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|A Modest Proposal for Peace, Prosperity and Happiness
by Franky Schaeffer and Harold Fickett
Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984
Suggested by: Ross Pavlac
A bit heavy-handed but chilling novel of the all too near future.
The literary conceit is that this is a proposal put forward by a minor bureaucrat in the "Bureau of Population and Environment", a fictitious department of the American federal government. Set in 1992 (eight years after the publication date of the book), the proposal begins by outlining a nightmare scenario of famine, pollution, and war, all caused by overpopulation, and then proposes a three-stage plan for solving the problem, beginning with large-scale coercive abortions, and continuing on through euthanasia (for handicapped newborns, those rendered useless by accident, disease, or age, and the criminal element, including those pesky fundamentalists), cannibalism, elimination of religion, government control of reproduction, including genetic engineering to produce better "citizens" as well as useful slave classes, and finally, the complete extinction of the human race in order to allow the ecology to recover.
Franky Schaeffer has never been accused of having an excess of tact, nor of wasting much time attempting to understand the mindset of those he opposes, so it comes as no great surprise that he and Fickett lump together all of the evils he decries in late twentieth-century American society into a single nefarious plan. Unfortunately, by casting their net so widely, they tend to undermine their central argument. Granted, most people tend not to accept the argument that there is a "slippery slope", and that once we abandon the position that human life is sacred, then abortion on demand will be followed by infanticide, then voluntary euthanasia, then involuntary euthanasia, then a more casual attitude towards capital punishment as criminals become "raw materials" rather than people. Largely, the reluctance to accept the "slippery slope" argument is because different parts of the culture of death are embedded into different parts of the political spectrum as it currently stands. Thus, the conservative end of the spectrum opposes abortion on demand, but frequently supports the death penalty, while the liberal end of the spectrum, while adamantly in favour of abortion on demand, is opposed to the death penalty. Therefore, people tend not to see the connection between the different parts of the slope. To make matters worse, by dragging in factors which people will not see as being at all related (such as sexual mores), Schaeffer and Fickett make it all the more likely that people will dismiss their arguments as simply an attack on "straw men." There can be a logical case made for a "slippery slope" resulting in a culture of death, but Schaeffer and Fickett fail to make that case adequately compelling. In the end, they simply come across as shrill and unreasoning. Greg Slade
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