And Population Control
Situationist International #12 (June 1969)
IF YOU ARE under 35... chances are good that before you die humans will be:
Preselecting the sex of their children as easily as they pick the color of a new car.
Regenerating defective or damaged organs.
Implanting preselected embryos into wombs, or using preserved sperm and egg cells from superior individuals, long after death, to create life.
Living 90 or 100 years with the vigor and alertness that most of us now lose by age 60.
Reprogramming cells with biochemical bits or new genetic information to combat inherited diseases like hemophilia and even to acquire new traits, such as improved intelligence.
Or lose old traits, judged undesirable by the established powers:
Injecting, erasing and changing memory, like editing a tape recording; controlling behavior, either through genetic manipulation or through electrodes implanted painlessly in the brain.
Changing sex at will.
Shall we continue?
Your children will probably face even more awesome possibilities. They may reproduce exact likenesses of themselves, multiplying asexually, like plants. They may postpone death indefinitely, and live with hearts, lungs, kidneys even brains made of plastic or metal or taken from animals. Further, they may see life itself created in the laboratory...
By tinkering with the fundamental molecular events associated with heredity and development, geneticists hold out the prospect of correcting almost any unwanted human condition cancer, birth defects, diabetes, hemophilia, aging.
This is also work in the extension of control by way of chemical (and electrical) means that can be administered at any sign of the absence of adjustment to the established conditions of survival.
They speak of imparting superior intelligence to all, of preserving desirable traits perpetually, of turning the chemical traits of heredity, called genes, on and off at will.
The author goes on to cite the possible use of virus infections, surgical implantations, and "untangling the mystery of the central nervous system:"
Vernon H. Mark and William H. Sweet of Harvard and Jose Delgado of Yale have been experimenting with the control of behavior, pain and other phenomena by implanting electrodes in the brain and delivering messages to the appropriate area.
Having sketched out this biochemical utopia, the author goes on to say:
Who is to take the responsibility? Can governments, so sluggish in reacting to the social problems of hunger and poverty, be expected to take the necessary steps to avert biological disaster 30 years hence?... The nagging concern of many geneticists is reflected by Rollin Hotchkiss: "The total genetic composition of the human race is a public property in which we all have a share. The simple rules of the baseball field and the marketplace are not quite enough to judge these complex issues." (From an article by Robert Reinhold, New York Times, 1/6/69).
The last comments have a quieting effect, coming after a description of a humanity controlled from the biochemical laboratory, because it shows that Reinhold (and Hotchkiss and other geneticists who are nagged) is aware and concerned about these "complex issues." The matter is really not of deciding who is to take responsibility since all responsibility has already been appropriated by the ruling strata whose right to that responsibility is not put in question.
An inhuman science is a contradiction in terms. But the development of this inhuman science is an excrescence of the established order which is subject to the "simple" rules of the market place.
Manipulation of heredity is not for improvement of the species but for control over it. In this context the concern of the biologist over improvement is of no importance, except as it creates privileged moral dilemmas for him and others of his specialization, while effectively pursuing their research.
Population control is important to the ruling strata bourgeois or bureaucratic which has no need for an expanding labor force. Note that if the absolute numbers in the labor force expanded each year, its relative numbers decrease. Aside from work speed-up, under which workers be-labor, the increasing division of labor has also lent itself to the mechanical regrouping of tasks in a machine. Few of the "experts" deny the world can hold two, three times its present population. The fear is not over feeding although the malthusian syndrome manifests itself but over the disintegrating effects of a population increase on the established way of life, which excludes from life a majority of the population already in existence.
India has launched a powerful consumer marketing campaign to sell 600 million contraceptives for men each year at less than one cent. (10/10/68)
I think the time has come when as a nation we must adopt a firm population policy and goal. I would like to hope that zero population growth would be the ultimate policy and a limit of 250 million people the goal (for the United States). (11/15/68)
The Ford Foundation announced yesterday grants totaling $10 million for family planning programs in slum areas and for research in reproduction and contraception. (12/30/68)
And, a few days later:
The contraceptives of the next generation may include a minidose pill taken once a day every day, a 'time capsule' that can provide contraceptive protection for perhaps as long as twenty years, a pill or injection that will last one to six months, a 'morning after' or retroactive pill, and a vaccine to immunize men or women against sperm or to block sperm of egg production.
For the first time in its 52 years as a national voluntary birth-control agency, Planned Parenthood-World Population yesterday approved unanimously a policy recognizing abortion and sterilization as proper medical procedures... It called voluntary sterilization of either man or woman a medically accepted means of permanent conception control. (11/14/68) Source: New York Times.
The chemical (and mechanical) contraceptives variously produce cancer, blood clots, blindness, heart disease, insanity, reduced sex-drive, kidney and pelvic infection, and fat, leading to various ways of dying. They have as a weakening o the organism will have immediate debilitating effects on desire, aside from the long range genetic effects, which are expected, and expected to be devolutive.
It is perhaps not necessary to inquire at this point why natural contraceptives are not under consideration. That this situation exists is not the result of a "plan" or "conspiracy" but simply that in the present context what is sought is the destruction of excess population (where excess, before being a specific quantity, is a quality: all those who are not necessary to produce wealth for the ruling strata). Most generals do not plan or conspire to kill men; they kill as a consequence of the practice of their existence.
The "reproductive capacity" is also attacked by other means. The enforced passivity of television (over three hours per person per day) effectively, to now, checks the aggression which must be at least as great as the passivity that contains it. Central here is that excessive tension locks out pleasure: it functions effectively as an impediment to sexual expression.
Dr. Ott... performed experiments which led him to believe that radiation (from television) in amounts far smaller than what is considered dangerous by present standards, can effect glandular development, is dangerous to children and adults and disastrous to infants... Ott's experiments indicate that radiation from TV screens may be entering the pituitary gland at the base of the brain, through the eyes, causing an excessive secretion into the endocrine glandular system which controls hormones, the chemistry of the body, and generally, the future of the race. (Prevention the magazine for better health, Feb 1968)
The problem of excessive radiation is not limited to the sets of one manufacturer. (Public Health Service, February 1, 1968)
The sexual revolution tends to desexualize. A reaction to the TV screen, the show of life, in no way escapes it. The excessive agitation which informs this "revolution" passes for looseness, ground for pleasure. But we really witness the triumphant colonization of erogenous zones. Orgasms may be produced at an increasing rate but only to be consumed immediately in the tension which passes into pathological rigidity, a general desensitization. Accordingly, the sideshow moves center stage, and the freaks necessarily point the way: penis plaster-casters, amyl nitrate snorted as you come, screw at the drop of a name, for any reason, and the first is to have no reason. Copulation is diversion, a mobile passivity. All but pleasure is here, and the participants grow jaded.
All exits are closed but one; passions find the possibility of unfettered development only in the proletarian project. Don't change your verbiage, change life.