Pod People Paternalism

The fourth film adaptation of Jack Finney’s 1955 novel Invasion of the Body Snatchers, this time with Nicole Kidman, is now out on dvd.  It doesn’t seem to be anyone’s favorite, but it does re-raise an interesting thought experiment in paternalism.  After all, in this movie "pod people" retain their memories and their new "culture" makes them happy, serene, cooperative, and peaceful.  Their main crimes are:

  • a flatter emotional tone,
  • a foreign origin, and
  • converting others by force

But similar complaints apply to giving kids Ritalin, pushing upper class culture in the inner city, or pushing western culture in the third world.  Now hard-line libertarians can consistently oppose using government power to purse such policies, even if they really benefit people.  But what about the rest of you?  Are happy people with the emotional range, peace, and productivity of a typical engineer really such a horror?  From the view of non-libertarian pod people, doesn’t it make sense to force everyone else to convert? 

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