‘Childfree’ is gaining traction worldwide

Here’s why its different from Antinatalism

Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash

Introduction to Antinatalism

Antinatalism is a philosophy and principle which aims to reduce suffering and sadness in the world. To that end, it requires a fundamental change in belief systems. Some very hardcore and deeply ingrained beliefs regarding the reasons for living, procreating, and leaving a legacy behind have got to go in order for Antinatalism to work.

Antinatalists put forth the idea that when one isn’t born, there is no question of hardship and suffering. Hence, since all suffering is borne out of procreation, the only way suffering can be eliminated from the planet is by not giving birth anymore.

And they’re totally right.

What with a mountain of issues staring us in the face daily as we read the horrors of the week in the mornings newspaper. From poverty and human rights violations, to animal cruelty, deforestation, climate change, extreme weather events and food scarcity, all nipping at us at one part of the world or another every single day, the only hope seems to be Antinatalism; preventing more humans from arriving on this barren wasteland anymore, and snatching away ever more resources from those who already exist.

Antinatalism as a philosophy and guiding principle for life is beginning to gain traction amongst the more younger folk nowadays, along with millennials who haven’t yet fallen into the trap. An increasing number of people are realizing that this is all a mirage, and no matter how well they do in life, they’ll never be able to provide their kids with the same comforts they had growing up.

The economy just doesn’t work that way anymore. Jessica Wildfire speaks about the source of modern day millennial angst in an article aptly titled, “Our Culture is Turning Us into a Bunch of Hyper-Aggressive, Homicidal Maniacs”:

“Millennials are on track to be one of the poorest generations on record. Gen Z knows they’ll be spending most of their lives cleaning up a climate mess and solving a century’s worth of political problems, including a resurgence of fascism. With pollution suffocating our cities and turning skies blood orange, survival itself is starting to look like a form of privilege. So yeah, it’s not totally shocking that a handful of people would lose their shit and decide to start their own personal armageddon.”

The economy isn’t the same anymore

The bloom days of the 90’s and early 2000’s are done and over with. And it’s a shame that we millennials are having to deal with the fallout of all that economic prosperity and material success. Wildfire rightly posits that modern day millennials are the most frustrated lot in the country owing to high amounts of daily stress:

“It’s no secret that we’re angrier than we were ten years ago, and much angrier than we were twenty years ago. You can thank politicians and the main stream media. You can also thank CEOs. They’ve colluded with each other to create a society full of chaos and noise. They manufacture scarcity, along with deplorable work and living conditions. They create technologies and cultural norms that isolate us from each other.”

In another article that complements the above point, she says:

“Millennials like us already earn less on average than the previous generation for the same amount of work. Inflation eats into that further, creating the need for side hustles. So, we’ve got a vicious circle going. Millions of people deal with these impossible choices. They’re not unproductive. They’re not making excuses. Most of them don’t need an expensive seminar on how to manage their time.”

So basically, we’re having to hustle twice the amount of time for half the returns. And you wonder why there’s an opioid and lifestyle disease epidemic in the world.

Corona? That’s a laugh! We were screwed way before that even got here.

An excerpt from an article on The Guardian brings home the above point:

“Even without a life-upending pandemic, trying to have a baby without consistent, legally enforced societal and medical support is indeed very hard.”

Which brings me to my next point: The ethical and moral aspect of procreation.

The moral dilemma

The good news is that there’s been a massive spurt in the number of antinatalists.

The bad news is that most of these unintentional antinatalists would be pronatalists had circumstances been ideal. Just like they were for the boomer generation. While the outcome maybe favourable and welcomed by everyone (except the religious bigots, duh!), this subset of antinatalists are not faced with the moral and ethical dilemma of procreation.

They’re just not doing it because they can’t afford to. And it doesn’t take much introspection or thought for that to happen. The apt term for these people is ‘Childfree’, and not ‘Antinatalist’. Nevertheless, in a world overflowing with people and bursting at the seams with myriad number of problems, it is a welcome move.

So who are the real Antinatalists, you ask? Now, not to be the one drawing lines and causing further divide between Antinatalists and Childfree people, but Antinatalists are the ones who defer from procreation because of the ethical conundrum it presents. Antinatalists are also more vocal about their opinion, and much more likely to voice it out.

Unlike Childfree people, Antinatalists question the moral and ethical basis for procreation. Just like how you would weigh out the pro’s and con’s before starting a business, doing the feasibility study and all, so is it with Antinatalism. After all, raising a child is a project in itself, isn’t it?

Antinatalists know that bringing a child into a burning planet rife with a multiplicity of issues, which might present a very real and existential danger to the prospective newborn is indeed, in itself, unethical.

You don’t put more people into a war zone. You get them out of there!

And it’s with the same war-footing like urgency, that antinatalists urge the rest of humanity to stop procreating. For their own and everyone else’s sake. The population is growing at an exponential rate of around 350,000 babies per day. With earth overshoot day coming earlier year after year, a foreboding sense of the future is starting to lurk even in the minds of the most diehard conformists. Many of my friends who used to vehemently reject my nihilist world view just a few years ago, are now accepting of my choice after seeing the shit show economy play out right before their eyes over the course of the last 5 years.

They knew we Antinatalists were right all along. Covid only further bolsters our stance against procreation and the ethical double bind it puts one in.

Does a pandemic lend credence to the antinatalist rhetoric and further sustains the decision to not procreate? Yeah, sure.

But do we really need one to realize that living on this planet is nothing but plain suffering and torture? Absolutely not!