…and neither does he, nor any of his lackeys, have the slightest concept of a little thing known as reading comprehension.
Think Progress has ferreted out the real source of Dubya’s antipathy to embryonic stem cell research–a total misinterpretation of an improbable scenario from Aldous Huxley (read aloud to him, of course, by one of his loyal flunkies, since Dubya can’t be bothered to bestir himself):
In a new piece in Commentary magazine, Jay Lefkowitz — who advised Bush on stem cells — reveals how the President formulated his 2001 policy. While Bush heard from a variety of groups on both sides of the issue, the turning point appeared to come when Lefkowitz read from Aldous Huxley’s fictional novel, Brave New World, and scared Bush:
A few days later, I brought into the Oval Office my copy of Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 anti-utopian novel, and as I read passages aloud imagining a future in which humans would be bred in hatcheries, a chill came over the room.
"We’re tinkering with the boundaries of life here," Bush said when I finished. "We’re on the edge of a cliff. And if we take a step off the cliff, there’s no going back. Perhaps we should only take one step at a time."
It’s unclear what passage Lefkowitz read, but Brave New World opens with a scene at the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, where embryos are turned into full human beings — often dozens of pairs of "identical twins" to ensure "social stability."
Say, isn’t Dubya the father of (apparently non-identical) twins?
And isn’t he also a proponent of adopting the excess embryos from in-vitro fertilizations, which would otherwise be dumped as medical waste?
And just totally apropos of nothing, isn’t the planet already overrun with mass-produced human beings–while religious conservatives of various stripes are still busily militating against not only abortion, but birth control (but not, interestingly, fertility treatments that produce excess embryos)? Therefore, human cloning would make no sense on either a scientific or an ethical level. There are already so many of us that there is no need, particularly from a standpoint of social stability, for heaps of DNA-matched human bookends bred on purpose.
BTW, the correct term for Brave New World is not “anti-utopian”, it is dystopian. Brave New World is not set in anything remotely resembling an Utopia, and therefore can hardly be said to be opposed to the concept. Huxley’s dystopian vision was that of a world where a strange amalgam of capitalism and totalitarianism had run amuck. Everything is mass-manufactured, assembly-line style, including human beings, and Henry Ford is the God of their religion. Not very utopian, is it now?
And the most chilling aspect of this dystopian vision is not the human cloning, but the aspect of the manufacturing process that follows–in the second chapter:
Not so very long ago (a century or thereabouts), Gammas, Deltas, even Epsilons, had been conditioned to like flowers–flowers in particular and wild nature in general. The idea was to make them want to be going out into the country at every available opportunity, and so compel them to consume transport.
‘And didn’t they consume transport?’ asked the student.
‘Quite a lot,’ the DHC replied. ‘But nothing else.’
Primroses and landscapes, he pointed out, have one grave defect: they are gratuitous. A love of nature keeps no factories busy. It was decided to abolish the love of nature, at any rate among the lower classes; to abolish the love of nature, but not the tendency to consume transport. For of course it was essential that they should keep on going to the country, even though they hated it. The problem was to find an economically sounder reason for consuming transport than a mere affection for primroses and landscapes. It was duly found.
‘We condition the masses to hate the country,’ concluded the Director. ‘But simultaneously we condition them to love all country sports. At the same time, we see to it that all country sports shall entail the use of elaborate apparatus. So that they consume manufactured articles as well as transport. Hence those electric shocks.’
“Those electric shocks”–my, how little has changed in the 600-some years since Our Ford manufactured the world as the Brave New Worlders know it. Say, isn’t Dubya also rather big on the use of electric shocks, particularly as a means of terrorizing people into compliance, not only with cruel interrogators, but with the very laboratory-grown world as Corporate America would like us to consume it? That’s quite the ethical, scientific position…
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Dystopia is looking an awful lot like the here-and-now, even without the decanted cloned babies. We have mass conditioning, only it’s a lot more subtle and sophisticated than the crude Pavlovian shit we see in Brave New World. We call it The Media. Its job is, quite simply, to get us to consume crap, be smug about whatever our paltry and limited status in this cowardly old world may be, and above all, do nothing to change the paradigm. After all, that is what our current totalitarian capitalist society thrives on: apathy, ignorance, mass production (preferably in a sweatshop in a country with lax environmental and labor regulations) and mass consumption (everyfuckingwhere).
The media’s job is not really to enlighten us; it is to encourage the “right” attitude (“U-S-A! U-S-A!! U-S-A!!!”) by feeding us a highly selected diet of information (or rather, misinformation). Think of the last time you picked up a women’s magazine: how much of what was in it was actual information, impartially offered for the enlightenment of a woman? Precious little, I’ll bet. Most of the “information” I see in such magazines is aimed (often not even subtly) at pushing product. They could tell us how to do our own hot oil treatments, for example, but they don’t. They would rather tell us to buy a pricey “shine-boosting serum” concocted by an “expert” from some expensive salon. (My humble guess is that they’re not taking payola from the olive-oil industry.) They could also share with you (as I’m about to do) the great secret that Vitamin B complex, 100 mg a day, is a better treatment for clinical depression than any expensive, brand-name prescription drug that you see advertised in a US magazine. For that matter, so is learning to stand up and cuss out your oppressor instead of just lying down and taking it. But no, the media must stay on message: “Soma–a gramme is better than a damn!”
I could go on, but you get the picture. Why bother banning stem-cell research on “ethical” grounds when you already have no more ethics than the Goddess gave a can of pickled water chestnuts? Why bother saving all the “snowflake babies” from being chucked out in their test tubes and petri dishes when you’ve already got a society of conformists who might as well be clones, even if they weren’t decanted from an assembly line of laboratory flasks? And why worry about the nonexistent prospect of decanted babies when surplus embryos–sorry, little Susie Snowflakes–have to be decanted, so to speak, into the wombs of their “adoptive mothers”, right here and now, in accordance with the whims of George W. Lebensborn Bush?
I know this will come as a terrible shock to all the fetus fetishists out there, but the frightening misuses of reproductive technology Dubya is supposedly so worried about will never come to pass. Human cloning? Um, Dolly the short-lived sheep single-hoofedly put the kibosh to that idea. (Huxley never heard of telomeres; they hadn’t been discovered when he wrote his work of fiction. Apparently Dubya has yet to hear of them himself. Quick, somebody, read something to him.) Animal-human hybrids? When the vast ma
jority of informed people have a healthy fear of genetically tampered Frankenfoods? Um, yeah. Wake me up when it happens; I’m not about to lose sleep over the prospect that one morning I will find myself with cat eyes and a monkey tail. I’m far more concerned about what will happen to the right to privacy and reproductive freedom of my American sisters if more morons like Dubya get their mitts on them.
And even more than that, I’m worried about the way the media has turned so many of my contemporaries’ brains inside out.
You see, I not only own a copy of Brave New World, I can actually comprehend it. Something Dubya and whatsisname can’t be bothered to do, because it requires the use of a lot more grey matter than either one has got.
Of course, embryonic stem cells might help them with that. But since they’re opposed, and we have it all in writing, they’re not entitled to any.