Sunday, March 05, 2006

Political Procreation

Is procreation a political statement? I guess it could be. What I'm referring to is the fact that in today's progressively overpopulating world, it could be a real political statement to have children. Maybe in the past it was considered an obvious move - I mean, of course you have children. But today, given that the world's upper limits of provisions are in view, it may certainly be in the earth's and certainly in humanity's best interests to scale back the production curve.

This is some open Malthusian pessimistic view of the future, but I think almost everyone would agree that the world has finite resources and that it won't be able to support the exponential growth of humanity. At some point the Earth will reach saturation. And at that point, the world will not be a pretty place for anyone on Earth. If the governments interfere, you'd have to see things like forced low birth rates like in China today. Or perhaps worse like forced sterilizations or forced euthanasia. Can you imagine a world where nobody was allowed to live past 55? It could happen. If the governments did nothing to interfere then you'd see fierce competition and fighting among humanity as the strongest would fight for resources while leaving the weaker, sicker, poorer and older without enough to survive. Either way, it is a terrible scenario for future humanity.

Keeping that in mind, would it not be downright selfish of us to have more than the two or three kids which is the replacement rate? Is it fair to the world as a whole for families to have five or six or ten or fifteen children? They're just forcing the overpopulation of the Earth one step further. Every additional mouth to feed means that there's less to go around for everyone and that somebody will end up hungry. That situation doesn't really affect us today, but it could in a 100 years or 500 years in the future if current rates of procreation remain.

However, on the other side of the issue is the point that the Jewish people have been severely underpopulated because of relatively recent catastrophic events. Should we, as Jews, then make a directed effort to increase world Jewry to make up for the loss? And certainly in Israel where the very existence of the Jewish state hangs in the balance of a Jewish majority, shouldn't those Jewish residents do what they can to create more Jewish citizens? I think that is clearly the political goal made by many settlers to the state.

So, the question I pose here is whether we, as Jews, hold a higher responsibility to humanity as a whole to try and keep global population to a manageable level or do we hold a higher responsibility to our own Jewish goals to further Jewish causes by increasing the Jewish population?

My view: the world hardly helped the Jews when we were being decimated sixty years ago and our miniscule numbers on the world stage have a tiny effect on the world's whole population figures. Let the Chinese worry about overpopulation.

12 comments:

Jewish Atheist said...

My view: the world hardly helped the Jews when we were being decimated sixty years ago and our miniscule numbers on the world stage have a tiny effect on the world's whole population figures. Let the Chinese worry about overpopulation.

Such reasoning is exactly what causes the tragedy of the commons.

We've (bnei adam, not bnei yisrael) already filled the land, there's no further need to be fruitful and multiply.

That said, overpopulation won't be quelled by a few rich American Jews limiting their offspring out of altruism. It'll be quelled by education. Educated people everywhere have many fewer children. Especially where women are allowed to have control of contraception.

B. Spinoza said...

I don't think the decision should be a political statement. The only relevant question, in my mind, is whether you can support your children and if would enjoy having children.

Orthoprax said...

JA,

"We've (bnei adam, not bnei yisrael) already filled the land, there's no further need to be fruitful and multiply."

Except that us Jews have specific political needs to be fruitful and multiply. And I think our direct needs trump a more abstract global issue of which Jews are hardly a contributing factor.

"Such reasoning is exactly what causes the tragedy of the commons."

You may be right, but the smallest shouldn't be the first to cut back when the largest are the biggest offenders.

"That said, overpopulation won't be quelled by a few rich American Jews limiting their offspring out of altruism. It'll be quelled by education."

This is true.

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

"I don't think the decision should be a political statement. The only relevant question, in my mind, is whether you can support your children and if would enjoy having children."

Well, yeah. I agree that it shouldn't just be a political question. But if you like kids and can afford ten of them, even if you only planned on having three, should you have more for these other reasons?

Mis-nagid said...

"whether you can support your children and if would enjoy having children"

And whether your children would enjoy having you.

B. Spinoza said...

>Well, yeah. I agree that it shouldn't just be a political question. But if you like kids and can afford ten of them, even if you only planned on having three, should you have more for these other reasons?

Is that what this is about? You want to encourage Jews to have extra kids to make up for the holocaust, but you're worried about the impact on world population? I really wouldn't worry about it

The Jewish Freak said...

I agree with your point about children and overpopulation in the world, except for one important point: The western free world is in danger of being taken over demographically by moslem fundamentalists. I sure would hate to live in a world like that.

JDHURF said...

I have seen this very same point be made by atheists regarding atheists. It is valid discussion to be having for sure but you must also make sure to keep things in perspective. Is it really fair to the children living in a household of eight or more individuals? Do they really obtain all of the love and support that they need and require? Should a couple that is deficient regarding the raising and handling of children really be encouraged to have many of them simply to increase a minorities population? If such couples do, in fact, have many children are these really the children and adults that such a minority population would wish for?
I believe in quality not quantity. I would take two humanistic, well educated, civil and altruistic children over a dozen poorly educated, emotional distraught and deficient fundamental Christian children any day.
Though it is a valid discussion to be having.

Orthoprax said...

Jdhurf,

"I have seen this very same point be made by atheists regarding atheists."

I can imagine such a discussion, but I think that most atheists make themselves.

"I believe in quality not quantity. I would take two humanistic, well educated, civil and altruistic children over a dozen poorly educated, emotional distraught and deficient fundamental Christian children any day."

Ok, that's a valid argument, but I think you recognize a happy middle ground don't you? Perhaps a dozen would be difficult to manage well, but do you think four or five is so out of line?

JDHURF said...

While you are certainly right most atheists make themselves, one has a much larger chance at becoming an atheist with atheist parents. I would say a child would have as much a chance at becoming atheistic being raised by atheist parents as a child would have at becoming theistic being raised by theist parents.

I do recognize a middle ground. For some four or five children may be acceptable and easily maintained and raised, for me it would be too many.

Michael said...

Overpopulation?

What overpopulation?

European countries are LOSING population, America would be losing population without immigration.

A discussion of overpopulation, at least in this part of the world, is exactly as real as a discussion of the Easter Bunny.

Orthoprax said...

Michael,

And yet the fact is that we all live together in the same world and all use the same resources. Problems like overpopulation are not localized phenomena that should be ignored by those in less stressed areas.