Am I an Anti-Natalist?

If children were brought into the world by an act of pure reason alone, would the human race continue to exist? Would not a man rather have so much sympathy with the coming generation as to spare it the burden of existence, or at any rate not take it upon himself to impose that burden upon it in cold blood?~ Arthur Schopenhauer 

I have been accused of being an anti-natalist. The accusations suggest my particular variety of anti-natalism is congruent with life as a serial killer. Because I do not appreciate being called such names without supporting evidence, I decided the issue was worth a quick etymological investigation.

The definition of natalism, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, is “an attitude or policy favoring or encouraging population growth.” The definition includes no mention of serial killers. Indeed, the definition mentions no murder of any kind.

I decided not to have children of my own at the age of 19 years. At the time, it made no sense to me to bring another human into the world without his or her permission, particularly in light of the publication of Limits to Growth seven years earlier. It still makes no sense to me. So far, I have succeeded in my personal quest to avoid adding more people to Earth.

I explained the horrors of continued growth of the human population for more than two decades in college and university classrooms. Few students took my advice seriously. I learned to not be attached to the outcome of my efforts, in the classroom and beyond. I thank my students for serving as my teachers.

I dedicated my first book-length work of social criticism, Killing the Natives, “to those who selflessly stop at zero.” Based on the responses I subsequently received, you would have thought I was suggesting we murder all babies, human and otherwise. That was not my point.

I am no fan of continued growth of the human population. At more than 7.7 billion and growing rapidly, I think there are plenty of us.

I am no fan of death. I am no fan of extinction, human or otherwise.

I know I will die. I am pretty sure you will die. I know our species, Homo sapiens, will go extinct. The only serious questions about death and extinction involve cause and timing.

I am certain my own death and extinction of Homo sapiens will occur soon. I am still no fan of death. I am still no fan of extinction, human or otherwise.

Apparently I am an anti-natalist. Apparently, based upon logic, I need not apologize for donning this label.

Too many humans, combined with an astonishing rate of consumption, have brought us to the brink of extinction. Too late to turn back now, I do not judge, shame, or blame people for bringing more humans to life. I am an educator, not a judge.


Thanks to muse Mimi German for inspiring this essay


6 thoughts on “Am I an Anti-Natalist?

  1. Serial killer? Then there is a large percentage of the human race that have and continue to serially kill other life for millennia to further themselves.

    Like the author, I have no wish to hasten, but I don’t fool myself for a second that humans dont’ have an expiration date that we are barreling headlong towards. Just look at all the shootings, wars that continue, and terrible violence towards Mother Earth.

  2. I agree with you both.
    I also have no children by choice. Many people have them due to unplanned pregnancy, feeling pressure from society or parents, think this is what their god wants or feel it’s just the thing to do.

    The world is one big self destructing mess. Why add more to that? It’s a dream that the time might come, when having children would be a good thing, and I suppose one could hope.
    But I don’t see it. Too much has gone wrong and will go wrong. I think the writing is on the proverbial wall.

  3. I’m in favor of zero population growth worldwide; I never had kids, never actually wanted any. I do blame people for reproducing like crazy, like there is no tomorrow, and soon there won’t be.

  4. Well, I agree that overpopulation is ruining Mother Earth and also just commerce, cutting down forests for cattle and farming such as palm oil. I have been aware of not wanting to contribute to overpopulation probably since I learned of this problem in my teens, 40 years ago. But there is the problem of not everyone is onboard with curbing overpopulation. Many countries still grapple with even the basic use of birth control. How can we stop overpopulation, if many countries do not even try to do this?

    Dozens of local communities across England and Wales would have suffered “spiralling” population decline without immigration, a new report shows.

    • Thanks for doing your part. Heaven forbid “spiralling” population decline everywhere–(we might even survive as a species that way). I remember 30 years ago hearing that the Japanese govt. were worried that their population was going down, so they encouraged people to have more babies to keep their factories going…

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