“Life” – worth nothing Ruthless Criticism

Translated from MSZ 9-1985

“Life” – worth nothing

Modern people who, on the anniversary of Hiroshima, in the case of chicken farming, or polluted rivers, or abortion, can’t think of a more convincing argument than “life” will someday have to be asked the question that’s so useful elsewhere: don’t you want a little more?

After all, you don’t have to have been in the trenches or taken as a prisoner of war to know how unpleasant those situations are in which “life” is at stake, which then is called “bare.” Nobody can wish for a life consumed with concerns for mere survival. And creatures that behave that way have no concerns and certainly don’t know how to wish.

All the same, appeals to life without qualification and therefore as a supreme value, are familiar to many living beings of the 20th century. It doesn’t bother them whatsoever that, with their soaring spiritual flights, they are worshipping, of all things, the sheer existence of organisms – as if their concerns themselves were not the most obvious proof that they have long been concerned with more than that. On various occasions, they want their lives, which they indeed have, as well as those of others, to be enriched by respect for life. With this thought, they want to urge the nowadays due reaction of a quite living humanity – to everything they consider life-threatening. In this respect for life, which they demand, they see a means of life.

This is not only wrong, but also the cheapest slogan from the daily increasing trove of ideas about moral missions which one is bullied with. The so vehemently preached commitment to “life” puts aside the not so stupid question about the means that make life worth living. That’s not nice.

The logic of life-saving morality

When people admonish and protest in the name of life, it’s obviously not about anything having to do with biology. The advocates of life are interested in proteins and cells, in metabolic processes and energy transitions, irritability and procreation only to the extent that they prefer its buzzing activity to its end. But not in such a way that they indicate one or two things they want to do before they kick the bucket. In view of real or invented dangers, it does not occur to them that they, as established representatives of the human species, have set out to do a few things which are thwarted by the consumption of poisons and radiation of all kinds. They are not so presumptuous, these lovers of life, that they demand conditions which are suitable for them as a means to all kinds of pleasures and activities. The respect they demand is the mere precondition for their undertakings; and if they accuse their species-siblings in political office, then it is not with the materialistic accusation that they are making a pleasant life difficult or preventing one. They discover a sin against the right to go on living. This plea for mercy is certainly not to be confused with an “entitlements mentality.” It’s owed to a “without-no” thought which brings the abstract love of “life” into the world: as a condition for everything else and beyond, it receives the rank of a supreme good, which is then a value. And values are well known to put all ordinary things in perspective.

Truly, a worldview as ornate as it is harsh! People who are obviously busy with completely different things than “life” put themselves, with the help of wrong thoughts, in the fictitious, extreme situation of trench warfare/mortal combat, disregard their existing interests and purposes, and pounce on their fellow human beings with their fictitious emergency. They want to beguile them with the construction of a world in which the most fundamental alternative “life or death” is supposed to be stake. Yet every area of application of the life-saving gospel reveals that something quite different is going on.

Of course, this does not affect the moral force of a hymn to life stitched together so simply.

Life instead of war

The extent to which peace loving people believe that the phase called “peace” takes heed of “life” as a supreme maxim or at least guarantees survival is a pointless question. In any case, reading the newspapers doesn’t stop them from pretending that war is against “life” – and that peace would be imperative for its sake. In the sigh for peace, the need to be left alive overshadows every other interest; this argument against war is supposed to gain its persuasiveness from the fact that everyone equates the imminent threat of armed conflict with their own death. As if politicians, generals and the people who serve them had overlooked the fatal impact of war, they are ideally confronted with their death, which they cannot want.

It’s well known that the attempt to introduce the standard of “life” into politics discredits itself. It fails simply because other things matter to politicians and strategists – even in peacetime they are not content with the fact that their subjects “live”: they always have a few more tasks in schools, at workplaces, in the supermarket, at the ballot boxes that are always much more important than the question of how the relevant services are beneficial to the organism. If anyone in the earth-shattering controversy of “life vs. war” is overlooking something essential, then it is the partisans of life! In their pious opinion that everyone can share the purpose of simply preserving their existence, they abstract from everything that the quite living inventory of their societies does with their lives. This stupidity seems to confess a fear of war in which a considerable number is actually put to the sword. Unfortunately, the anticipation of the alternative between “life – death” imposed during war reveals a will to nothing but sacrifice. The chance to “change course” is highly formally missed at the very moment that masters and servants have other things to do than calculating survival and annihilation. Instead of changing attitudes which in spirit are already facing death in the desperation of war and humbly “choosing life.”

These ultra-Christian living beings want to have arrived at this subservient begging, which aims not at a minimum existence but at the minimum of existence, because of nuclear weapons. Not even their technical sophistication and exorbitant price leads them to think that there is some wealth available today that can be used to make something of “life.” They are impressed by the effect of the device, which in an emergency is certainly not just a moral one. And how do they understand this effect when they want to show quite dramatically what they are afraid of? As a threat to survival – to humanity! Clearly: anyone who is now incapable of any other criticism of the pre-war political economy, to which he is compelled to make one contribution after another, than the apocalyptic invocation of “cold death,” is not even concerned with his own skin when the time comes. Already today he has nothing against making himself available for the peace policy which is overflowing with values because it lets him “live”! For this, he even gets recognition and a hearing; not with the competent authorities in matters of war and peace, but at least with the priests who value humble living beings above all else.

And peace policy can very well use them.

Life against environmental destruction

Not only the survival of humanity, but also life in general is the most serious concern for people who have noticed nothing more than a deficiency in the food supply, the causes of which are not so difficult to discover. With the help of the natural sciences, which learn the laws of animate and inanimate nature, it becomes a means of business. As a result, it changes quite a bit and loses many properties that make it suitable as a means of life and enjoyment for humanity, which depends on breathing air and drinking water. Other properties, on the contrary, are new to it and can be called toxic. (Everything important about the further development of the “environmental problem,” “environmental policy,” etc., which have a political-economic explanation or none at all, is in Nationalized Nature) This is not only perceived as disturbing, but as another reason for “choosing life.” This attempt to introduce the yardstick of “life” into politics and beyond into the economy also doesn’t fail by chance. Even in the early days of this peculiar criticism which turned into a movement, the results of a production that causes problems for so many people were not regarded as a consequence of the freedoms that are legal by virtue of state blessings and whose owners operate somewhat recklessly – but rather as a consequence of disregarding the beloved highest and basic value. In order to attribute the millions of tons of pollutants to this origin it’s necessary to overlook the valid standards of economic activity, just as those of politics had to be overlooked in matters of peace. Likewise, they need the trick which so obviously contradicts their whining consternation but is supposed to promote their credibility: responsibly accepting guilt. In the form of the consumer, “we” all become beneficiaries and, as it were, clients of those who carry out their destructive works with the basic accounting methods of capital. And the victim of this rather collective sin is from now on the “environment,” God’s beautiful nature. As if it had actually been regarded and treated as a means of life and nothing beyond that, the critics turn to findings that are dripping with self-criticism. They contrast their own “life” to the conveniences of consumption which make it worth living – and always pay the highest respect to the value of life.

It is to such ideas that the 20th century owes its manic concern for dying plant and animal species, which have certainly not asked to be cultivated. More public effort on the standard of living of panda bears is bandied about nowadays than on decent wages; alternative cycling and cooking politics are pursued. However, in contrast to the lived idealism of life, this is quite realistic and actively supports the never questioned standards of government and economy. “Financially viable and feasible concepts” in environmental issues are the smash hits of a movement that has advanced to parliament, and its party is making every effort not to offend any voter in its viewpoint for winning power. Like all religions, that of “life” follows whatever path is appropriate to it. For some, it forms the faithful accompaniment of their accepted modesty, for others it gives the appearance of good deeds, of responsibility, when they use their power at the expense of a good life for their servile subjects.

Life = service

In “life” as with all moral titles, it very much depends on whether you believe in them and make them your life maxim, perhaps even deriving a personal field of activity from them – or whether you recommend them to others. The democratic German republic does not suffer any shortage of either of these practices because the necessary personnel is available and equipped with the different means. The stupid worldview is a public asset, clearly a long-term effect of the equality principle.

That the designation of “life” to a value includes an abstraction from everything that the thinking, living “human being” sets for itself in terms of purposes is understood by animal rights activists in their own way. In vermin their value runs around in bodily form and may enjoy their special care. Fanatics of a wrong thought that captures their feelings, they do not notice any contradiction between their zeal and what is done to their peers every day. For the moral firefighters from the universities, genetic engineering, euthanasia and the like are preferred topics in which they then separate what is permitted from what is forbidden in the name of “life.” The fact that these Christian-motivated intellectual giants take a stand for nature at one time, for triage at another, does not bother them much. People who don’t even know how a savings bank works just have good reason to instruct the rest of humanity in ethical matters. There are also comparisons between a case of cruelty to animals and a concentration camp. Our politicians are not guilty of such methodically controlled tastelessness.

The state also understands this abstraction, but without the unfortunate conclusion that service to life should extend to those very creatures with whom one makes common cause because they are also alive. If the officials responsible for the “right to life” use their moral clubs, then they somewhat differently separate “life” from its how and for what. They do not erase the latter, but give it a clear sense of commitment to the nation and its interests. They demand the willingness to serve which announces itself as a promise to the good people who want to have their and nature’s survival put on the agenda, as a duty. For them, doing politics in the name of life means issuing imperatives which the recipients must justifiably see as conditions for survival.

Moreover, it is openly stated that the fulfillment of these conditions is rewarded with “life” and that this thereby degenerates into a means for the anticipated services. Anyone who attaches a note to the concern about the Germans dying out that the nation’s health insurance funds will soon run out of contributors and that there are already too many “beneficiaries” to be served; anyone who, on the issue of abortion, puts consideration of whether one can afford and wants a child in the same category as vile murder out of a sense of entitlement; anyone who, even in the hypocrisies of an election campaign, wants an up and coming generation to whom he no longer even promises the free market income called a “job,” etc. – for them, it’s self-evident that “life” is a raw material for the nation’s politics and economy. And this raw material is not just vigorously consumed in the final service to the nation!

Only the Pope himself, through a cynicism that is above anything else in comparison, manages to make the usual handling of the lives of the unemployed and the poisoned, welfare cases and soldiers in the rich nations seem worth living, as bearable. He advises the Africans – these are the starvelings of imperialism for whom people are constantly singing and collecting – to have children. Why: they are a gift from God; and when they starve under His equatorial sun, the poorest “defend” themselves “against the anti-life mentality that is spreading in the industrialized countries.”

A nice value, “life”!