Church of Euthanasia

The One Commandment:
"Thou shalt not procreate"

The Four Pillars:
suicide · abortion
cannibalism · sodomy

Human Population:
SAVE THE PLANET
KILL YOURSELF



Mark Dery Interviews Rev. Chris Korda

MD: You remark, in the Spiegel article, that "there are simply too many people on the Earth," which begs the obvious question: How many is too many? In other words, at what point, precisely, did the Earth become overpopulated, as opposed to merely populous, in your opinion? Your statement that there "too many" implies that some human population might be acceptable to you, as opposed to the far fringes of the Deep Ecology movement, where any human population is seen as a viral infestation that should be eradicated. Is humanity the problem, as the most misanthropic of the eco-radicals would argue, or is the conspicuously consuming, solid-waste producing lifestyle of the highly industrialized nations the culprit? If the latter, why don't you specifically target the so-called First World in your "Save the Planet--Kill Yourself" message? As well, why not call, like the Unabomber, for a return to a pre-industrial lifestyle, rather than the eradication of humanity itself, which is what your message seems to imply? Alternatively, if in fact you are calling for the extermination of Homo sapiens in the name of salvation of the planet, why frame the problem in terms of excess population--"too many people on the Earth"--rather than population, period?

RCK: Unlike some of its sister organizations--the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, for example, or the germ-warfare advocates at the Gaia Liberation Front--the Church of Euthanasia is not advocating human extinction, except possibly as a last resort. The Church is devoted to restoring balance between humans and the remaining species, through voluntary population reduction. Modern humans are out of balance, not only with the world, and with each other, but within themselves, in the sense of mass neurosis that Wilhelm Reich described. The restoration of balance will require a leap of consciousness within each individual; the day-to-day operations of the Church are a heartfelt--albeit Quixotic--attempt to provoke that leap, using the propaganda tools of industrial society.

Paleontology tells us that humans have existed in a recognizable form for at least two, and possibly as much as four million years. By contrast, the world-view that now dominates 99% of humanity was almost unknown 5000 years ago. The rapid expansion of the modern world-view follows not only writing and symbolic culture, but more importantly the transition from nomadic hunting and gathering to sedentary agriculture and its obsession with surplus. Daniel Quinn has aptly contrasted the tribal and modern views as those of "leavers" and "takers," implying that tribal humans, whatever their shortcomings, did not imagine that they were the sole purpose of creation and that earth should only grow food for them. Tribal world-views typically include a profound reverence for wilderness, a belief in the rightness of the natural world, and a marked preference for "being"--oral tradition, lore, ritual, shared experience--over "gaining" of material things.

Unlimited population growth is the inevitable consequence of a society based on "gaining", without regard for future generations, even of humans. The question is not when the earth became overpopulated, but when humans became unbalanced, and began to live in an unsustainable way. Most people agree that "taker" culture evolved--or devolved--out of "leaver" culture, but the change is almost always presented as a dualism, either as "progress" or "disintegration", depending on your point of view. Only two directions are considered, forward--towards progress--and backward, the "return to pre-industrial life" you mention. Could humans choose to live in a sustainable way, at a greatly reduced population, by rediscovering ancient wisdom, without abandoning their scientific advances? Possibly, but only if the industrial nations set the example, by drastically reducing both their populations and their consumption. This is why the Church explicitly targets that tiny percentage of humanity who reap the dubious material benefits of domestication: the technological elite, the users of the internet--in short, your readers.

MD: You were affiliated with the Unabomber For President group, UNAPACK, and have said that you're "very sympathetic" to his beliefs. Help me out: I'm having difficulty reconciling your Unabomber fandom with your stated opposition to "all involuntary population reduction." Thinning the herd through serial mail-bombing strikes me as "involuntary," at least for the luckless wretches who opened Ted Kaczynski's packages. Moreover, color me hopelessly humanist, but I fail to see the political virtue in blowing away someone like Hugh Scrutton, whose apparent crime against humanity was renting computers, or Gilbert P. Murray, an official of the California Forestry Association who wasn't even the Unabomber's intended victim. Don't you have some pause about a man whose campaign of terror seems one part ideology, nine parts sociopathology? Most of the Unabomber's victims were not, as you've asserted, "directly connected to either genetics or computer science." In addition to one geneticist and one computer-science professor, they included an advertising executive, a timber-industry lobbyist, an engineering professor, an airline president, a psychology professor's assistant, a university secretary, a school guard, and two computer store owners--hardly the power elite of the Industrial Society he railed against. How deep can the Deep Ecology run in a man who wrote in his diary that he had "no regret" that the wrong man--married and a father of two--was his accidental victim?

RCK: All worthy targets, when the goal is correctly understood. The Unabomber was not attempting to assassinate the "power elite" of industrial society, nor could he, since they are obviously too numerous and replaceable. The Unabomber was fighting a guerilla war against the media system, represented not only by the corporate fortresses of the New York Times and the Washington Post, but also by thousands of lesser protectors of the status quo, such as yourself. His strategy was to blackmail the media into publishing what would otherwise be unpublishable: a 30,000 word indictment of every aspect of the technological state, including specific advice on how best to destroy it, in what may prove to be its only moment of weakness. He chose his victims carefully for their symbolic value, leaving the media with little choice but to publish his manifesto, footnotes and all. It can be argued that the strategy was nonetheless a failure: the public largely ignored the manifesto, having already been cleverly persuaded that its author wasn't a sanctioned expert--despite his academic credentials--and could therefore be safely ignored. From this point of view even the relatively incoherent efforts of the Church of Euthanasia are more effective, because they are disguised as entertainment and therefore sell themselves easily without the need for blackmail.

Personally, I have neither the skill nor the disposition to be a successful guerilla, and in any case I'm already too well-known. I encourage voluntary population reduction in my official capacity, but as a private citizen, I applaud the courage and tenacity of those who do battle with the technological state, and occasionally win small victories, against impossible odds. Our global, industrial prison-state has six billion inmates, consumes unimaginable quantities of minerals, plants, and animals, and vomits a toxic soup of death into every remote cavity of this once-flourishing planet. American criticism of the Unabomber's violence seems especially surreal at this moment, as our B-52s reduce the urban population of former Yugoslavia to stone-age conditions. To think that such monstrous abuse of power can be corrected by nursing pacifist sentiments in the wilderness--or what's left of it--is simply naive.

MD: The CoE's rhetoric sometimes fudges the distinction between population reduction and pedophobia. Flamboyant baby-loathing, from Evelyn Waugh's revulsion at his own offspring to Debbie Goad's bilious Answer Me! screed, "Babies Are Dirty" ("Babies are dirty. Babies are disgusting...When I see a newborn, I feel nauseous."), is a tried-and-true vanguardist tactic for outraging the bourgeoisie. Given some of the CoE's fellow travelers--the career bad boy and Answer Me! publisher Jim Goad, the serial killer-worshipper Randall Phillips, both of whom make fleeting appearance in Snuff It--it's tempting to see the CoE as part of the venerable tradition of certifying one's credentials as a subcultural badass by scandalizing the squares.

RCK: No, Mark, I think you are the one most concerned about "certifying your credentials as a subcultural badass." I have no patience with smug academics who masquerade as cultural revolutionaries, or self-styled "culture jammers" who drape their feeble leftist sentiments in art-world jargon, the better to be pimped in trendy galleries. While there are undeniably too many of them, babies are natural enough. Pompous critics are truly dirty, and boring.

MD: Marvelous. I've only skimmed your last two responses, but they're every bit as spirited as I'd hoped--especially that blast of buckshot directed at "smug academics who masquerade as cultural revolutionaries, or self-styled "culture jammers" who drape their feeble leftist sentiments in art-world jargon, the better to be pimped in trendy galleries." Well worth the price of admission! (But I'm confused as to which I am, since I'm not an "academic"--I hold no degree loftier than a B.A., and have never taught--nor have I ever styled myself a "culture jammer." For the record, the trendiness of CB's gallery is right up there with short-sleeved suits and Whitesnake albums; I've pimped my feeble, jargon-encrusted leftist sentiments in far hipper cultural brothels, I must protest.)

Now, my last question; I look forward to a showstopping response, at least the equal of your answers so far.

As I understand it, the CoE's holiest commandment, "save the planet, kill yourself," is founded on the neo-Malthusian article of faith that the Earth's population is exploding exponentially, thereby straining the planet's presumably already groaning carrying capacity to the breaking point. The next millennium, the story goes, will witness environmental apocalypse and social breakdown--"suffering on a scale we can't even imagine yet," as you put it, Population Bomb nightmares that will make some wish they "had killed yourselves, because this planet is going to be a very grim and frightening place." The Church concedes the disproportionate environmental impact of highly industrialized societies--the exploitation of nature as an infinitely renewal raw material for capitalism's vicious cycle production and consumption. Nonetheless, the Church focuses almost exclusively on what it sees as the dire, almost apocalyptic need for population reduction, championing abortion as a social good and contraception as a global obligation. In so doing, it lays the full burden of social responsibility at the individual's doorstep.

The CoE's emphasis on individual choice, rather than corporate power and capitalist ideology, strikes me as a strategic error that leaves it tilting at windmills. Moreover, the misanthropy that lies just beneath the surface of the CoE's baby-loathing and breeder-bashing aligns it with the unhappiest of bedfellows--naked apologists for the power elite like Ehrlich, whose Population Bomb reels with Hieronymous Boschean visions of the overbreeding underclasses, like the swarming, locustlike masses glimpsed during a taxi ride through Delhi: "My wife and daughter and I were returning to our hotel in an ancient taxi. The seats were hopping with fleas.... The streets seemed alive with people. People eating, people washing, people sleeping. People visiting, arguing, and screaming. People thrusting their hands through the taxi window, begging. People defecating and urinating. People clinging to buses. People herding animals. People, people, people, people." Here, then, is Dorian Gray's true face, the racism, classism, and misanthropy that are too often hidden behind the dream of a pre-industrial, nay, pre-human Paradise Regained, a wilderness world emptied at last of the eating, washing, sleeping, visiting, arguing, screaming, begging, defecating, urinating masses. And the masses, naturally, are always the teeming, undifferentiated others--everyone, that is, but me.

RCK: I can certainly be described as misanthrope--or more correctly as an anti-humanist--but that doesn't make me racist or classist. In fact I oppose both on the same grounds that I oppose nationalism and humanism. Racists imagine they are superior to other races, classists imagine they are superior to other classes, nationalists imagine they are superior to other nations, and humanists imagine they are superior to other species. Globalists imagine industrial society is superior to all other cultures, hence the need to export it to every corner of the globe. The common thread through all of these, obviously, is superiority. Personally, I remain unconvinced of my superiority, despite years of expensive conditioning. I tend to view humans the way a being from outer space would view them: as a species, housed among many other species.

Overall, as a species, since, say, 500 B.C. or so, humans have been behaving oddly. They started by cutting down all the trees in their places of origin, often in order to make boats to spread themselves everywhere else. They have been amazingly effective at turning wilderness into human biomass, but until recently appeared oblivious to the long-term consequences of this strategy. Now that the consequences are abundant--in the form of climate change, topsoil loss, and toxicity--changes are being made, but for the most part they are half-hearted reforms, far short of the about-face that is so urgently needed. The tool-wielding apes--again, viewed as a species--are either sucking as hard as they can on the tit of industrial society, living in flamboyant denial of the limits of their environment, or seeking to do so as soon as possible, usually by going to war with their neighbors.

Thus the most prominent characteristic of the human species appears to be a lethal combination of arrogance and stupidity. The underlying problem is that humans think they are superior to everything else, when in fact--from the point of view of long-term survival--they are the least well-adapted social creatures on the planet, unlike the ants, who are much more likely to inherit the earth, as Paul Erlich has observed.

As you correctly point out, the Church of Euthanasia focuses primarily on population rather than consumption. It is also true that our message is only received by the elite of the industrial nations, who are leading the charge, in terms of consumption. So the question is, since most of the industrial nations are approaching population stability anyway, why do we focus on population?

Suppose you're a "good consumer." Let's say you recycle, buy "green" products, donate to environmental causes, and so on. You even limit yourself to one child, and you're determined to raise the child with values similar to yours, ensuring that he or she will carry on the good work of saving the earth for future generations. Now let's just say, for arguments' sake, that your child rebels against your middle-class, intellectual, politically correct conditioning, and winds up swilling beer in a trailer park, with three kids. It happens. And what guarantee do we have that those three kids are going follow in the noble footsteps of their grandparent? None whatsoever. Let's say one rises above his humble roots and becomes an investment banker, with a Porche, a house in the suburbs, and two fashionably dressed children. Another elopes with a biker, sets up shop in a nearby trailer park, and produces some less well-groomed specimens. The third becomes a priest and only has sex with boys--a partial success anyway.

Guess what? You just wiped out all the gain from your recycling, "green" consuming, and tax-deductible contributions. Not only did you wipe it out, you reversed it, many times over. How did it happen? It happened because individual consumption affects the future linearly, while procreation affects it exponentially. The impact of a single child on future generations can't even be approximated, because there are too many variables. It should be obvious by now why the Church is advocating massive voluntary population reduction in the industrial nations. We're advocating it because it's the only way the current generation can affect the distant future. It's just too late--way too late--for cutting back on consumption and hoping for the best. We can no longer afford to gamble on something as tenuous as the transmission of values from parents to children. We need to reduce the number of Americans, Europeans, and Japanese, as soon as possible, by at least a factor of ten, no matter what.

I also believe it's unreasonable to demand that people abandon all of their social conditioning at once. It's not just a question of giving up convenience. The people I'm reaching have, by and large, learned only the skills that are useful to industrial society--mathematics, logic, reading, writing, analysis, and so forth--and have absorbed the esthetics of industrial society--such as they are--in the process. I'm no exception to this. I identify strongly with technical culture, because it's all I know. If I were suddenly transported to the wilderness, even given friendly tribal neighbors willing to tolerate my ineptness, I would almost certainly go crazy. No amount of wishing would make me a tribal person, raised by oral tradition to love wilderness and survive in it easily. Deprived of usefulness, my experience would be similar to that of elderly people confined in nursing homes.

By comparison, not having children is hardly even a sacrifice, for me, or for most members of the technical elite. The decline of birth rates in the industrial countries only proves this point. Most people I know are much too busy answering e-mail and updating their web pages to raise children, even if they were willing to give up so much of their disposable income. The very rich continue to breed, in part because children have become status symbols, but more importantly because they can afford to pay others to raise their children for them. Leisure time is the holy grail of technological society, and is unlikely to be increased by procreation. It's possible that the elite will prove self-eliminating, in a kind of reverse Darwinism: population reduction via hedonism and sheer selfishness. From this point of view, the Church of Euthanasia is simply encouraging an existing trend, a reasonable strategy in any situation.

MD: As a "protector of the status quo" and gutless stooge for the manufacturers of consent, I usually fabricate my so-called "facts" outright, of course. But I'm feeling GiGi tonight, and have decided, just this once, to report empirically verifiable facts. Please assist me in my campaign for fairness and accuracy in mass mind-control by nailing down the following details:

1) What's your relationship to UNAPACK? Did you found it?

Unapack was founded and run by Lydia Eccles. I was merely a loyal campaign worker. I wrote some of the campaign literature, dealt with the media on numerous occasions, and accompanied Lydia to the New Hampshire primary and the Democratic Convention in 1996. I was also the Unapack poster girl.

2) Are you "Chris" or "Chrissy?"

Both.

3) Randall Phillips is listed as a "contact" in Snuff It #4. Why? What's the connection between him, or his thought and writings, and the CoE?

Randall's descriptions of humanity as a "Martian invasion" have much in common with my view from outer space described above. Humans are behaving like bacteria in a petri dish, and if nothing is done their fate will be similar. The main difference is that while he identifies "intelligent", aryan, male humans as superior, and presents himself as an example thereof, I don't share his optimism, and regard him--and myself--as part of the problem.

4) So are the Goads. Again, what's the connection?

The Goads have a flair for expressing the pervasive ugliness of modern life, and for linking the ugliness to neurosis and sexual abuse, in the most shocking and personal way. Again, we agree about the problems, but not about the solutions.



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