Dear Dr Phelps
It is reported in The Australian today that you intend to vote for legislation which will take us, as Paul Keating puts it, across a significant and dangerous cultural threshold.
Your support for euthanasia is expressed in the following terms: “I disagree with euthanasia — all suicide is fundamentally illogical (as long as one remains in control of their minds) — but I disagree even more strongly with government limiting people’s rights to live (or die) as they choose.”
Your commitment to Liberal principles is well documented and earns you equal parts respect and enmity in the Party. It has earnt my admiration on many occasions, none more so than when you passionately opposed the ban on greyhound racing. I recall on the night that the ban was pushed roughshod through the NSW upper house you shared a sad sight: an old man with his three greyhounds at the gates of parliament, silently weeping. Noting this on social media showed your regard for a forgotten man (of the Forgotten People) who cherished his dogs, miserable and powerless while his livelihood and passion was being destroyed on the red leathers of the Legislative Council in the name of ‘compassion’.
Similarly, euthanasia is being disingenuously pushed in the name of ‘compassion’. However, you rightly don’t fall into the trap of relying on that argument. After all, compassion derives from Latin words meaning “to suffer with”, not “to eliminate the suffering”. Compassion means to take on the suffering of someone you love, the suffering of your neighbour, not to put their suffering out of sight.
You also don’t rely on the ‘dying with dignity’ argument. Rightly so, for what is dignified about asking the state for its rubber stamp to allow and authorise your doctors to kill you?
However your reliance on the ‘freedom’ or ‘choice’ argument, I must respectfully submit, is equally illusory. The idea that all desires must be realisable, no matter how illogical or destructive, is a product of the left, not the individual’s healthy instinct for personal freedom.
Rousseau, the licentious statist and proto-leftist who inspired the terror of the French Revolution, thought that man in nature was free, that culture and civilisation destroyed this freedom, and that to restore it the state must wipe away culture and through its power re-enforce absolute ‘liberty’ for the masses.
He inverted Hobbes by arguing that the state of nature was not a war of all against all but rather the original sphere of innocence: “man is born free but everywhere lives in chains”. Of course, this is nonsense. If two uncivilised men met in the wild in a competition over resources, each would attempt to kill or subjugate the other without any regard for their inherent value. In this respect family, culture and society don’t enslave us, they save us.
Rousseau thought individual desire is thwarted by society, culture, family, and civilisation. He wouldn’t accept, as we do, that the freedoms we enjoy are part of a precious, delicate, inherited order borne from a long process of cultural negotiation, in spite of the modern state.
Because of his illusions about man being born innocent and enslaved by culture, he believed that peace was secured through the state in the form of the general will. If individual desire is thwarted by the family and inherited institutions then Rousseau’s republic must first release all desire from these cultural shackles (anarchically, catastrophically, as the Terror proved) and then unify the masses’ desires under the all-encompassing state.
This is the creed of the contemporary left. All desire, even if it is as illogical as suicide, is legitimate, but the state dictates what path desire must take.
It is no accident that the first cab off the rank with euthanasia is Victoria, led by perhaps the most communistic Australian head of government ever, Daniel Andrews.
He says that his Victorian legislation is the safest assisted suicide legislation in the world. But after all the checks and balances, after all the inquisitions and ‘safeguards’, what else does this officious process amount to, other than some bureaucrat, some emanation of the state, telling some desperate soul that ‘yes, the government will allow you to die in this instance’. Is this what freedom looks like?
No, it is a grave deception.
The illusory nature of the ‘choice’ argument is also illustrated by the following. In a discussion on Paul Murray Live, Graham Richardson inexplicably argued in favour of euthanasia because he was worried about becoming ‘a burden’. This is precisely the phenomenon which should warn us not to normalise assisted suicide. Most people fear being an imposition, why encourage this misplaced insecurity by giving people the ‘choice’ to kill themselves?
Richardson also repeated the oft-cited anecdotes of doctors discretely overdosing patients on morphine or other painkillers. It may be the case that physicians naturally accelerate death by doing everything they can to relieve pain, but it is only ‘logical’ to ‘regulate’ this and introduce the clumsy hand of the state, to a socialist mind. ‘Regulation’ of suicide won’t limit it, it will normalise it and amplify the sense of ‘being a burden’ in the minds of the sick and elderly.
If it is true that the passing of this legislation in the NSW upper house will come down to one or two votes, as the Australian suggests, your decision will be immensely consequential. Please vote for a culture of life, a truly free society, and for natural death free from the oppressive rubber stamp of the state. Consider, if this is really about freedom, why are we passing legislation, not repealing it? If this was really about more freedom would it have any chance of passing in the NSW Parliament? The sad reality is, no. Please vote down the Bill.
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