Je Vous Dis, Merde! 25: Up Against the Wall

Of course it was happening before then too — but ever since The Dawning of The Age of Trump-POTUS in November 2016, and especially since 20 January 2017, we’ve been experiencing an ever-escalating assault on the four core values of humanity:

(i) universal human dignity,

(ii) mutual aid, caring, concern, and kindness — in a word, love,

(iii) autonomy — our capacity for free will, and for individual or collective self-legislation, and

(iv) reason — our capacity for critical-and-creative conceptual thinking, logical thinking, mathematical thinking, insight into necessary truth, practical guidance by unconditional principles especially including moral principles, spiritual insight, and philosophy.

And along with these four core humanitarian values, also comes one extremely important subsidiary value, environmentalism:

(v) the universal proto-dignity of our natural environment, especially the Earth, as our global home, and the universal proto-dignity of all the other living creatures who share this home with us, and our universal protection and preservation of it and them.

The Trumped-up, anti-humanitarian, anti-environmentalist Blitzkrieg hasn’t yet reached the level of widespread physical violence, physical imprisonment, torture, murder, and war — but they’re getting too damned close.

Right now, their prime weapons are mental slavery, the repression of our reason, and cognitive walls.

It is essential to recognize, moreover, that these mental enslavements, rational repressions, and cognitive walls are not coming only from political conservatives and neoconservatives, center-rightists and so-called right-wingers, and card-carrying Republicans, aka The Dark Side.

They’re also coming from political liberals and neoliberals, center-leftists and so-called left-wingers, and card-carrying Democrats, aka The McResistance.

They’re coming from your Donalds and from your Hillaries.

They’re all authoritarians, Establishment-Men or Establishment-Women, global corporate capitalists, mainstream media-controllers, and militarists.

They’re anyone, anywhere, here or worldwide, who puts authoritarianism, big capitalism, thought-control, political coercion, and political violence ahead of our core humanitarian and environmentalist values.

In short, they’re telling humanity: up against the wall, motherfucker!

Now the totally brilliant, neogonzo Australian journalist Caitlin Johnstone has been making these same basic points repeatedly for months, perhaps most fully in her fairly recent pieces, “How to Fight the Establishment Propaganda Machine and Win” and “Media War Toolkit — The Seven Deadliest Weapons Against Establishment Propaganda.”

But earlier just this week, in “Free Your Mind And The World Will Follow,” she also made two incredibly important points that especially started my philosophical spidey-senses tingling and my philosophical heart racing.

First, Johnstone super-correctly distinguishes between what she calls “intelligence” and “wisdom.”

For us philosophy-heads, this is an updated version of the classical distinction between what the ancient Greek philosophers called phronesis and sophia, and what the 18th century German Enlightenment philosophers called Verstand and Vernunft.

More precisely, the fundamental distinction that Johnstone was so aptly (re)making is between:

(i) the capacity of the human mind whose activation provides us with everyday correct information and knowledge, and how to use them (intelligence, phronesis, Verstand), and

(ii) the capacity of the human mind whose activation provides us with critical-and-creative conceptual thinking, logical thinking, mathematical thinking, insight into necessary truth, practical guidance by unconditional principles especially including moral principles, spiritual insight, and philosophy (wisdom, sophia, Vernunft).

Second, Johnstone also super-correctly points out that it is the second capacity of the human mind — following 17th and 18th century Enlightenment philosophers more generally, let’s call it reason — that is most under attack by corporate thought-control and media-control, precisely because, not surprisingly, it is among the most important capacities we possess, in addition to our capacities for respecting human dignity, for love, and for autonomy.

And that in turn is because, as soon as you liberate and activate your capacity for reason, then you’re also intellectually, morally, politically, and spiritually enlightened or woke, and “the world will follow.”

As Johnstone amusingly and eloquently puts it:

This may sound a little woo woo and hokey, but I truly believe that one of the most productive things we can do to advance the revolution against the unelected power establishment is to cultivate and nurture this capacity for [wisdom] within ourselves. I don’t mean this in any kind of metaphysical way, but in the most pragmatic sense possible: the clearer your inner vision, the better you will be at helping your fellow man wake up to what’s really happening. Since the revolution we are fighting is first and foremost a media war, our ability to clearly see what’s happening will determine the impact with which we can awaken the public and speak truth to power, our ability to choose the most effective areas to push in on, the accuracy with which we’ll choose trustworthy collaborators, and will inform the counter-narratives we’ll select to throw into the gears of the machine. The wiser you are, the more grace and effectiveness you’ll have in navigating a world saturated in brainwashing and deceit.

OK.

My first big point in this little essay, then, is in The Age of Trump-POTUS, we’ve been experiencing an ever-escalating assault, coming from The Dark Side and from The McResistance alike, on our core humanitarian and environmentalist values, and above all, an assault on our capacity for reason, which is also the very capacity philosophers have classically been most concerned with and in love with — indeed, the very word “philosophy,” after all, comes from the Greek words philo and sophia, and means “the love of wisdom,” i.e., the love of reason — and the very capacity that can enable us to withstand and repel this anti-humanitarian and anti-environmentalist assault and lead us towards a better world.

Here’s my second big point.

In the late 1960s in New York City, the militant anarchist alliance, founded by radical activist artists, Up Against the Wall, Mother-Fucker!, aka UAW/MF, passionately pursued the goals of what I’ve been calling progressive revolution.

In the passionate spirit of UAW/MF, but also in an equally passionate spirit of non-coercive, non-violent, non-militant anarchism and progressive revolution, I’m hereby christening The Wake The Fuck Up! Party, aka The WTFU Party, with the alternative name:

Up Against the Wall, Philosophy-Fucker!, aka UAW/PF.

And my third big point is this.

In their role as Up-Against-the-Wall-Philosophy-Fuckers, philosophers can significantly help other folks towards enlightenment and woke-ness in The Age of Trump-POTUS, and in every other non-golden age short of utopia, by providing conceptual tools to guide their thinking, and moral support.

One important example along these lines is the fundamental conceptual distinction that Johnstone and I discussed earlier, between intelligence and wisdom, aka reason, and her amusing and eloquent exhortation to pursue enlightenment and woke-ness in The Age of Trump-POTUS.

Correspondingly, as a free gift from Up Against the Wall, Philosophy-Fucker, here is a fairly short, alphabetically-ordered list of some other conceptual tools that anyone committed to humanitarian and environmentalist values could find extremely useful in The Age of Trump-POTUS.

Every term in boldface has a definition somewhere in the list.

***

Acts: things that animal subjects with consciousness do or perform, and that do not merely happen to them.

Actual world: this world, here and now; the world in which we live, move, and have our being.

Agency: the capacity or power of an animal subject with consciousness to carry out acts.

Agency, practical: the capacity or power of an animal subject with consciousness to carry out acts with free will in the light of principles or reasons, including moral principles or reasons, on the basis of processes of deliberation and decision also manifesting self-consciousness.

Anarchism: the political doctrine according to which (i) the state is rationally unjustified (see justification) and immoral because it uses coercion, including violence, to compel people (see person) to obey its laws, even if those laws are morally wrong, and (ii) all people (see person) should freely associate with one another for their mutual aid and individual or relational self-realization.

Follow-up comment: This definition is a “broad” one that is neutral as between (i) “bomb-throwing” or militant anarchism, according to which coercion and violence are instrumentally justified for the purposes of destroying the state, and (ii) ethically-motivated anarchism, which is consistently non-coercive and non-violent, but also holds that minimal sufficiently effective, last resort, defensive, protective, and preventive moral force is morally permissible, by which it means:

· as a last resort, only either using the smallest sufficiently effective level of violence or threat of violence, or deploying the smallest sufficiently effective threat of appreciable, salient harm, in order to defend against, protect against, or prevent, oneself or someone else being primarily or secondarily coerced (see coercion), or having their rational human dignity directly violated.

Animal: an organism with the psychological capacity or power for sentience.

Follow-up comment: Many definitions of animal are strictly biological, whereas this one conforms more closely to the study of animals in cognitive ethology, presupposing that they are organisms possessing at least some psychological capacities or powers, even if only minimally.

A posteriori: belief or knowledge insofar as its truth or justification is dependent on inner or outer sensory experiences.

A priori: cognition or belief or knowledge insofar as its truth or justification is not dependent on inner or outer sensory experiences, even if it is associated with sensory experiences or has significant sensory content, e.g., in order to learn it.

Argument: a proposition or set of propositions (the premises) put forward by someone as true, in rational support of another proposition (the conclusion).

Autonomy, individual: the capacity or power of an animal subject with consciousness to engage in practical agency (see agency, practical) according to principles of her own choosing, hence self-legislated principles.

Autonomy, relational: the coordinated practical agency (see agency, practical) of each of the members of a group of persons (see person), aka people, according to shared principles of their own choosing, hence multiply self-legislated principles.

Belief: the sincere assertion of a proposition.

Coercion: either (i) 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 (ii) 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).

Consciousness: the psychological capacity or power of an animal for subjective experience.

Deductive argument: an argument that purports to be logically valid.

Democracy, ethical: the unwavering commitments to (i) universal respect for the dignity of human persons (see person), (ii) individual autonomy (see autonomy, individual), (iii) relational autonomy (see autonomy, relational), and (iv) universal resistance against human oppression.

Democracy, minimal: the rule of the majority of all the people (see persons) qualified to vote.

Follow-up comment: Minimal democracy entails neither procedural democracy nor ethical democracy, a perhaps surprising fact that is perhaps best exemplified by the German people’s democratic election of the Nazis in 1932–33, and is also known as “the tyranny of the majority.”

Democracy, ethical: the unwavering commitments to (i) universal respect for the dignity of human persons (see person), (ii) individual autonomy (see autonomy, individual), (iii) relational autonomy (see autonomy, relational), and (iv) universal resistance against human oppression.

Democracy, procedural: the open process of critical discussion and critical examination of opinions and social institutions, and, simultaneously, the unfettered expression of different opinions and lifestyles.

Follow-up comment: Procedural democracy entails neither minimal democracy nor ethical democracy, another perhaps surprising fact that is perhaps best demonstrated by the USA’s Electoral College system and the 2016 election of Donald Trump as US President, and is also known as “the tyranny of the minority.”

Ethics: human values, ideals, and standards (see also morality); the philosophical study of human values, ideals, and standards.

Free will: the capacity or power of an animal subject with consciousness to choose or do what it wants to, or to refrain from so choosing or so doing, without preventative constraints and without internal or external compulsion, with at least causal responsibility (see responsibility, causal).

Justification: a reason or a set of reasons offered by someone in support of a belief or proposition.

Knowledge: sufficiently justified (see justification) true belief.

Liberalism, classical: the political doctrine according to which all people are essentially self-interested and mutually antagonistic, hence require a coercive central government, formed by a social contract, and also a larger, well-ordered, law-governed coercive state mechanism — including police, prisons, armies, and constant security surveillance — in order to ensure their mutal non-interference and individual pursuit of self-interested goals.

Liberalism, neo-: the political doctrine that combines (i) classical liberalism (see liberalism, classical), (ii) the valorization of capitalism, especially global corporate capitalism, and (iii) technocracy, the scientifically-guided control and mastery of human nature and physical nature alike, for the sake of pursuing individually and collectively self-interested ends and large-scale capitalist ends.

Logical entailment: logical consequence; the relationship between the premises and conclusion of a logically valid argument.

Logically consistent: one or more propositions (see proposition) that can be jointly true; one or more propositions (see proposition) that are not logically contradictory either with one another or with themselves.

Logically contradictory: a proposition that violates a logical law or is necessarily false; two or more propositions (see proposition) that cannot be either jointly true or jointly false.

Logically sound: an argument such (i) it is logically valid and (ii) all of its premises are true.

Logically valid: an argument such that there is no possible set of circumstances (or: no possible world) in which the premises are all true and the conclusion is false, and otherwise is logically invalid.

Morality: a fundamental branch of ethics, containing the principles or strict rules of rational (see rationality) conduct.

Morally impermissible: conduct that is proscribed by morality; conduct that it is morally obligatory not to engage in.

Morally obligatory: conduct that is required by morality; what rational (see rationality) agents or persons ought to do.

Morally permissible: conduct that is logically consistent with, but not necessarily required by, morality.

Necessary condition: (1) where X and Y are both things, X is a necessary condition of Y if and only if the existence of Y guarantees the existence of X and the non-existence of X guarantees the non-existence of Y; (2) where P and Q are both propositions (see proposition) and it is true that if P then Q, then Q is a necessary condition for P.

Necessarily false: a proposition that is false in every possible world; impossible.

Necessarily true: a proposition that is true in every possible world; true no matter what.

Person: an animal with capacities or powers for consciousness, self-consciousness, free will, individual autonomy (see autonomy, individual), relational autonomy (see autonomy, relational), practical agency (see agency, practical), and deep moral responsibility (see responsibility, deep moral).

Follow-up comment: Only some but not all human beings are human persons; e.g., human infants with anencephaly, human beings in persistent vegetative states, and human beings that are incurably, permanantly insane, are all not persons.

Many philosophers and non-philosophers, however, use person interchangeably with “human being.”

Possible world: a complete, coherent, and logically consistent different way the actual world could be.

Proposition: the meaning of a statement or an indicative sentence in a language; what is shared by statements or indicative sentences in different languages that have the same meaning; that which is essentially either true or false (the truth-bearer).

Rationality: the complex psychological capacity for a priori knowledge, logical reasoning, practical decision-making, and reflective self-consciousness (see self-consciousness, reflective).

Responsibility, causal: a person’s, other kind of animal’s, or a thing’s, causal control over something.

Responsibility, moral: a person’s rational control over something.

Reponsibility, deep moral: a choice or action X that exemplifies free will, that flows from the practical agent herself, and is also such that the normative value of X, especially any moral value of X or of some of X’s consequences that there might be, also attaches to the practical agent (see agency, practical) herself.

Responsibility, shallow moral: second-or-third-person attributions of moral responsibility, especially including judgments, of blame, praise, resentment, punishment, etc., made by other people (see person), for whatever reason, which may, in turn, be rationally unjustified (see justification) and immoral.

Rationality: the complex psychological capacity for knowledge, logical reasoning, practical decision-making, and reflective self-consciousness (see self-consciousness, reflective).

Self-consciousness: the psychological capacity or power of an animal subject with consciousness for being conscious of its own consciousness.

Self-consciousness, reflective: psychological capacity or power of an animal subject with consciousness for self-consciousness, insofar as it is extended to (i) the retrospective and prospective evaluation of its own life and conduct, and (ii) the normative significance of its own death.

Sentience: the psychological capacity or power of an organism for feeling, especially including pleasure or pain.

True: a proposition, sentence, statement, or theory that conforms to the actual facts.

***

As I mentioned above, please accept these conceptual tools and our moral support as free gifts from Up Against the Wall, Philosophy-Fucker!

Nevertheless, Dear Reader, if you’ve managed to get this far in the essay, you might well also be asking:

“How can I use these conceptual tools in my passionate pursuit of enlightenment and woke-ness?”

And the answer is:

“The ultimate secret of all wisdom, aka reason, is that UAW/PF philosophers can only give you their conceptual tools and their moral support, as a free gift: but then, with their support, you ultimately have to teach yourself how to use those tools skillfully.”

So go for it!

Or as the Enlightenment philosophers put it,

Sapere aude!, Dare to think for yourself!

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, 19 May 2017

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

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