CI Disconnecting the State’s Feeding Tubes
1951 film, The
Big Carnival, was the story of a once-famous journalist
trying to reestablish his career at a small town newspaper. The
reporter, played by Kirk Douglas, learned of a man trapped in an
underground cave-in. Seizing the opportunity, the journalist took
control of the news story, sending out reports to the big-city papers
and, in the process, delaying rescue efforts in order to extend
the drama as long as he could. In short order, the incident acquired
national significance, while local rescue efforts literally became
a carnival. The trapped man died, largely because of the reporter’s
interference with rescue attempts.
mind keeps racing back to this film as I watch the circus atmosphere
created by the sad case of Terri Schiavo. While I sympathize with
the positions of Terri’s husband, her parents, and other relatives,
I find the intrusions of politicians, the media, and self-appointed
"interest" groups akin to Kirk Douglas’ self-indulgent
reporter. The conclusions to be reached by such people will, given
the public relations nature of their behavior, always be grounded
in superficiality. If human society is to be conducted with a sense
of decency, resort must be had to deeper spiritual insights and
rational thinking than has been displayed thus far in this sad affair.
changes inevitably produce the need to revisit long-held principles
not so much for the purpose of changing our standards of
propriety, but to see how they find expression in a constantly changing
world. The invention of the airplane, radio, and television, has
forced us to reexamine ancient legal doctrines that spoke of real
property interests reaching indefinitely into the universe. Medical
technologies that now permit life to be extended – and even engineered
– far beyond capacities available fifty years ago, have resurrected
questions heretofore confined to the works of fiction writers such
as Mary Shelley and Aldous Huxley.
is "life," and what is it not? Those who prattle about
the "sanctity of life" in the Schiavo matter overlook
the fact that life is self-directed activity, and that all of politics
is premised upon forcing life to go in directions it does not choose.
Politics, by its very nature, is a renunciation of the sanctity
is and who is not a "person" to be respected in our world?
As the practice of slavery and the treatment of American Indians
make clear, this latter question has been with us for a number of
centuries. The Schiavo case – along with the continuing debate on
abortion – inform us that this question is not only far from being
resolved, it is far from even being properly formulated as a question.
is difficult to engage in any thoughtful and far-reaching examination
of these questions without confronting legions of the politically
entrenched, men and women less desirous of advancing human understanding
than in defending dogma from honest inquiry. Even the president
of Harvard University has discovered how dangerous it is to raise
even empirical questions – which, at the very least, is what
any decent university should be about – that challenge politically
correct articles of faith. Politics – based as it is on divisiveness
and shallowness of thought – has taken over and depressed the quality
of discourse regarding matters to which responsible people need
to focus their minds. It is difficult to imagine any social topic
that is not directed by the heavy hand of competing political ideologies.
I have long regarded debates as a waste of time, it would be an
undeserved compliment to regard the Schiavo political/media debacle
as an intellectually-grounded analysis of competing viewpoints.
What could be more ludicrous than the spectacle of conservatives
prattling their "pro-life" party line on behalf of
Terri Schiavo, as they continue to conduct their war upon Iraqi
civilians abroad, and defend capital punishment at home? Not to
be outdone in absurdity are the liberals, who wrap themselves in
the mantle of "pro-choice," even as they espouse the imposition
of political mandates upon people who do not choose to be burdened.
The modern political "debate" is not unlike visiting the
primate building at a zoo and listening to the cacophonous shrieking
coming from both sides of the house! Nothing but mischief, therefore,
should have been expected from allowing the state to define "life."
have long been of the view that one becomes a "person"
at the moment of conception, when one’s DNA comes into being. (I
once had a feminist colleague who insisted that a baby did not acquire
DNA until after it was born, a process she was unable to
explain.) But when one ceases to be a person cannot be so
readily determined. Even a dead body retains DNA. Should one who
has submitted to cryonic suspension still be considered a "person?"
Should the presence of an active consciousness be the test of personhood
and, if so, why?
can see at once that neither the state nor the media are equipped
to address such questions. Matters of life and death are simply
too important to be entrusted to politicians, judges, bureaucrats,
and radio and television gasbags. The bloody and dehumanizing record
of political systems in their treatment of life, disqualifies them.
In a world that is becoming increasingly decentralized, such inquiries
are best left in the hands of individuals faced with the making
of decisions in their own lives. Thus, while I consider "personhood"
to begin at conception, I am unwilling to have the state intervene
to direct the mother regarding how to deal with her pregnancy.
life and death issues as in other areas of human endeavor, it is
time for us to move on to alternative ways of making decisions.
In a world of interconnected complexities – when decisions are made
and communicated throughout the world in a matter of seconds – the
plodding nature of the conflict-ridden state has become irrelevant
to the realities of human action. The state has no creative role
to play, but operates only as a hindrance. As its emphasis on "deregulation"
and "tax cuts" demonstrates, the state’s only claim to
facilitating human well-being is to get out of the way of self-directed
state, in other words, is brain-dead. Its power derives largely
from inertia (i.e., the unwillingness of a well-conditioned populace
to consider alternative systems) rather than from conviction. There
is nothing coming from within it that would engage the mind of any
thoughtful human being. It has become as meaningless to the modern
world as a slide-rule in an age of pocket calculators; as out of
place as an ice-truck on a residential street. While it has been
reduced to little more than reflexive action, it is – like a mortally-wounded
rabid animal – still capable of transmitting its deadly virus to
those who come into contact with it.
state is a non-productive parasite that feeds – in increasing quantities
on the energies of the productive. It is time to disconnect
its feeding tubes!
© 2005 LewRockwell.com