US Stem Cell Policy Inspired by Anti-Authoritarian ScifiS

You may have been wondering why President Bush vetoed bills that would have authorized government funding for stem cell research that could lead to cures for everything from Alzheimers to paralysis. Apparently it's partly due to reading parts of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, a classic 1930s scifi dystopia about a world where the government genetically engineers everyone to be obedient workers. What's hilarious is that Huxley was a leftist, and he would have despised Bush's anti-science policies.

What was it in the novel that made Bush change the course of the nation's scientific research, putting the U.S. several years behind Europe and Asia? Apparently Bush adviser Jay Lefkowitz read the President a passage from the novel about genetically-engineered babies being grown in womb factories and Bush got really quiet and upset. He seemed to think there was a direct connection between stem cell research and wholesale government control of future generations' genetic code. What he didn't realize was that the genome hacking in Brave New World is actually done to prevent the need for welfare and other pesky social programs that Bush hates — all the working class people are designed to be strong, stupid, and enjoy manual labor so they never get annoyed by working at McDonalds. And they never demand libraries or healthcare.

Just goes to show that you can write a leftist scifi critique of government authoritarianism, and still wind up inspiring the very authoritarians you hoped to undermine. Maybe Huxley will have the last laugh, though. By retarding our progress in medical science so much, Bush has probably done more to make the U.S. irrelevant to the future than any other leader has. (Except perhaps Reagan, whose military policies were inspired by Star Wars.)

Dystopian Scifi Shapes White House Stem Cell Policy [via Carpetbagger Report]