Grey Echelon

Though I personally think antinatalism has less... moral questions I guess.


How does it? I mean, I guess if it's the concept of "don't have kids; the earth is already overpopulated" I can see some iota of logic in it, but other than that, the idea of having a child doesn't seem inherently wrong.

¤¤♅êîrÐ Øccu®@n瀤¤

2 Weeks ago
Weird Occurance

How does it? I mean, I guess if it's the concept of "don't have kids; the earth is already overpopulated" I can see some iota of logic in it, but other than that, the idea of having a child doesn't seem inherently wrong.

Well overpopulation doesn't inherently have anything to do with antinatalism either, but I suppose it can overlap too. And I mean like someone offing themselves may raise questions about if someone convinced them, if they could have turned things around and generally devastates people more than someone not being born. Someone not being born, generally does less damage.

2 Weeks ago
Grey Echelon

What moral foundation contradicts it exactly?


I presuppose human wellbeing as a foundational value for moral judgement. This is not the only way I might evaluate a moral question, but the other values I might use are highly correlated (human flourishing, human harm reduction, human freedom, etc.)

I would be careful using the term "contradiction"; that's not what I said. I suppose that there can and will be a contradiction between my moral foundation and whatever moral foundation ends up at antinatalism, but we have not determined it yet.

What I meant is that whatever values result in antinatalism are not necessarily correlated with the values that I have concluded are the best foundation for morality.

In your OP, you said:

is there any possible merit in these ideas?


I changed this to "inherent merit". I did this because even some of the most evil moral foundations can coincidentally result in a action that would be justifiable in my moral system. For example, the killing of a violent murderer who is currently advancing on a defenseless family. Killing the murderer to defend the family and killing the murderer because, for example, the actor worships death and believes that everyone should die as soon as possible are two different things.

Even if antinatalism or promortalism might coincidentally result in some action that I approve of, I'm not convinced that it is a moral ideology. I also suspect that these ideologies are reactions to chaotic material conditions predicated on the failure of capitalist organizations of the economy, or other essentially ephemeral (if persistent) cultural conditions.

Side note: I do not plan on ever having children, and I support both abortion and the right to die. I arrived at these conclusions because of relatively simple rational frameworks, not because of ideologies that required me to make judgements about what humanity should or shouldn't do.

2 Weeks ago
galbraith

What I meant is that whatever values result in antinatalism are not necessarily correlated with the values that I have concluded are the best foundation for morality.

Oh.

Even if antinatalism or promortalism might coincidentally result in some action that I approve of, I'm not convinced that it is a moral ideology. I also suspect that these ideologies are reactions to chaotic material conditions predicated on the failure of capitalist organizations of the economy, or other essentially ephemeral (if persistent) cultural conditions.

Agree with you there, though I feel like personally antinatalism maybe can help in some weird way too. Because honestly, any anti-capitalism will not solve every problem out there at all, I think there will still be plenty of miserable for a variety of reasons even if it's significantly reduced. And I'm not saying you're following utopian thinking, but I think it's foolish when people think anti-capitalism will solve everything. And I do consider myself anti-capitalist.

Hence, for me these things are sort of... side interests I guess.

Side note: I do not plan on ever having children, and I support both abortion and the right to die. I arrived at these conclusions because of relatively simple rational frameworks, not because of ideologies that required me to make judgements about what humanity should or shouldn't do.

Ya that can certainly be true too.

2 Weeks ago
Grey Echelon

Even if antinatalism or promortalism might coincidentally result in some action that I approve of, I'm not convinced that it is a moral ideology. I also suspect that these ideologies are reactions to chaotic material conditions predicated on the failure of capitalist organizations of the economy, or other essentially ephemeral (if persistent) cultural conditions.


I like this paragraph a lot, galbraith.

I agree with this in a general sense, and not only as it applies to this topic.

And I mean like someone offing themselves may raise questions about if someone convinced them, if they could have turned things around and generally devastates people more than someone not being born. Someone not being born, generally does less damage.


Agree offing oneself does harm, but at the same time, I don't think someone should be forced to live when they're completely miserable and finding no joy in existence. I'm pretty sure there's a European country that supports the right to die.

Sure, there can be questions about the nature of the person's death - why they wanted to do it, what compelled them, etc, but I'm not sure if there's an answer for that.

Someone not being born I guess causes less suffering than the alternative, but I still don't see birth as a bad thing. Not everyone on the planet is going to become a miserable individual compelled towards suffering.

Arguably, most people err towards happiness / optimism, which touches more lives in a positive way, so just being born can't intrinsically be bad.

I see overpopulation as the only real reason to argue for antinatalism, but that's probably just me lol

¤¤♅êîrÐ Øccu®@n瀤¤

2 Weeks ago
Weird Occurance

anti-capitalism will not solve every problem out there at all


Anti-capitalism will not solve any problem whatsoever, as it is an ideology of exposing and responding to the failures of capitalism and not necessarily promoting an alternative organization of the economy. It has been my experience that anti-capitalism, while characterized by American reactionaries as being correlated with communism, is more highly correlated with anarchism, which itself has very limited effective crossover with communism.

2 Weeks ago
galbraith

Agree offing oneself does harm, but at the same time, I don't think someone should be forced to live when they're completely miserable and finding no joy in existence. I'm pretty sure there's a European country that supports the right to die.

I think I also lean to supporting right to die, but it is trickier imo.

Arguably, most people err towards happiness / optimism, which touches more lives in a positive way, so just being born can't intrinsically be bad.

I think the point is less that, and more that it's bad because the risk of suffering is still very real not necessarily that every birth was a bad thing ya know.

Anti-capitalism will not solve any problem whatsoever, as it is an ideology of exposing and responding to the failures of capitalism

I mean, I guess there's that too but I meant it as a catch-all term for ideologies that would replace capitalism (which also seems like an accurate usage), and ultimately help fix some of the problem capitalism created.

while characterized by American reactionaries as being correlated with communism, is more highly correlated with anarchism, which itself has very limited effective crossover with communism.

I see anti-capitalism as a catch-all term for any ideology that opposes and ultimately would replace capitalism personally. Lately I identify more with something akin to true democratic socialism, and not the Bernie kind and for a variety of reasons I see the state as necessary, but also should be limited and I don't see it as a transitional period to communism or anarchism, I see it as the endgoal. So ya that's not what I mean.

2 Weeks ago
Grey Echelon

I mean, I guess there's that too but I meant it as a catch-all term for ideologies that would replace capitalism (which also seems like an accurate usage), and ultimately help fix some of the problem capitalism created.


If this is your definition of anti-capitalism, then it also includes neo-reactionary methods of organization such as Dark Enlightenment, which seeks to return society to a pre-capitalist form by instituting absolute monarchic rule and which is "not capitalist" purely by virtue of being so far beyond the upper right quadrant that it is not visible on the political compass anymore. In other words, I don't consider it to be a very useful definition.

Lately I identify more with something akin to true democratic socialism, and not the Bernie kind and for a variety of reasons I see the state as necessary, but also should be limited and I don't see it as a transitional period to communism or anarchism, I see it as the endgoal.


A reform capitalist, in other words.

2 Weeks ago
galbraith

Just throwing it out there because it's come up a few times, but "over-population" is not actually a real thing right now and has long been used in racist ways or to distract from the real causes of environmental woes (such as climate change and deforestation).
https://theecologist.org/2020/apr/16/debunking-overpopulation

2 Weeks ago
Jet Presto

If this is your definition of anti-capitalism, then it also includes neo-reactionary methods of organization such as Dark Enlightenment, which seeks to return society to a pre-capitalist form by instituting absolute monarchic rule and which is "not capitalist" purely by virtue of being so far beyond the upper right quadrant that it is not visible on the political compass anymore. In other words, I don't consider it to be a very useful definition.

Man you really gotta nitpick a lot don't you?

A reform capitalist, in other words.

No, that would be social democracy. True democratic socialism is still socialism, and still not capitalism.

2 Weeks ago
Grey Echelon

There are many valid reasons for people to not have children. I mean, birth rates in the US have been plummeting in recent years and it's easy to understand why with growing wealth inequality, climate change, rapidly fading faith in institutions, health care being unaffordable, and a housing situation that is fast pushing us to a neo-feudal society.

But it's hard because there really is a lot of racism and ableism that seeps into the argument that it's a moral imperative to *not* have kids, and not just from "bad eggs."

2 Weeks ago
Jet Presto

But it's hard because there really is a lot of racism and ableism that seeps into the argument that it's a moral imperative to *not* have kids, and not just from "bad eggs."

It's pretty easy imo. Racists and ableists are just adapting it for their own methods. All you have to do is not specifically target people of different races or disabilities. Again to me it kind of feels like saying abortion is racist or ableist because people of certain races or people who have certain disabilities may be more prone to not wanting a child because they can't take care of it. It's not quite the same but it's about the same, the difference is abortion is a well accepted general issue and antinatalism is still some obscure misunderstood ideology, that I don't subscribe to necessary but I can see it's good points.

2 Weeks ago
Grey Echelon

Just throwing it out there because it's come up a few times, but "over-population" is not actually a real thing right now and has long been used in racist ways or to distract from the real causes of environmental woes (such as climate change and deforestation).


This is correct; as has been noted in some pop-science circles online, the literal entirety of living humanity could be balled up and shoved into literally one metropolitan area. The reason we are presented with narratives of overpopulation is because of propaganda and poor organization of resources. In many respects, we are actually capable of post-scarcity; some people have decided that we're not going to do that, though.

Man you really gotta nitpick a lot don't you?


I am nothing if not a semanticist.

True democratic socialism is still socialism, and still not capitalism.


But it is not socialism in the sense of progress towards communism, even if it agrees upon some reforms made to a capitalist system, and it possesses the potential to become reactionary and defend capitalism. You literally said:

I don't see it as a transitional period to communism or anarchism, I see it as the endgoal


This would seem to indicate that while you advocate for some reforms, you ultimately do not seek the revolution of the capitalist organization.

We can clear this up very quickly: do you or do you not advocate for public ownership of the means of production?

2 Weeks ago
galbraith

Yeah, if only the people seized the means of production, major industry would become irrelevant, pollution and burning of fossil fuels would cease, we would stop depleting resources such as oil and phosphorus, and we would no longer deforest major ecosystems to expand arable land suitable for harvesting food.

There are many good reasons to advocate abolition of capitalism, but it wouldn't solve these issues. While we can do certain things like regulate CO2 emissions and have smarter city planning, overpopulation (and overconsumption) is not some non-issue that only racist eugenicists should care about.

I mean, birth rates in the US have been plummeting in recent years and it's easy to understand why with growing wealth inequality, climate change, rapidly fading faith in institutions, health care being unaffordable, and a housing situation that is fast pushing us to a neo-feudal society.

Individual choices due to these factors are probably relevant to some extent, but I think most of it has to due with an aging population. We see it play out in basically every society that industrializes: First a phase of massive population growth, then a rise in median age due to a high life expectancy, which in turn leads to a lower birthrate eventually. This is why I actually think helping people in developing countries and giving them healthcare, education and access to basic resources would help stabilize populations in the long run, much sooner than fucking 2100 with 11 billion people.

On a side note, though, life expectancy is actually *decreasing* for many groups in the US since poor people are treated like shit, so it will be morbidly interesting to see how that plays out.

This is correct; as has been noted in some pop-science circles online, the literal entirety of living humanity could be balled up and shoved into literally one metropolitan area.

I mean, I could fit 100 people inside my apartment. Doesn't mean it is a good or sustainable idea, though I do agree with vastly improving city planning. Sprawling suburbs in particular are gross, as is the overuse of water in nurturing their bland, soulless grass lawns.

2 Weeks ago
pacman

I mean, I could fit 100 people inside my apartment. Doesn't mean it is a good or sustainable idea,


This is why I noted that this was a pop-science observation. It helps to provide perspective on the problem, especially for people who may have been under the impression that there are teeming masses overflowing the borders of the world, and that this is the reason that we are destroying the world, not the spectacular incompetence with which we have been convinced to consume and the reckless advancement of capitalist industry towards maximum theoretical money.

Yeah, if only the people seized the means of production, major industry would become irrelevant, pollution and burning of fossil fuels would cease, we would stop depleting resources such as oil and phosphorus, and we would no longer deforest major ecosystems to expand arable land suitable for harvesting food.


There are many good reasons to advocate abolition of capitalism, but it wouldn't solve these issues.


Of course it wouldn't. The slowing of these bad habits due to the abolition of capitalism would be indirect... but it would happen. Changing material and cultural conditions, for instance, would weaken the American ideological fixation on red meat, which would reduce the impact on land and water, etc.

IDK, maybe I'm biased because I'm surrounded by people who literally only buy guns and eat steak every night and drive dually trucks because they're too fuckin' radically ignorant to do anything else.

2 Weeks ago
galbraith

tl;dr I do believe that even adjusting for capitalist industry and poor planning, overpopulation/overconsumption are legit causes for concern. In my view, the solution to stabilizing numbers is not eugenics, genocide or any fucked up shit like that, but actually investing in the people already living.

2 Weeks ago
pacman

I do believe that even adjusting for capitalist industry and poor planning, overpopulation/overconsumption are legit causes for concern.

That's correct. Overpopulation isn't a myth. Right now it's possible to feed everyone, but since it's more profitable to use Land to feed cattle or to make biofuel..

With dwindling water supplies, lesser and lesser Fossil fuel, a growing population might be impssoible to feed everyone even if the entire world collaborated to share food equally.

2 Weeks ago
Acca Larentia

tl;dr I do believe that even adjusting for capitalist industry and poor planning, overpopulation/overconsumption are legit causes for concern.


I agree. I would not make the statement that overpopulation will never be an issue, or even that overpopulation is not currently an issue in certain areas.

2 Weeks ago
galbraith

But it is not socialism in the sense of progress towards communism

This would seem to indicate that while you advocate for some reforms, you ultimately do not seek the revolution of the capitalist organization.

Yes...? I don't see how that's relevant unless socialism is just capitalism in your eyes. I don't subscribe to the narrative put forth by some leftists that socialism only can exist for the purpose of communism, sorry.

even if it agrees upon some reforms made to a capitalist system, and it possesses the potential to become reactionary and defend capitalism. You literally said:

1. Democratic socialism not just an ideology of reformism, it can be revolutionary too
2. I mean ya if you want to split hairs anything has the potential to be corrupted and revert back to capitalism technically. I guess you could make the argument that it maybe has more potential, but if it was up to me social democracy phase would be skipped, and true democratic socialism would be jumped to. If there would be reformism, there would be no compromise.
3. Even if that happens, you could literally have a communist party becoming far more compromising, it has happened before.
4. Honestly, the great revolution or shift to communism probably won't happen in our life times. At best, we'll probably get reformism in the first place. I don't think that's ideal, but I think that's realistic. Chances are true democratic socialism won't even be achieved. That doesn't mean it's impossible though, just like reaching communism technically isn't impossible.

We can clear this up very quickly: do you or do you not advocate for public ownership of the means of production?

I do, yes. Though social ownership is a better umbrella term as public ownership kind of implies a form of state ownership in contrast to common ownership.

However, as you know I have my own angle. Though I think the worker's plight should not be ignored either.

2 Weeks ago
Grey Echelon

I do, yes.


I agree, and this is the main point, so I will forgo the discussion of all the terms we have confused between us for now.

2 Weeks ago
galbraith

Changing material and cultural conditions, for instance, would weaken the American ideological fixation on red meat, which would reduce the impact on land and water, etc.

This I agree with in theory, although I am not confident that a socialist revolution would fundamentally change Americans' cultural predilections. I mean, in poat-revolution Russia there still persisted many cultural remnants of what existed before, whether it was Orthodox Christianity, pronounced homophobia, the collective desire for a strongman leader, etc.

Then again, I see America falling into extremely dumbed down, faux-populist fascism led by cynical grifters rather than seeing an optimistic (or even purely utilitarian) socialist revolution of the proletariat. So I am probably not the best person to predict what socialist America would look like, lol.

2 Weeks ago
pacman

In my view, the solution to stabilizing numbers is not eugenics, genocide or any fucked up shit like that, but actually investing in the people already living.

Yes.

With dwindling water supplies, lesser and lesser Fossil fuel, a growing population might be impssoible to feed everyone even if the entire world collaborated to share food equally.

Surprised you didn't have anything to say about antinatalism in here.

I agree, and this is the main point, so I will forgo the discussion of all the terms we have confused between us for now.

Perhaps we can sort it out another time.

2 Weeks ago
Grey Echelon

Individual choices due to these factors are probably relevant to some extent, but I think most of it has to due with an aging population.


Except that "aging population" doesn't really itself account for why our generation has not been having children at the same rate as preceding generations before ours, even at the same age. It's also a bit circular of an argument because the median age of the population increases largely when birth rates drop discernibly. So it kind of gets it backwards to say that the reason birth rates are dropping is because the population is aging.

tl;dr I do believe that even adjusting for capitalist industry and poor planning, overpopulation/overconsumption are legit causes for concern.


Sure, but most experts agree that global population numbers are stablizing. So framing things around "overpopulation" when that's not actually a problem now and likely won't be a real problem in our lifetimes helps frame it in a way that that suggests the problem is people having kids rather than the wealthy who hoard resources. (Which is what the problem really is: the country and the world does not have an "overpopulation problem;" we have a resource allocation problem and a priorities problem. Which are still problems that we need to solve, but we should frame it that way because you have to know that framing it as "overpopulation" literally plays into the hands of the racists, xenophobes, and ableists that use that "problem" for their more radical and aggressive "solutions.")

2 Weeks ago
Jet Presto

Surprised you didn't have anything to say about antinatalism in here.

If I posted my thoughts on antinatalism, they would be censored on this forum.

2 Weeks ago
Acca Larentia

But it's hard because there really is a lot of racism and ableism that seeps into the argument that it's a moral imperative to *not* have kids, and not just from "bad eggs."

Hey Jet sorry if I sounded irreverent in my last post to you, I just didn't know how else to word it at the time. I get why you're concerned, I just personally feel like it's overblown.

2 Weeks ago
Grey Echelon

If I posted my thoughts on antinatalism, they would be censored on this forum.


Thank you for keeping your responses tame, then. It's refreshing to see everyone here is having a good discussion.

¤LðŗРУŋįd@¤

2 Weeks ago
Lord Denida

Except that "aging population" doesn't really itself account for why our generation has not been having children at the same rate as preceding generations before ours

Well yeah, that is why I think the problems you mentioned contribute further to the slowdown in growth. I just don't think they were the initial cause, as birthrates have been declining in the US since long before this generation (not that a low birthrate is a bad thing in and of itself).

Sure, but most experts agree that global population numbers are stablizing.

By 2100 at a population of over 11 billion? With no serious global effort at curbing climate change or its effects, and no real effort at decreasing meat consumption or changing the way we grow food, no real effort at reforming city planning? This century long "stabilization" seems too little too late. I just don't see the argument for *not* speeding up population stabilization further when the best solution is entirely humanitarian, on top of doing all the other things that we aren't doing. It seems like a lot of left-leaning people simply don't want to talk about population as a factor because they think doing so is somehow inherently pro-racist or pro-genocide, when that really is far from the case.


when that's not actually a problem now

But it is.

and likely won't be a real problem in our lifetimes

And will continue to be.

2 Weeks ago
pacman

Thank you for keeping your responses tame, then. It's refreshing to see everyone here is having a good discussion.

No problem.

I am an absurdist and I have a different moral foundation than these people, so no, I don't think they have any inherent merit.

I presuppose human wellbeing as a foundational value for moral judgement. This is not the only way I might evaluate a moral question, but the other values I might use are highly correlated (human flourishing, human harm reduction, human freedom, etc.)

"The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants." Albert Camus.

2 Weeks ago
Acca Larentia

Albert Camus


Wonderful, one of my favorite philosophers. Currently reading through Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, which I am greatly enjoying so far. I especially appreciate seeing historical exposé of fascist ideology, because it's shocking how little the tactics have changed. More recent, but it's also why I love Umberto Eco as well. His essay on ur-fascism is so effortlessly illuminating that it has prompted me to reexamine a lot of things.

2 Weeks ago
galbraith

as birthrates have been declining in the US since long before this generation


They went up in the '80s and early '90s. Not to the same degree they went up in the '50s and '60s, but they did increase and remained fairly steady. And then they have dropped in the new millennium to a lower numbers than the '70s when the previous drop was.

With no serious global effort at curbing climate change or its effects, and no real effort at decreasing meat consumption or changing the way we grow food, no real effort at reforming city planning?


Except this is what I'm talking about. These are resource distribution and governance problems, not a "we have too many people" problem. Like, we aren't solving those problems *now* and we weren't solving those problems 40 years ago when our population was almost half what it is now. Which seems a pretty clear indicator that those problems do not have their root in population numbers.

Yes, we can run into problems as a result of the population growing too large, but it will not happen in our lifetimes that the problems themselves are literally unsolvable because there are simply too many people. All the problems you listed would exist if no one new were born in the next 50 years. Frame it as it truly is: a resource distribution problem. Stop framing it in a panicky way that naturally lends itself to racism, xenophobia, and ableism by claiming it's a "population size problem." We have the resources and can absolutely account for even more people.
https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/12/12/16766872/overpopulation-exaggerated-concern-climate-change-world-population

It seems like a lot of left-leaning people simply don't want to talk about population as a factor because they think doing so is somehow inherently pro-racist or pro-genocide, when that really is far from the case.


Or maybe a lot of left-leaning people actually understand that the population size right now is not the problem, and acting like it is completely undercuts the left's ideological movement, which is essential regardless of population size. And I mean, when you choose to focus on framing it as a population size problem, you kinda innately open the door to racist and xenophobic rhetoric. "Overpopulation" has become a very trendy scapegoat argument that misses the forest for the trees in so many ways. It's actively harmful to keep framing things like food distribution, housing availability, or climate change as a result of "overpopulation" when we know what the real root of these issues are. And I don't know why any vaguely left-leaning person would choose to frame it that way and undercut their own ideological agenda in the process.

This isn't an argument that we *should* keep expanding populations by giant margins, but there is also a risk to not populating enough. Birth rate comes to a crawl, you're going to run into another resource problem: who's going to take care of the aging population? That could have far more severe economic consequences than simply having more mouths to feed or houses to build. And, of course, just in terms of the pragmatics: if the elderly outnumber the younger working class by a large ratio, you could even find shortages of actually being able to provide care for seniors.

There are issues with balance and issues with population distribution, but in terms of resources and what we could sustain, the world is not even close yet to being in a position where we really need to worry about it. And besides, as we're seeing already with declining birth rates, many of these artificial external forces are keeping that population growth in check, for better or worse.

2 Weeks ago
Jet Presto

Wonderful, one of my favorite philosophers.

Though, quotes like that are where I don't agree with him. I mean, I guess the welfare of humans can obviously be used for evil and maybe he didn't mean to say that generally but it could easily end up looking that way. Ultimately, the welfare of humanity is of course worth considering regardless of if "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

And I don't know why any vaguely left-leaning person would choose to frame it that way and undercut their own ideological agenda in the process.

While I'm not sure if I necessarily see overpopulation as a problem I get why people do. And to answer this, probably because they don't see it as undercutting their own ideology. I mean, I never saw overpopulation as "the cause", though I have questioned if a reduced population might possibly help at this stage in some regards. However, I feel like a person is only specifically opening the doors for racism or xenophobia unless they're specifically trying to enforce a practice against or force people to do something about it. I also honestly feel like white people are more susceptible to choosing to do something about where they may consider choosing to not contribute to what they consider as overpopulation anyway, so I don't think it's necessarily a huge deal.

but there is also a risk to not populating enough

Ya that can also be a factor worth considering.

2 Weeks ago
Grey Echelon

Though, quotes like that are where I don't agree with him.


Hard to agree or disagree properly, when it is taken out of context. Actually, here... I have the text itself in front of me. It's from "Homage to an Exile", which was published in the aforementioned collection Resistance, Rebellion, and Death. The speech was given in honor of a liberal Colombian president whose exile from the country (as well as the assassination of his socialist successor) set the stage for La Violencia. The Violence was a ten-year civil war where Columbian reactionaries brutally killed liberal and communist actors, eventually going as far as to direct reprisal against news outlets that reported on the pogroms.

A larger part of the passage reads:

Contemporary intelligence seems to measure the truth of doctrines and causes solely by the number of armored divisions that each can put into the field. Thenceforth everything is good that justifies the slaughter of freedom, whether it be the nation, the people, or the grandeur of the State. The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience. It would be easy, however, to destroy that good conscience by shouting to them: if you want the happiness of the people, let them speak out and tell what kind of happiness they want and what kind they don't want! But, in truth, the very ones who make use of such alibis know they are lies; they leave to their intellectuals on duty the chore of believing in them and of proving that religion, patriotism, and justice need for their survival the sacrifice of freedom. As if freedom, when it leaves a certain place, were not the last to go, after all that constituted our reasons for living. No, freedom does not die alone. At the same time justice is forever exiled, the nation begins to agonize, and innocence is crucified anew each day.


Camus, as does essentially every philosopher who I consider with any sort of weight, skewers totalitarianism and it's toolset. Here, he is talking about the clothing of popular welfare that is given to narratives about why tyrants must destroy freedom, not about moral foundations that are based upon welfare itself. As he explains, freedom is part of welfare, and together their preservation is known as justice. I agree with this.

Such a tendency for a totalitarian characterization of the destruction of freedom is echoed in Umberto Eco's essay Ur-Fascism. Eco, having grown up in Mussolini's Italy, is closely acquainted with totalitarianism (specifically right-wing, though, like Camus, he does not brook nonsense from communists either). In his essay, one of the trademarks of fascism which he enumerates is the idea of "selective populism":

Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say. In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view – one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction.


Slavoj Zizek, in his introduction to Mao's On Practice and Contradiction, notes something similar about Stalin:

When Stalin answered the question 'Which deviation is worse, the Rightist or the Leftist one?' by 'They are both worse!', the underlying premise is that the Leftist deviation is really ('objectively', as Stalinists liked to put it) not Leftist at all, but a concealed Rightist one! When Stalin wrote, in a report on a Party congress, that the delegates, with a majority of votes, unanimously approved the CC resolution, the underlying premise is, again, that there was in fact no minority within the Party: those who voted against thereby excluded themselves from the Party... In all these cases, the genus repeatedly overlaps (fully coincides) with one of its species. This is also what allows Stalin to read history retroactively, so that things 'become clear' retroactively: it was not that Trotsky was first fighting for the revolution with Lenin and Stalin and then, at a certain stage, opted for a different strategy from the one advocated by Stalin; this last opposition (Trotsky/Stalin) 'makes it clear' how, 'objectively', Trotsky was against revolution all the way back.


2 Weeks ago
galbraith

Camus, as does essentially every philosopher who I consider with any sort of weight, skewers totalitarianism and it's toolset. Here, he is talking about the clothing of popular welfare that is given to narratives about why tyrants must destroy freedom, not about moral foundations that are based upon welfare itself. As he explains, freedom is part of welfare, and together their preservation is known as justice. I agree with this.

I figured, I just treated it that way since I don't have the context just in case. Hence why I said some other things about it.

I also agree with that.

2 Weeks ago
Grey Echelon

Except this is what I'm talking about. These are resource distribution and governance problems, not a "we have too many people" problem.

It is both. Especially if we want a decent and comfortable life for all humans.


Or maybe a lot of left-leaning people actually understand that the population size right now is not the problem

But it is. Even with better resource distribution and environmental policies, we will continue to be a drain on the planet's resources and ecosystem with such a high population.


and acting like it is completely undercuts the left's ideological movement

This is another issue. Digging for reasons to deny something real because it doesn't fit neatly into one's existing ideological framework is a bad excuse. I used to think overpopulation was a myth, partly because it didn't fit easily into my worldview and required me to think and look into patterns of population growth/degrowth.

It's actively harmful to keep framing things like food distribution, housing availability, or climate change as a result of "overpopulation" when we know what the real root of these issues are.

To say there is a single root cause to these issues is overly simplistic. Why can it not be a combo of poor distribution/planning, greed, economic over-reliance on perpetual growth, and yes, too many people using too much stuff?

but there is also a risk to not populating enough.

Most of these "risks" are due to economies depending on perpetual growth and overproduction, especially hyper-capitalist ones. I am not opposed to global de-growth personally.

Also, I do think part of my view stems from being more eco-centric than human-centric. Humans are listed as "least concern". Unless we are threatened or endangered as a species, I will never agree that a lower population is inherently problematic.

2 Weeks ago
pacman

They went up in the '80s and early '90s. Not to the same degree they went up in the '50s and '60s, but they did increase and remained fairly steady. And then they have dropped in the new millennium to a lower numbers than the '70s when the previous drop was.

Sure, the postwar period saw a birthrate boom, and that had a ripple effect for a few decades. The slowdown and eventual decrease was inevitable eventually, but I do agree that the shrinking middle class, increasingly shittier jobs for lower pay, and deterioration in the average person's wealth/lifestyle sped up this process.

2 Weeks ago
pacman

I know this is only mildly relevant to the discussion, but I wanted to point out that there's this environmental ethics idea that poses the question:

Do future generations have the right to enjoy the environment as older generations have?

e.g. enjoying forests, seeing animals in the wild, non-polluted streams, a lack of litter in the wilderness, etc

Overpopulation, greed, and whatever impedes these possibilities would all be "wrong" if you accept this line of ethics.

Pacman's comment made me think of pointing it out.

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2 Weeks ago
Weird Occurance

Reply to: Antinatalism and promortalism

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