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Why VHEMT Is Only Half-Right

Why the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (http://www.vhemt.org) will only take us so far.
There is no question that the voluntary extinction of the human race is a good and noble cause, and it will surprise nobody to learn that I am a strong supporter of the movement. But VHEMT has no real "game plan" - they advocate the cessation of pointless breeding and advise us to consider the health of the entire ecosystem before our own selfish desires. In order for people to see the wisdom in the minimization of productive copulation, they must be taught that more humans equates with greater damage to our increasingly-fragile, unstable planet.

But how are we to convince people that damage to the planet should be actively discouraged? Most of us claim to be "environmentally aware", but awareness is useless if it doesn't result in direct action. I am more environmentally aware than my cat, for example, but my cat doesn't use electricity or consume plastics or spray aerosols or travel by car. Her inaction is my "awareness", and I find it interesting that non-human animals (NHA's, for convenience), while completely oblivious to the planet's natural infrastructure, do very little damage to it (and that damage they do cause, primarily in the case of introduced species wreaking havoc on indigenous flora and fauna, is human-initiated anyway), while humans, who carry on about being "deeply concerned for the environment", are fucking it all up as awesomely and as mercilessly and as ceaselessly as possible.

This is because terms and, indeed, ideologies like "environmentally friendly" are just cheap platitudes. I try to be as "environmentally friendly" as possible by not being actively hostile to the environment (like SUV and 4WD drivers), using biologically sound detergents, minimizing consumption of trinkets manufactured from scarce resources ripped screaming from the womb of the earth (like that fucking iPod Nano), etc., but really, the best way for me to be environmentally friendly is by no longer existing. I'm afraid you're all going to have to wait for natural causes to take care of that, as I haven't the guts to bump myself off, but the next-best thing I can do is not procreate. And the next best thing after that, a very distant third indeed, is to encourage others to do likewise.

Anyway, the important thing is that we agree on VHEMT's need for a proper structure to its philosophy, and that people simply up and deciding not to further their genes is hardly going to get us anywhere. People don't realise that with every bouncing baby boy or girl another hundred-thousand hectares are being clear felled, another thousand barrels of oil are being sucked up from the earth, another handful of engineers are heading to the drawing-board to design the six new models of automobile that the average westerner will own over their lifetime (I admit I just made that figure up, but it feels about right), and Steve Jobs is thinking of another way for us to listen expensively to a legally-limited selection of stupid music on the go.

That's because people aren't told where all this stuff is sourced, and what happens when we dispose of it. And although most of us know superficially where a ream of violently white photocopy paper comes from, or what sort of trouble we're getting up to where we spray flies with Mortein for hours on a summer afternoon, we really don't give a shit, because we've got to get on with the day-to-day business of living. Despite my best efforts (or, at least, intentions), I'll be the first to admit that I leave the heater on a little too long, turned up a little too powerfully, on a cold day, or that I throw my cigarette butts where I probably shouldn't (though these are hand-rolled, filterless cigarettes, which decompose harmlessly at about the speed of sound when compared directly to manufactured fag ends). I secrete poisonous chlorofluorocarbons with as much moxie as anyone else, but the key difference between me and the majority of people is that I am at least conscious of what I am doing. This is the important first step: making people understand that pretty much everything they do in the modern world is, in some slight or major way, ruining the planet's life support system.

But most people don't, because most people are too busy in the pursuit of money at the expense of everything else. Some of us think nothing of driving our behemoth Jeep Cherokees five minutes down the road to pick up a tin of peas. The people who think like this are the people who own this kind of vehicle, and I'm telling you now that this kind of vehicle ain't cheap, and that the only reason you would ever own one is as a status symbol. People who can afford and are concerned with status symbols are those people who are interested only in things that will make them a buck. Those people solely concerned with making a buck are what we all aspire to be after decades of force-fed political and corporational encouragement.

Yeah, we're back playing this tired old number: the incomparable, disproportionate power of modern corporations and their lackeys - political parties in whatever desperately salivating country chosen corporation decides to make landfall - is directly and solely responsible for the destruction of our planet and the countless billions of NHAs and other species that inhabit it. Your blank CDs and swizzle sticks weren't assembled from thatch and loam by a shoeless peacenik working on a co-op farm in Nimbin. Your clothes weren't synthesized by a carefully and lovingly nurtured family of red pandas or meerkats. And if you think your new jar of $80 skin-repair cream was pushed forth from a naturally-occuring geyser, then I will have to point at you and laugh. Because in all likelihood it was manufactured from people. So maybe skin-repair cream is a good thing, although those people were already dead. And eighty bucks? I get pretty bad dandruff a lot of the time - wonder if it would be worth anything if I stored it all in an old ice cream bucket? I guess it kinda makes sense, too. Dead skin used to revitalize living skin? It's just like eating the heart of your enemy - for courage!

Every single man-made thing you interact with on a regular basis has been sold to you or somebody else by a company that does not give a singular fuck about the health and well-being of our planet. Every time you buy a new gizmo you are encouraging them to continue their atrocious acts. And why do you keep buying new gizmos? Because those same companies have told you that they will improve your life. And why do you want to improve your life? Because you spend so much time working for one of these companies that, in those few free fleeting moments permitted to you by your employment contract, you are desperate to acquire something to make it all seem worthwhile. Why do we think that acquisition is the sole path to happiness? Again, because corporations have told us that owning lots of stuff is the New Enlightenment. That it isn't enough to rent a flat - we must own a house. But one house isn't enough - we should probably buy an "investment property" as well. And a car and furnishings for each. And let's not forget to upgrade our technology with every fresh six-month lifecycle. And all the magazines are telling us to "clean out your wardrobe" and "embrace the new you!", which means we'll have to buy a whole new bunch of clothes. Because even if we're not multi-millionaires like the 5% of the planet that is, it doesn't mean we can't pretend to be. Moneyed people get to hang with other moneyed people, after all, and when we've ensconced ourselves in those circles of well-to-do, well, the cash can only follow. And you know what happens then, when we're earning more than the remaining 95% of the population? Tax breaks! All right!

We only see our identities reflected in what we own and what we use. We have lost all touch with our natural environment, perfectly satisfied with catching a documentary about sharks or giraffes or Hitler once every few months, maybe taking the kids to the zoo once a year, pulling a stray weed out of our fascistically-regulated rose garden on our way to the car of a morning. "Discovering the wilderness" in a six metre-wide, two ton Hummer. "But we're not damaging the environment because you can soften the wheels!" I call bullshit on you, motherfucker. Lie down and we'll see how undamaged your spine is after I back that soft-wheeled monstrosity over you a couple times.

My point, at the end of all of this, is that VHEMT is infeasible until we can figure out a way to rudely shock people out of their accepting coma of corporate and political servitude. It permeates every minute of our lives by dangling flashing disco balls in front of our eyes, rendering us mute and blinkered in our pursuit of everything shiny and new. Imagine running through the forest chasing an artificial bunny rabbit made of gold. Would you stop to see how many hedgehog eggs or foetal snapdragons you had obliterated with your furious clomping feet? No, because you've got a hard-on for that rabbit. Because you've been raised by television to believe that all that matters is that fucking golden rabbit.

With everybody stabbing everything to see if it bleeds banknotes, who is seriously going to call time out on this futile, maddening and soul-crushing melee to reflect on all the damage we have done, and the ever-increasing damage just over the horizon? The world is filled with precisely two kinds of people: those who profess not to notice misery, and those who attempt to alleviate it. Sadly, it's the former who are running all the big shows, and until we can get them out of the way - by destroying heartless governments at the polls, by boycotting Apple's new stupid fucking MP3 phone that only stores 100 tunes, by refusing to buy into all this bullshit about the American or Australian or British or wherever "dream" - movements like VHEMT aren't going to make even the slightest dent. And VHEMT is without question a brilliant, courageous and, more importantly, moral movement. It is ethical ideology distilled to a powerful concentrate. But what use are ethics if they don't fill out your weekly reports, or straighten your tie at client meetings, or incrementally flatten the screen on your TV so you can better view the thirty-two new channels, or fill your tank with petrol? None, that's what. And until we can radically alter attitudes like that, VHEMT will be nothing more than a glorious and necessary dream.

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