08 April 2021

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 11th April: Hate Culture,,,

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Hate Culture

The topic was proposed by Ines and in my essay I discuss the extreme
form of hatred that in past we used to call racism.

Hate Culture
https://www.philomadrid.com/2021/04/hate-culture.html

In the meantime you can link to the current news and notices here:
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/10/news-and-notices.html

-Alfonso has a new website and he gave us link to his latest book of
poems: Después

-Oscar's book on his reflections on COVID-19 is still available

-David J. Butler has published a new book "Absent Friends" regarding the
Cementerio Británico in Madrid

Finally if you have problems with Skype try launching it again if you
have the App or browser. Send me a message for the link.

Best and take care
Lawrence

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 11th April: Hate Culture

Hate Culture

 

Hate Culture   topic by Ines

Essay by Lawrence

 

The term Hate Culture (or the Culture of Hate) is really a modern term introduced to reflect human behaviour on social media. The ease to join a social media platform makes it even easier to find a topic to express and spread hatred. By implication, hatred speech varies from the mild to near criminal incitement. And of course, hatred can be directed for various reasons.

 

Except that the internet and social media is even more important for hate groups to mobilise and spread their hate in the real world. It is a mistake to assume that what happens on the internet does not have an effect in real life.

 

I shall, therefore, start by briefly try to understand what we mean by hatred. But my main concern will be about hate culture in politics today. Hatred is a natural phenomenon that we experience either as an emotion or even a mental disposition. In general we can say that hate is a product of someone doing harm to us: when it is serious we enter into a hate mode towards that person. And by us I mean both as an individual and a group. The harm itself might not be directed at us personally, for example we might just be victims of the system, this is not like being scared.

 

Just feeling hate should not be an alarming event in normal life, it is natural, the problem is when hate manifests itself into anger, aggression and violence. Hate need not be rational or logical, and political hate is probably more a case of group behaviour than wrong done to a single individual. What is clear about hate in a political context is that it becomes more intense the more we consider extremist views at the spectrum end of an ideology.

 

An important type of hatred for us is racism and xenophobia, when hatred is directed not to the individual but rather the race and origin of that person. In other words identifying the individual with the group identity usually based on superficial features.

 

We can understand hatred directed at an individual for harm done to us, but hatred based on race is something beyond emotional hatred. Racism seems to be very close to biological hatred rather than emotional hatred. I would argue that a biological trait, such as biological racism (hatred), is subject to evolutionary processes and would persist as long as it created an advantage. However, no matter how much a trait becomes redundant because of a changing environment, the trait might still be present anyway. By biological racism I mean something where the agent is violent against someone intruding on the group: for example nursing mothers in many animal species just pounce on anything outside her group when approached.

 

I would argue that racism in the 21st has no scope in human behaviour, on the grounds that today biological racism alone is not a threat to human beings. In other words there is no advantage being racist because today racial groups are quite diluted.  

 

One of the reasons is that the bonds of individuals with the group (ie race) are not as comprehensive as in the past. Today as individuals we depend on knowledge and tools developed in other cultures, other racial groups and by methodologies that have survived the test of time. A second reason is that racial groups are much bigger today probably due to the higher standard of living and easier communication. Thus the competition has move from group solidarity to individual intelligence. But most important is that racists societies run on pure xenophobic principles are biologically destined to fail because of inevitable inbreeding.

 

The Nationalist Socialists (Nazis) in 1939 were very close to categorical demise because of their inbred ideology at the very least: a similar situation exists today in England with the brexit supporters.

 

So why do we still find racism and racial hatred today? To be fair hate culture is not only about racism, but also about group identities: capitalists vs communists: science vs science sceptics:  mask wearers vs mask rejecters: and so on. But just because today there is no scope for biological racism it does not mean that biological racism has disappeared. Indeed today in most western societies there is no fear of genetic stagnation, but these past few years biological racism has been well exploited by those interested in power.

 

Today we know that racism, and specifically antisemitism, as a political tool was established with Nazis in Germany between the world wars. What is unclear is why specifically antisemitism for the Nazis when the Jewish population in Germany was well integrated in the German war machine and institutions: the political fight of the Nazis was against the inequity of the Treaty of Versailles and not the performance of the indigenous Jewish population during the war.

 

At the time of WW1 and before many Jews had to move to Western Europe including Germany, from Russia because of the pogroms: another antisemitic programme in Russia similar to the final solution in Germany. Today the influx of Syrians and other Middle Eastern (mainly) people into Germany have already established themselves in the country contributing to the German economy. And that after tacking into account the Covid effect.

 

This leaves us with the argument that a hate culture, and more precisely racism, is exploited by so called right wing parties to alienate the population to gain power and authority. Although I say right wing parties in reality it is any party that has seized and abused the democratic process of a country to control the population.

 

What is clear is that those who resort to some organised hate culture, their intentions are not necessarily honest. After all, the Nazis were dangerous not because they killed millions of people, but because they were very good at using language to manipulate law abiding people. Today we don’t have bombs falling on our cities but we still have the racist rhetoric in the West.

 

Best Lawrence

 

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813

Email: philomadrid@gmail.com

http://www.philomadrid.com

01 April 2021

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 4th April: Euthanasia (Spain)

Dear Friends

This Sunday we are discussing: Euthanasia (Spain)

We have already discussed the topic twice with the most recent in 2019.
But this time we are discussing the subject in the context of the recent
Spanish legislation establishing the individual right to euthanasia. The
situation is now different; the Spanish legislation can easily serve as
a model for other countries.

Euthanasia (Spain)
https://www.philomadrid.com/2021/04/euthanasia-spain.html

In the meantime you can link to the current news and notices here:
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/10/news-and-notices.html

-Alfonso has a new website and he gave us link to his latest book of
poems: Después

-Oscar's book on his reflections on COVID-19 is still available

-David J. Butler has published a new book "Absent Friends" regarding the
Cementerio Británico in Madrid

Finally if you have problems with Skype try launching it again if you
have the App or browser. Send me a message for the link.

Best and take care
Lawrence

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 4th April: Euthanasia (Spain)

Euthanasia (Spain)

 

Euthanasia (Spain)

Topic by Lawrence

Essay by Lawrence

 

We discussed euthanasia way back in February 2009 and February 2019; I include links below.

 

For a quick reference for the “Ley Orgánica de regulación de la eutanasia” I used the press release issued by Congress on the 18 March 2021 (1); from the press release (in Spanish) is a direct link to the history and progress of the law. The law will come into force 3 months hence and will be published in the Boletín Oficial del Estado.

 

I am not detailing the law since the press release is very clear and helpful what the key points are, besides the law has been well reported in the international media. Spain is the sixth country to legislate some form of a legal euthanasia law: New Zealand will follow later this year after a referendum (Wikipedia: Legality of euthanasia). The Wikipedia distinguishes between active voluntary legal euthanasia and legal passive euthanasia: our topic is mainly about active voluntary legal euthanasia.

 

An important point for our discussion is that Spain is listed (2) in the Numbeo index the sixth leading country in healthcare; UK 15th, USA 30th and Taiwan 1st. Of the preceding five countries in the Wikipedia article: no information is available on the Taiwan limited passive euthanasia (3); South Korea have both an active and passive euthanasia law; France no legislation; Japan no official law but sort of available; Denmark practiced but not official. And Spain now has a legal active euthanasia.

 

Our first question is given that 5 out of the six top healthcare systems officially or from practice give terminally ill patients the opportunity to die should we move the debate on euthanasia from should it be allowed to how should it be allowed? The Spanish legislation is clear about this question: for example it requires expressed informed consent, specific and repeated application with a grace period. The Spanish legislation qualifies the conditions regarding pain and type of illness that qualifies: this is not an issue and is within the expected conditions.

 

The Spanish legislation has some important conditions:

- The patient can change their mind at any time of the process; this process is part of the free healthcare process.

- Patients receive all the help and information they require to make an informed consent.

- Probably the second most important aspect is that medical personnel can withdraw from the euthanasia process.

- And the most important aspect is that this legislation establishes euthanasia as a “new right for the individual” (la eutanasia como un nuevo derecho individual).

 

One of the fears of euthanasia is that the patient might be influenced or pressed by people who might benefit from the death of the patient. The Spanish legislation, for example, mitigates this possibility by requiring two specific informed consents over a fifteen day period plus other requirements. A more complex issue is when the patients are no longer conscious and therefore unable to speak for themselves. The Spanish legislation provides an equitable protection by looking for documentation such as a “life testimonial” or an appointed representative to ascertain their intentions.

 

For us the most important issue is that this legislation specifically establishes an individual right of euthanasia. Note the right is not to legalize euthanasia at will in Spain, but rather the right is given to the individual Spanish citizen (and legal residents) after a qualifying process. This is important for us and it’s not just a matter of semantics.

 

Take for example the headline from Euronews (4), “Spain will become the sixth country worldwide to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide”. Practically all newspapers reported the passing of the legislation in these terms. This interpretation of the legislation gives the impression that euthanasia in Spain (and elsewhere) is an on-demand process. In effect euthanasia legislations are not a right to die (euthanasia) but a right to qualify for euthanasia.

 

Irrespective of the semantics, the Spanish legislation is clear that it is establishing an individual right to apply for euthanasia. And the qualifying test is a medical condition and when in doubt it requires prima facie empirical evidence (eg a life testimonial) to settle the issue.

 

But are euthanasia rights inalienable rights? Legislation like that in Spain giving us a legal right to start the qualifying process for euthanasia, but an inalienable right (also natural right: see Wikipedia: Natural rights and legal rights) are understood to be established by nature. Legislation and constitutions might fortify inalienable rights but not establish them. However, just because euthanasia rights are fortified does this mean they can be suspended or more, rescinded?

 

I would argue that if euthanasia is an inalienable right we must also have an inalienable right to die. Some might appeal to a divine intervention for our death and hence we don’t have a right to die. It is argued that we do not decide when to die in the same way that it is a divine will that we are alive in the first place. The problem with this argument is that we are empirical beings and we understand empirical causal events. And empirically we know how people are born, why they are born and the reasons why many more are not born. Empirically there doesn’t seem to be a right to be born, but we do seem to have an inalienable right to life.

 

In a manner euthanasia legislation is not a legislation to die but rather a legislation to protect life. And it protects life by making the qualification process for euthanasia very stringent and very precise. The fact that legislation on euthanasia is evidence based means that the context and knowledge driving the penitent’s desire to stop living are based on established standards. We might dispute that knowledge but we also cannot dispute pain.

 

As I said in my 2019 essay (5), “Pain in a huge motivator.” But pain is also a huge moral issue. The qualifying conditions for euthanasia are an example on how serious pain is for us. The euthanasia qualification test tries to establish the necessary conditions for euthanasia, e.g. type of disease or advancement of the disease, and sufficient condition of the level of pain. In the Spanish legislation a medical healthcare professional has the right not to participate in an euthanasia process and health authorities have to keep a confidential register to protect their right. Professional objection to euthanasia implies a higher standard to test qualification for euthanasia: assuming objection is based on rational arguments. For example not long ago we believed that comatose people were not conscious of their environment: MRI has demonstrated that this is not always the case.

 

This is a problem for euthanasia: a person’s inalienable right to die in our context implies someone else having to perform the deed of killing. This creates two issues. The first is that euthanasia puts medical professionals in the border line space between legitimate killing and murder although the legislation goes a long way prevent this. The second is: does a right to die justify suicide? You will excuse me if I do not discuss this question.

 

But the final moral question about euthanasia is this: who has the right to allow others to suffer the most horrendous of pain?

 

 

(1)  El Congreso aprueba la Ley Orgánica de regulación de la eutanasia
https://www.congreso.es/en/web/guest/notas-de-prensa?p_p_id=notasprensa&p_p_lifecycle=0&p_p_state=normal&p_p_mode=view&_notasprensa_mvcPath=detalle&_notasprensa_notaId=39150

(2)  Health Care Index by Country 2021
https://www.numbeo.com/health-care/rankings_by_country.jsp

(3)  Chih-hsiung Chen,Legislating the Right-To-Die With Dignity in a Confucian Society—Taiwan’s Patient Right to Autonomy Act, 42HastingsInt'l &Comp.L. Rev. 485 (2019).Available at: https://repository.uchastings.edu/hastings_international_comparative_law_review/vol42/iss2/4

 

(4)  Spain will become the sixth country worldwide to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide
https://www.euronews.com/2021/03/18/spain-legalises-euthanasia-and-assisted-suicide-despite-conservative-opposition

 

(5)  Is euthanasia ethically correct? https://www.philomadrid.com/search/label/Is%20euthanasia%20ethically%20correct%3F

 

 

Past essays:

 

(2019) Is euthanasia ethically correct?

https://www.philomadrid.com/2019/02/is-euthanasia-ethically-correct.html

 

(2009) Euthanasia

https://www.philomadrid.com/search/label/Euthanasia

 

 

Best Lawrence

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