I’ve seen a lot of articles resurfacing where environmental changes have become an excuse for people to argue a case in favour of the draconian infringement of a woman’s right to self-determination when it comes to her reproductive capacity and desires for raising a family.
Now, I have my own opinions on this like everyone else, but as usual with Open Empire, I put my opinions aside (in the design mode) and ask the logic and science to tell me how the system has to function in order to deal with the issue without betraying its own principles.
So let’s get my personal opinion out of the way first, then I’ll deal with how I think the situation will probably play out under the Open Empire framework.
First of all, we begin by asking the question: “is the planet overpopulated?” … and as with many other questions in life (regardless of the topic), I don’t think you can accurately answer it without first answering the missing question: “in what context are you asking?” … because here’s the thing … on the one hand, we’re currently running systems that will not allow for the elimination of poverty while simultaneously providing abundance for the entire population, without doing immense amounts of ecological damage, and the planet cannot even handle what it is presently delivering to just a fraction of that population while everyone else is struggling or going without entirely.
So … in the context of the present economic paradigm, the answer is no … not without the consensus and willingness of people to make sacrifices, which very obviously they’re not willing to make, or they’d be doing it already.
Now … the other issue complicating the matter, is that we’ve now done so much damage to the planet under this existing economic paradigm, that even if we got rid of it overnight, introduced the most efficient system possible, and people were willing to make all sorts of sacrifices from the legacy of the past system … it would still take a very long time for the planet to recover its productive and recycling capacities, even if the population remained static at present levels.
However … let’s assume for a minute we hadn’t done do much damage, or we were somewhere in the future after a period of ecological recovery … THEN it is entirely possible under a different economic framework, we could actually deliver a far greater standard of living, without exception to every person on the planet, and potentially up to a population exceeding 10 billion … but without causing degradation and extinction the way we do now.
In the light of this, I do not personally support telling women nor men they cannot breed, nor do I support enforced contraception or sterilisation, EXCEPT in the case where a person was deemed to be some kind of extremely dangerous psychopath or sociopath (such as a serial killer), or a pedophile, or some other extreme case where … not as punishment, but prevention … you’re hoping to avoid the recurrence of any aspect of these traits which may be either genetic, or non-genetic yet hereditary nonetheless.
However … having said that, if I was going to ask people to do something, I’d say this: “please, until such time as we’ve solved the problem, do not have more than your share of two children with one partner – ie: one to replace each of you – and no more than an additional pair of children with one other partner”. The reason being as follows: firstly, given a certain attrition rate, plus the number of people who don’t breed at all, plus those who only have one child shared between themselves and one partner, such a policy would ensure a gradual reduction of population, but not so fast as to cause a sudden intergenerational imbalance in numbers; secondly, because I think it’s very comforting (assuming a peaceful upbringing) for a child to have a sibling, and we should not deprive them of such.
In case you’re wondering, yes you can extrapolate from this, that I wish people would stop believing that some idiotic notion of “god” wants them to “go forth and multiply” … I think such a view is extremely irresponsible in the present circumstances, and really just shows how out of touch with reality are the teachings of religion.
Open Empire framework:
Ok … but neither I nor anyone else has the right to force our views onto others (if what they’re doing is causing no harm), so how would this notion of a scientifically founded common ground look at and influence such an issue?
Well … first of all let’s just restate that Open Empire is anarchic, so there’s no one per se there to “tell you what to do”, and the system itself is philosophically agnostic on all subjects (beyond what can be proven to cause ecological and social harm or benefit) … so it really comes down to again, this idea that you take responsibility for the consequences of your actions, and others (including the system itself) respond to your resource requests based on the analysis of those consequences.
Consequences of child bearing:
So, if you have a child, what is it you’re responsible for?
Well, the child wouldn’t have existed had you not created it, and while its responsible for itself also, you’re also partly responsible … and in terms of resource availability, whether a particular resource is scarce or abundant, we are all collectively responsible for our share of consumption, but in the case of a parent, they’re also partially responsible for their share of the increase in that consumption, along with any increase in scarcity, which results from their decision to have a child. But remember, you share this burden with your partner (whether they like it or not), and thus one immediate upside, is there’s no capacity for a parent to completely escape these consequences, except in so far as they can still run away, but if you can prove they’re the parent, all they’re doing is ruining their own statistics via burdening you, potentially causing damage to the child, and causing a burden on those you ask to help in their stead.
The decision to breed:
So … how would this impact the motivation to have a child, and the manner in which the child is raised?
The most obvious thing is that just like the present, but for different reasons, it’s going to make you think about it (or not), and just like the present there will be passionate “accidents”, and all the rest (please let’s not get into a debate about the use of the word accidents there, you know what I mean) … but for those who do pay attention to how they’re being motivated, they’ll know the following:
- If my child is a happy, healthy, creative, caring, responsible and talented individual … then I’m also partly responsible for all their achievements, none of which would have happened had I not given birth to them … so I’m going to do my level best to help them discover their passions, and pursue them in their own way, for the benefit of themselves, their community, their environment, and the world at large … BUT WITHOUT turning them into a neurotic psychological wreck by trying to force them into what I think they should do, because if I get it wrong, I’ll also be responsible for that outcome;
- Since nothing costs money anymore, I’m going to seek out the best advice, assistance and explanations for issues relating to parenting … because there’s no longer a resource constraint on the supply of such things … I can even seek out advice from people whom have high quantifiable personal achievement in these areas (as can my child themself, on any topic of interest), because this is the kind of information the system itself can provide me;
- I will neither starve / malnourish, nor cause the obesity / diabetic problems with my child that are rife in the world today, as there is now no longer any motivation for the creation of artificial scarcity of food, nor the production of highly unhealthy foods … for if I was to do so, I’d be partially responsible for that … in fact in all things, I will seek moderation and a sensible balance, because it will be consistently proven that some variability within that general direction almost always produces the best results;
- I will consider very carefully how many children I have, balancing many concerns in such a decision …
… and in general terms, for all possible issues … you will see this system forces no ones hand, but instead provides the right motivations and adequate resources to allow people to “follow their hearts, but take their brains with them on that journey”. In other words … you can have as many kids as you want, but there are consequences for both quantity and quality of the kids you have … and if you cause problems or harm or scarcity from that quantity and quality, both you and your kids will pay for it before anyone else does.
For those of you who haven’t read many other articles and might be struggling to get it, I’ll just add the following …
It is highly like,y in such a system (and when I say highly likely, I mean pretty much a certainty), that some people are going to specialise in the analysis and interpretation of data … and those people will themselves be motivated to keep their own personal bias out of their conclusions, because if someone else can prove them wrong (by the fundamental principles and proofs of argument, reason, logic, maths, science etc.), then they’re responsible for the consequences of the deception or error (which could be far-reaching, so they’re going to be cautious) … so if you’re not confident with finding and analysing data yourself, you’ll find plenty of others to help … and one of the things which I suspect would be very much worthwhile for such specialists to publish, is information pertaining to localised resource supply, including availability of imports, compared to population, population growth, and thus advisories on the decision to have children (and how many), along with the consequences of particular resource consumption choices related to the raising of children, within that area. So no matter what you want to know, and how you need it worded for your particular level of understanding, you’ll find the information you need, because others can benefit by providing you that advice.