The Abolition of Man (and Sugary Drinks)

Two political events this week seemed to have no connection to each other, N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg wanting to ban the sale of sugary drinks over 16 ounces and the U.S. House of Representatives failing to ban sex-selective abortions. But the perspective behind both is the same and together they portend what C.S. Lewis predicted back in 1947. So, let’s raise a glass of soda pop and drink to the Abolition of Man.

Specifically, C.S. Lewis said that in Man’s attempt to master Nature, Man would find he had become nothing more than a part of that Nature, and Man, as Man, would be no more.

Okay, that’s a bit obtuse, so let’s look at it this way.

Controlling your sugar

Mayor Bloomberg thinks it is his job to keep people from being obese, and he thinks he can do it by prohibiting the sale of large sugary drinks, “soda pop” as my friends up North would say.

It’s easy to blow off such nonsensical solutions; if people really want a lot of pop to quench their thirst (or craving) they will just buy two drinks instead of one. But the efficacy of his remedy to obesity is not the real issue.

The point is that he believes that it is his job to use the power of government to control what you eat so that you can be healthy as he, and the members of his city council, define that term. And you need to achieve their understanding of good health based on what they think is the leading cause of obesity.

Consider: he apparently doesn’t think that eating too many French fries is a problem and only small orders of fries should be sold. Why not? I don’t know. Perhaps he gets a lot of campaign money from potato farmers.

Controlling your body

Now, let’s turn to sex selection abortions. Abortion is nothing more than the control – life and death control – of one human being over another human being. That’s bad enough if you’re the human being on the other side of the abortionist’s suction curettage. But now one human being gets to decide what Nature (or God) used to decide, namely, whether Mom would have a son or a daughter. Now one person should have control over another’s sex. (And I bet those who voted in favor of sex selection abortion are probably, to a man, so to speak, in favor of blurring the lines of gender under our other laws.)

Here’s the real issue about the House’s vote. If these politicians believe someone should be allowed to decide what another person’s sex should be, why should we not let them (or someone) decide the baby’s color of hair or eyes or any number of other “features” that are determined upon conception? (Oh, I forgot, we already do that to some degree with sperm banks.)

The Similarities

So what makes the two public policies more similar than facially dissimilar? It is the view of the politicians behind them that some people should have the power to determine what other people should be like (as distinguished from deciding what behaviors harm another’s life or property). In other words, why shouldn’t we be able to “manufacture” the kind of people we want. And, if some people should have that power, why shouldn’t the politicians decide they should be the ones? Most of those who support these kinds of things (sugary drinks and abortion) already think they know best anyway.

But why would they think this way? Well, to them man is no longer Man, but just another part of nature that has come under the power and mastery of  men. Aren’t they just helping evolution along by speeding things up through a wise (according to them) use of science and government control?

The Abolition

Here is how the great master, C.S. Lewis, put it:

It is in Man’s power to treat himself as a mere “natural object” and his own judgements (sic) of value as raw material for scientific manipulation to alter at will. The objection to his doing so does not lie in the fact that his point of view is painful and shocking [shocking perhaps as in shocked to think someone should tell me what size pop I should drink or that a baby should be aborted because it’s the “wrong” sex till we grow used to it (like we grew used to abortion, maybe)]. The pain and the shock are at most a warning and a symptom. The real objection is that if man chooses to treat himself as raw material, raw material he will be….

Either we are rational spirit obliged forever to obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasures of masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own “natural” impulses. Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can overarch rulers and ruled alike. A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery. (emphasis added)

The process which, if not checked, will abolish Man, goes on apace among Communists and Democrats no less than among Fascists. The methods may (at first) differ in brutality. But many a mild-eyes scientist in pince-nez, many a popular dramatist, many an amateur philosopher in our midst, means in the long run just the same as the Nazi rulers of Germany. Traditional values are to be “debunked” and mankind to be cut out into some fresh shape at the will … of some few lucky people in one lucky generation which has learned how to do it.

My guess is that Mayor Bloomberg and those who voted for sex selection abortions would say, “I’ll drink a soda pop glass of purified spring water to that!”