August 07, 2014

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A couple of weeks ago I talked about how, in the age of political hypercorrectness, satire is now superfluous. Remember this when I tell you about the Hedonistic Imperative, a genetic engineering and nanotechnology project whose goal is the elimination of “€œsuffering in all sentient life.”€ Which mostly means rewriting the genetic code of predatory animals to make them vegan. Sure, it’s the goofiest thing you”€™ve heard all day and perhaps in your entire life, but it’s more or less the endgame of egalitarianism.

The arguments contained in “€œReprogramming Predators: Blueprint for a Cruelty-Free World“€ (which I recommend you read, as it is both mercifully brief and hilariously insane) are rooted firmly in Benthamite utilitarianism. Every first-year philosophy student has had the “€œDo you hop in your time machine and murder baby Stalin?”€ argument. But who knew the “€œgreatest happiness for the greatest number”€ would become an argument for totalitarian ultra-veganism?

“€œSkip past the semi-autistic language of a man who one day hopes to be a robot or whatever it is that transhumanists want. Now focus in on the most important word in the argument: control.”€

This is one of the curious things about leftist egalitarianism: it tends to eat everything in its path. The second you start believing that all men must be re-created equal, under penalty of law, the road to reasonable accommodations for people who think they”€™re elves or those who prefer to see multiple personality disorder as a lifestyle choice isn”€™t too long. And so we live in a world where grown men (or at least Ronan Farrow) get paid beaucoup bucks to go on television and bemoan the lack of ethnic diversity in cartoon smileys used by teenage girls for whom typing out whole words is too much of a bother.

Nor, when you accept the secular postmillennialist argument that humans need to wipe out every trace of injustice on Earth, is it that big of a leap to argue in favor of changing the genetic code of wild animals to make them stop eating meat”€”though it’s still not clear why the plan to eliminate suffering from the world doesn”€™t include anything about rescuing plants from consumption. Carnivorous animals, specifically lions, are singled out as “€œsociopathic killing machines.”€ David Pearce, the “€œindependent philosopher”€ and transhumanist vegan who cooked up the Hedonistic Imperative, seems somewhat less interested in reprogramming carnivorous animals than he is in eliminating them.

To wit: “€œTo judge that lions should exist is to affirm that it is better, in some sense, that sociopathic killing machines prowl the Earth rather than alternative herbivores.”€

I”€™m somewhat sympathetic to the argument that people who have never field dressed an animal don”€™t get to to grouse about animal welfare. It strikes me as no mistake that most conservation work, both domestically and abroad, is done by people who spend their free time stalking and killing animals who, for the most part, can”€™t fight back. And while few would fail to feel horror when confronted with the realities of modern factory farming, I”€™ve never understood the objection to animals doing what animals do”€”namely, killing and eating things.

Even the herbivores do this, and the Hedonistic Imperative is short on answers about why plant suffering (which science says is real) is less important than animal suffering, a question most intelligent vegans come up with at least some response for.


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