Matthew Parris

Some day soon we’ll all accept that useless lives should be ended

If the law does not lead, it will follow — at root the reason is Darwinian

19 September 2015

8:00 AM

19 September 2015

8:00 AM

Throughout the short life of the Assisted Dying Bill which failed last week in the Commons, the ‘faith community’ (a quaint term for that category of human beings who throughout history have been more assiduous than any other in trying to kill each other) have with skill and persistence deployed an argument of great potency. Such is the argument’s intuitive appeal that the pro-assisted-dying brigade never found a way of countering it. They have resorted simply to denying that what the faith squad say would happen, could happen.

But it could. The argument is that licensing assisted dying is to smile upon the practice. The legal change would act as a cultural signal that society now approves. This would in time lead to pressure on those who might not otherwise have contemplated ending their lives, to hasten their own demise — so as ‘not to be a burden’ on others. One day (say the faith squad) it could even become the norm.

I am sure they’re right. We who may argue for ‘permissive’ legislation must have the intellectual honesty to admit that the ending of a legal prohibition does act as a social signal. In vain do we protest that ‘nobody is forcing’ upon anybody else (say) same-sex marriage, or the cashing in of pension pots, or a quickie divorce, or the possession of marijuana. Indeed not. Nobody is forcing these delights upon others, but humans are social animals and one of the ways a society signals its attitudes is by criminalising behaviour it thinks very harmful, and decriminalising behaviour towards which its attitude has softened.

Thus, for instance, the stoning to death of women taken in adultery under sharia law is undoubtedly the signal of a cultural attitude towards adultery. Were you to advocate the abolition of this punishment, Islamic moral conservatives would be right to warn that the move would both indicate and encourage a softening of public moral disapproval of female adultery. Likewise, the progressive removal of legal restraints on homosexuality has been both consequence and cause of an increasingly sympathetic attitude towards gays. It is futile to deny this.


Assisted dying is not a novel desire, not a strange new way of thinking. As a moral impulse, the idea that one might hasten one’s end because one gained no pleasure from living and one had become a burden on friends, family and the state has been with us since the dawn of man. You will find it in literature right down the ages. In your own lifetime you will have heard it expressed by others of your acquaintance. The impulse, though, has usually been discouraged — resisted as an unworthy attitude to life — and this cultural disapproval is reflected in law.

To alter the law in a permissive way would therefore be pushing (as it were) at an open door: legitimising a moral argument that has always been present (or latent) among humans. I would have every expectation that, given the extra push, the habit would grow.

And so it must — indeed, in the end, will: and if it does not lead, the law will follow. At root the reason is Darwinian. Tribes that handicap themselves will not prosper. As medical science advances, the cost of prolonging human life way past human usefulness will impose an ever heavier burden on the community for an ever longer proportion of its members’ lives. Already we are keeping people alive in a near-vegetative state. The human and financial resources necessary will mean that an ever greater weight will fall upon the shoulders of the diminishing proportion of the population still productive. Like socialist economics, this will place a handicap on our tribe. Already the cost of medical provision in Britain eats into our economic competitiveness against less socially generous nations.

This does not mean an end to social generosity. It does not mean an end to economically unproductive state spending. These are social goods that we value for non-economic reasons, and should. But the value we place on them is not potentially infinite. They have their price. Life itself has its price. As costs rise, there will be a point at which our culture (and any culture) will begin to call for a restraining hand. I believe that when it comes to the cost of keeping very enfeebled people alive when life has become wretched for them, we’re close to that point.

I don’t even say we should look more benignly upon the termination of life when life is fruitless. I say we will. We may not be aware that our moral attitudes are being driven by the Darwinian struggle for survival, but in part they will be. And just as we feel ourselves looking more sympathetically at those who wish to end it all, so we shall be (unconsciously) looking at ourselves in the same way. The stigma will fade, and in its place will come a new description of selfishness, according to which it may be thought selfish of some individuals (including potentially ourselves) to want to carry on.

We admire Captain Oates for walking out of his tent and into his death when he judged his enfeeblement was threatening his colleagues’ chances of survival. That is an extreme case, but it illustrates a moral impulse that I expect to grow — and for the same reasons as it occurred to Oates: the good of our fellow men.

I do not therefore need to campaign for assisted dying. I do not need (and wouldn’t want) to persuade anybody that the time has come for them to end their lives. I don’t need to shout from the rooftops that suicide can be a fine and noble thing, or rail against the ever growing cost of medical care in the final, prolonged phase of people’s lives. My opinions and my voice are incidental. This is a social impulse which will grow, nourished by forces larger than all of us. I don’t exhort. I predict.

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  • freddiethegreat

    ” the ‘faith community’ (a quaint term for that category of human beings who throughout history have been more assiduous than any other in trying to kill each other) ” – evidently you include atheists and humanists in this catch-all phrase, since Stalin, Mao, Mugabe, Marie Stopes etc have together killed more humans than have died from any other cause.

    • Lawrence James.

      So you know how many perished in the Crusades against Muslims, Cathars, Hussites and every one else who rejected Catholic theology, and the many who died when Catholics and Protestants killed each other in God’s name. Would you please give us the exact figures and your sources.I see that Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain are omitted – did their extermination of the Moors kill less than Marie Stopes ?

  • Aron C. Sterk

    What a thoroughly revolting article. There was a quaint term for ‘useless lives’ in Germany, it was Lebensunwertes Leben – go see what the moral abdication of that concept led to, Parris.

    • freddiethegreat

      Correct. The big problem is: Who decides? Maybe someone in charge would come to the conclusion that journalists, or homosexuals, or left-wingers are disposable. Most of the population of Germany 1933 – 1945 were in agreement that Jews and certain others were dispensable. In Africa, one tribe decides that another should be disposed of. The culture goes along with it.
      The real problem is the lack of an objective, out-of-culture view – the same one Parris decisively rejected.

      • GraveDave

        Correct. The big problem is: Who decides?

        Iain Duncan Smith would be an excellent choice.

        • freddiethegreat

          Maybe – I don’t know anything about him. What about other cultures / countries and other times? Still a problem.

          • GraveDave

            To be truthful it was a rather below the belt dig -even for me.
            Iain Duncan Smith criticised for calling people without a …
            http://www.telegraph.co.uk › News › Politics › Conservative8 Sep 2015 – Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has been criticised for referring to people without a disability as “normal”. His comments …

          • freddiethegreat

            In a sense, they aren’t, since “normal” implies a norm. I suppose none of us are ‘normal’ in one way or another, even if we are in the majority of human beings in a certain category.
            We still have the objectivity problem! Who decides? I’d probably be happy if I were the chooser, but it’s certain nobody else would.

          • Follow path of number of people who are$ earning profit monthly by doing an online jobs… Get informed more on my Disqus

          • balance_and_reason

            I believe that is correct.

            your issue?

        • Gilbert White

          Probably the same people who allow 800,000 marauders in but ask pensioners to show their passports and take off their shoes at Heathrow.

          • freddiethegreat

            Exactly. It would be fine if *I* did the deciding, wouldn’t it? As below.

          • greencoat

            Yes, with you there – them’s the ones.

      • Terry Field

        DO not trouble yourself, little chap – I will decide. Now carry on eating the turkish delight.

    • GraveDave

      I thought ti it a bit insensitive too. But any show of compassion on a Right wing blog gets you binned off straight away as a soft liberal.

    • Dominic Stockford

      I wish I could uptick this comment again and again and again. Perfectly put. Thank you.

    • Gweedo

      Godwin’s Law is working quickly today!

      • Aron C. Sterk

        Godwin’s Law is about inappropriate references to Nazi policies. If you can’t see the blatant similarity between Parris’s position and that of Billing and Hoche in their book Die Freigabe der Vernichtung Lebensunwerten Lebens (Allowing the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life) published in 1920, the social and economic justification of euthanasia based on an amoral Social Darwinianism and the close link with subsequent Nazi ideology, I suggest you go have another look.

        • Gweedo

          Surely the distinction is that the Nazis deprived individuals of life AGAINST their will, not when they asked for it? Assisted dying in 21st century Britain is a quantitatively and qualitatively different situation.

    • StrategyKing

      Your morality is not real, just a reflection of current circumstances. When the time comes as Parris predicts, then your moral position will be the other way and will feel as right and good as it does today.

      • Aron C. Sterk

        Yes it is, No it won’t, and no it most decidedly will not.

        • StrategyKing

          Resistance is futile. The processes of nature continue as they do, regardless of our ideals and preferences.

        • StrategyKing

          And then, you are old. This change will be made by different people, reflecting their circumstances.

    • Lawrence James.

      I smell a red herring here mixed with the odour of humbug.. Why use the Nazis as an example of killing those who were allegedly of ‘no use’ ? Why not, for example, cite the Christian churches who are now making such a fuss about ‘assisted dying’ ? Over two thousand years, pious Christians have condemned to an often hideous death heretics witches, and infidels for the flimsiest of reasons: that their thoughts justified their termination.Does the author of these know anything about the Crusades, the great hunts, and the great persecutions of suspected theological deviants ? From his remarks I suspect not.

      • Ipsidixit

        Not to mention all those millions who have suffered similar fates at the hands of people who share your own world view.

        • Lawrence James.

          I am mystified as to how my comment reveals a world view. Do please explain.

          • Ipsidixit

            You have an obvious hostility to faith groups so an atheistic world view is clear.

      • Aron C. Sterk

        I am Jewish. You think I need a lecture on the Crusades and the Church’s persecution of those it dislikes? I use the Nazis because there is an obvious similarity in the supposed justification for euthanasia. No red herring, but you seem to be riding a tired old
        hobbyhorse.

        • Lawrence James.

          Indeed not. Yet I feel there is a grotesque paradox here with churches preaching about the sanctity of life which in the past have treated it as a trifle.I wonder what you might make of an army chaplain in the fighting line in Normandy in 1944 who, many years ago, confessed to me that he had shot a hideously wounded man who faced ten to twenty minutes of excruciating agony before his death. A humane and decent man, I think.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        The Crusades, the Inquisition, injustice to women, persecution of the Jews, forced conversion of peoples in Central and South America, the African slave trade, alliances with 20th century Fascist dictators, condemnation of use of condoms thus directly culpable for spread of AIDS, particularly in Africa, Absurd pronouncements on original sin and Limbo, physical and sexual abuse of children in Catholic care homes in countries from Ireland to Australia…
        And I haven’t even got my trousers off yet.
        What sort of gullible retard could swallow this medieval BS hook, line and rapture?
        So how ya doing, Damian?
        Jack, the Japan Alps

        • Labour Mole Catcher

          “[D]irectly culpable for spread of AIDS” … and then, lo and behold … “And I haven’t even got my trousers off yet!” Fancy that! The Japan Alps Brit Bandit, eh!

        • kingkevin3

          Oh God here we go. AIDS in Africa, spread of…so just where is this heterosexual AIDS epidemic. Idiots like yourself still haven’t twigged to the notion AIDS is an invented illness. It is a syndrome that initially started with 4 well known diseases and has now been expaned to 24. It’s politics and money. I hope you realise that AIDS is in fact diagnosed in Africa largely without an HIV test. The figures are also generated by the CDC and other criminal organisations to fool idiots like yourself in to parting with vast sums of money. And believe me many people have become rich through this scam.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Catholic teaching is that while AIDS is bad, it’s not as bad as the use of condoms. Or at least not as immoral in the same way.
            And some deranged dog-collar vampires in my neck of the woods go further, and actually state that using condoms makes contracting AIDS more likely.
            Jack, the Japan Alps Brit
            No chance of me parting with money, vast sums or otherwise.

      • Sarka

        Of course, your default assumption here is that without Christianity (and I’m not a practicing Christian, mind), people would never have found any other reason down these centuries to inflict barbaric violence and death on their neighbours. Christianisation of pagan societies brought certain sorts of violence, but arguable suppressed others. It’s all a bit complicated…

        • damon

          Hi Sarka, I write to you on here as I am banned off HP now it seems.
          What some mods over there can’t abide, is someone to ”disrupt” their threads by asking someone why they keep calling them a racist and an antisemite. They don’t mind people making those accusations quite regularly, but what they really don’t like is for the ”aggrieved party” to make a fuss about it and to therefore ”be disruptive”.
          It’s the HP way. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kolya had made a complaint of harassment even. He pops up every now and again to tell me ”fuck off racist” and when I call him out on it he will say I’m bothering him. Hence the ban. I think that’s the way it might work. HP has to be one of the most narcissistic websites I’ve come across. You will be called a Jew hater if you are ”liberal” enough to have been revolted by the IDF’s bombing tactics in Gaza last year. It’s like one of those red lines, and I crossed it.
          That Fritz guy must have called me antisemitic scum about a dozen times in the last week. No moderator says anything.

          Anyway, do look at that John McWhorter video I linked too.
          The guy is great on race politics in the US and I’ve rated him for years.
          Then think about this for a moment. You might wonder how can a guy who is a big John McW fan, really be a racist POS that couldn’t possibly be friends with black people. That is what I am accused of by the two faced Kolya. He’s not as nice as he pretends.

          Also, you might be interested in this from today’s London newspaper.
          It’s a reporter who spent a week living on one of the most troubled housing estates in the Brixton area. Again, the kind of thing I tried to raise with Kolya, but he just threw the ”racist” accusation at me.

          http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/special-investigation-the-standard-launches-a-hardhitting-series-on-life-on-notorious-brixton-a2956876.html

    • Tom M

      Infairness I don’t think the article’s author choses the headline in the Spectator. This was what I was told when I complained before about some other headline.

    • Terry Field

      God you are a silly little Mary Poppins.

    • kingkevin3

      I rather suspect your response is somewhat dishonest and may I say quite revolting too. Do you support abortion? I suspect you do. To many of us this is far more revolting than the attitude expressed here by the author which is simply honest. Do you see any men in this country protesting the 250,000 abortions in this country each year? No you don’t. I suggest you reserve your moral indignation for things that truly are revolting and not mere expressions of opinion.

  • Rupert Williams

    No, you are utterly wrong on this.

    The problem is, while I respect my right to finish myself off when I want, you seem to imply that useless lives should not be continued with – who decides whether a life is useless? public opinion? a vote? the immediate family?

    This will be a deeply retrograde step or our society, and one the government should be seeking to make intelligent arguments rather than conducting vox pops.

    • freddiethegreat

      Exactly what I said below, though I don’t agree we have the right to “finish ourselves off”.
      Holland and Belgium are now awash with licenced killers – if you feel your child might not be enjoying life, or you think your granny has had enough time – no problem, just eliminate them like bugs.

      • No, the bill rejected by parliament was not about others deciding when you die it is about the right of individuals to decide when they want to die and being able to have their wishes met even when they are unable to carry out the act. It is simply a matter of disabled rights.
        We defend your right to have access to a public building or public transport but the right to end your own life? Sorry, you lost that right when you became too disabled to do it for yourself.

  • Gilbert White

    Those large numbers of unsustainable Africans, subsisting and festering, on the Parris/Schindler’s list?

    • freddiethegreat

      ‘Arf a mo – I’m African!

  • milford

    It’s like a headline from hell itself. God help us if this is the way the ‘civilised’ world’s going 🙁

    • freddiethegreat

      You speak truer than you realise!

    • freddiethegreat

      Ever read “That Hideous Strength”?

      • Damaris Tighe

        One of my favourites & one of C S Lewis’s best. Written in the 1940s but amazingly prescient. The character of Wither is drawn brilliantly.

      • milford

        No. Is it worth a read?

  • Martin Walsh

    I almost didn’t read this article on seeing the headline. What is a ‘useless life’ and what criteria do we use to define it, and who decides?
    Are we to believe that the over 300 MPs who voted against the bill are members, closet or otherwise of the ‘faith community’ (I could almost hear the sneering derision and condescension in Parris’ voice).
    And why the word games? Assisted dying is not honest terminology. It is assisted suicide (he only mentions the word in the last para). This bill would legalise participation in an act that has long been considered immoral by society. The Captain Oates case has absolutely nothing to do with this issue in any sense of the word: His was a act of self sacrifice on behalf of his colleagues to increase their chances of survival.

    • “This bill would legalise participation in an act that has long been considered immoral by society.” So what? Suicide may be considered “immoral” by “society” (although I doubt it) but it is legal. There are many things that certain members of society consider “immoral” which are perfectly legal. If we are going to replace the law with moral authority where, exactly, will that moral authority come from? Or perhaps we should all convert to Islam?

      • freddiethegreat

        This is what I said below: Where is the objective judgement? Remember, this sort of thing was only an issue from about the mid-19th century. Before that, British and Western society accepted that suicide and ethnic cleansing or “elimination of the unwanted” was wrong.

        • Please don’t conflate suicide and ethnic cleansing. The death of Alan Turing and the deaths of millions of Jews cannot be morally compared. As for the past, well, we no longer burn witches and we don’t believe in the divine right of kings anymore.

          As Parris said: “Assisted dying is not a novel desire, not a strange new way of thinking. As a moral impulse, the idea that one might hasten one’s end because one gained no pleasure from living and one had become a burden on friends, family and the state has been with us since the dawn of man. You will find it in literature right down the ages. In your own lifetime you will have heard it expressed by others of your acquaintance. The impulse, though, has usually been discouraged — resisted as an unworthy attitude to life — and this cultural disapproval is reflected in law. To alter the law in a permissive way would therefore be pushing (as it were) at an open door: legitimising a moral argument that has always been present (or latent) among humans.”

          And as for culling the “very enfeebled people … when life has become wretched for them” they didn’t really have to consider it prior to the 20th century. Mother Nature took care of that little problem for them.

          • blandings

            “Mother Nature took care of that little problem for them.”

            Still does.

      • Martin Walsh

        Don’t confuse morality with legality. The law and morality often coincide, do not murder etc. and is a moral authority as to the consequences of transgressing it. Not sure what Islam has to do with this discussion.

        • “Don’t confuse morality with legality.” I think that was my point! Islam? Because Islamic law is based on what they consider their “morality”. They are intertwined in Islam a way that they are not in western society. In short, just because you, the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Pope or The Sisters of Perpetual Homophobia think something is immoral is irrelevant. It is the law that counts.

      • Mary Ann

        Why convert to Islam, I prefer the morality of Jesus.

    • Amgine

      “Who decides?”

      The person who wishes to end their life is the one who decides.

      What on earth makes suicide immoral? It’s not illegal and some people will need help to carry out suicide safely without endangering others. How selfish that we force people to remain alive against their will when we can help them end their suffering and support them while they make their end of life decisions – they are their own decisions but they are now forbidden this autonomy (for now).

      • Damaris Tighe

        The selfishness is from those who’d make a law for the whole of society based what they’d like for themselves & their loved ones. I would also far rather die than suffer, but if I then lobbied for a law putting every ‘useless’ or non-standard life at risk, then it would be me who was being selfish.

        • freddiethegreat

          The slippery slope

        • Amgine

          All we require is the right for people to be able to end their lives when they want. Currently, people are putting themselves and others in more danger and causing more trauma to others by not having an accessible, safe method to die when they are ready. There is no compulsion for anyone and I personally probably wouldn’t want to end my life prematurely, it would be a comfort to know the option would be available for anyone who wants it. It’s up to the individual.

          It is up to each individual to decide when they have had enough and want to end their lives not you, not me and not government. Legally, we can kill ourselves, now we need to make that option available to those who are unable to do it. Currently, we are taking the decision process out of the individual’s hands and forcing our morality onto others. We have no right to do that.

  • I wonder how many commenters read to the end of this article?

    “I don’t even say we should look more benignly upon the termination of life when life is fruitless. I say we will.” … “My opinions and my voice are incidental. This is a social impulse which will grow, nourished by forces larger than all of us. I don’t exhort. I predict.”

    • Martin Walsh

      Are you implying that Parris is detached from all of his comments? That he does not adopt a position of advocacy?

      • I’m not implying anything. I am quoting what the man has written. Before deciding whether he is detached from his comments or not it might be a good idea to actually check what his comments are. That is all. You’re welcome.

        • Martin Walsh

          I read his article including the last sentences. He is clearly taking a position of advocacy. You’re very welcome.

  • trace9

    Captain Oates was asisting his friends to live, not killing the most burdensome. You clearly don’t know your Oates.

    • freddiethegreat

      Give him a break – journalist means ignorant

      • Flintshire Ian

        He killed himself to avoid being a burden on others. That is what vulnerable people may be encouraged to do if assisted suicide becomes legal. That is why Parliament made the correct decision in my opinion.

        • freddiethegreat

          Correct – as happens in Holland today.

      • Lawrence James.

        And Christian fundamentalist means bigoted ignoramus: the appalling evidence is abundant and expressed above by your pals.

  • Tim Gilling

    “the ‘faith community’ (a quaint term for that category of human beings who throughout history have been more assiduous than any other in trying to kill each other)”
    Absolutely. Responsible for the majority of deaths in the 20th century if you exclude WWs 1 and 2. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Korea, and the odd U.S. excursions into Vietnam and wherever.

    • freddiethegreat

      Exactly what I said below. Actually, there is nobody without a “faith”, including Parris.

      • flydlbee

        I have no “faith”.

        • ashleyhk

          So why do you get up in the morning?

          • Mary Ann

            To go to the toilet, make myself more comfortable.

          • freddiethegreat

            And you have absolutely no worldview whatever?

          • Lawrence James.

            Neither do you, beyond what of your are told.

          • flydlbee

            To pee.

    • Mary Ann

      The US is a very faithful community.

      • Lawrence James.

        God help us

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          God doesn’t exist. You’re on your own, Larry.

          • HOW DID I GET DRAGGED INTO IT?

          • Lawrence James.

            Yes Jack: but don’t worry I can think for myself.

    • RobWatkin

      “but atheism requires a lot more faith than the theistic beliefs at which you sneer.” – No it doesn’t, faith is belief without evidence, no faith is required for a lack of belief in gods.

      • LoveMeIamALiberal

        I know I shouldn’t but I can’t resist….

        Er,no faith is belief with evidence but without certainty.

        ‘Lack of belief’ my a**e – that would only be possible if you lacked the ability to have any concept of god. So this computer I’m typing on lacks a belief in god. Belief can be an affirmation of a negative as much as a positive, so you’re either a theistic, atheist or agnostic.

  • John Hawkins Totnes

    Matthew, you are a funny old bird. Your hubris is running away with you and will one day turn and bite you. Your world view/belief system pours disdain on the faith community. I guess you are not including atheism in your contempt, but atheism requires a lot more faith than the theistic beliefs at which you sneer. Your history is not too good either.

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    In “L’homme nomade” (2005), Jacques Attali once summarized the economic criteria that justify State euthanasia:

    “When he is past 60/65 years of age, man lives longer than he produces and he costs society dearly: it is far preferable for the human machine to stop brutally, rather than to slowly deteriorate … One could accept the notion of a prolonged lifespan on the condition that old people were solvent and thus created a market … I believe that in the very logic of the industrial system in which we find ourselves, lengthening the life span is no longer an objective sought by the logic of the powers that be.”

    He is 71 now, 72 in November, and has not followed his own advice.

    • John Hawkins Totnes

      I guess he is a socialist.

      • Mary Ann

        I doubt it, socialism is about caring for others.

        • blandings

          I am an atheist but I accept that my local church makes a better stab at caring for people than any socialist party I’ve come across

          • Mary Ann

            And some people who go to church every week think they are holier than thou and can treat others any way they like for the rest of the week.

          • freddiethegreat

            ”I’ve spent a number of years in India and Africa where I found much righteous endeavour undertaken by Christians of all denominations; but I never, as it happens, came across a hospital or orphanage run by the Fabian Society, or a humanist leper colony.” Malcolm Muggeridge

        • The Laughing Cavalier

          Attali is indeed a socialist.

  • KilowattTyler

    I’m sure this point of view or something close to it is quite common in official circles, but only expressed behind closed doors. Why was putting people on the Liverpool Care Pathway incentivised by Government (until this became public knowledge)?

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Anyone seen looney?

    • Labour Mole Catcher

      Speaking of yourself …

  • Dominic Stockford

    “I believe that when it comes to the cost of keeping very enfeebled people alive when life has become wretched for them, we’re close to that point.”

    “in its place will come a new description of selfishness, according to which it may be thought selfish of some individuals (including potentially ourselves) to want to carry on.”

    I am going to say it, I tried to resist, but the unrighteousness of the thinking that lies behind this article simply won’t allow me to remain silent. How dare you propose that anyone has the right to decide who is ‘wretched’ and who is ‘enfeebled’ and thus needs their lives ending? This is a new low, I had some sympathy with some of your articles, but this one, it is simply beyond acceptance.

    • cartimandua

      There should be some honesty though about the limits of palliation. Its about agony not “feebleness”.

  • cartimandua

    20% of people in hospital die with inadequate symptom relief. In hospices 64% of people do have adequate relief the rest don’t. At home only 18% of people have adequate symptom relief near the end of life.
    1 in 3 of us will have awful deaths.
    We need to make a fuss and make sure money is spent on new ways to palliate and insist that palliative sedation is available to all who need it.
    The antis called it “euthanasia” the NHS calls it expensive.
    The NHS has withdrawn half of all cancer drugs leaving some cancers and some people untreatable.
    Meanwhile the government are importing strangers with high health needs.
    1 child in care costs 1 million pounds and Kent alone has 750 unaccompanied minors.
    The money spent on 20,000 refugees on TOP of the 600 million we already spend should be spent ON US !!!!
    We really really need to make a fuss and demand that no doctor feels unable to do all he or she can to palliate at the end of life.
    Now they might well feel they have to walk away from those in mortal agony.

  • KilowattTyler

    In the short-to-medium term automation is predicted to destroy a lot of jobs. If the onward advance of artificial intelligence is not constrained at some point machines will overtake all of us and we will all become ‘useless’.

    There are of course plenty of idiots in the media, in academe and in politics who peddle the old ‘anti-luddite’ line, which is that in the past machines took over unpleasant tasks and ultimately made us all richer and that this process will continue indefinitely. In the past because machines were unmistakably tools with no potential to become sentient, ‘muscular’ industrial and agricultural jobs disappeared but ‘thinking’ service jobs were largely untouched and indeed increased in number. With machines that can ‘think’, this last refuge of employability will be attacked and ultimately disappear.

    The underlying argument in this article, that the ‘useless’ will have to be killed off because of global economic competition, stems from economic liberalism and the unfettered markets and globalism that follow-on from this philosophy. The reductio ad absurdem of liberalism is the destruction of the human race. The survival of liberalism and the survival of the human race are mutually-exclusive.

  • MartinC

    I think your life is useless, Parris, for peddling such immoral nonsense. Go and do the decent thing immediately.

  • Hegelman

    Hitler was a sworn admirer of darwinism. He too believed in getting rid of “useless eaters” and thought that what applied to animals must apply to humanity too.

    • flydlbee

      That doesn’t mean Darwinism is wrong or offensive. Your logic is incorrect. Hitler wore trousers, he even approved of trousers. That doesn’t mean that wearing trousers caused the Holocaust.

      • freddiethegreat

        No, Darwinism did.

        • flydlbee

          There is nothing about that in any of Darwin’s works. However, the Old Testament is full of genocide.

  • Bodkinn

    I actually find myself in mid-stream when it comes to so
    called mercy killing. My trouble is that
    if have absolutely no faith in our ability to regulate it properly once it
    becomes allowable for one person to end the life of another. In time it would be abused. When abortion became legal there were all
    sorts of provisos now it is used nearly 200,000 times a year and few people
    blink an eye; in fact they prefer not to know about it. I am not making a point as to whether abortion
    is right or wrong what I am saying is once you allow something that was
    previously taboo there is progression creep which can be done in such a way as
    to be almost unnoticeable and we develop an immunity to thoughts and actions we
    would previously found unimaginable. I
    fear that some form of compulsion to end it will be introduced when someone is
    using up resources that might more usefully be deployed to the curable. A lot of the problems of those who find
    themselves totally dependent for the maintenance of life on others lies at the
    feet of doctors who keep people alive even when they know for a certainty that
    the patient will have little or no quality of life. An uncle of mine was furious with doctors who
    resuscitated him and sentenced him to another six months of painful existence. We do not need doctors to do more at the end
    of life but less earlier on. We can help
    doctors by freeing them from any threat of prosecution if they stand back and
    let a terminally ill patient die when nature intends that they should. A friend who is a retired doctor tells me
    that when he began work in the sixties the problem of those reduced to total dependence
    was almost unknown and normally only found among those living out their last
    few days.

  • Damaris Tighe

    In a practical sense there’s no grey area between life & death. A society either makes life a moral imperative or it does not. Despite its historical failings the judeo-christian tradition champions life. A verse in Deuteronomy has God say to the Children of Israel, ‘Choose life’. No if’s, no but’s. The Jewish toast is ‘to life’. But a common jihadist saying is ‘you love life but we love death’. This contrast in attitude to the sanctity of human life & the individual person is a moral absolute & defines the difference between good & evil.

    No human is disposable (except in self-defence, which of course is the ultimate defence of life) for any reason, any social or religious ‘good’ whatsoever. If this is ever chipped away on the spurious excuse that some poor individuals have had enough, then we simply become high-tech savages.

    • Mary Ann

      So because you believe in fables written thousands of years ago, I or my mum have to suffer a slow and lingering, sometimes painful death. It’s not on.

      • blandings

        Talk about missing the point.

        • Damaris Tighe

          Sigh …

          • blandings

            I see you can upvote.
            Or was it only on certain parts of the speccie site that you had a problem?

          • Damaris Tighe

            Only on Coffee House! Isn’t it weird?

          • blandings

            I work with complex university record systems.
            They do weird things – it is an article of faith that there must be a logical explanation even if you never find it.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Based on my faith in a logical explanation I spent several hours in the bowels of ‘advanced tools’ (!!) trying to sort it out.

          • blandings

            Just sit down with a martini and some good music.

          • blandings

            PS Good music to ease the frustrations of life: Eric Satie,
            I used to spend happy hols on Lake Constance, (such a civilised place), sitting on the lakeside in the trees sipping ice cool beer, or looking at the paintings of Hans Purrmann (a local celeb). The music in my head was always Satie.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Don’t know Eric Satie. I listen to Smooth.

          • blandings

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtLHiou7anE
            I listen to Smooth in the car but I preferred Gold – more teenage rock stuff

          • Damaris Tighe

            That’s beautiful! – very life-enhancing. Thanks for the link.

            I loved the Capri but as C & I have been commiserating about, those long low cars are very difficult for us short ladies to negotiate with dignity.

          • blandings

            Dream music.
            I read somewhere that he wrote in 22/7 time – Well OK.
            “High heels on low-slung girls” came came into my head, but it doesn’t mean anything ( I hope!). It was a while before I realised where I got that from – Traffic – The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.

          • balance_and_reason

            I query your reference to ice cool beer……is that some popular brew that happens to be in fashion or is it a beer that is slightly warmer than an ice cold beer?
            My suspicion is that you are not a regular cool beer drinker and merely drawing a little scenario which you perceive puts you in a light that you would ,for whatever reason, like to be put in.

          • blandings

            Query all you like
            german weissbier – keep it in the fridge.
            Post obviously wasn’t directed at you so why are you bothered?

        • Mary Ann

          I choose to make a different point, something to do with the bill in the house of commons. It is, after all, the root cause of this article.

          • blandings

            As you responded directly to Damaris I think I am entitled to assume that you were responding directly to the point that she had made.

        • balance_and_reason

          well it is and it isn’t…..the bottom line is unfortunate people with agonizing pain and afflictions who wish to end it all…….can’t….you are therefore torturing them….Are you a nazi too?

          • blandings

            That’s right, I’m a card carrying nazi
            and you’re a d!ckhead
            Happy now?

          • Esmee Phillips

            Yes, it’s obvious that the Nazis with their euthanasia programme were REALLY opposed to euthanasia.

            What prodigies of reasoning one encounters.

        • Leon Wolfeson

          That IS the point. It’s a call for medical treatment to be used regardless of the situation. To ignore living wills, etc.

      • Damaris Tighe

        Has it ever occurred to you that a religious text might be saying something that is right, good & true?

        • Mary Ann

          I expect some of it is true apart from all the bits that refer to gods, and some of it has more to do with the values that prevailed more than 2000 years ago, have you ever looked at the evilbible web site, not the sort of values I wish to espouse.

          • Damaris Tighe

            If some of it is true why reject the bit that unconditionally defends life? Any compromise on life as an absolute principle will end in a society that I doubt you’d want to live in. To understand this you have to put to one side your personal feelings re your own life or your mum’s. The issue is far far bigger than individual preference.

          • freddiethegreat

            Mary Ann is god. She has decided.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Mary Ann has decided for herself & for her mother. But as Sartre wrote, when you choose for yourself you choose for everyone.

          • freddiethegreat

            Does her mother know? In Holland, older people are being bumped off by their children because they are inconvenient. Once again, WHO gets to decide?

          • Damaris Tighe

            On last week’s magazine (review of Snyder’s latest book) I commented that Holland lost the highest proportion of its Jews in Western Europe to the extermination camps. The country next door, Denmark, managed to save most of its Jewish citizens. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that degenerate Holland is at the cutting edge of legally bumping off the unwanted & the weak.

          • freddiethegreat

            Frankly, with attitudes like theirs, I’d be nervous living in a country that is, after all, not a country at all. Just dehydrated sea. Which could rehydrate some time.

          • freddiethegreat

            Just on the question of Holland: Corrie Ten-Boom was being questioned by an SS officer after her arrest. When he heard of her work with retarded adults, he exclaimed, “What a waste! If you want converts, surely one normal person is worth all the half-wits in the world.” She replied: “Who knows? Maybe in the eyes of God, a half with is worth more than a lieutenant, or a watch-maker.”
            How Holland has fallen into the ways of the Nazis

          • Damaris Tighe

            What a wonderful reply. But a lot of ‘clever’ people won’t like it. The Webbs were as into euthanasia & selective breeding as the far right. That’s why they all hated the judeo-christian moral imperatives that – in those days – stood in their way.

          • freddiethegreat

            Correct. As Muggeridge noted, the “Left” and the “Right” are two sides of the same coin.

          • Lawrence James.

            Contemptible.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Ahh, what a surprise, the old “inferior” sneer.

          • balance_and_reason

            nonsense

          • Mary Ann

            Of course, you may worship me, I don’t mind.

          • Why? Are you also a cat?

          • Lawrence James.

            An infinitely more humane and decent God than the spiteful tyrant of the Old Testamen and his present day toadies

          • blandings

            “the spiteful tyrant of the Old Testamen and his present day toadies”
            ?
            If you are referring to Christians, then I think you have got the wrong Testament.
            This, Laurie, is how cultures die – they forget what they are.

          • Mary Ann

            So now we know the truth, you are just a wind up merchant, ding, dong.

          • Christopher Lennon

            I think you’ll find it only refers to one God. Why trust selective extracts? Please read the Sermon on the Mount in the NT and tell me what outdated values it espouses.

          • Mary Ann

            I haven’t read a bible since I left school and I don’t intend to start now, however I’m think that Jesus was a nice guy, a pity a lot of so called Christians don’t follow his teachings, including the church.

          • blandings

            How do you know what he’s teachings were?

          • Esmee Phillips

            Your theological authority is clearly at least as imposing as that of little Dicky Dawkins.

        • Mary Ann

          If you pick the right bits, if you pick the wrong bits then it’s evil.

          http://www.evilbible.com/

      • freddiethegreat

        I tell you what. I’ll decide for you. How about that?

      • freddiethegreat

        Rather than a fable written by a dozy old Victorian in the mid 19th Century?

      • Christopher Lennon

        They are not fables – try reading them.
        Matthew’s dig at all faiths is a non-sequitur actually, because throughout most of history virtually all human beings were believers. Atheism, as currently and vehemently expressed is trendy and new.

        • Sten vs Bren

          “throughout most of history virtually all human beings were believers”

          🙂 Most grandiose claim, ever. Congratulations!

          • freddiethegreat

            Actually, Everyone is a believer in something – even if it is only themselves.

          • Sten vs Bren

            No, most people accept their own existence as fact.

            Also, if you look carefully, you will see that he is talking about religion.

          • freddiethegreat

            ANY worldview at all is a religion. Do you believe you are alive? Does the universe exist?

          • Sten vs Bren

            No, any worldview is not a religion. Investigate the meaning of the word ‘religion’.

            Does the universe exist? Yes, it does.

          • freddiethegreat

            If you were a hindu, you would doubt both. Which is why Hinduism never developed science as the West did. Does objective truth exist?

          • Sten vs Bren

            Hinduism is a religion. The universe is the name that Man has applied to everything around him, including himself.

            These are very knotty questions; you should consider an Open University philosophy course.

            No, objective truth does not yet exist. It may, one day.

          • freddiethegreat

            “No, objective truth does not yet exist. It may, one day.” That’s a belief.
            But you still don’t know if the Universe exists or if it is illusion.

          • Sten vs Bren

            No, it’s not a belief. As I said, objective truth does not exist, therefore, it could be wrong. But not a belief.

            If it is an illusion, it exists as an illusion.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Faith. Not religion.

          • Christopher Lennon

            Not at all. As a matter of fact, there has never been a human society or culture that did not recognise a deity.

          • Mary Ann

            Society probably, apart from Buddhists but there would always have been some people who realised that their gods weren’t real.

        • Lawrence James.

          Not so: it existed but had to to furtive because of the vindictive vigilance of believers.

          • Mary Ann

            I remember at school in the 1950s my form teacher telling the class that people who were not Christian or Jewish were heathens and that all heathens are wicked, it stuck in my mind because I was already an atheist. I wonder if she realised that the Muslims worshipped the same god as the Christians and Jews.

          • freddiethegreat

            They don’t. Not muslims, and not modern Jews anyway.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So you have no idea about Judaism…

      • Ipsidixit

        If you love your mum so much and truly believe that killing her is in her best interests, then have the courage of your convictions and defend them in a court if necessary. We all know that you won’t be punished if the facts support your actions. Truth is that you are a moral coward who wants to subcontract the killing so you can walk away.

    • Monkish

      A very apposite remark given the time of year. Shanah Tovah!

  • Richard Daly

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0218GkAGbnU

    Matthew Parris is just following the march of subjective reasoning. No bedrock for good, no ability to see evil. Are Subjectivists forever doomed to come to the most evil conclusions? Such ideologues forget the 20th centuary so quickly.

  • rtj1211

    The strength of societal ‘cultural norms’ is intimately linked to how arrested the emotional development is of how many people in that society. The more who are arrested at the ‘rules are rules’ stage (pre-adolescent but hugely prevalent within primitive emotional Britain), the stronger such prejudices can be, for at that stage of emotional development the concept that moral relativity exists between different members of society is too complex for the individual to accept emotionally.

    The more people who have reached emotional adulthood, the more likely it is that they will think for themselves and be less pressurised by societal ‘mores’. I suffered very much under societal mores but now am utterly immune to them. I am aware of them, take whatever decisions I choose to take based on my personal choices and understanding of what the consequences may be, but those who have used emotional thuggery to crush me find the hard way that they have lost for ever the power to influence me. I simply ignore them and consider them to be those unable to accept consequences of what they have done……so the traditional ‘British’ way of enforcing societal mores on me no longer works. I hope that that becomes true for tens of millions of Britons in the next generation too….

    With a question such as ‘assisted dying’, it is really rather important that society has reached a sufficiently mature stage that large numbers of people are emotional adults and morally robust with it. Otherwise, the slippery slope arguments pertain.

    Unfortunately, you always have a period of history where the sigmoidal curve from no emotional maturity present to almost universally present is transitioning and during that period you either have to have ways of allowing the more enlightened to make decisions unsuitable for the less enlightened or you will have a moral crusade between two intransigent groups.

    Where exactly we are right now is one for the social scientists to measure…….

    • John Hawkins Totnes

      You are very wise not to identify yourself, else you might find they are out to get you…

    • freddiethegreat

      Social scientist: A danger to society, and to science.

  • ashleyhk

    And where, Matthew, do you , as an individual,stand on the spectrum of usefulness?

    • freddiethegreat

      Journalist. Not much use to society.

      • Sten vs Bren

        Journalists are essential to a fully functioning society.

        • freddiethegreat

          Can you eat them?

  • Monkish

    Dear Matt Paris, Tim Snyder’s latest tome is cautionary history, not an instruction manual for social engineering in the 21st century!

  • Sten vs Bren

    “Assisted dying is not a novel desire, not a strange new way of thinking.
    As a moral impulse, the idea that one might hasten one’s end…”

    ‘Assisted dying’ is not where one hastens one end. That is suicide. Assisted dying is where somebody else hastens one’s end.

    “I don’t exhort. I predict.”

    Yes, you lot will win in the end but obviously we don’t want that to be our life/death time. If you give someone the merest hint of such power, to ‘assist’ death, they will use it whether they have license or not.

  • Samuel Johnson

    Matthew Parris is a man of great faith. We may not know that our attitudes are being driven by “the Darwinian struggle for survival”; but he does. Would there were religious leaders who could claim such certainty! Has he perchance looked behind the painted veil to glimpse the great sage Darwin, who told him that the “faith squad” were all wrong when they tried to kill each other (and are wrong now when they say don’t kill each other), but that, er, we should all start killing each other now for slightly different reasons? Unfortunately his certainty about the meaning and origin of life doesn’t extend to actually being open about his argument, instead hiding it behind get-out clauses like “I don’t say should”, “I don’t need to persuade” etc. Parris is clearly piqued that his opponents won the argument this time and takes refuge in the inevitability of his future triumph (being able to see the future and all). Hatred of God is the key. If God exists, then lives have absolute value irregardless of their usefulness. Once the “atheist squad” (as we’re not allowed to call them) has torn down this taboo, (so they think) there’ll be no way back for God. The “useless” lives don’t matter.

    • freddiethegreat

      Excellent, SJ.

    • Lawrence James.

      Did God value lives ? – certainly not those of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, sundry Canaanites, Philistines &c.whose extermination he ordered. You Christian bigots ought to read your Bibles.

      • Mary Ann

        The best bits are here

        http://www.evilbible.com/

        • Samuel Johnson

          The best bits are the New Testament. It’s not a Christian Koran and Christians aren’t bound by the Old Testament which is a library of poetry, history, myth, laws, proverbs etc. anyway.

      • Samuel Johnson

        The strangest thing is that he actually seems to take comfort from the eventual triumph of this strange Darwinian faith he has constructed for himself. People above are being criticised for pointing it out but … exalting the values of the “tribe” over the individual, euthanasia for the “useless”, contempt and scorn for religious believers who don’t fit into his world view … what does it remind you of? I know, I know, Darwinism isn’t a faith, it’s the absolute truth and beyond criticism …

  • carl jacobs

    a quaint term for that category of human beings who throughout history have been more assiduous than any other in trying to kill each other

    And yet it is the author who desires to kill. And kill again. And kill some more. It is the author who advocates predicts a change to the definition of selfishness such that it encompasses those who refuse to acquiesce in their own deaths. And all so that the competition for resources may be reduced so the author can live the life to which he feels entitled.

    Not that there aren’t non-economic social goods that require support – social goods like maintaining the author in his lifestyle, for instance. Society shouldn’t be heartless, after all.

    • freddiethegreat

      I’m currently reading “That Hideous Strength”. More than a novel, a prophecy in the process of being realised.

      • Ivan Ewan

        I should get hold of a copy.

        • freddiethegreat

          CS Lewis – usually as part of the Space Trilogy. As scary as “The Devils”.

        • Damaris Tighe

          I thoroughly recommend it Ivan. Although written in the 40s the book even has a sinister body called N.I.C.E.! Try & find the original unabridged hardback edn – John Lane The Bodley Head, 1945 or 46 (on thin wartime paper). Cheapish copies from http://www.abebooks.co.uk

  • Samuel Johnson

    Judging lives by economic value, pt. 1

    1. How much have you contributed to the reduction of the deficit this year?
    2. Do you support George Osborne’s Long-Term Economic Plan?
    3. Are you a drain on the Welfare System?
    4. Are you perhaps letting the boys from another “tribe” get ahead of us?

    If you have answered yes to the last two questions, it may be time to think about a visit to your local Dignitas clinic.

    PS. Aren’t we meant to be rather in favour of people with “handicaps” these days, to use Parris’s dismissive phrase? Aren’t growing economies places where they still value the family and care for the old within families? Genuinely strange article.

    • freddiethegreat

      A visit to your local…. . That’s how it starts off. Later on, the ‘visit’ becomes involuntary.

  • Lady Magdalene

    We’re already inching towards the future that Parris predicts. The NHS, in the form of NICE, has just ruled that some drugs which would prolong the lives of terminally-ill cancer patients will no longer be funded because the cost outweighs the benefits.

    That is a rational decision, based on the fact that the cost of the drugs is not sufficiently justified by the prolonging of life (and possibly the quality of that life).

    Decisions such as this will be made more frequently and, eventually, the scales will tip and voluntary euthanasia will be introduced.

    Personally, I don’t find that particularly frightening, as long as the end was pain-free. I find the thought of being forced to live for a lengthy period with acute pain, or complete helplessness, or with advanced dementia rather more scary.

    • freddiethegreat

      …. and then involuntary euthanasia. It’s already here. I have heard doctors and nurses from two SA hospices swear that the directors order certain patients to be overdosed – “we need their beds”.

      • Retired Nurse

        Lord Joel Joffe (who sponsored the original uk bill) also runs dignity south africa – its a charitee run by healthcare insurers and providers….saves them ££££.

    • Ambientereal

      I would simplify the process, by stopping the obligation of payment to patients that no longer want to live. If the state wants to keep someone alive, then that person should be kept absolutely painless, with dignity (or unconscious) and without costs.

    • Amgine

      People with dementia would not be eligible for assisted suicide. One has to give informed consent.

      • Mary Ann

        Ironic, I suppose it could be made possible with informed consent before one becomes ill.

        • Amgine

          Even a living will would be problematic, who would know if the person had changed their mind? Alzheimer’s robs someone of their mind so they have no mind to change; it’s crumbled into hopeless powerlessness as their self is locked away from them and others. So sad.

      • Retired Nurse

        ha! The Neuberger ‘impartial ‘ review covered this one up by saying they had no data on the use of the liverpool death pathway in dementia care homes ..which is odd, as the man who owns the LCP and wrote the report about complaints for her coverup of a ‘review’ was the man who got paid for this..http://www.gponline.com/palliative-care-charities-land-1-million-bupa-fund/article/931915 – its de facto assault and wilful neglect even if they made an advance directive years ago, as the Mental Capacity Act insists people are asked if they’ve changed their minds in the interim (and you cant ask an incompetent dementia patient by definition !)
        Don’t worry about assisted dying – we’re already killing with no consent at all.

        • Amgine

          People who are dying and being given pain relief are put out of their extended misery, but only if they are lucky enough to have a doctor who will increase their dose into an overdose and only if they are already taking strong pain relief drugs. It’s too much of a lottery without a firm law either way. No one has protection against an early death and no one has the right to request to be put out of their misery. We have failed to use this recent opportunity to clarify the law, we just want to continue sticking our fingers in our ears and singing while deliberately looking in another direction.

          If there is an existing and reliable method to help someone end their life painlessly, safely and with as little trauma and stress as possible, we should make that method available to anyone who requests it themselves. I think living wills should also be taken into account in the same way that we follow a “do not resuscitate” direction.

  • styants64

    In the past the working class families just like the one I lived in took care of elderly loved ones that’s not so much the case any more because we live in a materialistic multicultural increasing mess, my grandmother was bedridden in the 50s for two years the family looked after because they loved her, my mother terminally ill with cancer was never hospitalised we took care of her at her home she died at home we never asked for any help from the authorities why because we loved her.

    • Sten vs Bren

      People who have assistance for old relatives also love them.

      • styants64

        I did not say they didn’t, after she died my mother with hindsight I wish we had
        done it was very stressful as the doctor said at the time it is emotionally draining to nurse a close family member until death we should’ve got home support but did not think about that at the time, mind you the further we go back in time there was no support anyway families and communities did the job.

        • Sten vs Bren

          But you wish you would have had support.

          Sometimes communities did not do the job and people died on their own in pain and torment. Therefore, we invented support. ‘Multiculturalism’ is naff all to do with it.

          • styants64

            Multiculturalism The importation of millions of foreigners has smashed working class Communites and families, many people have died in pain alone in NHS hospitals

          • Sten vs Bren

            You are the least convincing class warrior since Wussell Bwand. Foreigners can also be working class. Get a grip!

          • styants64

            Britain is over populated and the world increasingly also this is leading to more and more strife, and also destruction of wildlife and ecology we didn’t need to import millions of foreigners no matter what you say or do immigration has brought about a partial disintegration of British working-class Community life things will only get worse stop the wind up and go find something else to do.

          • Sten vs Bren

            No, Britain is not overpopulated. Neither is the world. What a bizarre idea.

            Listen, Wat Tyler; if you are interested in the working class, you are interested in the working class. If you are against foreigners, you are a pest. Which is it?

          • styants64

            You obviously has mental health issues go lie down and take Matthew Parris advice.

          • Sten vs Bren

            And assist you to die? No fear!

          • Mary Ann

            It might help his problem with the world’s population.

          • styants64

            The populations of Africa double within 25 years population of Nigeria 50 years ago 47 million population now approaching 200 million at current birthrates by the end of the century 1 billion, are you another middle-class liberal with cotton wool in your ears and covering your eyes.

          • Mary Ann

            No, but I am aware that if you educate girls they will end up having less babies, and in our ever shrinking world the education of girls is becoming more common.

          • Mary Ann

            Well that’s a new one to blame on migrants, you will have to tell Farage about it. It’s has more to do with people moving all the time. Last road I lived in after about 10 years I mainly knew the older people who had lived in the road all their married life, the young moved in and after about 7 years moved out again into a bigger and better houses.

          • styants64

            Mary Ann The reason that people keep moving is because of millions of immigrants have take up residence in large towns and cities get real, millions of British have emigrated adding problems of detachment.

          • Mary Ann

            Wrong, there were no migrants in my road, some people may move out of their house because they don’t like foreigners, but most of my younger neighbours moved to bigger and better houses.

          • styants64

            You are deliberately lying millions the left the cities because they didn’t like an increasing crime rate and social problems, fact 1,200,000 British born are now living in Australia alone this mass immigration and emigration is it catastrophe for our environment, you said girls of the world are getting better educated that doesn’t work when you’ve got cultural differences as like in Islam and other macho societies where the men will take what they want.

    • Mary Ann

      Some people need help, they can’t cope, particularly if they are on their own, having a large family living close by helps.

  • Hegelman

    Your life seems singularly useless. Should it be ended?

  • Augustus

    So people will just need to learn to die and get out of the way, because otherwise they’re going to be ‘thought selfish to want to carry on.’

    Belgium is doing a great job in this regard by encouraging perfectly healthy people to end their lives: “According to national statistics, there are increasing numbers of young people requesting to die legally in Belgium, citing depression as their “intractable and unbearable pain.” A perfect example of ‘a social impulse which will grow’ (and has already done so), no matter what anti-depressants may be available, what types of depression may be treatable and curable, or what may actually have caused these young people’s unmanageable suffering.

  • poverty denier

    Matthew Parris writes and the commenting readership fails to understand.

    • Sten vs Bren

      I can help you, if you like. What don’t you understand?

      • poverty denier

        See top rated comment.

        • Sten vs Bren

          It’s a bit over the top but I also don’t want ‘assisted’ dying.

          It would be privatised.

    • carl jacobs

      Oh, we understand alright. There are important useful people (like the author) and then there are useless eaters who consume resources better spent on important useful people (like the author).

  • right1_left1

    Once the argument is couched in terms of ‘lets dispose of those who are a burden to society’ then anyone with any experience of the state into which the human body can deteriorate but still survive, not infrequently sustained by the compassionate and the moral, knows immediately that the writer is a simplistic nitwit

    • styants64

      Aldous Huxley knew a thing or when he wrote Brave New World no wonder he resorted to tripping out on drugs.

  • Ivan Ewan

    We need w****rs like Matthew Parris on the Spectator so that we can be reminded of what depravity looks like without going to the Guardian.

  • Andrew Dougal

    I have always found you to be rather a slithery individual Mr Parris, but this really takes the biscuit.

    Bit like how you saved your own skin in Africa years ago, passively watching your female friend being raped.

    You really would go along with just about anything wouldn’t you?

  • Tom M

    I can follow the logic of the article it makes sense too. But I cannot ever see myself trying to persuade anybody to end their life. That would weigh too heavily on my conscience whatever the state of the other was.
    However, knowing people as I do, and extending Pariss’ argument somewhat I often wonder just how many would change their mind and support assisted dying if the Welfare State didn’t exist.

    • freddiethegreat

      South Africa has the same elitists doing the same argument. And there’s no welfare state.

  • Dogsnob

    Just relax Mr Parris, you might just feel a little pinprick, then all will be peaceful.

    • John Hawkins Totnes

      Or maybe all hell will break out…

      • freddiethegreat

        In his case, anyway.

  • carl jacobs

    The big savings is not found in killing off people in vegetative states. The big money is found in getting people to off themselves before they incur the medical costs of chronic illness. That means they have to be convinced to die on the basis of expectation. They have to be stampeded into killing themselves by means of fear or guilt. It’s not that they couldn’t be saved. It’s that they shouldn’t be saved. After all, do they have a beautiful mind (like the author) that allows for true appreciation of a good Cabernet? It won’t be hard to separate the worthy from the useless on such a basis. In fact, those lesser creatures should be grateful for the privilege of being allowed to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their intellectual and aesthetic betters.

    And if they won’t be stampeded, they can always be coerced.

    • freddiethegreat

      Cabernet? All hoity-toity are we? What’s wrong with chocolate?
      Of course, you are completely right. But my sarcasm reiterates my question: Who decides? How? I don’t like wine myself, so maybe wine drinkers should be regarded as useless. The vines take up valuable agricultural land.
      … That Hideous Strength.

  • LoveMeIamALiberal

    Parris uses the dishonest ploy of the euthanasia lobby by labeling their opponents as those with ‘faith’ – nothing like a bit of anti religious bigotry is there Matthew? How do you explain the opposition of the medical profession and all charities who care for those with the conditions that would make them suitable for euthanasia in your eyes?

  • Velodrone Lebike

    It’s not about society pressuring people to end their lives, it’s about giving people the right to decide their own fate.

    • carl jacobs

      People are not hermetically isolated actors. The action of one man can have collateral impacts on others. This is why the desire for autonomy must be subordinated. The pursuit of this “right” devalues other people by devaluing the class to which they belong. Why do you think disabled people so oppose this idea. They are the first class on the chopping block.

    • MrJones

      It’s about giving one group of people the right to decide their own fate and another much larger group of people the opportunity to pressure people to end their lives.

  • Retired Nurse

    Majority of anti assisteddying munts on Twitter are atheists Matthew…don’t know where you get this ‘faith’ people animosity from – Julia Neuberger is a rabbi, and she supported it in the Lords….

  • MrJones

    I have faith that if you remove the floor you’re standing on then you can end up falling a very long way.

  • Ipsidixit

    Normally it would be against my principles to kill someone no matter who had decided their life is useless. However, you obviously feel strongly about it so just let me know when you need help. Of course I’m assuming that you’ll want to decide for yourself when you have reached the point where your life is useless, otherwise, a lot of people might think that that time has always arrived.

  • andyyyp

    What a truly ghastly culturally marxist little creep you are. I’d even go so far as to describe you as a moral cretin. Some might say Nazi.

  • amicus

    Nasty article.

  • secretpeople

    Assisted dying is not about ‘useless lives’. It is not for you or others to judge a life’s usefulness. Listen, if I wish to end my life, I should be free to do so – with dignity and without pain. My choice has no bearing on whether you think my life is (economically or otherwise) useful or not. It is my life, not yours – so butt out.

  • Esmee Phillips

    Homosexuals hate the idea of getting old and useless without families to sustain them, especially if (like Parris) their stock in trade for many years was ‘boyishness’. But they should not be allowed to foist their neuroses on society in the guise of policy- and nobody should be allowed to indulge in the spurious oracular historicism of ‘It’s inevitable, because I want it to happen.’

    Parris sounds more like Malthus than Darwin. The idea of what a sustainabe population can be has been revised upward a lot since the 18C. The distinction between contributors and passengers is not as obvious as some think. And in an age when life expectancy in good health has never been longer nor palliative care so efficient, to hark back to the practices of primitive tribes is perverse.

    Asking a profession whose raison d’etre is to save life to spend part of its time doing the opposite is to risk straining social bonds in a country where trust is already in peril.

  • Di Hemy

    I would like to commend Matthew Parris for his excellent piece of clear, logical writing. Commentators, going off at all sorts of tangents, do not seem to have grasped that he is not recommending – he is simply predicting. I hope he is right. Assisted dying would have enabled my 93 year old mother to be spared her last miserable incapacitated months when she wanted to go, and it should have been so easy to help her.

  • mikewaller

    Apart from other objections raised, MP’s reference to Darwinism is ill-informed. Modern Darwinian theory does not see societal benefits as a key evolutionary driver. These may accrue, but what would keep such behaviours in play are far more likely to be benefits to a kin group. Here his argument is on much firmer ground. Although in affluent societies there is a tendency to seek to have it all by prolonging the lives of all family members, where the struggle for life is much more intense, even humans take a very tough view on the optimum allocation of scarce resources.This means that within families a very proactive approach to the survival of the fittest applies. Whether, as times get tougher and tougher, we will be driven back to this model with the chronically infirm of every generation being
    increasingly seen as an unsupportable burden, only time will tell. If this does happen, the kind of societal “advantages” MP foresees would come
    about but only as a secondary effect.

    What I have long been convinced about is that we already have an inbuilt mechanism that responds to this cruel logic and in my view it offers the only sensible explanation for the evolutionary persistence of severe depression, a profoundly maladaptive condition that ought long since to have been eliminated by natural selection. My rationale is that in small assortative breeding groups the presence of an individual clearly less able to cope with the demands of
    successful reproduction than his or her siblings,will impact adversely on the
    perceived breeding qualities of those siblings. After all, they may well have
    the disadvantageous genes concealed within their genomes awaiting expression in the next generation. In the brutal world of natural selection, the evolution of
    an internal mechanism that would precipitate the early demise of any individual
    involuntarily giving this damaging message to prospective breeding partners,
    seems to me almost inevitable. That is why, in my opinion, low self-esteem leads to depression and depression leads on to a whole host of physiological effects with, particularly in a naturalistic setting, lethal consequences.

  • Leon Wolfeson

    Social Darwinism, which you advocate, is not Darwinism.

  • crazydave789

    who decides? maybe to start you set up booths which can only be operated by the person inside and all inside are euthanased, which would stop kindly relatives disposing of aunt flossie.

    many healthy types would use it simply because they have had enough.

    I’ve thought for thirty years that giving people something to pass on if they agree to euthanasia woudl save the health service billions and allow those with useless lives to end it with dignity while providing for those they love.

  • James Leonard Park

    Here are some safeguards to protect the lives of some patients who might otherwise be dismissed as worthless: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~parkx032/SG-WORTH.html

  • Terry Field

    This is a dismal unimaginative article. If this protected little intermittent visitor of urban undergrowth for pleasure purposes really wishes to invoke lethal removal of unfit human life on some Darwinian basis, then he may prefer to refer to a set of ‘worthiness’ attributes, all of which are unrelated to C Darwin, and all of which have nothing to do with age or physical condition.
    I would swap an hour of octogenarian Picasso for ten million fat slob industrially non-educated fast-food sofa-bloopers and that sort of value set could be applied across the human board.
    Yes – Darwinian attributes of value could cut a massive swath through the vast hordes of the pointless human protein that acts as sort of flab-fest across immense acreage of this otherwise wonderful planet.
    Another suggested set of candidates for the Darwinian ‘your time is up test’??
    1 The entire contents of the regions north of Carlisle.
    2 The region known as ‘Arabia Magna’
    3 Slough and Woking. All inhabitants- no slouching.
    4 Socialists. Everywhere; all of them
    5 The region south of Fez and north of the orange Free State – except the Great Plains of East Africa.
    6 Siberia. All its contents – TOO tedious.
    7 Kensington. Like Chelsea, but without the humour or vibrancy.

    More will occur; I will advise as they arise.
    8 Thin people who run very long distances. Pointlessness made flesh. Begone. Your time is UP!!!!!
    9 All practitioners of modern popular ( and thus mindless) music.

  • tolpuddle1

    There is a Darwinian case for bumping off homosexuals – tribes where homosexual behaviour flourishes, fall behind in the reproduction stakes and will disappear from the earth.

    This is happening in Europe – not a prediction, but a measurable observation.

    • SPW

      Yes – as Matthew says, “I don’t exhort. I predict.”

  • tolpuddle1

    Homosexuals – being sterile – tend towards nihilism.

    Proof ? – the above article by Matthew Parris.

  • Freddythreepwood

    ‘Some day soon we’ll all accept that useless lives should be ended’

    No we won’t, Matthew. No we won’t.

  • SPW

    What a nasty lie to peddle: faith community = “human beings who throughout history have been more assiduous than any other in trying to kill each other”

    Phillips and Axelrod’s three-volume ‘Encyclopaedia of Wars’ chronicles 1,763 wars. Of these wars, they categorise 123 as being religious in nature, which is an astonishingly low 6.98% of all wars. Subtract out those waged in the name of Islam (66), and the percentage is cut by more than half to 3.23%.

    3.23%

    Defend yourself Parris.

  • SPW

    “This is a social impulse which will grow” – so what will you do about it?

    Theft unchecked would also be a “social impulse” which would grow. As would murder, rape etc. Society curtails these naturally occurring social impulses via education and law because they are deemed to be wrong. If killing ‘useless’ people is wrong but is a “social impulse” then it needs curtailing, surely.

    Honestly Matthew, I want to respect your writing as I generally think highly of you, but this flailing about in the wind of change betrays such a lack of morality that it’s proving difficult.

  • MorallyCorrect2

    This writer is in rare company. First, few are so stupid as to think that suicide to stop end of life pain leads to murder for the convenience of the powers that be. Secondly, hitler is one of a very small group to engaged in the latter.

  • davidshort10

    I think Parris has lost it and perhaps it’s time for the Spectator to put him out of his misery. Were the Nazis or the Rwandan Hutus part of the ‘faith community’?

  • CrossCripple

    Oh, lovely! Why not invest in Zyklon b shares, while you’re at it, Matthew?! And, as you know (or should know, if you’re any kind of a journalist), it is NOT just faith groups who are against assisted suicide. Every disability rights group AND every disability charity in Britain is against legalising assisted suicide. With very good reason.

    I am one of those “useless eaters” you think has a duty to die. I always have been. I was born too severely disabled ever to do much of anything for myself, much less hold down a job and pay taxes. And, typical Tory that he is, Mr Parris thinks that makes me a drain on society. THAT is the narrow minded, penny-pinching attitude of every dull fascist. It views society and the economy as one and the same thing. How dreary! How lacking in humanity,; imagination; love! I am not a drain on society. I contribute to society. I am a drain on the economy – which the economy can well afford.

    • Yes, we can well afford it… after all, to take just one example, our basic rate of tax in 2016 is only 20%; for most of the 70s and 80s it was much higher than this. Funding benefits and social care properly wouldn’t be a problem if we had a Government that understood and accepted the need for good quality public services to underpin not only our economy, but even more importantly our society.

      • Anne Teahan

        I am an atheist. It’s too easy to dismiss people who are against AS as a religious lobby. I think the concept of usefulness or uselessness should be applied to objects not people. Meaning or meaningfulness may be a more apt word to describe people’s lives. But whether life is meaningful is very subjective and complex.
        ‘Useless-eaters’ was a Fascist term for the disabled people who were destroyed before the main holocaust. This article is headed ‘useless lives’.

        • EndlessRepetition

          Distinguish a person from an object if that person isn’t known to me?

    • EndlessRepetition

      Point of fact: the health of the national economy and the health of the nation are the same thing.

  • It’s interesting that on the Spectator the only commenter takes a view contrary to Mr Parris’s (and quite right too!), yet on the Times (behind a paywall) most views on a subsequent article of his, on the same topic, most/all commenters agree with him! I would hazard a guess that the only commenter here isn’t a regular Spectator reader and that since the Times is behind a paywall, the readers need to actually WANT to read this stuff…. I don’t think I need elaborate any further on that line of thought!

  • Leon Wolfeson

    Eugenics failed before and will fail again.

    (People will manage to die – I’m interested thus as a public health argument of having robust safeguards as otherwise this gets hashed out in court rather than in the legislature – but the safeguards proposed are not strong enough for me so far.

    Also, there needs to be further clarity around the issue of living wills and withdrawing life support (and organ donation) – a person’s clearly expressed – in a formal witnessed document – wishes before the fact should override those of the family)

  • EndlessRepetition

    Many lives contribute nothing and I’m all for men and women earning their rights. If the author’s prediction holds then perhaps we’ll develop a saner (and far more efficient) model of what it means to be a citizen.

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