If I believed in god I would thank her every day for having the foresight to make sure I never had any children. Not that I always felt like that – far from it. In fact it’s only in the last few years, as I finally began to see how our world really works, that I’ve realised how very lucky I am not to have any kids.
When I was a young person I probably felt pretty much like most young people, and thought that one day I would father more young people. I don’t recall that it was ever a great burning ambition, just one of those things you thought was probably inevitable, like leaving home and getting a job. However, as things worked out, for one reason or another I sort of bypassed fatherhood.
In 1980 I started working with children, more or less by chance. I needed a part-time job to bring in a little cash whilst I was at college, and the Job Centre put me in touch with local social services who needed someone to help out on a casual basis at a children’s home. It was the first time I’d ever been responsible for children. It was a job I grew to enjoy so much that I almost felt guilty being paid for it. I got sacked about six years later for writing an article in a national social workers’ magazine criticising the way the system cared for (or rather didn’t care for) children who persistently absconded. That was also my first personal experience of the British government’s hypocritical position on freedom of speech. It was a shame: that remains the best job I ever had.
I learnt a lot from that job. Many of the kids I worked with were different from “normal” kids in that their parents didn’t want them for one reason or another. That produced some unbelievably heart-breaking situations as these otherwise perfectly normal kids battled to come to terms with that fact.
Most of the kids I worked with came from relatively underprivileged backgrounds, which gave me a first-hand insight into how our society dealt with its most vulnerable people. Even then, when times were relatively good, it was not impressive. For the most part the children’s homes I worked in were staffed by good and caring people; but we were often too understaffed to provide anywhere near enough attention to young people who simply could not understand why their own parents rejected them. Although many of us carers had no formal training for the work, most had children of their own and simply treated the kids in our care in the same loving way they looked after their own offspring. But no matter how good a children’s home was it was no substitute for a real home with a real loving family.
Having no children of my own meant that the issue of child-care was more of a professional subject to me than a personal one. No matter how traumatic my day at work might have been I could always walk away from it at the end of my shift: I could go home and relax in a gentle and loving environment with my first wife Julie (who was unable to have children).
When I started working with social services I had recently lost the traditional belief that the best possible child-care can only be provided by a child’s natural parents. I lost that belief in the summer of 1980 at Kibbutz Ein Dor, where I lived and worked for a couple of months, and where my eyes were opened to all sorts of amazing things – such as seeing first hand how communism is a perfectly good and viable economic model – after being brainwashed for twenty years like every other westerner about the supposed evils of communism – but let’s return to the subject of child-care.
Those who lived permanently at Ein Dor practised normal kibbutz philosophy which, as far as raising children was concerned, meant that when a baby was six weeks old its parents placed it in the kibbutz nursery. It would never again live at the parental home. Children could and did visit their parents and other family members whenever they liked, and vice versa, but apart from the first six weeks of life children never again lived under the same roof as their parents. When a child left the nursery it went to live in the children’s quarters where four children of similar ages, two boys and two girls, would be allocated to a bedroom where they would live together until they turned eighteen. Every Friday evening was always a family get-together at the parental home which, from the few I saw, were always happy and joyful occasions; but at the end the kids would wander back to their other family in the children’s quarters. I got to know a couple of guys who had been raised from childhood in the kibbutz system, and they seemed good and gentle people, very chilled and laid-back and, unlike so many young western men, very mature for their years.
The kibbutz system reverses just about every “normal” concept of child care in existence, but from what I saw of it it worked spectacularly well. Parents and children were still well-connected, but not welded to each other. Adults were able to contribute wholeheartedly to kibbutz life knowing their kids were being well cared for all the time; and every kid had two families in effect – their blood relations and the three others who shared their bedroom who were, to all intents and purposes their brothers and sisters. I think the real power of the system, and the reason I think it worked so well, was because all children were treated the same: no kibbutz child was ever in the situation that so many of the kids I worked with were in – left to feel horribly alone, unloved and unwanted, condemned to second-rate care which, for most, led inexorably to third-rate lives.
Most people want to have their own children at some point in their lives, and if the species is to continue human beings must obviously reproduce themselves; but given the state of the world, and how badly it’s mismanaged by the 1%, I for one want no part in perpetuating the species; and I’m overjoyed at the fact that I have no children. For me it isn’t good enough to hope that maybe possibly the next generation will achieve the things previous generations have spectacularly failed to do – create world peace and stop destroying the planet: exploiting false hope is the same canard the priests have been using for thousands of years.
Controlling the number of children we have is an important thing any human being can easily do to immediately start reversing the depleting the resources of our world, it is also an effective way for the 99% to seize control of the global economy.
The western economic model is driven by one controlling principle: maximum growth; and maximum growth is generated by maximum population expansion. It is exactly the same economic principle of the Ponzi, or pyramid scheme: the more new suckers that can be drawn into the bottom of the pyramid the more riches that are generated for the elites at the top. Ponzi schemes are wholly parasitic. They produce nothing except baby parasites, and their survival depends entirely on feeding on new blood. When there is no more new blood to feed upon the parasite either moves away to find new blood, or it dies.
In order for the human species to survive, human beings only need to replicate themselves once. The fact that we live in a society that worships mass reproduction has nothing to do with perpetuating the species, it’s to perpetuate the giant Ponzi scheme that is the western economic model. Huge families guarantee the two strains of new blood that are essential to the capitalist parasite: a plentiful supply of labour (which, because it’s always plentiful is also always cheap), and an endless supply of new consumers. If the human population were to suddenly stop growing economics would continue just fine, but the Ponzi scheme would die.
I never intended not to have any children. That’s just how my life turned out. When I see kids around I don’t feel any sadness that none of them share my genes; the first thing I feel instead is sadness for them – I worry how they’re going to manage in a world being run by people whose obscene cruelty and greed seems to be growing by the day. Then I feel a very small sense of triumph: the 1% will probably beat me in the end, but they won’t be able to beat my kids, or my grandchildren, or my great-grandchildren. For me I would need to see the social revolution we so desperately need to be actually happening on a sizeable sustainable scale before I could feel anything other than real fear for young people.