Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Abortion and the Earth

Excellent 'must read' article about the history of abortion, population growth, male domination, what is going to happen in the not-too-distant future, and what can possibly be done about it, by Kelpie Wilson.

The moral arguments about abortion rarely consider the physical limits of the planet, but if they did, and if abortion were put into the context of the long history of human attempts to avoid starvation by regulating population growth, we might come to a different conclusion about what "pro-life" really means.

For the first 100,000 years of our existence, the human population consisted of a couple of million hunter-gatherers scattered across the planet. Studies of modern hunter-gatherers, like the Kalahari San, show that women had long intervals of four to five years between births and produced an average of four children each. Only two children typically survived to reproduce themselves, leading to a stable population.

The curious thing is that this was not a pro-life law code. It was about male control over females. Men claimed for themselves the prerogative to kill any young infants that they wanted to or to sell their children or their wives into slavery. In particular, the new law allowed them to choose to raise more males who could fight as soldiers in armies. This initiation of male reproductive choice in the ancient agricultural civilizations of the Bronze Age is what set patriarchy on its current trajectory of empire, war and the ultimate conquest of the Earth itself that is killing our planet.

At the end of the day, the most fundamental issue is growth. We live in a culture and an economic system that promotes growth as the ultimate and greatest good. On a finite planet, this amounts to suicide. Growth was good for a certain time. At the beginning of the Industrial Age, it was good to grow our capacity, but with oil - the prime mover of that Industrial Age - running out and also causing grave life-threatening, species-threatening, world-threatening problems of global warming and toxic pollution, growth is no longer good, especially growth in the quantity of goods and the quantity of people.

Of course, none of Ms. Wilson's solutions can be implemented until God fixes stupid. Barring that unlikely scenario, the planet itself can and will reduce the human population, and it will not be a voluntary program.

I have a friend here in town who has six kids. I used to get laughs by saying he'd damn near literally fucked himself out of a place to sit at the dinner table. It's not so funny any more.

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