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+3 votes
I haven't really read any anarchists perspectives on antinatalism, other than something on reddit. I'm curious as to how y'all view it?

Antinatalism is the belief that life shouldn't be brought into existence or preventing new life from coming into existence. There are a variety of rationales people have for it, from consent, harm/suffering prevention, overpopulation...etc.
by (4.7k points)

3 Answers

+2 votes

when you refer to "life", do you mean human life, or all life?

i remember the "voluntary human extinction" movement, which back 10-12 years ago used to table at some events that anarchists also tabled at. 

personally, i have no affinity with that perspective. it just isn't very interesting to me, to desire and promote the null-and-voiding of all (human?) life, especially as an "ism".

that said, i definitely think there are many humans that should not ever, ever, reproduce. i also think it is quite likely that much of humanity will perish in whatever events bring about the (inevitable, i think) collapse of civilization. but what you describe is an ideological position, and any position that would universally (uncontextually) prevent life from coming into existence doesn't work as anarchist in my world.

and really... consent? what an off-the-wall rationalization. i didn't give my consent to being born (how the fuck could that possibly even.... meh, never mind), but i am actually glad i was.

by (13.4k points)

Sorry, I should've been more specific. I meant human life. I just added vhemt to the tag to make the question more searchable.  I don't really follow what they preach.

The idea behind consent is non-existing nothingness cannot consent to being born. Thus, it's not cool to impose life on it when it's going to suffer in some form or another. An argument against that is that non-existing nothingness is unable to give consent and is impossible to give or not, thus consent is not needed and it's silly to assume such a thing. I don't really care much for the consent thing.

I believe that when the person is brought into this world, it's going to suffer, feel pain, and in general be harmed in some matter or another. Then it'll come to its inevitable conclusion that it's fully aware of and that's death. There's no way of avoiding any of that. I believe suffering outweighs the good things that could potentially happen to the person. If it never exists, none of that'll occur. 

Efilism is more about "null-and-voiding" all of human life. I didn't write anything about universally preventing life from coming into existence. I'm not sure where you got that from. How are you defining ideological? Do you mean ideal concepts/doctrines/standards for which people should live by? 

Probably the most I've wrote on this site in a comment/question. :P

you are describing an ideological position, because having an opinion about whether groups of people you don't know should do something like have children or not is an ideological position to take. F@ is not saying it's your ideology, just that you're talking about an ideology.

you didn't say universal, but you also didn't define your terms (of course F@ could have looked stuff up too), leaving it open to wide interpretation.

myself, i wish there were a lot fewer people on the planet, and in my general area, and i don't think that being a parent is good for people (at least the ones i have known, mostly), and i think that child-having/rearing is some weird sublimation of other desires and is a huge cultural sacred cow...
but i'm not interested in telling anyone they can't have one, which would seem obvious...?

human: "Antinatalism is the belief that life shouldn't be brought into existence or preventing new life from coming into existence."

that is where i got the preventing life from coming into existence. maybe i used the word "universally" inappropriately; i was referring to the fact that this was not seemingly applicable to a single life/context, but to all life.

i understand what you meant by consent, and it seems quite bizarre to me. of course "nothing" cannot give consent. nor can it deny consent. nor can it... do anything! the entire concept makes no sense, imo. 

anyways, such a concept is inherently authoritarian, unless it is simply a contextual decision made by the potential biological parents (and maybe others that they choose to include) on a case-by-case basis. that perspective places an imperative on existing individuals to NOT have a baby. how is that substantially different from telling a woman to have/not have an abortion?

what YOU believe about the unborn lives of others (eg, that they will suffer in this world) is hardly a reasonable anarchistic rationale for preventing life from coming into existence. you would be making the decision for others, even "potential" others. hard for me to reconcile that with an anarchist perspective.

believe me, i am hugely misanthropic, and i find this modern world that humans have created to be largely hateful, and there is far too much suffering by all of life at the hands of humanity. but antinatalism does not seem like an anarchistic approach to dealing with that. 


dot, okay, I suppose I should've defined it better or been more clear or something and not used the word prevent. Bad wording. Antinatalism is a philosophy that asserts that having children is unethical. There's four main views on the matter. I wasn't meaning telling others what to do. I don't really care much for what others do, for the most part. Although, it does depend if it involves me.

funkyanarchy, I was meaning on an individual basis, not me trying to tell others that exist what to do, they can decide for themselves. There's no such thing as unborn lives of others as they don't exist, unless you were meaning something different, like the potential life individuals or I could create? I don't see a reasonable rationale for me to force life into existence knowing the risk factors. Especially, in this current world. I don't know how I would be able to justify imposing harm/suffering/death by creating something that wouldn't otherwise exist and I fail to see a purpose for creating it. I'm having trouble seeing how, for me, not creating new life is non-anarchistic like. I'm not sure what's authoritarian about it. I can see it as being authoritarian if I was telling other people to, but I'm not.

I wouldn't go up to some woman that was pregnant and tell her she must abort the zygote/embryo/leech/fetus. If my SO got pregnant, I would ask when the appointment is, but that's due to sharing similar views. :P
ok, human, you have made it clear that you are talking about individuals having choice, and nobody imposing anything on anyone. in that case, of course i would not consider it authoritarian. you choose not to have kids, cool. that's a personal choice.

however: "Antinatalism is a philosophy that asserts that having children is unethical. " calling something unethical weighs it down with a substantial value judgement, and raises questions (in my mind) about coercion.

i know vegans that simply don't eat animal products; they don't talk about it, they don't proselytize, they don't condemn or put down others for eating flesh. then i know ideological vegans (and ideological anti-vegans); they are judgemental, coercive politicians (edit: politicians of a sort).

anti-natalism is just another way to eliminate the human species - like ecocide, war, nuclear disaster, natural disaster, genocide, bio-chemical disaster, etc - within a single generation (or so).  i don't have a problem with that.

though i will say, it seems pretty narrow-minded to assume that any new human life is guaranteed to experience only suffering and pain, with no possibility of experiencing joy, excitement, beauty, love...  i definitely don't mean to sound like an optimist (that would be a joke to anyone that knows me), but as someone who has had (and witnessed) more than their share of pain and suffering, i have also experienced things that have made my life worth living (to me). i would never assume that others are incapable of the same.
Okay, I can see how value judgments/morals or whatever one wants to call it will lead or could to coercion.

I acknowledge the potential life will experience positive things in their potential life. I just feel the negative outweighs the positive. Perhaps I'm too much of a pessimist for my own good. :) Regardless, life will be "reset" in some sort of fashion sooner or later.
True. Sooner of later humanity's going to end. Being something of an absurdist myself, I believe until then you have to make the best of it and enjoy life as much as possible.
most definitely, maximize the joy in your life.
+2 votes
Very good question.

Antinatalism's a dividing line in the anarchist community when it shows up. Not a lot of anarchists hold to the view it's a bad idea to make children. Those that are antinatalist typically range from moderate all the way to really radical.

But if you want to know about a few notable ones who do support it then let me see if I can point out some other notable perspectives some of them have about it.

On the moderate side, the most notable I can think of is an anonymous Greek anarcho-communist. He/she supports antinatalism as a revolutionary tactic to starve the government and weaken it until an anarchist society could be established.

The anarchist introduced this idea in an article written for the Greek branch of Indymedia. You can read the translated version here:

As for the radicals, prominent anarchists who advocate antinatalism and advocate it included, ironically Les U. Knight, the founder of the VHEMT. He's trying to hit two birds with one stone: fight the state and end humanity in favor of helping the planet.

You can read a piece he wrote about his position on the matter here:

Likewise there's an online anarchist blogger named Francois Tremblay. His goal in promoting antinatalism is to make an anarchist society but also to eventually bring about the end of humanity thus ending all suffering.

Here's all the pieces about antinatalism he's got tagged on his blog.

Tremblay's got a huge amount of hate especially from around the internet for being so radical about it. Can't blame his detractors really. His goal in promoting antinatalism is to make an anarchist society to better end humanity.

As for me, I'm an antinatalist that would fall in the moderate category. Pretty much I agree with the previously mentioned article that appeared on Indymedia.

Governments require people to keep having children at a balanced rate to survive. When populations drop, they get very afraid just as they would with overpopulation. In either case, the scenarios are to threat help keep stability and balance thus keeping their machine healthy.

They will do whatever they can to boost birthrates back up to prevent it dying due to a lack of people. Methods they utilize can become very draconian if history teaches us anything. The USSR and the Third Reich were really infamous in their tactics in strong-arming people to have children to raise their birthrates.

So I've employed it myself as a form of refusal in aiding the state and those who depend on people breeding to make more people to exploit. That and it encourages me to work with the people who are already here and trying to get them to embrace anarchism.

Anyway, sorry for the long reply, felt you deserved one given the lack of answers you've been getting so far.

EDIT: For the record I'm a moderate antinatalist. I don't want humanity to go extinct, merely stop having children to starve the beast until we can reach a better world for them to come to. At that point it's safe to say that it'll be fine to make some more within reason.
by (570 points)
edited by
Thanks for the answer. I know about Mr. Tremebley's blog (the prime directive). I knew he got hate for some of his views, but I thought it was mainly centered around his radfem views. I did not know the vhemt founder was an anarchist. Learned something new :D
Tremblay's views have pissed off a lot of people on different fronts not just for his radical feminism. It's lead to nonsense like this:

He's almost totally alienated himself from not just a lot of anarchists but non-anarchists too with things such as his radical "end all suffering by extinction" antinatalism.

Les U. Knight's gotten something of the same response from anarchists too. He's actually gotten his attempts to set up VHEMT booths blocked from anarchist book fairs.

It's one thing to promote antinatalism to help better establish an anarchist society and fight the state. Doing so to also bring an end to humanity for the sake of being VERY ecofriendly is naturally going to get that kind of reaction.

However I do agree with him so far as the fact that antinatalism is a solid stance to take against power structures such as the government who depend upon people reproducing at a balanced rate to survive and stay in tip-top shape.
les knight, wow, blast from the past.   i remember being at more than one e-law conference in eugene (where some green anarchists tabled back in the early 00's) that he tabled at. i spent some time talking to him, and while he seemed like a nice enough guy, his perspective just never hit home for me.
+4 votes
So I found a half written answer to this question in my notes from a few months ago and decided to finish and post it:

Antinatalism is so subversive, it laughs in the face of our normative culture of family morality and inherited wisdom. It utterly dismisses those who speak as though being a parent is a qualification, and highlights the fact that having a child isn't an act that elevates anyone, but only demonstrates that we are animals and as such act on self interest and instinct. I have a particular fondness for that last point - the inherent 'goodness' of having children is such an entrenched and unquestionable moral value in our cultures (especially when it takes place in an acceptable nuclear family), but it is a fundamentally selfish act. I love making that point because people who buy into the regular, accepted moral values around having children have no answer to it other than 'yes, it is selfish, I am bringing another person into the world and they have no say in the matter, this is completely for my benefit and amusement', well maybe not those words verbatim but you get the the point.

This is however where I part ways with Antinatalism; its too moralistic, and argues that people shouldn't have children, for a variety of moral reasons, including the whole selfishness thing, which on balance I don't actually have a problem with, I just get irritated when people aren't honest about what really motivates them and try to hide behind spooks. Overall my appraisal of antinatalism is that it's very much rooted in moralism, it's main arguments being ethical ones regarding consent and causing suffering; these are of lesser interest to me than its potential for prompting us to rethink our moral and ideological constructions around reproduction and social relationships. I think we are richer for the fact that it exists as a cohesive and coherently articulated element of radical discouse - it's mere existance as an idea with any amount of currency poses a powerful challenge to the status quo and civilsation as a cultural/psychological institution, because it poses questions that undermine ideas like the myth of progress, the idea that capitalist civilisation can indefinitely expand, that we can all get what we want without hurting anyone else, etc.
by (6.3k points)
nice. don't disagree with any of this.

i guess the question it poses is, what is more fundamentally challenging, ideas against progress/futurism, etc, or ones against  programs that people can follow to make things better?

why am i making everything a competition?!? must be the season ;)
Haha, merry happy to you dot :)

I think I find ideas against programs that people can follow to make things better more fundamentally challenging, after all I have no faith in civilisation or futurism's promised salvation. But I think ideas against both can be valuable, getting too engrossed in reformist/quality of life projects can make us tame.

i like this answer.

i guess anti-natalism just ends up seeming reactive (i'd rather use "reactionary", but...) to me.

"...these are of lesser interest to me than its potential for prompting us to rethink our moral and ideological constructions around reproduction and social relationships."

yes, that.