It's a Brave New World after Terri Schiavo dies

In his landmark novel Brave New World,  Aldous Huxley conveys the vision of a technological nightmare in which man is forced, through conditioning and eugenics, to happily serve as a cog in an utopian socialist machine.  Those things which we see as important — family, close friendships, love, individualism, faith — are removed from the individual through brainwashing techniques, so as to create hollow vessels better suited to a life of consumerism and service to the State.  Motherhood is abolished in favor of factory production of children, and the elderly and disabled are 'taken care of.' 

The euthanasia practices in Brave New World are carried out in public hospices, with children being brought in to play and enjoy themselves as part of their conditioning. Death is made an enjoyable experience for the young so that they would give it little thought or consideration. 

In Huxley`s nightmare we see death as the last means of control of the individual. A person is removed from this world when he becomes tiresome, much as an old car is decommissioned and disassembled to make way for the newer model.  Huxley understood the utopian socialist mind.  Brave New World gave us a peek into the mind of the utopian left, and what those who would build the plastic paradise would eventually do. 

The Terri Schiavo case has sparked a national debate over the quality of life vs. the sanctity of life.  The QL people (I would argue that they are predominantly liberal, although many libertarians fit this description) argue that life should have a visible purpose and worth, and that if a person`s life is not worth living (in the judgment of others), he should die. 

Oh, I know they don`t couch it in such blunt terms.  They use phrases like 'death with dignity' and 'a peaceful end,' but the bottom line is they think people should die rather than burden everyone else — and themselves. 

The SL crowd believes life is a precious gift from God, and that Man does not have the right to choose the time and place for death.  The fact that a life is not worth living (as others judge it) does not give anyone the right to terminate that life.

Many in the SL camp have been puzzled by the determination and enthusiasm that the Quality of Life side has brought to the Schiavo case. They can`t understand the zeal with which people are trying to kill Terri Schiavo. (Peggy Noonan speculates about this ardor in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.) 

I would argue that this eagerness is a natural outgrowth of the deeper root philosophy of liberalism, and that the 'culture of death' as Pope John Paul II has termed it, is fundamental to who liberals are and what they believe.  Their zealotry is grounded in their self—identity, and we need to understand that if we are to understand the struggle between the pro—life and pro—death camps.

First, we need a term to better describe those who, for whatever reason, have joined the ranks of those supporting death.  They are called by too many different names; Pro—choice, Pro—abortion, Pro—euthanasia, Pro—stem cell research, Physician assisted suicide advocates, etc. It becomes far too confusing with so many labels. We need a one—size—fits—all term. 

Grateful Dead fans are called deadheads.  Fans of Rush Limbaugh are called dittoheads, Fans of Jimmy Buffet are parrotheads, Ah, maybe that`s it!  Maybe deathheads!  They are fans and enthusiasts for Death, and they are the last visage many poor souls will see, if they get their way.

What is it that motivates the deathheads?  Why are they so eager in their pursuit of death?  The answer lies not in contemporary politics, but in the philosophical underpinnings of liberalism itself.  Liberalism was born out of the Renaissance, which was a rediscovery of our Greek and Latin heritage.  The Renaissance era saw a revival in interest in all things Greek and Roman; in art, literature, history, science, mathematics, and other branches of classical learning. 

The Greeks and Romans had, for all their virtues, a far weaker respect for human life than their Christian successors.  In fact, the Greeks and Romans saw a kind of nobility in death — especially a death for a higher cause.  Liberalism has always had a fascination with the Classical period. The vision of Socrates ingesting hemlock for the good of the polis has a romantic appeal to the average liberal, and the word 'hemlock' has been used by various  groups advocating euthanasia and 'death with dignity.' A 'good death' (which is what the word euthanasia means) done nobly and well is far preferable to a slow, wasting process.

Liberalism also prides itself on championing reason, and sees the life of the individual as deriving its meaning and purpose from the service that individual can render. The Deathheads are utilitarian; when the individual can no longer contribute in a meaningful way to the betterment of the larger community, that individual no longer has any real worth and should be removed in the least painful manner possible. 

We already see this principle applied at the other end of the life spectrum with abortion; the fetus is unwanted and contributes nothing to the community, and therefore can be eliminated.  This is what we see in Brave New World with the sick and the elderly; they no longer serve a useful social purpose and can thus be disposed of.

The matter of human reason cannot be emphasized enough.  What the liberal movement did was substitute man and reason for Jesus and God, and early on they began a war to exterminate the 'superstition' of Christianity.  (Remember, the French had their 'cult of reason' in which a nude prostitute, representing a goddess of reason, paraded about the streets of Paris.) 

The liberals have fought a three hundred year war against Christ, and if man and reason are to make suitable replacement gods, they must have certain divine powers.  But what powers can a substitute god have?  God is the Author of life, but man can be the author of death.

This obsession with death can be seen throughout history. Consider the butchery during the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and the Nazi atrocities.  Consider the careless disregard for life by all the former communist regimes.  In Leftist societies, life is cheap. Abortion is a holy sacrament to the liberal. To the deathheads, human will is the final master, and death serves as an instrument of that will.

By controlling the time, place, and manner of death, the deathheads have a semblance of the powers of the divine.  Possibly, that is why the death of Terri Schiavo is so important to them.  They want the right to control the end of life as a means to reinforce and sanctify their own inner beliefs. They also know that the Schiavo case is going to set a memorable public precedent.  If they could force the death of Terri despite the pro—life forces arrayed against them, they would establish their right to command death for the innocent.  If they have the right to kill when their reason adjudges it necessary, they have established their coequality with the Creator.

That is also why we have heard so little from the fetal stem—cell research crowd during this whole debate.  Granted, fairly early on Robert Herring, a stem—cell advocate, offered Michael Schiavo one million dollars to end his quest to kill his wife (which he refused). Still, few other voices from that group have been heard.  A scan of the website for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, for example, turns up glowing accounts of the magic of embryonic stem—cell research, but fails to mention anything about Terri Schiavo. Why?  If these people really believe in a miracle cure for Alzheimer's and  Parkinson's, why not a cure for Terri?  I suspect we`ll be hearing a lot more from them after Terri dies.

Where have those who oppose the death penalty been?  Where have the people from Not In Our Names gone?  Just where have all the flowers gone?  Their silence says more about who they are and what they believe than any amount of rhetoric.

Terri Schiavo and her parents were thrust into the strange, twilight world of fundamentalist liberalism.  The rules that govern this world are different from those which govern normal society, and the dark currents which drive this world have energized an angry mob against her.  The conservatives have been scratching their heads in puzzlement over the strange zeal with which the deathheads have come to kill poor Terri Schiavo.  They shouldn`t be surprised.  Aldous Huxley would have understood perfectly.

Timothy Birdnow is a property manager in St. Louis. His website  is Birdblog

In his landmark novel Brave New World,  Aldous Huxley conveys the vision of a technological nightmare in which man is forced, through conditioning and eugenics, to happily serve as a cog in an utopian socialist machine.  Those things which we see as important — family, close friendships, love, individualism, faith — are removed from the individual through brainwashing techniques, so as to create hollow vessels better suited to a life of consumerism and service to the State.  Motherhood is abolished in favor of factory production of children, and the elderly and disabled are 'taken care of.' 

The euthanasia practices in Brave New World are carried out in public hospices, with children being brought in to play and enjoy themselves as part of their conditioning. Death is made an enjoyable experience for the young so that they would give it little thought or consideration. 

In Huxley`s nightmare we see death as the last means of control of the individual. A person is removed from this world when he becomes tiresome, much as an old car is decommissioned and disassembled to make way for the newer model.  Huxley understood the utopian socialist mind.  Brave New World gave us a peek into the mind of the utopian left, and what those who would build the plastic paradise would eventually do. 

The Terri Schiavo case has sparked a national debate over the quality of life vs. the sanctity of life.  The QL people (I would argue that they are predominantly liberal, although many libertarians fit this description) argue that life should have a visible purpose and worth, and that if a person`s life is not worth living (in the judgment of others), he should die. 

Oh, I know they don`t couch it in such blunt terms.  They use phrases like 'death with dignity' and 'a peaceful end,' but the bottom line is they think people should die rather than burden everyone else — and themselves. 

The SL crowd believes life is a precious gift from God, and that Man does not have the right to choose the time and place for death.  The fact that a life is not worth living (as others judge it) does not give anyone the right to terminate that life.

Many in the SL camp have been puzzled by the determination and enthusiasm that the Quality of Life side has brought to the Schiavo case. They can`t understand the zeal with which people are trying to kill Terri Schiavo. (Peggy Noonan speculates about this ardor in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.) 

I would argue that this eagerness is a natural outgrowth of the deeper root philosophy of liberalism, and that the 'culture of death' as Pope John Paul II has termed it, is fundamental to who liberals are and what they believe.  Their zealotry is grounded in their self—identity, and we need to understand that if we are to understand the struggle between the pro—life and pro—death camps.

First, we need a term to better describe those who, for whatever reason, have joined the ranks of those supporting death.  They are called by too many different names; Pro—choice, Pro—abortion, Pro—euthanasia, Pro—stem cell research, Physician assisted suicide advocates, etc. It becomes far too confusing with so many labels. We need a one—size—fits—all term. 

Grateful Dead fans are called deadheads.  Fans of Rush Limbaugh are called dittoheads, Fans of Jimmy Buffet are parrotheads, Ah, maybe that`s it!  Maybe deathheads!  They are fans and enthusiasts for Death, and they are the last visage many poor souls will see, if they get their way.

What is it that motivates the deathheads?  Why are they so eager in their pursuit of death?  The answer lies not in contemporary politics, but in the philosophical underpinnings of liberalism itself.  Liberalism was born out of the Renaissance, which was a rediscovery of our Greek and Latin heritage.  The Renaissance era saw a revival in interest in all things Greek and Roman; in art, literature, history, science, mathematics, and other branches of classical learning. 

The Greeks and Romans had, for all their virtues, a far weaker respect for human life than their Christian successors.  In fact, the Greeks and Romans saw a kind of nobility in death — especially a death for a higher cause.  Liberalism has always had a fascination with the Classical period. The vision of Socrates ingesting hemlock for the good of the polis has a romantic appeal to the average liberal, and the word 'hemlock' has been used by various  groups advocating euthanasia and 'death with dignity.' A 'good death' (which is what the word euthanasia means) done nobly and well is far preferable to a slow, wasting process.

Liberalism also prides itself on championing reason, and sees the life of the individual as deriving its meaning and purpose from the service that individual can render. The Deathheads are utilitarian; when the individual can no longer contribute in a meaningful way to the betterment of the larger community, that individual no longer has any real worth and should be removed in the least painful manner possible. 

We already see this principle applied at the other end of the life spectrum with abortion; the fetus is unwanted and contributes nothing to the community, and therefore can be eliminated.  This is what we see in Brave New World with the sick and the elderly; they no longer serve a useful social purpose and can thus be disposed of.

The matter of human reason cannot be emphasized enough.  What the liberal movement did was substitute man and reason for Jesus and God, and early on they began a war to exterminate the 'superstition' of Christianity.  (Remember, the French had their 'cult of reason' in which a nude prostitute, representing a goddess of reason, paraded about the streets of Paris.) 

The liberals have fought a three hundred year war against Christ, and if man and reason are to make suitable replacement gods, they must have certain divine powers.  But what powers can a substitute god have?  God is the Author of life, but man can be the author of death.

This obsession with death can be seen throughout history. Consider the butchery during the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and the Nazi atrocities.  Consider the careless disregard for life by all the former communist regimes.  In Leftist societies, life is cheap. Abortion is a holy sacrament to the liberal. To the deathheads, human will is the final master, and death serves as an instrument of that will.

By controlling the time, place, and manner of death, the deathheads have a semblance of the powers of the divine.  Possibly, that is why the death of Terri Schiavo is so important to them.  They want the right to control the end of life as a means to reinforce and sanctify their own inner beliefs. They also know that the Schiavo case is going to set a memorable public precedent.  If they could force the death of Terri despite the pro—life forces arrayed against them, they would establish their right to command death for the innocent.  If they have the right to kill when their reason adjudges it necessary, they have established their coequality with the Creator.

That is also why we have heard so little from the fetal stem—cell research crowd during this whole debate.  Granted, fairly early on Robert Herring, a stem—cell advocate, offered Michael Schiavo one million dollars to end his quest to kill his wife (which he refused). Still, few other voices from that group have been heard.  A scan of the website for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, for example, turns up glowing accounts of the magic of embryonic stem—cell research, but fails to mention anything about Terri Schiavo. Why?  If these people really believe in a miracle cure for Alzheimer's and  Parkinson's, why not a cure for Terri?  I suspect we`ll be hearing a lot more from them after Terri dies.

Where have those who oppose the death penalty been?  Where have the people from Not In Our Names gone?  Just where have all the flowers gone?  Their silence says more about who they are and what they believe than any amount of rhetoric.

Terri Schiavo and her parents were thrust into the strange, twilight world of fundamentalist liberalism.  The rules that govern this world are different from those which govern normal society, and the dark currents which drive this world have energized an angry mob against her.  The conservatives have been scratching their heads in puzzlement over the strange zeal with which the deathheads have come to kill poor Terri Schiavo.  They shouldn`t be surprised.  Aldous Huxley would have understood perfectly.

Timothy Birdnow is a property manager in St. Louis. His website  is Birdblog