I’ve been reflecting lately on why Antinatalism has appeared as something akin to a movement at this particular point in time, since roughly 2005 say. Sure, there’s always been a strain of thought that said life was fundamentally pain, suffering and not worth living since at least Sophocles and the Ancient Greeks, but nothing like the form it’s taken lately. Why is that?
Clearly, David Benatar's book was the breviary that drew people to the idea of AN as a coherent philosophical movement. Technology has also helped. Thanks to the internet, this blog can exist, as can the other AN blogs and thus a virtual community of like-minded people can exist in a way that wasn’t possible previously. But what I’m getting at is a little deeper.
In essence, it would appear that for any intelligent person there are no more forms of delusion to hand. Taking western history as my case study, since as far as back as records go, humans have sought to give life meaning essentially through religion, politics and art (either solely or in combination).
Over the past century or so, societies have gradually become more secularised and religion pushed to the margins. Intellectually, its propositions regarding existence appear to have been completely discredited by the discoveries of science. So religion as a meaning provider is gone.
Meaningful politics now appears to be at an end. We are locked into an uncontrollable and unstoppable form of Capitalism which can only be ended through some form of natural catastrophe. So politics as meaning provider in any large scale sense is gone.
Art has also become a fetish and a commodity. With the end of the big ideas has come the end of great art. It is now a playing field solely for the rich. Literature has become, by and large, a minority activity and dominated by those who seek plaudits by reaffirming the values of the society that they live in. Hence the endless stream of dreary social realism novels that focus on relationships, mortgages, family and all the usual Oprah material. So art is gone also.
In summation, there is nowhere to hide for an enlightened individual. The game is simply not worth the candle. Enlightenment began as a movement designed to rid humanity of its superstitions, quash religion of its excessive power and liberate the species. The thing is, that like any revolution, it has in essence swallowed itself. Anyone with a brain now knows there’s no reason to live, and no reason to propagate. Humanity stands revealed in its uselessness and malevolence.
What are we doing here?
Where is there to go?
Antinatalism is indeed Enlightenment 2.0