TRIAGE by Leonard C. Lewin


Email this review


Leonard Lewin edited-authored (?) the true or false (?) Report from Iron Mountain (1967) and this -- patently fiction -- is a second arresting, alarming and only too-close-for-comfort projection. The triage officer according to the Chairman of the President's Special Commission on National Priorities (this book is made up of reports, memos, letters and so forth alternating with deadly illustrations thereof) is the man who decides ""who will be selected for immediate medical treatment, who will be put off till later, and who will be abandoned to die."" Triage, applied more broadly, can be used to get rid of all the living dead weight of our society -- the old, the criminal, the sick -- a Draconian solution to ""recapture a 'viable' environment."" What with all our other problems, economic, environmental, ecological, etc., we just can't afford them so it seems propitious to permit terminal cancer cases in a hospital to terminate at an accelerated rate, to burn down a county home for the old folks, to launch a euphoric drug called Paxin -- a happy pill with death as a secondary side-effect, or to permit the rigorous conditions at a prison very much like Attica so that its inmates will kill themselves off. And so it goes in this new think-tank-turned-kill-tank society where, under Smith of Selective Services, an elimination ""priority program"" is actuated. After all, ""We all have to play God to a certain degree anyway, so why not be businesslike about it."" What gives Lewin's eugenic vista its germane, virulent persuasiveness is the snap of its computerized doubletalk and bureaucratic doublethink. Beyond that it's a chilling reminder of what could happen if we permitted expedience to nullify our social contract.

Pub Date: May 12th, 1972
Publisher: Dial