On February 26, euthanasia was legalized in Germany. The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany declared that the country’s former ban on euthanasia, introduced by the Bundestag in 2015, was contrary to the Basic Law of the country, and that everyone has the right to die of their own accord or use the help of third parties, the president of the court declared.
It should be noted that the German legislators, having previously prohibited euthanasia, wanted to prevent the concealment of a premeditated murder in the guise of a desired euthanasia patient… for example, in cases where where commercial interests were involved. Now, under the guise of caring for the seriously ill, a path is open not only to hide murders under the guise of euthanasia, but also for a targeted policy of getting rid of inconvienant patients.
It has not been so difficult, using the modern tools of the media, to make people believe that in certain cases they would be better off choosing to forfeit their lives. Permitting euthanasia in many Western countries opens up legal possibilities for this policy. Alongside the coronavirus pandemic, this decision is a sign that issues of life and death will be treated otherwise in the near future… at least in the West.
Nazi practices back in vogue
Permitted euthanasia in Germany coincided with the beginning of the coronavirus’ victorious procession across the European continent. The explosive growth of victims in the most enlightened countries of Europe feels unexpected, impossible. However, neoliberal public policies of these countries’ entire health care systems had been leading to this for some time.
For example, in Great Britain, the health care reforms launched under Thatcher led to a three-fold decrease in the number of beds since the late 1970s – against a backdrop of a growing population and millions of new migrants. As a result, coronavirus patients lie in the corridors and hallways of hospitals, resuscitation rooms are overcrowded, and people are encouraged to get treatment at home.
The coronavirus was a real disaster for the inhabitants of British nursing homes. In just one week in April, the mortality rate there increased tenfold. Under these conditions, it’s up to doctors to decide who lives and who dies. The UK has even introduced a special point system to help guide these decisions.
Initially, elderly citizens who had contracted coronavirus were given the option to sign a waiver in the hospital in case of crisis, but patients rebelled against the practice. Now doctors have introduced a special algorithm that calculates whether the patient is “worthy” to be allocated a scarce bed in the intensive care unit or a ventilator.
Depending on age, concomitant diseases, excess weight and general condition, the patient gets from 0 to 10 points. If he has more than five points, resuscitation measures are considered “useless” and the patient is left to die.
However, even healthy elderly people often don’t survive this system. Being 75 or older automatically grants one five points. The same sentence is given to a 50-year-old man with a serious concomitant disease – asthma or diabetes. High scores are also given to mentally retarded patients. In other words, the coronavirus has become a culling tool where a certain part of the population is told their lives are less valuable and worthy of sacrifice.
Who lives and who dies is decided by criteria remarkably similar to the standards of Hitler’s Germany, where the disabled and the “inferior” were also killed or left to die. It is no coincidence that, despite all the liberal propaganda, disability activists are mostly opposed to the “right to die”, fighting instead of acceptance and protective measures.
The coronavirus seems to have revived the issue of euthanasia in a disturbing way. The Daily Mail reports that “Doctors in European countries including Spain and France are reportedly turning to euthanasia to ease the burden of coronavirus on already-overwhelmed health services.”. Despite that assisted “suicide” is illegal in both countries, this practice cannot be called suicide, as it is the medical establishment rather than the patients who decide.
It is worth noting that euthanasia lobbyists are in some cases going to decide who will live and who die in a pandemic situation, as is the case in Ontario Canada, where “a doctor who has euthanized people and lobbied to legalize lethal injection for sick patients in Canada is behind Ontario’s proposed triage protocol to decide who will get care if the medical system is overwhelmed by coronavirus patients.”
No country for old men
Not only Great Britain, but also other countries of continental Europe are following the same path. The main motivation is a lack of ventilators and intensive care beds, which is itself a result of the capitalist healthcare system, where healthcare is not a right but a service, and it is simply not profitable to keep a large number of ventilators and hospitals on the ready.
Doctors also told French journalists that patients with coronavirus from nursing homes are refused admission to hospitals on the grounds that there are not enough places. Older people are simply injected with a drug whose side-effect is respiratory failure, killing them.
“This is the euthanasia of our old people with breathing problems,” the famous anesthesiologist Christian Coulomb wrote on Twitter.
— Christian Coulon 🇫🇷 (@ch_coulon) April 2, 2020
According to the official recommendations of the Medical Board of Catalonia, patients over the age of 80 are not entitled to a ventilator. The same has been the case for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
In Spain, a video by the Sporting Director of the LCR Honda MotoGP team Oscar Haro was distributed across social media networks. According to him, his father asked for a respirator, but refused. “His generation built this country, paved its swamps, built its roads, farmed its fields, working 14 hours a day, in a postwar period. And we are letting them die.” Haro said.
According to the Spanish media, reports of government rulings that suggest anyone over the age of 75 be “sacrificed” to help treat the younger by denying them vital life saving treatments are also echoed by Haro in his video.
This is happening not in the so-called “totalitarian” countries, but in the heart of Western democracy. However, this trend of relativization of human life under the conditions of coronavirus and separation of those who deserve to live and those who do not, is characteristic not only of Europe.
The US has become the epicenter of the epidemic, where more people have died than anywhere else in the world. With 676,676 cases, the US accounts for a quarter of the world’s sick, and a staggering 41,114 deaths. At the same time, a disproportionate number of those who have died are African Americans, demonstrating the racist nature of American society, where people of non-European origin by default receive the worst healthcare services.
In the disabled community in the US there are now fears “that rental companies might try to recall and reallocate equipment” they use on a regular basis, and ventilators first of all. In addition, if these people need help, they will be the last in line.
According to Pew Research Center, 40 million Americans live with disabilities. They have now become de facto second-class citizens whose inalienable right to life is restricted.
As MSN News reported, US hospitals are “discussing a do-not-resuscitate policy for infected patients, regardless of the wishes of the patient or their family members, a wrenching decision to prioritize the lives of the many over the one.” The media has rallied voices in support for this policy from a “bioethics” perspective, who say that the decision is “pragmatic.”
In the minds of Westerners, sacrificing the lives of some in order for the majority to live is generally associated with authoritarian collectivist societies like China. However, in reality, things have proven to be the other way around.
Many people are probably familiar with such a psychological experiment as the “Trolley problem.” In the original, a trolley runs towards five people tied up on the tracks, and the participant has the opportunity to switch the arrow and direct it toward an alternate track, where only one person is tied to the rails. The participant must decide: under what circumstances would you choose to sacrifice the life of one to save five?
As scientists have shown, different cultures have solved this dilemma in different ways. However, in countries such as Japan, Korea and China, there was a much higher percentage of people who were not willing to sacrifice one person for five.
In other words, in some Eastern societies with a Confucian tradition, the choice to take someone’s life for the sake of others is more difficult. Such a society values integrity, holisticism and would prefer methods of saving everyone, without dividing between those who should live and those who should die.
The result is that more “authoritarian” Asian societies ultimately proved more humanistic than European societies, rather than the inverse as we are accustomed to believe.
A new medical dictatorship
The Coronavirus pandemic reinforces the trends typical of modern Western capitalist society. The virus is a good excuse to increase control over all those who do not belong to the privileged top of society, who cannot afford to sit on private property or on their own island, surrounded by mercenary units. From street cameras to merging all possible databases to get all possible information, this is already happening, and if it is not yet a reality, it will soon be.
But in these circumstances the people whose lives are worth less in society are all the more vulnerable to prejudices: racial minorities, disabled people, the elderly, foreigners and migrants.
Societies depend on the state of its social environment when assuming more direct control. The more solidarity and collectivism there is in a society, the more autonomy there will be, and at the limit of sovereignty, there will be from the global control of capital, taking ever more rigid forms.
Therefore, the toughest forms of control will take place in the West. This may seem paradoxical, but the Trolley problem is one indication as to why it will happen this way. It is much easier to accept and justify the death of others when you do not see yourself as one with them. Since so many people are ready to accept the death of an “other,” gradually more and more become that ‘Other” whose death is justified. This is how fascism is born. Real fascism and death camps were invented by the industrial West, not the East.
Only where people are divided as much as possible are they willing to take the death of others for granted, pretending it’s not their concern. Where individuals are desperately clinging to their personal lives, they are ready to take maximum forms of subjugation under fear of death, as long as it does not concern a particular individual.
This position is what results in the state of “bare life” found in the concentration camps as described by the Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben. “Bare life” goes beyond the limits of identity, individuality, to simple survival instinct. “Bare life – and the danger of losing it – is not something that unites people, it is something that blinds and separates them”, Agamben writes.
Like in a concentration camp – the ability of subordinates to transform themselves into “bare life” grants the authorities a dictatorship of extreme violence. The more society fears for its life, the more brutal and despotic authorities become, nurtured by that fear.
Thus the conditions emerge for a medical dictatorship, where violence and restriction of freedom will be justified by concern for the life and health of the population. As Michel Foucault successfully demonstrated, modern medicine is based on the practice of exclusion and violence, making the doctor a kind of petty dictator.
The practice of exclusion and deprivation of the right to life of certain groups of the population in the West has already begun. They seem exceptional and temporary, but everything temporary can last indefinitely, and the exceptional can eventually become the norm as society grows accustomed to it. Western societies themselves, unaware of this fact, are approaching the threshold of becoming fascist exclusive dictatorships, where the destruction of the inferior or poor will be justified by pseudo-liberal demagogy.
The only alternative is solidarity and self-organization of society.