As much time as I've spent arguing against what I perceive as "death apologism", I'm beginning to wonder if that kind of argumentation represents so much noise blowing in the wrong direction.
It would be one thing if this line of argument actually helped save people's lives, but at this point I'm not convinced of its practical efficacy nor the accuracy with which it chooses its "targets".
Most people (unless they're Christian Scientists or similar) don't oppose medicine in principle. This is important. Even though we've seen a few rather bizarre arguments from some supposed death apologists (e.g., "But people are going to get so bored if they live longer!"), it doesn't seem that there are enough such people making those kinds of arguments in positions of power so as to make rebutting those arguments of any real use.
But there are clearly barriers to getting longevity medicine off the ground. What are they really, if they aren't actually coming from the "but we'll get bored!" or the "your children are entitled to an inheritance, so just die already!" folks?
I'm beginning to wonder, quite seriously, whether perhaps what (a fair number of) people do oppose is not longevity medicine at all, but "medicine for people who can't function easily within the status-quo economic system".
That is, if there were effective longevity treatments available, it seems a fairly safe bet that (so long as they didn't entail embryonic stem cell research) they wouldn't be banned by a bioconservative congress. You wouldn't have world leaders debating over whether anyone should be "allowed" to seek such treatments, any more than we have people debating over the use of modern sanitation to reduce infant mortality, or over (per the familiar example) hypertension medication.
But you would likely still have people arguing against ideas like universal healthcare. And you'd also still have folks claiming that we live in an "everyone for him/herself" world in which you only get to live so long as you can "earn" your right to do so, or so long as you have enough powerful cronies backing you up.
It makes plenty of sense that a lot of what manifests as "ageism" is actually a kind of economic phobia -- non-wealthy older people are considered (like disabled people, regardless of whether or not they would classify themselves as "disabled") to be "bad investments" with regard to employment, medical care, other forms of support, etc. This, combined with the independence myth can lead to particularly pernicious conditions for many.
This is not, of course, to say that rapid technological development cannot sometimes occur in contexts other than the very large, very bureaucratic, and very mainstream. As someone who still often struggles to function optimally in a culture that wasn't designed primarily by or for people with cognitive/sensory differences like mine, I can fully appreciate the attraction of working outside systems and processes that seem bloated, stifling, and unaccommodating.
And certainly, some such systems fit that description -- suggesting that every problem must be solved through the same exact process, regardless of its nature, (and that no process revisions or reviews are ever appropriate) would be very silly indeed. But it would be foolish to suppose that by circumventing bureaucratic bloat in one's endeavors, that one is somehow "operating outside culture" or "operating outside politics." In that sense, longevity (and all associated research and advocacy) is a class struggle.
This is not just some flowery, abstract, "nontechnical" point, but one that is of direct concern to anyone who figures they'd like to support better outcomes for older people now and in the coming decades. As an engineer, an unabashed nerd, and a lifelong science enthusiast who has only very recently (and rather grudgingly) come to see that no, progress cannot occur in an insular vacuum of well-practiced technological experts, this is not something I would have imagined myself ever saying in public even a year ago.
It's just that it's becoming more and more clear to me that, for instance, biogerontology is not likely to get much further unless great strides are made socially to affirm the value of older people and not push them to the corners, marginalize, or warehouse them by default.