Our fourteen “Architects of the Culture of Death” have two things in common. On the objective side, they reject God, nature and the notion of the human being as a person who lives by knowledge and love. On the subjective side, they are guilty of an intransigent willfulness inasmuch as they accord a higher place to their own egos than to the order of creation. Their weaknesses are transparent; their ambitions, vain; and their logic is a mere house of cards. In sum, they represent a Culture of Death that rests on the shifting sands of a “false humanism.”
On the other hand, those who labor to establish the Culture of Life operate from a sound, personalist humanism, something we rightly refer to as anthropological realism. As persons, we know that our nature is not to be self-centered, but to be self-giving. We know that the order of creation is ours to discover and enjoy, not to re-invent and impose. We know that it is the truth that sets us free, and not something that must be deconstructed and relegated to the scrap heap of human history.
Life is a gift to be enjoyed, shared, safeguarded and advanced. The recognition of its imperfections animates our love so that we do not yield to the utopian temptation of creating a greater society out of our own petty dissatisfactions.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was an unashamed atheist and is considered the most pessimistic and woman-hating of all major philosophers. He believed that reality is a malevolent and capricious Will that dooms our lives to misery. The great historian Will Durant was not being intemperate or unfair when he said of Schopenhauer, “Given a diseased constitution and a neurotic mind, a life of empty leisure and gloomy ennui, and there emerges the proper physiology for Schopenhauer’s philosophy.”
Schopenhauer’s philosophy of will had an immense influence on Freud, Nietzsche and the contemporary school of unlicensed freedom of choice. His philosophy dissociated will from reason and thereby made it terrifying.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) took the will as the principle of existence. He regarded this will as the will for power because he saw life as a striving after power. When he was twenty-five years old, Nietzsche witnessed a marching battalion of soldiers, which gave him a vision that would become his lifelong philosophy: “I felt for the first time that the strongest and highest Will to Life does not find expression in a miserable struggle for existence, but in a Will to War, a Will to Power, a Will to Overpower.”
Nietzsche was an “unashamed atheist” who detested Christianity, charging that it advanced weak, feminine qualities like modesty, chastity and humility. Nietzsche admired the warrior and the conqueror, and much of his “Superman” thinking was later adopted by the Third Reich.
Nietzsche spent his final days in a mental institution, hopelessly mad and not even knowing his own name.
Karl Marx (1818-1883) identified himself throughout his life with Prometheus, the mythical figure who overthrew the gods and liberated mankind from tyranny. “I hate all the gods,” he declared. “I would much rather be bound to a rock, than to be the docile valet of Zeus the Father.”
Marx was a proud atheist who argued that once man is freed from the illusion of God, he is free to possess himself fully. He considered religion the “opium of the people.”
Marx helped inaugurate a grand socialist scheme through which he promised to lead the oppressed working class into an earthly utopia.
Marx welcomed violence as the irresistible means by which the oppressed could be liberated. He had scant respect for individuals and assumed that all members of the ruling class were evil and oppressive, while all members of the working class were innocent and good.
Auguste Comte (1798-1857) was a militant atheist who proposed “Humanity” as the only valid God. Comte had an unbounded enthusiasm for science and viewed the ultimate science to be social physics, or, using the term he coined, “sociology.” He wanted to re-organize society so that “our young disciples will be accustomed, from childhood, to look on the triumph of sociability over personality as the grand object of man.”
Comte himself possessed a colossal ego. He was dictatorial in the extreme and intolerant of anything in his new religion that he did not personally approve.
Comte proclaimed that “Love is my principle, Order is my basis, Progress my aim.” But tyranny was his outcome. Critics of Comte viewed him, at the apex of his career, to be a deranged madman.
Judith Jarvis Thomson
Judith Jarvis Thomson (1929-) is a philosopher at the Massa-chusetts Institute of Technology who has written the most widely reprinted essay not only on the subject of abortion, but also on any subject within all of contemporary philosophy. Her article has been the most frequently cited apologia for abortion.
In this article, “Defense of Abortion,” Thomson asks her reader to imagine waking up one morning and find oneself yoked to an unconsious violinist who has been kidnapped. The reader must remain plugged into this person for nine months in order to save the violinist’s life.
Dr. Thomson contends that a perfect moral similitude exists between the above situation and a woman who is yoked to an “unwanted” preborn child: Just as one is justified in unyoking oneself from the “unwanted” violinist, a pregnant woman is equally justified in using abortion to unyoke herself from an “unwanted” child.
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) is the most celebrated and most influential of all existential philosophers, bringing the word “existentialism” into common usage. Sartre’s peculiar brand of existentialism is atheistic. It incorporates a great deal of the irrational, while glorifying the absolutization of freedom.
Sartre refrains from ever referring to human nature or the human being. For Sartre, man is not man, nor is he any other nature. He is “freedom,” a “being-for-itself.” He declared that we are “nothing” before we can be “anything.” We are not anything in particular. We are choosers who exist, but do not yet have a nature or essence. We are, therefore, freedom.
For Sartre, there can be no reason to limit our freedom.
Simone deBeauvoir (1908-1986), long-time mistress of Jean-Paul Sartre and fierce advocate for abortion, is the intellectual matriarch for contemporary radical feminism. Her book, The Second Sex, is the most influential tract in the contemporary world on the subject of women’s liberation.
Despite her wide acceptance by feminists, deBeauvoir’s philosophy, by her own admission, is nothing other than that of her companion of fifty years, Jean-Paul Sartre, which is essentially misogynistic.
In deBeauvoir’s thinking, the female body is “sick,” a form of “slavery” and “nausea and discomfort.” She states that a pregnant woman is publicly ridiculed “because she is a human being, a conscious and free individual, who has become life’s passive instrument.”
Elisabeth Badinter (1944-) is a philosophy professor in France who continues the legacy of Simone deBeauvoir. “Women, you owe everything to her,” she declared, in a sweeping tribute to her model and mentor.
Badinter, also an atheist, extends deBeauvoir’s notion of existential individualism much further by absolutizing the ego. She imagines a utopian world in which the unfettered egos of men and women, no longer hampered by gender distinctions, build a future of liberty and peace.
She welcomes contraception, abortion, and reproductive technologies that liberate women from “reproductive servitude.” “Her enthusiasm for erasing the boundaries that formerly defined the sexes leads her to accept even the “right to incest.”
Much of what Badinter advocates is shocking. “Nevertheless,” she writes, “what is found disgusting today may perhaps be found desirable tomorrow.”
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the father of psychoanalysis, owes a great debt to Schopenhauer and Nietzsche for their philosophy concerning the irrational elements in man. Freud tried in vain to synthesize the irrational in man with the rationality of science. He promised freedom, on the one hand, but created a model that guaranteed chaos. He sought to understand man, but, in fact, reduced him to neuro-anatomy.
Freud saw himself as a great intellectual revolutionary. After Copernicus’ cosmological revolution, and Darwin’s biological revolution, Freud pioneered a third revolution, the psychological revolution.
Freud regarded religion as an enemy to science. He gave the religious believer a new name, a neurotic. Freud’s philosophy depersonalized and despiritualized man: Man cannot be happy or peaceful because his destrudo (instinct for destruction) and thanatos (death instinct) are unsurmountable.
Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957), more than anyone else, is deserving of the title, “Father of the Sexual Revolution.” Reich’s childhood was both lurid and deeply disturbing. “I was shocked,” he wrote, “to recognize the full extent of my hideousness.” He formulated a philosophy in which freedom would reign and authority would disappear. He became the first Freudo-Marxist, which is to say, that he wanted to heal both the individual from the oppression of the superego, and society from the oppression of authority. In a rare moment of lucidity, he wrote: “My life is revolution—from within and from without, or is it comedy?”
Reich’s abhorrence for authority led him to reject even the simple act of thinking. “I think, therefore, I am neurotic,” became his anti-intellectual, yet self-identifying logo. In Reich’s philosophy, thinking is a disease.
Helen Gurley Brown
Helen Gurley Brown (1922-) has done for females what Hugh Hefner did for their male counterparts. The hit television show, “Sex in the City,” is a trendy reincarnation of the book that launched Ms. Brown’s career—Sex and the Single Girl. One of her favorite aphorisms reads, “Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere.”
Helen is best known as the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, a post she retained for thirty-two years. When she left that position in 1996, Cosmopolitan was number six in newsstand sales among 11,475 magazines published, and number one for the sixteenth straight year at campus bookstores. Brown is currently supervising the 39 international editions of Cosmo, all of which are showing profits. Brown also fights to keep abortion legal.
Derek Humphry (1930-) was catapulted into prominence with the publication of his best-selling book, Final Exit, a manual on how to “self-deliver,” or commit suicide. He is also the main founder of the Hemlock Society, a pro-euthanasia society dedicated to the creed that each person has a “right to die.”
He married Jean Crane who, while in her forties, developed incurable cancer. In his memorial to her, Jean’s Way, he meticulously describes her suicide and his role in assisting her. His second wife also took her own life. In addition, Humphry assisted in the double suicide of her parents.
For Derek Humphry, physician-facilitated rational suicide is “the ultimate civil liberty.” Concerning his own final exit, he makes the following statement: “Should you use a clear plastic bag or an opaque one? That’s a matter of taste. Loving the world as I do, I’ll go for a clear one if I have to.”
Jack Kevorkian (1928-), a.k.a. Dr. Death, is the most notorious of the promoters and practitioners of medically assisted killing. “My specialty is death,” he says without apology. Time magazine writes of him, “With his deadly humor and his face stretched around his skull, he has become a walking advertisement for designer death.”
Kervorkian killed more than 100 clients. Finally, in an act of brazen defiance, he killed fifty-two-year-old Thomas Youk by means of a lethal injection before tens of millions of viewers watching CBS’s 60 Minutes. As a result of this act, Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to ten to twenty-five years in prison.
Peter Singer (1946-) currently holds the Ira W. De Camp chair of Bioethics at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Human Values. He is convinced that the traditional Western ethic built on the “sanctity of life” has collapsed. His book, Rethinking Life and Death, has been called the Mein Kampf of the pro-euthanasia movement, while its author has been dubbed “Professor Death” and compared with Josef Mengele. An advocate for the disabled calls Peter Singer “the most dangerous man in the world today.”
For Singer, an avowed atheist, life as a whole has no meaning. However, since some people prefer certain states of affairs to others, it may be possible for particular lives to be meaningful. It is this “preferred state” that justifies continued existence, and not the subject or person who has this preferred state.
Excerpted from Donald DeMarco’s book, Architects of the Culture of Death, co-authored by Benjamin Wiker and featuring a foreward by Judie Brown.