12 September 2021

coercive medical treatment is evil

I have nothing per se against any of the COVID vaccines currently being offered. Just so long as they go on being offered and freely taken up, rather than imposed.
   It is — or ought to be — a basic moral principle that no individual should be forced to submit to medical treatment.
   One can reasonably be prevented from doing something which has as a clear consequence the causing of harm to another individual. But no person should be penalised by the state (or by those acting under pressure from the state) because he fails to do something which might generate benefits, unless he has chosen a role which requires him to act in such a way (e.g. lifeguard).
   Even more obviously, no person should be forced to submit to an invasion of his body, simply because the invasion will allegedly benefit others. This would-be justification is on a par with other arguments that claim to legitimise the suffering of individuals by reference to the interests of society. Nazi government officials harassed and murdered Jews, or incited others to do so, on the grounds that doing so was in the interests of German society. Bureaucrats in Stalinist Russia helped to bring about the deaths of millions of Ukrainians, on the grounds that abolition of private farming was essential for the good of Soviet society. The idea that such measures could be regarded as being 'in the interests of society' now seems bizarre, but at the time the arguments proved compelling for many members of the elites.
   The supposed let-out in the case of COVID vaccination is that the vaccine will do no one any harm. But whether a medical intervention will have good or bad effects on a person ought ultimately to be for that person alone to judge.
   What does it mean to be coerced? Clearly if the law requires one to be vaccinated, as in Turkmenistan, that is coercion. If medical treatment is a condition of travel, there is an argument that we are dealing with a condition rather than coercion. If an employer, for reasons of their own, demands that an employee receive treatment and the power to do so was included in the contract the employee signed prior to employment, there is an argument that this is no more coercion than anything else required under the terms of a contract. (Note to trade unions: consider agitating against the use of employment contract clauses that provide this power.) However, if the employer is compelled by the state to require employees to receive treatment, as US President Joe Biden is proposing, then we are clearly dealing with state coercion, with the employer forced to act as agent of the state. People may in general be able to avoid travel without great hardship, but few can afford to give up their jobs.
   If our elites don't seem to give much weight to certain basic moral principles, or seem relatively uninhibited about displaying authoritarian tendencies, we should not be surprised. The elites are captivated by the belief that they only ever want the best for us and know what it is, a belief which just happens to fit with the expansion of their powers.
   Doctors and nurses who knowingly participate in coercive medical treatment ought to feel shame and guilt.