Je Vous Dis, Merde! 39: In Defense of Grouchomarxist Lennonism

his past week, the mass and social media were all shook up about imminent hurricanes and So-Called President Trump’s latest xenophobic antics, his executive order to take down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, aka DACA, program.

Of course, these events are not only of deep importance to the people directly affected by them; they also have a larger political significance.

For example, in “Ten Thoughts About Hurricanes, Climate Change, And The Deep State,” published on Tuesday, my favorite neo-gonzo journalist, Caitlin Johnstone, worked out some very interesting critical ideas about how we should be very skeptical about the claim that global climate change can be effectively dealt with only by means of a single authoritarian world government that’s controlled by — you guessed it! — the very same global corporate capitalist, “deep state” folks who brought us worldwide environmental devastation leading to global climate change in the first place.

And in “On Trump and Walls,” “The MexiCanada Solution,” and “Deport Trump,” I’ve written about the ethics and politics of immigration in The Age of Trump (So-Called) POTUS.

But this week— as I’ve also done for the last two weeks in “On the Moral Limits of Free Speech” and in “Anticoercion, Nonviolent Protest, and Permissible Force” — I want to move the discussion onto the higher plane of political philosophy.

***

There: isn’t the intellectual air much cooler and fresher up here?

Just like politics, political philosophy also makes strange bedfellows: for example, Groucho Marx (of Marx Brothers fame, as opposed to The Big K. Marx) and John Lennon (of Beatles fame, as opposed to The Big V.I. Lenin).

In the rest of this little essay, then, I want to combine a profound thought expressed by Groucho, and another profound thought expressed by John, into a single political doctrine I call Grouchomarxist Lennonism.

This is what Groucho profoundly said:

I read in the papers they are going to have 30 minutes of intellectual stuff on television every Monday from 7:30 to 8. To educate America. They couldn’t educate America if they started at 6:30.

And this is the edgy essence of his thought, which I’ll call Groucho’s Thesis:

The American people cannot be educated by the corporate-controlled American mass media, not because the American people aren’t rationally capable of being educated, but instead because the fundamental aims of the corporate-controlled American mass media are propaganda and mind-control, not education and rational enlightenment.

Here is a short argument for Groucho’s Thesis.

(i) It is a well-confirmed empirical fact that the American people are widely subject to the malign influences of propaganda and mind-control, as, for example, Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler have shown in “When Corrections Fail: The Persistence of Political Misperceptions,” and then Stephan Lewandowsky and his co-researchers have further elaborated and reconfirmed in “Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing”

(ii) It is a well-confirmed empirical fact that the primary source of propaganda and mind-control in the USA is the corporate-controlled mass media, as Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky have shown in Manufacturing Consent.

(iii) Therefore Groucho’s Thesis is true.

Now, this is what John profoundly sang:

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

And this is the edgy essence of his thought, which I’ll call John’s Thesis:

We could all live in worldwide peace and unity simply by divesting ourselves of all coercive social institutions like the nation-state and state-supported religion, because coercion is the problem, not people.

Here is a slightly longer, but still pretty short, argument for John’s Thesis.

(i) By coercion I mean:

either (a) using violence (e.g. injuring, torturing, or killing) or the threat of violence, in order to manipulate people according to certain purposes of the coercer (primary coercion),

or (b) inflicting appreciable, salient harm (e.g. imprisonment, termination of employment, large monetary penalties) or deploying the threat of appreciable, salient harm, even if these are not in themselves violent, in order to manipulate people according to certain purposes of the coercer (secondary coercion).

(ii) All coercion, whether primary or secondary, is morally impermissible because it violates respect for human dignity by treating people as mere things or mere means to desired ends of the coercer.

(iii) All states, including all contemporary nation-states, and all the state-like social institutions contained within them, for example, state-supported religions, are founded on the principle that governments have the right to coerce people to heed and obey their legislative commands and laws, even if those commands and laws are rationally unjustified and immoral.

(iv) But coercion is always morally impermissible, therefore government coercion is always morally impermissible; and the rationally unjustified and immoral legislative commands and laws of all states and state-like social institutions cannot be made rationally justified and morally permissible by the mere brute fact that governments or other social authorities possess the power to coerce.

(v) On the assumption that we all have human dignity as an innate endowment of our human personhood and also possess at least the capacity for rationality, then if we divested ourselves of all coercive social institutions, we could live in worldwide peace and unity.

(vi) Therefore, John’s Thesis is true.

Q: What is the basic connection between Groucho’s Thesis and John’s Thesis?

A: Obviously, the basic connection is that the American corporate-controlled mass media use propaganda and mind-control to create in us precisely the profoundly, tragically false belief that coercion by states and other state-like social institutions is not only rationally justified and morally permissible but also morally right.

Nevertheless, once we’ve grasped and accepted the basic theses of Grouchomarxist Lennonism, then we can divest ourselves of that profoundly, tragically false belief, and seriously begin the awesome, all-encompassing process of also divesting ourselves of all coercive social institutions and creating a categorically better world.

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

And, as always, to anyone who seriously disputes the soundness of this argument,

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, 8 September 2017

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

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