Friday, February 25, 2005

Fascists

Many thanks to Finnegan for providing me with the opportunity to post now and again.

It seems that Phil Kline, the AG of Kansas (the attorney general, not the actual god -- there is no actual god of Kansas, only a number of virtual gods) has been leading a "secret investigation" to obtain the private medical records of almost 90 females who have had late-term abortions in the state. The putative reason for the search is to "identify" crimes -- sex with a girl under the age of 16 is disallowed by Kansas law, as is the act of a doctor administering an abortion after 22 weeks. A District Judge has already decided that Kline should get the records, and the case is on appeal. Phil Kline is a devout anti-abortion Republican and is up for re-election in 2006. He is also a fascist.

In recent years, a certain interpretation has been promulgated by anti-abortion activists that sees in pro-choice groups such as Planned Parenthood, and pro-choice policies in general, an inherent similarity with the eugenics movements in America, Germany and elsewhere in the first half of the twentieth century. Critics of abortion point to such activists as Margaret Sanger, a woman who both supported abortion (and founded Planned Parenthood) and had a disturbing zeal for race science. They also raise the specter of Nazi Germany and its life-regulating policies.

The problem with such analogies or comparisons, beyond their rabid, revisionist insanity, is that they disregard the obvious distinction which opposes modern pro-choice thinkers to the eugenical paradigm; at the same time, that distinction links anti-abortion groups with that paradigm. The distinction is one of force.

For pro-choice theory rests on the idea of voluntarism. The mother who is biologically attached to a fetus may or may not make a certain decision. There is no law for abortion, only a judicial determination that a woman may choose to have one. No one is forced to have an abortion. The womb is within the woman's body, and within the scope of her individual rights. The state cannot touch the womb or determine its operations.

Anti-abortionists, like Phil Kline, on the other hand, want their hands on the womb, want the state in the womb. Kline's demand for the medical records is an attempt to gain knowledge about women's bodies, and is thus an attempt to exert government force on those bodies. Phil Kline's action finds its basis in a methodology of compulsive force.

This way of talking about the attorney general's violence helps elucidate the much-discussed binary of the "culture of life" and the "culture of death." The fact that the anti-abortion movement values force explains its silence about and sometimes its direct support of government-sanctioned policies such as torture and the death penalty. What anti-abortion theory, torture theory, and death penalty theory all have in common is that they valorize the application of state control on human bodies. The question of whether the state is telling you to abort a fetus or carry it to term is secondary. That the state is determining what will happen to your body is the crux of the culture of life's program. State determination of the functioning of the human body is also crucial to applied eugenics. It is eugenics' necessary mechanism.

That anti-abortion groups are now describing their desire to prevent abortion as a desire to protect innocent life is indicative of the culture of state power. Faced with their paradoxical support of judicial homicide and a foreign policy of the cruel, these organizations must inscribe a distinction within life itself. The act of distinguishing between fetus-life and mature-life is an act of judgment -- the act determines that some organic material is innocent, while other material is guilty. The assent of state power is required for the act of judgment to be executed, as its execution must supersede an individual's own determination of the value of his or her own body, and in its place put the state's determination. The intent of the judgment is therefore eugenical. It strives for the perpetuation of a biological form that is valued. The judgment of innocence passed on fetuses is the foundation for judicial control of the human body. The fact that the culture of life supports the unimpeded production of new infants is an alibi. It obscures the fact that the culture of life demands state control over the human body, whether to punish it or to breed it.

The culture of death, on the other hand, is a culture which denies the state access to the human body. That this anti-statist vision results in the curtailment of metaphysically potential humans is not a result of state force, but of individual choice. The culture of death is a culture of individual autonomy and biological self-determination.

The culture of state power and the culture of individual freedom are now vying for control of this country. The womb has become the scene of their contest. This political womb is only that -- a scene, a stage, a virtual rhetoric machine. Babies are not at stake. Phil Kline has violently attacked a group of human beings. That the anti-abortion movement is surging in the same moment that our government is extraordinarily rendering citizens is no accident. That the anti-abortion movement is surging in the same moment that our government has contributed to the deaths of 100,000 Iraqi civilians is no accident. What is at issue is not life, but the government's ability to control the human body -- to forcibly produce it, to forcibly take it, and to forcibly violate it.

All that to say I love the word "fascists" (it's better in the plural).

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