Gratitude of Children

An unwritten – and illusory – àContract Between the Generations contains the provision that children owe their parents a debt of gratitude for these latter’s having “called them into existence”. Parents may only hope that this “debt of existence” owed them by their children will be paid off, in their old age, in such a way that they are spared the Geronto-Camp.

Ingratitude of Children

Balzac provides us with an example of one of the countless imaginary ->Contracts Between the Generations that did not work out: “One has to die in order to understand what that is: a child’s love…Oh my young friend, do not marry and cherish no wish for children! You give them life and on you they inflict death. You bring them into the world and they drive you out of it.” (Balzac, Father Goriot)

Catatropy and Anastasis

From the Classical Greek κατά-τροπος: “turned downward”. Dys-ontic correlate to our Conditio in/humana which may contribute to the correction of pronatal decisions. The world does not keep its promises and parents cannot keep the promise that they implicitly make to their children in and by their begetting of them. Everything either collapses under its own weight or sinks quickly into a state of damage, destruction or decrepitude; building it up again is always a long and weary process. This fundamental catatropic tendency inherent to all being is counterbalanced by no opposite anastatic tendency (ἀνά-στασις: raising up, rebuilding). It takes just a split second for someone to cut themselves, but the healing of the cut can take weeks. And one’s fellow men are more captivated by the sight of a demolition than by that of a construction.

Müller-Lyer (1857–1916)

Müller-Lyer remarks that human beings tend generally to honour those who torment them more highly than they do those who render them happy.  Thus, the names Tamerlane and Genghis Khan are known to all, whereas mankind’s great benefactors in the fields of chemistry, technology and health have remained completely unknown. “The explanation for this seems to be that destruction is something easy to perform and spectacular to behold. It lands like a bomb and creates a sensation. The work of construction, however, being a slow and silent activity, is much harder to appreciate at its true value.”


Capitalism was and remains a system that is at once insatiably hungry for new human beings and ruthlessly eager to throw these human beings on the scrapheap: its aim is both to set, at any and every point on this earth, the maximum number of human beings to the task of creating value in exchange for remuneration as close as possible to zero and to replace, wherever possible, these working human beings by mechanical or digital machines. Thus we may say that capitalism displays at the same time pronatalist and antinatalist tendencies. Its pronatalism is manifest in such formulae as “We do not have enough [cheap!] workers!” or “We need more consumers [with money to spend!]” Its antinatalism, on the other hand, comes to expression in its tendency to render human beings “surplus to requirements”, i.e. to replace human workers by machines.  

Considered as a whole, capitalism is extra-human, since the conflict inherent to it between pronatalist and antinatalist system-internal requirements  is not fought out with a view to creating any sort of subjective human satisfaction but rather for the sake of a subjectless “profit” which demands nothing but to be eternally reinvested.  

There lies in the logic of capitalism not just a thoroughly inhumane but indeed an entirely “a-human” world, since this form of economic endeavour leads tendentially toward a fully-automated form of production for which – paradoxical as this may sound – humanity as a whole in the end proves “economically unviable”. At the vanishing point of the perspective opened up by global capital stands the subjectless “total capitalist” that creates value to no end and for no one and who, finding humanity to be a “drag on the industry”, has “given it its cards”.[1]

[1] See Tomasz Konicz: “The whole of human civilization has become a waste product of the valorization of capital and the ever-spreading tendencies toward crisis unmistakably indicate that humanity is no longer a ‘paying enterprise’.” (Das System ist die Katastrophe, Telepolis, 26.3.2011, URL:, last accessed on 26.3.2011). See also the book: Der überflüssige Mensch by Ilja Trojanow (Residenz Verlag 2013).