Tyrants would live forever

I hope you will forgive me if I cannot keep a straight face at this objection, but once you’ll be done reading this article, I’m sure you’ll share the feeling.

The ‘everliving tyrants’ objection can be summarised in the following way. If we created rejuvenation, you can bet that tyrants and oppressors would use it to live ‘forever’ and perpetuate their dictatorship indefinitely. So, for the sake of avoiding this undesirable scenario, maybe it would be best not to develop rejuvenation at all?

Well, let’s see. What would happen if we didn’t develop rejuvenation? On the plus side, any tyrant would eventually die of old age. On the minus side, so would nearly everyone else on the planet, and let’s not forget they would also spend their last years in a state of increasing misery and disease. Given that the ratio of tyrants to normal people is quite small, this appears to be a pretty bad deal.

Well, but maybe it’s bad only for people who don’t live under the tyrant; surely, those who do live under the tyrant would be glad to know that sooner or later the tyrant would finally die? Not exactly. I suspect people who live under a tyranny are more interested in ending the tyranny than in ending the tyrant. They wouldn’t have it much better if the tyrant died but the tyranny continued—for example because the tyrant left around a heir to carry on the family business in the same if not a worse fashion, which is not at all an unlikely scenario if the original tyrant lived long enough to die of old age. On the other hand, if the tyrant was still alive but had fled away and his regime had been replaced with a democratic republic, the formerly oppressed people wouldn’t get their revenge, but hey—freedom!

Up to this point we have resolved that not developing rejuvenation to prevent tyrants from living ‘forever’ would be throwing the baby away with the bath water on a planetary scale and that it may well end up achieving nothing, except maybe the replacement of the old tyrant with a new and possibly worse one. If this sounds bad, just wait and see how much worse it can get. If you have the problem of a country under tyranny, your primary objective should reasonably be that of shortening the existence of the tyranny as much as possible, which in turn is more frequently achieved by shortening the existence of the tyrant and all his possible successors and less frequently by somehow forcing them to flee. Either way, waiting for the tyrant to die of old age is not a very effective strategy to achieve this result, not only because it would not shorten the tyranny as much as possible (the tyranny would be shorter if the tyrant was shot dead at age 40 rather if he was than killed by heart disease at age 80), but also because while we waited for the tyrant’s heart to stop, all the people he ruled over had to keep enduring his regime—plus the diseases of ageing for those who were old enough. Again, in addition to that we must take into account the likely successor to the tyrant and the fact the rest of the world would still be suffering from and dying of ageing for essentially no good reason. Summed up, not developing rejuvenation would not rid anyone of the tyrant, it would not prevent a heir to continue the tyrant’s work, but it would force everyone on the planet to continue suffering from age-related diseases.

Bottom line: The baby would be grateful if we didn’t throw it away with the bath water and cured ageing instead. To get rid of tyrants, the baby recommends to send a task-force to dispose of them by whatever means required, possibly as a concerted effort of other countries. Best results are achieved if done before the tyrants die of old age. 😉

leafImmortal dictators answered on LEAF
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