Thursday, 19 May 2022

Ghodra & its Ghanchi

To extract what oil, did Godhra's Ghanchis toil
Ram Bakhts to kill &  Ram Rajya foil?
'Tis a secular fact that the intact Nar-Indra from that caste
Has to Thy Janambhumi's truth held fast.

Prince! Kill us or let us worship ONE
Higher yet than Thy Son. 

Amartya Sen v Samuel Huntington

Sen lived in Rangoon, Dacca and Calcutta as a child. Rangoon, as part of Buddhist Burma, separated from India in 1937. Manipur chose to remain with India because it is majority Hindu.   Dacca became part of Islamic Pakistan and separated from Hindu India in 1947. Pakistan and India clashed because Islam clashes with non Islamic Civilizations. Burma and India did not clash. India has no problem with Buddhist Bhutan- though it expelled Hindu Nepalis- or Buddhist Sri Lanka. Why? Hindu and Buddhist Civilizations don't clash. Thus, Sen's life experience suggests that there really is a Clash of Civilizations. Yet, he says of Huntington's book that it is a

A remarkable use of imagined singularity

A Nation may be described as an 'imagined community'. Every world religion is an empirical reality.  

can be found in the basic classificatory idea that serves as the intellectual background to the much-discussed thesis of “the clash of civilizations,” which has been championed recently, particularly following the publication of Samuel Huntington’s influential book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order . 

He was a true prophet- at least when compared to his rivals. History didn't end a la Fukuyama. Multi-Culti did not prevail.  'Reasonable accommodation' for Islam is being pruned back in Chrisitian countries. India has moved towards Hindutva vs. Hinduism- a far cry from Nehruvian atheism. Civilizations are back with a vengeance- the truth is they never went away.  What Huntington did not predict was the fault lines between Turkish led Hanafi and Hanbali Islam- but that may decline as it did historically with the Shia Sunni divide retaining salience. 

The difficulty with this approach begins with unique categorization, well before the issue of a clash—or not—is even raised.

Things which pre-exist can clash. Imaginary shite can't. Ultimately people are uniquely characterized by which body they are encased in. Bodies clash. But bodies ally along religious lines and such alliances give rise to culture. Where a culture dominates others, a Civilization arises. 

Indeed, the thesis of a civilizational clash is conceptually parasitic on the commanding power of a unique categorization along so-called civilizational lines,

No it isn't. If civilizations exist they can clash. Have they done so? Yes. Were they doing so when Sen wrote this?  Yes, in the opinion of the enemy the West was fighting. There is no fucking 'parasitism' here. Huntingdon's thesis was based on reality- which is unique whereas Sen's shite is based on fantasy which is wholly arbitrary and can be incompossible with physical reality. 

Consider the Ukraine War. Putin believes in a Civilizational clash between Eurasian 'passionarity' and Western Christendom. The fault line in Ukraine is between Russian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic. 

There was a time when some analysts pretended that Putin was a victim of black propaganda by International LGBTQ activists. Pussy Riot provoked the Crimean invasion! Maybe that was why Trump & Co had a soft spot for that soul-less little freak. What we now see, however, is a purely Civilizational clash. It isn't about Gay soliviki joining hands with Lesbian plumbers and yacht loving oligarchs across the globe. 

which as it happens closely follows religious divisions to which singular attention is paid. Huntington contrasts Western civilization with “Islamic civilization,” “Hindu civilization,” “Buddhist civilization,” and so on.

It is likely that the borders of a religion correspond to natural frontiers of nations or else that they limn trade routes and emporia. 

Sen's bigotry towards Religion- God doesn't exist, thus Religion has no business existing- blinds him to elementary facts of historical geography. 

The alleged confrontations of religious differences are incorporated into a sharply carpentered vision of one dominant and hardened divisiveness.

In Sen's world, only 'visions' and 'narratives' and 'conceptual disarrays' matter. This is because his is a fairy tale world. If only everybody shared Sen's point of view there would be no war or conflict or economy or language or human life.  

In fact, of course, the people of the world can be classified according to many other systems of partitioning, each of which has some—often far-reaching—relevance in our lives: such as nationalities,

Sen comes from a place where nationality is ultimately founded in Religion.  


which are within nations which....see above 


which don't actually have any 'class consciousness' crossing national boundaries.  


prostitutes of the World unite!  

social status,

why isn't portable between countries 


see above 


see above 

and many others.

Unlike the above Religion actually makes a difference which is why we are still talking about Northern Ireland and, in Putin's eyes, there's a war in Ukraine.

While religious categories have received much airing in recent years, they cannot be presumed to obliterate other distinctions,

Nor can they presumed not to.  

and even less can they be seen as the only relevant system of classifying people across the globe.

But they can be seen as much much more relevant that Sen's endless whining. 

Huntingdon did some actual research. He chose 'Clash of Civilization' over other models. Sen has no model. He just doesn't like Huntingdon's model because he himself is an Indian citizen, not a Bangladeshi citizen, because of 'Civilizational Clash'.

I may mention that Bengal had two big famines because of the transition to Democracy. Sen knows this but has spent a lot of time claiming that Democracy is the panacea for Famine.  

 The difficulty with the thesis of

anything arises only in one way. Does it accord with the facts? Does it enable us to make predictions? Clash of Civilizations was a good thesis. If people say how come Houthis and Hezbollah are with Iran, the answer is clash between Shia and Sunni Islam. If Afghan Hazaras fight for Iran in Syria then Tehran might be cool with Taliban Kabul. This sort of stuff is useful. Sen's shite is useless.  

the clash of civilizations begins well before we come to the issue of an inevitable clash;

Who said there would be an inevitable clash? Not Huntingdon. Sen, in typical fashion is tilting at a straw man. This is because he voraciously devours dog turds as part of his multiple identity.  

it begins with the presumption of the unique relevance of a singular classification.

No. It begins with the presumption that a Structural Causal Model featuring Religion based Civilizations clashing where they have clashed before is better than some shite Sen pulled out of his ass. 

Indeed, the question “do civilizations clash?” is

empirical. Sen has no empirical evidence.  

founded on the presumption that humanity can be preeminently classified into distinct and discrete civilizations,

Whereas Roman citizens spoke Chinese and subjects of the Celestial Emperor conversed in Mayan.  

and that the relations between different human beings can somehow be seen, without serious loss of understanding, in terms of relations between different civilizations .

Huntingdon was not concerned with the relations between different human beings. Nor is Sen. Huntingdon made a good prediction. Sen wrote worthless shite. The relationship between Sen's shite and Huntingdon's work represents the clash between Bengali Civilization, which is shit, and American Civilization which isn't shit at all. That's why Sen teaches in Amrika not Bangladesh.  

The basic flaw of the thesis much precedes the point where it is asked whether civilizations must clash .

Sen's thesis is flawed because he thinks this is a matter which can be decided on a priori grounds. But the thing is empirical.  

This reductionist view is typically combined,

This is itself a reductionist view. One must not people into little boxes. One must also not put views or views about views into little boxes. Reductionism has multiple identities. It does not relate to anything in a reductionist way. Sometimes it is romantic. At other times it is random. Sen also has a foggy perception of foggy perception which can in fact be totes moggy or boggy or soggy.  

I am afraid, with a rather foggy perception of world history which overlooks, first, the extent of internal diversities within these civilizational categories,

No. 'Internal diversities' generate the very dynamics which create civilizational categories. If there was no diversity to start off with there would be only culture, not civilization.  

and second, the reach and influence of interactions —intellectual as well as material—that go right across the regional borders of so-called civilizations (more on this in chapter 3 ).

The difference between a culture and a civilization is that the latter's dynamics depend on such interactions. Where such interactions decline a civilization sinks down to the level of a culture.  

And its power to befuddle can trap


not only those who would like to support the thesis of a clash (varying from Western chauvinists to Islamic fundamentalists),

this cretin thinks nutters need to read a book by a Harvard Prof. in order to get 'trapped'. No doubt, he thinks people only get trapped into respiration after they read a textbook on pulmonology.  

but also those who would like to dispute it and yet try to respond within the straitjacket of its prespecified terms of reference.

Dispute it by listing the various conflicts which definitely weren't 'civilizational clash'. There's always a more fine-grained version of an SCM. Consider the recent clash between the BJP and the TMC in Bengal. Is it Civilizational? The Patriarchal 'Ram bakht' of the West confronting the Bengali Mother God.  

There are different Civilizations in the World and greater amity and friendship is created when we make an effort to understand other Civilizations. Sen, for some crazy reason is against this. That's a good enough reason to be against Sen. He is betraying Tagore's legacy. No wonder Nalanda was such a failure when he was Chancellor. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Sen on Buddhijivi cowardice

Violence is costly and risky to inflict. At the individual level, there is a greater element of 'Knightian uncertainty'. You may trip and fall while trying to knife your victim and end up being paralyzed. At the macro level, things ought to be more predictable. However, Generals may get their calculations wrong as Putin appears to be finding out. The problem with violence is that you never know who might intervene or what other exigency may supervene. This does not mean that the maximum uncertainty principle applies save in the sense that it is often equally probable, in the case of initiatory rather than retaliatory violence, that violence leads to a worse outcome than might otherwise have obtained. One thing, however, is certain. Because of retaliation risk, violence is more likely to gain a better outcome if its is targeted and serves a signalling function. This is because you may attract some fighters to your side if retaliation is imminent. 

Consider the case of the suicide bomber who decides he can't be arsed to go down to the Church to blow up kaffirs. He just pulls the cord while watching TV on the couch. The bomb doesn't go off. His Mummy beats him when he complains to her about the crap suicide-bombs some people are selling on Craig's List. Then his Daddy comes home and beats him. His brothers and Uncles phone to say they will be stopping by later that evening. The would-be suicide bomber does not gain the protection of the local Al Qaeda franchise because he failed to properly identify and target kuffar. There's no heavenly reward for killing your mummy and daddy. Nor will anyone intervene if they beat you with vim and vigor. 

The judicious use of violence, or the threat of violence, is often crucial to the success of an individual, a family, a community or a nation. Ultimately, violence is a learned skill with a technological and organizational component. It has featured hugely asymmetric kill rates since the bronze age. This has also meant that peace keeping activity could take up a declining proportion of income. Sadly, bad choices and poor reasoning cam reverse this outcome. 

Is this what Sen is getting at when he writes-

Central to leading a human life, therefore, are the responsibilities of choice and reasoning.

Central to leading a successful gangsta, or terrorist, life is the responsibility of choice and reasoning. However, if you a mystic meditating in a cave and kept alive by offerings from local villagers you don't have any responsibilities nor do you need to make a lot choices or do a lot of reasoning. But then lots of people with Trust Funds do okay even if they make some bad choices and are shit at reasoning.  

In contrast, violence is promoted by the cultivation of a sense of inevitability about some allegedly unique—often belligerent—identity that we are supposed to have

How is that sense cultivated? Kids get into fights. By the time they are about 10 they have a pretty good idea as to where they fit into a pecking order. That's good enough for getting a group of males to do specialization and division of labor for any offensive or defensive purpose. 

and which apparently makes extensive demands on us (sometimes of a most disagreeable kind).

Sen kept getting into fights with Ken Arrow. This was very disagreeable for John Rawls because of all the red hot anal makeup sex this entailed.  

The imposition of an allegedly unique identity is often a crucial component of the “martial art” of fomenting sectarian confrontation.

There is no such martial art. However there are stupid shitheads, like Sen, who foment hate because they don't understand whatever it is they are  supposed to profess. 

The fact is an act of violence creates two unique identities- the one who inflicted it and the one upon whom it was inflicted. Stupid or evil people may say 'everybody is guilty' or 'the person who did the raping and killing has another identity as a disabled gay cat impersonator on a planet far far away.' but such cunts we will always have with us- unless, obviously, somebody carelessly kicks their heads in. 

Unfortunately, many well-intentioned attempts to stop such violence are also handicapped by the perceived absence of choice about our identities,

very true. We can choose not to be well-intentioned but ineffectual shitheads. The police could choose to stop violence by arresting thugs instead of attending a seminar on their multiple identities and the capability approach.   

and this can seriously damage our ability to defeat violence.

As can doing any other type of stupid shit.  

Amartya Sen believes that Violence can be caused by 'the presumption that people can be uniquely categorized based on religion or culture.'

This seems strange. What great harm is done when people are treated as falling under the religious laws of their ancestors unless they have expressed a different intention? Am I harmed if I drop dead and am cremated with Hindu rites rather than buried in a Jewish cemetery? It is useful to categorize people. No violence necessarily results. 

It is certainly true that violence is not blind to the nature of its intended victim. If she is stronger and quicker to kill than receive an injury- no violence occurs. Equally, if any injury to her would be quickly avenged, she may be viewed as belonging to a protected class. Thus violence requires the identification of a victim it is safe to kill. So long as it is plausible to believe no vengeance might follow- e.g. you kill a person who is unlikely to be a friend or under the protection of your Mob boss or Police Chief- then it doesn't matter if violence is inflicted on someone who didn't really qualify for it. At worst it is collateral damage. At best, it was providential because that fellow might sooner or later have fallen into the qualifying class.

If all people are uniquely categorized as belonging to the same protected class from the point of view of the dominant religion, culture, ideology or State apparatus and if violence against any person is swiftly and surely avenged, then it is likely that unlawful violence will decline. The cost of policing violence will decline. There is a virtuous circle. 

On the other hand, if people have ambiguous or multiple identities, vengeance may be evaded by special pleading. This could increase violence. Consider the defense of 'provocation'. Where this is associated with multiple identity- e.g. both 'citizen' and 'member of such and such group'- then vengeance upon violent offenders ceases to be swift and certain. But this may also mean that people don't wait for 'provocation'. They get their knife in before the other can pull out the gun they may have concealed upon their person. 

Liberals may want to go easy on members of a disadvantaged class. But this may cause more violence by them against the privileged class which leads to a backlash whereby the latter acts first and then refuses to accept punishment. If genuine privilege exists, Liberals are baffled in their attempt to reward thugs. They retreat from the public sphere weeping their little eyes out. They take to writing stupid books or giving crazy lectures with titles like 'Identity and Violence'. They look around for someone to blame and settle on some other type of Liberal who, they argue, wasn't Liberal enough. This causes them to conjure up the specter of naughty beliefs which corrupt society such that thugs keep getting killed merely because they wanted to rape and kill members of the privileged class- e.g. people with jobs. 

The result is doctrines like the following-

 The implicit belief in the overarching power of a singular classification can make the world thoroughly inflammable. 

If so, nobody should have a unique Social Security number. Indeed having a legal name and a date of birth and an address should be forbidden by law. Hitler used people's names to target them for genocide. Also, we should ban language because it tends to uniquely identify people. Thus if people say, the guy who shat on your doorstep is the elderly fat bastard who lives at number 27 then I may be uniquely identified and become the victim of violence.

A uniquely divisive view goes not only against the old-fashioned belief that all human beings are much the same

which is why you should have no objection to anyone else sleeping with your wife or swapping your beautiful baby for an elderly cretin like me. 

 but also against the less discussed but much more plausible understanding that we are diversely different. 

Either we are different according to a common standard or we are the same by diverse standards. Thus I am taller than Sen according to all standard measures of height which aren't really diverse in their methodology at all. But there are an infinite number of very diverse metrics whereby we are both the same height. There are also an infinite number of methods of measurement by which Sen is taller than the Statue of Liberty. They are crazy and useless measures but they are plenty diverse. 

The world is frequently taken to be a collection of religions (or of “civilizations” or “cultures”), ignoring the other identities that people have and value, involving class, gender, profession, language, science, morals, and politics

 Some religions make a hard and fast distinction between those who are within the fold and those who are outside it. They don't accept that you can both belong to their religion as well as affirm some other creed. Hindusim is not one such religion. One can be a Hindu while participating in Shia festivals or going to a Church. As for Buddhism and Jainism- most Hindus would eagerly embrace an opportunity to gain darshan of a preceptor from those religions. 

Hindus may unconsciously absorb the notion that their own Religion is more tolerant than Religions like Christianity and Islam. 

Tagore, who founded the school where Sen studied for ten years, warned Hindus that Islam and Christianity were not like Indian origin religions. He wrote-' There are two religions in earth, which have distinct enmity against all other religions. These two are Christianity and Islam. They are not just satisfied with observing their own religions but are determined to destroy all other religions. That’s why the only way to make peace with them is to embrace their religions.' Tagore may have been surprised to see that Christianity, in the West, has greatly changed. It has befriended Judaism and is quite happy to dilly dally with Zen Buddhism and Hindu Yoga and ancient Mayan crystal skulls. Maybe this is because the working class in Western countries gained an affluence and security of an enviable type. 

Tagore could scarcely be blamed for failing to predict that Western Christianity would renounce Imperialism and aggressive proselytism. He himself could be accused of chauvinism as the following quote shows- 'When two-three different religions claim that only their own religions are true and all other religions are false, their religions are only ways to Heaven, conflicts cannot be avoided. Thus, fundamentalism tries to abolish all other religions. This is called Bolshevism in religion. Only the path shown by Hinduism can relieve the world form this meanness.” (Tagore, ‘Aatmaparichapa’ in his book `Parichaya’)

  India and Indonesia already had an Islam which was at ease with other faiths. However, in India, for political reasons, essentially secular politicians fell out with each other over the spoils of office. Ethnic cleansing was about grabbing land and looting and raping and so forth. It is what one would expect in an overpopulated land. 

Amartya Sen is old enough to remember the partition violence. However, it should be remembered that Communist violence killed far more people in Asia than did Religious violence. Indeed, Communists spent a lot of time killing other Communists. The Naxalites in Bengal are an example. They killed and were killed by the CPI (M). 

Communism is an ideology which, in some of its more extreme forms, holds that it is necessary to liquidate 'class enemies'. Millions have been killed because of their socio-economic status. Indeed, any 'plural' classification can justify violence. There are crazy misogynists who rant about the right to rape and kill women. There may be feminists who, with more reason, want to see such men hanged by the neck. People have been killed for supporting the wrong football club or liking one type of music rather than another. Having 'multiple identities' won't help you if you are wearing the wrong t-shirt and are in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

This unique divisiveness is much more confrontational than the universe of plural and diverse classifications that shape the world in which we actually live.

This was certainly Tagore's view of Islam and Christianity. He noticed that Hindus simply don't kill each other for religious reasons. Christians, in some parts of the world, kill each other because they belong to different sects. Some Muslims kill each other for similar reasons. Hindus don't. But Hindus will retaliate against violence. But this is true of any community which doesn't want to go extinct.  

The reductionism of high theory can make a major contribution, often inadvertently, to the violence of low politics.

Not if everybody thinks 'high theory' is stupid shite elderly pedants pull out of their ass.  

Also, global attempts to overcome such violence are often handicapped by a similar conceptual disarray, with the acceptance—explicitly or by implication—of a unique identity forestalling many of the obvious avenues of resistance.

Which 'obvious avenue of resistance' are thus foreclosed? Global attempts to overcome violence must uniquely identify those instigating or planning or carrying out violence. This requires more and more fine-grained classification. It might also involve better and better facial and voice identification technology. The fact is people have a unique identity based on their having one and only one body. Finding out what that body has been getting up to enables us to target the violent and safeguard the innocent. 

Conceptual disarray involves believing that a terrorist is also not a terrorist. This may be convenient politically- there were people who admired Hitler because he killed Jews but who felt it safer to say that Hitler never hurt a fly once that fucker ate a bullet. 

As a consequence, religion-based violence might end up being challenged not through the strengthening of civil society (obvious as that course is),

No it isn't. Civil Society, koinōnía politikḗ, may be wholly religious. The Church may or may not be separate from the State and yet thoroughly permeate every non-State Institution. Religious people may run the Schools and the Hospitals and the Trade Unions and the Chambers of Commerce. Communists and Homosexuals and others disliked by the Religious may find it impossible to get a job or find a house to rent. There may be beaten by thugs and the police may stand by as idle spectators. They may be spat at and insulted by 'respectable' people and denied service in restaurants. All of these things have actually happened in 'Liberal' Societies and not so long ago either. 

but through the deployment of different religious leaders of apparently “moderate” persuasion who are charged with vanquishing the extremists in an intrareligious battle, possibly through suitably redefining the demands of the religion involved.

What's wrong with that? It makes sense to use religion to curb the actions of those are seeking to instrumentalize it for a wicked purpose. Perhaps Sen thinks that if only Muslims could start seeing themselves as having a Homosexual identity as practitioners of reflexology in a Galaxy far far away then there would be no more Al Qaeda or ISIS or whatever. The problem here is that it is perfectly possible to be a gay reflexologist while also deciding to kill the kuffar whose Governments, it may be, supported the regime which killed their beloved parents or other relatives. 

When interpersonal relations are seen in singular intergroup terms, as “amity” or “dialogue” among civilizations or religious ethnicities,

no harm whatsoever is done. If the Hindus and the Jews or the Mormons and the Muslims or the Buddhists and the Rastafarians get together to share food and listen to each other's priests then 'amity' and 'dialogue' are promoted. That's a good thing.  

paying no attention to other groups to which the same persons also belong (involving economic, social, political, or other cultural connections), then much of importance in human life is altogether lost,

Why? Hindus and Jews differ in their customs and beliefs. Hearing a Rabbi speak will help Hindus feel affection and respect for Judaism. The Rabbi and the Pundit may discover they share a passion for darts. Their wives may bond over a common ambition to go into stand up comedy. But, for these relationships to go forward it is good to have 'amity' and 'dialogue'. It is a place to start from. Sen wants to rule it out for a priori reasons. But those reasons are crazy. 

and individuals are put into little boxes.

Sen prefers to dice up the individual and put the pieces into lots of little boxes. Sadly, people refuse to be diced up. They believe they have a single unique identity linked firmly to their single, unique, body.  

Lord Voldemort, it will be remembered, cut his soul up into pieces and put them into little boxes called horcruxes. You had to destroy all the little boxes to kill that wizard. Sen is suggesting that if everybody had lots of horcruxes- or identities- then they would gain an immunity to violence. Sadly, people are not wizards. If their body is harmed they are harmed. If their head is cut off, they die. Having lots of imaginary horcruxes, or multiple identities, won't save you. This is because Magic isn't a real thing. Nor is Sen's psilosophy. 

The appalling effects of the miniaturization of people is the subject matter of this book.

So 'Identity and Violence' is not about either Identity of Violence. It is about some stupid shit which exists only in Sen's imagination- viz. some supposed 'miniaturization'. Sen is a small man. Perhaps he had fantasies of growing up to be tall and well built. Then some evil philosopher 'miniaturized' him. He was put into a box- that of an economist. He then created another box for himself- that of a philosopher. That's why nobody beat the shit out of him. He very generously shared his wisdom with the rest of us. To avoid getting blown up by jihadis, you need to establish a separate identity. If you are an economist establish a second identity as a philosopher. If you are a philosopher pretend to be a cat. That will confuse the fuck out of Al-Qaeda. They'd be going 'Oy! Kuffar! I will cut off your head!' and you'd be all like 'You must mean the philosopher who has the same name as me. He's totes kuffar. Chop his head off by all means.'  The problem is the terrorist might not believe you are a cat. So long as you are human you could be a kaffir. Why pass up an opportunity to rid the earth of vermin? 

Why did Sen write such a foolish book? Consider the following-

Rather, we have to draw on the understanding that the force of a bellicose identity can be challenged by the power of competing identities.

This is true only if the 'competing identity' can kick the ass of the 'bellicose identity'. Violence becomes very quiet and sweet if it can see that it will be very badly fucked up by Peace and Tranquility.  

These can, of course, include the broad commonality of our shared humanity,

If Humanity has a big army able to get anywhere quickly and fuck up the violent peeps there- sure.  

but also many other identities that everyone simultaneously has. This leads to other ways of classifying people, which can restrain the exploitation of a specifically aggressive use of one particular categorization. A Hutu laborer from Kigali may be pressured to see himself only as a Hutu and incited to kill Tutsis,

Not if the 'competing identity'  of law-abiding Rwandan can call in the Police who beat and lock up those doing the 'pressuring'. 

and yet he is not only a Hutu, but also a Kigalian, a Rwandan, an African, a laborer, and a human being.

Which is cool if there were an African Army or a Worker's Army or an army of Humanity which could quickly reach the spot and beat and lock up the hate mongers. That was what was lacking. Either you got with the program and did your share of killing or you might be next in line.  

Along with the recognition of the plurality of our identities and their diverse implications, there is a critically important need to see the role of choice in determining the cogency and relevance of particular identities which are inescapably diverse

But wholly irrelevant. Either there is a 'competing identity' which can beat the shit out of 'bellicose identity' or that's what prevails. Only violence can end violence. The Tutsis defeated the Hutu extremists on the field of battle. The genocide had weakened the Hutus. Killing harmless civilians does not make you better at killing guys who are shooting at you. On the contrary, your people become more inclined to run away. 

Ascription is a signal. If someone refers to you in a laudatory manner, chances are they want to do business with you. The reverse is the case if they say mean things about you. As with other types of signalling, using ascription incorrectly can get you into trouble. It's not a good idea to refer to big dudes with roid rage as fairies or cock-suckers. 

Sen notes that

quite often ascription goes with denigration, which is used to incite violence against the vilified person.

Yes. The Allies used rude words to describe Hitler's goons. However, this was not what led to violence against them.  

“The Jew is a man,” Jean-Paul Sartre argued in Portrait of the Anti-Semite, “whom other men look upon as a Jew; … it is the antiSemite who makes the Jew.”

Sartre was wrong. The devotion to God and family and morality shown by generation after generation of Jews over thousands of years is what made them Jews. However, it is also true that many Jews- starting with the very first Christians- willingly and ardently converted to Christianity and had been accepted as Christians for hundreds of years. Others became ardent Atheists or Communists- but retained a Jewish identity in tribute to the high morality and social consciousness of their ancestors. 

Charged attributions can incorporate two distinct but interrelated distortions: misdescription of people belonging to a targeted category, and an insistence that the misdescribed characteristics are the only relevant features of the targeted person’s identity.

Sen does a lot of 'charged attribution' himself. The misdescriptions he indulges in do not however have any tangible effect. Why? We dismiss him as a virtue signalling fool. He and his family have not suffered at the hands of  Hindus. They have at the hands of Muslims. But it is only Hindus he whines about. 

Now he is talking about Jews as if we don't all know that the guys who most want to kill Jews today are Muslims. 

In opposing external imposition, a person can

show he's a nice guy. That could work. Otherwise there has to be an incentive or threat point for the other to desist from escalation.  

both try to resist the ascription of particular characteristics and point to other identities a person has, much as Shylock attempted to do in Shakespeare’s brilliantly cluttered story: “Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is?” 

This is foolish. Shylock was clamoring to collect a pound of flesh in a manner which would have killed his enemy. Suddenly he remembers that he too has flesh which he doesn't want harmed. 

Reminding people that you too have eyes reminds them of the rule 'an eye for an eye'. However, taking the eye of someone who is trying to do that to you is better yet.  One way out is conversion. The other guy might not want to kill one of his own Faith. 

The assertion of human commonality has been a part of resistance to degrading attributions in different cultures at different points in time. In the Indian epic Mahabharata, dating from around two thousand years ago, Bharadvaja, an argumentative interlocutor, responds to the defense of the caste system by Bhrigu (a pillar of the establishment) by asking: “We all seem to be affected by desire, anger, fear, sorrow, worry, hunger, and labor; how do we have caste differences then?”

 Bharadvaja was a Brahmin Sage as was Bhrigu. The answer to his question was that God created the World. At first only Brahmins existed. Then some declined in morality and lower castes came into existence. All this happened very long ago. Thus the message is 'be like the primordial Brahmins regardless of which caste you were born into or whatever follies or addictions your own course of life has led you into. Return to the path of the pure and spiritual beings who were your first ancestors. There is no such thing as 'common humanity'. God created Brahmins but some of them degenerated. Reverse that degeneration. Return to God. Even wild beasts and demons can do so.

A theist would say God himself, by a gratuitious gift of grace, gives the soul the power to exercise this type of redemptive choice. A strict Monist may have some semantic quibble with this doctrine but would consider it sound enough.

Why invoke God, the Creator, rather than base 'resistance to degrading attributes' on 'human commonality'? The answer is that either 'human commonality' has already abolished such degrading attributes (which only exist in the minds of humans) in which case there is no need for 'resistance', or else that some purpose is served by those 'degrading attributes'. Thus, when I am termed an ignorant, malicious, lazy, sack of shit, a good purpose is served. I become humble- if only for a moment. I may seek to redeem myself by curtailing my literary activity. I might start taking more exercise and thus become less fat. I'm kidding. People like me are secretly delighted when our ignorance and stupidity are exposed. We think, 'Aha! I'm being taken notice of! The tide is turning in my favor! First they call you names. Then they attack your ideas. Finally they say that everybody had already accepted your thesis long ago.' Hopefully, God will grant me oblivion long before any such thing happens. All the good people who ever could be born on this planet would already have died and gone to Heaven. Once that happens, who cares if Earth is inherited by the Socioproctologists? 

The foundations of degradation include not only descriptive misrepresentation, but also the illusion of a singular identity that others must attribute to the person to be demeaned.

This is not the case. One is demeaned by one particular trait not irrelevant ones. Thus kids mocked me for shitting myself in Swahili class even though, as I vehemently pointed out, I had not also pissed myself. How come nobody gave me credit for urinary continence? Why did everybody just focus on the fact that I'd taken a dump in my pants? Anyway, that's why I gave up teaching. 

“There used to be a me,” Peter Sellers, the English actor, said in a famous interview, “but I had it surgically removed.”

This was on the Muppet Show. This was funny as well as self-deprecating but not 'demeaning'  because Sellers was a nice guy- not a malignant tumor of a soul- who'd lost weight, had some plastic surgery and got a tan, so as to be a Hollywood super-star. Sure, he'd lost a bit of his English roots but we were proud our lad dun gud. 

That removal is challenging enough,

Sellers was joking. But the characters he was playing were going in a Zen like direction. That was very hip back then.  

but no less radical is the surgical implantation of a “real me” by others who are determined to make us different from what we think we are.

Violence is not about surgical implantation. It is about beating and killing. Dead you is the real you the bad guys want.  

Organized attribution can prepare the ground for persecution and burial.

Why bother? You don't have to give a dog a bad name to hang him. The thing is a waste of resources.  

Furthermore, even if in particular circumstances people have difficulty in convincing others to acknowledge the relevance of identities other than what is marshaled for the purpose of denigration (along with descriptive distortions of the ascribed identity), that is not reason enough to ignore those other identities when circumstances are different.

Reason has nothing to do with talking bollocks.  

This applies, for example, to Jewish people in Israel today, rather than in Germany in the 1930s. It would be a long-run victory of Nazism if the barbarities of the 1930s eliminated forever a Jewish person’s freedom and ability to invoke any identity other than his or her Jewishness.

But it would be a defeat for Judaism. Why do what is pleasing to Hitler?  

Similarly, the role of reasoned choice needs emphasis in resisting the ascription of singular identities and the recruitment of foot soldiers in the bloody campaign to terrorize targeted victims.

No it doesn't. The thing does not work at all. Foot soldiers have a choice. Either stay out of the conflict and risk being killed. Or join up till it is safer or more profitable to go AWOL. Saying to people, 'you needn't be for or against Putin. You can choose to have multiple identities as Dental Technicians in Singapore and  disabled Gay hypnotherapists living on a planet far far away.'  Economics may be described as the science of choice under scarcity. It isn't a magic wand to create multiple identities in Imaginationland.

Campaigns to switch perceived self-identities have been responsible for many atrocities in the world,

Taking a shit is part of a campaign to switch one's perceived self-identity as being full of shit. This has indeed led to many atrocities in the world. Breathing in an out is part of a campaign to switch perceived self-identities from being that of a suffocating person to one who is receiving adequate oxygen.  

making old friends into new enemies

Shitting on them has the same effect 

and odious sectarians into suddenly powerful political leaders.

or odious Professors of shite subjects into suddenly influential public intellectuals. 

The need to recognize the role of reasoning and choice in identity-based thinking is thus

equal to the need to recognize the role of respiration and defecation 

both exacting and extremely important.

Fuck off! People need to breathe and eat and defecate. They don't need to recognize the role of reasoning or emoting or breathing or eating or defecating.  

 If choices do exist and yet it is assumed that they are not there, the use of reasoning may well be replaced by uncritical acceptance of conformist behavior, no matter how rejectable it may be.

Whereas succumbing to magical thinking and saying we can have multiple identities may cause us to talk Sen-tentious bollocks.  

Typically, such conformism tends to have conservative implications, and works in the direction of shielding old customs and practices from intelligent scrutiny.

That's a good thing. If it works, don't fix it. Pedants are incapable of intelligent scrutiny. Sen is such a conformist he is still babbling about Adam Smith! 

Indeed, traditional inequalities, such as unequal treatment of women in sexist societies (and even violence against them), or discrimination against members of other racial groups, survive by the unquestioning acceptance of received beliefs (including the subservient roles of the traditional underdog).

This is not true. You accept the things you can't change but, at the margin, constantly test what can be changed. This does not mean that there can't be a general saltation event after a tipping point has been reached.  This does not involve poor people learning to question why the haven't a pot to piss in. Rather it involves getting indoor plumbing and flicking through brochures for jacuzzis.

Many past practices and assumed identities have crumbled in response to questioning and scrutiny.

No. They resisted questioning and scrutiny which was not associated with a change in technology or the mode of production. But they faded fast enough when peeps got rich.  

Traditions can shift even within a particular country and culture. It is perhaps worth recollecting that John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women, published in 1874, was taken by many of his British readers to be the ultimate proof of his eccentricity, and as a matter of fact, interest in the subject was so minimal that this is the only book of Mill’s on which his publisher lost money. 

Because he was a boring twat. What got women the vote? The First World War. Productivity can put paid to prejudice. Political philosophy can't pay for itself.

However, the unquestioning acceptance of a social identity may not always have traditionalist implications. It can also involve a radical reorientation in identity which could then be sold as a piece of alleged “discovery” without reasoned choice. This can play an awesome role in the fomenting of violence. My disturbing memories of Hindu-Muslim riots in India in the 1940s, to which I referred earlier, include seeing—with the bewildered eyes of a child—the massive identity shifts that followed divisive politics.

Why was there ethnic cleansing of Hindus from East Bengal but only economic migration of Muslims from West Bengal? Tagore predicted the outcome. Sen, bewildered child that he remains, still doesn't get that the withdrawal of the British made non Muslim minorities vulnerable.  A new Social identity was thrust on his people. That's why they ran away from Dacca. 

A great many persons’ identities as Indians, as

British subjects protected by the Crown 

subcontinentals, as Asians, or as members of the human race, seemed to give way— quite suddenly—to sectarian identification with Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh communities.

Because the Muslim League wanted to partition the country. Sen still does not get this.  

The carnage that followed had much to do with elementary herd behavior by which people were made to “discover” their newly detected belligerent identities, without subjecting the process to critical examination.

Is Sen saying, Indic religions were and are peaceful. Islam and Christianity endow converts with belligerent identities? That is what Tagore said. The problem here is that West Bengal has been Communist or Secular. It hasn't been Hindu or Hindutva. Whatever 'herd behavior' Hindu Bengalis display- thought it may feature running away, does not involve an identity belligerent to Islam. That is why the Muslim population of West Bengal rose and is rising while the Hindu population  of East Bengal fell and may fall yet further. 

It should be observed that the Bengalis were considered a people lacking in martial qualities. Herds, after all, have a limited repertoire of behavior. I suppose Sen, like Tagore or Niradh Chaudhri is criticizing his own people though, being an academic, he has to do it in a veiled manner. By his cowardice, Sen makes a powerful statement of how the Hindu buddhijivi, though fascinated by Violence, feels too weak to incorporate it into an rational and integrated identity. It is exiled instead, in schizoid manner to some imaginary rainbow of plurality where the yellow streak might not so stand out. On the other hand, 'critical examination' has little fear of being labeled cowardice. It is smart to get away from shitholes and put yourself under the protection of Anglo Saxons who understand both how to conduct commerce and how to inflict carnage. 

That, at any rate is the opinion of this author- one Vivek-most-utterly-shit-Iyer-ever. The true Bengali- in my experience- is a buddhijivi of Vivekandanda's sort. Courage is Spirituality is Family commitment is Patriotic zeal is the indissoluble link between Nara & Narayana or Babu Narendranath & Swami Ramakrishna. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Multiple Identities, Participatory Rights & other Sen-tentious tosh

 Some 20 years ago Kenan Malik wrote, in Prospect magazine, of Sen's 'Identity and Violence' 

At the heart of the book is an argument against what Sen calls the communitarian view of identity—the belief that identity is something to be “discovered” rather than chosen.

This follows if either God created us with a plan or else there are what Wittgenstein called 'forms of life' which only intense philosophical investigation can reveal to us.

“There is a certain way of being human that is my way,” the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor wrote in his much-discussed essay “The Politics of Recognition.” “I am called upon to live my life in this way.” But who does the calling?

Either God or some type of 'philosophical anthropology'- which is what Taylor believed he had a vocation for.  

Seemingly the identity itself.

No. A man may be an atheist or he may decide that 'philosophical anthropology' is 'shitting higher than your arsehole'. If God exists or philosophical anthropology aint bunkum then there is something above or beyond human identity which calls us to a higher type of knowledge or understanding.  

For Taylor, as for many communitarians, identity appears to come first, with the human actor following in its shadow.

It is certainly true that culture and language existed before we were born and will exist after we are dead.  

Or, as the philosopher John Gray has put it, identities are “a matter of fate, not choice.”

It is my fate to be a elderly Tamil man rather that Beyonce. 

Sen will have none of it. “There are two issues here,” he says when I meet him at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was master until returning to Harvard two years ago. “First, the recognition that identities are robustly plural

in which case I am Beyonce just as much as I am a fat and graceless retard.  

and the importance of one identity need not obliterate another.

Sadly, Sanity requires one rational and sensible personality to predominate. The alternative is a long spell in a padded cell.  

And second, that a person has to make choices about what relative importance to attach, in a particular context, to their divergent loyalties and identities.

But such choices have to be based on reason. I am not Beyonce because I am fat, old, and have a dick. It is important I chose to act like an elderly Tamil gentleman rather than spend my time twerking and shaking my boobies.  

The individual belongs to many different groups and it’s up to him or her to decide which of those groups he or she would like to give priority to.”

Sadly, it isn't up to the individual which 'groups' she belongs to. I'm not a member of the Royal Family. I need to prioritize such groups as will actually have me.  

We are multitudes and we can choose among our multitudes.

Not even Beyonce can choose to join the Royal Family and not even the Queen Gorbless'er can make hundreds of millions of dollars by shaking her money-maker.  

Sen is particularly critical of the ways in which communitarian notions of identity have found their way into social policy,

Nobody gives a shit about 'communitarian notions of identity'. Social policy has always been based on what genuinely exists, not what some pedant pulled out of his ass.  

especially through the ideas of multiculturalism,

Canada already had multiculturalism which is why Taylor served on a committee on 'reasonable accommodation'- i.e. appeasing the French speaking Quebecois.  

and in so doing have diminished the scope for individual freedom.

Very true! Canada is now a Gulag. Fuck you Taylor! Fuck you very much! 

“I am not opposed to multiculturalism,” he says. “But I am opposed to the way it has been interpreted.

So, Sen is opposed to diverse ways of interpreting multiculturalism. This is like being intolerant of any interpretation of the word 'Tolerance' which does not involve everybody doing what you tell them to.  

There are two basically distinct approaches to multiculturalism.

No. There are infinitely many distinct approaches to a concept which essentially means 'diverse interpretations should exist'. On the other hand, there may be only one correct way of interpreting 'mono-culturalism'.  

One concentrates on the promotion of diversity as a value in itself.

In which case it should devote equal resources to promoting conformity as a value in itself. You should donate an equal amount to the LGBTQ alliance as to the Nazi Party and the Pedophile Information Exchange.  

The other focuses on the freedom of reasoning and decision-making, and celebrates cultural diversity to the extent that it is freely chosen

So I should be celebrated for quitting my job and freely choosing to be a Beyonce impersonator.  The tax payer must make good the fall in my income. 

The truth is that 'multiculti' was about 'reasonable accommodation' of minority religions, languages, cultures etc. In the UK the case of Shabina Begum who sued for the right to wear 'jilbab' in School was an example. Sen did not understand this. He lived in a fantasy world where Governments listened to some rival philosopher and then did things he disapproved of. 

The way that British authorities have interpreted multiculturalism has very much undermined individual freedom.

 This is false. In the Shabina Begum case, the School already permitted hijab. Muslim girls wore shalwar kameez. The Law Lords decided that  a person's right to hold a particular religious belief was absolute (i.e. could not be interfered with), but that a person's right to manifest a particular religious belief was qualified (i.e. it could be interfered with if there was a justification). This was perfectly reasonable. 

A British Muslim is not asked to act within the civil society or the political arena but as a Muslim.

This is utter garbage. Kenan Malik is Muslim. When has he ever been asked to 'act as a Muslim' by any British institution?  

His British identity has to be mediated by his community.”

This simply isn't true. Was Sen, as Master of Trinity, constantly being asked to do puja or yoga or charm snakes as part of his official duties? Perhaps. But Muslims were not pestered in like manner.  

What policymakers have created in Britain, Sen suggests, is not multiculturalism but “plural monoculturalism,” a system in which people are constantly herded into different identity pens.

Very true. Britain has strict apartheid type laws.  

“Take the case of the Bangladeshis,” says Sen. “Bangladesh’s separation from Pakistan was not based on their religion but on their language, their literature and their secular politics.

No. It was based on the fact that West Pakistan wouldn't let the East Pakistani who won the election take over as Prime Minister. Bangladesh is an Islamic Republic just like Pakistan.  

At the time of independence Bangladeshis who came here had a very strong sense of Bengali identity.

They still do. Moreover they have come up through hard work and enterprise in the same manner that their country has become much richer than Pakistan or West Bengal. British Bangladeshis have invested very profitably in both the UK as well as in Bangladesh. But then many Indians have also invested in Bangladesh.  

But all that disappeared, because the official government classification ignored language, culture and secular politics, and insisted on viewing all Bangladeshis as Muslims.

This is false. The British census asks us about out mother tongue and this enables local councils to make provisions accordingly. Thus you see signs in Gurmukhi script in Southall, where Sikhs predominate, and signs in Bengali in Brick Lane where Bangladeshis have settled.  

Suddenly they had lost all identity other than being Islamic.

Very true. Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, now speaks only Arabic. Try talking Bangla to him and you will be met by a blank stare.  

And suddenly Bangladeshis stopped being Bangladeshis and were merged with all other Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia.”

Worse still, cruel Britishers crammed them all into the same pair of underpants.  

“We have a system in which Muslim organisations are in charge of all Muslims,

 Britain has no such system. There are many different Muslim organizations reflecting the different 'mazhabs' and orientations of British Muslims. 

Hindu organisations in charge of all Hindus,

Ask a British Hindu to name such an organization. She will not be able to though she may know of an organization for her own caste or sect.  

Jewish organisations in charge of all Jews and so on.”

The Jews do have a Chief Rabbi and the Catholics do have a Cardinal. Muslims and Hindus have no such thing.  

This parcelling out of the nation can only weaken civil society.

Very true. All British Jews are blindly obeying their Chief Rabbi- thinks nobody at all. Jews are a small minority in the UK but those talented people can be found all over the political and ideological spectrum. On the other hand, Labor may soon have only one Jewish MP. 

Large scale immigration of people speaking a different language and who have lower educational attainment may indeed 'weaken civil society'. However, London seems to have assimilated sub-continental immigrants.  

“In downplaying political and social identities, as opposed to religious identities, the government has weakened civil society precisely when there is a great need to strengthen it.”

Perhaps Sen, in his obtuse and obfuscating manner, was saying 'Britain has been soft on Islamic nutters'. That was true enough. But Sen couldn't actually come out and say anything meaningful, let alone anything true.  

Multicultural policies, in other words, have allowed mainstream politicians to abandon their responsibilities for engaging directly with Muslim communities.

No. Mainstream politicians met individuals regardless of faith though, in some cases, this meant that they ended up getting stabbed.  

Far from promoting a sense of integration, the policy has encouraged Muslims to see themselves as semi-detached.

No. Believing God wants you to stab the kuffar causes you to view infidels with a degree of detachment. 

There is much that I agree with in Sen’s broadside against identity politics and the consequences of multicultural policies.

Malik as a Muslim didn't want the nutters to gain the upper hand because they'd soon get round to chopping off his hand on one pretext or another.  

Indeed, I have argued on similar lines in various essays in Prospect. There is much to admire, too, in Sen’s stress on human choices and in his insistence on the importance of reasoned reflection.

Sadly Sen does not lay enough stress on the importance of respiration.  

So why do I also find his argument unsatisfying?

Because they are stupid shit.  

Sen takes for granted that we all possess multiple identities but never defines what he means by an identity.

No definition is required. Sen is saying that he himself thinks that a person who is Muslim is one thing and a person who is Bangladeshi is another. If only East Bengalis hadn't been of the former type, his people wouldn't have had to run away from Dacca. Once you understand that this is a guy with deep seated- quite understandable- hatred for a large class of people then you can see that 'multiple identities' actually means 'Muslims are evil. They should stop being Muslim. Then my family wouldn't have had to run away to West Bengal where the people look down on us as yokels.' Sen can't say what he thinks because he'd lose his job. That's why he has to pretend multiple identities exist.  

The result is that it seems to mean just about anything you want it to mean. The same person, Sen suggests, “can be without contradiction, an American citizen, of Caribbean origin, with African ancestry,

till the Police shoot her for reaching for a concealed weapon which turns out to be a mobile phone. 

a Christian, a liberal, a woman, a historian, a novelist, a feminist, a heterosexual, a believer in gay and lesbian rights,

there are plenty of contradictions right there. Some Christians think homosexuality is sinful. Some feminists think heterosexuality only exists because of patriarchal brainwashing. Indeed, any two predicates applicable to a person may be said to contradict each other. According to my height, my weight should be much less- in the opinion of my Doctor. I disagree. I think I am not tall enough. My weight is just fine.  

a theatre lover, an environmental activist, a tennis fan, a jazz musician, and someone who is deeply committed to the view that there are intelligent beings in outer space with whom it is extremely urgent to talk (preferably in English).”

Sen's mistake is to think these are distinct identities rather than traits or predicates applicable to a person with just one body and thus only one identity.  

Indeed she can. But what does that tell us about identity? After all, few people would deny that you could be a Christian and a tennis fan, or that someone with African ancestry could believe in English-speaking aliens.

What is the thing Sen might be saying which people would deny?  The answer is that Bengalis ought not to have a Muslim identity. Then his people wouldn't have had to run away from Dacca. To be fair, Sen also objects to Hindus having a Hindu identity. He is an atheist. 

The plain fact is that the Brits were able to get Hindus and Muslims to play nice in Bengal. It was the transition to democracy which caused both big famines as well as ethnic cleansing. But this was because Bengalis were bad at governance. As Sen's own career would amply demonstrate, Bengalis were also shit at Social Choice theory and Political Philosophy. But Social Choice theory does not matter. Philosophy does not matter. Governance does matter. It seems Sheikh Hasina can do it well enough. Mamta can't. Sad. 

In conflating tastes, aptitudes, predilections, given biological traits, inherited cultural affiliations and acquired political beliefs into a single list, as if they all mattered equally in discussion of identity, is Sen not trivialising the concept of identity and making it more difficult to understand what it is about the contemporary world that makes identity politics both so significant and so problematic?

Yes. But he is doing so for a reason which he can't articulate without getting the sack. That reason is deeply personal. His people were chased out of their ancestral homes by Muslims. Islamic identity is evil. Why can't Sen say this? The answer is that we only have to visit a mosque or just talk to Muslim people to discover that Islam isn't evil at all. It makes people better human beings. Sure, where there is governance failure, there can be a crazy type of political Islam. But where States fail, all sorts of lunatics are going to be running amok killing and raping and looting. The solution is to do proper Economics and to have proper Governance. It isn't to virtue signal or to speak darkly of some metaphysical sin committed by evil philosophers which, in an occult manner, is causing the British Government to prevent Bengali Muslims from speaking Bengali. They are being forced to speak Arabic and ride camels. Fuck you Tony Blair! Fuck you very much! 

“I’m not saying that being a football fan is of the same order as being a liberal or conservative,” he replies.

It is more important. The Red Wall may collapse. It may be reconstituted. But football abides all things.  

“One could be immensely more important than the other, depending on the person. It is not just that our priorities may vary according to context, but we also have to determine what the nature of the particular context is.

And we also have to determine what the nature of that nature is and then decide what the nature of that nature of that nature is and so forth.  

I might decide that it is frivolous to go to a football match when something important like voting is taking place.

Why? You can do both. Voting booths are open throughout the day. In any case, there is such a thing as a postal vote.  

So my loyalty to a football club and my loyalty to a political ideal may clash.

Not really.  

And I will then have to determine where will I go. We all face this kind of decision.”

Governments go out of their way to make sure these decisions are made easy for us- unless u iz bleck and in a Red State in which case you might be sent to jail for trying to vote.  

But this seems a banal way of looking at the problem. After all, what has made the question of identity important is not that individuals do not know how to choose which hat to wear and when, but that collectively hat-wearing fashions have changed.

How does this affect the 'question of identity'? Only if your ethos is that of a person who dresses in an expressive way does the question of hat wearing gain salience. What you wear has a signalling function for others like yourself.  

Certain social affiliations have acquired new significance while others have faded away.

Why? There is an economic of 'socio-biological' reason. Affiliations affect economic and reproductive outcomes. Technological changes cause economic changes which in turn alter reproductive outcomes. This changes the relative importance of different affiliations. 

In this post-ideological age, people are less likely than they were to define social solidarity in political terms—as collective action in pursuit of political ideals.

The opposite may be the case because political affiliations alter reproductive outcomes. Young men on campuses complain that they have to pretend to be woke to get to sleep around. But this 'Lysistrata strategy' has been around since the time of Adam and Eve! 

The question people ask themselves is not so much “what kind of society do I want to live in?” as “who are we?” As political identities have weakened, so people have come to view themselves more in terms of their cultural, ethnic or religious affiliations.

Only if this is what determined their economic and reproductive outcomes.  

And they see those identities as given rather than chosen.

Because the economy and the reproductive fitness landscape are given though we may choose to emigrate to some South Sea isle where everybody is having sex all the time while the fish leap into untended nets and coconuts are constantly dropping down into your lap.  

What is important, then, is not that people have forgotten that they possess multiple identities. It is rather that political identities have so little significance that people often look elsewhere for meaning—to faith, culture or ethnicity.

All of which have a political dimension.  

For an author who places such great stress on the importance of context, Sen makes little attempt to place the debate about identity itself in a social or historical context.

Because he is a shit economist. Also he lives in a fantasy world where Tony Blair was forcing Bangladeshi origin people to speak Arabic and ride camels.  

One consequence of this is a skewed notion of choice. Take, for instance, the argument that multicultural policies have imposed upon Bangladeshis the single identity of being Muslim.

It isn't true. 

Policies have certainly done this.

No. British Social Policy looked at self-reported data re. ethnicity, mother tongue etc. This helped determine how Local Authority rates were spent to some small extent. But this was a case of assumptions re. 'unmet needs' which were subject to public discussion. At one time, the BBC had a program in Urdu on Sunday mornings. Then more and more Indian origin people told the Beeb that they couldn't understand a word of it. On the other hand, they liked 'Mind your Language' which the elites considered racist.  

At the same time, though, many have also chosen to view themselves primarily as Muslim. Why?

Because Islam is a great spiritual religion with a superb juristic and philosophical and hermeneutic tradition. Moreover it promotes family values as well as the virtues of thrift and enterprise and humane and cultured behavior. What's wrong with that? Plenty of Christians and Hindus have found their own faith bolstered by reading the works of Islamic sages and savants.  

Partly because as wider political attachments have eroded, so Islam for many has provided a sense of anchorage and meaning in their lives.

The alternative is drugs and bestial sex.  

Identity and Violence reads sometimes as if people should only have choice if they make the right choice.

Nothing wrong in that. I don't want to have choices I don't understand. That's why I like a 'graphical user interface' which is pretty much idiot-proof. Smart peeps prefer to have the option to customize things to their liking. Ordinary people want simple 'pre-set' options.  

Does Sen really believe that?

“Quite often people are pressured into making choices which are not based on reflection,” he replies.

Sen chose to runaway from India with his best-friend's wife. Hopefully, this was because the two fell in love rather than that they came to this decision on the basis of prolonged philosophical reflection.  

“It is patronising to think that a person is not capable of better reflection;

Not if such in fact is the case and the aim is not to show one's superiority.  

that somehow some people are doomed to think in a peculiarly narrow and limited way.

We are all doomed to think in this way on subjects of which we have little knowledge or understanding. Did anybody in Britain resent being told by the Government to wash their hands in a more thorough way? We understood that COVID was some scary shit. We needed to take every precaution we were capable of taking. Being reminded of such things was helpful and salutary.  

We are forced to think that by propaganda,

No. If you travel to a remote forest or desert, the good hearted local people will take you under their wing. They will teach you how to do things in a way which keeps you safe. You can't saunter down to the watering-hole as if you were walking by an ornamental pond in Hyde Park. An alligator might eat you. 

Human beings are not brainwashed by propaganda into intuiting a cognitive or epistemic deficiency in another person. They are born with this faculty. When we realize that a person is a foreigner in our City we go out of our way to put them on the right track. This is not 'patronizing'. It is not the result of 'propaganda'. It is the result of hard-wired empathy and theory of mind.  

by pressure and a sense of identity.

What pressure are the indigenous people of the mountains or jungles or deserts subject to?  

It relates to Karl Marx’s false consciousness.

A term coined by Engels after Marx had died. But it turned out that Marxism was worse for working class people than either Imperialism or Capitalism. False consciousness turned out to be the delusive confabulation of a false theory.  

You may have the sense that this is the objective thing to do. But in fact it is illusory.

No. We may underestimate the risk or we may simply be unlucky. But there is nothing illusory about a possible state of the world.  

I do have prejudices but my prejudice is the belief that we human beings all have the capacity to think about moral and political issues

and the capacity to stop such thinking once diminishing returns set in, unless we are paid to gas on about that shite 

and when we don’t do it, I tend to attribute it to pressure.”

Which is what paranoiacs do. How come BoJo hasn't made me the Duke of Twerkington? It is because of pressure brought upon him by the Nicaraguan horcrux of my neighbor's cat.  

I share Sen’s prejudices. I share too his fears about identity politics and the consequences of cultural pluralism. But I also think that the debate about identity is more complex, and less black and white, than he appears to believe.

The debate about identity is one between cretins and imbeciles. It may be very complex indeed but it is still useless. On the other hand in parts of America the debate really was black and white- at least if the cop was white and believed that all black people have plenty of lethal weapons concealed about their person. 

Turning to more recent, more scholarly, work on the issue of identity in multi-ethnic democracies, the question arises as to what 'multiple identity' might actually involve. In Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence, a Judge in deciding a case may create a right or an obligation for a broad class of people or entities with legal personality. It has been argued that where a person qualifies for affirmative action under more than one heading they should get a superior outcome (intersectionality) e.g. the disabled Black Lesbian should get more than a person who qualifies under only one heading. This is not upheld by law though, no doubt, it happens anyway. However, having a 'dual' identity as both an 'obligations' holder' as well as a member of a 'protected class' can lead to evasion of duties or other prima facie unjust outcomes. Notoriously, the English law of trusts enabled wealthy and powerful noblemen to appear before the court as actually acting for an imaginary child fathered on 12 named matrons of the parish long past child-bearing age! Clearly, equity (both 'horizontal' and 'vertical') requires pruning back such undeserved protection so that people in like circumstances are treated equally and those in superior positions don't get to shuffle out of their obligations. This is ultimately a task for judges and practicing advocates. It is ideographic not nomothetic.

What happens when academics try to give legs to 'multiple identity' as a means to endow democracy with greater stability?

A Dutch researcher Betto Van Waarden writes-

More generally, polyethnic participation rights are supported by Sen’s idea that every individual has multiple identities in which she could flourish.

The problem here is that equity is violated if the same person get's resources under two or more different headings.  In a Democracy, there is likely to be a voter backlash. 

He specifies that even supposed holistic identities like religion need not confine these other identities. A “Muslim has much freedom to determine what other values and priorities he or she would choose without compromising a basic Islamic faith”.

The law says there is equal freedom but that freedom may be limited by reason of a superior right vested in some other party.  

Kwame Appiah notes that this merely proves that there are debates internal to belief systems about their practices rather than that beliefs cannot be comprehensive.

If such debates exist, beliefs are not comprehensive at all. In theology, this is the question of supererogation. It is generally conceded that the thing exists. Beliefs are not comprehensive. Faith is but it is a mystery. 

However, by giving this Muslim participatory rights, she could partake in social and professional activities in which her identity might be more determined by these activities than her religion.

Either participatory rights extend to all citizens or there is no democracy in which they participate. Furthermore, religion restricts what one can participate in without incurring sin or being classed as apostate. Activities don't determine identity though they may enable it to endure or to get abruptly terminated. Going for a walk may prolong my life. Taking up cage fighting would quickly end it. 

The issue is that she can identify as a salesperson, mother, volleyball player and BritishPakistani, but that if she works in a Muslim shop, raises her child in a Muslim family, plays volleyball in a Muslim sports association and associates with other Muslims rather than other Pakistani and British people, Islam would likely dominate her identity at the expense of the others.

Only in the sense that Britishness dominates the identity of the vast majority of British people. How is this an 'issue'? Must Christians raise their kids to be Confucians?  

Sen acknowledges that individuals prioritise identities, but wants to avoid people perceiving their identities as merely singular. Thus, I argue that participation policies allow this person to mitigate her overarching identity somewhat in favour of others.

Cool. Every White family should be forced to raise at least one kid as a Confucian or Voodoo practitioner. Perhaps the Dutch already insist on this.  

Making it easier for this Muslim to work in a non-Muslim shop, attend baby classes with other non-Muslim mothers, play volleyball in a non-Muslim sports association and interact more with non-Muslim Pakistanis and Britons allows her to flourish broadly and associate more with these other identity groups.

Why stop there? Why not insist that all smart and successful people marry or adopt at least one crazy rapist or homicidal prostitute? I suppose the author thinks Muslim Pakistanis are stupid and ignorant. Only if they get to mix with nice White prostitutes will they begin to flourish.  

In addition to being Muslim, she could identify more easily as a ‘salesperson’, ‘mother’, etc. – rather than as a ‘Muslim salesperson’, ‘Muslim mother’, etc.

This Dutch dude has amazing insights into the minds of brown women! What he isn't saying is that it is only thanks to 'participatory rights' that females have stopped thinking of themselves as brainless cum dumpsters. Some of them have even learned to speak human languages!  

In addition to enhancing an individual’s awareness of her different identities,

Darling, you aren't just a cum dumpster. You can have an identity as a person who speaks human language. One day you may even get a job in a shop. They you can identify yourself as 'cum dumpster salesperson'. Won't that be awesome?  

such participation fosters personal relations across dominant identity groups. A mere abstract awareness of sharing a profession, gender, religion or nationality with others does not provide a strong antidote to (violent) exploitation of singular identities by group leaders.

Very true. If women only associated with women they would never learn human language. Group leaders would ensure that they remained mute and comatose cum dumpsters.  

However, if the individual interacts with others in these shared identity groups, she

may learn to speak a human language 

is less likely to suddenly see these groups as antagonistic ‘others’.

Who will use her as a dumpster for cum.  

While the possibility still exists, it is mitigated.

So, she'd be a mitigated cum dumpster. Why can't the Feminists be satisfied with this outcome?  

Sen indicates that in categorising groups we often

get our head kicked in if we do it aloud and there are women present. This is because, thanks to participatory rights, many have learned human language.  

forget about “the reach and influence of interactions” across borders.

Very true. I sometimes worry that my ginormous dick may have crossed borders and got lots of Chinese women preggers. That's why that country has the world's largest population.  

He refers to global exchanges of information and goods, but it equally applies to national situations and people through whom interactions take place.

Sadly, women in this country think I got a tiny dick. I try to tell them it is a grower not a shower. I've got lots of Chinese women preggers though I've never been within a thousand miles of its borders. 

More particularly, he indicates: “the translation of that [singularisation] vision into actual application has often taken the form of neglecting the relevance of the person’s plural social relations”.

Not if it is done through the market. Businesses understand that 'plural social relations' are market opportunities.  

This comment suggests that relations already exist, but we need to be more aware of them.

If we work for Facebook or whatever, sure. We'd be getting paid a lot of money to exponentially increase participation.  

However, increasing isolation based on singular identities reduces relations between members of different groups.

In England, increasing isolation means 'reduced relations' . In Holland, isolated people have more relations with others like themselves. The Dutch are a peculiar people. They isolate themselves in Ann Frank's attic but find themselves surrounded by thousands of Dutch Uncles who scold them vehemently. Then they go stick a finger into a dyke just to get some peace and quiet. 

Looking forward, Sen concludes: “the future of multi-ethnic Britain must lie in recognising, supporting, and helping to advance the many different ways in which citizens with distinct politics, linguistic heritage, and social priorities (along with different ethnicities and religions) can interact with each other in their different capacities, including as citizens”.

Sen was wrong. The future of multi-ethnic Britain lay in getting the fuck away from Brussels. We have plenty of BAME politicians at the highest levels. Few are much concerned with 'linguistic heritage'. As for Islam, the thing has become as British as fish & chips.  

This “supporting” and “helping to advance” endorses the idea of granting immigrants participation rights,

same as everybody else- sure. Britain is a nation of shop-keepers. We want everybody to buy from us and we will buy from anybody provided we get a good deal.  

which allow them to thrive in their plural identities within society and forge relationships with those who share these particular identities.

This happens anyway. If people migrate it is because they want a better life. It is in their interest to make the country they settle in more stable, more secure, and more prosperous.  

Sen argues that cultural contacts have dissolved distinct national cultures that immigrants could be required to assimilate to, and that traditional cultures are also obligated to adapt to their pluralising identity.

No. Coercive social mechanisms may become ineffective because of 'Baumol cost disease' (services rise in price relative to commodities) or bureaucratic inertia or other types of Institutional malaise. But this does not mean that 'national culture' has 'dissolved'. Immigrants want a better life and respond to incentives but they themselves create incentives for 'reasonable accommodation' to be a positive sum game.  

Consequently, both Sen and Kymlicka refer to such multiculturalism as “hybridising”, as different cultural identities mix and create new ones, and “[m]embers of one ethnic group will meet and befriend members of other groups, and adopt new identities and practices”.

But overall diversity will decrease after a mixing event because of selection pressure.  

Multiculturalism through participatory polyethnic rights therefore leads to Sen’s desired society of plural interrelated identities, rather than homogenous or isolated identities.

This assumes that the fitness landscape is flat and featureless. This is foolish. There will always be selection pressure so long as there is scarcity. Greater mobility means less diversity. 'Participatory polyethnic rights' freeze up the social geography and soon become politically and economically disastrous. Indeed, the political class may be disintermediated because of a deadlock based on this foolish ideology. That could entail economic collapse- as in Lebanon- or the dog's breakfast that is Belgian politics.  

Thus, Kymlicka argues that immigrants have few rights claims to conserve their culture, because they immigrated voluntarily and desire participatory rather than isolationist rights.

Canada is a special case. The point about 'rights claims' is that they are multiply realizable.  It may be that some Canadian Cities will have a Chinese speaking elite. Nobody will mind if they are creating jobs and paying a lot in taxes. 

However, with his example of increasingly segregated religious schooling in England, Sen shows that such groups sometimes do demand isolationist rights that could divide citizens into singularised identities and threaten political stability.

Subsequent events have shown that this does pose any great existential threat to Democracy. Once the problem of terrorism was separated out of a general panic about Muslims, things returned to an even keel. Some faith schools improve academic outcomes. Others reduce crime and drug addiction. I believe some ultra-orthodox Jewish schools are worst academically but, I imagine, the are the best for keeping kids away from drugs and knife crime.  

Consequently, identity pluralists contend that immigrants should be forced to accept participatory rights that reduce singularisation of identity and allow them to flourish freely in their plural identities.

Immigrants tend to be resilient. What doesn't break them makes them stronger. But it is a waste of resources to create problems for other people based on some stupid type of political philosophy.  

Ultimately, identity means survivability. It is the fitness landscape which decides this. Arm chair philosophy in this regard is wholly mischievous. Our verdict on 'Violence and Identity' is kill those who are violent to us and let Identity take care of itself. It isn't really the case that if was our refusal to accept multiple identities or grant participatory rights which caused someone to stick a knife into us before using our arse as a cum dumpster. 

Monday, 16 May 2022

सिक्तो न वक्त्रमधुना बकुलश्च चैत्रे

Every poem we passionately pursue as Ashokas blossoming Red
Being but that banana tree planted where Mum first bled.
Even this kambakth Champak can flower by her laugh
So Worship remain its own Nandi calf.

 Prince! A Bhartrhari but is the literary axe to the forest of his Mother's Youth
Save, Vernal Bakul, he literally imbibe Wine as Vatsalya's Eternal Truth. 

Amartya Sen & Ian Stephens

 Ian Stephens came to India as a civil servant dealing with P.R in Delhi. He was then taken on by the Statesman- owned by a big British firm- and became its editor in Calcutta. He broke the story of the Bengal Famine with dramatic pictures of starving people. Did this help the starving? No. Nobody gave a shit about them. 

Amartya Sen believes differently. Why? The answer is that he met Ian Stephens- then a Fellow at his College- as a young undergrad.

Stephens was very willing to talk with me about the famine. There were several things I learned. One is that press freedom has something to do with restraining famine.

This was not the case. Stephens' account of the period 'Monsoon Mornings' make it clear that the Bengal Government- run by elected Bengalis- could shut down any paper it didn't like. But the Bengal Government didn't care about Stephens' articles because he was pursuing his own vendetta against Delhi. He represented the civilian Europeans who wanted him to prod 'Authority' as a way of retaliation against wartime privations. Stephens himself fought a lose battle against the requisition of his air-conditioners- what pissed him off was that they went to a VD hospital for soldiers- but was able to use the American fear of negative publicity from losing his own apartment to the Yanks. 

Stephens was upper class and well connected. Thus, as a matter of instinct, he was skillful in using his position as editor of a leading European paper owned by a big Business House, to protect his own interests and to burnish his fame. Unlike his predecessor, a hot headed Irishman who believed that London should have cut a deal with Congress, he was pro-League. Indeed, he later had to leave India because he supported the Pakistani position on Kashmir. This made him popular with Bengalis because they too had a reason to hate Nehru- whose ancestors were from Kashmir- because Nehru, as President of Congress, had refused to support the popular Fazl ul Haq as Premier of Bengal thus forcing him into the arms, first of the League, and then the Hindu Mahasabha. However, by mid '43, the League could cobble together a Government, displace Haq, and blame him and the Hindus for the Famine while profiting from it. 

It was in this context that Stephens could move against 'Authority' more particularly because the Viceroy was leaving and the new one would have to make nice with him if he played a strong hand now. Moreover, he knew he had a 'scoop' on his hands- Bengal was starving- and would he would gain personally by exposing the truth and by publishing a pamphlet on 'Maladministration'. He needn't fear sedition or other charges because he was posing no threat to the new Bengali Premier. Indeed, Calcutta had been delighted when Stephens attacked the Food Member at the Center, Srivastava, an industrialist from Kanpur. The man to be wary of was Suhrawardy who was said to control half the gangsters in the slums. Stephens was careful not to point the finger at his corrupt dealings. 

Only Suhrawardy's predecessors mattered because only they had responsibility for food. The Viceroy had none and Amery in London was bound to supply Parliament only with information given to him by the Bengali Cabinet. 

Food Prices had more than tripled. It was obvious that some would starve if nothing was done.

The Brits in Delhi had a water-tight alibi- as Stephens himself explains in his book. No Indian State was genuinely willing to help Bengal and the Bengali government too had no burning desire to feed useless people. Thus 'Authority'  in Delhi not give a shit about looking the villains. Indeed, they needed the excuse of Famine to fight for more resources from the Allied High Command.  Moreover, there was a fall guy ready to hand- Fazl ul Haq whom they didn't like anyway. The guy had foolishly allied with the Bose brothers. Since Netaji had gone over to the Axis, Bengalis dying of hunger was payback for Bengali treachery. Sikhs and Gorkhas and Punjabi Muslims mattered. The cowardly Hindu Bengali (who was wrongly believed to be the main victim) didn't matter at all. In any case, a few million starving Indians might get Gandhi to see that hunger strikes had little efficacy. Indeed, his calling off his fast was a victory for Linlithgow- the Viceroy. 

People in Calcutta knew there was a famine because they had eyes. They also didn't care. Stephens was saying that this could hamper the war effort because epidemics might spread but, since only the Army could do anything- the Bengali Government being corrupt and useless- that would have to wait till till the counter-offensive was ready. Meanwhile the Japanese had become overstretched and essentially defeated themselves. 

Viceroy Linlithgow probably knew all about the famine threat in mid-1942 itself. That's why he never once visited Bengal. Stephens, preoccupied with power games with 'Authority', didn't get that Famine was imminent till March 1943. Wordsworth, his deputy, had been in the Education Service and understood the debates in the Legislative Assembly. He knew it was common knowledge that there was a famine building up but obfuscated the matter in his reportage. Stephens says reading Wordsworth article- which let slip that the official statistics were utterly useless- was what first opened his eyes.

 Stephens explains that he didn't know about the 'Permanent Settlement' and why this meant that Bengali officials knew nothing about actual farm production. The 'supply shocks' which caused the Famine, however were well reported and documented. The steep rise in prices was plain to see. Thus the true background to the Famine was common knowledge. Everybody knew what was happening but it was in no one's interests to say anything except Stephens who was getting a little petty revenge on 'Authority' on behalf of the distressed European civilian. Later he tried the same trick on Sardar Patel and was told to fuck off back to Blighty. His employer still had big interests in India and so had no interest in standing up for him. 

Sen says

I learned also—which I knew as a child—that you could have a famine with a lot of food around.

No you can't. Food spoils quickly. If there's a lot of food around, guys eat a lot and then throw the rest away. It wasn't like everybody had big freezers back then. Lots of food causes food prices to crash. Too little food causes food prices to double or triple or quadruple. Why? Both demand and supply are inelastic.  

And how the country is governed made a difference.

No. Who is governing matters. If it is a crook like Shurawardy people starve when they are not being hacked to death. Shurawardy did well out of both the Famine and the Partition bloodletting. Democracy- in Bengal- produces shitty outcomes because Bengali politicians can be really shitty.  

The British did not want rebellion in Calcutta.

Who would have rebelled? Congress was in Jail. Muslims would have killed any Hindus who tried to rebel. They were the majority in the Province and would get assistance from the Army and Police.  

I believe no one of Calcutta died in the famine.

Lots of people left Calcutta because of the Jap threat. Those who came in were indeed at the end of their tether. Why? There was a food availability deficit. Some bunch of good people needed to bring in food and distribute it to those who had none. The alternative was to wait for a good harvest while the weakest went to the wall. Ultimately the Army took action and there was a good crop. The crisis passed. Politics continued as normal. Muslims gave their votes to the Muslim League. But the Hindus fought back on Direct Action Day and prevailed in Calcutta. Partition became inevitable. 

People died in Calcutta, but they were not of Calcutta.

Later people of Calcutta died in Calcutta died because Suhraward's goons slit their throats. Then the Hindus fought back and thus preserved the City for India.  

They came from elsewhere, because what little charity there was came from Indian businessmen based in Calcutta.

The same guys who financed the Congress Party- which was in jail.  

The starving people kept coming into Calcutta in search of free food, but there was really not much of that. The Calcutta people were entirely protected by the Raj

But the Government was in Bengali hands. People protected their own. The Army protected itself and readied to take the war to the Japs. Some of the poor died because they were wholly useless to anybody who mattered.

to prevent discontent of established people during the war.

The discontented were in jail.  

Three million people in Calcutta had ration cards, which entailed that at least six million people were being fed at a very subsidized price of food. What the government did was to buy rice at whatever price necessary to purchase it in the rural areas, making the rural prices shoot up.

Because there was a food availability deficit. Why did the rural folk sell their rice at high prices? It was because they liked money. 

The price of rationed food in Calcutta for established residents was very low and highly subsidized,

There would have been a black market. There are leakages from rationed stock. The question is who made the money of it. The answer has to do was financing the ruling party- the Muslim League.  

though the market price in Calcutta—outside the rationing network—rose with the rural price increase

 The Raj had feared uprisings of Calcutta people during the war,

No. They feared the Japs because the Japs were good at fighting and had guns and planes. Nobody except Calcuttans feared the people of the City. Why? There was a big army presence. Mobs are easy for soldiers to kill.  

but the ration card–holding people of that big city had no cause for personal grievance, which suited the Empire. It was a “divide and rule” of a different type—distinct from the Hindu-Muslim divisions also cultivated in the Raj.

Who cultivated them after the British left? Why did the proportion of Hindus in East Bengal keep falling decade after decade? The British united the country. The Muslim League partitioned it. Why did Bangladesh have a big famine after transitioning to Democracy in the Seventies? Whose 'divide and rule' was it?  

The “haves” were docile and the “have-nots” starved and often died. There were a lot of things I learned from talking with Ian.

Talking to Stephens was all very well. But Sen needed to talk to ICS officers serving in Bengal to get the full picture. This would have meant talking to Binay Ranjan Sen- later head of F.A.O. Why did the one Sen not talk to the other Sen? The answer is that one was an academic while the other lived in the real world. What possible intercourse could there be between them?