Besides being definitely feasible, the freezer centred society is highly desirable, and in any case nearly inevitable. This can be seen by illuminating more brightly, or from slightly different angles, a number of aspects introduced earlier.
Inevitability of a Freezer Program
It is easy to perceive that a large-scale freezer program must inexorably develop, sooner or later, whether or not my degree of optimism becomes general, and whether or not my personal efforts exert much influence.
We recall that suspended animation of humans (by freezing alive, without serious freezing damage, so that the subject can be thawed out and restored to active life at any time) is generally agreed to be in the cards. So far as I know, not a single expert doubts that this will come about, although there are wide differences of opinion as to when the technique will be mastered. Estimates vary' from about five years on up; my general impression is that a consensus might point to success within the lifetimes of' a majority of people now living.
As soon as suspended animation is practicable, persons with incurable diseases will surely be frozen alive to await the time that cures are discovered. It can scarcely be doubted that this
development, at the very least and latest, would provide the entering wedge for the freezer program.
It is also a common assumption of both laymen and experts that medical science will find means of extending human longevity, at least in moderate degree. It is not likely to come in the form of a simple drug injection, although this remains conceivable and hints in this direction crop up from time to time. For example, a Royal Oak, Michigan, veterinarian, Dr. Henry Raskin, has been reported experimenting on dogs with a drug developed in Rumania, called GH-3; results in apparent revitalization of aged dogs are said to range from fair to spectacular. (17) More likely, the treatment will be complex and will only follow much longer study, but optimism is not lacking. Dr. Joseph W. Still, of George Washington University, has written: "Aging may prove to be no more fatal or inevitable than small- pox, polio, pneumonia, or tuberculosis." (111)
Now consider the outlook of an aged person in failing health, sometime late in this century, or maybe not so late. Suspended animation will be available; substantially increased longevity for those already old may not yet be at hand but research will be very promising; technology will be booming and wealth increasing by leaps and bounds. Obviously, there will be a great temptation to take the cold sleep for a few decades, or until a specified amount of progress has been made. On awakening, this man and his wife can anticipate at least some added decades of active life in a more advanced world; in addition, compound interest will put him in a better financial situation. Why not sleep a seeming moment, and wake to a longer, brighter day? Who would not trade a few declining years in the present for a larger number of more active and rewarding years in the future?
Many, perhaps, would not-but certainly many would. Some will make this choice, and others will follow, and finally it will become customary if not universal. Whether it comes soon
or whether it comes late, whether the aim is "immortality" or something more modest, a large-scale freezer program is certainly going to mount, a majestic and irresistible tide.
Whoever would play the misguided and pathetic role of Canute, let him then he warned: he can only suffer dampened dignity.
No Generation of Martyrs
Since there is going to be a freezer program anyway, and since the frozen will share the immortality of their descendants, the rationale of opposition, if there ever was any, evaporates. Both immortality itself and the preliminary freezer program will bring their weighty problems, or exacerbations of old problems, but these can only be solved and not prevented.
If by some stretch of the imagination a determined and concerted opposition to an early freezer program should cohere, its utmost effect could be to deny immortality to our own generation. A more monumental exercise in futility and sheer stupidity would be hard to conceive.
When an initially adverse reaction to the freezer idea is voiced, no matter what "reasons" may be given, it is usually based on nothing but pure funk. The idea unsettles people; it makes them nervous; it disturbs the established order; it raises questions and demands decisions. To many, especially those long beaten down by adversity, nothing is so precious as the security" of a fixed routine and a known end; it is notorious that in the death camps of Nazi Germany many inmates refused any risk, prefer ring certain death to exertion.
Ostensible reasons for opposition often include various forms of asserted altruism. "We shouldn't burden later generations." "The future doesn't need us; I wouldn't want to live on unless I could do some good." "The money freezers would cost should
be spent on cancer research or longevity research." "I'd rather a year were added to the life of a cancer victim than hundreds of years to my own." (The last two, of course, are non sequiturs.)
Such self-styled altruists, who would martyr our generation, understand neither society nor themselves.
We may be largely the intellectual heirs of the Greeks, but our moral heritage is Judaeo-Christian, and in this tradition no babes are exposed on hillsides nor thrown to the wolves, no grandfathers are abandoned to die on the trail. We risk a division to rescue a battalion; we carry our wounded with us. We recognize duty downward as well as upward, from the state to the individual as well as conversely.
In fact, the worship of the State, or the Race, or Society, or Posterity, is merely a twisted and senseless sentimentality characteristic of totalitarian ideologies; it is nothing but fanaticism. In an important sense, there is no such thing as the state, no such thing as posterity: there are only individual people, and the living deserve as much consideration as the unborn. When someone who wouldn't give an extra hundred tax dollars to save a real, starving Indian claims he would sacrifice his life to make things easier for some hypothetical descendant, he is merely making an ass of himself.
In any case, of course, the direct remedy to the "burden" problem is easy: let us practice industry and thrift, so that the money for freezers is either extra money produced by extra work, or else savings diverted from fripperies. We can pay our own way, and need not be mendicants. Our estates and trust funds, through their investments and administrators, will contribute to future production and will share in control of the means of production. While we owe a moral debt to the future, the future will owe us not only a moral but a legal debt.
As to our "usefulness" in the future, it has already been pointed out that after resuscitation and rejuvenation we will be
just as educable and adaptable as anyone else, young or old.
After maybe forty thousand years of struggling through the wilderness, the race bas arrived at the banks of Jordan. Crossing will not be easy, nor will life in the Promised Land. But to pitch camp on the near shore for a generation would be a boot-less waste.
It seems nearly certain that most of us will either see the point or will be initially in doubt. At first a few, and then mounting numbers will choose freezing, and before long only a few eccentrics will insist on their right to rot. Most people will not dare be left behind. There will be no generation of martyrs.
The Long View as Panacea
Well worth repetition, emphasis, and elaboration is the startling transformation in human relations which the freezer program will gradually work.
Not so long ago Sydney J. Harris, a syndicated columnist, remarked the effect on many people of the realization that we only live once. "'I shall not pass this way again." Then why does it matter what I do? Why not ruin the fields, deforest the woods, litter the roads, pollute the streams, trample the flowers, and treat people as a mere means to one's own ends?" (39)
Although Harris was making a different point, it is obvious that a man who expects to be around for centuries or millennia will tend to behave differently from one who anticipates scant decades. In the long view, the fields, woods, roads, streams and flowers are my own; I cannot waste resources because I myself will need them later. I cannot cheat or injure a stranger, I cannot disregard his rights and feelings, because there are no more strangers, but only neighbours whom I will have to look in the face, again and again.
It has been fashionable for some time to say that "complex
problems do not have simple solutions"; this is a favourite excuse of lack-wit politicians. Nevertheless, the simple use of soap and water cuts a very wide swath across the complex problem of disease prevention, and the simple routine of formal courtesy does wonders in ameliorating complex problems of human relations. Likewise, I believe the freezer program will prove virtually a panacea, particularly in international relations - not because in itself it solves all problems, but because it provides time for the solution of problems.
With an unlimited future to redress the balance, everyone can put up with temporary burdens and inequities patiently, if not cheerfully, and negotiate in good will. We all have a long, long way to travel together. When tempted to some rash action, one need only say to himself, "The end is not yet. The end is not yet. The end is not yet. ."
All measures of desperation, including nuclear war, will tend to be ruled out. The reckless are usually those with little to lose - and there will be no more such. Everyone will have a jewel beyond price - a glittering physical hereafter on the other side of the freezer. Heaven help Mao Tse-tung if he tries to persuade his people to turn their hacks on this treasure, wrap themselves in tattered red flags, and lie down in mouldy graves.
Time to Go Sane
Human life has always been based largely on fanatic lies and self deception, a consequence of the endless struggle to solve the unsolvable, reconcile the irreconcilable, and scrutinize the inscrutable. Most of us have always preferred make-believe to frustration. But now at last it will be safe to go sane-at least partly.
The loyalties of the past have been mainly to ideas-usually stupid ideas, like the divine-right monarchies of post-medieval
Europe, and often revolting ideas, like the blood-sacrifice rituals of the Aztecs. But the loyalties of the future will be to people - not disembodied abstractions, but individual human beings - and in this direction lies sanity.
Of course, in a sense it is only possible to be loyal to ones own thoughts, and in a sense other people are only thoughts. It is also true that double-think and compromise with honesty will retain some utility. Still, the shift in viewpoint will be very real and very significant.
We have usually thought of people as ephemeral, and ideas, especially "principles," as immortal. But now the people will persist while ideas come and go, and the results should be most salutary.
Consider again the arch-villain Mao Tse-tung. Would he dare risk a fabulous life of thousands of years (including personal wealth eventually exceeding the total assets of the world today) for a moth eaten bag of slogans and a shabby empire? Eternity, or some substantial portion of it, belongs not to Marxism-Leninism, nor to any other passing fancy in the mind of Mao, but to Mao himself and his relatives and friends - including you and me. Once he understands this, he dare not risk war. If he cannot understand, those who do will remove him.
Fools, Madmen, and Heroes
Even after considerable thought, some people have to fight the feeling that to seek personal immortality is somehow ignoble, that the freezer-entered society is somehow distasteful and may rob us of our manliness. The reason is partly that bravery in the face of death has always been deemed a virtue, that abstract ideals are extolled above "selfish" ones, and that logic may seem to equate immortality with timidity. Even though the error
of these notions has already been indicated, another remark or two will not be out of place.
Immortality is not an end in itself, nor do we reach for it in blind and breathless panic. It is an opportunity for growth and development otherwise impossible, and it is consistent with our highest current values.
The prospect of immortality will strongly color our lives, and in some ways dominate them, but it will by no means exclude other influences. We remain the products of our conditioning. I myself, for example, have been near death more than once, and would face it again without hesitation for any good reason, such as danger to my family or country.
We must ever bear in mind the gulf between the logical and the psychological. It has been noted that the long view will tend to rule out all measures of desperation; but some acts of madness or irresistible impulse will remain. On the other side, heroism will remain available not only because we are specifically trained for it, but because the subjective value of immortality, while large, cannot approach its face value. This is easily seen by remembering the behavior of Christians: in logic, nothing what- ever is worth an eternity of hellfire, yet through the quirks of psychology countless millions are willing to be damned for the soke of paltry temptations.
Further, pondering of the problem of identity may convince some that extinction is nothing to worry about.
Finally, the steady workings of the process of natural selection will assure a continuing supply of heroes. A society without a sufficient percentage of risk-takers would scarcely be viable, let alone competitive.
These considerations also tie in with the misguided proposals that the freezer program be used as a eugenic sieve.
The Fallacy of Just-Freeze-the-Elite
One sometimes hears the naive asseveration, "Maybe we ought to save Churchill, but why should we save Joe Schmoe?"
The answer is easy, and comes in four parts:
1. Joe, after the future medicos work him over (although not necessarily immediately after resuscitation), will be just about as high-type and just about as useful as Sir Winston. He will no longer be the prisoner of his genetic inheritance.
2. If we are thinking in terms of rewards, perhaps Joe deserves first consideration, since Winnie has already licked a bushel of lollipops. Joe needs to be compensated for the sorry hand he was dealt the first time around.
3. The stratification of society is resented by the people in the lower strata. Even such trifling distinctions as those between master and slave, or between commissar and worker, are only grudgingly endured, if at all. The chance of the masses holding still for the vastly greater split between mortal and immortal is nil. The elite have a fairly simple choice: share immortality, or be torn limb from limb.
4. The benefits to all of society resulting from the long view depend on all of society sharing this view. The Golden Rule must know nothing of class or caste.
In short, the freezer program must embrace us all, with exceptions for minorities who voluntarily reject it. There will be a preliminary slipping and clashing of gears, but this must be kept to a minimum if the world's works are not to fall apart.
There is a saying: If the rich could hire people to die for them, the poor would make a good living. But our poor are not docile enough to be content with this kind of "living"; they will not build freezers for the rich, and then lie down themselves in slimy
graves. Hence there must be no excessive time lag between the private, pioneer programs and public, mass programs.
Beginning of the Freezer Era 1964?
In a sense, the freezer era has already begun, since conscious, purposeful activity in this direction is under way. There already exist, in late 1963, at least three organizations dedicated to furtherance of the freezer program, at least two of them legally incorporated. Many others can be expected to spring up shortly.
The freezer program is already a plank in the political platform of a congressional candidate, who now has the distinction of promising more than any other politician in history.
The grass-roots readiness, as indicated by my conversations and correspondence, is unmistakable - and oddly enough, it seems to have little or no relation to status or education; some poorly educated people are affirmative for the wrong reasons, and some scientists are against the program for emotional reasons. (There is wry humor in the predicament of any cryo-biologists who may not favour the program; the poor devils will have to hope for their own failure!)
The first human may be frozen before the end of 1964 that is, within a few months of publication of this book. (Possibly a few wealthy people have been quietly frozen already!) Thereafter, events will gather speed, and our medical, financial, and political leaders may find themselves in the fix of Robespierre during the French Revolution. Robespierre, the story goes, was relaxing in a cafe with a friend when a howling mob went racing by. He jumped up and ran for the door. His friend called, "What's the matter? Where are they going?" Robespierre flung back: "I don't know where they're going, but I've got to get in front. I'm their leader!"
Hopefully, the freezer advocates will not have the less appetizing characteristics of a revolutionary rabble, but they will be just as determined. After all, the prize is Life-and not just more of the life we know, but a wider and deeper life of springtime growth, a grander and more glorious life unfolding in shapes, colours, and textures we can yet but dimly sense. Large numbers of Americans and Europeans will soon come not only to perceive but to feel the vastness and the grandeur of the prize, and to understand that all other prizes, all previous goals, are secondary. Their demands cannot be long ignored.
These demands will be of two general kinds, and will be aimed, among others, at physicians, biologists, morticians, insurance men, bankers, legislators, and lawyers.
First, make available routine and regularly updated procedures for freezing those now dying, making the most of current means.
Second, provide massive scientific and financial support for accelerated research in non-damaging freezing methods, as well as for a complete range of ancillary facilities.
In 1964, there will probably be little or nothing available in the form of institutional help or standardized procedures, and courageous individuals will have to take matters into their own hands. Then, for the first time in the history of the world, it will be au revoir but not Good-by.
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