Matt Forney
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Confessions of an Antinatalist by Jim Crawford

confessions-of-an-antinatalistHow exactly does someone adhere to a philosophy that negates that person’s very existence?

It’s easy to laugh at, say, Dave Chappelle’s depiction of a blind black man who joins the KKK, but antinatalism isn’t a comedy skit or some goth kid’s attempt to intellectualize his angst: it’s a carefully thought-out philosophy. Antinatalism’s central belief is this: life is awful and we should stop trying to perpetuate this agony by having children. No bombs, no genocides, no cyanide in the water supply: just cease procreating and let the human race quietly fade into the history books.

The instinctual response to something like this is “Well gee, if your life is so bad, why don’t you stop whining and just kill yourself?”

Strangely enough, that wasn’t my instinctual response. My first thoughts upon stumbling across Jim Crawford’s blog were along the lines of “Welp, THIS movement isn’t going anywhere.” Just look around you. The only people who are using birth control and getting their tubes tied are the intelligent, primarily white middle- and upper-classes: the proles are breeding like flies in a litter box. It’s not simply that the natural aristocracy are the only ones who can grasp antinatalism, it’s that they’re the only ones with the wherewithal to put it into practice.

Just a few days before I picked up Confessions of an Antinatalist, for example, I had to watch yet another nauseating specimen of the lower classes stinking up my visage. In this case, it was a teenaged white single mom wearing pajama bottoms and smelling of day-old BO, dragging along a screaming little brat who kept trying to swipe candy off the cash register shelves. “I want the Reesies Peesies!” the little turd whined. “Wait until we go to Wegmans,” the slut responded. “BUT I WANT THE REESIES PEESIES!” the turd demanded. “OMG,” the slut sighed, taking the Reeses’ Pieces and ringing them up with her EBT card.

And that’s not a literary flourish: she actually said oh em gee, because using complete words is apparently too much work for the underclass these days.

Reading Confessions of an Antinatalist, if it doesn’t convince you of the pointlessness of human existence, will at least get you to recognize that nothing short of mandatory sterilization will solve the human infestation. Part philosophical treatise, part memoir, Jim Crawford’s book is a thoughtful deconstruction of the basest urges of organic life: the desire to fuck and procreate. While I’m unlikely to get a vasectomy anytime soon, Confessions of an Antinatalist made me rethink my inner desire to have children.

And the memoir section of Confessions of an Antinatalist goes a long way towards establishing Crawford’s credibility on the subject. Consuming the first half of the book, Crawford goes through his upbringing in seventies California, his membership in a cult, his marriage and children, his stint with homelessness, and his long, arduous journey to the present day. Interspaced between his musings are discussions of writings by Schopenhauer and David Benatar, bolstering Crawford’s point that life is utterly pointless:

The next few months were bad. I managed to hock a few things. A shotgun. A camera. A gold necklace I’d bought my wife for one of our happier anniversaries in the misty past. Maybe there was some other shit. I’m not sure. I lived on dollar hamburgers and chicken sandwiches from Carl’s Jr. I spent most of the daytime hours in parks, cleaning up in the public restrooms, writing depressing poetry and multi-paged suicidal diatribes where I blamed everything and everyone but myself. I’d pitch my journal scraps into a trash can at the end of each day. It was summer and bejesus hot, and my feet and ankles swelled up due to my uncontrolled high blood pressure to the point where all I could wear were unbuckled sandals. Sometimes I’d park under the mall parking structure and read old paperbacks until it got dark.

Crawford’s writing has a learned-but-folksy feel to it, like a more morbid version of Fred Reed. His prose is simple, lean and unpretentious, whether he’s talking about his health issues or discussing his interpretation of Buddhist philosophy. While the first half of the book feels somewhat aimless, with Crawford constantly flipping between heavier discussions of antinatalism with stories from his past, it works quite well in setting up the second half of the book, where things get deep.

The end of the book is dedicated to Crawford’s own philosophy of antinatalism (which is surprisingly short) as well as responses to his critics. To put it simply, life frankly isn’t all that great. It’s a long, arduous struggle of brief pleasures and extended pains, and condemning other people to it through childbirth is one of the most evil acts we can commit:

Well? Why MUST they be? That’s the question far too few of these guys ask themselves. Why is it so important to fill up every future moment with people? Before the first hominid stood up to get a better look over the savannah, was there something fundamentally missing in the universe? If tonight we all went to bed and just didn’t wake up, what difference would it make? We are temporal creatures living on a speck of dust in a microscopic corner of one of hundreds of billions of galaxies. What is so crucial about our particular existence that we feel compelled to roll children out of their carnal slumber, slap them around for a while, feed them, fuck them, pull them through knotholes, blindfold them, turn them round and round, then send them back off to find their beds? It makes no sense!

That’s the inherent problem with antinatalism: it’s a rational philosophy aimed at an irrational species. Strip away the veneer of civilization and you’ll quickly see that we’re not too far removed from the apes. A little tremor in the foundation of society and we’ll be raping each other and slitting throats in short order. The drive to procreate, to blast that little bit of DNA inside a woman’s snatch to create yet another hairless lump of flesh, is one that no logical argument will ever be able to dent.

Humans are just meat puppets full of hormones and base impulses.

Nonetheless, there’s something beautiful in the doomed struggle of antinatalists, in the same way that there was something beautiful about the Alamo. Crawford and his compadres are a tiny, outgunned minority with no chance of victory, yet they fight on anyway, convinced of the righteousness of their cause. And as the zombies climb over the fort walls, drooling their chants of “Choooooose liffffffe…” and “Liffffffeeeeee issssss greeeeeeaaaaaat…”, you can just imagine Crawford firing slugs into their skulls up until the bitter end.

For this reason alone, you should read Confessions of an Antinatalist: it’s a fair, logical and darkly humorous treatment of one of organic life’s most basic urges. While it probably won’t make you pick up a gun and join Crawford at the fort, it might just result in you reconsidering your life choices. Planet Earth may belong to the zombies and their idiot progeny, but by God, they’ll never take away our brains.

Click here to buy Confessions of an Antinatalist.

Read Next: Confessions of a Reluctant Hater by Greg Johnson

  • Brian L

    Let me first say that I appreciate reading Jim Crawford’s thoughts on antinatalism, and find myself often browsing through his blog, being an antinatalist myself, and having had a vasectomy at 22 to ensure I would not condemn another to what I believe is, ultimately and at best, a pointless endeavour. Having said that, I have nagging doubts as to his credibility, not on the subject, but on his adherence, or lack thereof, to it. Because it is so much easier to preach something than to do it. All he had to do was not breed, and he couldn’t even do that. Ditto other like-minded proponents, including Schopenhauer, who had one daughter, though she died the same year she was born… As well as population alarmists such as Paul Erlich, who just couldnt get past the thought that he to should partake in not having kids, but others should…. not that I’m comparing eugenicists to antinatalists. Please don’t mistake that. But when a proponent of anything does not live as his philosophy dictates, does he truly deserve to be considered credible? Zappfe? Now he’s credible.

    Someday, I’ll put together a list of all antinatalist proponents who themselves lived by their word. And those who did not.

  • Simon Elliot

    Fucking brilliant piece. I loved it.

  • A very good review, Mr. Forney.