Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Say No to Reproduction, Say No to Humanity

I asked Dawn Eden yesterday if she had seen this little gem from "Freethinker" at Feministing, which has been making the rounds.

Along with the emancipation of women, sexual liberation has become very much a part of politics around the world. To the conservatives, both these issues challenge 'family values'.

But what if there were no families? What if we say no to reproduction?

My understanding of reproduction is that it is the basis of the institutions of marriage and family, and those two provide the moorings to the structure of gender and sexual oppression. Family is the social institution that ensures unpaid reproductive and domestic labour, and is concerned with initiating a new generation into the gendered (as I analyzed here) and classed social set-up. Not only that, families prevent money the flow of money from the rich to the poor: wealth accumulates in a few hands to be squandered on and bequeathed to the next generation, and that makes families as economic units selfishly pursue their own interests and become especially prone to consumerism.

So it makes sense to say that if the world has to change, reproduction has to go. Of course there is an ecological responsibility to reduce the human population, or even end it, and a lot was said about that on the blogosphere recently (here, and here), but an ecological consciousness is not how I came to my decision to remain child-free.

Because reproduction is seen as a psychological need, even a biological impulse, that would supposedly override any rational concerns arising out of a sense of responsibility, ecological or otherwise, I would like to propose emotional conditioning to counter such a need or impulse to reproduce. . . .

[M]arried people become much less charitable when they had their children to 'take care of', which means expensive schools, football clubs, game consoles, etc., etc. Because of the social premium on marriage and family, the poor also have children, only their children have no future and can easily be exploited by the economic system. . . .

Thus as I realized how the cultural imperative on starting a family was unfair to women and the poor, I felt an instinctive aversion to it. That is the emotionally conditioned response that could override our responses to needs and instincts that make us want to reproduce. And if we rule out the biological 'instinct', which is strictly only to have sex and not to reproduce, my case for saying no to reproduction becomes much stronger. (emphasis added)

Now, if someone were to say something like this to me in my presence, my likely response would be to look at my watch and say with a smile, "Wow, look at the time. I gotta go. Good luck with that no reproduction thing." and then walk away.

So what was my response when Dawn wrote back asking if I wanted to write a guest post on it for her blog The Dawn Patrol? Ha!

I wrote back:

Thank you, Dawn, I would be delighted to write a guest post sometime, but on this? After thinking about it last night and this morning, I still don't have a clue as to how to respond to this.

I know how to start -- quoting Thomas Paine from an open letter to British General William Howe,

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture. Enjoy, sir, your insensibility of feeling and reflecting. It is the prerogative of animals. And no man will envy you these honors, in which a savage only can be your rival and a bear your master."

-- The Crisis, March 21, 1778.

But after noting that you can't reason with someone who has abandoned reason and embraced irrationality, I am pretty much at a loss for words. I could ridicule. I could point out that, if serious, this is simply the inherently nihilistic contraceptive mentality writ large and taken to its extreme logical conclusion. I could talk about how a world without children, a world without reproduction, was chillingly depicted in the movie Children of Men. I could note that this is simply of a piece in a time when, on multiple fronts, we are fast seeking to embrace national suicide, if not worldly suicide.

But mostly, all I can do is simply shake my head and shrug my shoulders while being dismayed that anyone would give such ideas a serious hearing, much less holding such ideas themselves. How did we get to such a point? Should anyone really have to point out the absurdities of these ideas? We now live in a world where things that once would have been universally rejected as being abominations are instead not merely accepted, but taken to be matter-of-course -- sometimes even by those who should know better. From abortion to partial-birth infanticide to embryo-killing stem cell research to other embryonic and fetal experimentation to severing procreation from marriage and family to in vitro fertilization, severing procreation from marital sex, to surrogate motherhood to cloning to human-animal hybridization to advocating medicalized suicide to directly euthanizing the disabled, sick, and elderly, even to the extent of a torturous death by dehydration and starvation, and on and on. Once upon a time these things would have been understood everywhere as the chamber of horrors that they are, seen only in such works of fiction as Frankenstein, Brave New World, and the aforementioned Children of Men.

Truth, not only moral truth, but scientific truth, is turned on its head. What was once obviously and indisputably false is now held to be true. What was once wrong is now a right. At best, relativism is the new truth. We are indeed being "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine," which only results in "a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires."

And how does one engage in a dialogue with a dictatorship of relativism?? "To reason with despots is throwing reason away." For years and years and years the pro-life movement has tirelessly tried to use reason in engaging the world and in defense of the truth of the inherent dignity of the human person. However, while there has been some movement on the abortion front, things like cloning and embryo-killing research comes out of nowhere to receive world-wide acclaim. Clearly, to reason in a dictatorship of relativism is throwing reason away.

So, what to do? What to say when presented with the irrational idea of "say no to reproduction"?

At the same time, turning away in despair is not an answer either. We may not be able to reason with those who have embraced such nihilism, but perhaps we can try to innoculate some others from becoming infected with the worldly disease of relativism. Perhaps we cannot change and restore society at large, but must instead convince and convert one person at a time. One by one, teaching and encouraging in the light of truth. One neighbor at a time, one friend at a time, one student at a time, one child at a time.

Thank you again, your pal,


-- So, that was my response to Dawn's kind invitation. I don't know if that makes for a "guest post," but like I said, I am really at a loss as to how to engage someone like Freethinker. So there you are. Wow, look at the time. I gotta go.

1 comment:

Analisa said...

I think you did about as well as you could. I love the Paine quote - so appropos.