Antinatalist persuasion?

Persuading people of the truth of antinatalism is hard. It is not for want of good arguments, of which antinatalists have many. But reason is a frail weapon what it is attempting to persuade a creature which has been wired up for the sake of reproduction not to reproduce. Our genes made us vehicles to serve their own purposes, and aren’t about to let us uppity vehicles go and start getting ideas of our own.

So what to do? Perhaps an indirect approach is better. Here is one suggestion: increase the opportunity cost of having children. By this I do not mean punishing or even taxing people for having children. Doing that has the intrinsic awfulness of all coercion. And even if you think that people who become parents somehow deserve to be punished for the misdeed of procreation, suffering landed on parents has a way of falling — almost inevitably — into the lives of children who did not consent to, and are completely innocent respecting, the decision to bring them into existence in the first place — a consideration to which antinatalists of all people should exhibit the highest sensitivity.

No, by “raising the opportunity cost” I have something else in mind, which is doing things in society that adults who remain childless can get more out of than those who do have children. As anyone who has been a parent can attest, having children means less time for adult pleasures. High culture. Real food. Travel. Sophisticated company. Scholarship. Sex. Booze. Porn.

Make things that people who have kids would have enjoyed but will have to miss out on, or at least will be able to enjoy less of, for their having had kids. Start a library. A school of advanced studies. A really awesome bar. A salon. Or become a pro-bono pornographer. And but sure to advertise the adult pleasures your are putting on offer to the world. Promote them. Celebrate them.

Observing from a distance, I have noticed there are countries (of which Japan is perhaps the modern world’s best-known example) that have created a rich material and intellectual culture much of which is for adults only, and I do not think it is much of a coincidence that their birthrates have fallen to fertilities below replacement (about 1.4 children per woman in Japan, for example), which if sustained will result in the eventual disappearance of at least these parts of humanity. That’s sad for people who will miss out on what these groups of people might have had to offer the world in the future as well as for existing people in this nation many of whom are now aging, but for untold millions of otherwise would-have-been children it will mean suffering that will never begin. Perhaps these are examples to be emulated…

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