“Lust is sin,”—so say some who preach death—”let us
go apart and beget no children!”
“Giving birth is troublesome,”—say others—”why still
give birth? One beareth only the unfortunate!” And they
also are preachers of death.
Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘Thus spake Zarathustra’
The growing general awareness about child abuse seems to result in some people becoming ill with a certain obsessive idealisation of children, to the point of wanting to preserve their iconic image much in the way someone commits suicide to preserve their ego; in fact what they propose is not far from collective suicide for all human race.
Daniel Mackler (http://wildtruth.net/) is known for his strong stance in acknowledging the drama of childhood, and that is something we have in common. His criticism of Alice Miller is brilliant; but sadly what he puts forward, as he moves on into unknown moral territory, is far easier to demolish – if it doesn’t just demolish itself.
The article (Five Reasons Not To Have Children) is a quick read, just as too quick is his dismissal of this most important question, especially in the light of the admonition. Still, as one would expect, it completely gives away the irrationality and defensiveness he harbours, and that is interesting to see.
Firstly, the overall argument can be summarised as that of “saving nature” by going against nature, or “saving children” by going against children.
Secondly, there is a number of far-reaching unjustified assumptions – which, for someone who supports his theses on a basis of personal experience, is obviously not very good practice – does he realise he’s making them?:
“Traumatizing children is the worst thing ever.”
Why? If healing from trauma is possible even in adulthood – which is an assumption I make too – then, clearly, trauma in itself is not as bad as he portrays it. Trauma is also not just the result of human action or inaction; children can also be traumatised from an accident, for example, so should we also stop having children because this is the case?.
It is not in the causing of trauma that there is much evitability or human will involved, but in the healing or intention to repair. Such a perfectionistic approach to healing as to regard the avoidance of trauma as an absolute imperative only means that no healing will get done.
“You will traumatize your children.”
Very well, so if I will inevitably traumatize them, then what chances do I have to not traumatize myself (my inner child or true self) also inevitably from the fact that I am traumatized, and make Daniel’s advice to focus on my own healing completely futile?
In other words, inasmuch as I am likely to traumatize my children, I am likely to just keep traumatizing myself, and so there is absolutely no point telling me I should focus on myself alone.
Yet in other words, if a parent is willing to listen to Daniel Mackler’s advice, and work on herself, then clearly there is hope for her children too of not being traumatized, or of healing from whatever trauma they might experience.
“Nature is good; people are bad”
This is such an old one and so connected itself to the idea of original sin – and all the child abuse it represents – that I feel a bit silly addressing it. Anyone with a reasonable knowledge
of the ecosystems knows that nature is as ugly and hostile to man as it is beautiful and friendly. Anyone with a reasonable knowledge of science – let alone children, who are born scientists – knows, about the false dichotomy of “man vs. nature” and that, of course, everything in nature is natural, including man and whatever the hell he does with it for better or worse.
The projection of moral goodness and other human qualities onto things and landscapes is such a common trait among traumatised people one does wonder why it goes unnoticed by Mackler, who has supposedly treated dozens of people for many years and continually draws upon this experience. This is about as common an occurrence as there are people who think a farmland equals to the savannah, or a park equals a jungle, in terms of being “in nature”; or people who populate internet discussion forums from their warm, comfortable chairs extolling the virtues of the amazon tribe model…
Clearly, with this non-philosophical approach, one can never be anywhere close to finding out the reasons for overpopulation – or even the existence of such a thing – let alone the reasons one shouldn’t supposedly have children; and it is reasonable to think that Mackler is not interested in them either for the purpose of this “noble savage” type argument.
This point deserves to be quoted more fully:
3) You’d probably serve the world better by healing yourself more
Many people think they’re contributing to the world by having children. But if you think that your future, unborn child will contribute more to the world than you yourself can do then what you’re really saying is that you’re hopeless about yourself and have more faith in a completely unborn being,
This is not only a non sequitur (how does it follow that you’re really saying that?!) but also, if I would “probably serve the world better” by healing myself “more” then, according to Daniel, there is still a possibility that I can have a child and heal myself “more” too – whatever that means to him –, especially since I would be supposedly saying this as someone with an intention to heal trauma.
Indeed, if Mackler wasn’t, as before, gratuitously assuming that having children will inevitably result in their being traumatised by their parent’s corresponding anti-healing process, then he could be consistent with his own position here and simply say that you might be saying you are hopeless – not that you really are saying…
These slips in the quality of the argument, from absolute certainty to probability, etc., do nothing but confirm he doesn’t really know what he is talking about; or worse, that he knows what he is talking about is false but still tries for people to swallow it.
“… a completely unborn being, a projection, a fantasy, than you do in your own actual life. “
Who – in light of what’s being proposed – is really having an unborn-children fantasy here, Daniel or the people he addresses? If anything can be concluded from this blindness, it’s the projection onto others of the fact that he is the one who likes to nurture fantastic children and philosophies.
Again, if I am interested in my own healing, then surely having a real child would help me identify one such projection and fantasy by providing me with a clear contrast – and quite a wakening and persistent one. On the other hand, all Daniel Mackler would have in his repertoire would be the words of adults about the actual fantasy of children forever unborn.
Really, if it comes to fantasising being a bad thing, perhaps it would be helpful to check your own statements first, before telling others that their fantasies of producing better human beings are hopeless; you might be mistaking fantasy for imagination and good purpose.
“And what a horrible thing to consider: that a child would have to have a parent who is hopeless about his or her own inner process. “
And if it comes to “hopeless” being a bad thing, then who is more explicitly confirming their hopelessness, someone who wishes to have a child or someone who thinks they are too traumatised to have children? This projection of Daniel’s own hopelessness is as sad as it is conspicuous.
“My suggestion: do more inner work. Lots of it. That’s what the world really needs. Not more kids. Doing inner work is hard. “
It’s not like I think self exploration is unnecessary, of course not, but perhaps Daniel and I are not quite talking about the same thing. Perhaps doing this “inner work” is so hard that one is unable to dedicate their nervous system to achieving more integrity, which I’d say is the only thing that constitutes healing.
I have come across these Schwartzeneggers of self work many times in debate – people who value the quantity of it over the quality – and they cannot avoid fallacies and evasions just like they cannot put together a coherent case in an article. To this day I still find it hard to understand why they so resist the idea that reason is the only way through which integrity can be achieved in the inner world as in the outer, and that their bad philosophical truth-seeking skills just show that they are working, not in favour, but against healing. But of course the answer is simple: people go to the gym because they – their parents – don’t like the way they look.
“A rock-solid monogamous couple is the only way to raise healthy children”
I guess one could forgive this assumption because we are generally terrified to death to question our cultural beliefs about sex and marriage – due to the way we were appropriated and threatened as children, of course. A brief look at the evolutionary past of mankind (hunter-gatherers) will show how the care of children was a common affair, and marriage types and arrangements a result of scarcity or other issues; not quite moral absolutes. To this day, of course, child raising keeps being a common affair; just because you put emotional and real walls around your nuclear family doesn’t mean you and your child aren’t completely and utterly dependent on society. (I will expand on this interesting topic in other articles.)
This model of romantic cocoon for the raising of children is so largely unquestioned precisely because moral philosophers like Mackler – and, notably, Stefan Molyneux – have still been unable to free themselves to a sufficient degree from their parent’s sexual possession, and project all their guilt onto others by considering anyone who would challenge their sexual and reproductive practices traumatised. While Molyneux takes refuge in an irrational defence of marriage, in Daniel’s case this means he goes all the way as to advocating celibacy, and it would only take another philosophical analysis of this article to see why.
As well versed in the field of psychotherapy, Mackler and Molyneux should know that traumatised people like to blame themselves and feel guilty about things which are not bad in themselves – starting with their own body – which they label as immoral absolutes; but for some mysterious reason their own resolution about sex and loyalty is an exception here…
“5) Having kids will likely knock you off your life’s path”
In other words, “your life’s path is the most important thing, therefore never have children”. This is the summit of obsessiveness. What does it mean to title this point “having kids will likely knock you off your life’s path” if not that he considers personal aggrandisement goals of ultimate and utmost importance – above children of course – when he then expands the point by referring to the pursuit of self-healing as a universally preferable life path?
If my path is to be a top tennis player and a child is born to me, then am I doing wrong because I prioritise tennis to self-healing, or because of the child? If it is because of the former, then why does Daniel begin by arguing that I shouldn’t have children because I will probably be “knocked off my life’s path”, instead of simply stating that I should just quit tennis and fornicating altogether, and dedicate my life to self-healing? Why, because self-healing to him equates to forever winning Wimbledon; it is an egocentric, unconscious and implicit recognition of the impossible – which is a characteristic of the typical workaholic false self, just as perfectionism is.
“No child deserves to be born to even slightly screwed-up parents who, in the best the child can hope for, have to spend years working through the hellish grieving process.”
Why? I am not saying they do, but why does no child deserve this? No rational justification, and again a sign of the most sickening perfectionist idealisation. No wonder Daniel views the healing process as “hellish”. Hell, in all its eternal flavour, is precisely the experience most babies go through in their early life; and feeling like one must endure this during the adult healing process suggests that, what is really happening, is the continuation of the abusive relationship with the parent or caregiver in some other way.
As I mentioned before, if these people realised that healing is not quantitative, but qualitative, they sure wouldn’t have to go through “hell”; just as, if a baby who could fully act on a basis of principle (the principle that he is an equal to the parent) and leave his family of origin, he wouldn’t have to go through it either.
And with this we arrive at the end of the article, where lies probably the most fundamental mistake in his whole approach:
“Most people use kids to avoid growing. And they do it totally unconsciously. “
When someone is unconscious they cannot be blamed, by definition, since they are not in control of their actions. Since to “avoid growing” is equal to traumatising the children, how can Daniel Mackler have blamed his own parents, when he says parents are totally unconscious in the process? How could he have achieved any healing without blame?
Sadly, all this means is that blame is still being directed at children for him, which is why they must not be born. Children are the enemy of Daniel Mackler’s untenable saviour self; who perpetually hates them, imperfect, for wanting themselves to be born to an imperfect world.
Naturally, children will continue to be born, and hate him back, much like society has always hated their idols.