Thursday 22 February 2024

Liberal Socialism vs Democratic Gulags & Non-Violent Nazism

Liberalism was the notion that educated, property owning, tax payers should be able to elect representatives who would decide Government policy rather than leave such matters to the Crown, the Clergy, and the great territorial magnates. If the bourgeoisie got the sort of fiscal policy which increased their own income and thus generated more and more tax revenue, a virtuous circle was created. The State could perform more than 'night-watchman' functions in a manner which rendered more and more of the working class able to pay taxes which in turn could provide the sort of 'club goods' which raised their productivity and hence ability to pay taxes. If this did not happen, sooner or later there was entitlement collapse and National bankruptcy.

It was possible, of course, to have a cosmetic, rights-based, Liberalism which, however, severely rationed remedies for rights violations. In the same manner that lipstick manufacturers are happy to laud the practice of putting lipstick on a pig, some pedants or politicians might praise cosmetic politics of this sort. However, that type of Liberalism was fragile because, at the end of the day, lipstick costs money but doesn't make pork taste better and pigs have to compete with cheaper pigs reared elsewhere. 

 Socialism was the notion that the means of production- agricultural land, industrial machinery, mines etc- should be owned by Society as a whole. Liberal Socialism would be Socialism with free and fair democratic elections, freedom of expression, and the right of lesbos to bump uglies. It was believed that a Socialist society would be more allocatively and dynamically efficient and thus voters would be happy with the new arrangement. Sadly, Socialist administrations tended not to be very efficient. Moreover, there was increased strife between low-paid unskilled workers and the 'labour aristocracy'. High marginal tax rates had a big disincentive effect and entrepreneurs and enterprises fled the jurisdiction. If an economically efficient Socialism were possible- or the idea once again became plausible- there is no reason why Liberal Socialism might not once again attract voters.

Matthew McManus, writing in Aeon, takes a different view. 


The existential woes of 21st-century liberalism require we do more than return to the forms of neoliberal governance that generated discontent in the first place. It requires retrieving the revolutionary emancipatory and egalitarian ethos that defined liberalism at its revolutionary best to offer a new deal to citizens of liberal states.

Socialism was attractive when it promised a streamlined economy with higher material standards of living for the vast majority. A revolutionary movement which appears likely to make things better can appeal to the masses. One which merely wishes to repeat the mistakes made by paranoid nutters a century ago is unlikely to gain much traction. 

The strand of liberal political theory that offers the richest guidance on what form this new deal should take is liberal socialism.

Socialism had appeal when it appeared to be Scientific and 'low hanging' technological fruit was easy to hand. It was thought that great things were achievable through a National Planning Commission, using networked Computers (like Allende's Chile) to allocate resources. This was a pipe dream. The solution to the Social Transportation problem is in a time class exponential to the life time of the Universe. In other words, no Planning procedure could be efficient.  Moreover, because of 'disruptive' technological change and geopolitical volatility, Knightian Uncertainty has increased such that there can be no single market where all relevant information is aggregated. This is because, hedging occurs through not coordination but discoordination games. 

The plain fact is that a number of mathematical discoveries which became well known by the end of the Sixties made clear that the assumptions made by Socialists- including people like Einstein- were simply false. This also meant that things like the two fundamental theorems of Welfare Econ or the folk theorem of repeated games were wrongheaded. It wasn't that markets could be proved to do as well as coercive regimes. It was that no algorithmic method

The idea of ‘liberal socialism’ might appear odd and even oxymoronic.

Only if we accept that Socialism is shit. Liberalism entails voters approving public policy. That's why a Liberal Socialism is as much an oxymoron as a Democratic Gulag.  

This is especially true for those on the Right and the Left who regard liberalism as the philosophy of market capitalism.

If voters believe public ownership of the means of production would sustainably raise material standards of living, there can be a Socialism in a Liberal Democracy. 

Of course, there are many classical and neoliberal thinkers for whom that is true. From John Locke’s emphatic defence of life, liberty and property to Hayek’s declaration that state planning in the economy was the road to serfdom, liberal defences of the ethics of capitalism are easy to find. The economist Ludwig von Mises no doubt spoke for many (including plenty on the Left) when, in his polemical tract Liberalism (1927), he proudly declared that:

'[The] programme of liberalism … if condensed into a single word, would have to read: property, that is, private ownership of the means of production … All the other demands of liberalism result from this fundamental demand.'

This is foolish. Many different types of regime would protect private property. Since Liberalism is associated with Parliamentary Democracy, and since voters can decide to pursue Socialism, Liberalism is not what you should clamour for if preserving your property is important to you. It may be argued that you could have a constitution and an independent judiciary upholding property rights. Sadly, experience has shown that this is no great defence. 

But this would be to ignore the reality that many great liberal thinkers have historically been wary (to downright critical) of capitalism.

But 'great liberal thinker' means 'shithead who earned a little money writing books about things which seemed like a good idea at the time'.  

This goes far back. Adam Smith may have been an enthusiast for free trade and market liberties, but in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)

which was trying to bury older notions of synderesis or a 'natural' or innate voice of conscience  

he also decried how:

'This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.'

But this was still better than admiring and seeking to emulate the most sociopathic war-lord or Viking raider with a penchant for genocide and gang-rape.  

This was reiterated in Smith’s polemics against monopolisation and the alienating effects of the division of labour in The Wealth of Nations (1776).

There already was a Common Law doctrine of 'restraint of trade'- In Mitchel v Reynolds (1711) Lord Smith said 'it is the privilege of a trader in a free country, in all matters not contrary to law, to regulate his own mode of carrying it on according to his own discretion and choice. If the law has regulated or restrained his mode of doing this, the law must be obeyed. But no power short of the general law ought to restrain his free discretion.' Since the time of the Tudor monopolies, there had been great resentment of monopolies created by the Crown. It is in this context that Smith should be understood. Being a Scot he was at least 50 years behind the time. Add another half a century on account of Smith being a fucking Professor and you understand why his book was useless enough to become an instant classic. 

By the industrial era, some of the greatest liberal thinkers expressed sympathy and even came to align themselves with socialism. John Stuart Mill, the greatest liberal philosopher of the 19th century, openly declared himself a socialist in his Autobiography (1873) and stressed in Socialism (1879) how ‘great poverty, and that poverty very little connected with desert – are the first grand failure of the existing arrangements of society.’

Mill appreciated that competition could be 'wasteful' and 'repugnancy markets' could be abolished in a manner which benefitted everybody. What we would now call the theory of externalities and 'cooperative solutions' or 'correlated equilibria'  based on public signals, were beginning to gain salience in the literature. With Edgeworth we have the notion of the 'core' or even the 'kernel' of economic games. 

Mill himself had always stressed the Malthusian aspect of poverty. However, over the course of the Nineteenth century, it became clear that, properly incentivized, families figured out ways to limit fertility. 

Mill was hardly alone in sympathising with such a fusion of liberalism and socialism. In his essay collection Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval (1973), the political theorist C B Macpherson coined the term ‘retrieval’ to refer to getting ‘clear of the disabling central defect of current liberal-democratic theory,

which was that it was a theory- i.e. shit.  

while holding on to, or recovering, the humanistic values which liberal democracy has always claimed.’

more particularly when enforcing Jim Crow or committing genocide on indigenous people occupying valuable real estate.  

We must now make an effort to retrieve the political theory of liberal socialism and make the case for its salience in the 21st century (a project I continue in my forthcoming book The Political Theory of Liberal Socialism).

A physics theory guides the research of physicists whose findings get embodied in technology. It may be that there was some theory which guided 'liberal socialists' but it was stupid shit in the sense that it caused such 'liberal socialists' to fuck up the economy. This is why they have either gone extinct or else have morphed unrecognizably.                                                                                                     

Liberal socialism is a political ideology that combines support for many liberal political institutions and rights with a socialist desire to establish far more equitable and democratic economic arrangements.

It is fine to have desires of that kind. Indeed, you are welcome to pleasure yourself while indulging in that type of literature be it plain vanilla third wave bukkake or more recherche Corbybista shit-on-your-tits RPG. 

The latter point is put plainly by Michael Walzer in his book The Struggle for a Decent Politics (2023),

who is 89 years old. He should be struggling for a decent bowel movement.  

in which he writes that, while ‘liberal socialists are not “egalitarianist”, they are serious about equality –

the grave will equalize him soon enough. Death is a serious business.  

more so, generally, than liberal democrats.’ This deeper concern for equality relative to classical liberals becomes apparent when we look at when liberal socialism emerged and how its major figures defended its core arguments.

They said Socialism meant higher economic efficiency. They were wrong.  

There is extensive debate

among senile shitheads 

over periodising classical liberal theory. Many date its origins to the 17th century and the writings of Locke, Baruch Spinoza and Hugo Grotius among others. Whether or not these thinkers can be correctly labelled ‘liberals’ full stop, they undoubtedly developed or systematised a lot of the theoretical architecture that later liberals would rely on.

Liberalism meant telling Crown & Church to fuck the fuck off and take the fucking Dukes with them.  

By contrast, in Liberalism (2nd ed, 2014) Edmund Fawcett insists that mature liberal political philosophy only really appeared on the scene in the 19th century,

after the Crown & Church & fucking Dukes had more or less fucked the fucked off from the realm of Fiscal policy.  

when the term itself became popularised, and self-described ‘liberal’ parties and movements began to appear.

because the Crown & Church & the fucking Dukes had fucked the fuck off 

Whoever you agree with, there’s no doubt that liberal socialism emerged later than classical liberalism, extending the latter’s antipathy to the hierarchical ancien régimes of Europe to demand more radical changes still.

Radical demands had always been made. The fact that some cunts wrote books about it didn't matter in the slightest. What mattered was whether one could do to entrepreneurs and bankers what had been done to the Crown, the Church and the fucking Dukes. It turned out that it was one thing to curb the parasitism of the toffs and the God-botherers, it was another to drive out the smart and productive element in Society.  

While mature forms of liberal socialist political theory didn’t appear until the mid-19th century, there were important precursor figures. Two of the most influential predecessors to liberal socialism were Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Paine was such a pain in the ass only 6 people attended his funeral. He shouldn't have attacked George Washington. Mary did not have a penis. Naturally, she was quite miffed about this. Thankfully later generations of women were able to gain penises thanks to the bounty of Queen Victoria or Florence Nightingale. 

Paine remains most famous for his stirring rhetorical defences of the American and French revolutions and his acidic polemics against Edmund Burke and conservatism in the Rights of Man (1791).

He was a racist shithead who achieved nothing. Only whites should be American citizens. Darkies should be slaves. 

Until recently, Paine was largely viewed as an extraordinary pamphleteer for the classical liberal and republican viewpoint, while not being an especially original thinker or theorist.

Because he was a shithead.  

That appraisal has since undergone a major shift, with Robert Lamb in 2015 stressing Paine’s importance as a theorist whose ‘every instinct’ was egalitarian.

All Whites should own an equal number of Black slaves- right?  

Paine is an important precursor to liberal socialism because he embraced

Slavery. Socialism can only work if you have Gulags and slave labour. 

the importance of individual flourishing and rights, while becoming increasingly sceptical that this could be achieved without a major redistribution of wealth and privilege.

So, before you can have liberty you must have tyranny. But what is to prevent those doing the redistribution to enrich themselves and become the new holders of wealth and privilege.

In the pamphlet ‘Agrarian Justice’ (1797),

which would have destroyed the incentive of the hereditary warrior class to defend a given realm. There would emigration of the more able and immigration of the poor. Productivity would collapse. A tyrant might be able to organize national defence but material standards of living would collapse.  

he rejects the methodological individualism of classical liberal approaches to property rights, and insists that property is an eminently social phenomenon:

So is getting invaded and enslaved. A realm characterized by 'Agrarian Justice' tended to very soon become the fiefdom of some Tzar or Kaiser or else remain the playground of marauding hordes.  


Personal property is the effect of society;

But society is the effect of sufficient military power to repel invaders and slaughter insurrectionists. If the indigenous people can't provide this power, they suffer genocide or subjugation. 

True the middle class could provide just as good military leadership as the Aristocrats but, first, there had to be sufficient Fiscal headroom for a standing army. The bourgeoisie rose by financing, through taxation, their own regime. It wasn't till labour productivity had risen to a point where total wars of attrition were sustainable by industrialized democracies that you could have the modern welfare state. But unchecked immigration could cause it to collapse. If you can't seal the border, why bother paying to protect the territory? Just try to get into a gated community or move to a place where there are crazy, bigoted, gangs or militias of your own creed or ethnicity. 

and it is as impossible for an individual to acquire personal property without the aid of society,

unless he and his clan are good at killing 

as it is for him to make land originally.

people clear forest and drain swamps and irrigate deserts.  

Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property.

But a society which can't defend itself won't have any property. Its members will be slaves of a more ruthless or richer tribe.  


He goes on to suggest that, since many wealthy people monopolise productive land and capital without giving anything back, they owe a major debt to the poor as a matter of right.

Only in the sense that they owe blowjobs to hobos.  

In the second part of the Rights of Man and in ‘Agrarian Justice’, Paine develops these arguments into a call for redistribution,

Paine was cool with Americans redistributing the land of the First Nations to White peeps fresh off the boat.  

sketching out an early scheme for the welfare state.

When the Mayflower landed, the Puritans had initially set up such a state where 'each gave according to his ability and took according to his needs'. They gave up that shit after they began to starve. 

This includes providing money for education, guaranteed employment for those who want it, a stipend for every child born, and a prototype of an old-age pension.

What about the duty of property owners to give beejays to hobos? 

Wollstonecraft was less policy-minded than her contemporary Paine,

because she didn't have a penis 

but even more scathing in her contempt for the corrosive effect of the inequities of property that defined aristocratic and early capitalist societies. In her classic A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Wollstonecraft insisted that:

Women be redistributed to the poor from the rich?  


'From the respect paid to property

respect is only paid to property which can be defended against all comers by its proprietor. If this is not the case the property will be disrespected though the proprietor may not be sodomized because he has run the fuck away.  

flow, as from a poisoned fountain, most of the evils and vices which render this world such a dreary scene to the contemplative mind.'

Her hubby was glad enough to take money from Shelley who was the heir to a great Estate. The contemplative mind needs money. Still, if your domestic life is a miserable failure it is understandable that you might want the whole Species to change its fundamental nature. I myself, thanks to my principled refusal to do the washing up, have often advocated the replacement of kitchen utensils by wealthy young virgins who could feed me with their own delicate hands using edible plates and dishes of various descriptions. 

For it is in the most polished society that noisome reptiles and venomous serpents lurk under the rank herbage;

whereas in the slums, there were no drunken rapists. 

and there is voluptuousness pampered by the still sultry air, which relaxes every good disposition before it ripens into virtue.

but does virtue not require the redistribution of beejays to hobos?  

One class presses on another; for all are aiming to procure respect on account of their property: and property, once gained, will procure the respect due only to talents and virtue.

This lady thought she had talent. Virtue- not so much.  


In her later Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (1796), she lambasts the nouveaux riches as a ‘fungus’ with the criticism that:

they hired nutters like her to tutor their daughters. What she didn't get was that having a crazy feminist as a governess inoculates kids against that type of stupidity- unless they are too ugly or bad tempered to get a hubby. 

An ostentatious display of wealth without elegance, and a greedy enjoyment of pleasure without sentiment, embrutes them till they term all virtue of a heroic cast, romantic attempts at something above our nature, and anxiety about the welfare of others, a search after misery in which we have no concern.

Mary got paid a bit for making an ostentatious display of her heroic and romantic attachment to being a virtue signalling cunt.  

Wollstonecraft believed in private property, arguing it was a just reward for labour. But even this had a radical connotation, as she was critical of those who lived in luxury or defended privilege while ignoring the ‘women who gained a livelihood by selling vegetables or fish, who never had had any advantages of education…’

Why did the Queen not invite more fishwives to balls at Bucking Palace?  

Her critique of the idle or undeserving rich both echoes Locke’s condemnation of aristocracy and anticipates later Ricardian socialist and Marxist condemnations of the parasitic wealthy.

They also echo my demand that rich virgins of extraordinary wealth feed me with their own delicate hands. I don't mind if they are naked and giggle coyly amongst themselves as they dart their pink little tongues at each others pert little nipples. Or large nipples. Seriously, I'm quite broadminded in such matters. 

People who now look down on me because I'm as poor as shit would feel new respect for me if they knew of the many billionaire Supermodels whom I store in my kitchen cupboard.  

Much like Paine, Wollstonecraft had an unfailingly egalitarian instinct (including, of course, on gender relations) insisting there ‘must be more equality established in society, or morality will never gain ground…’

I'm sure I'd be much improved morally if more wealthy young virgins were sent to my home by Adult Social Services. F

In her ideal society there would be neither rich nor poor,

because everybody would be identical in terms of talents and motivation.  

and the competitive race to accumulate private property would be a far less significant social priority than the relatively equal development of human intellectual, artistic and moral powers.

Why not make levitation, teleportation and the gaining of omniscience the social priority? It is totes unfair that more respect is paid to what exists or could possibly exist than to what is a puerile pipe-dreams engaged in by worthless pedants or pedagogues.  

It’s this solidaristic emphasis on the development of human powers in a society of equals that makes Wollstonecraft such an important figure in the movement towards liberal socialism.

Only in the sense that Nostradamus was an important figure in the movement towards better economic forecasting techniques.  

Liberal socialism reached its maturity in the 19th century with John Stuart Mill, its most articulate and well-known spokesman.

No. The English knew too much about how the sausage of industrial prosperity was actually made. It was in less developed societies that eggheads could dream of technological utopias. Marx thought a day would come when scarcity would disappear. People would only work for the sheer pleasure of doing stuff. Naturally, they would hand over the produce of their labour to anyone who wanted it. What he didn't get was that a fashion designer would not want me to wear their clothes because I'm as ugly as shit. Currently, I can buy stuff with money because producers need cash. If nobody needed to be paid to work, nobody would work for me because I have a horrible personality.  

Early in his career, Mill had been a more conventional supporter of the free market. But, later in life, mostly under the influence of the utopian socialist St Simonians, he shifted his views markedly.

Because he was stupid. He didn't get that St. Simon's 'industrious class' had already risen into the landowning aristocracy and would continue to do so. One reason to work hard is so you can stop working hard and sit back and watch your kids live the life of the toffs.  

In his Autobiography, Mill declared that his ‘ideal of ultimate improvement went far beyond Democracy, and would class us decidedly under the general designation of Socialists.’

Nobody cared. The Trade Unions had thought it beneficial to have Mill on their side in overturning the Master & Servants Act and this brief moment of political importance contributed to Mill's recantation- The doctrine hitherto taught by all or most economists [including myself], which denied it to be possible that trade combinations can raise wages, or which limited their operation in that respect to the somewhat earlier attainment of a rise which the competition of the market would have produced without them, - this doctrine is deprived of its scientific foundation, and must be thrown aside. 

Mill didn't get that workers can extract a rent where labour supply is inelastic. The general wage rate can rise if immigration is restricted. 'Social' and 'moral' considerations don't matter for tradeable goods and even services which can relocate. Marshallian analysis made Mill obsolete but the Trade Unions and then the Suffragettes grew in strength and were gradually able to redistribute rents towards themselves. Smithian 'higgling' doesn't matter. Force, however, can prevail- even if that force is merely that of the voter or the Trade Union or Feminist backed political party. 

While being critical of statist forms of socialism and expressing a wariness of the threat they posed to liberty, he claimed to look ‘forward to a time when society will no longer be divided into the idle and the industrious; when the rule that they who do not work shall not eat, will be applied not to paupers only, but impartially to all.’

This was meagre and mealy mouthed compared to the Marxist Utopia where there is no scarcity. 

This shift towards socialism was reflected in later editions of the Principles of Political Economy (1848). Mill defended extensive experiments with workplace democracy and cooperatives, arguing that they would potentially be less domineering, more economically efficient, and more conducive to the flourishing of workers.

Robert Owen had shown the thing was feasible. Bentham was one of his investors. Sadly, Owen invested much of his gains from his Scottish enterprise in co-operative experiments in the United States but the feckless Americans couldn't make a go of them. He died penniless. 

As Helen McCabe traces in her excellent book John Stuart Mill: Socialist (2021), he also came to advocate for wealth redistribution through state ownership of railways

the Belgian state had shown it could build and run railways successfully from the 1830s onwards 

and roads,

there already were toll roads built and operated by Princes 

and municipal ownership (and provision) of utilities such as gas and water.

Again, some such already existed. 

He also at least suggested it would be permissible for the government to provide public hospitals;

which had always been the case 

national banks;

the Belgian National Bank dates from around 1850.  

a postal service;

The American Constitution authorized the state run Postal Service 

‘manufactories’; and a corps of civil engineers,

like the Indian, Roorkee, trained PWD engineers 

so long as the government did not maintain a monopoly on these professions or services.

a meaningless stipulation in the case of 'natural' monopolies. There's a story that Abba Lerner tried to convert Trotsky to marginal cost pricing! As Coase would show, who owns what doesn't matter. What matters is if there is a mechanism whereby control rights are appropriable by those best at allocating resources. By the Thirties, it was obvious that public ownership wasn't a panacea. The economic problems remain the same. 

Mill’s flavour of liberal socialism based around cooperatives and a generous welfare state anticipated many contemporary forms of market socialism, as well as being a direct inspiration to important ethical and Christian socialists such as R H Tawney.

TH Green was important in England. Still, there can be no doubt that Evangelical Christianity of various stripes brought many people into the Socialist movement.

In the early to mid-20th century, an impressive array of authors came to endorse liberal socialism.

American Capitalists couldn't get a bail out after the Crash. The State was welcome to take on the down-side risk in the name of Racial Purity, or National Socialism, or Christian Communism or any other such oxymoron.  

In a 1939 interview with The New Statesman and Nation, John Maynard Keynes proposed: 'A move out of the] 19th-century laissez-faire state

which had already occurred during the Great War. After the Crash FDR started confiscating gold.  

into an era of liberal socialism … where we can act as an organised community for common purposes and to promote economic and social justice, whilst respecting and protecting the individual – his freedom of choice, his faith, his mind and its expression, his enterprise and his property.

but not his right to fuck other dudes.  

A variety of European democratic socialists such as Eduard Bernstein

a sensible enough fellow who refuted Marxist orthodoxy with facts and figures about how land and industrial capital ownership was becoming more diffuse.  

and Carlo Rosselli worked to theorise closer connections between liberalism and socialism, echoing Mill’s claim that socialists were the more ‘far-sighted successors’ of liberalism. Bernstein’s classic The Preconditions of Socialism (1899) offered a sustained critique of orthodox Marxist revolutionary theory and proposed a conciliation with liberalism.

It would have been better if he had stuck to common-sense empiricism. Don't start wars you are bound to loose. Don't kill the golden goose. Also, get the fuck out of Germany if you happen to be Jewish. A country which can produce a Kant or a Hegel is bound to turn to shit sooner or later. 

He insisted that ‘with respect to liberalism as a historical movement, socialism is its legitimate heir, not only chronologically, but also intellectually’,

Racism was its even more legitimate heir. If you think your ideology makes you superior, it is natural to say that people of your own creed or ethnicity are superior by nature. 

and stressed that there is ‘no liberal thought that is not also part of the intellectual equipment of socialism.’

Or Racism or any other type of evil shit.  

Rosselli made similar claims in his book Liberal Socialism (1930), holding that:

'Socialism is nothing more than the logical development, taken to its extreme consequences, of the principle of liberty.

or Racism. After people of a particular Race are likely to have a Society. They also may think they are entitled to real estate currently owned by others. 

'Socialism, when understood in its fundamental sense and judged by its results – as the concrete movement for the emancipation of the proletariat – is liberalism in action; it means that liberty comes into the life of poor people.'

Racism, when understood in its fundamental sense, is the superiority of all people belonging to a particular race and their indefeasible right to the property of everybody else. Liberalism in action is wars of Colonial conquest. Incidentally, Bertrand Russell thought such wars were justified provided the aggressor was superior. The problem here is that the victor will end up superior one way or another.  


While he never identified with the label, I’d argue that Macpherson can also be correctly characterised as a liberal socialist,

i.e. useless wanker. But for his own 'possessive individualism' he would have dedicated his life to giving beejays to hobos as Nature intended. 

given his lifelong effort to ‘retrieve’ a radical democratic and egalitarian core to the liberal tradition.

 of giving beejays to hobos? No? Sad. 

Finally, in the United States John Dewey worked hard to extend American conceptions of democracy beyond the horizon of the state.

but not to such an extent that billionaires ended up giving beejays to hobos. Even sadder.  

His most famous contributions were of course in education, where Dewey insisted on the pedagogical superiority a more egalitarian classroom where students actively participated in their learning, rather than being regarded as passive recipients of knowledge delivered by an intellectual superior.

People with superior intellect don't teach. With 'active participation' the pedagogue may learn something- unless he teaches worthless non-STEM shite.  

But Dewey was also keen to extend democratic principles to the workplace, becoming president of the League for Industrial Democracy in 1939 and advocating for the labour movement.

A Maoist faction split off from it in the Sixties and did some crazy terrorist shit. Industrial Democracy meant killing the foreman and then running and hiding from the pigs.


In the postwar era, there have been several prominent figures aligned with liberal socialism, including Irving Howe, Michael Walzer and Chantal Mouffe.

Nobody gives a shit about them.  

But by far the most significant figure to express sympathy for liberal socialism was John Rawls.

He became famous at precisely the moment working class voters turned against redistribution. They hated the Welfare Queen more than the French revolutionaries hated Marie Antoinette.  

For a long time, Rawls’s brick-like Theory of Justice (1971) was taken as an apologia for the welfare state system that, tragically, began to decline right about when the book was published.

It was stupid shit. Rawls didn't know that everybody is always behind 'the veil of ignorance' which is why what obtains is insurance and hedging, not a pre-compact to prioritize the needs of the worst off.  

But this understates Rawls’s radicalism. In his Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy (2000), Rawls described Karl Marx as ‘heroic’ and praised his ‘marvellous’ intellectual gifts.

The guy truly was retarded. Still, once the Soviet Union collapsed, it was safe enough to pretend Marxism hadn't always been shit.  

By the time of his swan song Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (2001), Rawls insisted that welfarism did not do a good enough job of realising liberal principles of justice.

Because welfarism just means collective insurance. It is about hedging not justice.  

Only a property-owning democracy or ‘liberal socialism’ would be sufficient. While Rawls himself wrote more about property-owning democracy, Edmundson’s book John Rawls: Reticent Socialist (2017) makes a powerful case for why the most rigorous interpretation of justice as fairness would require liberal socialism instead.

But nobody wants that type of justice. What voters will pay for is Justice which involves catching and incarcerating rapists and murderers and Bernie Madoff type fraudsters.  On the other hand Justice as Judges giving beejays to hobos is finding increasing support among the criminal community

As history shows, liberal socialists are not a monolith.

they are an obelisk of obtuseness 

They disagree on many core points. Some of these are theoretical: is the strongest basis for liberal socialism some kind of utilitarianism, deontology or pragmatism?

The strongest basis is magical thinking.  

Other divides are over practical questions such as the relationship between statist welfarism

which features entitlement collapse once the State runs of cash 

and bottom-up democratisation of the economy;

more immigrants! Goody goody. 

Mill famously vested his hopes in worker co-ops where many modern liberal socialists focus on social programmes.

the problem with worker co-ops is that workers have to work, otherwise they don't get paid.  

Nevertheless, all liberal socialists are committed to three central principles, which I’ve arranged from the more abstract to the more concrete.

These guys have cement in their skulls.  

First, liberal socialists are committed to methodological collectivism

sadly, no one can say what is or isn't the 'extension' of a collectivist 'intension'. Who is 'working class'? Should we count some chicks with dicks as women?  

and normative individualism.

coz 'Socialists' are actually individualists- right?  

They believe that the wellbeing and free development of individual persons (and, for a growing number, nonhuman animals) is the highest moral priority.

The problem here is that the 'disutility' arising from feeling you are being robbed of your hard earned may outweigh the utility gained by the beneficiary of Robin Hood. This means the more able evade or avoid taxes or simply flee the jurisdiction. The other problem is that workers may not want to subsidize refugees, addicts, and Welfare Queens.  

However, they disagree with many classical liberals’ insular and competitive conception of human nature and their individualist approach to conceiving social relations. Liberal socialists hold that, to properly think through how individuals will best thrive, one must recognise their embeddedness in society, and how it can improve or disrupt their capacity to lead a good life.

Go to Dubai, you'll see that rich peeps from any country under the son aren't embedded in fuck. Nor are Corporations which is how come land locked Mongolia has a bigger shipping registry than the US.  

On the other hand, if you assume that what Judges really want to do is give beejays to hobos then my conception of Justice is perfectly reasonable. 

Taking seriously commitments to liberty, equality and solidarity requires going beyond the social hierarchies established under capitalism

not to mention the hierarchies established by dick size 

Secondly, liberal socialists are committed to each person having as equal an opportunity to lead as good a life as possible through the provision of shared resources for the development and expression of their human powers.

Who is to say that is not already the case? Any sort of structural change will create winners and losers. Some will have a worse life than they currently have without any guarantee that any sizable, deserving group, gains anything in the medium to long-term. Indeed, they may be the biggest losers. 

To put it another way, liberal socialists focus on the free development of human powers or capabilities along a wide array of metrics.

Like levitation? Hindu Socialists are committed to everybody getting the chance to develop supernatural 'siddhis'. 

What Macpherson calls this developmental ethic can be contrasted with the extractive and possessive ethic characteristic of classical liberalism and hedonistic forms of utilitarianism.

Developing countries realized quite soon that development economists, more particularly those who gassed on about ethics, were all fucking retarded.  

Where the extractive/possessive ethic holds that the good life comes from production and consumption, the developmental ethic of liberal socialism emphasises the equal development and application of each individual’s powers as a condition for their flourishing.

What Zelensky will tell you is that 'flourishing' depends on being able to kick the ass of invaders. But this is also true of drug gangs in your 'hood.  

Thirdly, liberal socialists are committed to instituting a basic social structure characterised by highly participatory liberal-democratic political institutions and protections for liberal rights concurrent with the extension of liberal democratic principles into the economy and family to establish more egalitarian economic arrangements free of domination and exploitation.

If your elasticity of supply and demand are high- i.e. you have good alternatives- nobody can dominate or exploit you. Only 'economic rent' can be extracted. Domination costs money. Making factors more mobile- which is what technology tends to do- reduces rent rapidly. 

This also means that liberal socialists do not ascribe the same weight of private property rights to the means of production that many classical liberals do.

You have to pay to enforce property rights one way or another. The thing isn't a 'free good'. What matters is appropriable control rights. Sometimes, gangsters or Maoist rebels can allocate these more cheaply and effectively than the Government. If so, the State gets disintermediated.  

While all liberal socialists believe in rights to personal property, this doesn’t extend to rights to acquire forms of property that would enable forms of workplace domination or political plutocracy to develop. In these instances, what impacts all should, in part, be decided upon by all.

So that all can end up jobless or scraping by in an informal gig economy.  


Liberal socialist authors will defend and articulate these principles in various idioms, and emphasise one or another to various degrees.

If the subject they studied and went on to teach made people smarter they could be Elon Musk wealthy and create any type of workplace they liked- at least in the short to medium term till China eats their lunch.  

This testifies to the internal diversity of the tradition, if nothing else.

The tradition was merely playing catch-up because it relied on an obsolete economic pedagogy.  

Macpherson was very critical of atomistic ‘possessive individualism’ but supported a liberal humanist ethic of developing people’s capacities or powers.

But his discipline turned its votaries into fucking cretins.  

Nevertheless, he had comparatively little to say about what kind of social structure could realise this ethic. In The Socialist Decision (1933), Paul Tillich

who hadn't noticed that Socialism was creating a Hell on Earth wherever it gained power. 

offers a theological defence of liberal democratic socialism, which obviously runs counter to the secular approaches of Mill and Rawls.

If you believe you will go to Heaven if you along with stupid shit, why not do so?  

Mouffe’s agonistic liberal socialism foregrounds the importance of political contestation far more than Rawls’s temperate insistence that a pluralistic society needs to unite around an ‘overlapping consensus’. Charles Mill’s

His father, Gladstone Mills, was a great academic and Jamaican public servant. He is credited with ensuring free and fair elections in a country with plenty of very tough guys.  

‘black radical liberalism’ rightly takes many Left-liberals to task for ignoring, or even supporting, imperialism and racism.

and, more recently, 'regime change' and 'forever wars' which were won by the Taliban and Iran.

But behind this variety is a core conviction that taking seriously commitments to liberty, equality and solidarity requires going beyond the social hierarchies established under capitalism.

except in Jamaica, if you actually came from the Jamaican elite.  

Given the eminence hof many of the figures attracted to liberal socialism, it is somewhat perplexing that the term can seem oxymoronic.

Under Reagan, Liberalism became 'the L-word' which dare not speak its name. Socialism just meant queuing up for five hours to collect your ration of turnips. Thankfully, the queue for the Gulag was shorter. 

The explanation probably has more to do with politics than philosophy, especially in the US. As Moyn points out in Liberalism Against Itself, throughout the mid-20th century, many prominent ‘Cold War’ liberals turned against the more progressive and egalitarian elements in the tradition.

When had they been for it? 

This led to the banishing of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, G W F Hegel and Marx to the fringes,

The Anglo Saxons had established their superiority to the Huns and the Frogs 

and the dilution of the more radical arguments of prominent liberals like Mill. 

Because, during the War, everybody had lost any relish for the Command Economy 

By the time liberal egalitarians began to marshal formidable theoretical arguments for welfarism and social democracy in the 1970s,

Both had passed their post-War apogee. Incidentally, new mathematical discoveries re. complexity, concurrency and computability had settled the 'Socialist Calculation Debate'.  

the time to realise such an agenda had passed. Neoliberalism had taken hold across much of the world, further squeezing out progressive forms of liberalism and liberal socialism.

Why? Well, the Arabs and other oil producers had rebelled against the Bretton Woods strait-jacket because the US had financed Vietnam by printing money. Thus exchange rates would have to float which meant that there was an impossible trinity. You cant have free capital flows and fixed exchange rates as well as an independent monetary policy. Keynesian liberalism had run out of road because 'money illusion' wasn't fooling anybody.  

Nevertheless, the future for liberal socialist political theory is bright.

not for bright people 

While not everyone listed below would identify with the label (and some might reject it), a considerable number of prominent and up-and-coming theorists have been working to bring out the affinities between the two traditions and canonise (or re-canonise) the major figures. These include Helen McCabe, Michael Walzer, James Crotty, Chantal Mouffe, Igor Shoikhedbrod, Lillian Cicerchia, Samuel Moyn, Daniel Chandler, William Edmundson, Elizabeth Anderson, Tony Smith, Rodney Peffer and many more.

Provincial, or, worse yet, Canadian, Assistant Professors who teach drooling imbeciles or investigate things like forced marriage. 

It isn’t hard to see why the prospect of liberal socialism would be appealing today.

To Assistant Professors teaching nonsense to drooling imbeciles in the sticks. 

Liberalism remains in or near crisis, and vast numbers express discontent with the neoliberal status quo.

Which Putin upended. There was a time when Liberalism was Rich. Sadly, if Xi & Putin prevail, Liberalism will become equal to even the most egalitarian shitholes.  

At the same time, there are very good reasons to reject revisiting forms of authoritarian ‘real existing socialism’ and communism. Liberal socialism offers the prospect of combining respect for liberal rights, checks and balances on state power, and participatory democracy with socialist concerns for the equal flourishing of all in a sustainable environment, the extension of democratic concerns into the workplace and ‘private government’, and pushing back on plutocratic rule.

not to mention levitation for Lesbians and teleportation for trans people.  

It also philosophically aligns well with concrete democratic socialist and radical movements appearing in the US, Chile, Brazil and elsewhere that want radical economic change but align with liberal values.

Radical economic change is occurring anyway. First 'exorbitant privilege' will disappear as the global financial system overcomes dollar hegemony. Along with it, the whole intellectual property regime will come crashing down. After that a new 'gravity model' of Trade will emerge. I suppose the US- or parts of it- might do quite well but North West Europe will be marginalized. Liberalism will die where it was born.  

Whether liberal socialism can transition from being a theoretical tradition and become a popular political ideology is a hard question.

Before the Revolution you can have liberal socialists and non-violent Nazis and Jew-loving Islamists. But that type of delusion doesn't last long. 

But, in a world defined by growing anger at inequality and plutocracy, liberal socialism is worthy of our loyalty.

Our current anger will be nothing compared to our sorrow when we find our Societies becoming more equal to that of shithole countries where citizens at least have the consolation that child rapists get strung up by the balls.  When productivity and competitiveness are on a upward secular trend, we may dream of levelling up. Sadly once those with historically much lower real-wages start actually levelling up to us, our concern is to stave off a further levelling down. 


Tuesday 20 February 2024

beshert- destiny soulmate

 A beshert is the Jewish notion of a soul mate. Beshert means destiny or your predestined spouse

What is RaGa's vichardhara?

Rahul Gandhi gave an in depth interview to Chatham House in March of 2023

Rahul Gandhi-...When I joined politics in 2004 [pause] the democratic contest in India used to be between political parties,

At that time no party was big enough to form a Government. There was a contest between two broad coalitions- one anchored by Congress and the other anchored by the BJP. It would be true to say that one side considered the RSS to be 'Fascist' while the BJP was founded by that organization.  

and I had never imagined at that time that the nature of the contest would change completely. It was – I mean, if you had even told me at that time, I would’ve said that it was a ridiculous thing to say, but the nature of the democratic contest in India has completely changed, and the reason it’s changed is because one organisation, called the RSS, fundamentalist, fascist organisation, has, basically, captured pretty much all of Indian – India’s institutions.

The BJP has a majority in the Lok Sabha by itself since 2014.  This majority has increased. By contrast, Congress hasn't had a majority since Rajiv Gandhi won by a landslide 'sympathy vote' in 1984. 

On the other hand, Congress had no qualms about taking Shankarsinh Vaghela, an old RSS man, as its leader in Gujarat after he rebelled against the BJP's choice of Keshubhai Patel as CM. 

Ben Bland And maybe for those who don’t know, can you explain what the RSS is? 
Rahul Gandhi RSS is a – you can call it a secret society.

It isn't. However, during Indira's Emergency, some RSS workers went underground.  

It’s built along the lines of the Muslim Brotherhood

The RSS was set up by Dr. Hegdewar on the pattern of his college friend, Dr. Hardikar's Congress Seva Dal to which he and Nehru were members. Unlike the RSS, the Seva Dal acquired an unsavoury reputation. It was responsible for much of the anti-Sikh violence in 1984.  

The Muslim Brotherhood was started after both the Seva Dal and the RSS. It has been actively persecuted whereas though the RSS was briefly banned, it has been part of the political mainstream ever since the formation of its political wing- the Jan Sangh- back in the early Fifties. 

and the idea is to use the democratic contest to come to power and then subvert the democratic contest afterwards,

It is the Dynasty which subverted Congress long ago which is why this moon-calf remains its Prime Ministerial candidate. Since he doesn't want that job, Congress will continue to decline- at least at the National level.  

 

and it’s shocked me at how successful they’ve been at capturing the different institutions of our country. The press, the judiciary, Parliament, Election Commission, all the institutions are under pressure, under threat, and controlled in one way or the other.

The Dynasty achieved that but, it turned out, assassination tempers autocracy. Currently, the BJPs ace in the hole is the moon-calf. Modi is very good at his job but he wouldn't win with such big majorities if Rahul wasn't the alternative.  

So, the conversation, the voice that was free flowing, the debates, those have all stopped. You know, some of the biggest decisions taken, demonetisation, which is demonetisation of the Indian currency, we were not allowed to debate in Parliament, right?

Demonetization can't be debated. It must take the country by surprise. Otherwise it is a self-defeating measure.  

The Farmers’ bills were – large numbers of farmers were out on the street, we were not allowed a conversation in Parliament.

The Government pushed the bills through without a debate because it had a majority in both Houses. To be fair, Manmohan pushed through a lot of bills without a debate. This has been a continuous trend. The first Lok Sabha spent the maximum time of 48.8% on debating legislations. By the eighth Lok Sabha, the time devoted by both Houses to legislative business had shrunk to 24.9% and the figure dropped even further to just around 20% by 2009.

The GST, we were not allowed. When Chinese troops entered our territory, we were not allowed to have a conversation in Parliament. So, that stifling made us ask ourselves a fundamental question, how do we communicate with the people of India when the media is biased, when the institutions are captured?

The Farmer's agitation got Modi to do a U-turn. Sadly, it was Kejriwal's party which reaped the benefit in Punjab.  

And the answer we came up with in the Congress Party was this walk across the country,

The BJP's Rath Yatra was a success because it focussed on a single issue- the Ram Temple. Rahul's Yatra doesn't focus on any single issue. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi could make political comebacks by highlighting the incompetence of the ruling coalition. But, this was because they had themselves shown they were willing and able to take the top job. Rahul, as he himself says, could have become PM at age 25, 35, 40 or 44. He refused each time. Now he is 54 and has never held a Ministerial portfolio. His 'organizational work' has been counter-productive. His continued visibility hurts Congress and pisses off its potential allies. 

which has a tradition. The word is Yātrā, it’s journey, but it’s not simply a journey, it’s a Indian idea of walking, of persevering, of listening and of questioning oneself, and so, we decided to do this. It was 4,000 kilometres, and it was quite an experience. It was a fun experience, painful at times, but we all learnt a lot, and it placed on the table a different narrative of India, right, not an angry, aggressive, violent narrative, which is currently deployed by the BJP, but a peace-loving, Gan – almost Gandhian, non-violent, open, accepting narrative.

But Mahatma Gandhi refused to hold office. This was fine because he accepted Nehru- a charismatic Hindi speaker from a prestigious pan-Indian caste. But who is Rahul promoting as PM candidate? This is the crux of the problem. One could say that JP, too, was a political failure because he didn't have a good alternative to Indira. True, Indira fell but JP & Kripalani erred grievously in anointing Morarji- whom everybody hated. But, at least Morarji had been a Cabinet Minister. Currently, the Opposition has no Prime Ministerial candidate. Two possibilities, Gehlot and Nitish are now off the table- indeed, it is doubtful they have much of a political future. Rahul's Yatra appears to have pissed off not just Mamta but also Akhilesh.  

And I think that was the biggest success of the Yātrā, that it clearly placed on the table a different vision of the country.

One in which either India has Modi or it has nobody.  

... I realised that, as a Politician, before my walk I was not actually listening properly, right?

The people wanted him to take charge of the Commonwealth Games as his father had taken charge of the Asian Games. After that he should have entered the Cabinet and then shouldered Manmohan aside leading his Party to victory in 2014. Congress could have had a majority on its own. True, like Rajiv, Rahu's administration might have fallen apart because of corruption and in-fighting but, because of his youth, Rahul would have been forgiven and could have made a comeback at some later point. But Rahul was gun-shy. He would only lead the Congress Party if, by doing so, he could make it unelectable.

As Politicians, we always – we start by telling you what we think, and we have a narrative in our mind and, you know, whenever somebody says something, that narrative is shaping our conversation. Maybe we want to impress a little bit and say, “We understand, you know, what you’re trying to get at.” So, that instinct went silent. It went silent because, frankly, I had no choice. One, I had a knee problem, so my mind was, like, trying to calm my knee down, and second, the number of people was so big that there was no point. So, I – after some time I just went silent and I started listen properly, and it was a very powerful experience for me, taught me patience, and there was huge pressure. I mean, to give you an idea, six people died in the walk, many people broke their legs, arms, ‘cause there’s huge pressure of people, there were thousands, at times 50/100,000 people walking, so the physical experience. The other thing I learnt is that no amount of exercise makes you lose weight. It’s, like, completely a myth. I mean, at the end of this thing, 4,000 kilometres, I go on the scale, and I’ve put on a kilo. I mean, some – okay. So, it’s totally diet, it’s nothing to do with exercise, that’s the other thing I learnt, yeah.

So, Rahul may have started off with a narrative but then he got tired and stopped pushing that narrative. In the South, where people did not understand either his English or Hindi, he was well received. But it is in the North that Congress needs to win seats to remain in the game. Otherwise it will lose ground to regional politicians who form their own dynastic parties- e.g. Mamta or YSR.  

Ben Bland And how has the walk been received politically? I mean, obviously, you did it for the reasons you said, but you’re also a Politician, you’re seeking to win public support. There are national elections coming up in India. What’s your sense in terms of how it’s been received in terms of your own political position and Congress’s position in India?

The original plan was for the Dynasty to step aside and let Congress hold elections. True, 'the fix was in'- Gehlot was supposed to win and go on to be Modi's challenger. Rahul's walkabout was supposed to be a sort of grand farewell tour. Rahul could have morphed from a conventional politician into some sort of celebrity social campaigner- like Greta Thurnberg. 

Rahul Gandhi- It’s transformational. It’s transformational, certainly, for the party, because it gave tremendous energy to our party workers, but it’s also – it was also transformational for a lot of the people who were coming. And the powerful thing about it was the physical contact and the scale of the physical contact, and it was something – you know, I’ve been to thousands of meetings, public meetings, conversations like this, it’s a completely different thing. Because when you’re walking and you’re walking with, say, a Farmer, or you’re walking with a young woman, there’s a struggle going on, particularly if you’re walking 25/30 kilometres a day. There’s a struggle going on, and you, sort of, are jointly going through that thing, right? So, it’s a completely different conversation that happens. The other thing I did, which I think helped a lot, was right in the beginning, I got the guys I work with, and I said, “Look, what is my responsibility here? Well, you know, what is mine and your responsibility here? We are walking 4,000 kilometres, and that’s all fine, but what is it that we will not accept in this walk?” And I told them that, “Look, what I want” – and there was a rope there, so – I don’t know if you saw it, did you see the video? You didn’t see the video? 
Ben Bland Yeah, I’ve seen.
Rahul Gandhi Yeah, there’s this rope there, and there’s quite a lot of security around the rope, so I told the guys, said, “Look, whoever comes into this area to talk to us” – and there were 125 of us walking, so it wasn’t just me, I was in front but there was 125, and these conversations were going on with everybody, and I said, “Look, whoever comes in, he – doesn’t matter who he is, who she is, that person’s got to feel at home, right? And the feeling I want us to generate is that when they leave this place, they feel that they’ve left home.” So, in my mind it was not a political exercise. In my mind it was a personal exercise where I was wellpa – welcoming people, like, into this room and giving them a space to feel comfortable and talk, and also making it a personal talk, not a political talk. And we were successful at doing that, because there was a lot of pressure, security people pushing and pulling, and so, we created this, sort of, cocoon there where anybody came in and felt comfortable. And then some magic started to happen, because the moment they started to see this, that there is this connection in the 21st Century, where, you know, we’re not going through the WhatsApp or we’re not going through Facebook and all that, and there’s this gentleman who’s come here, and these people who’ve come here, and they’re talking to us, then it – the nature of the conversation changed completely. And more shocking conversations started to happen. Like, the most personal things, suddenly people were discussing with a stranger, really, you know. So, it became almost like a – either a friend or a brother, you know, that was the type of conversation, so a lot of stuff came out.

So, the walkabout was a type of group therapy. I suppose, it could have been a transformational experience. Rahul finds a new empathy, a new style of communication, a new method of organizing and motivating local activists. Sadly, nothing of the sort happened. When Rahul entered politics- and his entry helped the Congress coalition to win in 2004- he said he would concentrate on organizational work rather than enter the Cabinet. But he was shit at organization. What was he not shit at? Walking. Sadly, walking and talking was more than he could handle. Anyway, for his second Yatra he decided to omit the walking and just stay on the bus while stopping occasionally to talk bollocks.  

Ben Bland And you’ve talked a lot previously about the attacks on democracy in India, at a time when I guess there’s a sense that, globally, democracy is under pressure. I mean, do you see any linkages there? Do you think there is some, sort of, global shift against democracy that’s affecting, or partly driving, what’s been happening in India, or do you see the challenges in India as being pretty endogenous 

Democracy does mean that power gets redistributed from time to time. Entrenched elites can lose popular support. They may feel this is 'populism' or 'majoritarianism' or 'Fascism' and complain about 'authoritarianism' once they are out of office, but they too were once accused of the same thing.  

Rahul Gandhi They’re linked for sure, but each country has its own history, its own philosophy, its own way of thinking about these things. So, definitely, there are two, sort of, visions of the planet emerging, I mean that, to me, is clear. There’s a sort of, pre-democratic open space idea, and then there’s a sort of, more controlled, coercive idea, and that is visible.

Rahul is a dynastic politician. The 'coercive idea' triumphed under his great-grandfather who centralized power in the PMO.  

India has – there are some nuances to it in India, right? First of all, it’s not a battle between political parties anymore.

It is. The RSS set up the Jan Sangh as an alternative to the Hindu Mahasabha which had split off from Congress. The Communists too had cadre based parties. The Socialists tended to be caste based and dynastic. There also were regionalist parties based on linguistic/religious sub-nationalism- e.g. DMK, Shiv Sena, Akali Dal etc. Mamta's TMC split off from the INC when the latter allied with the Communists. 

It’s a battle between two old ideas of India

one is Dynastic. After the House of Windsor came the Nehru/Gandhis. Sadly, they kept getting shot or blown up and thus preferred to rule by proxy. But, by tearing up an ordinance of Manmohan, Rahul made the proxy model unviable. 

and philosophical ideas of India which are diametrically opposed, different, and the BJP represents one

the BJP is a proper political party. Merit can rise to the top.  

and we represent the other. In India, also, there’s the matter of caste, right, which is – which doesn’t exist, for example, in England or the United States, it’s a very particular aspect of society. So, it’s – it plays out differently, but it’s, sort of, informed by what’s going on in the rest of the world.

India has more affirmative action- but this is a zero-sum game. Manmohan and Modi want a positive sum game where people can rise by private enterprise not getting a Government job.  

Ben Bland And I mean, obviously, you know, you’re a Politician, you’ve pinned a lot of the blame for what’s happening on BJP and Narendra Modi’s government, but would you – are there bottom-up drivers, do you think, in India as well?

Obviously! Urbanization and higher participation for women has created a space for new parties like Kejriwal's 'Common Man party'. The BJP's social origins was in the urban areas and the mercantile communities whereas the Congress machine had a lock on the rural masses till the 'dominant' agricultural castes began to rise up from the mid-Sixties onward. 

Rahul Gandhi I don’t – it’s not that I pin the blame on them, it’s that I feel they operationalise it, right?

The BJP and other parties- like Kejriwal's AAM which has taken Delhi and Punjab from Congress- have more appeal to the rising middle class which is more urbanized and aspirational. Congress in 2004 and 2009 had a similar appeal because people did not know that Rahul was utterly useless. 

So, they are the mechanism through which it’s happening, but I said in my Cambridge talk that I think the problem – well, when we walked with – we heard, basically, three things, well four things: unemployment, price rise, inequality, and violence against women. Those are the broad themes that came up, but the real problem is the unemployment problem, right?

Nehru's solution was to expand the bureaucracy. But that was inflationary. There is no alternative to letting the private sector expand. 

I suppose Rahul is right to worry about unemployment. He will probably lose his seat in Parliament. Congress may begin to revive.  

And that’s generating a lot of anger and a lot of fear, and I think the unemployment problem is happening because earlier, if you look at the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, there was a concept of production in the democratic environment, right?

Not in India. There was the concept of getting a Government job on the basis of a caste quota and then doing nothing till you retired.  

Countries like Britain, countries like India, America, they produced things,

not India. Nehruvian policies strangled manufacturing. There was shitty subsistence agriculture and shitty low productivity jobs in the informal sector. Being unemployed was a luxury for those who had been to College.  

and there was manufacturing, there was production going on, and then, for whatever reason, that was parcelled out to China, right?

It could have been parcelled out to India. Manmohan wanted to make the necessary reforms but Sonia's chums opposed him.  

And today we live in a world where there is a production model in the coercive environment, but there is no production model in the democratic environment.

Rahul seems to think that the US and UK have high unemployment but both have lower unemployment than China. India has the same rate as France. No doubt, both would have lower rates if they were more laissez faire. 

So, the result is that it becomes very difficult for democratic countries to give their youngsters employment. I don’t believe that a country like India can employ all its people with services. I just don’t believe it. It doesn’t work, right? It doesn’t have the connectivity, it doesn’t have the structure that can deliver you those jobs. So, for me the question is can a democratic production model be rebuilt, and what does it look like, right? And I think that’s at the centre of what is creating the problem, and the problem is manifesting in different places differently.

Manmohan hoped there could be consensus on labour market reform. In practice, some States could let manufacturing hubs come up without too much disruption by trade union activists.  

In India, it’s manifesting along caste lines, along religious lines.

I don't understand this. the 'democratic' way of creating jobs is to let the private sector expand If you reduce property rights in jobs, you have a bigger official sector. If you featherbed workers, you have 'jobless growth' as capital is substituted for labour in high value adding fields.  

Rahul understands that India is urbanizing. What he doesn't get is that he and his sister could have represented that aspirational, urbanized, India. I

The biggest change is that India’s moving from a rural country, rural, yeah, country to an urban country, right, and that changes the nature of the political discourse. That changes the nature of the structure, and we were focusing a lot on the rural space, and we missed the ball in the beginning on the urban space, and that’s a fact, right? So, those things are there, but to say that now the BJP’s in power and, you know, the Congress is gone, I mean, that’s actually ridiculous, ridiculous idea. And as far as the coercion, the violence that is concerned, it’s not the Congress that’s saying it. Congress is saying it, but you’ve just got to travel in India and see it. I mean, you can see what’s being done to the Dalit community, or you can see it – what’s being done to the tribal community, you can see what’s being done to the minorities.

Sadly, the majority approves of the 'peaceful' minority getting thrashed if it starts any trouble. Anti-Dalit violence is a serious issue- in Congress or DMK ruled States. The BJP wants to recruit Dalits and STs. 

It’s not that the Congress is saying it and objectively it’s not being seen. There are articles all across – in the foreign press all the time that there is a serious problem with Indian democracy, right? It’s also the way the BJP responds, right? The – it’s not interested in a conversation. They have decided that they know what’s going on, nobody else in the country understands what’s going on, and that’s it, and this is visible, I mean, you can ask any opposition party. You can see for example how the agencies are used. You can ask any opposition leader about how the agencies are used. My phone had Pegasus on it, that simply was not happening when we were in power. So, there are things that are very obvious and are apparent to everybody.

This is hilarious. Manmohan defended his government's policy of tapping the phones of everybody- including Ratan Tata, lobbyist Nira Radia, the BJP's Arun Jaitley, & even a Cabinet colleague of the PM from the DMK, which was an ally. Rahul himself is an accused in various scams and his phone may well be being tapped under the rules that were in place under Manmohan. 

Ben Bland- And when we go beyond, kind of, the next election or the election after that and think a bit bigger about India’s future, I think you described India really nicely, as, sort of, “Ongoing negotiation between different states and peoples.” And obviously the intercommunal tensions are not a new phenomenon in India, but how does India move beyond that to a kind of, a better, more peaceful, smoother, kind of, negotiation in the next decades?

There is no need for 'negotiation'. There is need for cooperation so everybody can get on with their lives and rise up economically.  

Rahul Gandhi Yeah, so, I mean, one way of looking at India is that it’s a country, and another way of looking at it is that it is a negotiation between 1.4 billion people, right?

India is actually a country. It isn't a negotiation at all.  

And that negotiation, if you imagine India in terms of numbers, it’s probably three times Europe, three times the United States. It’s probably got as many languages as Europe does. It’s certainly got as many histories as Europe does, and that negotiation is a complex negotiation, and that negotiation happens

The negotiations stopped in 1947.  

– it doesn’t happen out on the streets. It happens through institutions, it happens through the Parliament, it happens through assemblies, it happens through the courts, it happens through the Election Commission, right?

No. There can be negotiations when a coalition government is formed. But the BJP has had two simple majorities and is likely to get a third.

Courts and Constitutional bodies like the Election Commission don't negotiate. They make judgments on the basis of the law of the land.  

And my worry is that the architecture of that negotiation is being attacked and broken,

Negotiation only happens when there is a coalition government. Rahul doesn't get this. I suppose there is some negotiation between Opposition ruled states and the Centre. But, there also are rules about revenue sharing etc.  

right, and you can see, sort of, the symptoms, right? The Prime Minister one day turns round and demonetises the entire currency, right?

A large portion of it- sure. But the same thing happened in 1978. Both were done by Ordinance.  

The Reserve Bank doesn’t know about it, and it’s – everything has been bypassed, on something as fundamental as the currency of the country. That’s an example,

Rahul was 8 years old the previous time it happened. What he still does not understand is that the BJP benefitted at the polls from demonetization. Also, it killed off the anti-corruption movement- which had helped Kejriwal to rise up.  

and it’s the same way the GST was worked out, right?

Unlike demonetization, which was done by Ordinance, GST was implemented through an amendment to the Constitution passed by both Houses, ratified by the States, and signed into law by a President appointed by the Congress Party. 

So, you can see that the reliance on those institutions is reducing, and that, to me, is very, very dangerous, right?

This cretin can't tell the difference between an Ordinance and a fucking amendment to the Constitution! 

So, certainly there’s repair work that needs to be done, right, on the idea of freedom, on the idea of independent institutions.

Independent institutions don't have to negotiate with cretins.  

There’s a whole bunch of repair work that needs to be done, and then, I think fundamental to a successful India is the decentralisation of power.

Why not decentralize power in the Congress party?  

So, what – exactly what you see – the trend you see is massive concentration of wealth and power, right? And that’s – if you really look at the BJP and see what’s the one big thing that they’ve done, it’s huge concentration of power in the Prime Minister’s office

this happened under Nehru. Manmohan, it is true, was not allowed by Sonia and her chums to use that power to unshackle the economy. Once this became apparent, the country turned to Modi. 

and then, huge concentration of wealth in the hands of two or three people, right? And that to me – a country the size of India simply cannot be run like that, right? So, that to me, the decentralisation, supporting small and medium businesses, starting or re-imagination – reimagining production, manufacturing, in a modern way, in a decentralised way, in a technological way,

that's laissez faire, dude. Infosys and Wipro were once small just as Microsoft and Apple were once small. Rajiv Gandhi, to his credit, did help India's software industry get off the ground- by dying. Rahul is enabling India to get infrastructure- by making Congress unelectable.  

and I think there linkages between the West and India are critical. 

The Presidency cities- Bombay, Calcutta, even Madras, were once even more part of the West than Singapore or Hong Kong. Congress under Nehru ensured this would cease to be the case. Rajiv may have wanted to reverse this but it was Rao, heading a minority Government who used the excuse of national bankruptcy to embrace reform.  

Ben Bland-I want to pivot a bit here to foreign policy and start with India and China, and I know you’re a keen follower of China, and obviously, in the last few years we’ve seen these flare-ups at the border, seemingly driven by China.

China was worried about encirclement. But, Biden & his Blinken idiot have reassured them  

There was a trajectory previously where Xi Jinping and Modi seemed to be getting on well. They had their, sort of, tea meeting in Wuhan. Why do you think in the last few years Beijing has decided to antagonise India, because it seems to have really pushed India towards the West?

America could have got India in its camp if it had both bought and sold military equipment to India. But America is an unreliable partner. China and India tested each other at the border. India has the demographic advantage and can afford to play a waiting game. 

Rahul Gandhi- Antagonise is, sort of, a benign word. I mean, they’re sitting on 2,000 square kilometres of our territory, right? I mean, I don’t know, that – antagonise doesn’t quite capture it, right? No? I mean, yeah, it doesn’t quite capture it, and the interesting thing is that when they did it, our Prime Minister said, in a meeting with the opposition where I was there, that “Not a single inch of Indian territory has been taken,” right? Now, what message does that send to the Chinese, right? The Chinese know they’re sitting on 2,000 square kilometres of our territory, our military knows it, and our Prime Minister says, “Well, we’re not there.”

Modi sent the right signals. Ultimately, China doesn't really have any real beef with India. Let them invest in the border region. As their population ages, immigrants from their Southern border will change the picture of Han domination.  

So, it encourages them, right? So, that’s one aspect of the problem. As a country, our ethos and our DNA is democratic, right?

Democracies don't have dynastic political parties.  

I mean, you – there’s the book, “The Argumentative Indian,” by Mr Amartya Sen.

It is foolish. The Bengalis may be verbose. But they have fucked up their own State and nobody listens to them any longer.  

We Indians like to talk and, you know, you spend a lot of time talking and discussing things, and that’s the way we build consensus, because it’s very complex.

There has never been any consensus. There is nothing complex about a situation where an Italian lady is running the country with a puppet of a Prime Minister.  

And so, we in the Congress are pretty clear that whatever is going to be built, whatever is going to happen, has to be in a democratic, in a open structure, and that, of course, that’s not China, right?

Chairman Xi isn't the great-grandson of Chairman Mao.  

So, we are much more comfortable with the democratic idea, that open idea. Of course, at the same time they’re our neighbour and we’re in competition with them, and frankly, if we’re going to talk about production, right, we are the biggest game in town,

Sadly, this is far from the truth.  

and so they see us as a problem, right? So, my approach is, they’re offering a vision of productivity, of prosperity. Well, we should have a vision of prosperity too, and that includes the West and India, but that’s missing, right?

Rahul doesn't understand that Westerners are much much richer than the Chinese.

So, to me, that’s where the work needs to be done.

Modi has done that work. Rahul has only recently found out that people in India are worried about unemployment and inflation and violence against women. The one thing they are not worried about is the RSS. 

Ben Bland It seems to me that, as someone who’s, you know, lived a long time in Asia and watched the politics, that it’s going to be very hard to have a successful, productive Asian century if India and China are at loggerheads.

This isn't really a big worry. In a land war, India will do well. But why would two bald men fight over a comb? India's strategic importance to the West lies in its being able to tie down Chinese troops. India's 'Agnivir' scheme means that it will soon have an absolute manpower advantage even before it uses 'force multiplier' techniques to arm local people and foster insurgencies.  

So, how – can you foresee a rapprochement between India and China, and how might that happen, how could that happen?

Don't ask Rahul. The boy is a moron.  

Rahul Gandhi- I mean, I don’t know about a rapprochement, but I do think that we have to have a vision for production, right? And I don’t think it’s going to look like the Chinese one. It can’t, structurally we can’t do that, right? So, it’s got to be a decentralised one, and I think you are going to have a level of competition between the two countries. There is going to be – on the margins, there’s going to be a little bit of tension, a little bit of hostility, but I think it’s very important that the lines are clear. I mean, they’re sitting on 2,000 square kilometres of our territory, right, that’s the fact.

Rahul is trying to make out that Modi is as shit as his great-grandfather. But nobody is buying that.  

Ben Bland So, what would a Congress government do about that?

 Rahul doesn't know what Manmohan did. He has no clue what an Indian PM needs to do. 

Rahul Gandhi Well, I mean we’d have to – we’ll have to see when we’re there in power, but I think making things clear and certainly not denying that they’re sitting in your territory, to start with.

So, Congress would say 'Chinese are fucking us in the ass! Eeek! It hurts!' but do nothing.  

Ben Bland- And so, you spoke earlier about, sort of, different visions of the world, and I guess a US-led vision, you were implying, and maybe a China-led one, but what’s – what would an India-led world look like? Is it very similar to the, sort of, Western democratic ideals?

India has no interest in going around doing 'regime change'.  

 Rahul Gandhi- I don’t know if it’s – I don’t know if – I don’t quite like the word ‘led’, right? I think it’s a joint effort, right? And I think there are components that the United States has, there are components that Britain has, there are components that India has, and they’re valuable, right? So, I think – I don’t like the idea that, oh, that’s being led by that person, this is being led by that person. I like the idea of a bridge. So, how can we imagine a bridge of prosperity between these systems and these ideas, where we have a role to play, we bring a lot to the table, you bring a lot to the table, right? And let’s have a conversation about what those things are and how we could put it in practice, right? Yeah, I think the world is – in the 21st Century is connected enough, where, you know, the word led is problematic, yeah.

Fuck bridges. Just don't do regime change or other stupid shit.  

Ben Bland So, is it then – are you’re envisioning some sort more – sort of, more multipolar order where...?

A multi-polar world will have proxy wars.  

Rahul Gandhi Of course, United States is more powerful, right? So, one cannot deny that the United States is powerful. Everybody is required. You can’t, in the 21st Century, say, you know, “We’re going to exclude you,” that’s not a possibility. So, now, what would an Indi – what would the Indian elements of that bridge look like? Successful, in my view. It would invoke the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi, it would be non-violent, it would be sensitive, it would stand for some of those values, which India is very good at doing

India gave up that type of chatter after China took down Nehru's pajamas and made fun of his puny genitals.  

. It would respect other cultures, it would not be aggressive, it would try to listen to other perspectives. We’re good at doing that. I mean we have – in our philosophical structure, we have these ideas, you know. We have this idea called śūnyatā, right, zero, non-existence, so that can absorb everything.

India is big fat zero.  

So, those are the type of ideas that I would say that India brings to the table.

Why not just get up on that table and take a great big dump on it?  

Ben Bland- And I want to ask about Ukraine, because it’s obviously a massive issue, yeah, in Europe. I think by and large, Congress has supported, if I’m right in this, the Modi government’s position of neutrality at the UN when it comes to the War in Ukraine. I mean, how do you think that stands with India’s position as a democracy and wanting to provide democratic leadership and upholding, you know, the ideals of freedom and sovereignty?

India's position is that it is a democracy. It doesn't give a fuck if other countries- like the UK or the UAE or Japan- want to be Monarchies or anything else.  

Rahul Gandhi- I mean, I would agree with the foreign policy on that issue, and there’s also an element of national interest. There are, you know, there are interests, we have to look after our interests, so they’re there, but I am against any type of war, I’m against any type of violence, and the sooner it ends, the better it is. And as far as the 21st Century is concerned, a war like Ukraine, with the potential for unlimited escalation, is just downright dangerous, and we should be very careful that it’s playing out in Europe, and everybody should try and do their bit to stop it.

Biden should go on a very long walk.  

Ben Bland And could you see a time when India does start to move away from Russia? Obviously, that’s one of the reasons why, yeah, India is wary of criticising Russia, because it relies on Russia for, you know, a large part of its military equipment and technology, but obviously at the same time, the West has been courting India, in part because of, you know, the issues that you have with China and we see the existential threat from China. So, do you – could you foresee this shift happening over time?

No. America is unreliable. France is a possible partner but ultimately India has to go it alone.  

Rahul Gandhi Self-interest is important, and then, you know, you’re saying ‘courting’, I don’t know, how well are you courting? It depends. I mean, that’s up to you, you know, how well you court India.

Why bother? Just do a mutually beneficial trade. 

Ben Bland And could you ever envisage an India that does move away from multialignment or non-alignment to, kind of, harder lines?

No.  

Rahul Gandhi I don’t know, I don’t think about it like that. I think – what is it that we’re trying to achieve? Right, start from there, what is our problem? Our problem is we’ve got a huge population and we need to give them jobs, we need to give them livelihood, we need to give them an imagination, and that’s our primary job.

No. The government's job is to get out of the way of people who want to work and those who want to employ them.  

Now, we will do whatever it takes to make that happen, and the best route to make it happen is what we’ll be doing. We’re not going to do anything that will damage the aspirations of our own people. We’re not going to do something that is going to, you know, damage their employment prospects. So, every country looks at itself, looks at the problems it’s trying to solve and then, works from there, right?

Rahul has been an MP for twenty years. He has led his party. Yet his head is completely empty.  

Ben Bland I’m going to come to audience questions in a minute. I’ve just a couple more. I mean firstly on the economy, I mean, it seems to me that the model of industrialisation and manufacturing, export-led growth that, you know, was very successful for Japan, Korea, Singapore, in driving them to rich country status, doesn’t really work anymore, because of changes in, you know, the rise of automation, potentially ‘cause of the fracturing of global value chains and some, sort of, shaving away of the benefits of globalisation.

Nonsense! Urbanization- getting rural girls into giant factory dormitories so demographic transition is achieved- is the only way forward.  

So – but India, as well, which is such a big country with such a big domestic market and big challenges to employ its young people as well, what is the model, do you see, going forward for India to achieve the, sort of, rapid growth, but also more equitable growth that your country needs?

The country needs to raise female participation rate and greatly reduce the proportion of the population engaged in agriculture and low value adding work- e.g. brick making or rat-hole mining.  

Rahul Gandhi In my walk, I walked past a town called Ballari in Karnataka, and I literally walked past it, and some people over there said, “Look, this is a jeans-producing centre, okay, and please come and see what we’re doing.” So, I spent half a day walking around Ballari and looking at this jeans production that they were doing. It used to employ five lakh people, so five lakh is half a million, right? Today it employs 40,000 people.

Ballari made poor quality jeans in small workshops during the festival season- i.e. June to February. It may have employed 100,000 at maximum on a part time basis. But frequent load-shedding and low margins meant that it stagnated compared to Bangalore. Rahul promised that if Congress came to power it would invest 500 million pounds to create a Jeans Park. Needless to say, nothing came of that promise.  

It’s essentially a network of skill, right? Whenever you walk in there, there are people who have huge amount of skill sitting there, and they’re doing nothing, right?

No. Ballari didn't have much in the way of skill. The 'merchant-manufacturers' were too small to build brands. Gujarat took market share because the Government there helped the industry. The local manufacturers were supposed to get an industrial park but, at the last moment, the land was given to rice mills. I suppose the locals thought getting Rahul to visit would help them. He promised a lot but, once elected, the Congress party gave them nothing. 

So, the question is, how can we take their skill and make them produce something, right, and then make that accessible to people, right? And those centres exist all across India. There’s Ballari, Moradabad, everywhere, the – almost every district in India has a skill base that is profound, right?

No. The skill base will remain shitty if you aren't climbing the value chain. 

But then, what do we do, or what is happening today? A huge concentration of wealth, huge concentration – complete control of the banking system by three or four large industrialists, and the skills just lying there wasting away.

No one can accuse Rahul of having any skills which are 'just lying there wasting away.'  

Those four and a half lakh people today are unemployed, right? That Ballari itself, if it’s aligned properly, if the banking system is made accessible to them, if you inject technology into that skills base, that thing – you’ll be able to produce a million jobs there, right?

No. Gujarat, which is a big exporter, employs only about 26,000 in its textile parks. In the country as a whole there may be 400,000 in the jeans sector because of the extra labour- done in low wage hubs- involved. Rahul thinks a city with half a million population could suddenly have 'a million jobs'. This is a lad who attended Harvard and Cambridge!

So, I don’t agree that manufacturing per se is dead, right? I look at it by saying, “Okay, here is the skill, what do we need now to make sure that the skill translates into jobs?” Right? And then there’s the – there are different areas, I’m not saying that there is no space for large business. Absolutely there is space for large business, but the level of monopolisation that is taking place today is seriously problematic. It’s problematic if you want to transform India, if you want to give Indian people jobs.

The Indian people wanted to give Rahul the top job. Then they discovered he had shit for brains. His Dynasty's monopoly of power was broken. The sad truth is you can't give people jobs. You can give them money but you can't make them productive or useful if they are useless tossers.  

It’s problematic if you want to have a productive vision for the country, right? So, also, there’s a huge scope for agriculture, right, building a cold chain, modernising the agricultural struc – system, it’s – huge potential. It’s wasted right now.

Manmohan wanted to go in for this but by then he had run out off steam. Modi's Kisan Sampada Yojana, however, has made some strides. But, farmers would prefer to take loans and then have their loans forgiven. You have to greatly shrink the number of farmers to get higher output or value adding.  

So, those are the type of things that one would look at.

It's the type of thing Modi can implement because he has a majority.  

Ben Bland Right. The last question I have, before I go to questions from the floor and online, you talked a lot on this trip, and probably before as well, about listening, and I agree with you, listening is an underrated quality in politics and diplomacy, where most people prefer talking. So, given we’ve got you here and we’re all keen to listen, and you’ve been in the UK, I think, for a week or so now, what do you think we in the UK get most wrong about India? What don’t we see that we should know to better understand India?

Modi is a Hindu. India is 80 percent Hindu. Attacking Hinduism is not going to get you elected in India.  

Rahul Gandhi [Pause] Oh, I’m going to give away the secret. You know, it’s like the quote I saw in your room, right, the Gorbachev quote. The Gorbachev quote was to the ex – to the effect of, “We are at a very important time in history and there are two options. One option is this one, and the other option is this one.”

Gorbachev said the choice was between force and an acknowledgment of interdependence. Then the nutter surrendered Party control of the Economy and a 'Scissors crisis' caused the collapse of the Soviet Union.  

That’s just not how the Indian mind sees the world, right?

No. The Indians see that you either have the Dynasticism or else Meritocracy.  

The Indian mind just does not see the world in a binary way.

Which is why Rahul sometimes gets confused and puts on a saree.  

So, for the Indian person, number one, we are not at a critical point in history, right, and number two, there’s thousands of options standing right in front of us, right? That’s just how the Indian mind works, and it translates – if you look at – if you just go to Delhi and you look at the street, and you look at the lanes, you’ll see Indian drivers making their way through this thing, right, they’ll go this way, they’ll go that way. Now, that’s – that looks like chaos, right, but in the 21st Century, that chaos is very powerful, but that chaos has to be managed effectively.

No. Delhi needs to improve road quality. Cars would not need to swerve this way or that to avoid potholes. Chaos is what happens when you don't have management or management is utterly shit. The 21st century isn't about driving on the wrong side of the road.  

Ben Bland Thanks, that’s a very good answer. 

No it isn't. It is all very well to say that we should welcome 'disruptive' technologies and enterprises. But that just means competitive 'creative destruction'. It doesn't mean driving sometimes on the left and sometimes on the right of the road.  

Rahul Gandhi Okay, I’ll tell you something else. Ben Bland Yeah. Rahul Gandhi If you can – this is a concept that’s difficult... Ben Bland Hmmm. Rahul Gandhi ...and I’ll try it. Broadly, there are two philosophies in India. One believes in infinity, right, that says you will live forever, right, and the other that says you don’t exist, concept of śūnyatā or anattā in Buddhism, right, and India operates between these two, right?

No. India is not Buddhist. It is Hindu. Hindus say the soul is immortal. Buddhism babbles some crazy bullshit but its message is give money to Buddhist monks. That way you get to be re-born as a Buddhist monk. Buddhist monks are super-cool. Did you know that Steven Segal is a 'tulku' or reincarnated Buddhist Abbot?  

The idea of non-existence, or anattā, as in Buddhism, is the essence of listening.

But there is no self to do the listening. The sad truth is that people often want to talk before or after handing over cash to Buddhist monks. Remember you don't really have a self. Go to your happy place till they just hand over the cash and fuck the fuck off.  

So, if I’m sitting here talking to you and I don’t exist, right, that is absolutely the perfect way to listen to you. What do I mean by “I don’t exist”?

You don't have a fucking brain.  

It means my aspirations don’t exist, it means my fears don’t exist, it means, you know, I am sitting almost in silence, almost as if I’m dead, and I’m listening to you.

Don't kill me. I'm already dead.  

That’s something Indian people can do, a very powerful thing, right?

No. It is useless.  

And if you look at our, so to speak, the grandmasters, people like Gandhi, that’s actually what they’re doing, right?

No. Gandhi talked and wrote a lot. But, what was important was, he was a great fund raiser. Non-Violence means using money to get what you want- provided you don't want anything really desirable.  

And that’s a – it’s a philosophical thing, but it’s the power of Indian civilisation. It’s why – it’s where, you know, the West got zero from.

Will the West want this fucking zero? He could be the next Greta Thurnberg.  

Ben Bland- Yeah.
Rahul Gandhi- Right, and then, that – no, you’re laughing, but then when that zero arrives in the West, it completely transforms and does something that it can’t do in India, right?

Zero came to the West and got a job in the Kwiki-mart. It couldn't do that in India because Ambani and Adani are monopolizing everything.  

Because when it comes into contact with your philosophy, the sum of both those things is much bigger than either of them.

No. The zero didn't matter very much. The Sumerians and Mayans had it before the Indians.  

So, to me, that’s how I see it. I think – I mean, I used to sit on a table when I was small and my grandmother and my mother’s father

a Fascist who didn't want his daughter marrying a darkie. His wife and her brother supported Sonia's decision and came to India for the wedding ceremony. Sonia remained close to her mother as did Rahul. 

used to sit there at lunchtime and they used to speak to each other, and I would just look at them and there were two different worlds, right? My grandmother would be speaking something else, saying something, meaning something else, and my grandfather would be understanding something else.

To be fair, Sonia's dad worked hard and raised beautiful daughters of good character.  

But the conversation was going on, and that, to me, is the essence of the thing, which is that I look at you and I say, “He has ideas that are actually powerful and useful for me, and in turn, I have ideas that might be powerful and useful for him.” And I think that’s the – that’s what’s important in the 21st Century, hmmm hmm?

Rahul has no useful ideas. What's important in the 21st century is what was important in the 20th century- viz not electing brain dead nutters who do stupid shit.  

Yeah, I totally agree. Listening is great, and we’re here... 
Rahul Gandhi As a final thi – sorry. 
Ben Bland …to… 
Rahul Gandhi As a final thing, I am a practitioner and I’m, sort of, in the – I deal in power, right?

Rahul's stock in trade is losing power.  

And I can tell you that – and this is something, it’s a bit hard to grasp, listening is much more powerful than speaking.

Rahul should try listening to himself. Why not get a speech-writer? His Dad read out speeches. Nothing wrong in that.  

There’s no comparison between the two, but for some reason, people are convinced that speaking is more powerful, right?

Modi is a good speaker. I suppose he listened carefully to good speakers and practiced speaking in their manner before finding his own voice.  

Even if you’re speaking to me and I’m listening to you, I understand what you’re going to do, right? I can predict what you’re going to do if I listen carefully.

India has listened carefully to Rahul. Indians can predict he is going to do stupid shit.  

Ben Bland Yeah, so many questions. The gentleman at the front, if you can tell us who you are, and any affiliation, and yeah, the mic’s coming to you, and please, keep it to a question, not a statement. Thank you. Hanif Adeel Thank you very much. Hanif Adeel, former Advisor, British Parliament, British Government. The question – I’m going to come to the question. I just want to make one point. Ben Bland No, but – sorry, just a question. Hanif Adeel Okay. Ben Bland Just a – other people have questions. Hanif Adeel It’s contextual, okay. Rahul-ji, thank you very much for your very sobering analysis. Clearly, the comparison between the RSS and the Muslim Brotherhood is an interesting one. The fact is, the BJP have captured the narrative and the institutions in a way that most people would’ve thought that they could not have.

When Atal became PM he gave the lie to the notion that the RSS would impose a Fascist Dictatorship.  

So, clearly, listening, all the things you’re doing, are great, but in terms of a clinical approach, what would be your short to medium-term plan in terms of projecting what you stand for, what your party stands for, what you want to achieve with the grassroots? And – ‘cause you’re taking on somebody who is a populist, who clearly has support, who’s captured the whole state effectively. That’s my question, thank you.

What a shitty question!  

Rahul Gandhi I think the walk that we did in the last four and a half months is a powerful model, and I think it brings in a lot of the ingredients of a response to what you’re talking about, and I think it works for most of the opposition in India. It’s acceptable to most of the opposition in India.

We now know that Rahul's walkabouts aren't acceptable to the opposition. Mamta claims it is her reason for breaking with Congress. Now even Akhilesh has turned his back on it. So, this is a solo trip.  

So, reaching out to the people in interesting ways, and making sure that you’re having a direct connect with people, and building a new imagination, I think is central to fighting the BJP.

A party gains power by identifying a key issue and focussing on it. Thirty years ago, it seemed possible that that key issue was 'RSS is Nazi!' but once Atal became PM it was obvious that crying wolf was pointless. Anyway, Congress was happy enough taking RSS people like Vaghela and promoting them as CM candidates. Rahul's Aunty and cousin joined the BJP. It was as respectable as the Christian Democrat party.  

Also, don’t underestimate the resistance, you know? Authoritarian people try – like to demonstrate how powerful they are and how strong they are. The resistance in India is also very strong and very powerful, and can do wonders.

Modi was part of the resistance to Indira's Emergency. There is no anti-Modi resistance. There is merely a disunited and corrupt Opposition.  

Ben Bland And the lady in the cream jumper just behind the person.. 
. Rahul Gandhi- But you know, what – if we step back from the BJP-Congress conversation, what – India is – what’s actually happening is a huge transition in India, right, a huge migration of people. And India is now searching for a new model with which to engage with its people and the rest of the world, right? And what’s pretty clear is that the BJP model is not it, because it’s creating much too much turbulence, much too much resistance.

No. The BJP is getting bigger majorities. 

So, the real challenge that people like me and other leaders in the opposition have is, what does that thing look like?

It looks like the Dynasty dying nasty.  

Member Thank you. Mr Gandhi, thank you for your candour and your plain speaking. You’ve spoken about democracy in trouble, you spoke about it just now, you spoke about it yesterday and you expressed some surprise at the fact that Western European countries don’t seem to notice that large chunks of democracy were falling away. So, here’s my question, two-parter. One, what are you, the Congress Party, but you, also the opposition, planning to do about this, and part two, what would you like London, Paris, Berlin, all the other capitals, the governments and the people, to do about this?

Large chunks of democracy aren't falling away.  

Rahul Gandhi No, look, first of all, this is – it’s our problem, right? It’s an internal problem, it’s an Indian problem, and the rela – and the solution is going to come from inside. It’s not going to come from outside. However, the scale of Indian democracy means that democracy in India is a global public good, right? It impacts way further than our boundaries.

Nonsense! It doesn't even impact Bhutan or Bangladesh or Burma. How the fuck is it going to impact Belgium or Belarus? 

If India – If Indian democracy collapses,

as it did between '75 and '77, without any fucking global consequences whatsoever

in my view, democracy on the planet suffers a very serious, possibly fatal, blow. So, it’s important for you, too, it’s not just important for us. We’ll deal with our problem, but you must be aware that this problem is going to play out at a global scale. It’s not just going to play out in India, right? And what you do about it is, of course up, to you, but you must be aware that in what is happening in India, the idea of a democratic model is being attacked and threatened.

Rahul is attacking India while on foreign soil. This is what Indians understood.  

Ben Bland- I’m going to ask an online question, quite a pointed one, from Syed Badrul Ahsan,

so far, two questions have been asked by Muslims. I wonder why?  

who says, “Would Mr Gandhi agree that dynastic politics has, by and large, impeded the growth of democracy in South Asia, in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh?” 
Rahul Gandhi I mean, I think – impeded the growth of politics? 
Ben Bland Of democracy. Democracy in South Asia. 
Rahul Gandhi No, I think the structures that are playing out and are impeding democracy are much more structural and way beyond dynastic politics, I mean.

And yet, in Pakistan, Imran- who is not dynastic- has been jailed while the Bhutto and Sharif dynasties have been permitted to share power. Bangladesh's leader is the daughter of its founding Premier.  In Sri Lanka, the nepotism and incompetence of the ruling family tanked the economy. In India, on the other hand, a 'backward caste' roadside tea-seller has risen to the top first in Gujarat and then the country as a whole.  

Ben Bland Okay, gentleman at the front, here. Bharat Ramanan [Pause] Thank you. Hi Rahul. I had a question around China. Ben Bland Introduce – tell us who you are, sorry. Bharat Ramanan Sorry, my name is Bharat. I’m from Rio Tinto, and the que... 
Rahul Gandhi Bharat? 
Bharat Ramanan Bharat, yes. The question I had was around China, and I think you’re on record saying that, you know, “This government doesn’t quite understand the nature of the risk that China poses,” and I’m just curious to understand what in your estimation is exactly the nature of that risk, and fundamentally, what are these guys not getting? Thank you.

You may as well ask such a question of a pussy cat. A guy from Rio Tinto- which sells a lot diamonds to Gujarat- wants to know if Rahul had some reason for this claim that Jaishankar- who is hella smart- doesn't understand China's true design. But Rahul merely meant that he thought Jaishankar may not have known that China is a big country- right?- and if you have a big country- right?- and there is another country- right?- then that big country may kill some of the other country's soldiers and try to take its land. That's what happened when my Grandpappy was Prime Minister. I read about it in Skool. This Jaishankar dude may not have gone to skool. That's why I say it is important to listen. I used to listen to my grandpappy talking in I-talian to my granny. That's how I became so very smart. Did you know I scored zero in IQ test? This is because of Buddhism.  

 

Rahul Gandhi If you look at what has happened in Ukraine, right, the basic principle of Ukraine, the basic principle that is being applied in Ukraine, is that the Russians have told the Ukrainians that, “We do not accept the relationship you have with Europe and America, and if you do not change this relationship, we will change your territory. We will challenge your territorial integrity,” right? In my view, that is what is happening on the borders of my country. What China is threatening – China does not want us to have a relationship with the United States, and it is threatening us by saying, “If you continue to have this relationship with the United States, we will take action,” and that’s why they’ve got troops in Ladakh and that’s why they’ve got troops in Arunachal Pradesh. So, in my view, the basic idea behind the troops in Arunachal and Ladakh is similar to what is happening in Ukraine. I mentioned this to the Foreign Minister, he completely disagrees with me, and he thinks this is a ludicrous idea.

It is. The Chinese know that America came to Nehru's aid in 1962. India built up its defences subsequently whereas the fighting ability of the PLA declined.  The Chinese are trying to signal that their troops have high morale and are fighting fit. However, there has been no real test of their resolve. India can afford to play a waiting game. 

It's fine, we have a difference of opinion.

Jaishankar is a highly experienced former diplomat. His opinions are listened to. Rahul, very foolishly, is reminding us of Nehru's Himalayan blunder. 

Ben Bland Yeah, the lady in the third row in – brown jumper. 
Malini Mehra Hello, thank you very much. Yes, no, it’s me, thank you very much. My name is Malini Mehra and I run an international parliamentary organisation that works on climate change, but my question is raised to you as a citizen of India. There are many of us in the international diaspora, there is something more than 20 million Indians in the international diaspora. You spoke about the need for India to address these issues by itself, not within its own borders, because you have the international diaspora, and many people, like myself, no longer... 
Rahul Gandhi No, sorry, I didn’t – which issues, the environmental issues? 
Malini Mehra No, the issues facing India, the democratic despair that the country is in.

India is very sad that Malini fucked off to London. It is crying like anything. Did you know Malini has launched a 'teach a girl to swim' campaign? OMG! She is so talented. Whatever will India do without her?  

So, here is my question, and I ask it as someone who is one of possibly millions who no longer recognises the country that they were born and raised in. And we would like to know what your message is...
Rahul Gandhi I mean, what a – is that a bad thing or a good thing?

Environment is very nice. So is Democracy. They should get married but need not have sex. They could become Buddhist or turn into nice Zeroes.  

Malini Mehra What do you think?

Malini, dear, you are actually stupider than Rahul. That's what we think.  

Rahul Gandhi No, I’m asking you.

 

Malini Mehra Why am I here?  
Rahul Gandhi I don’t know, may... 
Malini Mehra I’m here because I’m feeling wretched about the state of my country.

Without me, my country has probably just curled up and died.  

Rahul Gandhi- Yeah. 
Malini Mehra- Absolutely wretched. My father was an RSS man, proudly so. He would not recognise the country, bless his soul. So, for those of us who are outside of India, how can we engage? How can we re-empower our democracy?

Teach a girl to swim and then tell her to swim to India if she loves it so much.  

20 years ago, I worked with Professor Amartya Sen, and Amartya didn’t let go of his passport.

He ran away from India with his best friend's wife.  

Ben Bland- Okay, can you get to the question, please?

 Darling, don't make this about you. 

Malini Mehra- I’m not getting rid of my passport,

which means she can inherit agricultural land in India.  

and I want to know what can we do to reanimate our democratic institutions?

Mehra could join the Indian Overseas Congress.  

Rahul Gandhi- Well, I like your energy. No, I – it’s very important, it’s very important, and it’s – it goes to the point of the resistance. You see, the resistance is sitting here. No, I meant that the battle for the democratic institutions of India is, frankly, India’s responsibility and no-one else’s, right? And it’s something that we’re doing, but you, of course, are Indian, so it’s your responsibility as well and you’re part of that discussion. I think when you express yourself, I think what you said about your father being in the RSS and about him not recognising our country, in this conversation itself, is a very powerful thing,

it would be if Malini was doing lots of voluntary work in rural India rather than living large in Lon-fucking-don.  

because for me to say it, people might feel, ah he’s fighting the RSS, he’s fighting the BJP, he might be biased, right? But for you to say it, it has a totally different impact.

No. We get a picture of a decent chap who did genuine voluntary work for his own country where he actually lived. Malini is a virtue signalling narcissist.  

So, you’re already – you’re – by expressing yourself and by making your position clear, you’re already helping in a big way, right? I think by telling people the values that you stand for, the values that are Indian and that you protect, by telling everybody in the rest of the world that India needs to go back to those values, you’re doing the service. So, thank you.

You are such a flake, you make me look good. Thank you for that.  

Ben Bland- I’m going to go to a question right at the back, the gentleman in the corner in the glasses, just behind the door. Thank you, and then I’m going to come to this side next, one at the back. 
Shuhib Hi, my name is Shuhib. I’m just a keen follower of the Indian politics.

But changed my passport first chance I got.  

First of all, Rahul, thank you very much for giving someone else the opportunity to become the President of your party.

Rahul gave his Mummy the chance to go back to being President of Congress in 2019. She is getting old and isn't in good health. But only Kharge, who is even older, would take that job.  

And the second question is, do you think in – yes, to implement your philosophy and your vision of the Indian politics, probably you need to win the elections, and for – to win the elections you need to defeat BJP, but do you think with Mr Kharge in – as the Party President you’re well equipped to defeat BJP in the next elections?

No. We wanted Gehlot, but he wouldn't budge from Rajasthan. Kharge's punishment for failing to recruit Gehlot was to take the job himself.  

Rahul Gandhi Look, Mr Kharge was elected as President in a election that took place in the Congress Party, and he is the President of the Congress Party. We’re all working together to fight the BJP, and I’m extremely confident in Mr Kharge’s capabilities and his expertise. I don’t know if you know his history. Do you know his history? I mean, he’s been

very corrupt. He is worth half a billion dollars.  

– he was a Congress worker – he’s been a Congress worker for many, many years and he’s come up the ranks and he’s an extremely capable, dynamic person. So, I’m very confident in his leadership. 
Ben Bland I’m going to come over here. Maybe the gentleman at the front, in the hoodie. 
Sriram Yeah, I’m Sriram, I’m from – I’m a Chatham House member. I just wanted to ask you, sir, like, is there any type of new policy, like how Jawaharlal Nehru-ji introduced a Non-Alignment Movement policy? Like, is there any changes that you want to introduce in the Indian foreign policy?

No.  

Rahul Gandhi As I said, the principle of foreign policy is, unfortunately, self-interest, right? And any Indian Government would pay attention to that. So, in answering the question, [pause] the first step is, what is important to us as a country, and what are we trying to do? And what we’re trying to do is, we were a rural country and we are making a transition into an urban country. And this transition is – has a huge amount of energy, right, potential for violence, but also, potential for prosperity, potential for transformation, and we’re trying to manage this energy as it’s moving, right? If you look at our policies, they’re all – or the UPA policies, they were all about trying to manage this transition from a rural to an urban, connected country, right? So, our foreign policy will follow that idea, right?

India wanted to industrialize under Nehru. It just went about it the wrong way.  

Our foreign policy will reflect that, right? What is – what are – what would we like to do? We would like to build a society that’s productive, a society that allows our people to have an imagination, to live happily, to be educated, to have a certain amount of healthcare. Those are things that we would – that’s what our imagination is, and our foreign policy will align with that. 

Other countries have foreign policies which aim to make their society less productive and much more unhappy- right?  

Ben Bland I’ve got a question online about climate change from Arita Sehgal, who says, “What is your vision on decarbonising India when China controls so much of the supply chain, I guess, for renewable energy?”

Indian scientists have developed a low cost perovskite solar cells with superior thermal and moisture tolerance. That's the sort of thing Varun Gandhi could talk about till the cows come home.

Rahul Gandhi See, I mean on the climate change issue, interesting thing I noticed in the walk was that pretty much everywhere we went, they were speaking about climate change, but they were speaking about it locally. So, they were saying, “Look, you know, it’s terribly polluted, the water’s very bad, you know, it’s got fluoride in it,”

Water with fluoride is good for you. What Indians object to is water with high sewage content.  

but they were not making the connection between their local problem and the global problem, right? So, I was thinking that it’s important in India that we start to push that idea that this local problem is connected to the global problem.

Why? People want better air and water and soil quality. That's all that matters 

So, that’s one thought, one aspect of the Yatra that came up. On, you know, what is the vision for carbon, these things are not things that one person visualises and suddenly says, you know, “This is my vision for carbon,” I mean that would be insanity, right? The way to do it is you have a conversation with people, you have a conversation with stakeholders, and you say, “Okay, so what is the best way forward?” and that’s an evolving conversation.

Very true. If you want to have a conversation about how to boost production of indigenous wind turbines or solar cells, you need to listen to guys you meet on a walkabout.  Don't bother conversing with scientists and Green entrepreneurs. 

A lot of people, sort of, they think that leadership is about, you know, sitting there and just coming up with these ideas and it doesn’t work like that. It’s about talking to people, understanding, you know, what the best, most optimal outcome is, and then, heading slowly in that direction, yeah.

Rahul started off talking to people like Obama. Now he is listening to dudes on walkabout.  

Ben Bland Gentleman here in the glasses, at the third row, in the middle block. 
Zed Arun Thank you. My name is Zed Arun and I’m just a member here, but what I wanted to ask you was I know there were a lot of conversations about the narrative being taken over by BJP and RSS views, and you spoke about the challenges India – China is bringing about. But I wanted to ask you, how does – would your views or Congress’ views differ from BJP’s on Pakistan, and if there’s any difference?

No.  

Rahul Gandhi- I mean, [pause] my personal view is that it’s important that we have good relations with everybody around us, right, but that also depends on the actions of the Pakistanis. Now, if the Pakistanis are promoting terrorism in India, that becomes very difficult to do, right, and that does happen.

Pakistanis curb their export of terror if they are attacked in retaliation. Also killing terrorists on their soil discourages the fuck out of them.  

Ben Bland And we’ve got time for one more question. I think the lady here in the fourth row, in the – this block, yeah. Last question, yeah.  
Varcia Vargus Hi, my name is Varcia Vargus. I recently graduated from SOAS University of London, and I come from Kerala. So, my question is, during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, you mentioned you listened to many people, and as well, I just value the importance of listening, when people come to you, they look at someone who’s – who has a possibility of changing their lives or improving their lives. So, as someone who has a possibility of, like, becoming the future Prime Minister of India, what do you think, what actionable plans would you undertake?

Rahul makes promises he knows he won't have to keep even if his Party comes to power in the state- as they did in Karnataka. Kerala isn't going to make the same mistake. In 2019, there was a bit of a 'Rahul wave' in Kerala. It is unlikely that Congress will keep many of the seats it gained. Rahul himself will lose Wayanad. Tharoor, however, was re-elected.  

Rahul Gandhi I mean that’s a – okay, that’s a very white canvas you’ve given me. Alright, in what space? 
Varcia Vargus “I could possibly improve,” or, “this is something that I should do.” If there is an incident that has touched you, or anything. 
Rahul Gandhi In the Yatra? 
Member Yeah. 
Rahul Gandhi [Pause] In the walk lot of women came up to me, and quite a few of the women spoke about violence that had been done to them, and in one of the cases, well, actually in many of the cases, but in one particular case, I won’t go into the details, but in one of the cases I asked the girl, “Listen” – she’d been attacked, she’d been more or less raped, and I asked her, “Listen, should we call the Police?” And she said, “No, don’t call the Police. I don’t want you to call the Police.” And I said, “Why don’t you want me to call the Police? You’ve come here, you’ve told me this, and now you don’t want me to call the Police.” And she says, “Yeah, I don’t want to call – you to call the Police because then I will be shamed,” right? So, to me, that was a very striking thing, that here is this young girl who suffered this violence against her, and now she cannot act on that violence because she’s scared that she’ll be shamed.

Also, she knows Rahul is useless. He won't send his goons to castrate the rapists.  

So, I was thinking to myself, this poor girl is now going to live the rest of her life never telling anybody this, and it’s going to multiply the pain of what happened to her. So, that is something I think I would like to change, that the violence, the level of violence against women reduces, and particularly, this idea that – of shame, which is a completely ridiculous idea, is changed.

Why not change the desire to rape?  

Ben Bland Right [pause]. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. Thank you, Mr. Gandhi  for your time and taking all the questions. I’ll certainly do my best in future to not exist, in the right, kind of, way and listen better, but, yeah, please join me again in giving another round of applause to Rahul Gandhi.

There are plenty of vacuous politicians who can't string two coherent sentences together. What makes Rahul exceptional is that his aim is to make his party unelectable. Assassination tempers autocracy. Nobody bothers to kill utter cretins.