Regular readers (and those who have read my book, Comments of a Common Man) will know that I have a thing about a fictional story called Logan’s Run.
It is a book and a film – the movie was made in 1976 and starred Michael York in the lead role as the character of Logan. The book was written by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson and published in 1967, the story depicting a dystopian and ageist future society in which both population and resources – food and so on - are maintained by requiring the death of everyone reaching the age of 21. The introduction to the book says:
The seeds of the Little War were planted in a restless summer during the mid-1960s, with sit-ins and student demonstrations as youth tested its strength. By the early 1970s, over 75 percent of the people living on Earth were under twenty-one years of age. The population continued to climb—and, with it, the youth percentage. In the 1980s, the figure was 79.7 percent. In the 1990s, 82.4 percent. In the year 2000,—critical mass.
The movie, released in 1976, made a number of changes to the story line (as movies often do) and raised the age at which all good citizens must die to 30. Logan is a Law Enforcement Officer (known as a Sandman in the story), whose job it is to catch ‘runners’, citizens who decide they do not wish to die at 30 years of age. The system of state-sponsored euthanasia exists because by the year in which the story is set, 2274, everybody lives in sealed domes as the air outside is too polluted to breathe and cannot sustain life. Life inside the domes is run by a computer that takes care of everything for the people under its control.
It is of course, a fictional tale; there have been other not dissimilar stories, from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, to Soylent Green to probably the most well-known of all, George Orwell’s 1984.
All have a common theme to them, a society that is controlled one way or another, with its people oppressed and cowed. And all have been dismissed as not being able to happen in the free and democratic countries of the Western world. Certainly comparisons have been made with some parts of the world, notably the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the old USSR, which also encompassed what used to be East Germany, when that country was divided in two, the free and democratic West and the Communist-ruled east.
East Germany was famous for a number of things; cheating by use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports was one, the numbers trying to escape it by fleeing to the West another. Many succeeded, many died trying. A third was the secret service, the infamous Stasi, who used a number of methods to control the populace. One of these was the use of ordinary people to spy on family members and neighbours – any suspicious activity was reported and usually rewarded. House arrest was common as was severe restrictions on where you could go, when, what for and in what numbers. Large groups were forbidden.
At this point, I have to stop and ask; does any of this sound familiar? Particularly with reference to the outbreak of Covid-19 and the efforts made by governments to control it. And does any of it sound familiar to those who have not heard of Logan’s Run or any of the fictional stories mentioned, and who do not know of the old East Germany? Or for that matter, the old USSR either.
There can be few who, especially now, are not aware that China is a communist country, dominated by one political party (the Chinese Communist Party or CCP as it is sometimes referred to), given that it has been widely blamed for the spread of Covid-19. Whether that is true or not is a debate for another time, but China has been held as an example of what we in the West do not wish to be. Yet China is also a country where, at least until recently, age was respected and the old revered. Japan is another. Indeed, the country is famous for it - when speaking with older people, the young usually bow as a sign of respect. Japanese culture emphasises the respect of privacy and allows those who are older to influence the young through teaching them how to respect each other (among other aspects to life in general – the Japanese are also renowned for being polite).
Japan is not of course a one-party state but a fully-functioning democracy and there are many similar cultures throughout the world, societies where age is not seen as a barrier, where older people are given their dues and the knowledge they have gained throughout their lives sought after. Italy is another, as are many Mediterranean countries as well as most others around the world. Yet there is one country that is notable exception to having a general respect towards the older members of its society; the United Kingdom.
The Covid-19 outbreak has, in many ways, shattered the prior attitudes towards the old everywhere. Lurid headlines from Italy tell of those over 80 being left to die and there are similar tales from elsewhere. All of these raise eyebrows and it is true to say that the idea of the old having had their day and thus should make way for the young, has gained traction - despite the misgivings generally held over such a view. But not in the UK; the concept of the old being shuttled out of the way has been established for some considerable time and hence the suggestion that the old matter less has not seen the surprise now being expressed in other countries. In the UK, it is par for the course – the old don’t matter.
This is why, as thoughts turn towards easing the lockdown, the idea of forcing the old to be ‘shielded’ is on the rise. Yet what does being ‘shielded’ actually mean? It means compelling anybody over a certain age – currently 70 – to stay at home, to remain isolated, cut off from the rest of the country and the world. The curiosity to this is that up until this year, there had been a growing move towards redressing the balance, to looking out for older people and encouraging those of pensionable age, to get out more and be active. Not anymore.
Now, in the immediate post-C19 UK, we don’t want the old around. We don’t want the old clogging up hospital beds that are better used by the young. Covid-19 has laid bare age prejudice, exposing ageism for what it is; a bias that says being old is bad; a bias that has, over the past two decades, used any and all methods to drive a wedge between generations. Those methods have included implying that the old are all child sex predators, that there is no wisdom to be found in the old. Age has no value and the young must stay away – wrinkles are not cool. This is why so many politicians look ‘young’ these days – Tony Blair was still in his twenties when he first became an MP; who could be more cool than David Cameron and Nick Clegg? Quite a few people actually but Blair’s rise provoked a similar sweeping away of old leaders across Europe – take a look at the Netherlands’ Prime Minister, Mark Rutte. He’s been Dutch PM since 2010 and became leader of his party in 2006 – born in February 1967 he was 39 at the time. He may well be 53 now but a decade on he retains his cool and youthful looks. Paradoxically, whatever views one may have about Jeremy Corbyn, possibly his greatest service to the UK was his age. Corbyn managed to cut across generations and clearly appealed (rightly or wrongly) to the young as well as those much older and equally steeped in his views.
And yet…and yet…there are three flaws with the obsession now deeply entrenched with youth and the propagation of the idea that being young matters more than being old. The first is that with age comes at least some wisdom. Older people are less prone to acting without thought, less inclined to panic. As I say in my book, one might not be able to run a mile in a minute anymore but one can still do pretty much all the things one did when young – one merely does them slower. Older people by the way have also spent their lives working and paying their taxes – they didn’t do that to be treated like rubbish, unwanted, cast aside and thrown away once the state has extracted all it can.
The second is this idea that older people are more prone to ‘dying from the Coronavirus’; even saying ‘With the Coronavirus’ is wrong. As I pointed out in my previous article, ‘Trial of the People’, Covid-19 is a Coronavirus like others within the group of Coronaviruses. Included are the common cold, flu, SARS and others. What makes Covid-19 different is that it is a new strain, its strength and speed – it spreads very rapidly as we have seen. But it is still a Coronavirus and even teenagers can get a cold – and then contract Pneumonia and die. No Coronavirus – C19, flu, whichever type it may be - respects youth or age, any age. Yes, older people’s immune systems tend to grow weaker with getting older but that doesn’t mean imprisoning them and shutting them away. It means it even less disguised as a government-inspired drive for ‘safety’ and ‘shielding’. Extra care may well be appropriate, desirable even, but state-empowered confinement based on an arbitrary age is not - whether age, be it 70 or otherwise, is actually mentioned in current government guidance or not, the idea has been planted and a seed sown.
And by the way; again as I wrote in Trial of the People, Covid-19, by itself and of itself, will not kill anybody. What it will do is create the path for some other ailment that can kill, like Pneumonia. Or those other underlying health conditions often referred to and even previously very healthy people can have those, undetected and waiting for something like C19 to trigger them.
The third flaw is, again as I say in my book and as I have repeatedly written on social media; one day you will wake up and look in the bathroom mirror to see a grey hair when there was none the day before; barring any catastrophic intervention (including but not limited to Covid-19), no matter how cool, young and funky you are now, one day…you…will be old.
You will. Like it or not, accept it or not. You cannot avoid it; you cannot revoke it; you cannot vote it away or deny it and you cannot stop it. You…WILL…be old.
Perhaps unintended, perhaps unthinkingly, but we have arrived from fiction to fact; we may not yet have reached the stage of state-sponsored euthanasia but we are on the cliff-edge (if we haven’t tumbled over it) of the computer ruling life, age and longevity, artificially and arbitrarily deciding who lives and who dies.
Logan’s Run is here.
© Kevan James 2020
Image - Pedro Ribeiro Simões
The NHS; Politics and Politicians; Law and Order; the EU; The cost of having a home;
Killing off the old; the rise of state power, the risk to freedom and more;
Comments of a Common Man Edition 3 is available from Amazon at £9.99