Extreme Metaphor and Limits

October 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

There has been in recent years a boom in surrogate motherhood in India. The ethical concerns surrounding this phenomenon are numerous. Allowing for an extreme moral relativism and putting aside one’s own gut revulsion, it is very hard to imagine this fact/state as an aim, say, of a progressive agenda. A more egalitarian earth we hope, will surely erase the sort of inequality and poverty which sustains such a boom.

Mother Armenia, Mother Svea, Mother Bengal, … there are quite a few mothers personifying nations around the globe. Its not too difficult then to see the period in which a nation’s resources are spent on its citizens to educate and nourish them prior to their entrance into labor market as a gestation of sorts. A mass-preganancy funded variously through a nation’s resources (via taxes or wealth from natural resources within a nation’s territory).

The arguments by pro immigration lobbies in Europe – citing demographic problems or research, affirming economic benefits of a large influx– in a sense too, sound much like the sort made to highlight the pros of surrogacy. Those have mainly been, the fact that surrogacy enables infertile couples to fulfill a dream, and that it gives an opportunity to some women to climb out of extreme poverty.

But what if anything, is the fruit of this metaphor? Can we for instance speculate that global policy with regards to Near East by fueling increased misery has enabled macro surrogacy?

Robert Aumann in a talk titled “Who Are the Players?” listed some implications of viewing collectives such as nations as agents in game theoretic sense.

“Full World” analysis of game situations and moral judgement of collectives, he reckoned, may be possible. Akin to viewing pairs of European nations with low fertility, implanting Near Eastern nations with a cocktail of chaos (via Nato bombings and export of ISIS volunteers) whilst maintaining a self-posture of welfare and tranquility.

Perhaps one can conjure the famous Coleman’s Boat or Bathtub, where arrows of causality may, if traced, ascertain blame or moral depravity on macro scale, but would it really float?

Let us consider a number of ethical questions regarding surrogacy, and see if the individual subject and object can possibly be replaced by collectives.
– To what extent is it right for society to permit women to make contracts about the use of their bodies?
Can the community of nations permit some to, if not to make contracts enabling an exodus, enter arrangements which would make it inevitable …for this to make any remote sense, the analogy should be restricted to economic migrants, …These too have mostly never needed the permission from the nation from which they depart …
Should the state be able to force a woman to carry out “specific performance” of her contract if that requires her to give birth to an embryo she would like to abort, or to abort an embryo she would like to carry to term?
Its not of course the case that developed nations with demographic problems are entering into agreements with less developed countries, who then have to tearfully forgo their claim on the working age youth they nurtured….But considering the enthusiasm shown by Europe as a collective in removing structures of minimal order in Libya and Syria …one is tempted to retain bits of this metaphor.
There is also empirical evidence that transferring parental rights does not annul but rather it conceals the existing parental bonds between the gestational mother and her child. In order to make it easier for her to relinquish the child, she must invoke a number of “cognitive dissonance reduction strategies”
Mother Russia or Kartvlis Deda might never lose their love and attachment to their respective expatriates. Macro moms would surely rejoice when a person from their collective womb makes it big in the new family …this while true in a banal sense, contains none of the trauma of the scenario at individual level.

Anthropomorphic or zoomorphic maps such as the two below, quite popular in late 19th and early 20th century, sort of encapsulate both the charm and limits of such narratives. Collectives personified in such style while amusing cover more than they expose.

Angling in Dangerous Waters, 1889

Angling in Dangerous Waters, 1889

L’Europe Animale, 1882

L’Europe Animale, 1882


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