Naw, not really. I’m a dude — a dude who experienced the traumatic loss of a parent as an early adolescent; I have to go through various transformative experiences before I’m ready to have children–ideally positive ones to undo the damage ^_^. But still, I have traditionally cared a lot about justice in the world and have strongly valued the importance of civil society and an informed electorate and honor among men and all this, and I feel like the implicit reason for it has been to pass down a better world than the one into which I was born. Nowadays, however, after years of being bombarded with stories about the horrors of the world and all the unfairness and all the tragedy, I just feel like it’s hard to imagine wanting a child, to sacrifice my progeny to a world built on servicing global capitalism, to struggle as a serf to the powers that be of the future.
Which reminds me. I forget if I mentioned it here, but I have suggested in real life–meatspace–that maybe society is so fucked up because all our stories about society being fucked up are all we know, so we act out what we recognize. Because, just to be devil’s advocate, let’s say Edward Snowden never came forward and we never got to know that all the most heinous conspiracies about NSA spying were just the tip of the iceberg; let’s say the NSA was like totally infallible and managed to escape public disclosure of its most secret tactics forever. In that scenario, where people who believed William Binney and Thomas Drake were just gullible conspiracy theorists, one could reasonable argue that civil society and individual liberty weren’t really at risk because oppression simply isn’t happening. It would still be happening, but because you didn’t have specific details as a result of disclosure, you could reasonably argue that it’s not. And in that scenario, it’s reasonable to consider dystopian sci-fi as escapist fiction and cautionary tales. You could indeed argue, on account of the absence of Snowden-type disclosures, that “things are getting better” and “governments are getting better” and other such statements that only advertise one’s acquiescence or allegiance to the dysfunction as it exists.
Alas, this is not that world. This is the world in which Edward Snowden did publicly disclose, via the ostensibly-free press, details of government and commercial snooping that reveals straight-up depravity. To borrow a line of reasoning from Snowden that made a lot of sense: (and to paraphrase) As a strategic matter, why would we risk the long-term trust of more or less the world population rather than build better defensive tools and capabilities? And, if I can add my own point on to this, why not educate the population to be more savvy, rather than use citizens’ personal computers as bots and for panoptical purposes? Given its practices, the so-called “Five Eyes” have presumably amassed one of the largest collections on the planet of non-consensual pornography–and that’s without even addressing what percentage of Yahoo chatters were of legal age when US and UK governments were snagging their pics.
I have a new theory–so actually I hadn’t thought of it before, but this is actually a second part to another theory I have. OK, theory #1 I came up with a while back, but it basically is that the majority of the heavy lifting of the economy is done by people under 26. Personally, I think the sweet spot is 23. When I was 23, I would do annnnyyyyttthhinnngg just to demonstrate value so that I could get _a_ job. By the time I was 26, I was savvy and comfortable enough to treat myself with a modicum of self-respect and not just comport myself to external expectations. Also, let’s keep it real, I had been beaten into ….no, that’s too harsh…. I had seen the options available to me, and I sought to find a path that fit for me in my life, recognizing that I can never be and would never want to be all things to all people. In any case, I was at least stable enough to start to specialize further, which made me “lazier” because I was delivering more value on account of more specialized knowledge. Of course, I wasn’t less productive in strict terms; indeed, I can accomplish much more today at 34 than I could on any given …month… when I was 24, but if you need a bunch of people to accomplish tasks? If you have very clear processes and instructions, and you’ve segmented out work to scale horizontally, like political canvassers do, young people are a great demographic for laboring. And it extends to all industries: young construction workers, young art curators, young PR coordinators, young securities analysts–it’s all about exploiting people who don’t really have a clue and sort of putting them into a position to buy into something without considering it, while instilling in them the rationalizations and defenses necessary to do what they have chosen to do.
Now, this new theory, theory #2, might seem a little counterintuitive given theory #1, but hear me out. Theory #2 is this: if you were to take the average entry-level government intelligence employee and have him/her write policy and set usage guidelines and priorities, I would bet the farm that it would be a million times more sane than what we’re looking at in all these news stories from the Snowden disclosures. Of course this is a totally half-baked and unsubstantiated theory, but the basic idea is that if you take someone who hasn’t been corrupted by the power and the culture of transgression, you would get better policies because you wouldn’t base the policies on justifying and legitimizing abuse.
Anyway, it’s just super-disappointing because I took all that history and American values shit really seriously; don’t get me wrong, I never made it to Webelos, but I always took pretty seriously the idea that rule of law was important and that America prioritized this shit, which I sincerely appreciated. Then, as I grew up, I learned more about life and, especially since the war in Iraq, have seen my country separate into the haves and the have-notes, with the haves often benefiting at the expense of the have-nots, often deceiving the have-nots, often creating instruments of oppression to control and harass the have-nots. Nowadays, a new demographic emerges: the technologist. Although these people, like other minorities, come in all shapes and sizes and persuasions, they’re being stereotypically defined–and sometimes stereotypically defining themselves–as privileged libertarians, buffered from the harsh realities of living in a society that doesn’t care about workers. Many technologists, of course, are workers, but given that many have the skills to automate people out of jobs, for instance, they also can’t typically be bothered with poor people shit unless they can give it an upvote and move on. And so they build the software that gets backdoored because they don’t really want to stand up to the government because they don’t have an army; they have a bunch of 23- to 26-year old geeks building tools of oppression because Fuck the kids back home who bullied us when we were growing up, that’s what’s up. Nevermind that the kids that bullied you are now the police.
Anyway, yeah, I’ve always thought about life in terms of like “I should be an honest and/or responsible person because civil society isn’t an accident,” with the assumption being that I would have children at some point. And I think even in my 20s, I thought, “Well, things sure are fucked up now, but maybe in like 10 years, things will seem better.” Ok, I feel like I’m making that up, but I wanted to be able to make the point that now we’re 10 years later, and ….I see no flying cars. And so, the horror that first occurred to me around age 24 or 25, that unless you have enough money to where your children won’t need to work, you’re basically conscripting your children to labor by having children. I regret that I wasn’t born to a large estate–ok, that’s also just a literary device; don’t get me wrong, I think I would have been a fantastic heir, but I also appreciate my own experience and obviously can’t make that kind of trade blah blah blah. Point is, it’s just a baby, man; you’re gonna have a baby knowing that it’s gonna have to grow up and be spied on by authorized creepers and have to go work for some exploitative company and gonna have to compromise principles or not get ahead? I have trouble with that at this point in my life.