Sunday, 4 December 2022

Lee Kuan Yew's advise to Rahul Gandhi

In 2005, Rahul Gandhi told the Press that he could have become Prime Minister at the age of 25- if that's what he wanted. Sadly, it isn't what he wanted. Many of the qualities we now find repulsive about him, would have been virtues had he put his shoulder to the wheel and stood for election. A 25 year old who makes mistakes learns from them. A 52 year old shirker can't suddenly turn into a worker. 

Why did Rahul refuse to step up to the plate? Sunanda K Datta Ray's book 'Looking East To Look West: Lee Kuan Yew's Mission India, suggests that Singapore's great leader influenced him. 

The following is from the Straits Times-

Mr Lee told Mr Gandhi

(Rahul spent a week as Lee's guest in 2006) 

that the 'name recognition of his ancestry' gave him 'an enormous advantage' but could easily be squandered without luck and proven ability.

This was foolish. Provided Rahul wasn't as corrupt as his father and provided he didn't piss off any terrorist group, his 'name recognition' protected him from political ruin even if luck was against him or he didn't have a particular skill. The voter would say, 'it is good he has learnt this lesson. He is young and will be more careful in future'. True, there might be 'anti-incumbency' and 'pendulum politics' but no other politician in India had the same type of 'name recognition'. Rahul and Rahul alone would be seen as the most viable alternative to the current administration. 

Lee Kuan Yew himself had made mistakes- more particularly in his backing of union with Malaysia- and then course corrected. He was sometimes unlucky and there were areas in which he had no great ability, but he stayed the course and bequeathed 'name recognition' to his son and heir. One reason for this was his pugnacity. He told the US that he was not like the puppet they had in Seoul or Saigon. He had sent the message that his Government could not be bought. When the US denied the specific charge he had made, he called a Press Conference and showed an apology letter from Dean Rusk. It was this fighting spirit which kept him in power even after Malaysia ejected Singapore from the Union. 

'Because his drawing power is very big and can vanish in one term at the helm,

That's not what happened to Rajiv. Corruption brought him down but once VP Singh's coalition fell apart he was on his path back to power. Then he said in a Press Conference that he might send the Army back to Sri Lanka. The Tamil Tigers knew they had to kill him- that too in Tamil Nadu- before he became PM and his security cover was increased.  

he should not take over until he has had enough experience to understand how it all works, and surrounds himself by very able people to run it,' Mr Lee told the author of Looking East.

Lee had no experience when he became PM at the age of 36. Ironically, his political career was boosted by British accusations that he was a crypto-Communist! He sided with the Government in its purge of Leftists in his own party in 1956. Some may call this pragmatism but to many at the time 'opportunism' or even 'gangsterism' were the hallmark of his politics. However, like Taiwan and South Korea, Lee was smart enough to jump on the 'export led' growth model at exactly the right time. That's how he could pay for both populist measures- investment in Housing and Schooling- without pandering to corruption and identity politics. 

What Lee's advise should have been was 'get stuck in. Learn on the job. Just ensure your country imitates the economic policy of smart countries once as poor as you. Put in a technocrat at Finance and try to squeeze out corruption by appealing directly to the voters.'

Mr Gandhi should avoid high office, until he had built up a competent team and, even then, it would be sensible to 'not promise something they could not deliver'. Mr Lee further told the author: 'If Rahul is wise, he should not take the lead position until fully equipped to understand all parts of the complex and very intricate whole.'

But nobody has that understanding! That's why there's a Cabinet and a professional Civil Service! There's only one way to learn how to be a Minister- actually become a Minister. True, if like Modi, you are suddenly put in as Chief Minister, you may still succeed if your opponents accuse you of killing terrorists when that's what the voter wants. Modi prevailed because Advani had let him pick his own team. Success as CM enabled him to succeed as PM. Meanwhile, Rahul & Co cut off Manmohan at the legs but refused to replace him with anybody. Rahul's attitude was that 'power is a poison'. But he'd neither drink it himself nor let anyone else drink it for him. Modi then had to take the role of Nilakantha Siva- the God who swallows poison to save humanity.  

This interaction could also explain the kind of politics Mr Gandhi is trying to craft.

One where he does nothing and nothing gets done.  

Looking East discloses that Mr Lee hosted Mr Gandhi for a week following a request from his mother, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who after a 70-minute conversation with Mr Lee said he was 'a friend and well-wisher of India' and that: 'As a friend, he has also criticised us, but we have always listened to what he has to say with great, great respect.'

Mummy sent Rahul Baba to stay with Lee Uncle. Something was bound to rub off. 

As for Mr Lee, he admits that India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was his political inspiration when he was young.

Because Lee was ignorant of Economics. This didn't matter. As a lawyer, he understood that it is nice to get paid. Singapore needed to sell nice things and thus get paid. The alternative was to turn the place into an outdoor brothel for the US Seventh Fleet.  

Meeting Mr Gandhi for the first time, he exclaimed: 'I knew your father, your grandmother and your great-grandfather.' Mr Nehru demonstrated his formidable intellect and prescience when he said once that 'Singapore can well become the place where Asian unity is forged'.

It was the place that the Mountbattens' befriended Nehru thus ensuring British influence over Indian Defense till 1964.  

The decades dissolved during the 36-year-old Mr Gandhi's discussions with the octogenarian.

Lee became PM at 36. This is a case of 'do as I say, not as I did'.  

Mr Gandhi describes Mr Lee as 'flexible', meaning free of dogma, sensitive to context and seeking to implement the feasible. These qualities make for the politics of practicality condemned by Europeans - those master crafters of 'isms' - as opportunism. Nevertheless, Mr Gandhi obviously sees merit in it.

There's no point being flexible and practical if you don't have a job. It makes no difference whether you are pragmatic or dogmatic or make miaow miaow noises like a cat.  

After all, bettering the human condition is not the prerogative of some dead European intellectual.

Give brain-dead moon calves that prerogative.  

Trying to do so practically and contextually cannot be dismissed.

More particularly because the thing can't be done impractically and non-contextually.  

Mr Lee, having lived through poverty, war, racism and much else, knows suffering, sought to erase it and did.

by caning vandals- even if they happened to be American. Good for him.  

Having gone to Singapore to learn how practical, contextual politics is implemented, Mr Gandhi, himself the target of racial attacks,

where? Does cousin Varun beat him up for being too White?  

probably sympathised with Mr Lee and his brand of politics. As Mr Gandhi says in the book: 'I am not the kind of person who minds criticism. If it makes sense, I listen.'

God alone knows what makes sense to the moon calf.  

This is not to say Mr Gandhi imbibed Mr Lee's politics wholesale. Noting Singapore's controlling tendencies, he says diplomatically: 'You can't have the same kind of control (in India).'

His granny forcibly sterilized millions of men. India can do heavy handed repression better than tiny Singapore.  

It is not only India's size and diversity that militates against control, but also its political ethos.

Which Indira showed to be non-existent. She only held elections because she was worried Sanjay's buddies might bump her off and then blame the CIA.  

Nor can all of Mr Gandhi's aims and methods be ascribed to the advice of a statesman once influenced by Pandit Nehru. However, the interactions between Mr Gandhi and Mr Lee provide the only direct and plausible explanation of what Mr Gandhi is attempting and how he is trying to do it.

This was written 12 years ago. Rahul was attempting to stay out of power. He succeeded by letting every one know he was as stupid as shit. Perhaps, Lee- like Obama- saw that Rahul was a cretin and thus tried to discourage him from holding any Ministerial office.  

Mr Gandhi has said he does not have to be in charge to manufacture change, but he would not have gone to Singapore if he had intended to be a political apprentice in perpetuity. What he will do when he thinks he is ready might be worth waiting for.

At 52, the fellow is going walkabout while this Party perishes at the polls. The change Rahul manufactured was the collapse of the Congress Party. The only question that remains is whether it will be Gehlot or Pilot who splits the Party in Rajasthan. As for Karnataka, will Siddaramiah go his own way if Shivakumar is favored or will it be the other way round? As for Rahul's own Wayanad seat- will the Muslim League decide to keep it for themselves? The Communists are making inroads into their vote bank. Why waste a seat on a guy who keeps going to Temples? Tharoor, who has been sidelined by the party, seems to be cozying up to the Latin Church. His own Nair community may feel the BJP can do little for them. Indeed, the South is increasingly worried about seat redistribution which is due in 2026. Meanwhile, an increasingly Messianic Rahul may walk out of politics into a new role as India's own Greta Thunberg who scolds the environment for having too much hate. Everybody should love everybody- except Hindutva which is totes evil. 

Saturday, 3 December 2022

Tatparya, nirnay & upadhi

Prof. Payal Doctor, whose supervisor was Ganeri, writes-

In the acquisition of verbal knowledge, the Nyāya school outlines four conditions of a linguistic utterance that must be met: āsatti (temporal proximity), ākāṅkṣā (syntactic expectancy), tātparya (speaker intention), and yogyatā (semantic fitness).

This is false. There is no way to specify any necessary or sufficient conditions for the acquisition of knowledge of any kind. The Nyaya school wasn't composed of utter imbeciles. 

However, for juristic purposes, some types of verbal testimony may be certified on the basis that the thing wasn't hearsay, it coincided with one would reasonably expect, the intention (tatparya) of the speaker must have been such, the statement was grammatical and excluded ambiguity. 

Nevertheless, any or all these conditions could be relaxed so a proper decision (nirnay) might be made.

The cottage industry of imbecility which Prof. Payal is contributing to here is mischievous and arbitrary.

The fact is, it is right and proper to accept as verbal testimony the following statement by my father- 'as a matter of abundant caution, all statements by my cretinous son Vivek must be wholly disregarded or else interpreted as a piteous demand to be fed butterscotch ice-cream. This is the case even if he loudly demands Whisky. The fact is that Mama's boy is too much of a pussy to drink anything stronger than Babycham.'

True, Dad doesn't actually say any of this. He just gives the waiter a look of a certain sort. Indeed, this remains the case even when he is not present. Provided I have been seen in a dining establishment with my Dad, it will always be the case that my demand for Whiskey will be met with a nice bowl of butterscotch ice-cream. This would still be the case if Dad's intention towards me had really changed and he wanted to abandon his Vivek to yad bhavam tad bhavathi- that conatus which language only exists to avert or variegate with ludic irony. 

I will follow the traditional Nyāya view that is it one of the four necessary conditions that enable a hearer to gain verbal knowledge.

Yet, we understand signs and, if familiar with the relevant idiolect, can supply a verbal statement that the person in question would certify. Speech writers and people who run the twitter accounts of prominent people may better communicate the verbal knowledge that is sought to be communicated.

It not a defense in law to blame the speech writer or other agent for defamation intended and certifed by the accused. 

The reasoning behind retaining tātparya as a condition (or cause) of verbal knowledge, is that it provides a resource with which to clarify ambiguity when contextual factors cannot.

No. The tatparya is the essence of the communication- or its absence. The 'nirnaya'- judgment- may involve constructively supplying it. The dog and the cat- or Skippy the kangaroo- can communicate verbal knowledge which has 'yogyata' though can't speak human language.  

It also provides a context for a hearer so that the primary (abhidhā) or secondary (lakṣaṇā) meaning of the word, or sentence is understood.

This is only the case where protocol bound or aesthetic discourse is concerned. Otherwise, nothing needs to be heard or read. The context and the motivation are enough to decide what we should deem as having been said. 

In this sense, tātparya imparts the meaning of a work.

No. The context and motivation do so. Suppose a tyrant orders the Archpoet to write a eulogy for him while watching innocents being tortured and killed. The Archpoet's intention may be to save his own life. But we can still distinguish a different 'lakshana'- e.g. a technical innovation or new aesthetic doctrine of a particular sort. 

Examples such as “Bring saindhava” or “Hari” make the case for the importance of tātparya in that the meanings of these terms are ambiguous unless the context is provided or the speaker intends to mean one referent rather than another.

But such examples could just as easily make the case for the importance of not swimming on a full stomach. The claim is wholly arbitrary.  

In this paper, I present the case that tātparya is the most important component of an accurate paraphrase,

Nonsense! An accurate paraphrase merely pads out a statement in a harmonious manner. No knowledge of intention is required. Thus, if my boss says to me 'if X rings up, tell him to fuck off' I don't need to know my boss's full intention. I paraphrase 'fuck off' as 'My employer is not reachable by you at this time'.  If pressed for an explanation, I may use a lengthier paraphrase but am careful not to speculate on my boss's intentions or motivations. 

Accurate interpretation is not the same thing as accurate paraphrase. 

and it must be retained in order to preserve the original intention of the work.

But a paraphrase is not accurate if it is based on an interpretation. You can substitute more harmonious or more idiomatic phrases which are longer than the original but you have gone too far if you supply an interpretation of your own. In certain professions- e.g. journalism- you are trained to provide an accurate precis- this allows you to omit repetitive or verbose passages- whereas in diplomacy, you may be required to provide a paraphrase. Any interpretation or hypothesis about intention must be separate and identified as such.  

In other words, tātparya should be the primary constraint of an acceptable paraphrase.

No. A paraphrase is not a translation. It is the padding out of a statement in the same language which must add nothing informative as opposed to idiomatic or ornamental and which involve no imposed interpretation.  

As a side comment to my aim, I discuss the notion of why paraphrase only needs to be sufficiently similar to the original work.

There is no such requirement. The boss says 'tell him to fuck off'. But he doesn't want you to use foul language. Your paraphrase should be couched in polite language but it must express unambiguously that the boss will not entertain any conversation with the person in question. 

The information content of a precis or paraphrase is the same as the original. Questions of interpretation involve a decision (nirnay) and this may be on the basis of 'tatparya' but, equally, it may not. One may deem such and such to have been the intention- because that is what ought to have happened- and proceed with your interpretation on that basis. Sadly, there is an availability cascade about 'upadhi' which has given rise to foolishness of the above sort. Briefly, a condition which is imposed to prevent a sequent calculus from being empty or yielding absurdity is 'upadhi'. It serves a purpose where there is a 'nirnay' decision which, though based on an interpretation, is not itself interpretative or capable of further interpretation. 'Buck-stopping' has occurred.  There is no 'under-cutting condition' because there is nothing to undercut. Judgment has been pronounced. Failure to understand that Indian logic wasn't analytic but concerned with Gentzen type 'natural deduction' misled post-War toilers in this field- who, truth be told, were all as stupid as shit.  

Does Britain owe India reparations?

Does Britain owe India reparations? Yes. India's worst economic disasters have been caused by Indians who were educated at Cambridge. Only if Britain follows economic policies approved off by Nehruvians or Sen-apods, will we say that accounts have been squared. But, in that case, Britain's largest ethnic minority- Indian origin people- will head for the nearest exit. 

Two guys who know zero about India have a stupid article in Al Jazeera's ezine. One is Dylan Sullivana Graduate student in the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney.

The other is Jason Hickel a Professor at the Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

I have previously posted on their Junk Social Science paper. What follows is my response to their article-
Recent years have seen a resurgence in nostalgia for the British empire.

In Britain- sure. The Empire, on balance, contributed to British security and prosperity. Furthermore, there is a substantial colored population originating from ex-colonies. Indeed, the Prime Minister and some other senior Cabinet members are from places once ruled by Britain. It is advantageous to BAME British period to dwell on the positive aspects of the Raj because it increases social cohesion and helps combat racism. Our two White authors disagree. 

High-profile books such as Niall Ferguson’s Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, and Bruce Gilley’s The Last Imperialist, have claimed that British colonialism brought prosperity and development to India and other colonies.

It is a fact that India has retained British institutions- e.g. Elections and an independent Judiciary. Indeed, in some respects India has improved on that inheritance. Britain only got a Supreme Court recently while American democracy would greatly benefit from an independent Election Commission.  

Two years ago, a YouGov poll found that 32 percent of people in Britain are actively proud of the nation’s colonial history.

Good for them. Black Britishers should take pride in their contribution made by their ancestors to the defense of the Commonwealth and its values.  

This rosy picture of colonialism conflicts dramatically with the historical record.

A bogus historical record- sure- save in settler colonies like Australia.  

According to research by the economic historian Robert C Allen,

a nutter who thinks Stalin was very good to the Russian people! 

extreme poverty in India increased under British rule, from 23 percent in 1810 to more than 50 percent in the mid-20th century.

To be fair, Allen knows nothing about India. Still, it is a fact that the transfer of power from British officials to Indians did, quite predictably, increase poverty and- in the case of Bengal- led to two big famines under corrupt and incompetent Bengali politicians.  

Real wages declined during the British colonial period, reaching a nadir in the 19th century,

But rents and profits rose. The countervailing power of the dacoit and thug and Pindari and Nanga Sadhu did alter the terms of trade- because that is what the Indians with power wanted.  

while famines became more frequent and more deadly.

No they reduced in frequency and amplitude. In the famine of the 1870's India lost about half the number of people China did while the two big 1780 famines where both probably twice as lethal. By about 1903, the Brits had successfully implemented Famine Code regulations and so Famine returned to Bengal only after 1937- when all power over food was transferred to elected Bengalis. In 1974, there was another big famine under Democracy in Bangladesh. Amartya Sen responded by claiming there was no food availability deficit in 1943 or 1974!  The stupidity of Indian mathematical economists is the envy of the Robert Allens of the World.  

Far from benefitting the Indian people, colonialism was a human tragedy with few parallels in recorded history.

Why did the Indian people end up under British rule? Disraeli, addressing Parliament in 1857, acknowledged that India hadn't been conquered anymore than William of Orange could be said to have conquered India. Human tragedies in India were things Indians with money and power were entirely cool with. Indeed, two great Indian heroes- Rajaramohan Roy and Dwarkanath Tagore had spent their own money lobbying Westminster to end restrictions on European emigration to India. They wanted more cruel and ruthless White planters. Why? Because Whitey would protect oily little Hindu parasites like themselves from 'the turbulent pugnacity ' (in A.O Hume's phrase) of the East Bengali Muslim.  

Experts agree that the period from 1880 to 1920 – the height of Britain’s imperial power – was particularly devastating for India.

Not if they know anything about India. The Great War and the epidemic that followed it were bad for India but Gandhi & Co never made the thing an issue. They were upset because Brigadier Dyer forcibly enrolled the Amritsar Bar Association into the constabulary and thus forced them to deal with piled up corpses. This was 'defilement' of a casteist sort! Later, after the big cyclone in East Bengal at the end of the Sixties, Mujibur Rehman would complain that the local people refused to bury the dead. British soldiers, who had come to assist with relief operations, had to take on the job. 

What was bad about the Raj was that it created dependency and a childish culture of complaint. 'Grievance Studies' makes you stupid and leads to very very bad policy advise.  

Comprehensive population censuses carried out by the colonial regime beginning in the 1880s reveal that the death rate increased considerably during this period, from 37.2 deaths per 1,000 people in the 1880s to 44.2 in the 1910s.

These figures are meaningless. Indians very well knew that official statistics were useless because their own relatives simply made them up as part of their clerical duties. One result was that India became very good at sampling and estimation.  

Life expectancy declined from 26.7 years to 21.9 years.

Only in prosperous districts where there was a good chance this would mean a bigger grant in aid. This remains true in India today. Rich districts have the worst poverty- because they have the capacity to spend the budget allocation. Also, 'everybody enjoys a good drought'.  

In a recent paper in the journal World Development, we used census data

because foreigners are stupid enough to think Indian statistics mean shit. But then so did Amartya Sen- but he is a very special fellow deserving very special education.  

to estimate the number of people killed by British imperial policies during these four brutal decades.

Four decades when India turned from being a collection of feudal principalities, or tax-farmed shitholes, into a modern nation state worthy of inclusion in the League of Nations.  

Robust data on mortality rates in India only exists from the 1880s.

That data is about as robust as a baby with dysentery.  

If we use this as the baseline for “normal” mortality, we

are being as stupid as shit. 

find that some 50 million excess deaths occurred under the aegis of British colonialism during the period from 1891 to 1920.

Why stop there? Why not find that Viceroy Sahib was sneaking into the huts of poor folk at night and draining them of their 'vital bodily fluids' through repugnant acts of fellatio and cunnilingus? Indians don't buy that foreigners stole their wealth because they know their own Princes stole anything they had. Thus we must teach them that Viceroy was raping their ancestors with his mouth. This is why population growth was so slow under the Raj. At Independence, India's population was 348 million. Thanks to Rajendra Prasad's refusal to suck off Ind's teeming masses, our numbers have increased by over a billion. Sadly, the Satanic regime of Narendra Modi is planning to suck every one of us off so as to please Wall Street. This is the reason we must all join Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo- aur hamara jizz chodo- Yatra.  

Fifty million deaths is a staggering figure, and yet this is a conservative estimate.

You must factor in all the jizz stolen by greedy Viceroys. Many a poor Indian had heart attack and died when he suddenly woke up and realized that Viceroy Curzon was sucking him off.  

Data on real wages indicates that by 1880, living standards in colonial India had already declined dramatically from their previous levels.

The living standards of White ICS officers had declined greatly- that's true enough. But Indian Princes and compradors had never had it so good. On the other hand, some hardworking Parsi carpenters and Marwari or Chettiar traders had become very rich through thrift and enterprise. That's why there was money available for the Nationalist movement.  

Allen and other scholars argue that prior to colonialism, Indian living standards may have been “on a par with the developing parts of Western Europe.'

They were often better for reasons of climate and resource endowment. But if your Princes are- as Gandhi said- robbers and rapists incapable of presenting a united front to foreign invaders then you suffer a 'resource curse' as more and more ruthless 'Stationary Bandits' establish themselves on your territory. There is little point fighting for Princes whose main recreation is looting his subjects and raping their women.  

We do not know for sure what India’s pre-colonial mortality rate was, but if we assume it was similar to that of England in the 16th and 17th centuries (27.18 deaths per 1,000 people), we find that 165 million excess deaths occurred in India during the period from 1881 to 1920.

Furthermore India, being much bigger than England, would have had a much bigger Empire- right? I mean if you assume India was the same as England in 1600, then it must have made tremendous strides in technology and the naval and military sciences.  

While the precise number of deaths is sensitive to the assumptions we make about baseline mortality, it is clear that somewhere in the vicinity of 100 million people died prematurely at the height of British colonialism.

Sadly, this also means that Nehru presided over 200 million deaths during his 17 years in power.  

This is among the largest policy-induced mortality crises in human history.

There was no 'policy-induced' mortality. There was no policy and there was death as there always had been. Then there was a policy which succeeded because State capacity had increased. Sadly, elected Governments in Bengal were responsible for two big famines in 1943 and 1974. But corruption and incompetence don't represent a policy.  

It is larger than the combined number of deaths that occurred during all famines in the Soviet Union, Maoist China, North Korea, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and Mengistu’s Ethiopia.

Unless you use a similar methodology to estimate their excess mortality. The fact is Stalin and Mao had 'policy-induced' famines which killed millions. The Brits, in their own economic self-interest, went the other way- if they had administrative capacity. 

How did British rule cause this tremendous loss of life?

In the same way that it caused the theft of trillions of metric tons of jizz from poor Indian people who were quietly sleeping in their huts while the Viceroy sucked them off.  

There were several mechanisms. For one, Britain effectively destroyed India’s manufacturing sector.

No. They encouraged it. They were happy buying handloom cloth and even warships from India. But the country fell behind technologically. Still, the greatest harm was done after Independence when India decided not to go for export-led 'wage-good' based growth.  

Prior to colonisation, India was one of the largest industrial producers in the world,

It was ranked higher in 1947 than in 1987.  

exporting high-quality textiles to all corners of the globe. The tawdry cloth produced in England simply could not compete.

Because English weavers had to pay for heating. Also, they objected to going blind for very little money. Indian weaving collapsed because weavers would rather cut off their thumbs than be kept to a horrible trade.  

This began to change, however, when the British East India Company assumed control of Bengal in 1757.

Things certainly began to change for the better for Hindu compradors as well as those Muslim magnates who backed the rising power. 

According to the historian Madhusree Mukerjee, the colonial regime practically eliminated Indian tariffs,

i.e. gave the Indian customer cheaper, better quality, cloth! Similarly, evil Neo-Liberals have practically eliminated the British Wine industry by allowing the virtually tariff free importation of Wines from sunny Australia.  

allowing British goods to flood the domestic market, but created a system of exorbitant taxes and internal duties that prevented Indians from selling cloth within their own country, let alone exporting it.

This is nonsense. Anyway, Indians are very good at smuggling- though the need to do so only arose after Independence. On the other hand, it is true that Viceroy Sahib sucked off each and every Indian cock.  

This unequal trade regime crushed Indian manufacturers and effectively de-industrialised the country.

A good thing surely? Industrialization is CAPITALISM. Capitalism is EVIL.  

As the chairman of East India and China Association boasted to the English parliament in 1840: “This company has succeeded in converting India from a manufacturing country into a country exporting raw produce.”

i.e. Indian farmers get paid more money while the industrialist has to find some other way of extracting 'surplus value'. Why are these two cretins pretending Mercantilism is compatible with woke ideology?  

English manufacturers gained a tremendous advantage, while India was reduced to poverty and its people were made vulnerable to hunger and disease.

Which raises the question, why did Indians not chuck out the Brits? There were very few of them and they came from a place which was very far away.  

To make matters worse, British colonisers established a system of legal plunder, known to contemporaries as the “drain of wealth.” Britain taxed the Indian population

less than they had been previously taxed- that's the reason they were tolerated.  

and then used the revenues to buy Indian products – indigo, grain, cotton, and opium – thus obtaining these goods for free.

This is the Utsa Patnaik thesis. Using a similar methodology, I can prove that my Bank has robbed me of millions of pounds. This is because I have been paying my salary into my Bank Acount for four decades. True I buy stuff with my debit card but that doesn't mean the Bank has any right to take money out of my account to pay for that stuff. 

One could say that Britain forcibly exported public goods- Defense, Law and Order etc- to India and used the revenue from these 'invisible exports' to buy goods and services. However, the 'consumer surplus' from those public goods was still much greater than the trade deficit. That's why there was a Pax Brittanica. Sadly, this meant minorities thrived which so not what God wants to happen. That was the 'Satanic' aspect of British rule.  

These goods were then either consumed within Britain or re-exported abroad, with the revenues pocketed by the British state

Nope. Britain was very lightly taxed. The State was kept dependent on Parliament which alone could raise revenue. Otherwise, England would have ended up like Spain or Portugal.  

and used to finance the industrial development of Britain and its settler colonies – the United States, Canada and Australia.

So, the profit from trade was used to finance industrial development. How very wicked! 

This system drained India of goods worth trillions of dollars in today’s money.

But it kept the country safe from the Pindari and Thuggee and possible invaders more rapacious than the Brits.  

The British were merciless in imposing the drain, forcing India to export food even when drought or floods threatened local food security.

i.e. farmers were allowed to sell their produce rather than have it confiscated by the State. How very wicked! 

I may say that Rishi Sunak is just as merciless because he forcing my neighbor to go to work in a Merchant Bank even when my food security is imperiled. He should show compassion and pass a law requiring that pretty young lady to first come and cook me breakfast and do the washing up before going off to her fancy-shmancy job. 

Historians have established that tens of millions of Indians died of starvation during several considerable policy-induced famines in the late 19th century, as their resources were syphoned off to Britain and its settler colonies.

But, as Amartya Sen has proved, no famine arises from food availability deficit! The plain fact is that Indian agricultural productivity was very low for reasons A.O Hume explained in 1879. But Britain didn't have the coercive power to change this because the Raj was wholly reliant on the 'loyalist' class of Princes and Zamindars. That's one reason Hume and Wedderburn &c set up the INC. But Gandhi & Nehru were even less bothered by agricultural issues. They were only happy when money was syphoned off to pay for crack-pot schemes.  

Colonial administrators were fully aware of the consequences of their policies

They were aware that if their policies weren't beneficial to the loyalist Indian class, then they would have nothing to administer. They would be slaughtered in their beds. That's also why even the Reds in India gave up on their dream of fucking over the peasantry by collectivizing land.  

. They watched as millions starved and yet they did not change course.

They instituted an effective Famine Code by the beginning of the Twentieth Century. 

They continued to knowingly deprive people of resources necessary for survival.

In the same way that Amartya Sen accused Manmohan Singh of doing. According to Sen, his old pal was very evil. He wanted to turn India into an 'economic super-power' by using starving, sickly, Indian people. This was very wrong. How can you expect a man to be productive until he has spent a decade being treated in Harley street and another decade being educated at Cambridge? 

The extraordinary mortality crisis of the late Victorian period was no accident. The historian Mike Davis argues that Britain’s imperial policies “were often the exact moral equivalents of bombs dropped from 18,000 feet.”

Imaginary bombs- sure. Why does Mike Davis not mention the confiscation of billions of tons of jizz personally carried out by Viceroy Sahib? Is it because he is afraid of appearing homophobic?  

Our research finds that Britain’s exploitative policies were associated with approximately 100 million excess deaths during the 1881-1920 period.

If anyone will pay us to do some more research we will find that the true figure was 100 trillion.  

This is a straightforward case for reparations, with strong precedent in international law. Following World War II, Germany

Herr Hitler made some marvelous contributions to International Law.  

signed reparations agreements to compensate the victims of the Holocaust and more recently agreed to pay reparations to Namibia for colonial crimes perpetrated there in the early 1900s. In the wake of apartheid, South Africa paid reparations to people who had been terrorised by the white-minority government.

Black politicians paid some Black voters. But they didn't enrich themselves. Perish the thought!

History cannot be changed, and the crimes of the British empire cannot be erased.

especially if we just keep inventing new ones 

But reparations can help address the legacy of deprivation and inequity that colonialism produced. It is a critical step towards justice and healing.

My ancestors may have thrived under Colonialism- or, at least, they may have been enabled to practice their own religion- but I am owed reparations because Viceroy Sahib was incessantly inflicting fellatio and cunnilingus upon them. Mind it kindly. Aiyayo.  

Dylan Sullivan & Jason Hickel's extreme poverty of thought.

Between 1880 and 1920, India changed from being a collection of Princely States, or directly ruled territories which were divided up between powerful tax-farmers (zamindars), into a modern nation state worthy of membership in the League of Nations. It could, like Ireland and Egypt, have gotten Independence by 1924. However, as Mahatma Gandhi said to Hasrat Mohani, he was opposed to 'Purna Swaraj' till Hindus and Muslims came together- though they were already together at the beginning of 1922- and it would take hundreds of years for the two ancient religions to learn how to peacefully co-exist. Still, if Indians had accepted partition, they could have got the trappings of National Independence because traditional sources of authority had weakened and a large professional, knowledge based, political middle class existed across the length and breadth of the country. However, this 'barristocracy' had risen, as Gandhi often said, by parasitic chicanery. Still, by taking up the national cause, they could make amends. By imitating the policies of Japan, the country could rise up economically while also securing its own military and naval security. Sadly, Indians preferred to wallow in self-pity and accuse the English of having left India too weak and poor and above all too stupid to ever feed itself or defend itself. Nehru continued Gandhi's politics of demanding that Whitey feed and protect India, and wipe its bum regularly. This was because there is little point biting a hand which isn't feeding you.

Of late, a stupid type of 'wokeness' on University campuses and Social Media has led to a number of Whites jumping on the 'Grievance Studies' bandwagon. They are now demanding that Whitey pay reparations for the crime of turning medieval shitholes into modern nation states. 

As a case in point, Dylan Sullivan and Jason Hickel, (neither of whom has any knowledge of India) have published a paper titled 'Capitalism and extreme poverty: A global analysis of real wages, human height, and mortality since the long 16th century

Extreme poverty is caused by extremely poor people having a lot of babies who are themselves bound to be very poor. This can happen even if young girls don't want to be baby-making machines. They may prefer to get the fuck out of rural shitholes and try their luck in factory dormitories in the Cities. That's how extreme poverty ends. Poor girls refuse to get preggers. They get jobs so as to eat better and wear better clothes and access superior types of entertainment- e.g. reading novels about handsome millionaires who fall for feisty factory girls. 

Men don't like acknowledging the fact that women matter. If Capitalism improves female life-chances, Capitalism is good. But the same is true of Socialism or Islamic Republics. What about Imperialism? The evidence here is more mixed. Annexation and change of land use in new colonies can raise per capita GDP without any amelioration of an involuted agriculture's Malthusian trap.  A free mrket for Capitalized rents may look like Capitalism but if neither land nor labor is truly free to respond to market signals you merely have a frothy chrematistics, not a Capitalist economy. 

Empires may look opulent but sooner of later there is a costly war which disrupts supply chains and causes entitlement collapse. Consider the Russian famine of 1891-92. The catalogue of errors and the callousness of officialdom reminds us of the Irish famine or the even more lethal Finnish famine of the 1860s.  But there was a political angle to the Irish atrocity, while the Finns were seeking greater financial sovereignty. By contrast, the Tzar had no interest in starving his own people and thus harming his own ability to conscript soldiers. Could the famine have been averted by capitalist methods? Yes. There was a supply shock which created an arbitrage opportunity. Even otherwise, there was a reputational benefit from providing relief.  Capitalist America was able to send food. Russian merchants, however, wanted to sell their stocks abroad as fast as possible. Why? They knew that the autocracy's officials would simply seize their inventory and perhaps throw the merchants in jail till they paid a bribe. You can't have Capitalism if capital isn't safe. The Government, predictably, blamed the Jews. Anti-semitism isn't just 'the Socialism of fools'. It is also a feature of every other ideology as subscribed to by imbeciles. Incidentally, White officials in India and in the Army were turning anti-Semitic around this time. They would often tell any Indian they trusted that all the problems of the Empire were created by clever Levantines who had changed their names to appear posh Anglo-Saxons. This was a big theme in Chesterton- who inspired Mahatma Gandhi. 

Consider the following passage from Sullivan & Hickel's paper- 
Indian GDP per capita increased by 27% from 1870 to 1921 (Bolt & van Zanden, 2020).

Burma had proved a very valuable addition to the Indian Empire. Pax Brittanica did have its advantages. But the Great War imposed a heavy fiscal burden and was followed by catastrophic Spanish Flue epidemic.  

Yet during that time, British colonial policy induced serial famines that killed tens of millions of people,

India, like China, was vulnerable to supply shocks. The problem was lack of policy and, under Lytton, a mean-spirited refusal to let the District officers take timely action. This was a self-defeating type of economizing. Demographic collapse reduces rent extraction and thus endangers the administration.  

The great Madras famine affected both Princely States like Mysore and Hyderabad as well as British territory. Previously, the Brits had imported rice into Bihar to reduce famine mortality but this was criticized and Viceroy Lytton was determined to follow a cruel Malthusian policy. Mysore did spend a lot on famine relief. A.O Hume responded to this catastrophe by writing a book advocating agricultural reform. He was sidelined and thus became disaffected and helped found the Indian National Congress. Sadly, it neglected the agriculture reform agenda. On the other hand, Hume was an advocate of cow protection- for purely agronomic reasons- and this did become a popular plank for the INC. However, it proved divisive. Hume ended up a vegetarian Vedantist.  On the other hand, the Brits did put in a Famine Code and, thanks to the generosity of an American friend of Curzon, did set up an agricultural institute at Pusa. The problem for the Nationalists was that people believed that the British administration was more capable of tackling such problems. Thus the INC concentrated on issues which mattered to the middle class- viz which caste got more government jobs or which creed got to impose its script. 

with life expectancy collapsing by 20%, ‘‘a deterioration in human health probably without precedent in the subcontinent’s long history of war and invasion” (Davis, 2002, p. 312).

Sadly, there were plenty of precedents. In any case, China took double the casualties that India took between 1876 and 1879. About 400,000 died in far away Brazil. However two famines in the 1780s in India- the Chalisa and the 'Skull' famine- probably killed twice as many as the Great Madras famine. 

GDP data obscures this immiseration and implies instead a significant improvement in welfare

For those who survived- sure. But welfare only really rises when girls aren't forced to have babies like crazy. This does not mean bad economic policies can't kill people. The biggest famines of the Twentieth Century were caused by Stalin and Mao and the North Korean dynasty. But such disasters arise because of earlier military defeats which in turn may arise from a political failure to combine and put up an effective military defense. 

Sullivan & Hickel write-

Between 1600 and 1820, GDP per capita declined by 21% in Poland and 26% in India (data from Bolt & van Zanden, 2020).

Because of political failures in Poland and India which in turn opened the door to rapacious foreigners.  However, these statistics are meaningless. Income is defined as what you can spend without incurring future loss of income. This means we can only know what Income was for countries which don't get conquered or which don't come under the rule of a maniac. With hindsight, people should have foregone much more present consumption to guard against that threat. This is like a Madoff investor who says 'I have a safe income of 1,000,000 dollars and thus can live large'. The truth is the guy didn't have any fucking income. He should have been saving every penny he could get his hands on. 

China and India did not return to their earlier peak until the 1960s and 1970s.

They had never had a peak. Both should have been investing in a kick ass Navy with big big canons. Instead Chinese and Indian elites were preoccupied with fucking their concubines and writing shitty poetry.  

 As we have noted above, GDP data cannot be used to assess trends in poverty.

We don't know who is truly poor. It could be the guy buying a Rolex coz he thinks Madoff is a financial genius who will keep getting him a 15 percent return on his capital.  

But if it could be used in this way, starting the analysis in 1820 omits three centuries of evidence, producing a partial and misleading representation of historical trends in human welfare under capitalism.

It is misleading to speak of capitalism unless all factors of production are free to move to their most efficient usage thanks to market signals. Men don't get that girls, in some places for long periods of human history, simply had no choice but to be baby-making machines. Ending poverty is about letting girls choose to live well and earn and spend their own money even if priests and pundits disapprove. Human welfare means women's welfare. Men are happy when women allocate resources because the true homo economicus, as Wicksteed pointed out long ago, is the sensible 'managing' woman.. She alone understands opportunity cost which as Coase emphasized is a global concept. Choice has to first concern itself with being consistent with its own continuance. If you do stupid shit, your choice menu will contract. 

Sullivan & Hiskel come to three conclusions

1) , it is unlikely that 90% of the global population lived in extreme poverty prior to the rise of capitalism. 

But Capitalism can't arise if everybody is extremely poor. Nor can it flourish unless some of the extremely poor are willing to work in return for nice shiny things. Of course, killing and enslaving people also works. But that aint Capitalism, though it may feature as part of the 'primitive accumulation' anterior to the establishment of financial markets. 

Historically, unskilled urban labourers in all regions tended to have wages high enough to support a family of four above the poverty line by working 250 days or 12 months a year.

Their wages could pay for food for four people and extend to renting a room for them to huddle in. But wifey was having to do a lot of manual work seven days of the week 52 weeks of the year. As for the kids, they had to run errands and make themselves useful as soon as they started to walk. The problem for this laborer was that an invasion or an internecine conflict could suddenly make him and his family vulnerable to starvation or enslavement. Life was 'nasty, brutish and short' but only for the lucky ones. 

 Extreme poverty seems to arise predominantly in periods of severe social and economic distress, like famines, wars and institutionalized dispossession, particularly under colonialism. 

If your country has been colonized, it means you guys either have a shitty mode of production or else are crap at politics. Whether you suffer demographic replacement depends on whether your terrain aint too harsh or you yourself can be sufficiently productive to make it worthwhile for your masters to keep you alive. 

This will be Humanity's fate if a more advanced alien race finds our planet habitable. If we are being vaporized by ray-guns, writing about the inequity of xeno-economics won't do us much good. On the other hand, if Super-models kidnap me and use me as a sex-slave- which I have every reason to fear might happen any day now- then my own Socioproctological critique of Feminist Sex-Slavism is bound to lead to some considerable amelioration in my living conditions. 

Rather than being the natural condition of humanity, extreme poverty is a symptom of social dislocation and displacement.

Very true! If I am currently absolutely famished and don't have a clean pair of underpants it is not because I'm a lazy bum. Capitalism and the historical legacy of Colonialism are responsible for my condition. Rishi Sunak should ensure Pizzas are delivered to me and that my laundry and washing up and done to an acceptable standard. Why the fuck is Rishi not fixing the problem of my social dislocation- I should be the sex-slave of Super Models- not to mention my displacement from the pub earlier tonight? 

2) he second conclusion is that the rise of capitalism coincided with a deterioration in human welfare.

Capitalism only arose and survived in places where the people were cohesive enough and smart enough to defeat invaders or grab valuable territory. Not being killed or enslaved is what the welfare of any species is about. Madoff's clients may have thought they had a lot of human welfare. They were living in a fantasy world. 

It is only with hindsight that we can be sure human welfare has risen. If your country has ICBMs and faces no big internal problem, they human welfare probably does correspond to nice shiny stuff. But climate change, or the invasion of lizard people from Planet X, might fuck you over when you least expect it.  

In every region studied here, incorporation into the capitalist world-system

by conquest which could also feature demographic replacement 

was associated with a decline in wages to below subsistence,

that's not what happened to Europeans in settler colonies. As for India, as Disraeli said in 1857- it hadn't really been conquered. The Brits simply administered it along traditional lines though, it must be said, they did make improvements and thus created the Modern Nation State of India. China had a tougher go of things but ultimately did come together under indigenous leaders. Once it adopted financial capitalism, it lifted more people out of poverty more quickly than had ever happened in human history. India could have done even better. Sadly, Indian savants can get more money and fame by indulging in 'Grievance Studies' rather than doing anything useful for the country. A.O Hume made sensible recommendations to reform Indian agriculture and thus unleash endogenous growth. Dadhabhai Naoroji pretended Viceroy Sahib was constantly creeping into the huts of poor Indians and draining its people of their precious essence through aggravated acts of fellatio and cunnilingus.  

a deterioration in human stature, and a marked upturn in premature mortality.

because people who would not have survived to have babies had babies who survived to have babies.  

In parts of Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia, key welfare metrics have still not recovered.

But there are lots, lots, more people.

3) Our third conclusion is that in those regions where progress has occurred (as opposed to recovery from an earlier period of immiseration), it began much later than the Ravallion/Pinker graph suggests. In the core regions of Northwest Europe, welfare standards began to improve in the 1880s, four centuries after the emergence of capitalism.

There was no big Continental war between 1815 and 1914. But plenty of Europeans starved or were killed in the two World Wars. What is incontestable is Capitalist European countries quickly became much richer and nicer than Communist countries. The contrast between North and South Korea is even more stark. But affluence means girls have few or no kids. South Korea's fertility rate is now 0.9.  

In the periphery and semi-periphery, progress began in the mid-20th century.

Unless there was military conflict, internecine or otherwise. There is no prosperity without peace. If you have to fight- do it as far from your own borders as possible.  

Further research is needed to establish the causal drivers of these improvements,

Further research by cretins will only establish them more firmly in their cretinism.  

but existing data indicates that progress was achieved with the rise of organized labour,

which is only possible if the boss isn't employing goons to knife you and rape your wife. Capitalism only prevails where there is the rule of Law. Otherwise, all you have is gangsterism.  

the anti-colonial movement,

which fucked up minorities big time before fucking up majorities as well. This is why the descendants of 'anti-colonial' heroes tend to have Green Cards or to own nice houses in Western cities.  

and other progressive social movements,

which tended to retard economic development 

which organized production around meeting human needs,

What 'human need' is met by woke whining?  

redistributed wealth,

to the descendants of the great anti-colonial heroes 

and invested in public provisioning systems

That's hilarious! Passing around the begging bowl is not a provisioning system. It is merely the mendicancy which the intensive cultivation of mendacity makes inevitable. 

 Sullian & Hickel next look at different statistical methods of proving of disproving their thesis. The problem here is that there was simultaneous demographic changes without invalidate the results. 

Proponents of the standard public narrative about the history of human welfare hold that extreme destitution is a natural condition, which only began to decline with the rise of capitalism.

There's no point not being, or appearing not to be extremely destitute, unless property is safe. That's what Capitalism is about. Of course, if people prefer to have babies like crazy while expecting foreign agencies to feed and defend them, then extreme destitution will persist. But the same effect would be achieved by voting for Communists or Gandhian nutters. Still, most poverty at most times was either Malthusian or arose out of the radical insecurity of persons and property. 

Yet the national accounts data on which this narrative relies cannot legitimately be used to draw these conclusions, and extant data on wages, height, and mortality do not support them.

National accounts are only collected for a fiscal purpose. They must be very intelligently interpreted if we require them to serve some other purpose. Big Companies hire smart people to do this so they can make more profit. The Grievance Industry has to be content with paranoid cretins. 

Wages are misleading where self-produced goods extensively feature. Height correlates better to race and non-income related dietary preferences. Mortality is affected by drugs, drink, the prevalence of STDs,  and a habit of drive-by shooting.  

In all of the regions reviewed here, fully-employed unskilled labourers in the early 18th century had incomes higher than the extreme poverty line.

Because they weren't unskilled at all. Only after you have extensive division of labor does the distinction arise in any meaningful manner. It is probably true that early eighteenth century populations were under higher selection pressure. But welfare correlates to less, not more, selection pressure.  

Far from a normal or natural condition, extreme destitution is a sign of severe social and economic distress, arising during periods of upheaval and dislocation such as war, famine, and state repression.

But stable, well-functioning states are the exception not the rule save where incentive compatible defense and other public goods are fiscally sustainable.  

As for the impact of capitalism on human welfare: data on wages, human height and mortality indicate that the rise and expansion of the capitalist world-system from circa 1500 caused a decline in nutritional standards and health outcomes.

It led to the collapse of indigenous populations and widespread demographic replacement save in places destined to remain shit-holes by reason of endemic diseases or resource poverty.  

Recovery from this prolonged condition of crisis occurred only recently: the late 19th century in Northwest Europe and the mid-20th century in the periphery.

i.e. once a racialist ideology replaced a class or caste based ideology. Capitalism isn't enough. Nationalism too is required for the working class to flourish. But this involves not having babies like crazy. The word 'proletariat' means 'child-bearing'. 

If one starts from the assumption that extreme poverty is the natural state of humanity,

whereas Darwin taught us that initially our ape like ancestors lived in luxury condos and piloted their own private jets.  

then it may appear as good news that only a fraction of the global population lives in extreme poverty today.

It isn't good news at all. If you aren't starving it is only because Neo-Liberalism has stolen your soul. The devil will have his pitchfork up your ass for all eternity. You will wail and gnash your teeth and scream- 'why didn't I kill the class-enemy when I had the chance? If only I had stormed into Eton and Harrow with a machine gun and killed every young toff I could, I would not now be suffering the torments of the damned!'  

However, if extreme poverty is a sign of severe social dislocation,

it is a sign of a severe inability to relocate from a social shithole. This may be involuntary. Nice places have stringent visa requirements because the indigenous working class wants to protect its standard of living.  

relatively rare under normal conditions,

normal conditions, for our species, involves not existing.  

then it should concern us that - despite many instances of progress since the middle of the 20th century - such dislocation remains so prevalent under contemporary capitalism.

Very true! The UN Special Rapporteur on Food Security says that Scottish people are at severe risk of famine because women have inadequate access to arable land to grow turnips for their wee bairns. 

I suppose these two authors are pleased that more and more Western leaders are following in the footsteps of Orban. Keep out filthy foreigners. They represent 'social dislocation'.  

Depending on the subsistence basket one uses to measure poverty, as of 2008, between 200 million and 1.21 billion people live in extreme poverty 

Since then wars and probably raised that number substantially. 

While direct comparisons with the wage data are difficult because of the variety of baskets used, this suggests that under contemporary capitalism

of the sort they have in Yemen and Syria- right?  

hundreds of millions of people currently live in conditions comparable to Europe during the Black Death (Figures 4 & 5),

in which case their population must have halved- but nothing of the sort has happened. These guys truly are cretins.  

the catastrophes induced by the American genocides

have you noticed that many Third World countries are now inhabited almost entirely by European people? No? In that case there has been nothing comparable to 'American genocides'.  

and the slave trade

That part is true. Billions of elderly bleck peeps like myself are being held in sex-dungeons where they are forced to pleasure Super Models. This is the inevitable result of Global Financial Capitalism- which is why I'm for it.  

Friday, 2 December 2022

Fara Daboiwala lying about Amartya Sen

The always farcical Fara Daboiwala- a Parsi Leftist- writes of Amartya Sen in the NY Review of books-  

In 1901, at the age of forty, the writer Rabindranath Tagore founded a small school at Santiniketan, in a rural part of Bengal about a hundred miles north of Calcutta.

Surely that is true? Tagore was a writer and Santiniketan was a school- right? 

The truth is quite different.  In 1888, Maharishi Debendranath, head of the Adi Brahmo Samaj, dedicated the entire property of Santinketan, where he had meditated and founded a Brahmo prayer hall, for the establishment of a Brahmavidyalaya- a seminary for Brahmin students- through a trust deed. In 1901, Rabindranath, who would take over as head of the Adi Dharma on the death of his father, the Maharishi, started a Brahmacharyaashrama- a seminary for celibate Brahmin students- there. It should be remembered that the Maharishi had been active in proselytizing in the Hindu cause in Punjab and other Provinces. 

Twenty years later he added a university alongside it—Visva-Bharati, whose name joined together the Sanskrit words for world and wisdom

Bharati is another name for Sarasvati- the Goddess of Learning. Bharat means India.  

and whose motto was “Where the whole world meets in one nest.” The educational outlook of these joint institutions was boldly experimental.

But the inspiration was the ancient Brahmin Gurukul.  

They were coeducational. There was no physical punishment and little formal discipline. Classes were held outside, under the trees. Fine arts, music, sports, and drama were highly regarded, exams and formal results largely disdained. Teachers and students mingled freely outside their lessons.

But teachers and students alike were useful to Tagore who was himself an artist, musician, dramatist and, later, a painter.  

The overriding aim was to encourage the students’ imagination and freedom of thought and to inculcate in them an appreciation of the world’s (and India’s) great intellectual and cultural diversity.

Not to mention reverence for 'Gurudeva'- Teacher-God- i.e. Rabindranath, who had inherited the leadership of the Adi Brahmo Samaj.  

To this end, the curriculum ranged very widely, not just across the wealth of Indian history, art, and literature but with equal attention to the cultures of the West, Africa, Latin America, and other parts of Asia.

Equal attention, obviously, meaning idiosyncratic attention of a type that the big beardie found useful or convenient.  

Tagore’s vision reflected his dissatisfaction with conventional schooling

which, sadly, did not focus wholly on extolling Tagore's vision but which concerned itself with irrelevant things like Chemistry and Trigonometry instead. 

as well as his cosmopolitan upbringing.

He was brought up to take over the management of Daddy's vast Estates as well as the Religious Cult he had founded.  

He had never himself managed to attend any school for very long, either in India or in England, to which he’d traveled as a teenager. In Brighton he soon dropped out of the public school selected for him; in London he spent only a few months as a student at University College London; at Presidency College in Calcutta he lasted an entire day. Instead he’d been educated in Sanskrit, English, music, philosophy, and other subjects mainly by private tutors and his talented elder brothers and sisters, several of whom were noted Bengali authors, composers, patriots, and intellectuals.

This is why he considered himself to be very very smart. Stupid people went to Collidge but Collidge's can't teach you to revere Tagore as thoroughly as Tagore's own Santiniketan.  

This bespoke, multicultural education had been possible not just because Tagore was his parents’ fourteenth child, but because he had been born into one of the leading dynasties of Bengal.

A comprador dynasty which got rich first serving the Brits and then squeezing agricultural tenants. Tagore's daddy, however, had set up as the head of a Religious sect. That's the reason Tagore swanned around in mystic robes. It is also why his poetry was a big hit at a time when the Mystic East was marketing itself like nobody's business.  

At the end of the seventeenth century, his ancestors had become successful brokers


to the East India Company. As its fortunes rose, so did theirs. By the nineteenth century, they were the Medici of Calcutta.

If the Medici had been slaves- sure.  

Rabindranath’s grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore had been a fabulously wealthy merchant, philanthropist, and social reformer who dazzled European society, was entertained by Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace, and was eulogized as the greatest Indian of his time.

He had spent his own money lobbying Westminster to lift all curbs on European settlement in India. Why? He said only the Whites could protect Hindus from the rapacious Muslims.  

Rabindranath founded his school and university on a large estate that he inherited from his father, but running them was expensive.

We have already seen that this is disingenuous. Rabi did what Daddy told him. He had no independent income. After his father died in 1905 he did try to spread his wings. He sent his son to study agriculture in America with a view to making his Estates more profitable. That didn't work though, later, a Quaker did pretend to run an agricultural research center at Sriniketan.  

They were always short of money. Over the remaining forty years of his life, as he crisscrossed every continent, raising funds for them was one of his main preoccupations. When he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, becoming the first Asian laureate, he used the money to improve facilities at Santiniketan. When the news arrived, it is said, he was stuck in a committee meeting, worrying about how to fund a new sewage system for the school buildings. On reading the telegram from Stockholm, he dryly announced, “Money for the drains has just been found!”

This is pure fiction. There were no drains at Santiniketan. I believe a committee was formed to look into this- but only in 2019. 

The award transformed his life, catapulting him to global fame. The young English poet Wilfred Owen copied Tagore’s poems in a notebook that he carried with him into the trenches of World War I. Bidding farewell to his family for the last time before his fatal return to the battlefield in the summer of 1918, he quoted one of his favorite passages from them: “When I go from hence, let this be my parting word,/That what I have seen is unsurpassable…”
A genteel enough way to say 'Om Purnamadah Purnamidam' as some at least of Tagore's readers in the West already knew. TS Eliot had studied Sanskrit. Tagore himself translated the 3 Magi to rebuke the younger generation of Bengali poets who were influenced by Pound and Eliot. 

The rest of Fara's article is behind a pay-wall. But he retweeted this quote '“From Rabindranath Tagore and from his family he inherited a passion for social justice and a firm belief in the essential pluralism of India’s, and the world’s, civilizations' 

Tagore, a landlord, didn't want 'social justice'. Nor did Sen's family. His grandfather was a judge and his dad was a soil scientist who later held high government post's in Independent India. Like Tagore, they were deeply casteist, conservative and hated Muslims. Tagore had predicted that Hindus would be killed or chased out of East Bengal. The Sens had a firm belief that there would be no 'essential pluralism' in their ancestral home once the Brits left. That's why they ran away to India- only because it was majority Hindu and had an Army in which few Bengalis served- i.e. it was disciplined and could kick ass.

Sen's dad did know about Indian agriculture and why Democracy in Bengal causes Famine. Thus Sen waited till his Daddy was dead before writing stupid Communist propaganda on this topic. But then he endorsed Joan Robinson's view China- including the Cultural Revolution. He pretends otherwise now, but the evidence is there for all to see.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Matilal's relativism- tatparya & nirnayaka

Was Matilal utterly stupid? He was a Professor of a shite subject- so the pro tanto answer must be yes. But Matilal attended the Calcutta Sanskrit College which had a navya nayaya theory of 'tatparya' or 'intention'. Moreover, intuition as 'synoida' would have a buck-stopper or 'witness' in the 'nirnayaka' interpretation. Bearing this in mind, Matilal was merely as stupid as his profession required him to be- nothing more or less, pace Nicolas Bommarito & Alex King who write-

Matilal argues against cultural relativism, which he characterizes essentially as the view that there are no cross-cultural moral standards.

If so, Matilal is foolish. Cultural relativism says that a person's beliefs and practices should be understood based on that person's own culture. A Cultural relativist can believe that there are 'natural' or 'non arbitrary' moral standards while affirming that no existing culture has evolved sufficiently to had adopted such standards. Equally, a person may believe that 'moral standards' are hypocritical nonsense while also affirming that culture doesn't matter in the slightest. Only economic motives explain behavior. As for beliefs, they are strategic solutions to Newcomb type problems. 

He bases his objections on two principles. The first he calls the Impossibility of the Individuation of Cultures (or IIC).

Which is foolish. We 'individuate' cultures all the time. People refer to me as an uncultured swine. By contrast, they consider other members of my family to be cultured and refined.  

Real cultures, Matilal thinks, are not “dead watertight compartments”;

nobody said they were. We differentiate Smith from Jones though neither is dead or watertight. Indeed, Smith may now have a kidney Jones very generously donated to him.  

rather, they flow into each other.

Jones is bumming Smith. So what?  

The second principle is a relatively familiar one. It says that, if relativism were true, we would have to call the intuitively worst moral offenses morally right, as long as the offenders behaved according to the norms of their own culture.

This is nonsense. We would only have to do so if that is what our culture required us to do. But that's not how cultures work. Ours is always best while other cultures are about nasty furriners bumming each other incessantly.  

The best we can do is to call them wrong “from our point of view”.

Only if that is what our culture requires of us. A cultural relativist is welcome to belong to a particular culture- or none at all if he don't got no friends and was brought up by wolves or Republicans.  

Matilal calls this the Repugnant Consequence (or RC).

What's so repugnant about not incessantly passing judgments on furriners wot bum each other incessantly because they don't know any better?  

Matilal distinguishes two species of cultural relativism, which he calls soft relativism and hard relativism.

Matilal had an obsession with 'rigid' vs 'flaccid'. As I get on in years, I am beginning to understand why.  

Both claim that there are no cross-cultural moral standards.

Neither necessarily does. It depends on their own culture which may consider making claims of an obviously inutile sort to be the conduct of a boorish pedant whose place is well below the salt.  

He sometimes puts this in terms of mutual incommensurability: there is no fact about whether one culture’s standards are superior to another’s.

There is an uncorrelated asymmetry. That's all that is required for a bourgeois strategy to be eusocial.  

So both forms of relativism share an anti-realist metaphysics of value.

Not necessarily. Anyway, any anti-realist ontology can always be recast in realist terms by the introduction of virtual particles.  

They are differentiated by their epistemic claims.

Not if they don't make epistemic claims- which only boorish pedants do because teaching rich kids makes you stupider than God intended.  

According to soft relativism, the moral standards set in a culture different from one’s own are nevertheless still intelligible or comprehensible.

But, within any culture there will always be certain shibboleths or mysteries which remain unintelligible or are incomprehensible. If this were not the case, Universities could guarantee to turn out alumni who have so mastered a specific culture as to be able to produce literary and artistic works instantly recognizable as rivalling that of that culture's greatest poets and sages.  

According to hard relativism, moral standards in different cultures are mutually incomprehensible.

But, the way acculturation proceeds in any culture is in one recognizing that there is a grading principle within it and not comprehending how to rise in grade till, without knowing how, one suddenly finds one has indeed ascended.  

The hard relativist thinks that the moral standards of a culture different from our own are forever foreign objects, untranslatable into our own concepts or paradigms. On such a view, this mutual unintelligibility underwrites the mutual incommensurability. We cannot rank one culture’s moral standards against another’s because we cannot even get the two to be talking in the same terms.

But this also applies within a culture. Eliza Doolittle was very smart. Thus she could become a cultured lady. Sadly, no Professor Higgins could turn me into a darker complexioned version of Her very Gracious Majesty the Queen- Gor' bless 'er.  

Matilal’s two main targets are the sophisticated versions of relativism endorsed by Bernard Williams and Gilbert Harman. Before really addressing these, though, he first dispenses with a form of relativism that Williams calls vulgar relativism.

Because it was a form of relativism which used to expose its buttocks to him saying 'you are shit, you are.'  He'd reply, 'Mum, do you have to be so vulgar more especially now your daughter-in-law, Shirley is in Callaghan's Cabinet?' 

Vulgar relativism claims that (1) we ought to tolerate other cultures’ moral perspectives, since (2) terms like ‘right’ just mean ‘right for a given society’ – in other words, ‘right for them’.

Nothing wrong with that if we also tolerate them guys living among us or else feel as strong desire to take over their territory.  

Matilal here simply defers to Williams’s own refutation of vulgar relativism, one that contemporary readers will likely recognize. In saying (1), we implicitly endorse a universal, nonrelative moral claim, namely that we should tolerate the views of other cultures.

No. We may only be implicitly endorsing a utilitarian thesis- e.g. if we want smart peeps to live among us, let them keep up their own traditions- e.g. not eating their first born 

But (2) bars us from endorsing any non-relative moral claims.

No it doesn't. The fact is, any society which keeps doing stupid shit will go extinct. Nature itself doesn't tolerate cultures which make it normative to eat all your babies. 

So the view looks incoherent. The version of relativism that Williams defends is more restricted. For Williams, there are two ways in which cultures confront or come into contact with each other.

Williams was real smart. He could count up to two.  

There are real confrontations and notional confrontations.

A real confrontation can be notional and notional confrontations can get real very very quickly.  

A real confrontation occurs when one culture’s moral system is a real option for members of another culture.

This is foolish. Williams came of a stock which had completely wiped out members of other cultures who happened to be living on land on which White people could thrive.  

And a moral system counts as a real option for someone when they could adopt that system and “not engage in extensive self-deception”,

Extensive self-deception is a feature of cultured living. The fact is people only invite me to dinner parties because of uncontrollable flatulence. Yet I have to deceive myself this is not the case because otherwise I'd turn up wearing adult diapers rather than a dinner jacket.  

“retain their hold on reality”, and perhaps even make retrospective sense of their conversion. What Williams means here is not at all clear,

it is clear enough. The man's wife was a politician. He'd had to suffer through dinner parties featuring gormless donors.  

but that need not distract us, as this is not the point that Matilal takes issue with. What is important is that, if one culture’s system is not a real option for members of another culture, then those two cultures can confront one another only notionally.

But all confrontation has a notional component- even if it is wholly imaginary.  

As examples, Williams offers the moral systems of bygone eras: Bronze Age chiefs

whose code was similar to that of Gangland Godfathers 

and medieval samurai,

upon whom the Yakuza model themselves 

as well as traditional societies whose systems and ways of life are incompatible with current, irreversible technological advancements.

They are perfectly compatible provided some innovation and adaptation is permitted.  

Whatever exactly counts as a real option, those moral systems are simply inaccessible to us.

Only in the sense that all moral systems are inaccessible to those who hold them.  

Finally, it’s only in the context of notional confrontations that we face relativism.

But there is no confrontation unless there is a notion of confrontation. I angrily confronted the door which was refusing to open for me because it was under the impression that I was drunk. But the door didn't think it was confronting me at all. It was incapable of having any such notion.  

When two cultures can really confront each other rather than merely notionally confront each other, we aren’t pushed to relativistic conclusions.

A convenient doctrine if you belong to a race which, in the recent past, had committed genocide on distant continents. However, most young British people today feel that in the 'real' confrontation with indigenous peoples that occurred, some of their own ancestors acted wickedly. 

Williams writes that it is only in real confrontations that the language of appraisal – good, bad, right, wrong, and so on – can be applied to [the other moral system]; in notional confrontations, this kind of appraisal is seen as inappropriate, and no judgments are made.

He was wrong. When Britain had to confront the Luftwaffe, it didn't bother with moral appraisal. It concentrated on producing the technically inferior Spitfire into the air in numbers that overwhelmed the  Messerschmitt.

He calls his view the relativism of distance.

It was foolish. On the other hand, he'd actually flown Spitfires during this stint of National Service. 

Matilal counts this view as a form of relativism because two moral systems that can only notionally confront each other are incommensurable, that is, we cannot think that one is better than the other.

Sure we can. We do so all the time when we amend laws or do 'mechanism design'.  

Furthermore, he counts it as a form of soft relativism, since Williams nowhere claims that systems that allow for only notional confrontation must also be mutually unintelligible.

Because one can have a notional confrontation with a door that refuses to open for you coz it thinks you are drunk off your head- which is a total lie coz, for religious reasons, I have always been a complete teetotaler.  

Matilal presents two worries for this view. First, he argues that it’s unclear why we should think that any moral system is not a real option for any culture. We can’t literally go back and be Bronze Age chiefs. But surely that isn’t all that Williams means. He seems to be saying something stronger, such as that some cultures are so conceptually or socially distant that only notional confrontation is possible. But why think that we couldn’t, for example, disavow our modern technologies and opt for life in a traditional society? The only barriers to this are practical (if there actually aren’t any such communities left) or epistemic (if we don’t know enough about its moral system). Aside from these philosophically uninteresting senses in which bygone cultures are inaccessible, there’s no further sense in which they are. Moreover, any living culture is a real option for any other living culture. No actual culture is a windowless monad perfectly sealed off from the rest of the world. This is Matilal’s IIC principle, the Impossibility of the Individuation of Cultures.

There is no principle here. There is merely loose talk. For any particular purpose, anything at all can be individuated well enough. This is also why Witlesstein's private language argument fails. 

His second objection provisionally grants that some cultures can only confront each other notionally but denies that this entails their mutual incommensurability.

because nonsense entails nothing. The fact is, culture is itself a notion. Any predicate applied to it is notional.  

First, it is question-begging to suppose that such cultures couldn’t apply non-relative standards to each other.

One 'non-relative' standard involves the existential predicate. If the thing doesn't exist we can't be sure it might possibly have done so or will do so.  

Moreover, this supposition conflicts with the linguistic data: we do in fact apply appraising language when talking about bygone moral systems. We say that slavery was wrong, for example, and that our current system is better.

Unless were are African patriots who realize that the slave trade helped African kingdoms maintain their independence from the likes of King Leopold's rapacious minions.  

And if we deny this, we must face RC, the Repugnant Consequence.

Why not face the true Repugnant Consequence which is that studying or teaching Philosophy makes you as stupid as shit?  

Matilal then turns to Harman’s relativism, according to which our judgments (and statements) about how people ought to act or which actions are wrong are relativized to groups that have formed agreements or have come to understandings with each other.

This is descriptive of what actually obtains.  

Harman offers a few examples, involving Martians, a band of cannibals, a mob-like group called ‘Murder, Incorporated’, and Hitler. Harman thinks that, whatever we might say of members of these groups – that they behave unjustly, that it is a bad thing for them to go around killing others, even that they are evil – we fall short of saying that they ought not kill others or that it is wrong for them to do so.

We too avail of a right to self-defense.  Uncorrelated asymmetries give rise to eusocial bourgeois strategies. Why do you wipe your own bum but not go around wiping the bums of everybody? The answer is that your bum is yours. That's an uncorrelated asymmetry. 

Such statements strike Harman as sounding very odd because such agents are “beyond the motivational reach of the relevant moral considerations”. They are simply beyond the pale – creatures that we, in some deep way, just cannot make sense of.

Unless we read John Maynard Smith and understand why Professors of Moral Philosophy only wipe their own bums not those of all who stand in need of such services.  

There are three objections Matilal offers here. First, he thinks that Harman, like Williams, unfairly represents the linguistic situation. We hear people call Hitler’s and the mob’s actions wrong all the time.

No we don't. We only give a hearing to people who say nice or useful things to us.  

More importantly, though, Matilal argues that Harman runs afoul of both IIC and RC.

But so does Matilal himself. He has no way of individuating Harman's claim and thus can come to no conclusion about it.  

Harman’s choice of Martians is telling.

I suppose he means 'a class of beings with whom we can't come to any agreement'. But there may be a 'Schelling focal' solution to a coordination or discoordination problem. That's all that is required. Agreement is otiose and doesn't actually exist in any actual society. There is only Schelling focality.  

As others have more recently argued, it’s hard to know what to make of these bizarre cases. It’s not clear how reliable our linguistic or metaethical intuitions concerning them are. This is because real cultures are not hermetically sealed things,

but they may have a Kripkean rigid designator. That's all that matters.  

and imagining cultures this way will not, Matilal thinks, be philosophically revealing.

Philosophy reveals that philosophers have shit for brains.  

In order to get Harman’s relativist intuitions we have to imagine cases of Martians, that is, literal aliens, or else “monsters (Hitler), mentally deranged or impaired persons (Murder, Inc), or subhumans”. In short, these cases implicitly try to circumvent IIC.

No they don't. If cultures can't be individuated, nothing can. It is enough for a sentence to have a reference for IIC to be circumvented.  

But real cultures do flow into each other, and no culture is so sealed off that we have no moral purchase on it.

We don't know that. There may be people who can say that I am really uncultured relative to the rest of Britain or Tamil Nadu but nobody can say if I am not really cultured according to some other lights.  

Last, Harman effectively attempts to avoid RC by allowing that we can call a figure like Hitler evil –

if we get paid to do so- or gain some other benefit- sure.  

it’s just that we can’t call his actions wrong

He ended up eating a bullet. His actions were wrong. Don't declare war on the US of A. Don't fight the Russians on their own soil during Winter. Flatter the French. They make marvelous cheese. 

or say that he did things that he ought not to have done. But in giving up these latter claims, Harman still says something quite repugnant.

Stick with 'judge not lest ye be judged' or else 'answer a fool according to his folly'. 

Matilal’s insights about culture draw on

the fact that Culture (Samskriti) is a Samskar- i.e is conventional and lacking any deep ontological property. Still, there is a 'vigyan' such that all doctrines (matam) are observationally equivalent. Perhaps there is 'aashrav' of karma-binding particles which are merely virtual. Who knows? Who cares? Just don't sleep with your Guru's wife- more especially if your Guru is me. 

an important concept from classical Indian philosophy, the Buddhist notion of emptiness (in Sanskrit, śūnyatā). Matilal draws on this idea in claiming that it is impossible for any culture to be completely isolated and self-reliant.

But Buddhist sunyata implies kshanikavada- momentariness. Every thing is isolated and self-generated. That's why only intention (cetana) matters.  

Emptiness is most closely associated with the Madhyamaka school of Buddhism and its founder Nāgārjuna (~150–250 CE), who makes frequent appearances in Matilal’s writings.

But, hopefully, not in his toilet. Apparitions of that type are a leading cause of constipation. 

Nāgārjuna famously claimed that everything is empty. But what does that mean? Being empty does not mean simply not existing; emptiness is not to be understood as nothingness. To be empty is to be empty of something. The mug on my desk is empty of coffee but not of air. In the context of Buddhist philosophy, what all things are empty of is a static and independent nature (in Sanskrit, svabhāva).

Nope. They lack a kinetic or dynamic nature. That's where Jainism scores. But low IQ peeps like me are perfectly content with devotional Buddhism or Hinduism or Sufism or ecumenical Christianity. In matters of Faith, it is us cretins who are privileged. Sadly, we often get into confrontations with our door which has somehow got the idea that I get drunk at the pub. I don't. I only go there to hold philosophical conversations with people- till they punch my head repeatedly. 

One way that a thing can be empty is temporal. Think of the spoke on a bicycle wheel.

It is where it belongs. Don't stick it up your bum.  

Though it may seem to be a singular object, it is really a collection of particles organized in a certain way.

but not, sadly, for the purpose of being stuck up your bum. 

So to say that it has no static essence

is meaningless if the predicate 'no static essence' is incompossible.  

isn’t just to say that it is, for example, slowly corroding or turning to rust. There is no spoke to corrode, a spoke just is the relational interplay between the particles that make it up.

Nor is there anyone to speak or to hear or to feed Buddhist monks who therefore starve to death or else have to get proper jobs.  

What appears to us as the spoke rusting is just the particles that make it up changing their relations.

Nope. The relations stay the same. The particles undergo oxidization.  

There’s no thing that went from shiny to rusty.

Only no things exist.  

But there is also another, non-temporal way in which the spoke is empty.

No there isn't.  

Even at any instant, it exists only relationally.

in which case it isn't empty. Nothing is relational to what is no thing.  

To be a spoke is to have a kind of relational identity, one that is dependent on other things.

but not in the instant and, because there is nothing before or after the instant, anywhere else.  

What it means to be a spoke is to play a certain role in a wheel and in a bicycle.

But this also the meaning of everything which isn't a spoke in the bicycle including that meaning or meaninglessness.  

And what it means to be a bicycle is to play a certain role for humans, to ride around and travel places.

But that's not what it means to be my bicycle.  There are lots of people like me who make New Year's resolutions and buy bikes and then let them rust away in the garage. 

So a spoke, to be what it is, depends on its relations to other things, on its place in a larger content.

Which is how come my bike has turned into an ornamental fish tank. It wants to improve its relations to other things- especially fish.  

This, according to Madhyamaka philosophy, is true of everything: spokes, the particles making it up, bicycles, people, toads, helium, even emptiness itself.

Not to mention its own doctrine.  

Everything depends on everything else to be what it is.

Unless it doesn't and quits Skool to get a proper job.  

This is not to say that Matilal fully endorses this Buddhist view.

Nor is it to say that he isn't a gerbil. All things that are are gerbils.  

You can, however, see the influence of this idea of emptiness in his discussion of culture.

You can see that his head was empty of everything except shit.  

Just as a spoke is a constantly changing collection which depends on other things

some other things 

to be what it is, so too do cultures. So we find Matilal taking Bernard Williams to task for assuming that cultures interact like billiard balls, as independent things that occasionally crash into each other.

But crashing billiard balls exchange some particles. So do cultures. 

As someone with a multicultural background,

i.e. the guy did not always take a lota of water with him in order to shit in the fields.  

Matilal saw clearly that though the atomistic, billiard ball way of seeing things might be useful, it isn’t how reality works:

Reality can't find work in India so it emigrates.  

But in practice, in today’s world, cultures and sub-cultures do flow into each other, interacting both visibly and invisibly, eventually effecting value-rejection and value-modification at every stage.

Sadly, this isn't the case. Nobody thinks people like me combine Western and Eastern culture. They are merely grateful if I don't take to shitting in their gardens.  

This shows the vitality of cultures, which are like living organisms, in which internal and external changes are incontrovertible facts.

Very true. The cat flows into me when it sits on my lap. That is why I spend a lot of time trying to clean my own arse with my tongue.  

 To be clear, Matilal does not explicitly claim that cultures are empty, but the lesson is similar. His choice of metaphor is telling; he pictures cultures as liquids flowing into each other.

In Indian culture, a swan's wing can separate water from milk. But nobody trusted the 'doodhwallah'.  

Cultures, like liquids, are dynamic, changing entities with vague borders. Thinking of ‘Indian’ or ‘Italian’ culture as something singular, static, and independent, as something with a non-relational essence is a mistake.

No it isn't. You can make money gassing on about Indian or Italian culture. Nobody will pay you to pretend Italian culture is actually Chinese. 

Not only do they change over time, but they are deeply relational, intertwined and dependent upon other cultures in ways that are subtle and difficult to see.

because they don't exist.  

Views about cultures that ignore these facts are doomed to fail

yet no such view has failed yet.  

because they treat a complex living thing as if it were a fossil.

this is more especially true if you are trying to add a hefty gang-bagger to your fossil collection. Still, if you shoot the fellow in the head repeatedly, your views of culture are not doomed to fail. Indeed, you could become rich.  

Matilal uses this insight to highlight how philosophers wishing to see cultures as static and independent must lean heavily on semi-fictionalized examples of past cultures and science fiction.

They don't have to lean on shit. They can just gas on about 'essences'.  

These artificial examples of cultures with independent essences are then generalized, giving the illusion

to whom? Guys who want that illusion for some purpose of their own. It is the purpose that matters.  

that all cultures work this way. One need not accept Nāgārjuna’s more radical metaphysical stance to see this, though it can help illuminate Matilal’s lesson: real-life cultures just don’t work that way.

But Mahayana Buddhist culture did work that way in Tibet- till the Dalai Lama was forced to run away.  

Given his


denial of relativism, it may be unsurprising that Matilal endorses

stupid shit 

a version of moral realism, according to which there are universal moral facts.

You can always find an existence proof for them- but they may be inaccessible.  

Matilal does not, however, consider other views that have become commonplace in contemporary metaethics, views like speaker subjectivism,

Whitey be debil!  

error theory,

why evaluate what is a priori false? That's not a theory, it's a reason for not getting out of bed. 

or expressivism.

which forbids itself any reference 

Instead, he contrasts cultural relativism with what he calls singularism, the view that there is only one set of moral standards for everyone,

there is no necessary opposition between the two. Our culture is the right one. Those whom God hates are born into other cultures. Even good foreigners are constantly bumming each other.  

and introduces his rival view, pluralism, in terms of this contrast.

But 'singularism' can be 'plural' by subscribing to a type theory.  

He characterizes singularism (sometimes calling it monism) as the view that there is only one set of moral standards to which everybody should conform, and it is possible to discover this singular standard of universal morality through rational means.

But rationality is a movable feast. Nothing prevents a relativist from saying that his own culture was especially chosen by God or represents a privileged frame of reference for some pseudo-scientific reason.  

Like soft and hard relativism, singularism consists of both a metaphysical and epistemic thesis.

Only if you hold them down and shove those theses up their arse while they scream their lungs out.  


or materially 

it posits a set of standards that apply to everyone, making it a view sometimes called absolutism in contemporary parlance. Epistemically, it claims that this set of standards is rationally accessible to us all. In essence, if we each thought about morality long enough and clearly enough, we would discover the universal moral truth of the matter.

Sadly, mathematical logic has moved on greatly. Such truths may not be accessible even at the 'end of Time'.  

He has in his sights arch rationalists, and in this he follows fellow pluralist Isaiah Berlin, who characterizes singularism in the following way:
first, that all men have one true purpose, and one only, that of rational self-direction; second, that the ends of all rational beings must of necessity fit into a single universal, harmonious pattern . . .; third, that all conflict, and consequently all tragedy, is due solely to the clash of reason with the irrational.

This is a wholly arbitrary characterization. Why not say 'singularism involves shitting into your hands and flinging your feces about.'

Rejecting singularism makes Matilal sound like a relativist.

whereas actually the guy just didn't want to be the target of Isaiah Berlin's flung feces.  

Though we won’t cover all of the details here, it’s worth noting that he argues that not all divergence is the result of irrationality. Sometimes it is the result of completely reasonable, understandable diversity of moral opinion. In fact, Matilal is keenly concerned to take seriously the fact of moral diversity. It’s this seriousness that leads him to pluralism.

It was okay for Radhakrishnan to fling his feces about. But when Akeel Bilgrami does it, it's so not cool.

Pluralism holds that there are multiple, potentially incompatible, moral standards.

It can hold what it likes except my penis.  

Still, it’s possible that some are better, i.e., to be prioritized, over others. In other words, Matilal accepts a certain amount of diversity of moral standards but denies that this commits him to relativism.

Sadly, relatives is the reason most Indians want to emigrate. But there is no escape from that type of relativism. Wherever you go, you will find some Mamaji who will suddenly turn up on your doorstep with a marriage proposal to a nice sanskari girl with an astonishing resemblance to a camel. 

He takes diversity to be compatible with an underlying moral realism. This metaphysical picture may sound a bit like W.D. Ross’s view.

Though the Indians arrived at it through Navya Nyaya linguistic analysis. The 'tatparya' intention is associated with 'the good' but there is some lack in it such that a separate consideration of what is right arises.  

For Ross, there is a listable plurality of goods, and these different goods are not reducible to one another.

save for some specific purpose. 

We can even think of Matilal’s standards as continuous with Ross’s goods (justice, non-maleficence, etc.).

but they are hermeneutic or purely linguistic, not ontological in any way.  

However, Ross thinks that there is always, in each situation, a particular right thing to do. Matilal disagrees.

The good is multiply realizable. Considerations of right are secondary and arise by some lack or unrealizability in the intention.  

First, Matilal leaves it open that these different standards or goods are simply incompatible.

for some purposes, they may be.  

That is, there might be cases where we cannot comply with all of the standards or realize all of the varying goods.

But only for the same reason that we can't say everything while speaking correctly.  

Second, Matilal leaves it open that these different standards or goods cannot be prioritized – that they are incommensurable.

but can always be made so for some particular purpose.  

So he thinks that we might be unable to fully realize all of the plural goods, and that we might furthermore be unable to even weigh the different goods against each other.

Why do it if it doesn't pay to do it?  

By contrast, while Ross thinks it doesn’t make sense to prioritize the goods in the abstract, he thinks that they can be properly ordered in any particular situation.

which is true enough. The Szpilrajn extension theorem explains why.  

In these ways, Matilal’s form of pluralism is more thoroughgoing than Ross’s.

If it existed- but did it? Why not admit that Matilal was in a linguistic, not ontological, tradition?  

Matilal doesn’t claim that moral standards definitely are incompatible. Instead, he leaves these possibilities open. This brings us to Matilal’s epistemic thesis, which unfortunately is not always clear.

Unless you iz Hindu and know about tatparya and how, by God's grace, a 'nirnayaka' can always clarify or certify what is intended.  

He generally sounds quite skeptical about compatibility and commensurability, denying that there is any way to determinately rank moral standards.

Save by God's grace which may be operating in even a cretin like me.  

But even though we might never be certain about our rankings, they are (justifiably) important to us.

Or not. Generally not. Adolescents may spend a lot of time ranking supermodels they want to sleep with. Then they get married and find the thought of cuddling with anybody else laughable or repugnant. 

That said, he does offer an account of how we come to know the different particular moral standards, as well as how we can come to know the universal moral standards. Given all this, it’s still not clear how exactly we should understand his pluralist account. Fleshing it out will be the job of the rest of the chapter.

The rest of the chapter is tedious shite. See for yourself-


Matilal’s pluralism appears in an incipient form the Indian notion of dharma.

Only if you are as stupid as shit. Matilal was Ind-fucking-ian. Any dharmic notion of his must build on some highly developed dharmic notions. How the fuck could he have a doctrine anterior to, or an incipient form of, stuff he learnt in his mother's lap and then at Sanskrit College? 

The term dharma is one of the most important in Indian philosophy; it is also one of the most complex, having many, many meanings.

It has a rigid designation for Europe. The Greeks translated it as 'eusebia' which is the Latin 'pietas'. Dharma has the sense of pious upholding which, by metonymy, can extend to what has been ordained to subsist by its own conatus or 'svadharma'.  

Built on a root meaning to hold up or to support, it sometimes means teachings or instructions; this sense is typically capitalized in English, as when people write about the Buddhist Dharma. It is also commonly used in a metaphysical way referring to something like instantaneous experience events.

Only under kshanikavada. In that case everything is instantaneous because there is no future or past- there is only this bare and empty moment illumined by the lightning flash of the intention. 

The term also has an important normative sense, referring to social, ritual, legal, and moral obligations. There are many distinctions made within this sense, but here we will focus on one that distinguishes two different levels of obligation.

ordinary and special- sadharan and vishesha. Uncorrelated asymmetries means there's one person- e.g. the guy who owns the property- who is special and who must be treated differently, or must act differently, from ordinary folk. 

One level is contingent and specific; these are called viśeṣa dharmas, literally particular or individual dharmas.  ... which  are contrasted with universal duties, known as sādhāraṇa dharma. Literally meaning general or common dharma, these are obligations that apply to all people everywhere. As you might imagine, what exactly is included in this category is a substantive ethical question.

For whom? Only the nirnayaka or 'buck stopper' who decides or certifies what was intended or should be intended.  The substantive question which is resolved when what obtains as de dicto is deemed de re. 

It commonly includes things like telling the truth, not stealing, and not hurting others. These apply to everyone regardless of their job, social role, or relationships. As we’ll see, Matilal has this in mind when he talks about the ‘basic moral fabric’ – general obligations that are not relativized to any particular person or place.

These are niyams which are positive- be clean, content etc. 

It’s not that sādhāraṇa dharma is real and viśeṣa dharma is not, nor do viśeṣa dharmas always reduce to sādhāraṇa dharmas.

But can be made to do so by the nirnayaka. 

Many Indian philosophers assume that there are multiple distinct types of value.

Indians assume all philosophers are shit. 

Naturally, there are disagreements about whether different values can conflict and, if they can, which ones override others.

There are disagreements where there is scarcity- i.e. where not everything everyone wants can be done. But meaning arises only in the same way. Otherwise any statement can mean everything.  

The classic example of this comes from a critical scene in the Bhagavad Gītā, a part of the much longer epic called the Mahābhārata. In it Arjuna, the best archer in the world, finds himself looking out over a battlefield just before the fighting is about to start. Because of a complicated web of promises, he must fight against his relatives and teachers.

No. Arjuna has two choices. Either be an agent- in which case he takes orders from the guy whom he thinks is his eldest brother- or else he could be an autonomous principal. The duty of the agent is to do what he is told. But an agent can decide to be a principal and do whatever the fuck he wants.  

Arjuna experiences intense inner conflict.

Why? The answer is he knows his side will win and his Guru and 'Grandsire' and lots of cousins will be killed. How does he know? After all, his Guru and 'Grandsire' have the boon of immortality- though they can lay down their lives by their own wish. There is no conflict here whatsoever- unless Arjuna, by supernatural means, is certain of the outcome and, what's more, this is 'common knowledge' which Krishna shares.  

As a warrior and as royalty it is his duty to fight. On the other hand, he also feels the more general duty to avoid bloodshed.

This is nonsense. The guy has been doing nothing but shedding blood- like the Vyadha (butcher) in the Vyadha Gita. Indeed, the two Gitas are 'dual' but the Vyadha deals with the duty of the principal while the Bhagvad deals with the duty of the agent- who, in this case, happens to be a Vaishnavite theist.  

These are known as satya, asteya, and ahiṃsā respectively. 24 Matilal (1991a/2002, 255ff.). 

Matilal was as stupid as shit. Satya means truth. A warrior is welcome to change occupation and become a farmer or an ascetic. That's the truth. Asteya just means not stealing. It is irrelevant in this context. Ahimsa means non-harming but, in an Occasionalist Universe- which is what the Vaishnavite inhabits- only God is an efficient cause.  

For an overview see the discussion in Perrett (2016, 29ff.) of what he calls ‘Value Pluralism’ in Indian philosophy.

It is stupid shit.  

Though his focus is on the puruṣārthas, the four main goals in life (morality, wealth, pleasure, and spiritual liberation) the point about a plurality of values is the same.  Spoiler alert: Arjuna’s charioteer is the god Kṛṣṇa, who convinces him that he should fight after all. Matilal often wrote about this famous scene, particularly in the context of moral dilemmas.

Because the man had shit for brains but had to make out to Whitey that he was a savant of some ghastly heathen sort 

So we find him writing: The situation is this: As a human being, as a loving member of the royal family, he feels that the killing of a grandfather and other relatives is bad; but as a kṣatriya [member of the warrior caste] he is told that it is his sacred duty to fight and kill – a classic case of moral conflict, which tends to inspire moral skepticism. (1989b/2002, 14)

This is hilarious! Prince William, as a human being, as a loving member of the British Royal Family, feels that killing the Duke of Edinburgh is wrong- more particularly if it involves chopping off his head and shoving it up his rectum. But, as a European Royal (i.e. a member of the caste descended from reigning European monarch), he is told- by some cretinous Matilal or Bhattilal- that it is his sacred duty to fight and kill and decapitate and shove his gramps' head up his rectum. This is not a classic case of moral conflict. It is stupid shit. What writing nonsense of this sort inspires in Indians is not 'moral skepticism'. It is utter contempt for Professors of Moral Philosophy. 

A full understanding of the scene would require contextualizing it in the much longer epic.

But Matilal was too stupid to do so. He didn't realize that a Gandharva had given Arjuna the boon to see anything he wanted to see in the manner he wanted to see it. But Arjuna didn't take the boon so it was unvested- asvamika svatva. But, due to 'vishada' Arjuna himself became 'asvamika'- i.e. not in control of himself- and so the boon vested temporarily but such that Arjuna's tatparya was under the regulation of Krishna as nirnayaka.  

What is important for our purposes is that Matilal reads this scene as demonstrating a case of a genuine moral dilemma.

When what it actually is, is great drama, great poetry. It simply isn't true that Arjuna would have suffered any reproach if he, like Krishna's elder brother Balram, had quit the battlefield taking with him a plough, on one shoulder, and, on the other, a big pot of wine.  Alternatively, he could have become an ascetic. The drama of the Gita arises because Arjuna's true eldest brother, Karna, wants the battle to go ahead though it can only do so if Arjuna does not know he is the true eldest brother. By a series of dramatic turns and twists, the Gita shows how the providential outcome is achieved. 

The conflict is not merely apparent

there was no fucking conflict. This is a superbly plotted, highly dramatic, poem.  

and the values in question cannot be satisfactorily reconciled. He finds that accepting the possibility of such a case does not threaten moral realism. 

What threatens realism is the fact that we know shit about reality.  

highlights that values and duties must be flexible and dynamic but nevertheless real.

Why not say, vampires and werewolves must be flexible and dynamic but nevertheless real? In this way, one can be a vampire while being a mail carrier while moonlighting as a werewolf who never actually wolfs out but just delivers pizza.  

To see why, it is helpful to look to his discussion of metaethics itself. 

Metaethics must be flexible and dynamic and do the fucking washing up. Otherwise, it and its bum-chum, Ethics, will be dropped from the curriculum.  

 Matilal’s discussion of the Mahābhārata reveals a deep sympathy to the relativist’s recognition of moral diversity.

But Matilal stopped short of giving it a pity fuck. That's what we should focus on. Stupid savants can reveal deep sympathy for cretinous shite but that does not mean they necessarily put out.  

So while he doesn’t think that diversity proves relativism, Matilal thinks the relativist gets some important things right.

if by 'important things' you mean useless nonsense- sure.  

Recall that on Matilal’s pluralist picture, there are multiple potentially incompatible moral standards,

Only to the same extent that they are actually perfectly compatible. That's the problem with pluralism. The thing is anything goes because dialethia is on the table.  

a fact we see revealed in Arjuna’s dilemma.

There is no dilemma. Arjuna want's theophany as the gratuitous gift of the God and that's what comes to pass. One may as well speak of Spiderman's dilemma in that if he doesn't get bitten by a radio-active spider he can't be a web-slinger.  

How this could be compatible with realism, however, is not obvious.

The answer, obviously, that vampires and werewolves and values and everything else should be very flexible and dynamic and thus, though wholly imaginary, yet perfectly real.  

To elucidate his view, he draws on the notions of sādhāraṇa dharma and viśeṣa dharma, which he compares to Stuart Hampshire’s “two faces of morality”.  For Hampshire, morality admits of a rational side and a less-than-fully rational side.

Whereas the two ass cheeks of morality display heart and soul respectively.  

The former side is broadly continuous with singularist views, such as the familiar Kantian view on which morality is both rational and absolute.

by arbitrary stipulation- sure.  

The latter side involves those aspects of morality that are contingent: historically, geographically, and perhaps in other social ways.

so there is 'hysteresis' or path dependence. But analysis can reveal the underlying ergodics. This must focus on uncorrelated asymmetries to get to the 'bourgeois strategies' which are eusocial. That's the whole story here. Philosophy can only shit on what Econ has clairified. 

This side of morality is typically not fully articulated and may not be fully articulable,

Paetian 'residues and derivatives' ae as articulable as anything else.  

whereas the rational side is at least articulable.

No. Our math isn't good enough. It may never be. Till then all we can have is a tatparya for nirnayaka- if that's the sort of waste of time we are into.