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The totalitarian mindset… total body ownership by the state pre- and post- mortem

The Royal Society for Public Health no doubt sees itself as a worthy collection of people who are axiomatically on the side of the angels. I mean, who could be against public health?

In truth they are a terrifying and truly totalitarian outfit who operate with a presumption that the state has super-ownership of the physical bodies of everyone in Britain. Now I am of the view that defence against infectious plagues is a legitimate role of the state because it is a collective threat… a plague, like a fire or an invading army, does not respect property lines and so this is the whole reason to have a ‘nightwatchman state’.

But that is not the view of people like the Royal Society for Public Health. No, they take the view that ‘public health’ follows on naturally from state run medical care and gives the state the right to decide pretty much anything that can impact on an person’s health, regardless of that individual’s preferred choices, even if those choices are personal ones that do not place other people at risk.

They have issues a manifesto for nothing less than the nationalisation of your body and the intrusion of the state, on grounds of protecting your health from yourself and others who agree to be around you.

  1. A minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol sold
  2. No junk food advertising in pre-watershed television
  3. Ban smoking in cars with children
  4. Chlamydia screening for university and college freshers
  5. 20 mph limit in built up areas
  6. A dedicated school nurse for every secondary school
  7. 25% increase in cycle lanes and cycle racks by 2015
  8. Compulsory and standardised front-of-pack labelling for all pre-packaged food
  9. Olympic legacy to include commitment to expand and upgrade school sports facilities and playing fields across the UK
  10. Introduce presumed consent for organ donation
  11. Free school meals for all children under 16
  12. Stop the use of transfats

Of all these statist policies, number 1 is particularly invidious, with our technocratic masters seeking a sumptuary law on alcohol (i,.e. a tax to stop poor people drinking), number 12 seeks to regulate our choice of what we eat.

But by far the worst of all is number 10, this is the one which tells you everything you need to know about these people and the profoundly, unabashedly thugish nature of their world view… the state can help itself to your body parts by default. Post mortem conscription. Frankly I am all for organ donation, but at the moment, I carry a card expressly forbidding my organs to be harvested post mortem as the very notion these people are presumptive owners of any of my mortal remains is simply intolerable.

But then as they demand the right to regulate everything about your physical existence prior to death, I suppose it is no surprise they think nothing of helping themselves to your carcass after you die.

These people are the very worst kind of self-righteous technocratic curtain twitchers, the true spiritual heirs to the folks who in the first half of the twentieth century had people with birth defects sterilised or has troublesome people lobotomised, on ‘scientific grounds’ of course ‘for the public good’. Naturally such Guardian reading caring sharing folks would see drawing such analogues as a grotesque calumny, but in truth they exhibit the same intrusiveness and obsession with controlling the lives of others, it really is the same psychopathology, just repackaged for the 21st century with the current notions of ‘best practice’.

These people must be opposed… but not just politically, they need to be seen socially for what they are and abominated for their desires to regulate the lives of everyone around them. They presume to occupy the moral high ground but they do not and the more people who openly and publicly reject their axiomatic presumption of state controls over the very bodies of people, the sooner we can start to reclaim the culture of people who belong on a psychiatrist’s couch to help them deal with their abhorrent desires to use force against those who wish to live their lives without interference and according to their own judgements, with the positive and negative consequences of that accruing to themselves alone, like real adults.

The people behind this manifesto are detestable and they need to be told that to their faces.

45 comments to The totalitarian mindset… total body ownership by the state pre- and post- mortem

  • MicroBalrog

    And yet, suggest the idea of organ *sales* to these people, and they will whine unmercifully.

    Somehow, me voluntarily selling my kidney is morally worse than them *stealing* it.

  • Michael Taylor

    The scope of their presumption knows no boundaries. Consider. . . .

    What’s Good for the Climate is Good for Health
    23 November 2009
    The RSPH has launched a new one day course explaining how climate change affects health and giving practical advice on how to reduce carbon emissions in the workplace and wider community.

    Of course it has!

  • I prefer to look at politicians as being like perverts.

    The difference is that while the stereotypical pervert is a dirty old man who gets his rocks off flashing himself from his front window to the kids walking by on the sidewalk on their way to school, the political perverts get their jollies by running other people’s lives.

    The other difference is that the traditional pervert can only anally rape one person at a time, but the political pervert can, by weakening the rule of law and damaging individual liberty, hurt everybody at the same time.

    It’s also easier to recover from being flashed or even fondled than it is to recover from having individual liberty and the rule of law destroyed.

  • Perry old fella…

    You can “tell these people to their faces” anything that it pleases you to do. Do you think they care what you think, or I think, or what ordinary “hard-working people and families” think? I have never failed to cry to the rooftops what these people think, and I know that form this in your heart you agree.

    If thist sort of thing is allowed to go on much longer, then Libertarians – and ordinary people too – will have to start thinking not only about what to do and how to live when the Curtain Does Finally Fall on what we have been accustomed to call “civilised liberal society” but what to do when the Police-Mobs’-”People’s Righters-and-People’s-Correction-Executives” come for your iPhone, your computer(s), your wife to ****, your children to sell to Belgian State politicians, for them to ****, and for you,but only to beat you to death outside, to a chorus of the usual taunts from “Strictly Come Dancing” and “X Factor” – whatever those are.

    Of course they can be forgiven for thinking that they own your body! What the hell were you up to all these years? Come to think of it, what the hell was I up to too?

    They have been cheerfully and disarmingly frank for at least the last 125 years, and possibly a little longer. You and yours and I and mine and ours have been asleep on the job, and we have said nothing: these bastards were not eliminated when they could have been and without fuss.

    It is probably too late now. Liberalism in Chindia, the only places with the potential military resources to liberate us, is too underdeveloped to be propagated swiftly to The West.

  • Ian Bennett

    The day that presumed consent applies to organ donation is the day that my consent is rescinded.

  • Gareth

    They have succinctly made the case for the ending of enforced socialised healthcare. It’s my body not theirs.

  • I wonder if it is possible to carry a document (much like a living will) that stipulates who can get your organs if they are harvested.

    I’d want my liver and kidneys to go to an unrepentant alcoholic, my lungs to a 40-a-day smoker and my heart to someone who is morbidly obese living on nothing but fast food.

  • llamas

    Note that ‘ . . .presumed consent for organ donation’ says NOTHING about the donation being post-mortem. The ‘donation’ of organs from those who have been specified as being ‘brain-dead’ has already begun, and it’s a fine & easy line to cross from ‘post mortem’ to ‘not-quite-post-mortem’ to ‘will probably die real soon anyway’ to ‘we’ll take this person’s organs as soon as they die . . . . whoops.’

    llater,

    llamas

  • Gib

    Ian and Perry,

    Recinding your consent to your organ donation because of the government policy is an over-reaction.

    Don’t allow the government to take away your humanity too. Which is what you’d be doing if you let their policy affect your decision, which might end up letting someone who needed your organs die.

    Now, if you knew that your organs would go to a politician or someone else responsible for this legislation, then that’s fine – withhold them. But otherwise, please reconsider.

  • Do you think they care what you think, or I think, or what ordinary “hard-working people and families” think?

    Of course not, but then you misunderstand the audience for such remarks… telling them they are thugs is not for their benefit, for sure they will simply think you a madman as when they look in the mirror each morning, they do not see a thug staring back at them… I am sure members of the SS did not see themselves as the bad guys eityher. People advocating state mandated eugenics in the UK and (particularly) the USA prior to WW2 did not think they were “the bad guys” and in fact claimed to be on the moral high ground against degenerate personal choices. No, confronting such people on their very right to call for such things it is for the benefit for third parties who might be listening.

    THAT is “shifting the metacontext”… it worked very effectively for racism, which went within a few decades from “the accepted wisdom” to “beyond the pale”. It is only by challenging people’s presumption of being on the moral high ground, refusing to accept some things as “acceptable in polite society”, that you change the ground on which the battles get fought.

    It is not enough to say “you are wrong and we politely disagree”. In truth it is a bit like trying to have a reasoned conversation with some arguing for mandated clitoridectomy… it is a mistake to not just abominate them to others as you will never convince such people that not only are they wrong, they are evil.

  • Recinding your consent to your organ donation because of the government policy is an over-reaction.

    No, it is a case of imposing systemic consequences for a systemic problem. I used to have a donor card. I now have an “I refuse to donate” card. I will tear it up the day the state leave the choice to the people who should have that choice.

  • John B

    llamas, you are right.
    Similar to the situation, now, wherein abortions have moved slowly closer and closer to birth to the point that now there are even partial birth abortions.
    I am not so pessemistic as David. Or am I more so? I don’t really see too much hope for the human race because of our nature to do the wrong thing until we get to “extremis”.
    But I do think we can roll back the tide if we really want to – If we can truly forego our bossy natures and self indulgent thinking.

  • Ian Bennett

    Gib, it’s bad enough now that I have no say in who will receive my donated organs – or, more to the point, who will not receive them – but responsibility for my decision to withhold lies with those whose authoritarian attitude predictably caused that decision. I say “predictably” because I cannot conceive that my reasoning is not shared by many others.

    If they were really concerned with the dying, why not offer a token payment?

  • “I’d want my liver and kidneys to go to an unrepentant alcoholic, my lungs to a 40-a-day smoker and my heart to someone who is morbidly obese living on nothing but fast food.”

    Well, unless I find a better post-mortem use for them before I die, then I want certain parts of my anatomy to go to anyone willing to force feed them – uncooked – to the Martha Coakleys of the day.

  • Roue le Jour

    A human body already has a unique position in law, in that it is not property that can be owned. In effect, your body becomes the property of the state by default the moment you die, and this has been the case for some time.

    There is, therefore, nothing actually stopping organs from being taken right now, whether you agree or not, no new law needs be enacted. Seeking your consent is just a sop so you won’t notice your powerlessness.

    Suppose for a moment your loved ones organs were removed, against everyone’s clearly stated wishes. What legal remedy do you have?

  • Gib

    Ian, if your decision not to donate is due to the practical inability of you to do so how you want to then, I agree.

    It sounded originally (and currently with Perry) that your reasons were generally an “up yours” to the government. Which struck me as effectively punishing one group due to the actions of another.

    I’m more of a “die and let live” sort of guy. Sorry. Bad pun.

  • It sounded originally (and currently with Perry) that your reasons were generally an “up yours” to the government. Which struck me as effectively punishing one group due to the actions of another.

    Indeed, but if enough people react the way I did, it might actually have an effect.

  • Steve B

    Bit of a shame to have to bring it up as I agree fully with the post otherwise and that’s 99% of what matters here. But that one line:

    I carry a card expressly forbidding my organs to be harvested post mortem as the very notion these people are presumptive owners of any of my mortal remains is simply intolerable.

    Is something I can’t agree with. Mainly as you seem to be boycotting something that has not (Yet?) been enacted. Which is somewhat premature is it not?

    As for the point about not having control over who they go to, I’d possibly like to specify but in the real world that is honestly unworkable isn’t it? The rules on who gets what seem fair and based on need and urgency at the time of my demise. If I don’t like what that could entail it would be by choice to say no, and should rightly remain so.

    I assume it’s superfluous here to say I respect any individual even if I disagree with it…

  • Stonyground

    I caught the end of a news item on the radio today and heard some prodnosed busybody stating that it was time for us all to be weaned off semi-skimmed milk and encouraged to change to skimmed milk. I actually prefer semi-skimmed milk to full fat but find skimmed milk to be pretty revolting as is low fat cheese. The thought that occured to me was the fact that this type of person will never be satisfied, once people have been bullied into accepting a “healthy” version of whichever foodstuff is being singled out as evil today, the next stage is to continue bullying until they accept the even more healthy, and insipid and tasteless, version.

    While it is fairly obvious that staying as active as possible, using a bit of sense with your diet and moderating drinking and smoking is going to have some effect on our health and well being, it is also obvious that fate deals us all a good or bad hand which possibly has a bigger role to play. Everyone knows someone whose lifestyle was less that healthy and yet lived to be old and stayed active until the end, as well as someone who had an active and healthy lifestyle but was struck down by one of those diseases that doesn’t care about such things. We know that on average it is the other way around but is it really worth denying yourself every pleasure and restricting yourself to a wholesome but miserably unsatisfying diet in order to tip your hand toward an ever so slightly healthier life? In any case that is my decision to make for myself, though for how much longer I wonder?

    Governments that like to ban things that people want to buy create golden opportunities for law breakers to make money, I would say that handing money and power to ruthless and possibly violent people is a bad thing. I like beer, sometimes I buy it from the supermarket and sometimes I brew my own. It is interesting that during the periods when I am brewing beer, I drink more of it than when I am buying it. Obviously any attempts by the government to artificially inflate the price of beer is going to lead me to do more brewing. Let them start on beer kits and I have books about malting and preserving a yeast culture and there are now dwarf varieties of hops that can be grown in your garden.

  • Pat

    No. 8 is particularly amusing though- the Olympic Legacy will in fact be a very large debt, which will have to be paid for by curtailing other activities.
    They are clearly on a different planet- and it is to their total lack of understanding of the world that I look for my salvation.

  • Laird

    Roue le Jour makes an interesting point which is worth a little more exploration. I’m not entirely sure that his/her assertion that “your body becomes the property of the state by default the moment you die” is entirely correct (the state does specify the means of disposition of human corpses, but does it really claim some species of ownership interest in them?), but regardless of that obviously the remedy for improper removal of organs (“against everyone’s clearly stated wishes”) would be monetary damages. If it is possible and proper to quantify the damages from that tort, then it is not a very large step to permitting the routine payment of cash to the donor’s estate (or even to a living donor, in cases such as kidney or bone marrow donation). Until we get over our irrational aversion to such payments there will always be an organ shortage.

  • Now I am of the view that defence against infectious plagues is a legitimate role of the state because it is a collective threat… a plague, like a fire or an invading army, does not respect property lines and so this is the whole reason to have a ‘nightwatchman state’.

    Maybe. But does it work? Does the state actually prevent the spread of infectious diseases?

  • The Royal Society for Public Health is just refining what has been the trend for generations in the U.K.

    I merely have to remember Tony Martin, and the example of which he was made, to show that your bodies are not your own. Any society which condemns its members when they use deadly force to defend themselves from deadly attack, is a society of slaves.

    I just wonder if y’all will realize how overdue is your own Boston Tea Party?

  • llamas

    John B wrote:

    ‘ . . .Similar to the situation, now, wherein abortions have moved slowly closer and closer to birth to the point that now there are even partial birth abortions. . . ”

    . . . and, in some places, we now have post-birth abortions, where a neonate who was born alive and whose life could be sustained is condemned by state-employed and -regulated health-care workers to die of benign neglect because he/she is considered to be so defective and/or so compromised as to either have no perceivable quality of life, or no significant life expectancy.

    And in the Netherlands, always a world leader in this sort of thinking, active euthanasia of neonates – truly, post-bith abortion – is now sanctioned and legal.

    The reason it’s called a slippery slope is precisely because it’s so slippery, and sloping.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Ian Bennett

    Gib, your initial understanding of my position is correct; I was perfectly happy to donate voluntarily, but if my consent is simply assumed, then I do withdraw it, and I stand by my reasoning for this decision; it really is an “up yours” to the state.

    To some extent, the state must have some jurisdiction over a corpse; to determine cause and manner of death, for example, because there is a prima face need for this which is fully in keeping with objectivist principles. Beyond this limited scope, however, state involvement should end.

    Does the state actually prevent the spread of infectious diseases?

    No, but it should have the power to do so (even though it lacks the competence).

  • Steven Groeneveld

    The issue of abortion brings up a nice ironic inconsistency. These bureaucrats who presume ownership of you body in support of their health agenda are the very same people that justify abortion on the basis of mothers should have control of their “own” body. This is a case where their philosophy in one aspect of control of ones own body could be used against them in another.

  • Snag

    All this in the name of potentially saving lives at some point in the future, while at the same time being quite happy to dispose of imminent humans, at the whim of the mother.

    You don’t need to be against the concept of abortion to notice the hypocrisy.

  • Laird

    Snag, I’m not opposed to abortion per se (although I have a problem with late-term abortions), but I disagree with you on the “hypocrisy” thing. One can easily make a principled distinction between the state presuming to allocate organs from deceased persons (who, by definition, have no further need of these “wasting assets”) and its declining to dictate a woman’s reproductive choices concerning her own body while she is still using it (i.e., during her lifetime). The argument that this is in any way “hypocritical” is superficial and specious.

    This is not to take away anything from Steven’s point, though. It is hypocritical when the state, on one hand, declines to interfere with a woman’s choices about her own body with respect to reproduction (i.e., abortion) but on the other presumes to interfere in all manner of her other “lifestyle” choices (such as the ingestion of trans-fats, enjoyment of recreational drugs, etc.). That is truly hyprocritical. But neither is germane to the point under discussion here.

  • Snag

    I didn’t really make myself clear.

    The diktats on smoking in cars, transfats, playing fields, cycle lanes etc are proposed in the name of health and well-being of kids and future generations, whereas the health and well-being of any foetus is of no concern whatsoever to this disreputable body.

  • hovis

    This is all very disturbing but no surprising. The insidiousness of ‘public good’ masks a vileness of its exponents. Personally I see parallels between these attitudes and the current campaigns against so called alternative therapies. Some which I support others I don’t – however I want the ability to put what I do or don’t want in my body, whether than be vitamins/ acupuncture needles/ homeopathic pills / herbal tinctures or small shamanic chickens. It all boils down to attempts to take the sovereignty you have over your own body away.

  • Nuke Gray

    Here’s a thought, from the cutting edge of surgery. Will your libertarian heart to a socialist politician, only! New research into organ donations shows that people change, depending on the heart they get! Some people have suddenly become musicians, liking the same instruments as their heart-donors!
    So make sure you can convert die-hard despots, by the nearest thing we have to possession- heart transplants!

  • Bod

    There are a few specific parts I’d be prepared to donate for transplant to a socialist politician.

    The could have my arse, but there’s an attendant risk that it’d would reject the politician.

  • Roue le Jour

    Laird,

    “His”, thank you.

    I agree, “owns” is questionable. I mean it in the sense that the state owns your children, i.e. if the state decides they would be better off in care, you cannot sue for their return on the basis they are your property, your only hope is to prove that the state failed to follow its own rules in removing them.

    Similarly, you cannot sue for damages as you suggest because you have suffered no damage. Your loved one’s body does not belong to you. You may be able to show that the state did not follow its own rules, in which case you could expect a mealy mouthed apology, but no restitution.

    It is meaningless to prohibit something without an associated penalty. What is the penalty for removing organs without permission?

  • In effect, your body becomes the property of the state by default the moment you die

    In fact, ownership of a corpse rests with no one at all, not even the deceaseds estate. How that squares with anatomical collections I do not know.

  • Roue le Jour

    Hi Cats,

    Did we cross?

    I was deliberately being a bit provocative as I hoped someone with first hand legal knowledge might pop up and deliver me a withering riposte because I’m curious to know the answer.

    As I see it, if no one can a body, then there is no legal basis for enforcing a “no donation” wish. It’s just a gentleman’s agreement between the hospital and the next of kin. Anyone know any better?

  • Paul Marks

    I sometimes think that accepting the “night watchman state” is where Britain went wrong.

    After all in England and Wales at least (I do not know the position in Scotland) government police were not compulsory in the towns till the 1830′s and not in rural areas till the 1850′s. Yet property rights (both in one’s body and in goods) were largely respected – we did not go around eating each other, and criminals were arrested by ordinary people and handed over to unpaid Justices of the Peace.

    Anyway the Royal Society for…….

    Yes – totalitarians, although they would reject the charge.

    If the government is allowed to do all the things they list it can do ANYTHING.

    It reminds me of Andrew Sullivan and his description of “Cash for Clunkers” as a good example of “limited government”. He was not being ironic, he actually thought that.

    Of course the scheme itself was (and is) insane – not just a waste of money and denying poor people second hand cars (which went to be destroyed instead) but also bad for the “environment” (even according to Mr Sullivan’s own ideology) as the energy used in making new cars was vastly greater than any “savings in C02 emissions” from getting rid of old ones.

    However, it was the PRINCIPLE that was more important – a defintion of “limited government” that included “cash for clunkers” is useless – as such a government was in fact not limited at all. “Cash for Clunkers” is in fact a classic example of UNLIMITED goverment (goverment that can do anything).

    However, Mr Sullivan was so mentally blind he could not see the above. Any more than the Royal Soceity for the … can not see that by their demands they are opening the door to totalitarianism.

    Their minds are shut.

  • Andrew Duffin

    And you never even mentioned their plan to ban butter!

    (Of, if it’s not their plan, it’s the plan of someone else of like detestable mind, who is probably one of them anyway.)

  • MarkE

    Is it an ego problem? They’ve gone to the trouble of giving us such good advice that is purely for our own good, and we, ungrateful swine that we are, fail to take their advice. So we must be made to take it to show us (them) how important they are.

  • Andrew: doesn’t para 12 (transfats) cover butter?

  • Kim du Toit

    “The people behind this manifesto are detestable and they need to be told that to their faces.”

    No, they need to be hanged, en masse.

    By the way: I just realized that the ONLY proper mandate given to the State is to reduce or combat a force or entity which does not per se respect property lines.

  • Nuke Gray

    I have long believed that the only place that should be bound by laws of government is government property- public roads and parks and buildings, etc. A way to keep the state from exceeding its’ bounds would be what I think of as time-share government- if you choose to be a citizen, then for eleven months after signing up, you perform communtiy service, such as policing and militia, when you can spare the time; then you have one month when you, and everyone else who joined up in the same month, are the government of all public lands in your county.
    Let’s stop out-sourcing politics to agents, and get our own hands dirty, if we want to keep the state small.

  • The people behind this manifesto are detestable and they need to be told that to their faces.

    Has anyone in fact gone and actually you know… told them…. to their faces? Does anyone have a plan for doing so systematically, or are we just going to be rude to them on the off-chance we bump into them at a party?

  • I’ve spent the last twenty five years telling statists what I think not just of their views but of them… it sometimes gets me not invited back to certain parties.

    Hell, I even set up a blog called samizdata to try and inject that notion into the Zeitgeist.

    But feel free to find innovative ways to do your bit to also add some noise to their signal if you like.

  • whatever happened with that thing where they were taking organs from dead babies without permission? In a hospital? I can’t remember the name or how it turned out…

  • veryretired

    My family knows my living will desire to have my body donated to a medical school when I die.

    Maybe they can figure out how I lasted this long. It mystifies me.

    My best guess is sheer stubborness. Perhaps being an ornery old fart is its own reward.