Suicide And The State

Totalitarian imposition of dishonestly-concealed metaphysical views apart, in what other way might the State consider itself offended by a person’s suicide? The obvious answer is that successful suicides pay neither personal income tax nor VAT. Now, the State also spends money on its citizens, for example on their health, education and police/military protection, and so might assert a moral claim that they should continue living so as to pay tax. That seems reasonable as far as it goes, but we might point out that if the State can indeed morally oblige a citizen to continue living and paying tax, it ought also to have a concomitant obligation to assist him with the implied middle term that makes the third possible, namely income. A reprobation of suicide on fiscal grounds thus entails provision of employment to all, even if this is mere makework of the kind the communists used to go in for. To do otherwise would be particularly heartless whenever the motivation for the suicide is the inability to make ends meet.

A second problem with the fiscal argument is that the citizen must surely be considered to have repaid the State’s investment at some point, perhaps around the age of 50, after which the State ought no longer object to his removing himself from its jurisdiction. A younger person might perhaps be asked to pay a quitclaim, on pain of having it forcibly collected from his survivors.

The successful suicide also deprives his employer of his labour. From any reluctance of the employer to let him go – mediated through the agency of the State as the “committee of the bourgeoisie” – we may deduce that this labour must necessarily have been underpaid. For, were his labour overpaid, then the employer and his servant the State ought logically to be glad to see the person kill himself, as he is making room for somebody cheaper. Here the State that prohibits suicide is acting as the employer’s slave-catcher or overseer. Finally, the departure of any individual from the workforce necessarily reduces the downward pressure on wages. Overpopulation and the consequent desperation outside the factory gates is in the interest solely of Capital.

Suicide also represents a withdrawal of purchasing power from the economy. Up to the great austerity of 2011, the modern state was heavily involved in maintaining consumer demand. The suicide was therefore the ultimate dropout, the equivalent of the deserter in the face of the enemy. Killing oneself is the ultimate Get Out Of Jail Free card, albeit one that can only be used to end the game.

With regard to all three counts – tax, labour and consumption – we might therefore ask ourselves the following question: were cows in the habit of committing suicide by throwing themselves off cliffs, what would be the attitude of the dairy farmer?

That animal-husbandry simile applies also to the church, which in Europe has historically been a kind of parallel or even superior state. Paradoxically perhaps, this is seen most clearly where a state establishment of religion is forbidden, namely the USA. Wherever religion means megachurches competing for believer revenues on the free market, the name of the game is Bums On Seats, and men in three-piece suits track the numbers on PowerPoint. It was and is no different in Ancient Egypt or the Far East: all temples and shrines involve a group of rent-seekers who tell the producers – the peasants and artisans – anything and everything that keeps them coming with their offerings. And so it has been since the dawn of history and the discovery that histrionic shamanic performance was less like hard work than agriculture and hunting.

Now, it would be passing strange if such profit-maximising entities were to encourage or permit people to opt out of the game. Other than by joining a celibate managerial class, of course; everyone else should both breed and stay alive, so as to keep the resource base healthy. Whenever they had the power of coercion, such business operations employed it enthusiastically; whenever they didn’t, they could still fall back on punishment after death. Since nobody ever comes back from suicide to say that hellfire just ain’t so, this was a great strategy. Of course, the same religions that told people that they would go to hell if they killed themselves could also tell them that they would go to heaven if they got themselves killed fighting the organisations competing with those same religions for revenues; and asking for clarification on the boundary between deliberate suicide and reckless heroism was, like all other awkward questions, severely discouraged.

The fact that the Arab Spring was sparked by a protest suicide who did not take anyone else with him emphasises how self-servingly false is the argument from social utility. There is little like self-immolation to draw people’s attention to social evils, and the fact that the World Empire calls suicide “asymmetrical warfare” ought to afford us yet another clue that sometimes we may benefit society best by leaving it.

It used to be said that the way to tame the student revolutionaries of the Sixties was marriage and mortgage. St. Paul was thinking along the same lines when he advised his new Gentile Christians against family life, not because – or not only because – he was against sex, but because children are hostages to fortune in the most literal sense. It is easy to oppress anybody who has children, you merely threaten them. We are now reading about Syrians selling their kidneys and retinas. What sort of person sells their sight for money? Someone who, by that sacrifice, can save family members. All tyrannies need this thing called love, because it can make people do things that would not do were they alone in the world.

Posted on February 23, 2014 at 12:33 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE ENSLAVING MAMMAL, When Gonzalo Delved And Sita Span

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