I have spoken on this topic before, most recently re: the coronavirus (here) and more extensively here. From that latter post, I’d just like to remind the reader of the words of Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes:
“The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
Holmes was quite correct. Now, compulsory sterilization was finally considered to be grotesque, repealed state by state until they were all gone around 1980, but the underlying principle has never been withdrawn. It is simple logic: if you can compel people to take an action when certain things are true–say, A, B, and C–then whenever A, B, and C, are true, you can compel people to take an action. Holmes merely pointed out the obvious when he showed that compulsory sterilization was just like compulsory vaccination. It would just be pointing out the obvious to go further, for example, by making abortion compulsory, as Obama’s science ‘czar’ once put forward for consideration. This was discussed in my previous post.
It basically amounts to this: if you can compel people to get vaccinations, you can pretty much compel them to do anything. The retort to this is lame beyond words: “Oh, well, but people would never try to force people to do that…” People who make this retort tend to be the most ignorant people on the planet, unaware, apparently, of the grotesque abuses of the 20th century, many of them in the name of the ‘public health.’ They also tend to be the most ignorant people when it comes to the topic they are vigorously advocating for, compulsory vaccination. Nonetheless, it is true. If the principle holds for compulsory vaccination whenever A, B, and C, are true, it holds for compulsory X likewise whenever A, B, and C, are true.
That our amiable dunce does not personally believe that we would ever advocate for compulsory X, or should, is no reason to think that compulsory X will never happen. As if one person’s naive and uninformed position can stand as a shield to abuses that occur decades later, or even after we are long gone! This is magical thinking. They wave their wand, “No one is talking about that” and supposedly its no longer a concern.
The point is this: so long as the underlying principle is held, it can be logically extended to similar cases.
Now, if you don’t like those logical extensions, the proper thing to do is not to tap your heels and squeal like a tool, “no one will ever do that!” and instead re-consider the underlying principle.
The underlying principles justifying compulsory vaccination are excrement.
Now, because your average proponent for compulsory vaccination is an ignorant dunce who is tends to be unable to do more than repeat what he has been spoonfed, I must put this in big, bold letters:
I AM NOT ARGUING AGAINST VACCINATIONS. I AM ARGUING AGAINST COMPULSORY VACCINATION.
Please, if the word ‘compulsory’ confuses you, use a dictionary. I beg you.
I thrashed the compulsory vaccination argument decisively and irrefutably in the post already mentioned, and I’m not going to go over all of those points again. Indeed, I would say that if you want to make any comment whatsoever on ANY aspect of this discussion NOT mentioned in this post (eg, “what about herd immunity!?!?!?”) I insist you leave that comment on THAT post instead of this post, being sure to first read what I have to say. (If it appears you did not read what I said, I reserve the right to thrash or ban YOU.)
For the purposes of THIS post, I wish to address one or more of the underlying principles which are used to justify compulsory vaccination. I found it recently in this news article about a Brit politician pushing to make vaccination compulsory. Remember, I have already beaned over the head most of his other arguments in this post.
Here is what he said:
“I’ve said before that we should be open-minded, and frankly, what I’d say is that when the state provides services to people then it’s a two-way street – you’ve got to take your responsibilities, too,” Hancock told the Q&A session hosted by the Huffington Post. [emphasis added]
What we have here is a an assumption which usually goes unspoken and therefore unexamined.
Now, there was a time when people were not so afraid to voice this assumption. We call this the ‘Progressive Era,’ a time in which eugenics–and eugenic sterilization–was all the rage. The comments by Holmes are a perfect case in point. In the same decision, Holmes wrote:
The statute then enacts that, whenever the superintendent of certain institutions, including the above-named State Colony, shall be of opinion that it is for the best interests of the patients and of society that an inmate under his care should be sexually sterilized […]
[…] We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11. Three generations of imbeciles are enough. [emphasis added]
The orientation towards the ‘State’ and the ‘public welfare’ as a thing in itself distinct from and separate from the individuals involved is the root of the defect.
Thus, Hancock talks about the ‘state’ as though it were a thing besides and beyond the people being served. This is a continuation of the idea that the ‘state’ has its own ‘rights’ and its own ‘privileges.’ It is akin to the idea that corporations are ‘persons.’ It’s all a bit silly to think of an arbitrary arrangement of actual persons as being persons themselves, but it is very common to see. It certainly lays at the back of much of the horrors of the 20th century, but the idea comes flowing out of one’s mouth so easily even in rather banal conversation that one might actually suppose it is really reasonable to view something that exists only on paper, by mere convention, as being an actual person.
Now, I left in the link to Jacobsen v. Massachusetts, which I invite the reader to look at. This was the decision that Holmes cited in defense of compulsory vaccination. I can imagine that your average advocate for compulsory vaccination can read that decision and think it sounds pretty great. Just remember as you read it that Holmes saw in it a perfect parallel to compulsory sterilization. If the idea of compulsory sterilization makes you recoil in horror but you are perfectly fine with compulsory vaccination, then perhaps you need to look at Jacobsen v Mass with a fresh set of eyes, because evidently, on your own view, you should support compulsory sterilization, and who knows what else. If you are a reasonable person, that is.
Interestingly, Hancock makes the point that since the “State” provides the service, and therefore the ‘people’ being obligated to avail themselves of the service. This same idea is explicitly referenced in Jacobsen v. Mass, which illustrates well, I think, that “there is nothing new under the sun.”
On the face of it, I think most people would think its pretty stupid, and the height of irrationality, in fact, to believe that just because the “State” provides a service, the people have “GOT” to use it. And yet, is this not the whole premise of Obamacare? Indeed, such arguments share other common features, such as the notion that the whole enterprise won’t work unless EVERYONE does it, and obviously if YOU don’t want to do it, you’re obviously just a selfish bastard. Do you hate the State?!?!? Still, it smacks of insanity, does it not?
If we could press Hancock and others of his ilk, I think we would find out that he thinks its reasonable because, on his view (which we can expect he believes is reasonable not because he’s thought about it, but because ‘experts’ say it is reasonable), the thing in question is so self-evidently good and righteous that no reasonable, non-selfish person could POSSIBLY not want to avail themselves of it, unless they could not pay for it. Thus, the fact that it is ‘free’ to the ‘user’ removes the last POSSIBLE obstacle to using the service.
There is a society-killing downside to this line of reasoning that is more psychological than logical, which I have already alluded to. If it is indeed the case that the thing in itself is self-evidently good and righteous that no reasonable, non-selfish person would choose not to use it, then it quite rationally follows that the ONLY reason someone might not use it is they are NOT reasonable, they ARE selfish. In the face of such obstinate cretins, then, should not the compassionate, empathetic, lover of the State feel entirely warranted in running roughshod over such people, who are, after all, by definition nothing more than selfish bastards?
“Why should the ‘public good’ be held up by assholes?” goes the reasoning.
That strikes me as an extremely toxic point of view, but because the underlying principles run so deeply beneath the surface of the underlying arguments, it rarely gets surfaced. Nonetheless, you hear it often enough. One of my favorites is the constant comments (usually by liberal progressives) that people keep voting against their own interests… as if the liberal progressives knows better than those people what their own interests are! Obviously, though, if you believe that people are voting against their ‘own’ interests, there must be something seriously wrong with them, right? Obviously, the appropriate posture when dealing with such people is to hold them in contempt?
I doubt many liberal progressives comprehend that their words and arguments drip with this contempt, but then, that’s why they are liberal progressives. They wouldn’t, would they? Not coincidentally, liberal progressives also tend to be the foremost promoters of the idea that the State is a thing in itself which can be ‘healthy’ or not, etc.
However, there are many liberal progressives who would join me in being repulsed by compulsory vaccination. I would submit to these that they reconsider some of their presuppositions, because it is precisely those same presuppositions which actually justify the very thing they are repulsed by.
Now, one of the reasons for this post is not merely to challenge the idea of compulsory vaccination. It is the whole idea that the State has its own rights and privileges as though it is its own ‘person’ and the fact that this viewpoint has fairly obvious logical extensions. Some of these have already been notoriously tried in the era of ‘eugenics,’ like compulsory sterilization. But there are others, too, which highlight my point that if they can MAKE you get a vaccination–at least on all the arguments put forwards so far the last 200 years or so–they can MAKE you do anything: including DIE.
You should have seen this already in the Holmes decision. It was right there in the text I already cited:
the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives.
Well, now, that is is an interesting way to think of it, isn’t it? Holmes, I believe, has wartime in view in this comment, but clearly he sees the reasoning chain go like this: We can force people into activities which will lead to their deaths, so obviously we can force people into activities which MAY lead to their deaths (compulsory vaccination; if this doesn’t make sense to you, read the decision that Holmes himself references), so obviously we can forbid people to from doing something which is far removed from asking for them to actually die–that is, from breeding.
Call them to Die — therefore we can call them to get Vaccinated — therefore we can call them to be sterilized.
What is the basis again? “The public welfare.”
Holmes accepts it as perfectly rationale (and moral) to believe the State can require the deaths of its citizens. When one accepts that, it obviously follows that anything short of death can be required as well. Yipes!
But let’s return to that first point: the State can require the deaths of its citizens?!?!?! Holy cats!
That is a rather crass way of putting it, but let’s not sugar coat it. This idea is very much with us. It is precisely why both the Nazis and the Communists had their ideologies devolve into mass murder. In both cases, the ‘State’ had the right to protect and preserve itself, even at the expense of the individual components. Let’s remember that when socialists advocate for more socialism, shall we?
The Nazis drew some of their rationale from the writings of two mainstream eminent ‘experts’ in the 1920s in a book “Allowing the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life.”
Seen from the point of view of a higher civil morality, there is no doubt that exaggerations are being exercised in the striving for the absolute preservation of unworthy life. We have learned, from someone else’s point of view, to consider in this respect the state organism as a whole with its own laws and rights, in the same way as, for instance, it would be for a self-contained human organism, which, as us doctors know, surrenders and rejects individual parts or particles that have become worthless or damaged in the interest of the well-being of the whole. [pg 36, emphasis added]
Here you see in a nutshell the whole idea: the State has its “own laws and rights.” There is a morality that goes beyond the individual, which applies to the State itself, alone. The State is regarded just like an individual ‘Human organism’, which sheds “worthless or damaged” components for the “well-being of the whole.”
Not surprisingly, the Nazis, believing they were on good, solid scientific ground, since the Experts Say So, their first measures were to forbid ‘breeding’ of the unfit, and when they did start killing, it was not the Jews, but rather the disabled. (The T4 project.)
But lest you think this is a particularly Nazi-ish viewpoint, remember that the commies thought the same thing, and not only commies, but good old fashioned Americans. Here is something from a University of Madison professor which argues for almost the exact same point on the exact same reasoning in 1914, years before Binding and Hoche wrote their book:
Chatterton-Hill, in a striking simile, has likened the condition of the social organism under these circumstances to that of a biological organism in which catabolism is exceeding anabolism, resulting in autointoxication, the gradual poisoning of the civic body. Death is the normal process of elimination in the social organism, and we might carry the figure a step further and say that in prolonging the lives of defectives we are tampering with the functioning of the social kidneys!
[For documentation on that and more examples of such reasoning, go here.]
While the language has been softened up quite a bit these days, there is no particular reason to think the argument has been repudiated. In fact, no pun intended, but the argument seems to be alive and well.
For example, a few years back, two ‘experts’ argued for ‘after birth abortion.’ This raised some hackles, because this was an obvious euphemism for infanticide. It cannot be shocking to anyone that all the places where abortion on demand are welcomed enthusiastically, there is gross flirtation with actual infanticide. But why should this be? It is because the arguments for abortion on demand and abortion after birth are basically the same, so that you cannot really be against infanticide without also being against abortion, and vice versa. Here we these two experts (quoting from my blog entry on this):
Giubilini and Minerva observe that children born with Down Syndrome and other severe disabilities are “often reported to be happy.” But they continue,
“Nonetheless, to bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care. On these grounds, the fact that a fetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion. Therefore, we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth, such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.” (italics theirs, bold, mine)
Please note the reference to “society as a whole” and the supposed underlying justification for the measure, “when the state economically provides for their care.” Or, as Hancock would put it, “when the state provides services to people then it’s a two-way street.” Or, as Obama and Bloomberg (and many others) put it, saying that old people should not get access to life saving treatments, because it deprives ‘others’ of those resources; their tyranny likewise justified because it is the STATE ‘providing the service.’
All of these sentiments are clearly all intertwined with each other. They can’t help but speak in the same terms, using the same arguments. The fact that someone who advocates for compulsory vaccination does not also advocate for compulsory abortion, or compulsory infanticide, or compulsory [everything appears to be on the table], is no comfort whatsoever. It just means that somewhere along the lines, someone can pick up the same reasoning and feel perfectly justified in applying it how they please. As Savulescu (another real piece of work) put it in defense of Giubilini and Minerva:
The authors provocatively argue that there is no moral difference between a fetus and a newborn. Their capacities are relevantly similar. If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible. The authors proceed logically from premises which many people accept to a conclusion that many of those people would reject. (emphasis mine)
If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible. If compulsory abortion is permissible (per John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich), compulsory infanticide should be permissible. If compulsory abortion is permissible, compulsory sterilization is permissible. Compulsory sterilization is permissible because compulsory vaccination is permissible because we already compel our “best” to give up their lives–therefore, since we compel our best to give up their lives, we can compel people to be vaccinated therefore we can compel them to be sterilized therefore we can compel them to abort therefore after birth we can compel them to be killed therefore ANY PERSON OF ANY AGE CAN BE KILLED “when the state provides services to people.”
I mean, that’s all a filthy way to think about things, and enough to make every person thank God this very moment that our framers put in the Second Amendment, but its all clearly–from the evidence–all linked together in the minds of real people who are very often in positions of real power. (Holmes, Holdren, etc).
The Second Amendment reference gives me another way to explain why the old “but I’m not proposing that and no one else ever would either” rejoinder means nothing to me. Loading up compulsory vaccination arguments is like loading up a gun and putting it on a table in a public place. Sure, the person who loaded up the gun–or the argument–has no intention of shooting up the place, but that person isn’t going to live forever, and he’s not the only person to frequent a public place, is he?
It seems to me, the only way out of this nonsense, before it ends in mass bloodshed (again) is to realize that its the whole argument that needs to be tossed, from beginning to end. I suppose it may be possible to put forward an argument for compulsory vaccination that doesn’t also logically entail justifying compulsory slaying of disabled people, or perfectly healthy people in wartime, but we have yet to see it. Instead we just get lame “but I would never want that” arguments. So? Who made you lord and master over the whole human race? What’s stopping someone else who WOULD want to, when YOU handed them the ‘gun’?
To me, unraveling this chain of reasoning can begin by repudiating the idea that the State/the Public/the Common Good/the People/the Country etc is a ‘person’ which has its own ‘higher’ moral code which can protect its own interests, at the expense of “individual parts or particles that have become worthless or damaged.”
It seems to me that the United States started out right, firmly placing the individual as the frame of reference, and not the ‘public.’ The ‘general welfare’ clause refers not to a ‘thing in itself’ but rather a concern for the general welfare of the INDIVIDUALS, not the ‘collective.’ But this has been completely bastardized. Indeed, it seems to me that the entire European manner of wallowing in ‘statism’ was almost immediately infused into the American system after it got going.
The US has (partially) managed to avoid the excesses and extremes of other places where these viewpoints have held sway, but only just barely. All three branches of the Federal government and innumerable cases of actions at the state level over the last 250 years or so have not merely flirted with this version of statism, but in many cases outright prostituted themselves with it.
The US Constitution, as written, is not compatible with this viewpoint, but over the years this viewpoint has been shoehorned in at every possible opportunity. Unfortunately, history is very clear about what happens if this viewpoint is given its full freedom to act as it will. Thus, it is very much in our interests, and the interests of those to come, to get things back on track ASAP.
While I completely understand that many people who support compulsory vaccination would never consider throwing disabled people into ovens, I would challenge them to think more broadly. You aren’t going to live forever, and you cannot be certain that the people who are in charge a few decades from now might not be quite as decent as you.
As an aside: is it not the case that many of the people advocating for compulsory vaccination are also the same people concerned that America is turning into a fascist state? Assuming that this this is not merely partisan slander put out for pure political gain (*ahem* *cough* *cough*) then why on earth would you be contemplating giving the State even MORE power to make things compulsory, just at the moment you think the country stands on the precipice? If you believe that America is on the brink of tyranny sincerely (*cough-cough*), is this not the worst time in American history to disarm the American public? It would seem you don’t get to have both at the same time. You can EITHER call for the removal of guns “for the common good” because in actuality, you are not at all concerned about Trump, etc, NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAY, or you are genuinely concerned about the FASCISTS! in which the obvious course is to make sure we all have as many guns as possible, ASAP, right? If you give FASCISTS the right to compel people to get [insert measure here] are you not concerned about what they will do next?