SAGE politics
Sustainable, Altruistic, Global, Egalitarian

Richard Parncutt
, 2013, revised 2021

Richard Parrncutt ICMPC 2012
In many countries since the 1980s, Green parties have represented and promoted the ideals of
But the Greens have been increasingly diverted by short-term, culture-specific issues and the selfish wishes of bourgeois, consumerist supporters. The Greens are great, but we need more wisdom.

Either the Greens need a new more global and altruistic orientation, or we need a new political alternative.

Sage is French for "wise". In English, a sage is a wise older person. SAGE politics is Sustainable, Altruisic, Global and Egalitarian.

Wisdom and SAGE politics

Wisdom is not the same as intelligence.

Scientists have calculated that there are millions of planets in the universe that could support life similar to life on earth (more). But so far we have not found life in space, let alone intelligent life. Why? A possible reason is that intelligence is fundamentally selfish. Sooner or later, it destroys itself.

The human species is already moving in this direction. Our intelligence has led to enormous progress in the natural sciences. But our amazing inventions have unfortunately included the atom bomb, the internal combustion engine, and global warming. Global markets are producing enormous wealth and an unprecedented standard of living for the middle classes, but they are also perpetuating global poverty and gradually destroying the entire habitat upon which human beings depend.

The solution is not intelligence. It is wisdom. Wise people, or sages, have personal qualities that the world desperately needs. They combine intelligence with altruism. They combine caring with understanding and modesty. They can stand back and consider what is best for everyone, in a neutral and unbiased fashion. They are happy with themselves and the lives that they have lived, so they are not afraid of dying. They no longer have personal ambitions beyond helping others, and they have no resentment - only positive feelings toward other people, in all times and places. 

Unfortunately, not all powerful older people are blessed with wisdom. That is a fundamental problem, and politics has yet to overcome it. The solution is not to try to identify sages and put them into power, because power corrupts. Nor is the solution to idolize older people, which is the last thing a genuine sage wants anyway. Instead, we can be inspired by the concept of sagacity. We can strive to be wise in our everyday lives, and we can develop wise political strategies at all levels. That's what SAGE is about.

Nor are religious leaders necesssarily wise. Most major religions including Christianity, Islam and Judaism have fundamentalist traditions that are discriminatory and threaten global security. We must keep religion out of politics (laïcité) while at the same time promoting basic moral principles that are common to all major religions (e.g. the golden rule) as well as freedom of religious expression.

SAGE politics is for all age groups. Wisdom can emerge or disappear at any age. No matter what we know, we can always know more. No matter what we do, we will always make mistakes. No matter how big or small our mistakes, we can always learn from them. We never stop learning. The German-American political theorist Hannah Arendt put it in a nutshell when she wrote: "Wisdom is a virtue of age, and it probably only comes to those who were neither wise nor sensible in their youth." (Weisheit ist eine Tugend des Alters und sie kommt wohl nur zu denen, die in ihrer Jugend weder weise waren noch besonnen.)

Human rights: The ultimate foundation of SAGE politics

There is one idea that unites all of these points, and that is human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a response to the Holocaust, the worst crime ever committed. It was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948. Today, one can argue that the survival of humanity will depend on how well the principles and ideals in this document can be realised. From that point of view, the Universal Declarion of Human Rights could well be the most important document ever written. Every child in every school should learn about it. Every political party in the world should draw inspiration from it.

Human rights should be promoted at all times, in all places, and among all groups of people. It follows that politics must be sustainable, global and egalitarian, respectively. But politics must also be pragmatic. How can these ideals be achieved? What it the best approach? Logically, there are two main ways to achieve human rights. One is for people whose rights are not being respected to fight for them. In the past, this has been the most effective method, but it can also lead to violence. If we wish to avoid violence, we must simultaneously pursue the other route. We must also promote generosity and altruism on the part of those lucky people for whom rights were never a problem. That is a difficult goal to achieve, which is why a political movement is necessary.

Every year, millions of people die prematurely for anthropogenic reasons. That is, their deaths are caused, usually indirectly, by other people. Given that our universal human value system is based on the value of a human life, and human lives are the most valuable things that we humans know, the global premature death toll is our biggest problem. SAGE politics puts this problem at the top of the political agenda in all countries, in the following ways:
  • In 2021, humanity realized that COVID-19 can only be solved by immunizing all people in all countries. That an example of a more general principle. As humanity approaches the limits of its natural resources, survival increasingly depends on promoting the rights of all people everywhere. 
  • At least three million children and millions of others die every year in connection with hunger. The reason: governments and rich private industries are maintaining an inefficient, unfair and unsustainable capitalist globalized system of food production and distribution. SAGE addresses that problem, and the more general problem of poverty, by a combination of strategies based on the best scientific and economic research. They include globally harmonized taxation schemes that primarily addresses the rich (wealth tax, inheritance tax, transaction tax, environmental tax), universal unconditional basic income, legally enforced international developmental aid at a rate exceeding 0.7% GDP, legally enforced universal fair trade.
  • Every year, over a million people die in connection with violence. SAGE gets violence under control by controlling its causes, usually by legal means -- from the international arms trade to the death penalty, both of which will be universally banned. SAGE promotes international agreements to limit military budgets and confine military action and preparation to national self-defense, according to universal principles of pacifism.
SAGE places equal emphasis on the rights of individuals and groups. Groups include cultural groups (such as cultural minorities or indigenous communities) and suffering people (due to poverty, hunger, disease, or migration). SAGE politics also balances the rights of present and future people.

SAGE is based on ideals, but SAGE is not idealistic. All SAGE policies are practical solutions to real human problems. All have the same goal, namely to promote human rights universally and in that way to promote long-term human survival.

The next step

The above text is a draft of a global SAGE manifesto. The text will be combined with other similar manifestos. On that basis, a global political party will be constituted. The party will include fair representation of the Global South, women, indigenous peoples, and other important minorities. The combined manifesto will be revised and reformulated in an internal democratic process. As the global situation develops in the future, the text will be revised again.

The opinions expressed on this page are the authors' personal opinions.
Suggestions for improving or extending the content are welcome. 
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