Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Aiken & Talisse destroying democracy

A democracy is a political system where a large class of the country's people chose the country's leaders and thus decide important matters of policy.

Democracies come in various flavors and have different political institutions some of which are not government institutions in any sense- e.g. political parties. 

Aikin & Talisse ask 'does democracy exist?' in 3 quarks. 

We tend to think of democracy as a set of governmental institutions. 

This is not the case. We think of it as a place where the people will fuck up any 'governmental institutions' which tries to fuck them over.

We see it as a political order characterized by open elections,

we prefer a secret ballot and strict laws preventing foreigners with hostile intentions or dangerous criminals running for office 

 constitutional constraints,

but a democracy can change or scrap the constitution.

 the rule of law,

there is a trade off between the rule of law and democratic decision making

 freedom of speech,

again, there is a trade off here. It is unlikely that a democracy will really have unrestricted freedom of speech. At the very least, the 'rule of law' won't prevent some speech acts being severely punished.

 a free press, 

and free love and rainbows shooting out of the asses of unicorns 

an independent judiciary, 

and virile husbands and beautiful wives and kids cute enough to star in a Disney movie

and so on. This makes good sense. These institutions indeed loom large in our political lives.

No they don't. The truth is we don't want the judiciary to be too independent or the press to be too free or 'constitutional constraints' preventing needful action in the face of exigent circumstances. The point about democracy is that a leader accused of having done wrong is deemed to have done right if he gets re-elected. The Condorcet Jury theorem may be mentioned in this context as may Christ's saying 'Ye are as Gods'. The electorate is the ultimate ecclesia which decides what is true and what is right. 

However, political institutions differ considerably from one purportedly democratic society to the next.

Political institutions differ from one district or even one neighborhood to the next in any give polity. I live on a street which the Tories didn't bother to canvass even a decade ago. Now it is Labor which is afraid to show its face. 

 Voting procedures, representation schemes, conceptions of free speech, and judicial arrangements are not uniform across societies that are widely regarded as democratic. In some of these countries, voting is required by law and military service is mandatory. In others, these acts are voluntary. Some democratic countries have distinct speech restrictions, others have different and blurrier boundaries. And the ancient Athenians appointed their representatives to the Boule by lot, instead of by vote. Given these variations, how can these societies all be democracies?

The Greeks gave the answer. If voting by a large section of the population determines political outcomes then we have a democracy. If a monarch decides things- that is monarchy. If a bunch of rich dudes run things- that is oligarchy. If the Army, or particular political formation with coercive powers, runs things then we speak of Dictatorship. 

We may say 'marriage is a bond of mutual affection, respect and reciprocal care between two or more people'. But we recognize that plenty of marriages exist where there is little affection and no mutual respect. 

This leads to the thought that although certain institutional forms are characteristic of democracies, 

This simply isn't the case. 'Institutional forms' are determined by ideographic circumstances. A small city-state may hold elections involving a simple show of hands. A vast densely populated country like India may hold elections over an extended period. 

democracy itself should be identified with the kind of society those institutions realize. 

No it shouldn't. 'Kind of society' is multiply realizable. A benevolent dictatorship may create a society which looks as free and secure and affluent as a well functioning democracy with good leadership. 

We hence can see how two societies with distinct constitutions nevertheless can be democratic.

Just as we see that not all other people are bastards even if their Daddy is not married to our Mummy. It could be that he has a wifey of his own who is not our Daddy's cum dumpster. 

This prompts the obvious question: What kind of society is a democracy?

One where the votes of a large class of the population can change who holds power within the medium term.

Abraham Lincoln’s depiction at Gettysburg may seem a good place to start. He identified democracy as government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Yet this goes only so far. For one thing, it retains the idea that democracy is centrally a mode of government.

as opposed to what? A mode of space travel?

 More importantly, it doesn’t specify what it means for government to be by the people. 

The 'Spoils System' operated till 1883. After an election, a lot of political offices changed hands. Government was 'by the people' not professional civil servants. 

As Lincoln’s remark stands, it may allow a society to count as democratic even though benevolent oligarchs, or some other subset of the citizenry, runs it. 

For a polity to count as being sovereign it must be the case that a subset of citizens run it. If the place has no government then it is a terra nullis and has no sovereignty. If the power of any subset of citizens can be taken away by a large class of voters then democracy obtains.

 Consider this against the fact that there are many democracies with appallingly low voting rates.

And there are many marriages with appallingly low rates of sexual intimacy. So what? I'm under a lot of stress at work, you know. 

What’s missing from Lincoln’s account is the idea that a democracy is a social order accountable to all the people. 

Because no form of government is accountable to all the people. Babies in particular face tremendous obstacles to holding high officials to account for their refusal to get off the TV box so the cartoons can come on.

In a democracy, the people not only rule themselves; they rule themselves as equal partners.

Nonsense! They pay for governance and use their votes to get rid of administrations which they feel aren't delivering value for money. When I hire a guy to drain the septic tank, I don't expect to be an equal partner in the labor. 

 No citizen is another’s political subordinate, master, or overlord.

This is only the case when it comes to casting your vote. However, as an employee of a political party or a holder of political office, you may indeed be a subordinate. However, you can resign if you don't like your 'overlord'.  

 In short, a democracy is a society in which people govern themselves as political equals.

In which case there is no government. No territorial sovereignty exists. This is a terra nullis. Only if these sovereign individuals can individually, or without any great coordinative effort, repel any invasion or insurrection would this state of affairs continue. However, arguably, there is no Society here. There is simply a terrain with a population. We might say 'Robinson Crusoe' governs himself'. But we may equally say 'Crusoe is married to himself.' 'Crusoe is the autocephalic Pope of his own creed.' But we are merely talking nonsense. 


It is worth emphasizing that political equality does not mean that every citizen is identical or as equally admirable.

Two people may be said to be 'politically equal' if they have the same power to affect political outcomes. Under agent heterogeneity, 'Shapley values' will differ. But the underlying dynamics is likely to be discontinuous.

 Rather, our political equality means that we participate in the activities of collective self-government as equals. 

No it does not. Suppose I give you a hair cut and then you give me an equally good hair cut. We may be considered equals in haircutting. But when hair is being cut, we don't participate in that haircutting as equals. One is being served. The other is serving. 

True, we may decide to set up an elaborate system of cameras and mirrors and devise a way for one of us to hold one arm of the scissors and the other to hold the other arm and then we might hold a long and balanced discussion before going ahead and cutting each hair. In this case we might be said to have equally participated in the act of collective self-haircutting. But the results would be horrible. We would reject any such activity. Equally, we would tell Aikin & Talisse to fuck off if they suggested we 'self-govern' anything at all according to their stupid criterion. 

We each get to make up our own minds about political affairs. 
Or not.
We don’t merely get an equal say in political decision-making; we’re entitled to one.
No. We neither get an equal say nor are we entitled to one. Why? The result would be horrible. Thus telling Aikin & Talisse to fuck off while beating and imprisoning nutters who try to storm the Legislature so as to 'get an equal say' in its decisions.

This definition helps to make sense of why institutions can vary across democratic societies.

No. Institutions vary because societies and their histories vary. No entitlement for nutters or nutty Professors to 'have an equal say' is involved. 

 There are different ways to structure a society of self-governing equals. 

But they are incompossible with any life form which evolved by natural selection.

Thus, democracy can take various institutional forms.

Institutional forms are irrelevant.  What matters is whether it is or is not the case that a large class of voters can grant or withdraw significant political power within the medium term. 

Societies embodying significantly different institutions can be democratic.

Or represent the same outcome as democracy would have achieved.

However, this conception of democracy raises a new difficulty. 

Because conceiving of stupid shit is productive of yet more stupid shit.


Arguably, no existing society fits the definition.

Because the definition is shit.  It's like saying 'marriage is a bond between equals'. Equality means both parties have the same sized dick. But no actual married couple has exactly the same sized dick. Thus nobody is actually married. Marriage does not exist. 

Material, social, and historical blocks to equal standing among citizens are pervasive in all societies claiming to be democratic. 

Also some peeps be cripples. They can't stand at all. How can they have equal standing? 

There is no self-governing society of political equals to be found. Every existing society falls short of that mark.

Just as no married couple has exactly the same sized dick. Every marriage falls short of the mark.

Does it then follow that democracy doesn’t exist, that no society should count as democratic? No. To see why, we need to take a step back to consider some features about what we might call aspirational concepts.

Very true. My wife aspires to have the same dick size as me. Thus our marriage- though not one of equals yet aspires to become so. 

Let’s begin by asking a different question: Was Aristotle a scientist? 

Yes. The word 'scientist' has a 'rigid designation'. Obviously the scope of 'science' has changed over the last centuries. However, it is perfectly proper to say Aristotle has been called a scientist for as long as the word 'scientist' has had currency. 

He wrote multiple treatises on scientific subjects, from marine biology and botany to astronomy and physics. However, he never looked through a microscope and had no conception of DNA. He had never heard of the theory of evolution or of Newton’s laws of motion. Moreover, he held views of natural phenomena that could hardly be called scientific by today’s standards. For example, he thought that species were eternal, that men and women had different number teeth, that the Earth is the center of the universe, that the universe’s motion had to be sustained by a purpose, and that formal and material explanations must be distinct. Not only were these views incorrect, but they arguably stood in the way of the progress of the sciences.

This is immaterial. It is of the nature of science that what is considered good science today will be considered as plain ignorance in the not too distant future. 

Nonetheless, Aristotle sought to explain the world around him by means of a particular style of inquiry, a mode of investigation that directed him to observe, tinker, take notes, track how things change, theorize in light of the available data, and revise as new evidence emerged.

There are plenty of great scientists alive today who don't 'observe, tinker, take notes' etc. They spend all their time doing very complicated maths. We think of Aristotle as an amateur Naturalist, not a Natural Scientist modeling population dynamics with arcane mathematical tools. However, we can't deny that a great Natural Scientist might find something interesting in Aristotle which we miss precisely because we don't know the relevant math.

For this reason, Aristotle was indeed a scientist.

But in that case, Socioproctology too is a science because its founder aspires to getting a Nobel Prize in Physics and two in Chemistry and perhaps half a dozen or so in Medicine. 

His status as such is due to the aspiration his empirical studies embody, and the way that aspiration guided his work. We’d say the same of Ptolemy and Newton. Moreover, we contend that contemporary scientists are bona fide scientists, even though we also expect that in the next 100 years new discoveries will render obsolete much of what they believe.

Suppose I aspire to say the same as what Aikin & Talisse have said in the last paragraph but vomit copiously and then shit myself instead. Would they consider me to have communicated the same thing as they just did? 

We should say the same about democracy.

Very true. North Korea genuinely aspires to be a true democracy but just can't get over its darned habit of shooting dissidents instead. 

It’s the name of a political aspiration. Accordingly, a society counts as democratic in virtue of the extent to which the aim of realizing a self-governing society of political equals guides its institutions and practices.

So only Marxist dictatorships which aim at the 'withering away of the State' are democratic. They may keep shooting people or Gulaging their sorry asses but their hearts are in the right place.

 This means that a society that falls short of being a self-governing society of political equals might nonetheless qualify
in the eyes of a cretin
 as an authentic democracy.
but it could equally well qualify as an inauthentic facsimile of the Nicaraguan horcrux of my neighbor's cat. 

However, it remains the case that a society’s being a democracy comes to more than its claim to be one. We regard Aristotle as a scientist not simply because he says he’s being scientific. Rather, his status as a scientist has to do with how he conducted his investigations; he counts as a scientist in virtue of how the aspiration to understand the world informed his efforts.

No. The reason Aristotle still qualifies as a scientist for some great natural scientists is because though his own investigations did not rise above that of an amateur naturalist, nevertheless he identified and was concerned with deep epistemological and ontological questions which remain at the center of 'open questions' and fecund research programs.

 We might call it a broad empiricism and a commitment to systematic and natural explanations.

Which is why Socioproctology is a science. Empirically assholes exist. Socioproctology's systematic and naturalistic explanation for the shite academic assholes produce focuses on the stupidity and ignorance of pedagogues like Aikin & Talisse.  They are simply incapable of writing a single sentence which isn't utterly foolish.

 Similarly, there are certain necessary institutional and practical conditions that a society must meet if it is to qualify as embodying the democratic aspiration. 

This is not the case. If, even absent any institutions or practical arrangements, we can be sure that a large class of voters can redistribute political power in the medium term, then democracy exists. 

Here we return to the familiar governmental and institutional forms that typically spring to mind when we think about democracy: open and fair elections,

which are costly and require high State capacity

 the rule of law,
which is even more costly and which requires not just high State capacity but also a class of legal professionals with strong normative traditions built up over centuries

 freedom of speech, and so on. A society that does not satisfy certain baseline institutional requirements cannot count as a democracy,

for the same reason that a nigger or a injun couldn't count as an equal citizen of Jefferson's democracy

 because it cannot be regarded as embracing the democratic aspiration.

Obviously, the guys who were slaughtered or enslaved to make room for American democracy didn't have any aspiration to belong to it. They'd rather have been left alone to live peacefully with their families in their own ancestral lands. 

But that’s not all. The democratic aspiration also involves the creation of a culture in which the aim of achieving a self-governing society of equals is operative in the minds and practices of political officials and citizens. 

So these cretins think 'democratic aspirations' involve setting up a fucking brainwashing cult. The truth is quite different. We just want to chuck out the guys we voted in to spend our tax dollars if they fuck up. That's it. That's the whole story. No taxation without representation. 

This means that for a society to qualify as democratic, 

in the eyes of academic assholes with zero reasoning ability

certain kinds of considerations, reasons, and arguments must count in discussions of political policy.

What considerations count in practical matters? Practical considerations, i.e. stuff like is this feasible? Can it be done more cheaply? Who pays for it? 


 To use a simplistic example, a cogent argument to the effect that a particular policy diminishes the capacity of some citizens to participate in self-government as equals must count as a formidable criticism of that policy. 

Nonsense! Unless there is some glaring Agent Principal hazard, specific Hohfeldian incident, or other significant informational asymmetry, this is not a formidable criticism at all. But this is a justiciable matter. Suppose I feel some proposed public policy negatively impacts a class to which I belong. I can approach the courts and argue that there has been a 'due process' violation in that adequate consultation has not occurred. 

What’s more, in the absence of similar considerations that favor the policy, the equality-based critique must be regarded as decisive. 

No. A Judge may find it trivial and dismiss the case. More generally, 'Laches' applies. Those who sleep on their rights deserve to lose them. It is not the case that nothing can bee done till every possible counterclaim is settled. 

Now putting the point in a different way, a society in which arguments about equality simply have no purchase 

because peeps be smart enough to see that such arguments are just worthless virtue signaling indulged by stupid academic assholes and antaganomic activists

in political discourse is at best a democracy in decline, and arguably not a democracy at all. 
in the opinion of two cretins. What people want is more nice things and less nasty things in their life. They are not concerned with a levelling down which will swiftly turn into mass starvation and levelling up is clearly impossible coz everybody can't have their own personal butler and physical trainer and gourmet chef. 

Similarly, politicians and political coalitions that disregard considerations about equality,

or what these cretins consider equality

 or that openly seek to limit any citizen’s equal access to the activities of self-government,

for example, by telling Aikin & Talisse that they are stupid and should kindly shut the fuck up when grownups are talking. 

 have effectively divested from democracy.

these cunts have certainly divested from Reason. 

Thus, even though no society lives up to the 

stupid, not


strict definition of democracy, democracies nevertheless exist. 

because peeps don't give a shit about equality or 'self-governance'. They just want a better deal for their tax dollar. 


Real world societies are democratic in virtue of 

only one thing. Voters get to kick out the administration and install a different bunch of jokers. 

This has nothing to do with any shit Aikin & Talisse pull out of their arse. 

satisfying two related conditions. First, the society must feature certain characteristic political institutions.

This is neither a necessary or sufficient condition. It is simply irrelevant. Why not simply say 'for me to recognize some foreign country as being like my own country, it must look exactly like what I am familiar with'. This is mere bigotry. 

 Second, the people – politicians, officials, and citizens alike – must regard those institutions as manifesting the moral aspiration to realize the idea of self-government among equals more fully. 

They may consider the Institution of the Witch Finder General to manifest moral aspirations of this sort. Moreover, they may stipulate for the  idea of self-government among equals with ginormous dicks be manifested more fully up Aikin & Talisse's collective asshole. 

Crucially, this means that a democratic people must treat certain kinds of moral considerations regarding equality as politically salient – always weighty, sometimes decisive – in their own political thinking.

Because if a people aren't Aikin & Talisse level stupid and ignorant of economics, they can't be called a 'democratic' people at all. 

Why stop there? Why not say a society which does not elect me President isn't democratic at all? 

We conclude by highlighting one important upshot of our account. It is common to think of democracy as something that is founded or established. 

It is uncommon to think of democracy. What useful purpose does it serve? Back in the Sixties, when people took a lot of drugs, you could argue whether Maoism was true democracy and whether the term 'Justice' could be applied to any outcome other than the physical liquidation of the bourgeoisie and the kulaks and the feudal remnants and the counter revolutionary forces and so forth. But doing so now is just stooopid. 

This leads to the thought that once a democracy is set up, all that remains it the task of upholding it.

These stupid cunts can't set up or uphold shit. But that's equally true of almost everybody else which is why don't we pretend otherwise. 

 This is an error. 

Just like thinking that Night will end and Dawn will rise even if we omit to shout loudly so as to wake up the Sun God from his deep slumber.


Once we see that democracy is an aspiration, we also see that the task of democracy is that of sustaining it. 

Fuck off! The task of democracy is to get us guys- the demos- a better return for our tax dollars. Similarly, the task of plumbing is to unclog my fucking toilet already rather than just carry on sustaining the aspirations of plumbing to get around to doing something useful some time. 

And sustaining democracy is a matter of working to change it in the direction of greater political equality.

Absolutely not. Experience has taught us that only nutters or vacuous virtue signalers describe themselves as 'working' for greater equality or social justice or true fraternity or other such bullshit. Sustaining any system of government involves improving governance0 i.e. administrative efficiency. Working involves doing useful stuff. What these two assholes are doing is not work. It is a wank. 

Is greater political equality desirable? Not if it leads to the exit of capital and enterprise and the sort of peeps wot take pride in their work and don't want to be endlessly harangued by virtue signaling nutters. 

Control rights should be aligned with uncorrelated asymmetries of an informational or productivity based type. Those control rights need to be reflected in apportionment of 'Voice'. Thus, if we are discussing what should be done about COVID, cretins like me should not be given an equal opportunity to express our views.  This is not to say that 'Voice' needs to be rationed. It just means that Social Choice must be at least as rational or regret minimizing as individual choice. Aiken & Talisse think that Social Choice must face much greater a priori constraints. Its menu must be stupid shit. Thankfully, we don't live in an epistocracy. We have democracy or, in China, a dictator who needs to ensure the cadres don't decide to arrange a nice 'accident' for him. 



Shruti Kapila's 'Sodomitical Sorority'

 America could be said to have 'founding fathers'. Why? It had a sui generis Revolution and the leaders of that Revolution devised a Constitution and created a Republic of a kind unexampled in the annals of History. 

India was an Empire- at least notionally- till a British company took it over and turned it into a viable center for force projection. By the end of the Nineteenth century, Indian troops, for the first time in History, were able to alter the balance of power in Africa, China and even Europe. The British Raj could be said to have founding fathers, but those dudes were in a hurry to get back to England. However, certain Indian Princes and comprador capitalists and, later on, the sons (like Mahatma Gandhi) or nephews (like Nehru) or proteges of Dewans (like Savarkar), or proteges of Princes (like Ambedkar), after qualifying as barristers, could set up as agitators or revolutionaries or political nuisances of one type or another. Since India did become a Republic with a verbose Constitution, we might speak of India as having had 'founding fathers' though the truth is the Brits took over and improved a pre-existing administration which Indians, more by luck than cunning, failed to utterly turn to shit.

This at any rate is the common sense view. But it isn't particularly flattering to us Indians. Thus, Shruti Kapila- a Prof of shite at Oxford- has published a new book titled 'Violent Fraternity' in which, after quoting, the fraudster, Freud, she claims

Kapila had quoted Freud quoting Schopenhauer's fable of the hedgehogs who want to curl together for warmth but can't get to close to each other for obvious reasons. This so called 'hedgehog dilemma' is foolish. Hedgehogs can soften and pull down their spikes to get intimate. Similarly women can overcome their instinctive tendency to kick me in the balls for long enough to conceive and raise a baby. This really isn't a big deal. You don't have to be a Lacanian psychoanalyst in order to understand why baby does not scratch Mummy's eyes out or why Mummies tend to get on really well with even their grown up sons. 

Kapila, for some bizarre reason, pretends that Indians are homicidal maniacs. If they get intimate they instinctively try to kill each other. Yet, foreign visitors, for thousands of years, had remarked the peaceful nature of the Indian people. It simply isn't the case that when they get friendly or develop neighborly feelings, they immediately start to run amok slicing and dicing each other. True, the people of the Punjab have a somewhat different reputation and there was violence between Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs at the time of the creation of Pakistan and, later on, between Sikhs and Hindus during the Khalistan agitation. But this had to do with the creation of separate, religion based, States. However, such agitations could be nipped in the bud simply by killing or incarcerating enough of the agitators concerned. The underlying problem had nothing to do with intimacy. It had to do with the lack of 'the smack of firm government'- i.e. killing or locking up nutters. 

 The Brits had got the Indians to play nice regardless of caste or creed. True, a farmer who had a good harvest and thus enough money to hire a lawyer might still go ahead and kill a couple of his rivals. But after the lawyers had bled him dry once or twice, the hayseed decided that homicide just wasn't worth it. The same was true of the Mullah who declared a jihad or an Upper Caste swine who decided to set fire to the huts of some Dalits. 

Intimacy does not incite hatred and violence though, obviously, Kapila's domestic arrangements may be very different from our own. Reliable and effective punishment for violent behavior and sanctions against those who encourage hate crimes are, ceteris paribus, enough to create a broadly peaceful society. However ceteris does not remain paribus forever. Changes in technology alter the geopolitical fitness landscape in a manner which sometimes favors even the Nationalism of nutty nations. But unrestrained nuttiness can undo such Nations when technology changes once again. If Hinduism continues to consolidate itself, such a fate may not overtake India. This is because the individual nuttiness of Hindus cancels out in aggregate- at least when Hindus start getting massacred by crazy jihadis. 

Kapila appears to share Savarkar's rosy view of Hindu-Muslim amity under Maratha domination. She thinks that the Mutiny reflected the 'fraternity' of the natives uniting against the foreigner. The truth is quite different. Some regiments of the East India Company were badly managed. They rebelled and killed such Europeans as they could lay their hands on. But the loyal regiments, with Sikh help, were more than capable of crushing the Mutineers as well as the Jihadis who took over leadership. Thus 'Ghaddar' (as Muslim Princes- e.g. the Pataudis called the Mutiny) became a byword for the anarchy that threatened the Doab if the British retreated. In this context, there was a Hindu consolidation such that, ninety years later, power passed seamlessly from the Brits to the majority community. The Muslim majority areas achieved a similar consolidation and created Pakistan. In Punjab, the intervention of 'jathas' armed by some Sikh princes complicated the situation and this led to a higher death toll. But, by 1918, the Indian Princes had conceded that the age of Empire was over. War was no longer the sport of Kings. Imperial cousins- the Tzar and the King Emperor and the Kaiser and so forth- could no longer engage in 'violent fraternity'. Intimate relations between Queen Victoria's descendants could no longer give rise to jealousy and military rivalry and finally boil over into a world wide conflagration. 

By 1920, it was obvious that the British Empire was bound to turn into a Commonwealth or else get restricted to the 'White' dominions which however would be wholly independent. The Indians did create a 'Congress-Khilafat' combine under the leadership of Gandhi. But Gandhi lost his nerve. His policy of non-violence (i.e. raising money in order to create a public nuisance) was predicated on Britain upholding Pax Brittanica. Thus he unilaterally surrendered just at the moment that Ireland and Egypt and Afghanistan secured Independence. Later, the Americans refused to finance the Raj and so the handing over of power in India, unlike Indonesia or Vietnam, was completely peaceful. 

This is a story all Indians know though we don't talk about it because it casts our Independence struggle in an unheroic light. Kapila, however, pretends that Indians were homicidal maniacs and thus the fact that they didn't all just knife each other after the British Umpire left was because of Indian 'political thought'. This is crazy. Indian political thought was utter shit. That's why, after Independence, it was civil servants and technocrats of various descriptions who decided policy. True, from time to time, some smaller or greater nuisance was created by nutters like J.P. who finally discovered that Vinobha Bhave's Bhoodan scheme, to which he'd devoted a decade of his life, was utterly and totally bogus. But this type of indigenous stupidity didn't affect policy save in so far as it gave it an excuse to become somewhat shittier. But India's addled eggheads were perfectly capable of fucking up the country if left to their own devices. 

Kapila writes
There is no 'historical conundrum'. Indian history had always seen Rebellions against Emperors. The Mutiny was a particularly unsuccessful one. It showed that Princes and Mullahs and 'Pandy' mutineers were shit at fighting. A professional Army and a professional Civil Service and a professional Justice system could crush vaingloriously nutters and effectively deal with nuisances. On the other hand, the Brits came to see that representative local government was essential for economic development. The Indian National Congress was created by White ICS men- Hume, Wedderburn, Cotton- who, foolishly, thought that India could develop a political class similar to that which, they fondly imagined, obtained in an idealized Home Counties. 

One reason the younger generation of educated Indians- Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Hardayal etc- initially embraced violent struggle was because anarchists in Europe had made a cult of assassination. The Hapsburg Empress was killed by some nutter. Other fools went and killed Alexander II. There probably was some money available from foreign powers to finance this type of craziness. However, the first world war, triggered by the assassination of an Archduke, put paid to the notion that 'Autocracy could be tempered by Assassination'. Empires couldn't pay for themselves or protect themselves. There was no alternative to Nationalism. Gandhi, it is true, thought Indian Nationalism could be based on Hindu-Muslim unity whereas what the Treaty of Lausanne had shown was that Religion trumps Language in determining Nationality. Greek speaking Muslims went to Turkey and Turkish speaking Christians went to Greece. Bal and Pal and Hardayal saw the writing on the wall. So did Savarkar. Gandhi failed- which was fine because he is considered a religious figure. Ambedkar, more stupidly yet, believed in a Dalit-Muslim alliance. That was fine because Ambedkar became first a Boddhisattva and is now a Hindu god worshipped in massive sacred complexes constructed by Mayawati in U.P. 

Kapila speaks of 'the intimacy of enmity'. However, no Muslim suggested that inter-Muslim intimacy would lead to enmity, nor did Ambedkar think that if Mahars and Jatavs and Namasudras became intimate then this would cause 'violent fraternity'. True, where they predominated, Hindus would kill and chase away non-Hindus who tried to fuck them over and the same was true of other religions. But this had become obvious by 1917. Hindus in Bihar kept attacking Muslims till they gave up cow slaughter while Gandhi was engaged in some bogus activism in Champaran aimed at European planters. 

Kapila says 'new orders are preceded by violence'. But that violence was the first world war. This was historical functionalism, which Kapila rejects, in its purest form.  Imperialism could just about hang on where opposition to it was divided or where the fear of anarchy was greater than resentment of foreign domination. After the second war, Europe was bankrupt. True the Dutch, very foolishly, tried to reconquer Indonesia and the French similarly blundered in Vietnam and Algeria but it was obvious that colonies were a money pit. 

Could India have become independent without two world wars? Parts of it- sure. But there were already large parts of it which were semi-independent. But the equivalent of a Piedmont or Prussia was lacking in India. Unification and Independence for the Nation as a whole could come from no Indian Prince. Why? Violent fraternity. These guys had spent thousands of years killing their Uncles or cousins or whatever. But, after 1857, even the stupidest Indian Prince wised up though no doubt some Queens continued to jealously poison their step-sons or nephews or whatever. What to do? Women are like that only. 

Kapila, like Facile Devji, holds bizarre beliefs regarding texts which most Indians find clear, and crap, enough.

The problem here is that Indians- like Nehru- thought Gandhi's political thought was shit. However, it was shit of a convenient type. The truth is these guys weren't conspiring to assassinate anyone so they might as well pretend this was for a religious or spiritual reason. True, some credulous fools were initially taken by Gandhi's crackpot schemes- khaddar, nai talim, etc. However when Congress Ministries took office in 1937, they discovered that such schemes were money pits and not fit for purpose. They were quickly abandoned. Thus, there was no 'political thought' here whatsoever. Gandhi presented himself as a great tactician. But every agitation he led ended disastrously. However, going quietly to jail from time to time was good for building esprit de corps and winning the respect of the rural masses. Everybody knows that life in jail is wonderful. What stops people from killing their Uncles so as to get to jail is the chastening realization that the Magistrate may refuse to find them guilty. They'd have to go back to work as an object of derision for their neighbors who would mercilessly point out that it isn't enough to chop Mamaji's head off with a sickle. You must also sodomize his eye sockets. Otherwise everybody will think you are just a big girl's blouse. 

It is quite true that Shyamji Krishna Varma, Vivekananda, Dadhabhai Naoroji and other such essentially pre-War figures had developed some hodge-podge of 'political thought'. Nehru, in an amateurish fashion, could be said to have continued that tradition. He was after all and Edwardian gentleman with a startling resemblance to Alistair Sim- the headmistress of St. Trinians. However, Iqbal had no political thought. Maulana Azad did- at least initially. His writing on 'hizbullah' was in the Pan-Islamic vein of Afghani. However, he was not acceptable as an 'Imam-ul-Hind' and thus had to be content with being Gandhi's main Muslim 'show-boy' (to use Jinnah's phrase). His 'political thought' was that India could be a loose federation where Muslim states would continually ethnically cleanse non-Muslims but Hindu states would not retaliate. He was laughed at. People firmly believed that this great Pirzada was secretly addicted to Scotch Whiskey. Still, Gandhi got his wife to cook lamb chops for him. That counts for something- right? 

Iqbal did have a 'political thought'. It was Punjabi- i.e. as stupid as shit- and involved describing Lenin as half-Muslim because, like Sarmad, he said 'there is no God'. Lala Hardayal, whom Bhai Parmanand converted to celibacy at about the same time as he converted Gandhi to it, did not get that being celibate means NOT incessantly marrying Swiss or Swedish damsels. Hardayal graduated from St. Stephens, Delhi, before getting his M.A from Lahore. In other words, he too was a Punjabi and thus, though academically very brilliant, as stupid as shit. He made his peace with the Brits and became a philosophy lecturer. His writings are worthless. Like Chatto, Hardayal was part of the Indo-German conspiracy but unlike Chatto and M.N Roy he didn't complete the hegira to Moscow and thus faded out of all remembrance. Roy, who was stupid, did have some 'political thought' but it was as vacuous as that of Deendayal Upadhyaya- a man so stupid he fell off a train and died. 

Vallabhai Patel- unlike his elder brother- had no political thoughts whatsoever. He projected himself as a conservative which was fine. The Bose brothers did have some political thoughts of a wholly mischievous type and that did leave a mark on Bengali politics- which however has always been pure horseshit. Still, I suppose one could say the RSS looks to Bengali type Hindutva because the Chitpavan variety isn't paying off. The fact is the older generation of Bengalis did know navya-nyaya and wrote cogently about Hinduism. Chitpavans however were hated as ignorant upstarts by other Deccani Brahmins.

Was there 'political thought' in India? Sure. There were professors of Political Science and Economics and Philosophy and so forth. The Tatas funded Sociological research. Naoroji, Ranade, Gokhale and the Servants of India had established a tradition of solid statistical and ideographic research which was complementary to that of the bureaucracy and legislature. But this was not nomothetic and based on a comprehensive economic or sociological theory. It was piecemeal and pragmatic- i.e. as boring as shit. Smart kids preferred to dream Marxist dreams. Sadly, if they tried their hand at 'class war' they discovered that, as a class, they were shit at fighting. Violent fraternity was off the table. The safer bet was to get some sort of bogus degree and try for tenure in the Western academy on the basis of intellectual affirmative action. It is very important that Universities like Oxford have a few brown Professors who are obviously as stupid as shit. This is so that students can witness a type of imbecility at first hand which they can then use to explain away the poverty of the turd world. 

Kapila's thesis is that Indian imbeciles like Gandhi, Savarkar, Iqbal etc. made some great ideological innovation. There was an 'Indian Age' whose great thinkers shaped the post War world.

What 'ideological innovation' did independent India represent? The answer is that it provided the world with a unique form of democratic dynasticism. Nehru's daughter became PM within a couple of years of his death. She lost power for a couple of years before returning to power with the clear understanding that her son would take over. Sadly, that son died so the other son took over when she was shot. Then he was blown up but his son couldn't take over because he was too young. Still his wife led the party and put in a colorless but loyal Sikh as Regent. Then something unexpected happened. Her son refused to step up to the plate probably because he had noticed that three Congress politicians with the surname Gandhi had been killed and, each time, the Party prospered- i.e. corrupt sycophants got yet richer. 

Since the dynasty believes it is entitled to Muslim votes, it pretends that its rival is Islamophobic. Sadly, after the Mumbai terrorist attack, most Indians- like most people around the globe- have become wary of Islam. Thus there has been 'Hindu consolidation' and so the BJP has become the default National party of what is after all a Hindu Nation. It is interesting that the 'concept of fraternity' did not apply to Sonia and her sister-in-law Maneka. That's why Varun is with the BJP- though he does not appear to be thriving there- while his Rahul remains the roi faineant of the Congress Party. 

All of this is like a boring version of 'Dynasty' or some other such soap opera. Kapila thinks it represents some profound ideological innovation. For Heaven's sake, why? Indian politics is marked by a complete absence of political thought. Everything is tactical. Nothing is normative. Factionalism within political parties paves the way for hypertrophying dynasticism of a type wholly divorced from any sort of ideological or normative consideration. Indian politics is purely ergodic and game theoretical. The village barber can calculate 'Shapley values' and thus evaluate coalition robustness better than a mathematician. The Kautilya of our Republic is an idiot savant. Still, a smart guy from a small town with decent quantitative skills can become the Kingmaker of Indian politics. Who knows what Prashant Kishore will pull off next? Meanwhile, Oxford is stuck with the cretin Kapila. How much lower can she sink? Will her next book be titled 'Sodomitical Sorority?' and devote itself to the manner in which the intimacy between sisters-in-law in an Indian Joint family leads to violence and enmity and strap-ons and sodomy? I hope not. But it is a forlorn hope. Sooner or later some Lacanian will write that shite and then it will be turned into a porn video featuring the gorgeous, pouting, P.Chidambaram in a blonde wig and stiletto heels. As a Hindu, I feel obliged to condemn this obscene and distasteful genre. However, if accidentally exposed to it, I take comfort in the thought that a sip of ganga-jal, or cow urine, can rid me of the consequent spiritual pollution. Jai Hind. Jai Bhim. Jai me. 











Saturday, 27 November 2021

Sera parsimonia in fundo est

 Headier than the Wine in Balram's pot
This Thought
Sera parsimonia in fundo est
 काम  Thy Rest; यम our Jest. 
Envoi- 
Prince! For Matter is metamerism & Hades, Light
Sleep with her who as river overfloods the Night. 



Monday, 22 November 2021

Kyle Rittenhouse vs. Michael Harriot

Michael Harriot, an African American author, writes in the Guardian-

Before sending a Kenosha, Wisconsin, jury to deliberate if Kyle Rittenhouse is a murderer, Judge Bruce Schroeder informed Rittenhouse’s hand-picked jury that his fate rests on the “privilege” of self-defense.

Why the scare quotes on 'privilege'? It is a fact that there is right, a privilege, an immunity, in both tort and criminal law for actions taken in self defense. 'The privilege of self defense is based in the idea that no one should have to idly stand by while suffering harm from another, and one need not wait for resort to the law for redress. The privilege exists in both torts and in criminal law.'

We now know what the jury decided.

A baby faced kid with a big big gun was attacked by a child molester who had sodomized minors. Instead of being able to steal an expensive gun and perhaps fuck the baby faced dude in the ass, the White pervert got shot. Big boo hoo. 

Neither side disagreed that the 18-year-old intended to shoot Anthony M Huber, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz. They don’t disagree that the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 is a dangerous weapon. However, under Wisconsin’s self-defense statutes,

These are Jury instructions not statues. The Common Law is clear. There is a privilege of self-defense but it is lost if the attack has been provoked. 

Rittenhouse was allowed to use deadly force, even if he provoked the 25 August attack,

No. Harriot is lying. What Wisconsin's Courts have upheld is the notion that successful assertion of self-defense requires a reasonable belief that one cannot retreat before force likely to cause death or great bodily harm may be use. In other words, self-defense only comes into play after all possible retreat or disengagement has been preempted by an immediate danger of being killed or suffering great bodily harm. 

 if he “reasonably believed” it was necessary to prevent his own death.

but only after he had exhausted all possibilities of safe retreat or disengagement.

 Even though he traveled to the city and walked into a chaotic scene with a killing machine.

As had Gaige Grosskreutz. No doubt, Harriot strongly disapproves of Black Panthers displaying guns and insisting that 'self defense is no offense'. However, it is 'open carry' laws that represent the scandal here. 

“A belief may be reasonable even though mistaken,” the jury instructions read. “In determining whether the defendant’s beliefs were reasonable, the standard is what a person of ordinate intelligence and prudence would have believed in the defendant’s position.”

If you are carrying a big gun some people may try to steal it from you. They may also shoot you with it. That is why sane people don't try to take guns away from baby faced youngsters. They call the police who are trained in that sort of thing.

It was reasonable for Kyle to shoot those who attacked him- including the child molester and the other nutters roaming around there creating havoc. That was the Jury's determination and it was perfectly legal and sensible. 

Before former Kenosha alderman Kevin Mathewson summoned “patriots willing to take up arms and defend our city from the evil thugs”, no one else had died during the unrest in his city.

But, as a result of his summons, at least one child rapist now has a pitchfork up his arse in Hades. That's a good outcome. 

The fact is, if Rittenhouse was answering a 'summons' then it is likely that he expected to be part of a disciplined corps. Thus he was not a vigilante. He was a kid who deeply regrets his naive actions.

 Before Rittenhouse killed two people and wounded another, no one else had been shot. So, why is it reasonable to believe Rittenhouse needed a killing machine to protect himself against the “evil thugs” who were not shooting and killing people?

The “reasonable man” test derives from the description of a nondescript English character called the “man on the Clapham omnibus” – a reasonably educated, but average, hypothetical passenger on a London bus route whose thoughts and actions are defined as “ordinary”. The US supreme court case Graham v Connor enshrined this concept into law. The reason police are often acquitted of killing unarmed citizens is that they can argue that a “reasonable” police officer would have used deadly force, even if the officer turned out to be wrong and the victim was unarmed. When I first heard this principle, the first thing I thought was: “A white person came up with this.”

Very true. West Africans were too busy enslaving and selling their brethren to come up with anything similar. A 'reasonable' African chieftain did not accord any right to self-defense to the guys he rounded up and sold to the slave-traders. 

Why is Harriot exhibiting his idiocy to us? Does he think that anybody anywhere thinks Black people are smarter than White people? To say 'White peeps came up with this' is a recommendation because Whites are smart and successful. In Africa and Asia, we sometimes say 'us guys came up with this but it isn't crap. Such and such White Professor has explained that it was a sensible thing.' Even so, we may prefer to ditch the indigenous thing in favor of the thing the Whites came up with. That's how come those African or Asian states that have moved forward don't exhibit indigenous institutions but have a carbon copy of institutions which evolved among White people. 

Because all of our opinions are shaped and colored by our experiences, “reasonable” is a subjective notion. 

In Harriot's subjective view. But the very notion of subjectivity as opposed to objectivity is something White peeps came up with. That's why Harriot frames his argument as he does. 

Only white people’s perceptions are made into a reality that everyone else must abide by. 

Unless they live in a place where they may suddenly be enslaved and sold to the highest bidder. The fact is, people want to emigrate to places where certain types of white people have put their stamp on juristic and administrative institutions. On the other hand, there may be 'ghettos' in America where 'white people's perceptions' and prejudices don't shape reality. Those are places everybody wants to get the fuck out off. 

Think about how much privilege one must have for their feelings to become an actual law that governs the actions of people everywhere.

Think about how sensible and smart a people must be if other people living far away nevertheless find it highly utile and beneficial to adopt their laws and institutions. 

Mobutu and other African dictators were more privileged than any American president. They could kill and eat their opponents if they so desired. But they didn't bother with laws of a universal type. The whole point about privilege is that it puts you above the law. 

Harriot may not be a cretin but, the fact is, it pays him to appear so. Why not just put a bone through your nose and shout 'ooga booga!'. It's what I would do- if that would help me sell my books. 

While there is no doubt about the value of the white lives Rittenhouse snuffed out, 

we need more, not less, child molesters- right?

there’s also no doubt that Rittenhouse was venturing into one of the scariest, most dangerous situations those white jurors 

unlike black jurors who have very different ideas regarding where's a fun place to have a family picnic

could imagine: a Black Lives Matter protest. It is easy to see how, for Rittenhouse and jurors, the victims

who were White
were part of the frightening mob of “evil thugs”.

Not to mention a guy who fucked kids in the ass. 

In America, it is reasonable to believe that Black people are scary.

Not black South Indian peeps like me though. Sad. 

Understanding the innate fear of Blackness embedded in the American psyche does not require legal scholarship or a judge’s explanation. 

It requires us to believe Harriot. The problem here is that three white guys got shot and the shooter walked because the Jury agreed that those white guys were scary. Why? Normal white peeps don't try to grab guns off kids. They run away and call the police. On the other hand, really scary dudes think they can get the kid to hand over the gun coz he don't got the balls innit? We have seen plenty of movies in which that happens. The kid should shoot the bad guys when he has the chance. Otherwise they are going to fuck him in the ass and then kill him. 

This belief shapes public perception, politics and the entire criminal justice system. And it is indeed a privilege only afforded to whiteness.

Which is why smart people want to emigrate to America. South Africa used to have something similar. Nobody wants to emigrate there now. Sensible people there are packing their bags and trying to get visas to places where Blacks are in a minority. Interestingly, more Black than White professionals are emigrating from South Africa to the USA. They know that when the shit hits the fan, the Whites will be rescued. Thus they spend a lot of money to get out while the getting is good. 

Only white people’s perceptions are made into a reality that everyone else must abide by.

Very true. White Science and White Medicine has replaced whatever was indigenous in such African and Asian countries as have managed to rise up or who wish to rise up. 

Researchers have found that Americans perceive Black men as larger, stronger and more threatening than white men the same size. 

Unless they are South Indian black.

A 2016 paper found that Black boys are perceived as older and “less innocent” by police officers. Black girls as young as five years old are viewed as older, less innocent and more aggressive than white girls. In real life, 35% of gang members are Black, but in Hollywood, 65% of the roles described as “gangsters” are played by Black actors.

What percentage of Hollywood producers and directors and scriptwriters are Jewish? Does Harriot really not understand that the sort of White people he doesn't like also don't like the Jews in show biz? 

The idea of the “scary Black person” manifests itself in every segment of the US criminal justice system. It’s why police are more likely to stop Black drivers, even though – according to the largest analysis of police data in the history of the world – white drivers are more likely to be in possession of illegal contraband. It’s why unarmed Black people are killed by cops at three times the rate of whites, in spite of the fact that most on-duty police fatalities are committed by white men. After controlling for factors that include education, weapon possession and prior criminal history, the US sentencing commission found that federal judges sentence Black men to prison terms that are, on average, 20% longer than white men with similar circumstances.

But it was African Americans who backed Clinton and Biden's draconian sentencing laws. The truth is some young African American men had higher longevity and life-chances if they were locked up, under three strikes, for fifteen or twenty years. 

The truth of the matter is that African Americans could have kept incarceration rates down but chose not to do so. Why? Life-chances for families improved if members of a particular cohort were removed from the community. Locking up people is very costly but can pay for itself if their families then pays more in tax and their neighborhoods feature fewer drive-by shootings. 

It’s why 5,000 people responded to Mathewson’s Facebook call-to-arms. It’s why police officer Rusten Sheskey was not charged with a crime for shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back and the side. Blake’s pocketknife made Sheskey fear for his life, but Rittenhouse was allowed to waltz past officers from the same police department carrying a killing machine during chaotic protests. They did not see the gun-toting teenager as a threat. He is not Black. He was not scary.

Kyle was not a convicted child molester. A Jury has found he did nothing wrong. But this means three white men were a threat. They were scary. 

That privileged loophole extends past the borders of Wisconsin.

Why is Harriot pretending that the killing of Arbery was self-defense? The guy wasn't armed. The nutters who killed him filmed the event. There is no 'privilege of self-defense' here whatsoever. 

 It is on display in the trial of the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia. The impromptu lynch mob hunted Arbery down based on an 1863 law that allows citizens to arrest anyone based on “reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion”, referred to by Cornell professor Joseph Margulies as a “catching-fleeing-slave law”. This explains how a court could seat only one Black juror in a county that is 26.6% Black.

Sadly Harriot's notion of 'explanation' falls short of one considered reasonable by White people. The proper way to argue a point like this is to shove a bone through your nostrils and shout 'ooga booga!' At any rate, that's why I think I failed my Chartered Accountancy exams. 

Knowing how this belief has shaped reality for every Black person in America explains why white people are the only group who doesn’t think “attention to the history of slavery and racism is good for society”

Sadly, attention to the history of slavery would reveal that Africans exported fellow Africans though the Japanese and the Chinese preferred to cut off trade with those who trafficked in their own people. Furthermore, attention to the history of the emancipation struggle and the Civil Rights movement would reveal that talking stupid bollocks harms black people. The proper thing to do is back 'pattern and practice investigation' followed by 'consent decree' based reform. 

It is reasonable to assume that Black history is as scary as the people in it.

African history is a fucking nightmare.

 It is reasonable to assume that police fear for their lives when they detain Black suspects. 

No. It is reasonable to assume that police men with a reputation for killing innocent people will get a bigger pay-off from the local gang-boss. The economics of crime has been well understood since the early Seventies. The big fish pay police men and judges to kill or incarcerate the small fry or the plain innocent. That way the police and the judges get to look like they are tough on crime while lining their pockets. 

It is reasonable for conservatives to assume that Black voters will upset the political equilibrium if they are not systemically suppressed. 

No it is reasonable for conservatives to bank on older black male voters. However, it is the Hispanics who will secure their victory. 

And yes, it was reasonable to believe that Kyle Rittenhouse’s white jurors would grant him the privilege of self-defense.

Because he shot people who would have fucked him in the ass and killed him with his own gun.

The Rittenhouse verdict is proof that it is reasonable to believe that the fear of Black people can absolve a white person of any crime.

Like that of killing a white child molester who is attacking him. 

Harriot may get paid for parading his own hereditary grievance and we wish him good luck in this piece of entrepreneurship. However, what his article displays is African American unwillingness to reform the judicial system. Does this arise out of Black fear of Black criminality- of which Blacks are the biggest target? Do people like Harriot want fellow Blacks to be incarcerated or killed so as to feel safer while simultaneously demanding reparation on their behalf? A reasonable person may follow this strategy. But what is reasonable may be immoral. It is certainly un-Christian. 

Sunday, 21 November 2021

argumentative indian imbeciles!

Justin E.H Smith & Anthropological Psilosophy

 The word for philosophy in Sanskrit is 'darshan-gyan'- the knowledge and understanding of what is seen. What happens when you see kids engaged in a role-playing game? The answer, of course, is that you smile and reflect on the mutability of all things. Kids swap roles in games because they see that every role has its own unique interest and utility. But nothing is fixed. There is only 'lila'- cosmic play

Sadly this is not what happens when an academic philosopher looks at anything. He sees what he wants to see so as to talk bollocks.

Justin E.H Smith writes

I have seen many things (corpses, the Northern Lights, a beached whale), but a few sights have left a particularly vivid impression. One is of a boy I spotted in Istanbul eighteen years ago. He was fifteen or so, with a pathetic whispy moustache, wearing a suit for what appeared to be the first time. 

This is silly. To be 15 is glorious. A wispy moustache is cool more especially if it testifies to genetic descent from the Gokturks who conquered so much of the world. Everybody wore a suit for a first time at some age or another. 15 is precocious. In the last 18 years, the Turkish economy has grown very rapidly. We are speaking of a 30 year old who has done well for himself as have others of his cohort. 

We were in the textile district of Zeytinburnu, and it seemed to me he was likely beginning a new life in his father’s small business, though I could be wrong.

That business is no longer so small. That boy is now exporting to the ends of the earth and travels regularly to London and New York and Shanghai. He may own property in such places. He hasn't wasted his life studying and teaching worthless shite. 

 Whatever the occasion, the boy had deemed fitting 

that should read 'deemed it fitting'. Smith can't even write proper English.

to commission the labor of an even smaller boy, nine years old or so, 

A shoe-shine boy is self-employed. There is a contract of adhesion. It is not the case that a 15 year old commissions random 9 years old to perform some particular service. The 9 year old must already be in that line of business. 

to shine his shoes. The shoeshine kid was kneeling on the ground, 

as opposed to what? Leaping in the air? 

scrubbing away with rags and polish from his portable kit, a borderline-homeless street gamin for whom all of our rhetoric about the sacred innocence of childhood means nothing at all. 

Nonsense! A shoe-shine boy has sacred innocence just as much any other child. Smith may be thinking of rent-boys or philosophers or other such people whose earnings are predicated on their assholes or the shite they write. 

The fifteen-year-old stared down haughtily, like a small sovereign, 

This is the delightful aspect of this game. The two kids have managed to create something theatrical and enjoyable out of a routine transaction. But they could swap places just as easily- like in games of cops and robbers. It is boring to be a 'small sovereign'. Polishing shoes seems more fun. The reverse can also be the case. The shoe shine boy will do a better job of posing as the haughty Sultan. 

and the nine-year-old, knowing his place, did not dare even to look up.

This is not Satre's waiter who is busy acting the part of waiter. These are kids playing a game. Behind this performance, we see the Sufi doctrine of transposition- Sultan Mahmud becomes the slave of his slave Ayaz. 

Such is the way of the world, our collective, complacency-inducing clichés invite us to think on such occasions. 

This cretin's brain is stuffed with cliches. He does not understand the Islamic ethic. But even from the Western perspective, what is visible here is the danger that child labor might reduce productivity later on. People should stay in skool till they achieve Smith level uselessness. 

Curiously, such a thought comes to us most naturally when we are observing an instance of domination as it were from above. 

This is not domination. The shoe-shine kid gets paid. Smith too gets paid for his puerile pedagogy. 

The haughty kid dared to look down on the lowly kid,

No he didn't. Both kids were playing a game though no doubt there was utility to the transaction. Smith looks down on both coz they were Muslims and 'Asiatics'. By some measures, Turkish per capita Income tripled during the relevant period. It is unlikely that a 9 year old smart enough to make money as a shoe shine boy did not become a property broker or something of that sort within a decade.

and yet if he had noticed he was being observed his haughtiness could quickly have curdled into shame. 

No it wouldn't. The 'haughtiness' would have turned to rage. The Westerner was clearly a pedophile. If he hadn't run away his head would have been kicked in.

The further haughtiness of the ultimate obsever, in turn —in the event, me (as far as I know I was not being observed myself)— seems to arise from

stupidity. That's the problem with being a virtue signaler. You get stupider and stupider.

 the passive and prejudicial presumption that 

two kids role-playing with gusto are actually equivalent to Satre's waiter or the African American pullman porter putting on a deep Southern accent 

the world of Turkish textile merchants and their sons is somehow a more accurate approximation of the mythical state of nature than what we are used to seeing in, say, a fast-food drive-through or a CostCo self-checkout.

Istanbul was a place where a shoe-shine boy might become Grand Vizier. But equally he might join a Sufi khanqah or, better yet, demand a khirqa without any initiation. 

But this is of course an illusion. The fifteen-year-old was channeling particular historical forces that pressed down upon him unawares,

No he wasn't. The shoe-shine boy's patter, whatever it might have been, had a particular emic resonance. There was a blessing (barakat) in the transaction. The boy was advertising his auspiciousness. His patron was playing up to that patter. Auspiciousness is also about 'faking it till you make it'. God confers his favor only on those who are prepared to receive it. Spread out your hands and ask. God does not stint

There are no 'particular historical forces' here whatsoever. 

 and that are far less distinct from anything I do at a Starbucks, with all the historical forces that press down upon me, than they are from the actions of a Paleolithic mammoth hunter or a New Guinean hunter of heads.

Why stop there? From this perspective they are also far less distinct from a cat farting on a galaxy far far away.

 The boy had perhaps seen his father humiliated by creditors;

Equally his Dad might have got his start as a Shylock. 

his father had perhaps humiliated him in a similar way;

as opposed to humiliating his son by turning up to the Annual Sports Day wearing a blonde wig and fuck me stilettos. At any rate that's my theory of why Smith is so shit. 

and now the boy was just passing the humiliation downward along the great chain of social being. 

A 9 year old is not humiliated when he wins a customer thanks to the superior quality of his patter. But he is also signaling diligence and humility- important Islamic virtues because 'Imarat' is based on 'Tijarat'- Sovereignty is based on Commerce. 

This chain however is one that is ultimately formed by capital, by debt, by sedentism, by the state tyranny of which domestic tyranny is to some extent only a microcosm, and by a number of other factors that place even the most brazenly lupine behavior of man towards man in quite a different context than the state of nature.

Very true. Wolves pay the sheep they kill and devour. Probably this is because of Capitalism and Globalization- right? Wolves should understand that the Bankers own their fangs. But the Bankers are in thrall to the Wool cartel. Sheep and Wolves should unite to overthrow Neo-Liberalism. 

 No, that’s entirely the wrong frame of reference.

There is no 'frame of reference' here. There is merely a fairy story about 'the state of nature' which we know involved cooperation as well as competition which might lead to either conflict or peaceful demographic or other replacement.

Smith next turns to a discipline as worthless and wrong-headed as his own- anthropology. 

What people then may we more veridically hold up as living in such a state?

None. One may as well speak of some people who have helped us as 'angelic' and others whom we don't like as 'demonic'. But neither angels nor demons actually exist. Veridically we are talking nonsense. 

 The Sakha people of the Lena river basin in northeastern Siberia, whom I’ve come to know rather well, both through books and through people, over the past years, appear to be a splinter group that settled in this extreme climate region in the middle ages in order to evade the tyranny of the rising Mongol Empire.

After the American Revolution, 'Loyalists' had to flee to Canada and elsewhere. Fleeing is a function of fighting, or being otherwise associated with, the losing side. Septs who pledged loyalty to the new hegemon and who rose in its polity didn't consider themselves to have submitted to 'tyranny'. Those who fled from the triumphant Washington may have spoken of him as a tyrant. History has forgotten their names. 

 Mongol tax collectors-

didn't exist. The 'daruga' was a Governor or other administrator. Smith is speaking of expeditions to collect tribute not tax-collection which involves individual assessment rather than a collective levy. There is another reason that the Imperial tax-collector analogy is misleading.  the Sakha belonged to a favored ethnicity or linguistic group which was recruited into and could rise up in the ranks of the Golden Horde.

Stupid anthropologists may not understand this but even if they did they'd still write nonsense because that is what pays better. 

couldn’t be bothered to enter the coldest inhabited region on earth, and so the newly formed Sakha ethnie in turn adapted to the new exigencies of life and lived in relative freedom from outside domination, though with a complex hierarchy from within. 

This is silly. The Sakha would have been absorbed into the emerging Khalkha- indeed some were- confederacy. Equally, some Khalkhas who killed the wrong person might head North or North East to put himself beyond vengeance. However, such population movements also responded to what we could call 'price signals'- i.e. opportunity cost ratios. Anthropology can't explain this. Economic Geography can. 

They had advanced metallurgy, a revered warrior class with armor and swords, 

coz, normally, guys who can split you open are treated with contumely not reverence- right?

and four to five months of seasonable temperatures each year that enabled them to build their economy around livestock. Those who went even further north however, perhaps to escape not just Mongol domination but domination from within by their fellow Sakha,

why stop there? Why not say, Sakha's would sometimes go to the toilet to escape domination? 

largely adopted the geographically determined lifeways of the Indigenous Tungusic (e.g., Evens and Evenks) and Paleo-Siberian (e.g., Yukaghir) peoples: reindeer husbandry, in particular, but also seal-hunting and other circumpolar forms of subsistence common also to Greenland and Canada. 

How strange! We would have expected them to tak up the 'lifeways' of Manhattan stockbrokers or Hawaiian windsurfers. 

At the same time as some Sakha were arriving from the south and taking on Arctic habits,

as opposed to the habits of Malaysian chiropractors. 

 socially marginal ethnic Russians

who were not socially marginal at all. Some were princes. Some- like the famous Stroganovs- were 'commoners'. As for Cossacks and Pomors- they were locally dominant groups whose skills in horsemanship, in the former case, and seamanship, in the latter, gave them high status and salience. 

 were arriving from the west and doing the same, leading to a convergence in forms of life across people with different phenotypes and different historical trajectories that brought them into the same region and into the same destiny.

Which is how come White peeps in Siberia don't speak Russian, they speak indigenous languages- right? Why stop there? Why not claim that people of European ancestry in New York speak Lenape and spend their time hunting and fishing and sleeping in wigwams? 

Who among these groups is “Indigenous”? 

The guys who know their ancestors didn't come from somewhere else. 

We might in this case feel this is the wrong question to ask, but this feeling may in turn help to prime us for the further realization that the encounter zone of the Slavic, Turkic, Tungusic, and Paleo-Siberian peoples is in fact fairly representative of every corner of the inhabited globe, even those we take to be the most hermetic and (therefore?) the most pristinely representative of humanity in its original state. 

But this is also true of any encounters whatsoever. The most pristinely representative of a TV remote and the most pristinely representative of stuff in my freezer mysteriously end up together- at least over Christmas when I've been at the eggnog. 

In their half-posthumous new book, the anthropologist David Graeber (1961-2020) and the archeologist David Wengrow (1972-)

who is merely brain dead

suggest that “even” the pre-contact Amazonian groups we generally take to conform most closely to the definition of “tribe” or “band” were likely aware of the Andean empires to their west, and may also have had, at an earlier time, relatively complex state structures that they consciously abandoned because they were lucid enough to come to see these as inimical to human thriving.

This is silly. 'State structures' take up resources. They are abandoned when they generate no social surplus over their cost. 'Human thriving' means the same thing as cattle or cats or grass thriving. Humans could be considered a self-domesticated species. We 'thrive' in the same way as animals and plants which are useful to us have thrived. This is why England has many dogs but hardly any wolves. 

 The groups Europeans first encountered in the rainforest, in other words, may also have been splinters that broke away from tyrannies, just like the Sakha fleeing the Mongols, and to some extent also like the Mountain Time Zone libertarians grumbling about the tax agents from the mythical city of Washington.

Oh dear. Smith thinks Washington is 'mythical'. I must stop now to flee tyranny and go to the toilet. Smith probably wrote this shite fleeing the tyranny of the toilet bowl which demands endless tribute from his asshole. 

It may be that more or less all societies that appear to us

i.e. people to whom it appears that Washington D.C is just a myth. 

 as “pre-state” would be more accurately described as “post-state” — even if the people who constitute them are not in fact fleeing from the center to the margins of a real tyranny, they are nonetheless living out their statelessness as a conscious implementation of an ideal of the human good.

Very true. The only reason the Jarawa don't have a Lok Sabha and a Rajya Sabha and a Civil Service and an Air Force is because they are consciously implementing an ideal of the human good. 

 Even if they have not observed Inca ceremonies through the forest thicket from across a mountain ravine, 

In the same manner that a pervert observes cheerleaders defecating while jerking off

they already know enough about tyranny simply from the expression of innate personality tendencies of individual members of their group —boastfulness, bullying, pride—, 

I have those traits. But I am not a tyrant because I am shit at winning followers or running things. Indeed, successful tyrants may have very pleasant personalities. If they are poor administrators or pick a fight with a stronger neighbor they will quickly perish. 

and have developed rational mechanisms to ensure that these traits are countered by ridicule, dismissiveness, and other mechanisms that keep any would-be tyrant in his place.

Plenty of peeps were laughing at Hilter. Then his goons started killing them and suddenly they weren't laughing any more. But the same is true of people who make useful innovations or who prove to have great administrative ability. 

This is the sense of Pierre Clastres’s “society against the state”: societies that lack state structures are not in the “pre-” stage of anything, but are in fact actively working to keep such structures from rising up and taking permanent hold. 

Till they get conquered or otherwise demographically replaced. But the same thing may happen to societies with more costly but crap state structures.

They do this to differing degrees, with many societies around the world exhibiting a sort of seasonal duality 

unlike ours where we are free at all times save those of national emergency

in which they are subject to tyranny during the months of the buffalo hunt or the rainy season or the period of potlatch or inter-clan commerce,

to take orders for some specific purpose at some particular time is not evidence of having bowed your head to tyranny. Nor is the case that any genuine tyrant gave his people a holiday from obedience. Smith is simply using the word 'tyranny' to refer to things which are not tyranny at all. We might equally say that we are subject to tyranny when we are not shitting. We flee tyranny every time we go to the toilet to take a dump. 

 and then the hierarchy dismantles itself again and they all become as it were “anarchists in the off season”.

Unlike us who are anarchists all the time- save during an Emergency like COVID during which we accept some rational restrictions on our liberty imposed by our elected representatives. But we aren't really anarchists at all. 

As Graeber and Wengrow write of the Kwakiutl of the Pacific Northwest:

who probably have some very nasty things to say about anthropologists.

[I]t was winter —not summer— that was the time when society crystallized into its most hierarchical forms, and spectacularly so. Plank-built palaces sprang to life along the coastline of British Columbia, with hereditary nobles holding court over compatriots classified as commoners and slaves, and hosting the great banquets known as potlatch. Yet these aristocratic courts broke apart for the summer work of the fishing season, resorting to smaller clan formations — still ranked, but with entirely different and much less formal structures. In this case, people actually adopted different names in summer and winter — literally becoming someone else, depending on the time of year.

So these guys thought a guy who changes his name literally becomes a different person. The fact is, lots of us go by different monikers in different situations and with different people. Thus Rishi Sunak may also be Honeytits Cumbucket hoping to plug the fiscal deficit by offering to perform degrading sexual services online. 

In the authors’ telling, it is really only in the 1950s and ‘60s, with the quantitatively precise work on daily calorie intake and other such measurables spearheaded by such anthropologists as V. Gordon Childe (1892-1957), that the idea of “man the hunter” took hold, 

among a small group of shitheads. 

and the default setting of the species was taken to be a seasonally invariant, efficiency-maximizing, and culturally lifeless prehistory. 

In other words, prior to the research of some shithead, everybody assumed that people went out to plough the fields in the depths of a snowbound winter.

When “man” in “his” “natural” condition is determined to be doing but one thing, 

we know a shithead is talking. 

a basic flexibility between forms of life, adaptability to both expected seasonal variation and to longer-term unforeseen changes, become correspondingly less salient for research. 

This isn't research. It is stupid shit.

And when these are screened out, the narrative of monolithic unidirectional progress from bands to states becomes vastly easier to maintain.

There is no such narrative. We understand that 'Dark Ages' may supervene when States collapse. 

In their opposition to this narrative, Graeber and Wengrow are building most immediately on the crucial work of James C. Scott, who has shown that repeatedly and in several different places in human “pre-history”, societies reverted from agriculture back to hunting and foraging, that they did so by choice,

in the same sense that we shit our pants when we can't get to the toilet in time. True, we had the alternative of lowering our trousers and shitting on the floor but that gesture might be misunderstood. 

 and that for several millennia farming existed alongside other viable forms of subsistence 

These are associated with population collapse. Subsistence is not occurring when lots of people are dying. 

in the absence of any well-defined state structure with all its usual indices of inequality. This adaptability should not be at all surprising, given that there are many societies still in existence that alternate seasonally between sedentism and nomadism, as they move their grazing animals up and down in elevation in harmony with changing patterns of vegetation.

This is a discovery process. We may as well speak of portfolio managers as acting in harmony with global markets. 

 But the prevailing view

among shitheads

 is that there can be no states without sedentism,

coz Genghis Khan was actually a farmer- right? Horsemen and sailors happy to travel thousands of miles play no part in state formation. 

 and that states succeed bands as a “higher” stage of development, and that therefore transhumance must be some sort of “transitional” stage on the way to finally “settling down”. The part of the year that is spent wandering complicates the narrative of sedentization that is presupposed by the narrative of progress from bands to states.

Nonsense! Empires will recruit such people or else they may themselves set up as proto-Imperial overlords. The same is true of fishermen who have to travel farther and farther afield. That's how the Portuguese and other Western European Empires got their start. 

And in fact we don’t even need to look as far as semi-nomadic pastoralists; until very recently it was common in Western Europe to “flip” the social order every now and then, in a way that was also determined ultimately by the cycles of the agrarian calendar. When things went à rebours for a limited time, nobodies got to act like kings,

Nope. There were roi faineants and plenty of Warlords or Princelings competing to become the next hegemon.

 and sometimes kings had to submit to humiliation by nobodies, even allowing psychopaths and criminals to sit in the throne and to act the part for a time (or more specifically, people socially recognized as psycopaths and criminals, as the real king may in fact be both of these things himself, even if this fact is ordinarily only acknowledged sotto voce).

What is Smith getting at? The sacrifice of a substitute who is treated as 'King for a day'? But that sort of thing wasn't universal at all. It was just a fad at some times in some places. 

 We know the last dregs of such reversals from festivals such as Carnival or Halloween, which have something to do with popular religion, but are also periodically supressed in the name of that same religion when the lines of its authority have become blurred with those of the state.

Very true. Queenjee, Gor' bless 'er, is only able to reign thanks to Notting Hill Carnival. Capitalism itself would fall but for little kids trick or treating on Halloween. 

In other words, even absolute monarchies with fully sedentary subjects have been known

by shitheads who think that if you go by a different name then you are literally a different person

 to practice anarchy “for a limited time only”: controlled anarchy that is both in the service of the state but also a full-fledged parallel reality, like dreams or story-telling,

or this fairy tale.

 anarchy that continues to exist alongside or in alternation with the state.

when you are asleep and dreaming or when you have taken mind altering drugs. 

 It is only in the most recent era of totalization of civic life 

as opposed to the days of chattel slavery

—where some of us now have eyeball-tracking software that follows our faces eight-to-ten hours a day as we work from “home”

where Simon Legree is whipping us incessantly and forcing us to pluck cotton while our wife and kids are sold down river

in order to ensure that we aren’t doing anything anarchic on company time— 

unless that's what's good for the corporate brand

that this parallel reality has been monitored and administered out of existence, 

because if you try to quit your job, Stormtroopers will smash your door down and riddle you with bullets.

or at least reduced to the hours of sleep, in which we just can’t do otherwise than hallucinate a topsy-turvy world, 

this is not a hallucination. It is hysterical shite. 

and the state so far has not been able to come up with a way to stop us.

Wake up sheeple! Joe Biden is a fucking Nazi!

When the “quants” such as Childe 

a Marxist archaeologist with no mathematical training

took over a certain portion of the discipline, they left the interpretation of culture to those anthropologists who welcomed a corresponding retreat from any claim to scientificity. 

A material culture is not the equivalent of a 'people'. We have seen great changes in material culture since Childe topped himself but have not changed as a people. I suppose Childe was useful because he allowed Lefties to cling to Engelian or nakedly racist stupidity- like, if niggers have nice ruins, Aryans must have come and built those ruins-right?

An earlier generation of work in cultural anthropology, notably the rich legacies of Marcel Mauss (1872-1950 and Franz Boas (1858-1942), helped to solidify the long-dominant narrative according to which the history of humanity is a progression from pre-state to state-based societies, and that where there are states there is also inequality, but this equality is compensated by a leisure of the mind that is more conducive to creativity and to the efflorescence of material and symbolic culture.

So, this 'discipline' was always shite.

 Meanwhile hermeneuticists like Clifford Geertz (1926-2006), having retreated from any claim to the sort of authority that can tell you “how things really were”, to invoke the positivist definition of historical research offered by Leopold von Ranke, were in no position to dispute the claims of the quants.

Yet Geertz prevailed though the whole point about actions is that they are 'thicker' than any possible concept of them whereas the semiotics of any semiotic approach is very thin stuff indeed. 

While Mauss and Boas had been sensitive to the ultimate arbitrariness of cultural expressions —in the end, people do stuff because they want to, not because it maximizes calorie efficiency or body-surface heat-dispersal or some such thing—, late-twentieth-century scholars such as Childe came to treat human “prehistory” as if it were a branch of engineering. 

An engineer who uses the Hegelian dialectic rather than calculus quickly blows up any machine he is working on. On the other hand, Stalin called writers and 'cultural workers'  'the engineers of human soul'.

This is very much in line with the reigning behaviorism of the era (to which Chomsky dealt a fatal blow as early as 1959,

before himself going mad and babbling of magical language genes which spread instantaneously and cause some people to emigrate to where they can talk using clicks while others go to where they can whistle.

But behaviorism didn't really die. Indeed, it is the foundation of political correctness and woke ideology which seeks to regulate verbal behavior in a Pavlovian manner. 

though the methods and biases remained broadly entrenched across all the disciplines with an interest in what it is to be a human), 

who is pretending to be smart or simply shitting higher than his arsehole

and ironically it ended up eliminating from view among 

shitheads teaching stupid shite

human societies the very sort of diversity and creativity (add scare-quotes according to taste) that evolutionary theorists continued to recognize among biological species: we kept right on observing island dwarfism right alongside island gigantism, for example, or bright patterns on one species’ skin offering a “dishonest signal” of toxicity, inhabiting the same ecosystem as another related species that instead uses camouflage to avoid getting eaten.

These things were elucidated by mathematical game-theory

There is no single efficiency-maximizing formula at work in such cases.

But the there is a 'regret minimizing' or Hannan consistent formula at work because Knightian Uncertainty prevails. 

 Sometimes, when isolated on an island, a population of animals will get really big; sometimes it will get really small. Both directions can do a fairly good job of helping it survive.

But this isn't a choice and arises out of competition on an anisotropic fitness landscape.

 Similarly, one group of Inuit may exhibit “reverse seasonality” in relation to its neighbors, crystallizing into an elaborate hierarchy in winter, and dispersing into “anarchism” in the summer, while the others do the opposite. 

This is a choice and arises out of cooperation. Some people work in the office during the day doing some things. Other people come in during the night to do other things. Some day-workers may decide to switch to being night-workers because the pay is better. Some night-people may decide to become day-workers because of family obligations or for the sake of a better social life. 

Some hierarchical societies measure a person’s place in the chain of social being by how much wealth that person has permanently hoarded; 

Nonsense! Society has no means to know how much any individual may have secretly hoarded.

others require anyone who seeks a high rank to hoard only temporarily, and soon to give it all away, potlatch-style, in a ritual of ceremonial magnanimity. 

We no longer believe this is the case. The thing was a fairy tale- like the story about the Amazonian tribe which has no concept of personal identity. If you change your name, or people call you by a different name, you are literally a different person. Wait a sec. That wasn't an Amazonian tribe at all. It was the cretin, Smith. 

Such a person is not “generous” — he’s just doing what he has to do to stay on top,

Indeed. Which is why there is a Kavka toxin type reason for the guy to actually 'be' generous. In other words, you may as well have the appropriate affect if no better choice is available- like me on my honeymoon night.

 according to the specific rules of the game that have taken hold in his cultural context and that cannot possibly be rationalized from the outside in terms of energy efficiency or any model of rational agency familiar to economists.

Nonsense! Signaling theory provides the rationalization. However, the thing may not be evolutionarily stable. 

Our inability to conceive of pre-modern peoples as existing all along in complex networks of long-distance exchange, as defining themselves against one another through what Gregory Bateson (1904-1980) called “schismogenesis”, as knowing what states are even when they construct and maintain their societies “against the state”, has as its corollary an equally handicapping inability to exercise the historical imagination in a way that fully appreciates the individual humanity of those who inhabit the deep past.

Very true. Cripples and other handicapped people often point this out. On the other hand, what is being described is not 'societies against the state' but territories where a particular state may have asserted paramountcy but over which it does not exercise full sovereignty. 

We know that anatomically modern humans have been around for 100,000 to 200,000 years, while we find little evidence of symbolic thought until roughly 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. 

but such evidence may have existed. We can't be sure.

This could be a mere result of not looking in the right places, or of the eventual return to nature of all artificial constructions. But still most still agree that something changed in the Paleolithic and that human beings began to externalize their inner lives in new ways.

What 'most will' or will not 'agree' is irrelevant. Farting in a derisive manner may be a new manner in which academics externalize their inner lives. However, once they start doing so they will find it increasingly addictive. The danger is that they will follow through and publish shite like this.

 Yet we also know that any anatomically modern person has by definition the same brain we do, and while some theorists have speculated on late-stage “mutations”, some as recently as 3,000 years ago, that brought about a sudden propulsion forward in our capacity for abstract thought and our “transcendental” apprehension of our own selfhood, a generous interpretation has to suppose that any AMH’s life mattered as much to that AMH as your own life matters to you, even if she was not manifesting this mattering through woven fabrics, a sharp sense of fashion, or a proliferation of selfies. 

or derisive farts.

Perhaps Graeber and Wengrow’s most affecting accomplishment lies not so much in their new “theory” of the human past, which in any case is only a synthesis of already existing research, as rather in their sympathetic plaidoyer for the singular reality of lives lived in the past, their commitment to the idea that these were real people, as weird and idiosyncratic and unfathomable by quantitative methods as you and I.

Why does this notion require advocacy? Have some mean people been going around saying saying snarky things about how Ancient Modern Human Beings were like totes conformist and just going through the motions in a brain dead fashion? 

 The alternative view is Hobbesian by default, and it is overwhelmingly more popular in our culture.

Because we ensured that the lives of people who lived like AMH were nasty, brutish and short so as to grab their real estate. 

 I go to the Whole Foods with my elderly mother, and she looks at the produce section: “Aren’t we lucky to live in this era,” she says, “when there is such a variety and abundance of foods. It really enables us to enjoy it all, rather than just to survive.”

Luck had nothing to do with it. Killing people and taking their land was what enabled some people and their descendants to eat better than the descendants of other people. 

 This is a sort of entailment from the hypothesis that life before the state was “nasty, poor, brutish, and short”, an existential condition in which, we ordinarily presume, no one had the “luxury” of preferring one food over another, of ever getting their “favorite” for supper.

Even back then, it was 'good to be King'. 

Yet we know of no human culture that does not have strict rules about what may be eaten, 

nor do we know of any human culture where strict rules are enforced where it would be costly to do so

no culture that outside of periods of famine does not have a long list of perfectly edible species of animal that they nonetheless categorically refuse to eat

but periods of dearth or war or siege related scarcity were ubiquitous. When flying over the Andes we all look at our fellow passengers and wonder which of them we'll get to eat first if the plane crashes.

, no culture that fails to organize itself around preferences enshrined into a scheme of values. 

Preferences reflect values. They don't 'enshrine' them. 

“Aren’t we lucky to be here at this festin à tout manger,” every Cree who ever got to participate in an “eat-all feast” is likely to have thought or muttered aloud, each perhaps content with the piece of beaver meat doled out to him in accordance with his social rank, or perhaps aspiring to eat the brains out of the skull some day like the chiefs do, but either way experiencing a condition of abundance and leisure at least as intense as that known by any Whole Foods shopper.

I'm a Whole Foods shopper. I don't see abundance. I see overpriced shite. Still, the place is conveniently located.

Leisure, like calorie consumption, is something that can be measured from the outside,

No. Leisure can only be estimated or imputed. How do we know a guy isn't thinking about how to solve a problem at work while he is going for a walk? Calorie consumption varies according to what bacteria you have in your guy and many other 'internal' factors. The figures quoted are estimates based on assumptions re. the average consumer.

 and the anti-Hobbesian descendants of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, for whom man was born free but is everywhere in chains, have long attempted, as in Marshall Sahlins’s magnificent Stone Age Economics of 1972, to show that through our successive revolutions in agriculture and industry leisure has progressively given way to labor as constituting the principal part of human life. It may be true that hunter-gatherers (as they used to be called) engaged in no more than four hours of “work” per day and dedicated the rest of their time to leisure activities, as Sahlins contends. 

But they definitely didn't go on cruises to the Caribbean.

But this neo-Rousseauian estimation is generally proferred in the same spirit

i.e. the spirit of puerile chit-chat- e.g. 'I wish I was a walrus. Then I wouldn't have to my tax returns'. 

 in which we talk about the daily cycles of the lives of lions or koalas — to mention just two other species that spend most of their time sitting around. What is lost is the “why” of the leisure, the fact that all those people were sitting around not just because it is their species-specific condition to do so (though perhaps that too), but because they like to do so, because it is “fun”.

Being a walrus looks like a fun job. Where should I get my PhD so as to be sure of a tenure track appointment as a Walrus at an Ivy League University?

It’s a weird thing to have to insist on: that there is something that it was like to be a member of the prehistoric leisure class, which is to say to have been a prehistoric human being. Graeber and Wengrow’s reanimation effort for past humans echoes the former author’s earlier plaidoyer for currently living poor humans, notably in his magnum opus Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011). In order to have a big wedding blowout, poor people might have to take out loans against which any rational financial advisor would sternly counsel them. Yet they just keep doing it, going into debt, wearing ruffled blue tuxedoes, and loving one another as much as any human being has ever loved another. That’s culture against credit, so to speak. In the course of a mortal life, a good wedding matters more than good credit; poor people have generally been able to keep this in mind whereas upstanding accountants have forgotten it.

Furthermore, when being interviewed for a tenure track appointment, a derisive fart matters more than sucking up to the panel. Jobless scholars have generally been able to keep this in mind whereas upstanding Professors have forgotten it. 

A wedding is a ritual enactment of mythical, world-structuring motifs, 

like that derisive fart which Scientists refer to as the 'Big Bang'

and to this extent it is a form of heaven on earth,

smell my farts. They are heavenly. 

along with all the other high-ceremonial occasions for music, dance, and heightened speech

not to mention farts of very festive types. 

This is the stuff people live for. 

Man can not go through a single day without releasing a fart.

We know from the discovery of windholes drilled into an avian femur that even before the arrival of AMH’s in Europe, Neanderthals were performing music,

because few can so master their anal sphincter as to, like Pujol, the famous French fartist, who could toot whole symphonies with his rear end 

and thus also, presumably, engaging in forms of ceremonial ecstasy during which the imaginations of all participants must have been fully activated and alive. Such ecstatic joy as a basic mode of existence is of course hardly compatible with the “nasty, poor, brutish, and short” scenario. 

Why not? You and your pals are merrily tooting when suddenly wolves pounce on you and eat you. Sad.

It is also, curiously, an experience that typically is not acknowledged when affluent “thought leaders” and policy makers turn to consider the lives of the living poor.

Very true. Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze should take turns farting at each other. This will bring much joy in the lives of the living poor. 

In this case as in the case of our prehistoric conspecifics, what we are witnessing is dehumanization.

What we are reading is stupid shit. 

The two make a natural pair, as both are symptoms of the general ideological delusion that bourgeois modernity is the only way to go, and anyone who fails to do bourgeois modernity right must be to some degree “poor-in-world”, as Heidegger said of animals, must really not have that much “going on in there”.

There's plenty going on in my intestines which is why I urge you to smell my farts. 

 Graeber spent his life combatting this conceit on all fronts,

nice work if you can get it. By contrast, we consider fire-fighters to be utterly useless.  

 and was lucid enough to understand that it is a unified project. Many who defend the poor against the predations of the rich

by farting or writing stupid shite

 might imagine it’s not exactly a pressing matter to reconstruct what the lives of Paleolithic peoples were really like.

It isn't a pressing matter. Anyway, the guys doing it are as stupid as shit.

 But Graeber and Wengrow’s accomplishment in this book is to show how, in prejudice too, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,

except ontogeny never actually recapitulates shit. Haekel was wrong. 

 or, rather, the way in which the social reproduction of inequality

which is mainly economic. If rich peeps do smart things the way their parents who grew rich did then some may say 'inequality has reproduced' just as when poor drug addicts raise up kids who will be poor drug addicts. 

 with each new generation has something to do with our presumption of progress,

I think we 'presume' that Science and Technology and Business practices will advance so our kids may have to spend more time in higher education- or else may have to apply themselves more intensively at an earlier age- so as to rise to the same level. However, new tech might create non-convexities such that the reverse is the case and wealth can get more evenly distributed across human capital profiles.

 which is to say our presumption of the inequality, the not-quite-humanness, of our ancestors in relation to us. 

Go far enough back in our ancestry and we are looking at non-humans. 

The past is not so much a foreign country,

where things were done differently

 as it is an Indian reservation,

which you can visit quite easily- unlike the middle Ages. 

 where, if it looks from the outside like the inhabitants are not thriving, one has the convenience of imagining that this is because they don’t know what thriving is.

If you are a racist fuck- sure, why not?

But if prehistoric people were like us, as Graeber and Wengrow insist they were, it also follows that they were not like each other, since we are ourselves, among the living, not like one another. 

This does not follow at all. Nor is it the case that if ancient people were like us then some had a Netflix account.

The authors are particularly sensitive to the past existence of “anomalous” individuals, both those who have some special social distinction in view of physical abnormalities such as albinism or blindness, and those who are simply characterologically quirky in a way that marks them out for a special social role as a shaman, a prophet, a seer — as someone who is permanently in touch with a parallel reality that the average run of people is able to access only through ritual, if at all.

This is foolish. People compete for 'special social roles'. An albino kid you grew up with is just as much a regular bloke as anybody else. You may say to him, 'hey, why not set up as a shaman? The clans across the river might think you are magic coz of...urm...you know' 

'My ginormous dick?' the albino replies. 'I can feel your eyes on it every time I whip it out for a slash.' 

'Albino penis envy 'shrooms are a real thing.' you reply. 'Apparently they are the potent of psychedelics. Seriously dude, you could be the brand ambassador for the stuff. That's the only reason I was looking at your dick. I'm not gay at all.'

Contrary to the common idea that such people were typically eliminated through euthanasia or otherwise neglected until they perished, the archeological record clearly shows that they were often accorded special treatment.

coz of albino penis envy. Also their ability to emit derisive farts.

 Many of the earliest evidence we have of ritual burial yields up skeletons of people who had evident deformities. This is likely not because skeletal deformities were common, 

that is likely because inbreeding would have been more common back then

and postmortem taphonomic deformation can also be ruled out. The simplest explanation is that these people were buried because they were revered,

but people who were even more revered may have been cremated.

 an explanation that at the same time does away with the idea that the earliest burials are at once evidence of the earliest emergence of social inequality. While the skeletons are often found adorned with riches and what might be interpreted as “royal” accoutrements such as antler crowns or sceptres carved from mammoth ivory, we know plainly that the deformities of those who have been buried are not hereditary, and thus that their special status in society could not have been traduced down to them across the generations through noble lineage.

We know nothing of the sort. The sample size is too small. This isn't even 'junk social science'. It is a just so story. 

What would it have been like to have been anomalous in prehistory? You would probably still enjoy stories and music (though there were also no doubt some reserved and awkward people who shied away from communal activities), but you would be exempted from typical adult responsibilities, and expected mostly just to “do your thing”. Graeber and Wengrow vividly imagine a prehistoric epileptic who passes his days “hanging upside down while arranging and rearranging snail shells”, the patterns of whose arrangements are attended to by his loved ones and neighbors, who keep him well fed and shower him with affection. They might have thought the snail-shell patterns literally held cryptic messages passed down through the epileptic man from another plane of reality; they might just have thought that the man is better off when he’s left to do what makes him comfortable, and if we are sensitive to his comfort, to what he’s muttering, under what circumstances, we might be better able to take the measure of our own well-being. The truth is probably somewhere in between, just as it always is when we are trying to determine whether some unfamiliar conduct is an instance of practical rationality or rather of natural magic.

Or is some stupid shit anthropologists have pulled out of their arse. Let them hang upside down rearranging snail shells by all means. What else are they good for?

Graeber and Wengrow’s return to grand anthropological theory in the vein of Boas and Mauss parallels a similar return in the work of Philippe Descola.

Meanwhile Jared Diamond or Yuval Harari have gotten rich.

 Like the French proponent of the “ontological turn”, they are notably at ease with the methodology of recovering Indigenous voices from European sources.

Or just making shite up.

 One must of course read historical sources, written by Europeans implicated in their individual ways in the centuries-long process of conquest and domination, with considerable caution.

Why read that shite unless you get paid a little money to do so? What is the point of advertising the fact that you are employed in the epistemic equivalent of grading farts and awarding credentials for diarrhea?

 But to suppose that these sources trap the reader as well in the same colonial “gaze” as the author, is to give up too easily and retreat into skepticism.

Fuck is wrong with skepticism? Why buy into stupid shite? Equality does not obtain if one bunch of guys who are all equally poor are being killed and their territory is being taken over by another bunch of good who may previously have been equally poor and weak. It is foolish to speak of a decline in equality or freedom if what we are talking about is one bunch of guys getting killed or otherwise displaced by another bunch of guys.