Tag Archives: William Lloyd Garrison

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The Constitution and Sectional Discord in the 1850s (2003) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: History, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 20, 2014
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2003 and published in four parts on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay earned over 3,700 page views on Associated Content/Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  ***
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~ G. Stolyarov II, July 20, 2014
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The 1850s were a time of intense escalation for a sectional conflict between the free-labor-based, industrial North and the slavery-based agrarian South. In this controversy, both sides claimed sanction for their point of view and vision of America’s political future from the country’s founding document, the Constitution. Thus, the nature of the highest law of the land turned it from a cohesive force into fuel for the coming clash between the North and South. The contents of and the omissions in the Constitution, as well as the greatly varying interpretations thereof, brought about this state of affairs.
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Multiple interpretations of the Constitution that fed into the crisis of the 1850s had existed since 1798, when Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions proclaimed that the Constitution and the Federal Government were the products of a compact amongst the states, and that the Federal Government’s legislation possessed no legitimate connection to the interests of the people unless verified by more direct representatives thereof (Norton 225).

This was the origin of the powerful new doctrine of States’ Rights, which Southern politicians would develop over the course of the next 63 years. During the Nullification Crisis of 1832, John Calhoun and other leading South Carolina politicians argued that a state had the right to overturn federal legislation, such as a deleterious tariff, which was passed without that state’s consent (Norton 383).

Following the immense territorial gains of the Mexican War, the issue of States’ Rights in the context of the status of slavery in the new territories gained even greater prominence. Lewis Cass, Democratic Presidential candidate in 1848, proposed the doctrine of popular sovereignty to enable the residents of a given territory to decide whether or not to institute slavery in the territory and in the state that it would become. Cass’s argument hinged on the notion that Congress did not have the Constitutional authority to legislate slavery in the territories (Norton 402).

Already this philosophy conflicted with a sentiment emerging in the North and expressed in the Wilmot Proviso of 1846, which sought Congressional action for the abolition of slavery from all territories gained from Mexico (Norton 400). By 1850, old political safeguards, such as the Missouri Compromise, which were designed to quell any discord in regard to the issue of slavery’s status in new territories, had begun to atrophy as the Compromise of 1850 legislated for California’s admission as a free state and the extension of slave status to territories such as Utah, which were North of the Missouri Compromise line (Norton 405).

During the 1850s, the safeguards to the relative stability of the Union during prior decades steadily began to crumble. The Compromise of 1850 sparked hostility from abolitionists, free blacks, and an increasing number of moderate Northerners via the enactment of a draconian Fugitive Slave Act. Stephen Douglas’s Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 dealt the death blow to the Missouri Compromise by outright annulling it and granting the residents of the Kansas and Nebraska territories the ability to decide the status of slavery therein by popular vote.

What resulted was a state of quasi-war known as “Bleeding Kansas,” in which over 200 people were murdered on both sides and dishonest election practices were rampant (Norton 413). In 1857, the Supreme Court itself addressed the issue of the Constitution in the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, ruling essentially that black Americans were not citizens of the United States and that Congress had no power to bar slavery from the territories (Norton 415). This ruling, along with the presence of a majority of Southern judges on the Court indicated that not even this ideally impartial body was exempt from the regional struggle.

The Constitution, indeed, was not a perfect a document, and some of the words and concepts therein left the political stage open to the enmity between the advocates of freedom and the slaveholders. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison wrote that, although the Constitution did not contain explicit mention of the words “slave” or “slavery,” it did implicitly and deliberately seek to legitimize the institution. Euphemisms such as “other persons” were used in the text, and the three-fifths clause, which counted every slave as three-fifths of a state’s inhabitant, entrenched the status of the slave as an inferior and inherently different being in the eyes of the law.

In addition, via the promise to aid states in the event of “domestic violence,” the Constitution could be interpreted to mandate Congress to suppress slave revolts (Norton 203). Such facts permitted Garrison to chastise the Constitution as an instrument of an oppressive government that violated the liberties naturally attributable to every man.

Abolitionists grew increasingly enraged in regard to the Constitution’s treatment of a slave as three-fifths of a person and the South’s disproportionate representation in the House of Representatives as a result.

To be fair, however, an alternate interpretation of the Constitution’s mentions of slavery can be argued. It was precisely because the Founders recognized the incompatibility of slavery with individual rights and wished to see its eventual extinction that they omitted any explicit references to slaves and instead unequivocally acknowledged them to be “persons.” Furthermore, the three-fifths compromise can be seen as a political necessity during the Union’s formation – as without it, there would have been little chance of getting Southern states to consent to the Constitution.

During the 1850s, while the Abolitionists in the North condemned the U. S. Constitution for its alleged support of slavery, Southern planters employed the Constitution’s perceived implicit sanction of slavery in order to claim protected or at least inviolable status for the practice.

An anonymous Georgian wrote in “Plain Words for the North” that the Constitution had recognized slavery where it existed and, since men from such regions had been pivotal in assuring the expansion of the United States into new territories, they should possess a voice in determining slavery’s status. If slaves were indeed property, as the Georgian claimed the Constitution to acknowledge, then it would be a grave injustice for Congress to prevent their mobility into land partly gained by the efforts of the slaveholders.

In the meantime, the Constitution itself did not in fact conclusively and unequivocally recognize slavery’s right to exist, as even slavery proponents like President James Buchanan seemed to recognize. In a message to Congress, Buchanan proposed an “explanatory amendment” assuring the perpetuation of slavery and reinforcing the Fugitive Slave Act. The fact that a similar clause was not present within the original document, along with the absence of a contrary clause abolishing slavery, indicated that the Constitution was ambiguous on the subject and open to a range of conflicting interpretations.

These conflicting interpretations of the Constitution further exacerbated the situation. Confederate President Jefferson Davis developed the argument of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions to its extreme and proposed that because the Constitution was a “compact between independent states” and because the process of amendment ratification heavily emphasized state sovereignty, the individual states maintained the ultimate authority to secede from the Union when they no longer deemed the compact advantageous.

Abraham Lincoln, expressing a diametrically opposite view, declared that no state had ever existed as a sovereign entity outside of the Union and that only by virtue of the national Constitution, formed within the framework of a federal Union, could the states claim whatever rights they possessed. By Lincoln’s analysis of the Constitution, States’ Rights could not be but subordinate to the federal authority that engendered them.

Both Lincoln and Davis harbored a fundamental respect for the Constitution, but their irreconcilable interpretations thereof helped establish them as the leaders of the opposing sides in the upcoming war. Ultimately, the “proper” interpretation of the Constitution on this issue would be settled by force and by blood.

In the North during the 1850s, many Americans perceived slavery as an inherent violation of the individual liberties that the Constitution was supposed to represent. The cartoon “Forcing Slavery Down the Throat of a Free-Soiler” dramatized this sentiment by depicting Democratic politicians shoving a slave into the mouth of a resisting free man who cries “Murder!”

Forcing_SlaveryMany Northerners feared that integrating free citizens and slaveholders was another ploy by the Slave Power, a Southern oligarchy bent on extending its domain over the entirety of the United States, intending ultimately to send even the free men of the North into tyranny by unconstitutionally silencing criticism of their actions via such measures as the Gag Rule of 1836, which automatically tabled abolitionist petitions brought before Congress (Norton 400).

But no measure demonstrated the reality of the Slave Power’s existence more than the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, which epitomized the Southern planters’ interpretation of the Constitution.

Chief Justice Roger Taney stated in a burst of historical ignorance that the Founding Fathers had never intended for black men to achieve equal status with the white population of the United States. Moreover, having won on the issue of popular sovereignty in the territories, the Southerners, with Taney as their spokesperson, were no longer content with the mere allowance of choice in the territories. Taney’s ruling amounted to an outright protection of slavery in the territories by barring Congress from limiting its spread (Norton 415).

If this were the true nature of the Constitution, then an increasing number of Northerners could not hope for it to preserve any semblance of liberty in the Union. Ruling on Dred Scott’s status as a slave, the Decision clothed the Fugitive Slave Act in Constitutional “justification” by affirming that presence in a free state did not free a slave.

Dred Scott also gave credence to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s association of Constitutional sanction with the Fugitive Slave Act when he denounced it in 1851. Emerson recognized the blatant immorality of legislation that would grant legal protection to the kidnapping of free black men and escaped slaves alike and would result in suicide for a country that deemed itself the home of freedom. Indeed, with laws and interpretations such as these, the conflict between the Northern and Southern ways of life was irreconcilable and could only erupt in blood.

South Carolina’s secession in December of 1860 set in motion the Southern interpretation of a Constitution dominated by States’ Rights, while the resulting Civil War and Lincoln’s use of 2.3 million federal troops to forcefully reunite the country demonstrated the Northern view which justified use of central authority on the grounds of national unity and individual liberty (Norton 461).

Ironically, the secession of the South permitted Northern Republicans to employ Congressional legislation (and the absence of Southern opposition) as a means to firmly establishing their own interpretation of the Constitution.

In 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified, assuring that slavery would exist no more and ending the dispute over its status in the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment of 1868 guaranteed that all men born or naturalized in the United States were citizens of their respective states and entitled to inalienable individual rights, thus overturning the Dred Scott Decision. Despite the fact that the contents, omissions, and possibilities for opposing interpretations within the Constitution greatly fueled the discord of the 1850s, the document was ultimately perfectible through the amendment process to the extent of assuring a just resolution to the ideological facet of the nation’s greatest inter-regional conflict.

Source

Norton, Katzman, et. al. A People and a Nation. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.

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Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong – Video by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Art, Education, Politics, Science, Technology, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Without intending it, Patrick Henry communicated a truth that is becoming increasingly apparent in our era: we can one day be truly free if humans achieve indefinite life extension; without it, we will be both unfree and eventually dead. Within our lifetimes, we will either have liberty and no death, or death and no liberty. We cannot have both liberty and death.

Donate today to the fundraiser to Help Teach 1000 Kids That Death is Wrong.

References
- Death is Wrong on Amazon
* Paperback version
* Kindle version
- Death is Wrong Official Home Page

- “Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
- “Liberty Through Long Life” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
- “Life Extension and Risk Aversion” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
- “How the NSA Plans to Infect ‘Millions’ of Computers with Malware” – Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald – The Intercept – March 12, 2014
- “Longevity Escape Velocity” – Wikipedia
- SENS Research Foundation
- Movement for Indefinite Life Extension Facebook Page

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Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong – Article by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Art, Education, Politics, Science, Technology, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
March 14, 2014
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Do you wish to actually live in a free society, rather than just ponder what one would be like? For some, the desire to live in liberty is so strong that they would echo Patrick Henry’s immortal words, “Give me liberty or give me death!” More than just those words should be immortal; in fact, you should be. Without intending it, Patrick Henry communicated a truth that is becoming increasingly apparent in our era: we can one day be truly free if humans achieve indefinite life extension; without it, we will be both unfree and eventually dead. Within our lifetimes, we will either have liberty and no death, or death and no liberty. We cannot have both liberty and death.

Death is Wrong is my new children’s book on indefinite life extension, beautifully illustrated by my wife Wendy Stolyarov.  The book is an educational primer which presents, in a concise, accessible manner the philosophical desirability and scientific feasibility of lifting the upper limit on human lifespans through the application of science and medical technology. We are currently in the midst of an Indiegogo fundraiser to spread this book to 1000 children, free of cost to them.  Death is Wrong does not take any political positions and does not advocate specifically for libertarianism, since we seek to focus on life extension in the book and to attract as universal a base of support as possible. It is certainly feasible to hold almost any political persuasion and to advocate the radical extension of human lifespans. Yet I, as a libertarian, see the defeat of senescence through medical progress to be an indispensable component to achieving liberty.

Death is Wrong - by Gennady Stolyarov II, Illustrated by Wendy Stolyarov

The U.S. Declaration of Independence proclaims that humans have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While the right to life is a negative right – the right not to have others infringe on one’s life – it is nonetheless indisputable that the positive condition of life is the prerequisite for the exercise of any kind of liberty and the pursuit of any kind of happiness. If one is dead, there is nothing – no choice, no growth, no self-actualization – and not even a memory of any past deed or previous fulfillment of one’s goals. Without life, liberty is impossible, and yet biological decay propels us all toward the loss of the very potential for liberty. Death obliterates everything: our precious individual universes, full of sensations, insights, thoughts, and aspirations are forever snuffed out, deprived of the possibility of ever fulfilling any goal or actualizing any ideal.

In “Liberty Through Long Life” – written in April 2013 – I described the possibilities for improving the prospects of liberty just on the horizon, facilitated by accelerating technological progress – from emerging methods of online education to cryptocurrencies to seasteading and space colonization. I explained that libertarians should want to live as long as possible in order to see and benefit from the fruits of these tremendous innovations.

Just two months after I wrote “Liberty Through Long Life”, most of us in the Western world found out just how unfree we truly were. Especially in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency and its counterparts in many Western countries are spying indiscriminately on hundreds of millions of innocents, it has become apparent that the political struggle for liberty in today’s climate has encountered barriers that appear, at present, virtually insurmountable. I am not referring to failure to achieve the libertarian political ideal or even a directional approach toward such an ideal – despite the ardent, passionate, unquestionably dedicated work that activists for liberty have done during and between the past several election cycles. The situation today is worse than that. Even abolishing the Orwellian spying apparatus and penalizing those officials who concealed and then endorsed it appears to be seen as out of the question by the political elite, no matter how great the pressure from the public and how completely useless the mass spying has turned out to be. More than ten months after Snowden’s revelations, all of the powerful people who orchestrated the mass surveillance remain in their offices, and Snowden is a fugitive in Russia. Now it has even been disclosed that the NSA has devised programs to harvest data from private hard drives, webcams, and microphones by infecting personal computers with malware in mass. Can we expect to see an end to what we would have, just one year ago, considered an unimaginably intimate surveillance – or, more likely, will the gatekeepers of the current political order assemble all of their power in the effort to perpetuate it? Achieving mere non-perversity – not to mention liberty – as an immutable principle for contemporary Western political arrangements to follow, would appear to be a Herculean task.

Yet I do not intend to undermine hope. Eventually the world improves, and old oppressions dwindle away. Yet “eventually” can be a long time. It took millennia to put an end to the legal institution of slavery, and during the early 18th century it seemed firmly rooted in the Western world. Yet forward-thinking outliers – from the Quakers to the Enlightenment philosophes – recognized its depravity and articulated the moral case for abolition back when slave labor seemed to be inextricably integrated into the most influential economies and systems of production. William Lloyd Garrison, the great 19th-century abolitionist, recognized that the push to end slavery as soon as possible was necessary to see it ended at all. He wrote, “Urge immediate abolition as earnestly as we may, it will, alas! be gradual abolition in the end. We have never said that slavery would be overthrown by a single blow; that it ought to be, we shall always contend.” [1] Slavery was ultimately abolished through a long sequence of often highly sub-optimal steps – but, were it not for the uncompromising immediate abolitionism of people like Garrison, it might not have been abolished at all, or at least would have been abolished much later. If we argue for liberty today, it will still likely take decades of the most ardent advocacy and activism to undo the harms caused by ongoing and escalating infringements of every natural and constitutional right of even the most law-abiding citizens. Therefore, while I support every effort – conventional or radically innovative – to move our societies and governments in the direction of liberty, it is essential to recognize that the success of such efforts will take an immense amount of time. If you do not remain alive during that time, then you will die without having known true liberty.

Yet we should urge not just the immediate abolition of oppression – but also of death itself. The forward-thinking outliers today – thinkers in the transhumanist and life-extension movements – recognize that transitioning from today’s medical system to one in which humans could achieve longevity escape velocity – where every year lived increases life expectancy by more than one year – will likely take decades of the most dedicated efforts in research and advocacy. Dr. Aubrey de Grey of the SENS Research Foundation, one of the foremost advocates of indefinite life extension, thinks that there exists a 50% chance of reaching longevity escape velocity in 25 years, with adequate funding. Yet, in order to catalyze the culture to embrace, or at least not oppose, the research projects and medical therapies needed, the sentiment that the abolition of death for innocent humans is desirable yesterday is imperative. This is a sentiment with which libertarians can find a close kinship, for they know well the desire for liberty to be here yesterday. This does not mean that we should forsake long-term plans or disdain incremental improvement in lifespans or medical treatments. Quite the contrary, the achievement of the great goal of preserving each innocent life will be made out of a long sequence of such incremental improvements that will save an increasing proportion of people with each new feat of progress. But we should also strive to greatly accelerate progress in biogerontological research and medicine, so that the breakthroughs can come in time to save us and those whom we cherish.

Educating the next generation to work with full dedication toward both liberty and immensely longer lifespans is a key component of this new abolitionism of the 21st century. Every bit of liberty achieved for medical innovators and cutting-edge researchers in biotechnology and nanotechnology will be a boon to the rate of progress. Every bit of lifespan extension will give activists for liberty more time to reverse Western political systems’ gallop toward totalitarianism, or to develop innovative workarounds that bypass the political systems altogether. Death is Wrong breaks with the prevalent traditional approaches of teaching children about death – approaches which either attempt to justify death through arguments that devalue the moral worth of human life entirely, or else endeavor to persuade children to resign themselves to an inevitable if regrettable end and to fill their time with other pursuits to get the thought of death out of their minds.  Instead, the book confronts the predicament of human mortality head on and shows young readers that death is neither insurmountable nor just; instead, it can be defeated, albeit with great effort. My hope is that enough young minds will be motivated by Death is Wrong to acquire the skill sets in science, philosophy, and advocacy needed to accelerate the arrival of indefinite longevity. More generally, I hope that the book will challenge children to break from conventional packages of thinking and engage every single idea critically and actively, eventually arriving at practical and moral worldviews based on principles that correspond to reality rather than the surrounding majority opinion.

Every day approximately 150,000 humans die throughout the world – 100,000 of them from diseases of senescence. Every day by which we can hasten the arrival of indefinite longevity, at least 100,000 precious individual universes will be preserved and will be able to join us in contributing their ideas and actions toward a free, just, humane society that respects and protects the rights of every individual. The contribution of indefinite life extension to human survival rates will likely even be beyond the gains reached solely due to medical progress. As I explained in “Life Extension and Risk Aversion”, the longer people’s lifespans and time horizons become, the more conscientiously they will seek to avoid or diminish physical hazards that could deprive them of hundreds or thousands of years of expected life. Exceptionally long-lived humans will work with far more intensity to reduce the prevalence of accidents, infections, natural disasters, crimes, wars, and – yes – politically motivated physical harm. A society comprised of such young supercentenarians would quickly become one of libertarians.

Libertarians can help by joining the movement for indefinite life extension and supporting the fundraiser to spread Death is Wrong to 1000 children – the next generation whose work may well enable us all to live in true liberty one day. May we have liberty – and defeat death!

[1] Quoted in William H. Pease and Jane H. Pease, eds., The Antislavery Argument (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1965), p. xxxv.

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Why I Wrote a Children’s Book on Indefinite Life Extension – Article by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Art, History, Philosophy, Science, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
December 21, 2013
Recommend this page.
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My greatest fear about the future is not of technology running out of control or posing existential risks to humankind. Rather, my greatest fear is that, in the year 2045, I will be 58 years old and already marked by notable signs of senescence, sitting at the kitchen table, drinking my morning coffee, and wondering, “What happened to that Singularity we were promised by now? Why did it not come to pass? Why does the world of 2045 look pretty much like the world of 2013, with only a few cosmetic differences?” My greatest fear is that, as I stare into that mug of coffee, I would recognize that it will all be downhill from there, especially as “kids these days” would pay no more attention to technological progress and life-extension possibilities than their predecessors did. My greatest fear is that they would consider me a quixotic old man, fantasizing about a future that never was, while they struggle to make ends meet in an ever-more hostile economy (which would look much like our own, except farther along in the sequence of gradual decay, because nobody cares), strangled by labyrinthine restrictions arising out of Luddism and change-aversion within the widespread society. In short, my greatest fear is that our present will be our future, except that I and the present generation of longevity activists will lose our youthful vitality and will ourselves be rapidly approaching the abyss of oblivion.

So I needed to do something. I am not a doctor or biologist, but I did vow at the age of five that I would devote my life to the struggle against senescence and death – so I needed to make good on that promise. My articles, videos, and occasional donations to life-extension endeavors are all well and good, but I also wanted to make a unique contribution that could turn the tide of cultural attitudes toward life extension and toward death itself. After years of brainstorming and months of concerted activity on the part of both me and my wife and illustrator Wendy Stolyarov, the result is Death is Wrong – an illustrated children’s book on life extension that is the first of its kind.

Death is Wrong - by Gennady Stolyarov II, Illustrated by Wendy Stolyarov

Death is Wrong – available in both paperback and Kindle editions – fills an important void. Virtually everyone learns about death as a child, and the initial reaction is the correct one: bewilderment, horror, and outrage. Yet there has been no resource to validate these completely correct first impressions. Almost immediately, the young ones are met with excuses and rationalizations, so that they might be consoled and return to a semblance of normalcy. Over millennia of facing indeed inevitable demises, humans have constructed elaborate edifices of rationalization, designed to keep thoughts of death from intruding upon their day-to-day lives. While understandable in eras when technological progress could not have been expected to attain radical life extension (see Benjamin Franklin’s famous lament that he was born too soon), today such evasions of the grave wrong of death are among the most counterproductive attitudes imaginable. Now that technological progress could bring us into the bright age of indefinite longevity within our lifetimes, every atavistic remnant of the old death acceptance poses a barrier that must be surmounted. The fewer barriers life-extension progress encounters, the faster indefinite lifespans will arrive for us; the more of us will be preserved from oblivion.

While transhumanists and life-extension advocates have made headway with conveying their aspirations for the future to some of the most technically educated and philosophically inclined adults, the mainstream of society remains pervaded by the old death-acceptance arguments – religious and secular: from the fear of “playing God” to the specter of overpopulation. Every mind held captive by these traditional and Malthusian pro-death prejudices is a mind that will at best not help life-extension progress and at worst hinder it greatly – a higher likelihood for the most intelligent purveyors of the death-acceptance mindset. People who embrace these notions and find them credible (despite the relative ease of debunking them using logic and evidence) largely do so because the fallacies were ingrained into them since childhood, with no counterarguments being presented or even posited as conceivable. So, if the antidote to these fallacies is to be most effective, it must be administered in childhood.

Death is Wrong will be easily understood by most eight-year-olds, though my aim is to encompass as young an audience as possible. The beautiful and detailed illustrations will help keep young minds engaged as they read about long-lived organisms found in nature, as well as the great advocates of life extension from the past and the present (featured in the book are Francis Bacon, Benjamin Franklin, Marquis de Condorcet, Friedrich Nietzsche, Alan Harrington, and Aubrey de Grey). The book discusses successes in animal life extension, along with providing a concise introduction to Dr. de Grey’s SENS program and the seven principal types of damage that must be addressed in order to reverse senescence. Parts of the book are autobiographical: they describe my own experiences as a child finding out about death and vowing to combat it. The book also focuses of refuting the common pro-death rationalizations and presenting young readers with all of the amazing opportunities and possibilities that can only exist if humans live much, much longer than is presently the case. At the end is a call to action and a list of further resources for young readers to find out more and to become involved with the life-extension movement.

Some may question my tactic of assailing death itself directly – an approach that strikes at the very attitudes enabling acceptance of the Dragon-Tyrant in the room (not the elephant, because elephants are largely innocuous). Yet this is not the time for prevarication or for dampening the rhetoric to the point where one only advocates greater “healthspans” or “compression of morbidity” or any incremental stopping place for progress. While the achievement of indefinite lifespans (and functional immortality, through improvements to the safety of humans’ environment and to the institutional incentives to avoid violence) will not come all at once, and incremental discoveries and lifespan extensions will certainly be the process leading to the goal, the goal itself – defeating death – should not be forgotten or dismissed. The grave wrong of death is worse than that of slavery – once a ubiquitous institution that every society took for granted. William Lloyd Garrison, the 19th-century abolitionist, recognized that the way to get slavery to disappear was to emphasize the feasibility and desirability of its complete eradication: “Urge immediate abolition as earnestly as we may, it will, alas! be gradual abolition in the end. We have never said that slavery would be overthrown by a single blow; that it ought to be, we shall always contend.” [1] Truer words were never spoken when it comes to the abolition of innocent human death. For those of us life-extension advocates who cannot participate in the research directly (other than donating money and other services to aid the researchers), the most promising path to follow is the example of William Lloyd Garrison. We should emphasize the urgency, the moral necessity, the undeniable justice of abolishing the death of innocent humans as soon as possible. We need to transform the culture so that it comes to reject death much as it was transformed to reject slavery after millennia of blithe acceptance. Then the research funding will flow, the votes and political rhetoric will follow, and even theologies and philosophies will be reinterpreted to view the fight against death on Earth to be the natural conclusion of every religious faith and secular ideology.

The spread of Death is Wrong to children is just one piece of the strategy of advocating for the abolition of the death of innocents. I would admire and embrace every activist project – including other children’s books – aimed toward this same cultural transformation. For those who have been wondering how they personally could contribute to the prospects of achieving indefinite longevity within our lifetimes, I hope that this book offers inspiration as well as some concrete possibilities for action. Even a single pro-longevity activist in a community could make a tremendous difference by donating copies of Death is Wrong to libraries, schools, bookstores, and children’s activity groups – or directly to children with whom the activist is acquainted.

Perhaps, if enough of today’s children read Death is Wrong, they would not view us life-extension advocates as hopeless oldsters lost in unattainable fantasy, thirty-two years into the future. Rather, they would be young alongside us, working to build a human civilization truly worthy of the name – one that is permeated by peace, prosperity, virtue, and a striving to ceaselessly progress as humankind comes to inhabit, develop, beautify, and ennoble the universe at large.

[1] Quoted in William H. Pease and Jane H. Pease, eds., The Antislavery Argument (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1965), p. xxxv.