CPGB-ML » Posts for tag 'geraldine mcclelland'

Viva la vida

The article below is an opinion piece written by a CPBG-ML member as part of a wider discussion. The party does not currently have an official policy on this issue.

You may not have bothered with the item, but the News today is full of a terminally ill woman called Geraldine McClelland who went to Dignatas in Switzerland where she died by ‘assisted suicide’.

Before she “shuffled off this mortal coil”, Geraldine McClelland wrote an open letter demanding a law change so we can all commit suicide on the NHS. It would, after all, save the government a lot money if, when we got ill and unable to work, we all just killed ourselves.

Just think of the savings. Not only to the NHS, but dead people don’t get paid pensions (or DLA or ESA); they don’t need any of that expensive palliative care or home helps … the list of potential savings just goes on and on.

Geraldine didn’t put it in those terms; thinking only of her own situation she innocently talked about the right “to choose to take medication to end my life if my suffering becomes unbearable for me, at home, with my family and friends around me”.

It all sounds so very reasonable, so reasonable that a lot of otherwise apparently sensible and well-meaning people have been taken in by it. Who after all, wants anyone to suffer unbearably? Surely Geraldine McClelland is the only person who should decide if her life is unbearable?

No, she isn’t. Because Geraldine McClelland is not some fictitious Robinson Crusoe. She had, like we all do, responsibilities to other people as well as herself.

Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” (John Donne)

In our current bourgeois society it is no accident that Geraldine McClelland is paraded in the media; yet another in a long line of terminally and/or gruesomely ill demanding ‘the right to die with dignity’. It is part of a pincer movement with the ultimate aim of making the impoverished, no longer working, working class choose death.

On one side of the pincer, the ideological offensive to make suicide appear as a legitimate, even responsible ‘choice’. On the other, the steady erosion of benefits until poverty itself makes the old, weak, ill and vulnerable choose death because the alternative is hunger, cold and misery.

Geraldine McClelland would not recognise this scenario, as she was a middle-class woman with a good BBC job. To date, all the wannabe suicides coming forward on the media demanding the ‘right to die’ have also been middle-class and, to cut to the painful quick, too wrapped up in their own personal dramas to see beyond themselves to the wider social implications.

Harsh as it sounds when talking of the ill, middle-class wannabe suicides are the useful idiots of the bourgeoisie, and however sorry we may be at their individual physical plight, it must never blind us to the principle. Communists demand the right to live, not to die.

If I remember correctly, the cry Viva la meurte (Long live death) was one of the nasties screamed out by Franco’s troops in the Spanish Civil War. Our cry must always be Viva la vida (Long live life) and we must oppose all the arguments and moves to legalise euthanasia or assisted suicide under capitalism, where it will always be open to abuse and where killing people off makes economic sense.

For an alternative view on this topic read The right to choose death.