Steve Gagne

Demographics

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Hi. I just stole this thread from the "Parenting" section because the polemics in this post do not belong there. This thread started as a discussion of an individual who does not want children. I have no right to disagree with her insofar as her individual choices go. The subject I want to address here, though is demographics -- the observable aggregate result of what happens when many people make the same choices concerning their fertility.

Leaving out side discussions concerning abortion and the like, this is the basic frame of the discussion:

I would really appreciate hearing from anyone who has made a personal choice to remain childless. I'm almost certain that I don't want children (I'm now 32 and have never wanted them). Whilst I know that no one can make this decision for me, I've had warnings from people who have children saying that I may change my mind, but I've never heard from anyone who chose not to have children (rather than couldn't) and is glad they made that decision. I'd particularly like to hear from women. If there is anybody who decided not to have children and now regrets it, I'd like to hear from them too, if it's something they would be willing to share, as I realise that this is probably painful for them?

I have a nephew and niece and friends who have children, so I wouldn't be completely isolated from them.

Here's a link to an interesting article about having children and happiness.

According to studies that have been done, children do not bring us happiness, instead they have a small negative impact on our happiness. Couples start out happy when they are first married and their happiness decreases when they have children and then increases again when their children leave home.

http://www.randomhouse.com/kvpa/gilbert/bl...ll_heroin8.html

This for me is an even more compelling reason not to have children - evolution doesn't give a damn about my level of happiness, all it cares about is that I reproduce! Happily, for the first time in human history I live in a society where I can beat evolution.

Fran:

~ IGNORE 'studies' about children-bring-(or don't)-'happiness'. They CAN 'add'...for some; they also CAN 'detract' for others! 'Bring', they don't...anymore than anything else CAN. NOTHING 'bring's happiness...to a person passively waiting for it to be 'brought' to them.

~ You really want [ahem: 'need'] one (or more), go for them; you don't, DON'T. Don't allow yourself to get caught in a self-accepted trap set up (ignorantly, by others) of 2nd-guessing yourself re what you 'should' have wanted.

~ How simple can this be? You 'want' such (career in brain-surgery/quantum-physics or hobbyist skill-development...or child-raising): do it. You don't; don't.

LLAP

J:D

Fran --

I agree with John Dailey on the advice side.

I had some other things to say, but I realized that they were inappropriate for the scale and scope of this discussion; making them appear to be intentionally, unnecessarily cruel. That is not my intent. I may start another thread wherein they would be appropriate, but not here.

On a personal note, if you don't want children, why on earth would you consider having them?

Though I agree with John Dailey on the advice side, I must take issue with the supposed truth-value, or at least the implications, of Fran's last statement:

This for me is an even more compelling reason not to have children - evolution doesn't give a damn about my level of happiness, all it cares about is that I reproduce! Happily, for the first time in human history I live in a society where I can beat evolution.

Evolution may "care" (what an anthropomorphism!) about nothing but one's reproduction, but acting upon an aversion to having children, plays straight into natural selection -- if one opts out and remain childless, he makes himself the dead end of the chain of life that brought him into being. This is not called "beating evolution", it's called "extinction" -- a very important factor in real evolution.

The topic I'm bringing up is the problem of demographics, and is discussed in a book by Mark Steyn entitled America Alone. The link connects to an excerpt from the book on Free Republic. Its topic of the demographic collapse of western civilization is in the same vein as the last few books by Pat Buchanan.

The argument put forth is that the current western tendency, of downplaying the importance of family and posterity, plays directly into the demographic debacle that western civilization now finds itself in. If those people who come from western civilization, those who we hope would have an appreciation for its rational intellectual traditions, will not maintain their demographic pre-eminence, their civilization will be overrun and and destroyed, to be replaced by those who have no such orientation or loyalties. (Like by Brazilians...haha, Michael. Or Armenians. Or Eskimos.)

Do you understand how the rational choice of refusing to bring children into the world, and to educate them to be rational human beings, will actually result in a world full of irrational people? Don't say, "but I can teach someone else, and he will embrace objective reason and rationality as I do," because (a) it's a lie -- you are neither trying nor succeeding, and (b) it does not contribute one additional rational being to life. There will still be more people born into the irrational mob, to live worse than animals, than those born to live as rational human beings. Population movements throughout history, like those triggered by the cyclic climate shift every 650 years or so (for at least 6000 years -- the last one was 650 years ago) have generally benefitted larger population groups; the smaller ones have either been assimilated or have become extinct. This phenomenon can as easily be made manifest in the relation between rational people and irrational people. If you give up the world to the irrational people, their granchildren "will dance on your unmarked grave."

If that's the type of legacy you wish to leave to the world of rational men, then have at it. You can always say, like the fictional Cuffy Miegs, "In the long run, we'll all be dead." But were you in a burning building, it would be really stupid to stand there and burn with it, expecting anyone else to stand with you -- refusing to escape simply because you weren't the one who set the fire. Likewise, you cannot expect everyone around you to close their eyes ("blank-out"), and pretend with you that that a world left to irrational people is not the consequence of your chosen actions.

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If you have expectation that the government is going to take care of you in your old age you'll have less reason to have children as a hedge against old-age poverty. Also: children are no longer much of a capital asset for farmers; thanks to the government, education and medical costs are way too high making kids a net liability. Ironically, the cost of medicine for the aged borne by Uncle Sam's Medicare--or for the poor--Medicaid,is the prime reason for inflated medical costs.

The welfare state is the suicide state.

--Brant

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I fear for future generations of rational people, for the irrational populations are the ones multiplying at the fastest rate, and, yes, soon rational culture will be obliterated by sheer numbers.

It was said on the radio last week, that the new Islamic goal is not the violent overthrow of America by terrorism, but the infiltration of its government by Islamic people, through the influx of large numbers of Islamic people.

This is a war that will be won by attrition; American rationalists will be overtaken by Islamic fundamentalists. We see the trial balloons already, with inroads into our political system.

Objectivists, more than any other group, need to multiply their numbers as fast as possible.

While every one has a right to their own selfish interest, I see no harm in taking steps to ensure a ration world exists for our children.

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More rational children would be nice. Is there a way to speed 'em up to high school and get 'em to my classes? I'm getting frustrated over here.

On a more serious note, I don't see any responsibility to have a kid any more than I see a responsibility to have three instead of two, four instead of three, or five instead of four and so on down that line. Is it in your best interest? Only if you can supply for the kid.

For those of you going to have kids, this is what my dad bought his friend's son for the kid's first birthday:

http://www.amazon.com/Island-Called-Libert...t/dp/0976616009

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On a more serious note, I don't see any responsibility to have a kid any more than I see a responsibility to have three instead of two, four instead of three, or five instead of four and so on down that line.

No, of course not.

But then, I didn't post this topic under "Ethics" for a reason. What was that reason?

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Jeff,

The book your father brought your friend looks very good.

I don't think having chiildren should be considered a duty. It is a very serious obligatiion. In the Objectivist Newsletter the question was asked what are respective obligations of parents and children. I recommend it be read.

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I don't think having chiildren should be considered a duty. It is a very serious obligatiion.

Of course there is no specific duty or obligation to bear children -- like, obligation to whom? Where there is "obligation" there would normally be some sort of "accountability", yes?

The "obligation", however is to one's own integrity: if you claim to want to have a world inhabited by rational human beings, it up to you to do what you can to provide it. No-one else owes you a rational world, and no-one else, especially a world full of irrational people, is going to give you a rational world for free. If all you do is complain about other people's irrationality and their irrational children, without bringing your own children into the world, and raising them up to your ideals, then you are just a crybaby, and your words are naught but those of a liar and a hypocrite. You already know what is necessary. Do it, or don't, as you so choose, but you are not free to deny the consequences in reality.

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Name a reason for caring about what happens to the world after we die that is sufficiently compelling to lead one to ruin one's own finite life.

Judith

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Name a reason for caring about what happens to the world after we die that is sufficiently compelling to lead one to ruin one's own finite life.

Judith

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Name a reason for caring about what happens to the world after we die that is sufficiently compelling to lead one to ruin one's own finite life.

Judith

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Name a reason for caring about what happens to the world after we die that is sufficiently compelling to lead one to ruin one's own finite life.

Judith

It's getting pretty boring isn't it.

Being the only rational consciousness, none others beyond it...

Reductio ad absurdum...bound to the the single concrete rational consciousness, there is but one, mine, and there is no other....

A finite one...so when it's gone, it's gone......but when?

You don't know, I don't know, so do we seek a rational world *fit* for ourselves and our chosen "posterity", one appropriate for man qua man, or do we just say, "FUCK IT. EVERYONE ELSE, JUST FUCK OFF AND DIE. I DON'T GIVE A FLYING FUCK WHAT KIND OF WORLD WE LIVE IN. I HOPE THE FUCKIN' MOOZLIMS NUKE US. REMEMBER, IN THE LONG RUN WE'LL ALL BE DEAD."

Now THAT'S ruining a life. Many, in fact.

But if you think that creating the next generation of human beings (as our parents did) is "ruining" your life, that is so pathetically irrational that I cannot relate to it enough to form any credible "reason" why it would be right or wrong.

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But if you think that creating the next generation of human beings (as our parents did) is "ruining" your life, that is so pathetically irrational that I cannot relate to it enough to form any credible "reason" why it would be right or wrong.

On the other hand, since none of us is getting out here alive, there is no -logical- reason why we should care if our species survives a long time. It cannot benefit us. It is one of those things that there is no logical reason for.

Now, I -do care- but I cannot defend my caring logically.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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On the other hand, since none of us is getting out here alive, there is no -logical- reason why we should care if our species survives a long time. It cannot benefit us. It is one of those things that there is no logical reason for.

Now, I -do care- but I cannot defend my caring logically.

Bob,

That's a relief.

Incidentally, I can defend my own caring (and yours) logically. It starts with the law of identity, goes through biology, then ethics, and a few other considerations. There is a fully logical reason.

Michael

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On the other hand, since none of us is getting out here alive, there is no -logical- reason why we should care if our species survives a long time. It cannot benefit us. It is one of those things that there is no logical reason for.

Now, I -do care- but I cannot defend my caring logically.

Bob,

That's a relief.

Incidentally, I can defend my own caring (and yours) logically. It starts with the law of identity, goes through biology, then ethics, and a few other considerations. There is a fully logical reason.

Michael

What material will you personally receive if our species lasts another million years? Do tell me. I am all ears. I have no doubt you can rationalize the matter, but it is unsuportable from both a utilitarian and a logical basis.

As for me, I get a warm glow thinking about humans outlasting the ants.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Some of our lives can be described as "follow throughs." Thus we connect with the next generation if not generations, I hope in a strongly positive way. This is one of the working premises of my life. I cannot imagine the life style of the "idle rich" or one of leisure or retirement. When my brain goes then I'll be retired, but it looks like that isn't likely to happen considering my genes.

--Brant

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Bob,

Logic and observation work hand in hand in gaining and processing knowledge. That is the basis of science.

A human being is a member of an animal species. As he/she has a physical capacity to reproduce, so there is a psychological counterpart. Simple non-contradictory observation will get you to this point.

I could go on, but let's see first if you accept the role of observation in gaining knowledge.

(Don't worry. I'm pulling for you... :) )

Michael

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A finite one...so when it's gone, it's gone......but when?

You don't know, I don't know, so do we seek a rational world *fit* for ourselves and our chosen "posterity", one appropriate for man qua man, or do we just say, "FUCK IT. EVERYONE ELSE, JUST FUCK OFF AND DIE. I DON'T GIVE A FLYING FUCK WHAT KIND OF WORLD WE LIVE IN. I HOPE THE FUCKIN' MOOZLIMS NUKE US. REMEMBER, IN THE LONG RUN WE'LL ALL BE DEAD."

Reproducing or not reproducing won't noticeably change the world in which we ourselves live. The only effect wouuld occur long after we are dead.

What if, like me, you don't choose any "posterity" at all?

Now THAT'S ruining a life. Many, in fact.

Not mine. As long as it lasts throughout my lifespan, that's all I really care about.

But if you think that creating the next generation of human beings (as our parents did) is "ruining" your life, that is so pathetically irrational that I cannot relate to it enough to form any credible "reason" why it would be right or wrong.

Calling my position "pathetically irrational" is simply question begging. Some of us really don't care about the future after we die. I think it's pathetically irrational to believe that we somehow gain immortality by reproducing. The people we reproduce would be independent beings, with the ability to make their own choices. They might not even choose to be rational. Look at all of us: somewhere in our line someone chose to disappoint his/her parents by not being the religious person he/she was brought up to be. There's no guarantee that your kids won't become seriously religious, or communists, or whatever.

Some of our lives can be described as "follow throughs." Thus we connect with the next generation if not generations, I hope in a strongly positive way.

I think we kid ourselves if we believe that later generations will care about us in any real way. I don't even know the names of my great-grandparents. Couldn't care less.

Judith

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Some of our lives can be described as "follow throughs." Thus we connect with the next generation if not generations, I hope in a strongly positive way.

I think we kid ourselves if we believe that later generations will care about us in any real way. I don't even know the names of my great-grandparents. Couldn't care less.

Judith

Oh, I just don't want later generations to contemn me, that's all. I'd like them to be better off somehow, someway, even if so slightly that it can't be measured, for my having lived. I consider that a moral life, but not one lived as such out of fear of God only benevolence and good will. I don't have any children and if I wanted any today, which I don't, because of the age difference I understand that many things that I find intolerable because of my extreme individualism they would be much more accepting of. That difference would be too great for me to bridge unless I had a lot of women and a lot of children and a lot of money. They wouldn't be Americans so much as international men and women moving around the world on business or whatnot. Personally, I don't want this. Ayn Rand did it right; she actually had a lot of children, even though we aren't all that respectful. And I don't want to get started on one's children "going bad." There is no character out of genes. The best environment may be to no avail.

--Brant

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From The Daily Mail.

Sex for the motherland: Russian youths encouraged to procreate at camp

By EDWARD LUCAS - More by this author »

Last updated at 08:35am on 29th July 2007

Comments (6)

Remember the mammoths, say the clean-cut organisers at the youth camp's mass wedding. "They became extinct because they did not have enough sex. That must not happen to Russia".

Obediently, couples move to a special section of dormitory tents arranged in a heart-shape and called the Love Oasis, where they can start procreating for the motherland.

With its relentlessly upbeat tone, bizarre ideas and tight control, it sounds like a weird indoctrination session for a phoney religious cult.

But this organisation - known as "Nashi", meaning "Ours" - is youth movement run by Vladimir Putin's Kremlin that has become a central part of Russian political life.

Scroll down for more

putinyouth270707_468x258.jpg

Sinister: Millions of young Russians at a youth camp discerningly similar to the Hitler Youth

Nashi's annual camp, 200 miles outside Moscow, is attended by 10,000 uniformed youngsters and involves two weeks of lectures and physical fitness.

Attendance is monitored via compulsory electronic badges and anyone who misses three events is expelled. So are drinkers; alcohol is banned. But sex is encouraged, and condoms are nowhere on sale.

Bizarrely, young women are encouraged to hand in thongs and other skimpy underwear - supposedly a cause of sterility - and given more wholesome and substantial undergarments.

Twenty-five couples marry at the start of the camp's first week and ten more at the start of the second. These mass weddings, the ultimate expression of devotion to the motherland, are legal and conducted by a civil official.

Attempting to raise Russia's dismally low birthrate even by eccentric-seeming means might be understandable. Certainly, the country's demographic outlook is dire. The hard-drinking, hardsmoking and disease-ridden population is set to plunge by a million a year in the next decade.

But the real aim of the youth camp - and the 100,000-strong movement behind it - is not to improve Russia's demographic profile, but to attack democracy.

Under Mr Putin, Russia is sliding into fascism, with state control of the economy, media, politics and society becoming increasingly heavy-handed. And Nashi, along with other similar youth movements, such as 'Young Guard', and 'Young Russia', is in the forefront of the charge.

At the start, it was all too easy to mock. I attended an early event run by its predecessor, 'Walking together', in the heart of Moscow in 2000. A motley collection of youngsters were collecting 'unpatriotic' works of fiction for destruction.

It was sinister in theory, recalling the Nazis' book-burning in the 1930s, but it was laughable in practice. There was no sign of ordinary members of the public handing in books (the copies piled on the pavement had been brought by the organisers).

Once the television cameras had left, the event organisers admitted that they were not really volunteers, but being paid by "sponsors". The idea that Russia's anarchic, apathetic youth would ever be attracted into a disciplined mass movement in support of their president - what critics called a "Putinjugend", recalling the "Hitlerjugend" (German for "Hitler Youth") - seemed fanciful.

How wrong we were. Life for young people in Russia without connections is a mixture of inadequate and corrupt education, and a choice of boring dead-end jobs. Like the Hitler Youth and the Soviet Union's Young Pioneers, Nashi and its allied movements offer not just excitement, friendship and a sense of purpose - but a leg up in life, too.

Nashi's senior officials - known, in an eerie echo of the Soviet era, as "Commissars" - get free places at top universities. Thereafter, they can expect good jobs in politics or business - which in Russia nowadays, under the Kremlin's crony capitalism, are increasingly the same thing.

Nashi and similar outfits are the Kremlin's first line of defence against its greatest fear: real democracy. Like the sheep chanting "Four legs good, two legs bad" in George Orwell's Animal Farm, they can intimidate through noise and numbers.

Nashi supporters drown out protests by Russia's feeble and divided democratic opposition and use violence to drive them off the streets.

The group's leaders insist that the only connection to officialdom is loyalty to the president. If so, they seem remarkably well-informed.

In July 2006, the British ambassador, Sir Anthony Brenton, infuriated the Kremlin by attending an opposition meeting. For months afterwards, he was noisily harassed by groups of Nashi supporters demanding that he "apologise". With uncanny accuracy, the hooligans knew his movements in advance - a sign of official tip-offs.

Even when Nashi flagrantly breaks the law, the authorities do not intervene. After Estonia enraged Russia by moving a Sovietera war memorial in April, Nashi led the blockade of Estonia's Moscow embassy. It daubed the building with graffiti, blasted it with Stalinera military music, ripped down the Estonian flag and attacked a visiting ambassador's car. The Moscow police, who normally stamp ruthlessly on public protest, stood by.

Nashi fits perfectly into the Kremlin's newly-minted ideology of "Sovereign democracy". This is not the mind-numbing jargon of Marxism-Leninism, but a lightweight collection of cliches and slogans promoting Russia's supposed unique political and spiritual culture.

It is strongly reminiscent of the Tsarist era slogan: "Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationality".

The similarities to both the Soviet and Tsarist eras are striking. Communist ideologues once spent much of their time explaining why their party deserved its monopoly of power, even though the promised utopia seemed indefinitely delayed.

Today, the Kremlin's ideology chief Vladislav Surkov is trying to explain why questioning the crooks and spooks who run Russia is not just mistaken, but treacherous.

Yet, by comparison with other outfits, Nashi looks relatively civilised. Its racism and prejudice is implied, but not trumpeted. Other pro-Kremlin youth groups are hounding gays and foreigners off the streets of Moscow. Mestnye [The Locals] recently distributed leaflets urging Muscovites to boycott non-Russian cab drivers.

These showed a young blonde Russian refusing a ride from a swarthy, beetle-browed taxi driver, under the slogan: "We're not going the same way."

Such unofficial xenophobia matches the official stance. On April 1, a decree explicitly backed by Mr Putin banned foreigners from trading in Russia's retail markets. By some estimates, 12m people are working illegally in Russia.

Those who hoped that Russia's first post-totalitarian generation would be liberal, have been dissapointed. Although explicit support for extremist and racist groups is in the low single figures, support for racist sentiments is mushrooming.

Slogans such as "Russia for the Russians" now attract the support of half of the population. Echoing Kremlin propaganda, Nashi denounced Estonians as "fascist", for daring to say that they find Nazi and Soviet memorials equally repugnant. But, in truth, it is in Russia that fascism is all too evident.

The Kremlin sees no role for a democratic opposition, denouncing its leaders as stooges and traitors. Sadly, most Russians agree: a recent poll showed that a majority believed that opposition parties should not be allowed to take power.

Just as the Nazis in 1930s rewrote Germany's history, the Putin Kremlin is rewriting Russia's. It has rehaabilitated Stalin, the greatest massmurderer of the 20th century. And it is demonising Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first democratically-elected president. That he destroyed totalitarianism is ignored. Instead, he is denounced for his "weak" pro-Western policies.

While distorting its own history, the Kremlin denounces other countries. Mr Putin was quick to blame Britain's "colonial mentality" for our government's request that Russia try to find a legal means of extraditing Andrei Lugovoi, the prime suspect in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.

Yet the truth is that Britain, like most Western countries, flagellates itself for the crimes of the past. Indeed, British schoolchildren rarely learn anything positive about their country's empire. And, if Mr Putin has his way, Russian pupils will learn nothing bad about the Soviet empire, which was far bloodier, more brutal - and more recent.

A new guide for history teachers - explicitly endorsed by Mr Putin - brushes off Stalin's crimes. It describes him as "the most successful leader of the USSR". But it skates over the colossal human cost - 25m people were shot and starved in the cause of communism.

"Political repression was used to mobilise not only rank-and-file citizens but also the ruling elite," it says. In other words, Stalin wanted to make the country strong, so he may have been a bit harsh at times. At any time since the collapse of Soviet totalitarianism in the late 1980s, that would have seemed a nauseating whitewash. Now, it is treated as bald historical fact.

If Stalin made mistakes, so what? Lots of people make mistakes.

"Problematic pages in our history exist," Mr Putin said last week. But: "we have less than some countries. And ours are not as terrible as those of some others." He compared the Great Terror of 1937, when 700,000 people were murdered in a purge by Stalin's secret police, to the atom bomb on Hiroshima.

The comparison is preposterous. A strong argument can be made that by ending the war quickly, the atom bombs saved countless lives.

Franklin D Roosevelt and Harry Truman-may have failed to realise that nuclear weapons would one day endanger humanity's survival. But, unlike Stalin, they were not genocidal maniacs.

As the new cold war deepens, Mr Putin echoes, consciously or unconsciously, the favourite weapon of Soviet propagandists in the last one.

Asked about Afghanistan, they would cite Vietnam. Castigated for the plight of Soviet Jews, they would complain with treacly sincerity about discrimination against American blacks. Every blot on the Soviet record was matched by something, real or imagined, that the West had done.

But the contrasts even then were absurd. When the American administration blundered into Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of people protested in the heart of Washington. When eight extraordinarily brave Soviet dissidents tried to demonstrate in Red Square against the invasion of Czechoslovakia, in 1968, they were instantly arrested and spent many years in labour camps.

For the east European countries with first-hand experience of Stalinist terror, the Kremlin's rewriting of history could hardly be more scary. Not only does Russia see no reason to apologise for their suffering under Kremlin rule, it now sees the collapse of communism not as a time of liberation, but as an era of pitiable weakness.

Russia barely commemorates even the damage it did to itself, let alone the appalling suffering inflicted on other people. Nashi is both a symptom of the way Russia is going - and a means of entrenching the drift to fascism.

Terrifyingly, the revived Soviet view of history is now widely held in Russia. A poll this week of Russian teenagers showed that a majority believe that Stalin did more good things than bad.

If tens of thousands of uniformed German youngsters were marching across Germany in support of an authoritarian Fuhrer, baiting foreigners and praising Hitler, alarm bells would be jangling all across Europe. So why aren't they ringing about Nashi?

• Edward Lucas is author of the forthcoming The New Cold War And How To Win It.

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But if you think that creating the next generation of human beings (as our parents did) is "ruining" your life, that is so pathetically irrational that I cannot relate to it enough to form any credible "reason" why it would be right or wrong.

On the other hand, since none of us is getting out here alive, there is no -logical- reason why we should care if our species survives a long time. It cannot benefit us. It is one of those things that there is no logical reason for.

Now, I -do care- but I cannot defend my caring logically.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Bob

Just because the reasons are not on the tip of your tongue, it doesn't mean that your caring is not rational. More than 95% of our thinking occurs in the perpetual wild night of our subconscious, addressed in dreams and visions of the night. It takes a monstrous effort to ride that rhino.

Now concerning the making of a rational world for ourselves and those who come after, I'm not arguing from a point of "primary utility" here. but rather the concept borrowed from economics of "marginal utility" -- the incremental value, at the "margin", of "just one more unit". The particular measurable unit being, "one more day of a rational life FOR ME as a living human being".

If we guess wrong and short ourselves as to how many more days each of us needs to have a rational world to live in, then we sentence ourselves to an ultimately irrational existence in the end. If we each overestimate our own needs, however, and create conditions for an "excess amount of rationality" (how's THAT for an oxymoron), there is a "surplus value" which of right belongs to each of us as its creator. Now, you may choose to leave that "consumer surplus" on the table, so to speak, as is done in trading "commodity items", but it doesn't mean that we don't have both the right and the power to specify the beneficiary of such a surplus. Witness LP as AR's "intellectual heir". She had every right to choose who would be the beneficiary of the remains of her particular intellectual edifice. Even if she was wrong.

But in recognizing this, we have to presume that the creators, the rational people, are on the whole actually creating excess value, i.e., making the world a better, more rational place to live. We also have to presume that this will be an on-going process rather than a fluke. I presume that my own life is a value, and I presume others do also. I must reason from this that my parents' creating me and my generation was a value for them, as a fulfillment of their own life values. Of course this also applies to the generation before that. And before that. And before that. "Et-Cetera, Et-Cetera, Et-Cetera....." back to our common ancestors, the first two dna expressions (at least one male and one female, in close enough temporal and geographic proximity to provide for reproduction) of our species. And from this I see that

A generation goes, and a generation comes....What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, "See, this is new"? It has been already, in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to happen among those who come after.

(Q'oheleth 1:4a, 1:9-11)

So there must needs be other rational people within this community of interest, so that our efforts do not work at cross purposes, but actually contribute even more excess value, one for the other. (Also known as synergy). Of course, there are those who will die before I do, but the excess value of their efforts will make it easier for me to maintain a rational world for myself and those around me after they are gone. Likewise, I may die before others, in which case whatever creativity and rationality I have expressed can serve as meat for those who come after.

For those who come after.

*I* get to choose that, and so do you. And so does Michael. And Kat. And Judith. And Victor. And Philip. And Wolf. And Barbara. And Nathaniel. And President Bush. And the Pope. And so does everyone else. Reproduction -- keeping life going -- is part of our nature as living beings. If we choose to create the next generation, we are choosing the continuation of life, and if we choose against it, we are choosing against the continuation of life -- Extinction. Death. Period. Even if through some hedonistic self-deception we convince ourselves otherwise.

If one can't understand that as a matter of PRINCIPLE, applicable as "right" across the totality of the human race, and dictated in fact by our NATURE, then by what "right" do they claim to be intellectual heirs of those who swore to sacrifice "Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor" in defense of Liberty and the Natural Rights of Man?

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Stepping back just a little from the discussion of whether there's anything wrong with not having children, what about the consequences for Objectivism as a philosophy?

I haven't done a serious survey, but I'll bet that Objectivists reproduce at a rate far lower than average for people living in their neighborhood. I'll also bet that it's not too controversial to say that Objectivists typically reproduce at lower than replacement rates.

As this thread shows, it's pretty hard to come up with compelling philosophical reasons why having more children is something good Objectivists should start doing.

If it's true that the average Objectivist does not reproduce at replacement rates, and it's true that having children is not a particularly rational act of self-interest for most people, then if everyone were to be converted to Objectivism, that would end the human race within a few generations. Is everyone OK with that outcome?

Mike Lee

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Stepping back just a little from the discussion of whether there's anything wrong with not having children, what about the consequences for Objectivism as a philosophy?

I haven't done a serious survey, but I'll bet that Objectivists reproduce at a rate far lower than average for people living in their neighborhood. I'll also bet that it's not too controversial to say that Objectivists typically reproduce at lower than replacement rates.

You're assuming that the children of objectivists will necessarily become and remain objectivists. That's a faulty assumption. My parents weren't objectivists. Were yours? Objectivism particularly lends itself to nonconformity. Its numbers will grow from converts, not from natives born into it. The children of nonconformists aren't necessarily going to be nonconformists as well; they may be horrified by their parents and go out and become Methodists and join the Rotary club.

If it's true that the average Objectivist does not reproduce at replacement rates, and it's true that having children is not a particularly rational act of self-interest for most people, then if everyone were to be converted to Objectivism, that would end the human race within a few generations. Is everyone OK with that outcome?

Suits me fine.

Judith

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