We’re all familiar with the rejoinder from critics of Antinatalism: if life is so bad, why don’t you kill yourself? Invariably, antinatalists will reply with the distinction made between lives worth starting and lives worth continuing and logically this reply is sound. I must admit, though, that lately I can intuitively sympathise with the criticism. After all, we as antinatalists are experts at outlining how horrible and awful everything is. We view life as a hellish quagmire into which we were dumped by our unthinking progenitors. Given those premises, it doesn’t strike me, therefore, as being entirely unreasonable to ask what we’re hanging around for.
Let’s put aside the difficulty of getting the hell out of here; we all know how fiendishly troublesome it is to get through the emergency exit. Let’s ask ourselves instead if we would stick around if we could just painlessly press an off-button built into our arms. And if not, why not? After all, we are always bitching about life, and saying what a crock of shit it fundamentally is. So isn’t there just an element of hypocrisy about us dragging our asses through this existence? After all, what we can possibly be living for? Generally, the answer proffered is that we have “interests” worth pursuing, but in plain language that just means we’re caught up on the hedonic treadmill like every other procreating sucker on the planet; we cling to the belief that we can squeeze a few drops of pleasure from the rotten apple, and that it is worthwhile to do so. Clearly this is where the criticism of the pronatalist brigade originates from: if we, as advocates of non-life, deem it worth our while to swallow buckets of shit in the hope of finding the odd cherry doesn’t this imply that in some way we value our existence? The obvious reply is that we are, as biological creatures, hopelessly addicted to the life game; our DNA overlord has programmed the ship to keep sailing until we crash into the rocks of fate. All of this is fair enough, and eminently true.
Yet I’ve been troubled lately. If we’re so adamantly against procreation, isn’t the only way we can absolutely guarantee we don’t add to the misery pile to remove ourselves from the scene altogether? Sure, we can always say that we have a duty to stick around to spread the word and in that way help alleviate suffering on the broader scale, but how many of us are really such saints? And of course, every living creature, whether pro or anti natalist, is fundamentally guilty, guilty of being a parasite off the misery of its fellow creatures who occupy a lower position in the food/status chain.
This isn’t, by the way, a personal “cry for help”. I’m not feeling suicidal, just somewhat bathed in the dark radiance of self-disgust. Ultimately, I’m saying let’s not be too self-congratulatory. If you’re alive, you’re playing the game, and by playing it, you’re helping to keep it on the road.