Cloning is the world wide web of the biotech age, where crazy and perverse desires are able to find expression.
For money, to gain or maintain power, to right past wrongs, or to promote ideology, plans are being made, dreamed, to bring historical figures out of non-existence so their flesh can dress ideas.
Due to the recent rapid advances in cloning procedures, these fantasies, whose barrier to manifestation in reality is the presence of one who is dead, will soon be able to be fulfilled.
One would think this effort would come from neo-nazi's with a Boys of Brazil DVD sitting proudly on their shelves next to Birth of a Nation, but surprisingly (or maybe not) it is the UFO cult the Raelians that want to clone Der Fuhrer. Their goal is not the reestablishment of the Reich, but to make Hitler stand trial for war crimes. According to an article from Glasgow's Daily Record reprinted at Intellnet.org <Intellnet.org>, the Raelians approached the Moscow archive that possesses Hitler's skull and teeth in order to get a DNA sample. Though the Russians refused the request, some western diplomats feared that corrupt officials could smuggle out the Nazi DNA. I wonder if the Raelians ever think that the ethically dubious logic that would permit a clone to stand trial for the crimes of the original might be applied to them in the future. Think of an arthritic and deformed clone that was produced by the Raelian labs before the cloning procedure is perfected charging and suing one of the clones of Rael in the future, the clones of bioethicists Fukuyama and Rifkin summoned to provide expert testimony at one of the largest, and certainly most spectacular, trials of the 21st century.
Randolfe Wicker, cloning activist and the head of the Clone Rights United Front <www.clonerights.com> in an admitted publicity stunt tried to hijack the spectacle of Diana's death in order to promote his own pro-cloning agenda. Wicker distributed commemorative booklets at a Diana memorial service with pictures of her laughing, surrounded by hearts, and the following words:
No longer does death have to mean a total loss,
Accepting the obliteration of
"Going Quietly Into the Good Night."
Certainly Diana, the "Queen of Hearts"
Would make this world's shortest list of
"Those Worthy of Being cloned."
One can imagine, if cloning Diana went beyond an attempt to memetically infect mainstream culture with a fringe idea, and an actual clone was made the child would be treated like a reincarnated Buddhist lama, shown a People magazine and told, "This is who you are." Considering that Diana died in a head-on collision with media surveillance aggressively trying to project her image into the ether, cloning her seems perverse due to the incredible amount of media attention that the clone would generate. Or maybe not. Cloned Diana, born and grown-up on TV/online, would be media; a cybernetic being of image and flesh who, if the media ever abandoned her to transmit another, could end up being killed chasing cameramen, desperately trying to regain the wholeness of her now-dismembered sense of self.
Professor Waleri Bykow's statement that it was hypothetically possible to clone Lenin was responded to enthusiastically by Russian Young Communists. An AFP wire report reproduced at the now-defunct Tabloid.net <www.tabloid.net> stated that the Young Communists want to clone Lenin "to help the country out of its crisis." The Young Communists probably hope that the Lenin clone will round up all the gangsters, oligarchs, and capitalist reformers and send them off to some remote Siberian gulag. Unless the new Lenin rebels against the plans his creators have for him and like his modern successors becomes enamored of the wealth of capitalism and decides to cash in. Maybe the clone would host a Springeresque talk show on Russian TV where the fiery orator berates the screwed up behavior of lumpenproletariat downtrodden by the collapse of the Soviet empire.
According to the June 1997 edition of televangelist Jack Van Impe's Intelligence Briefing <www.jvim.com/IntelligenceBriefing> "Iraqi scientists have been ordered to clone Saddam Hussein, who at 60, has become obsessed with his own mortality." The problem of dubious and dangerous individuals such as dictators cloning themselves is one of the arguments that cloning critics use to justify banning it. But since Western anti-cloning laws would have little effect on the practices of Middle Eastern military dictatorships there's little that can be done to stop it, except get the Navy Seals to covertly kidnap the child Saddam clone and pacify him with Ritalin and cable TV like millions of other children in Paxil Nation.
A group of businessmen plan to dig up the body of and clone the 14th century Hungarian Prince, Vlad the Impaler, who was the inspiration for Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. A May 2001 Ananova <www.ananova.com> article states that the group of US businessmen had approached the Rosalin Institute (where Dolly the sheep was cloned) to do the cloning. In a follow up article, Dr. Harry Griffin from the institute denies that they ever met with the US businessmen and that their plan to clone Dracula "sucks." If the US men are successful the Dracula clone would at the very least be able to find work at the Romanian Dracula Land theme park where he can wear a cheap tux, cape and plastic fangs, and smoke behind the reconstruction of Dracula's castle on his fifteen minute coffee break.
U Can't Clone This?
Either to buy time to construct the ethical, social, political, legal, economic and medical structures in order to prevent the spasm of the social body as it is injected with a novel element, to perfect the scientific/medical procedure itself, or to prevent the fragmentation of the psychological, philosophical or religious belief in self as essence, most EU and North American nations have banned or are about to ban the cloning of humans. But as comforting as that may be to cloning's opponents, the global flows of information, capital and bodies guarantee that cloning will spread to nations with differing laws and ethics where it will be tolerated or even welcomed. Considering that at the time of this writing there are supposedly three women pregnant with cloned embryos the problem of the possibility of the above scenarios occurring is merely a temporal one. Clones of the dead rich and (in)famous will be born with the help of those who will downplay or ignore the potential social and medical chaos that will follow. Either this will be one of the greatest crimes of the 21st century or mere fodder of the next top rated reality show World Historical Survivor.
Jason Lubyk has written for both print and online publications including The Thresher and Disinformation and edits the weblog New World Disorder http://drmenlo.com/nwd.