Je Vous Dis, Merde! 28: On the Irrelevance of Age to Woke Progressive Politics

Bernie Sanders, Age 75
Tulsi Gabbard, Age 36

o, I’m not going to comment — beyond this sentence— on the latest gun violence incidents this past week, except to mention:

(i) the Gun Violence Archive, which puts it all in perspective, and

(ii) my earlier post, The Second “Peculiar Institution,” Gun Abolitionism, and Trump.

OK. Now for what I want to write about today.

The New York Times ran an article this past Tuesday entitled, “Is Bernie Sanders, 75, Too Old for 2020? His Fiercest Fans Say No,” which I found both interesting and also intensely annoying.

— Interesting, because it demonstrates a continuing rise in serious public interest in woke progressive politics (and I’ll define what I mean by that, three sentences down) especially as spearheaded by Bernie Sanders, who shadowed that article with a pretty good Op-Ed piece the same day, “How Democrats Can Stop Losing Elections.”

(How? By giving up their failed Clinton(s)-Obama era, neoliberal, Establishment cautious centrism, and becoming significantly more woke progressive.)

— But also intensely annoying, because it presupposed that it’s even remotely relevant to raise questions of age in relation to woke progressive politics.

Now, by progressive politics I mean politics that’s based on universal respect for human dignity and autonomy, resistance to human oppression, and mutual aid.

And by woke progressive politics I mean radically enlightened progressive politics, or progressive politics that’s:

(i) fully self-critical about ideological cognitive walls and thought-control, especially insofar as they are created or induced by “The Deep State,” by which I mean Big Capitalist corporate interests and their lackeys, the public media, together with the larger “military-industrial-university complex,” in neoliberal democratic states,

(ii) revolutionary in a non-violent way, aiming at nothing less than a step-by-step fundamental transformation of the structures and dynamics of social and political institutions in accordance with progressive moral principles and values, and

(iii) neo-utopian, aiming at the creation, development, and unfolding of radically better world than this one, for example as so effectively described by John Lennon in his famous woke progressive pop anthem, “Imagine,” starting right now.

To be sure, Bernie Sanders isn’t an ideal woke progressive — indeed, he isn’t nearly as woke progressive as Noam Chomsky, for example — but Bernie is still an amazingly awesomely awesome woke progressive real-world, viable American politician.

And he’s the closest thing to a real-world, politically viable, and specifically American version of woke progressivism in the last 50 years — that is, since A. Philips Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and Martin Luther King Jr. put forward their Freedom Budget For All Americans in 1966.

That being so, then what the fuck does Bernie Sander’s age have to do with anything that really matters?

The only things about people that really matter for moral and political purposes are their human dignity and autonomy.

Their human dignity and autonomy, in turn, flow from their human personhood.

And their human personhood, in turn, consists in their being animals who are capable of consciousness, self-consciousness, desire, caring (especially including empathy), cognition (including sense perception, memory, and imagination), and rationality, especially including critical thinking and practical decision-making.

To be sure, given biological natural facts about human development, from the last trimester of normal human gestation, when a normal human being becomes sentient or minimally capable of conscious feeling, especially pleasure or pain, human personhood exists in a more or less immature and partially unrealized form, until, having passed through various stages of cognitive and emotional development, at roughly 16–18 years of age, a normal human being becomes fully sapient, and enters the phase of mature human personhood.

Since, obviously, immaturity has some important moral and political implications — having to do, for example, with lessened responsibility and increased vulnerability — then age is somewhat relevant to immature human personhood from the third trimester through birth and early childhood, later childhood, adolescence, etc., until roughly 16–18 years of age.

But after roughly age 16–18, normally and other things being equal, then someone’s age is completely irrelevant to their mature human personhood; and therefore once you’ve reached age 16–18, normally and other things being equal, age is completely morally and politically irrelevant.

Similarly, the attempt to make a mature person’s age into a distinguishing, relevant factor in their moral and political significance, is like trying to make any of these obvious morally and politically irrelevant characteristics of all mature human people into distinguishing, relevant moral and political factors:

gender,

race,

sexual orientation,

specific intelligence level,

specific level of personal attractiveness or unattractiveness,

eye color,

hair color,

body configuration, shape, and size,

etc., etc., etc.

Thus age, just like foot size, is completely irrelevant to the moral and political significance of mature people.

For example, suppose that Bernie Sanders had the same sort of issue with his feet that poor Dumbo the Elephant had with his ears.

Dumbo the Elephant, Size 18 Ears

Now imagine a New York Times article entitled, “Is Bernie Sanders, aka ‘Mr Dumbo Feet,’ Size 18 Feet, Getting Bigger Every Year, Too Big-Footed for 2020? His Fiercest Fans Say No.”

It’s self-evident, then, that moral and political appeals to age and foot size are equally absurd.

Now suppose that someone objects by saying:

“But the older you are, the more likely you are to get sick and die. And we don’t want the President to get sick and die.”

Right.

But how is that fact morally and politically relevant?

First, objectively speaking, everyone is going to die sooner or later.

And second, it’s equally true that having “Dumbo feet” which increase in size every year make it much more likely that you’ll trip and hurt yourself, or fall in front of a speeding SUV, beer truck, subway train, etc., and die sooner than you would have died otherwise.

Is that fact morally or politically relevant?

Hell no!, that would be absurd.

So increasing age is just like increasing foot size, from a moral and political point of view.

Therefore, the increasing age of mature people is completely morally and politically irrelevant, and to believe otherwise is nothing but a cognitive wall that screens out moral and political clarity and truth.

And as a consequence, Bernie Sanders’s comparative old-person-ness is completely irrelevant to his amazingly awesomely awesome woke progressiveness.

Conversely, the decreasing age of mature people, down to 16–18 years of age as a minimum, is also completely morally and politically irrelevant.

Hence, if Bernie Sanders were to run for President in 2020 with, say, Tulsi Gabbard, the amazingly awesomely awesome woke progressive 36 year-old US Representative from Hawaii, as his running mate, then her comparative young-person-ness would be as completely irrelevant to her amazingly awesomely awesome woke progressiveness as her foot size is.

— Moreover, now I’m also thinking that a Bernie Sanders-Tulsi Gabbard ticket for 2020 might well be the best thing that’s happened to woke progressivism in the USA since Hush Puppies happened to feet in the mid-60s.

And as always, to anyone who says that this is impossible or just can’t be done,

Je vous dis, merde!

***

“Je vous dis, merde!” (literally, “I say to you: shit!” or more loosely, “You’re so full of shit!”) is a morally and politically defiant slogan invented and first published by an early 20th-century Catalan anarchist who used the nom de guerre “Miguel Almereyda.” Almereyda, who was murdered in a French prison in 1917, was also the father of the famous French film director Jean Vigo, who immortalized the same slogan in his breakthrough 1933 film, Zéro de conduite, aka Zero for Conduct.

Here is the seven-part platform of The Wake The Fuck Up! Party , aka The WTFU Party, aka Up Against the Wall, Philosophy-Fucker!, aka UAW/PF —

1. Universal Respect for Human Dignity (URHD):

· Human dignity is the absolute non-denumerable moral value of every member of humanity, and everyone ought to try wholeheartedly to treat everyone else in a way that is sufficient to meet the demands of respect for human dignity, especially including (i) alleviating or ending human oppression, and (ii) actively engaging in mutual aid and mutual kindness.

2. Universal Basic Income (UBI):

· Anyone 21 years of age or over and living permanently in the USA, who has a personal yearly income of $50,000.00 USD or less, and who is capable of requesting their UBI, would receive $25,000.00 USD per year, with no strings attached.

3. A 15-Hour Workweek for Understaffed Non-Bullshit Jobs (FHW-for-UNBJs):

· Anyone 18 years of age or older who is living permanently in the USA, who has completed a high school education, and is mentally and physically capable of doing a job, would be offered an eco-job, paying a yearly wage of $25,000.00 USD, for fifteen hours of work (three 5-hour days) per week.

Thus anyone 21 years of age or older with a high-school degree and who is also mentally and physically capable of working, would have a guaranteed yearly income of at least $50,000.00 USD if they chose to do an eco-job.

The rationale behind the three-year gap between (i) being offered an eco-job at 18 and (ii) beginning to receive their UBI at 21, is that every young adult who has finished high school will have the option of pursuing three years of part-time or full-time free higher education without credentialing, i.e., for its own sake, after high school, before making longer-term decisions about what I call job-work and life-work.

***

Here are a few more details about UBI and eco-jobs.

(i) The UBI is to be paid by a monthly stipend check.

(ii) Eco-job income is not taxed.

(iii) For all individual yearly incomes of $50,000.00 USD or under, no tax will be levied; hence for someone receiving their UBI and also doing an eco-job, no income tax will be levied.

(iv) For all individual non-eco-job incomes, for every $1.00 USD earned above the standard UBI of $25,000.00 USD, the monthly UBI stipend is reduced by 50 cents, until the recipient’s UBI is reduced to zero; hence for those individuals with yearly non-eco-job incomes equal to or under $50,000.00 USD, the maximum UBI + non-eco-job income sum is always $50,000.00 USD.

(v) For all individual yearly incomes over $50,000.00 USD, for every $10,000.00 USD earned, that surplus income is taxed at the rate of 1%, with the highest surplus income tax rate being 50%; hence the maximum surplus 50% tax rate starts at individual yearly incomes of $550,000.00 USD, and applies to all higher surplus incomes.

***

4. Universal Free Higher Education Without Credentialing (HEWC):

· Everyone would be offered, beyond their high-school education, a free, three-year minimum, optional (but also open-ended beyond those three years, as a further option), part-time or full-time universal public education program in the so-called “liberal arts,” and also in some of the so-called “STEM” fields, including the humanities, the fine arts, the social sciences, mathematics, and the natural sciences.

· For many or even most people, their HEWC would fall between (i) the end of their high school education at age 18 and the corresponding availability of eco-jobs, and (ii) the beginning of their UBI at age 21.

· But HEWC would be open to anyone with a high school degree, no matter how old they are, provided they are mentally and physically capable of doing the program.

5. Universal Free Healthcare (UFH):

· Every human person living permanently in the USA will receive free lifelong healthcare.

6. 2-Phase Universal Open Borders (2P-UOB):

· Phase 1: Starting in 2021, there will be universal open borders with Canada and Mexico, and everyone who moves across those borders and then claims residence in the USA, will receive temporary or permanent residence in the USA and also full membership in the system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs/eco-jobs, and UFH in the USA, with the precise number of new temporary or permanent residents to depend on the current availability of (i) adequate funding for UBI, eco-jobs, and UFH , and (ii) adequate living accommodation, in the USA, provided that all new residents also fully respect the human dignity of everyone else in the USA and elsewhere in the world.

· Phase 2: Also starting in 2021, the USA, Canada, and Mexico will collectively form a Global Refugee Consortium (GRC), with three-way open borders to any political refugee, economic refugee, or asylum seeker from anywhere in the world (aka “global refugees”), who will receive temporary or permanent residence in the USA, Canada, or Mexico, and also full membership in the system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs/eco-jobs, and UFH in the three GRC countries, with the precise number of new temporary or permanent residents, and the precise distribution of new residents among the three members of the GRC, to depend on the current availability of (i) funding for UBI, eco-jobs, and UFH , and (ii) adequate living accommodation, in the three GRC countries, provided that all new residents also fully respect the human dignity of everyone else in the GRC and elsewhere in the world.

7. Universal No-Guns (UNG):

· No one in the USA, including police, internal security forces of all kinds, armies, and intelligence forces of all kinds, has the moral right to possess or use guns of any kind, for any purpose whatsoever, because the primary function of guns is coercion, and coercion is immoral.

· UNG would be implemented by repealing the Second Amendment to the US Constitution in 2021 and then universally banning the possession or use of guns thereafter.

I’m also assuming that Universal Public Education (UPE) — universal free access for all human persons of any age to good public education up to the end of high school — already exists in most countries, and needs no further justification.

Where UPE does not already exist, it would automatically become a necessary part of the seven-part WTFU Party package, thereby making it a eight-part package.

***

Mr Nemo, Nowhere, NA, 16 June 2017

The WTFU Party is a sub-project of the online mega-project Philosophy Without Borders, which is home-based on Patreon here.

Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store