Monday, 23 September 2019

Samar Halarnkar on Ayush Chaturvedi

Samar Halarnkar write in the Scroll of the 'marginalisation of Indian Muslims' and of how 'the indifference of Hindus can be stemmed by those who defy the tide'. Clearly, this man believes that Hindus have super-powers. If they stop being indifferent to something, then it ceases to be a problem. 

This is not the view of the Indian Muslims. They quote Scripture to the effect that a community must change itself to rise up. One aspect of this involves making mutually beneficial agreements with other communities. Successful Muslim countries may make non-Muslims feel safe and able to enjoy the fruit of their enterprise and initiative because this benefits all the people of the country. Non-Muslim countries, similarly, may make Muslims feel safe and confident that they can rise by hard work and enterprise.

By contrast, hysterical or histrionic behavior can't make the country safe for anybody. It is a nuisance simply. Consider the trajectory of Gandhian politics in the Indian sub-continent. Yes, it got rid of the British minority but it did not make any other minority safe save by that minorities own efforts. But even the Parsis, being better placed to do so, emigrated en masse

Samar takes a different view.
My friend was one of those Indians who proudly waved the flag, sang the anthem and believed there were – despite its obvious infirmities – few better places on earth to raise his daughter. The first shock to a lifetime of patriotism was delivered this year by a child who taunted his six-year-old.
You are a Muslim and a terrorist, said the child, who was unlikely to have understood what a terrorist was. But children only parrot their parents, so it was obvious where these accusations came from. Many Muslims, especially in North India, will tell you taunts like these are not new. At some point, they have had to endure the tired but hurtful trope of Muslim, Pakistani, terrorist. But these encounters were largely regarded as exceptions and tolerated because their country and its large majority of Hindus embraced the idea of a diverse, secular India – or at least so we thought.
Hindus get taunted as Kaffirs who will inherit Hell fire. They are not taunted as terrorists unless they are mistaken for Muslims. Why? Samar may not know this, but there's a lot of Islamic terrorism in the globe today. It gets reported on TV. A kid may watch TV and ask 'who are those bad people? Why are they killing innocents?' The answer, I'm afraid, is that these terrorists believe they are advancing the Islamic cause. Television News Channels, not the kids' parents, has caused the child to equate Islam with terrorism.

Now, people like my friend cannot recognize their country.
Why? It is because Islamic terrorists and their 'overground' networks don't believe that India should remain as it is. They want a 'Caliphate'. They think kaffirs should be killed or enslaved. They also think Indian Islam should be 'purified'. They don't recognize it as properly Islamic.
Friends and neighbours are radicalised, buying wholesale into the idea of one nation, one leader, one culture and a host of other imaginary unities, designed to exclude other histories, realities and identities.
What idea should they buy into instead? That India is many nations? It has many Prime Ministers and Presidents? If so, why should young Muslims not fight for a Caliphate or seek to ethnically cleanse their neighborhoods?

Samar may think that India ought not to exist. But it does exist. Perhaps he should emigrate to some other country where there are many cultures and many Presidents. But no such country can be found on the face of the earth.
This is a time when India threatens to universalise the chaos, prejudice and injustice that currently characterizes the drive to prove citizenship in Assam. As the government builds its first giant detention camp – as large as seven football fields, we hear – it is apparent that the bogey of the Bangladeshi is a thinly veiled witch hunt against Indian Muslims.
How? Either a person comes from Bangladesh or she does not. Most countries enforce immigration laws. Where can Samar emigrate to such that his sensibilities will not be offended by the sight of detention camps for illegal migrants?
Fear grows every day among minorities about what is and what is coming.
Why? It so happens that the country I live in has been detaining and removing Hindus who illegally overstayed their Visas for as long as I have been alive. Yet I feel no fear that the same thing will happen to me. Why? It is because I can prove my legal right to reside here.

Why does Samar think that Indian Muslims are stupider and more ignorant that I am? Why does he say that a Tamil Muslim is afraid of being deported to Bangladesh? Is he utterly mad?
In daily life, caution is a common leitmotif: many North Indian Muslims I know tell their children to avoid packing meat when leaving home – who knows where a mob may coalesce and pronounce judgement on the content of their lunch boxes.
Many Christians that I know tell their kids to avoid packing pork in their lunch boxes because if the school they attend is majority Muslim, they may have their heads kicked in.
For the first time in his life, my friend says, he sees no future in his once beloved country.
Millions of non-Muslims saw no future in their beloved India and migrated.
In his neighbourhood in Kanpur, a former industrial city with a now-devastated economy, the talk among anyone who has money is to flee.
This is as true of Hindus as Muslims. But we know why Kanpur turned to shit. Governments need to pursue sensible economic policies.
Eight families, he tells me, got together, identified a town in Canada as their new home and moved.
Good for them! Lots of Hindus are trying to migrate to Canada. They do well there.
In my friend’s state of Uttar Pradesh, a state that leads every other in hate crimes against minorities over the past decade, Muslims have been particularly affected by a host of central and state policies, from demonetisation to the shutting of slaughterhouses. Businesses have collapsed, the chief minister is a militant Hindu nationalist, his administration is seen to be openly pro-Hindu and those in authority feel empowered to flaunt prejudice, as a Hindu college principal recently did, standing at the gates with a stick, which he waved at young women covered in burkhas, demanding they remove the garment.
Canada, by contrast, has tried to ban the burqa a couple of times and will probably succeed soon enough. Interestingly, Canadian Governments tend to be pro-Canadian, not pro-Muslim. Something similar happens in all other countries. They favor their own majority community. Uttar Pradesh is a Hindu majority state. Samar may find it very strange that it is now led by a 'militant Hindu' as opposed to a Muslim. He may also scratch his head at the spectacle of a world-wide upsurge in Islamophobia. No doubt, he thinks it is because of some malady peculiar to non-Muslims which causes them, for no reason at all, to view Muslims with suspicion.

As overt discrimination against Muslims gathers pace, their growing depression at the state of affairs and a declining willingness to see them as equal citizens is more evident across India’s great northern plains, the cow-belt so to say, than the rest of India, but a general inclination to accept an anti-Muslim narrative is apparent in most states.
But this same 'anti-Muslim narrative' can be found in China and America and Europe. No doubt, Samar thinks, this is all Modi's fault.
It has been all too easy for the radicalised Hindu mind to accept the tripe that they, the majority, were discriminated against over the centuries and their concerns made subservient to the minority’s.
Manmohan Singh, as Prime Minister, said in 2006- ' We will have to devise innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly the Muslim minority, are empowered to share equitably the fruits of development. These must have the first claim on resources," he said in his address at the 52nd meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) here.

Of course, he was lying. What he meant was 'henceforth the dynasty and its cronies must have first claim on the Nation's resources'. Still, his actual words are on the record. The Samajwadi parties, too, were so busy competing for the Muslim vote that they neglected the majority community. That's why the BJP was able to come to power in the 'cow-belt'.
The carefully constructed canards of historic bias and the partiality of post-independence secularism towards minorities are plainly without basis.
These canards were carefully constructed by politicians serving one or other of the various vote-bank based dynastic parties- not that the Commies were any better.
If there were any truth to the allegations of generational oppression against Hindus – now propagated through billions of WhatsApp forwards as the incontrovertible truth – Muslims would not still be a minority, languishing on the lowest rungs of India’s economy, society and polity.
No. They would be a majority- as they have become in parts of West Bengal and Assam. But this has led to a reaction in favor of the BJP. Who would have predicted that ex-Communists would vote for Modi & Shah so as to be saved from the violence of Mamta's goons? Her own nephew- a junior Doctor- spoke against her policy of letting Muslim hooligans beat up hospital staff.
The truth is not just relative in new India’s post-truth world of fake news and myth, it verges on fantasy, and, so, it is easy to weaponise every absurdity offered about India’s minorities, especially Muslims.
Samar and his ilk have been trying to weaponise fake news and myths about the RSS and the BJP for decades now. What good has it done them?
From the far, dark fringes of social media, ideas once regarded as lunacy – or close to it – have witnessed the light of legitimacy: vedic planes, love jihad, ghar wapsi, cow rights, support for criminals based on religion.
Samar may not like to admit it but the fact is that 'Vedic planes' were a feature of some Congress politicians' rhetoric. The Communist Government of West Bengal drove a Muslim teacher to suicide because the target of his supposed 'love jihad' was a girl from a wealthy Hindu family with solid connections to the nomenklatura. Mahatma Gandhi himself gave his imprimatur to Arya Samaj 'shuddi' ceremonies in Kerala after the Moplah riots. Why is 'ghar wapsi' bad if sponsored by the BJP but good if done under the auspices of the Mahatma? Cow rights are enshrined in the Directive Principles of the Constitution. Support for criminals based on religion is a feature of Mamata's regime. 50 prominent Muslims from Kolkatta have written an open letter to her asking her to crack down on Muslim criminals and to give sensitivity training to Muslim youth.
Emboldened by leaders willing to support the lynch mob, biased administrators willing to manipulate the law, courts willing to subvert the Constitution and compliant or complicit media, the once – and still – insecure, radicalised Hindu believes his time has come.
Hindus in U.P and Bihar became radicalised in 1917 when they went on a rampage and succeeded in ending cow slaughter. The India that became independent saw ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the cow-belt. In the Sixties, the Custodian of Enemy Property made life very difficult for the few Muslims who retained some ancestral wealth. Peak political Hinduism was represented by Lal Bahadur Shastri and Gulzarilal Nanda. Indira Gandhi, in the Eighties, revived it. She made the Jan Sangh look like pussycats. The Congress Seva Dal, under Jagdish Tytler, organized a pogrom on a scale that has never been surpassed. Rajiv Gandhi was projected as Lord Ram. V.P Singh who tried to jail Advani to take the wind out of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was brought down- much to the relief of the Corporates whom he was pursuing for tax evasion- by 'Secular' parties.
This is not to say all Hindus are radicalised.
Why does Samar not mention 'Hindu terrorism'? Rahul Baba spoke of it, to the Americans, as a great thereat to India- as per Wikileaks. A Hindu nun was arrested for giving her 'gold motor-bicycle' to some supposed terrorists. Why is Samar silent on this? The answer, I suppose, is that nobody believes there were any Hindu terrorists. The accused nun won a parliamentary election against the Congress leader who put her behind bars because voters believed she was innocent.

Telling stupid lies won't bring down the BJP. Still, I hope Samar gets paid a little money for writing this shite.
But the question is not how many are aghast that fellow citizens are judged by their identity, appearance, food habits and that a mob – online or real – could decide their fate. The question is how many are willing to be resist the subversion of justice and the Constitution and the roiling tide of majoritarianism.
Why stop there? Why not ask how many are willing to resist the subversion of Social Democracy by the Fascist forces of Neo-liberalism as orchestrated by the Elders of Zion and the Lizard People of Planet X?

Hong Kong, a city with fewer people than Bangalore, sent out more people to protest a proposal against liberty than all of India could muster for Kashmir – a metaphor for the subjugation of Muslims – where liberty was locked up.
The people of Hong Kong acted rationally against a real, not an imaginary, danger. They did not want to be extradited to China and sent to a Gulag because of something they posted on Facebook.

What happens in the Kashmir Valley represents no threat to the liberty of anyone who does not live there. We want terrorists to be killed. We don't want stone pelters to get money for trying to wound our troops. J&K was a metaphor for the subjugation of non Muslims to corrupt and incompetent Muslim dynasties. The Valley can't be a metaphor for Indian Muslims because they are nowhere in the majority and can't do ethnic cleansing in the same manner.
Currently, there are too few prepared to serve as bulwarks, too few willing to go against their leaders and too few willing to challenge the ideology of the era and stand against the mob.

There are also too few who will come out onto the streets to protest against the subversion of Humanity by Lizard People from Planet X.

Hope can only come if India hears from more Hindus like Ayush Chaturvedi, the teenager from the prime minister’s constituency of Varanasi.
Very true! Hope can't come from hearing about successes scored by Indian scientists or entrepreneurs or soldiers or administrators. Hope can only come from listening to some Brahman teenager who made a speech about Mahatma Gandhi. Why? Making speeches about Mahatma Gandhi- something which even I did at School- is what will make the country great- great at being utterly shite, that is.
Hope there obviously is, buried somewhere in this vast land, because until last week who had heard of Chaturvedi?
But who will remember him next week?
He is the young man who stood up at a school event and declared there was no Hindu bigger than Gandhi, but the Mahatma’s “Hey Ram” did not scare any community because it was a symbol of secular India.
Actually, it was what the guy said when he was shot. If I get shot, I'll probably go 'Jeez!', not coz I'm Christian but because that's the normal verbal reflex around these parts.

Samar may think getting shot is a symbol of secular India. Others may think it was the violence and arson unleashed upon the Chitpavan community in places like Pune, by Congress goons, which was the hallmark of Indian secularism.
Said Chaturvedi: “Kaun kehta hain ki main aandhi ke saath hoon? Godse ke daur mein, main Gandhi ke saath hoon.”
“Who says I am with the storm? In a time of Godse, I am with Gandhi.”
This line is from an Urdu poem by Imran Pratapgarhi- a Congress politician who failed to get elected earlier this year.  Being a Muslim, it may be that people said he might be on the side of the 'storm'- i.e. ISIS type radicalism. But he denies the charge. At this time of suicide bombers and assassins, he says he is on the side of Gandhi.  The trouble is Gandhi was a supporter of 'Khilafat'.
Imran Pratapgarhi, despite having received a valuable award from the previous SP regime, stood for election as a devotee of the Gandhi dynasty. Perhaps, Chaturvedi- a Brahman- hopes to follow in the footsteps of this poet. He may resent the fact that his constituency- which has a very high percentage of Brahmans- is represented by the 'low caste' Modi.

What does it mean for a Hindu to say he lives in the times of Godse? Godse was hanged by Hindus. People of his sub-caste were subjected to arson and assault. No doubt, many Indians- especially Congress ministers- were relieved that Gandhi was dead. But that did not mean the cult of the assassin gained traction in India. The thing was self-defeating- but that had been obvious right from the start. Swindling people, not getting hanged by the neck, was the proper way to do politics. But swindling people was not enough. One also needed to sermonize in an incontinent and contentless manner. Ayush Chaturvedi seems to have got the sermonizing down pat. What is scary about his speech is its ignorance. He thinks Gandhi was in India when he was thrown off a train by a British guy. Gandhi got revenge by throwing the Brits out of India. Chaturvedi quotes Louis Fischer as saying, that the Britisher wouldn't have thrown Gandhi off the train if he'd known what it would lead to. The trouble with this story is that it didn't happen. A South African threw Gandhi off a train in South Africa. After the Boer war- in which Gandhi had served the British- the defeated Boers forced the Indians to pay a poll-tax and carry a Pass. Gandhi did not win the South African struggle. A General Strike forced Smuts to compromise. Gandhi let Smuts off the hook. His stupidity caused an avenue of emigration for desperate Indians to be closed. Gokhale himself was aware that Smuts had hoodwinked Gandhi. He warned his colleagues against an uncritical acceptance of Gandhi's crack-pot ideas.

Chaturvedi seems to believe that Gandhi's Ahimsa drove the Brits out of India. This is quite false. Japanese aggression sounded the death knell for European imperialism in South and South East Asia. Clement Atlee- a great friend of India- said that Gandhi's 'Quit India' movement had a 'minimal' effect. The Naval ratings Mutiny, on the other hand- which was economic in nature- concentrated minds in Whitehall. But, Wavell had already said that India was ungovernable and made plans to evacuate the European population. This had nothing to do with Gandhi. The weapon of 'non violence' was always useless no matter who used it. After the 1962 Chinese invasion, India stopped bleating about Ahimsa.

Ayush says 'It does not matter if there is no God. What matters is dreams'. Sadly, dreams don't matter either no matter how wet they get. The trouble with Gandhi is that though he talked a lot about God, his cult was essentially godless and meretriciously political. It is a shame that kids are still being taught nonsense and are being forced to parrot it on Independence day. They will go through life believing in fairy tales and, very sadly, end up writing shite of Samar's sort.

Imran Pratapgarhi was given a 'Yash Bharat' award in 2016 by Akhilesh Yadav. The prize money was 11 lakh Rupees plus a monthly stipend of Rs 50,000 per month. But Imran was Muslim. Ayush can hope for no similar munificence from some future State Government. Tokenism is a one way street.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Pankaj Mishra's hysterical incontinence

Pankaj Mishra writes in the Guardian-
Anglo-American lamentations about the state of democracy have been especially loud ever since Boris Johnson joined Donald Trump in the leadership of the free world.
Perhaps, Mishra means the lamentations of immigrants, like himself, to Britain and the U.S have been especially loud since the native populations of those countries rebelled against their own marginalization and impoverishment by wave after wave of immigration as well as the deleterious effects of 'neo-liberal' globalization. In America, the election of a half Kenyan former 'Community Organizer' set off a great wailing and a gnashing of teeth. The 'Tea Party' bitterly contested the manner in which the globalized financial elite bailed itself out while betraying the working class in the 'rust belt'. Brexit's crusader was Farage, not BoJo who is probably soft of immigration. Anger against Trump- the only U.S President who had never previously received a Government pay check- arises out of fear of Democracy and its capacity to liberate the tax-paying sheep from the wolves who fatten upon their flesh.
For a very long time, Britain and the United States styled themselves as the custodians and promoters of democracy globally, fighting a great moral battle against its foreign enemies.
This is nonsense. President Wilson, very briefly, claimed that America was fighting for Democracy, but only for White people in Europe. A similar claim was made by FDR and Truman during the Second World war. During the Cold War, both the Communists and the Capitalists propped up Dictators while gassing on about the superiority of their brand of Democracy.
From the cold war through to the “war on terror”, the Caesarism that afflicted other nations was seen as peculiar to Asian and African peoples, or blamed on the despotic traditions of Russians or Chinese, on African tribalism, Islam, or the “Arab mind”.
This is still true. Mishra is strangely deluded if he thinks everybody does not consider foreigners to be evil bastards with perverse forms of Government and cruel or ridiculous laws and customs. His own value on the globalized market for stupid shite arises from his being a brown man who incessantly bleats about how his native country is an utter shithole ruled by evil cunts.

But this analysis – amplified in a thousand books and opinion columns that located the enemies of democracy among menacingly alien people and their inferior cultures – did not prepare its audience for the sight of blond bullies perched atop the world’s greatest democracies. The barbarians, it turns out, were never at the gate; they have been ruling us for some time.
Did Mishra's worthless shite really not prepare his audience for his big reveal- viz. the West was just as evil and shitty as the India he had left behind? If all he could see was Nazism in India, was it really a big surprise if he came to see nothing but Nazism in England and America and wherever he next emigrates to?

People who babble about barbarians at the gate will, quite naturally, find them under their beds and in their closets and within their padded cells.

All that Mishra is remarking is the stupidity and paranoia of his ilk of scribblers.

The belated shock of this realisation has made impotent despair the dominant tone of establishment commentary on the events of the past few years.
Mishra may be part of an Establishment- one for cretinous narcissists who get paid to shit on their own country on demand- but it isn't the Establishment because it can't establish anything save its own imbecility.
But this acute helplessness betrays something more significant. While democracy was being hollowed out in the west, mainstream politicians and columnists concealed its growing void by thumping their chests against its supposed foreign enemies – or cheerleading its supposed foreign friends.
So what? They were stupid shitheads paid to write shite which everybody else ignored. However, it was also the case that people in power- busy enriching themselves- also ignored disquiet at immigration and the loss of decent jobs. That's the whole story here. Ignoring reality led to politicians talking like Mishra. But that sort of hypocrisy is, like kissing babies, required of professional politicians. Still, they got their comeuppance at the polls not because of they shite they talked but because of the policies they pursued. No doubt, some of these idiots, tried to harangue Trump using that type of pi-jaw but Trump's tweets answered those fools according to their folly and thus they have been dis-intermediated.

Mishra writes feelingly of their distress and sense of disillusion at this salutary outcome.
Decades of this deceptive and deeply ideological discourse about democracy have left many of us struggling to understand how it was hollowed from within – at home and abroad. Consider the stunning fact that India, billed as the world’s largest democracy, has descended into a form of Hindu supremacism – and, in Kashmir, into racist imperialism of the kind it liberated itself from in 1947.
In 1947, directly ruled Muslim majority areas separated from non-Muslim majority areas to establish the state of Pakistan where Islam was supreme. This state did splinter after its army indulged in racist genocide to neutralize the outcome of that country's first proper democratic election.

Mishra turns the facts on their head. Islamo-fascism is a global problem. Hinduism is not. Kashmiri Hindus belong to the same race as Kashmiri Muslims. Yet Mishra speaks of 'racism'. Why? Does he believe Muslims belong to a different race from non-Muslims? He also speaks of 'Imperialism'. Yet India has not conquered any territory. It is defending territory it already has. Perhaps Mishra thinks India should let go of the Kashmir Valley. But, if so, it should have done it decades ago. There has been no material change in the political situation there.
Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government is enforcing a seemingly endless curfew in the valley of Kashmir, imprisoning thousands of people without charge, cutting phone lines and the internet, and allegedly torturing suspected dissenters.
But the same was said thirty years ago when Mishra was beginning his career. Nothing has changed.
Modi has established – to massive Indian acclaim – the regime of brute power and mendacity that Mahatma Gandhi explicitly warned his compatriots against: “English rule without the Englishman”.
English is the language of the Judiciary and Bureaucracy. It would be perfectly proper to call Indian Democracy 'English rule without the Englishman' because India follows the Westminster Model and English is one of the languages used in the deliberations of its Central Parliament.

Mishra grew up in India. He should know this. Why pretend that Narendra Modi is actually a toff from Harrow or Eton who has suddenly parachuted from the Skies to recreate the British Raj in India?

All this while “the mother of parliaments” reels under English rule with a particularly reckless Englishman, and Israel – the “only democracy in the Middle East” – holds another election in which millions of Palestinians under its ethnocratic rule are denied a vote.
Mishra, it seems, objects to 'English rule' even in England! No doubt, he thinks England should be ruled by Belgian bureaucrats. Why does Mishra mention Israel? It gave citizenship and the vote to Palestinians who remained under Israeli rule. Neither Egypt nor Jordan did anything similar for those Palestinians who came under their rule.

The vulnerabilities of western democracy were evident long ago to the Asian and African subjects of the British empire.
If this was so, why did India adopt the Westminster model?
Gandhi, who saw democracy as literally the rule of the people, the demos, claimed that it was merely “nominal” in the west.
Gandhi considered it a great scandal that women in England could be seen walking on the streets to get to their place of employment. He believed this would inevitably lead them to become prostitutes. He linked this phenomenon to the Suffragette movement. He considered Parliament to be a harlot because it gave itself to a new master- i.e. a Prime Minister- every few years. No wonder English women- having taken the first step to become street-walkers by pursuing education and employment- were clamoring for the vote so as to participate in that form of harlotry.
It could have no reality so long as “the wide gulf between the rich and the hungry millions persists” and voters “take their cue from their newspapers which are often dishonest”.
British parliaments put an end to a situation where 'hungry millions' persisted. Mishra must know this. Voters may or may not take their cue from 'dishonest newspapers'. But so may despots. Indeed, dictators often become prey to their own propaganda machinery and thus lose all contact with reality. 

 Looking ahead to our own era, Gandhi predicted that even “the states that are today nominally democratic” are likely to “become frankly totalitarian” since a regime in which “the weakest go to the wall” and a “few capitalist owners” thrive “cannot be sustained except by violence, veiled if not open”.
Gandhi was wrong about a lot of things. So what? He got to sleep naked with young girls and pretend to be a Mahatma. That was all he really wanted.

Why did Capitalist states not become 'frankly totalitarian'? The answer is that totalitarianism is inefficient and uses up costly resources. Moreover, the Commissars will fleece the industrialist and dispossess the farmer. The 'few capitalist owners' will take their skills and flee to countries under the Rule of Law where their energy and enterprise enables them to flourish.

Gandhi had strange views about violence. Lord Bhikku Parekh tells us that he ordered his wife to cook mutton curry for his pal Maulana Azad. His wife said that she believed in 'ahimsa' and considered it a sin to prepare meat dishes. Gandhi told her that Azad liked mutton curry and thus it would be an act of violence to deny him his favorite dish. Since Gandhi had previously established his ascendancy over his wife by beating her remorselessly, she did his bidding. We may well wonder whether Gandhi's successes- such as they were- did not represent the victories of a veiled type of violence. Dr. Ambedkar certainly thought so. He was blackmailed by Gandhi- who went on a hunger strike- into settling for reserved seats for Dalits such that the Caste population could choose 'Uncle Toms'. Ambedkar knew that if Gandhi died during his hunger strike, Dalits would be massacred in the villages.

Inaugurating India’s own experiment with an English-style parliament and electoral system, BR Ambedkar, one of the main authors of the Indian constitution, warned that while the principle of one-person-one-vote conferred political equality, it left untouched grotesque social and economic inequalities. “We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment,” he urged, “or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy.”
Ambedkar said this after Stalin's Soviet Union had prevailed over Nazi Germany. In India, the younger generation of intellectuals was moving to the Left. Ambedkar had studied at Columbia University and the London School of Economics. What he was saying was echoed by leading Professors at both seats of learning.

Today’s elected demagogues, who were chosen by aggrieved voters precisely for their skills in blowing up political democracy, have belatedly alerted many more to this contradiction.
Trump has not 'blown up political democracy'. Nor has Boris Johnson. Neither have the capacity to do so because of constitutional checks and balances.
But the delay in heeding Ambedkar’s warning has been lethal – and it has left many of our best and brightest stultified by the antics of Trump and Johnson, simultaneously aghast at the sharpened critiques of a resurgent left, and profoundly unable to reckon with the annihilation of democracy by its supposed friends abroad.
Why the fuck should any American or Englishman listen to a guy from a shithole of a country? Ambedkar never pretended, unlike Gandhi, that he had any message for technologically advanced countries.

Mishra speaks of 'our best and brightest'. He probably thinks he himself is bright. Nobody else does. The 'sharpened critiques of a resurgent left' are nothing but what Obama calls 'circular firing squads'.
Modi has been among the biggest beneficiaries of this intellectual impairment. For decades, India itself greatly benefited from a cold war-era conception of “democracy”, which reduced it to a morally glamorous label for the way rulers are elected, rather than about the kinds of power they hold, or the ways they exercise it.
India gained no benefit from being considered a 'democracy'. Both the US and the UK 'tilted' to Pakistan. That country received more aid per capita while it was a Dictatorship. Nixon supported Ayub Khan, sending the Fifth Fleet into the Bay of Bengal and threatening to 'nuke Calcutta', despite the fact that US consular officials in Dacca stated that the Pakistani Army was carrying out a genocide. Incidentally, the reason this happened was because the Pak Army had conducted the first democratic General Election in the country. Since the Bengali majority would have got to form an Administration, the Army turned genocidal. 
As a non-communist country that held routine elections, India possessed a matchless international prestige despite consistently failing – worse than many Asian, African, and Latin American countries – in providing its citizens with even the basic components of a dignified existence.
Nobody gives a fuck about 'prestige'. A shithole is a shithole even if it has Democracy and Human Rights and so forth.
It did not matter to the fetishists of formal and procedural democracy that people in Kashmir and India’s north-eastern border states lived under de facto martial law, where security forces had unlimited licence to massacre and rape, or that a great majority of the Indian population found the promise of equality and dignity underpinned by rule of law and impartial institutions, to be a remote, almost fantastical, ideal.
Fetishists don't matter. They have no power. Whether they masturbate into ladies shoes or jerk off to talk of Democracy and Human Rights is wholly irrelevant. 
The halo of virtue around India shone brighter as its governments embraced free markets and communist-run China abruptly emerged as a challenger to the west. Modi profited from an exuberant consensus about India among Anglo-American elites: that democracy had acquired deep roots in Indian soil, fertilising it for the growth of free markets.
Anglo-American elites don't matter to India and vice versa. On the other hand, as India rises as a military and economic power, it will make alliances to safeguard its interests. But that's how diplomacy has always worked. There may have been a brief moment when some stupid hacks could gas on about a 'rules based international order', but that was long ago. Obama- 'the deporter in chief'- had Osama kidnapped, murdered, and dropped in the sea. He was a sensible man.
As chief minister of the state of Gujarat in 2002, Modi was suspected of a crucial role – ranging from malign inaction to watchful complicity – in an anti-Muslim pogrom of gruesome violence. The US and the European Union denied Modi a visa for several years.
They did this because the UPA Government- being unable to find concrete evidence against Modi- saved face by asking them to do so. India was a rising economic power. Once it became clear that Modi would win, everybody got terribly pally with him.
But his record was suddenly forgotten as Modi ascended, with the help of India’s richest businessmen, to power. “There is something thrilling about the rise of Narendra Modi,” Gideon Rachman, the chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times, wrote in April 2014. Rupert Murdoch, of course, anointed Modi as India’s “best leader with best policies since independence”.
Nobody in India has ever heard about 'Gideon Rachmann'. Few know who Murdoch is. Their opinions don't matter. Indians think Mishra is a cretin. So what? He lives in England and writes only in English. On the other hand, Indians are thrilled with Modi. He is our best leader since Independence. But he is not the only one. Amit Shan is now seen as the successor of Sardar Patel. The dynasty, by contrast, is 'dying nasty'. 

But Barack Obama also chose to hail Modi for reflecting “the dynamism and potential of India’s rise”. As Modi arrived in Silicon Valley in 2015 – just as his government was shutting down the internet in Kashmir – Sheryl Sandberg declared she was changing her Facebook profile in order to honour the Indian leader.
In the next few days, Modi will address thousands of affluent Indian-Americans in the company of Trump in Houston, Texas. While his government builds detention camps for hundreds of thousands Muslims it has abruptly rendered stateless, he will receive a commendation from Bill Gates for building toilets.
So what? American and European leaders are behaving rationally- India is a rising power and must be placated. Mishra is behaving irrationally. If he really hates Modi so much he should be writing in Hindi and roaming around his own natal place giving speeches against the BJP. What good can he possibly do writing nonsense of this sort in the Guardian?
The fawning by Western politicians, businessmen, and journalists over a man credibly accused of complicity in a mass murder is a much bigger scandal than Jeffrey Epstein’s donations to MIT. But it has gone almost wholly unremarked in mainstream circles partly because democratic and free-marketeering India was the great non-white hope of the ideological children of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher who still dominate our discourse: India was a gilded oriental mirror in which they could cherish themselves.
Really? Do 'ideological children' of Reagan and Thatcher spend a lot of time thinking about India? Perhaps they also learn Hindi and put on funny head gear and dance the ras garbha. 

The truth of the matter is that there are analysts who look at India's government policies. This in turn affects India's credit rating. Since analysts think India is doing smart things to tackle its problems- e.g. deporting illegal migrants and killing terrorists and disrupting their overground networks- they are bullish on this aspect of Modi's Sarkar. On the other hand, when it comes to the economy, they are more skeptical.
This moral vanity explains how even sentinels of the supposedly reasonable centre, such as Obama and the Financial Times, came to condone demagoguery abroad – and, more importantly, how they failed to anticipate its eruption at home.
The Financial Times is concerned with Finance. India under Modi scores well on Internal and External security. However, the FT is critical of some economic policy decisions. Obama was himself a demagogue who, to the disappointment of his enemies, turned out to be a cautious statesman who 'sweated the small stuff'. It remains to be seen whether Biden can cash in on his prestige or whether the 'circular firing squad' of the Left- to which Mishra now wants to promote himself- will damage him sufficiently to give Trump a second term.
Even the most fleeting glance at history shows that the contradiction Ambedkar identified in India – which enabled Modi’s rise – has long bedevilled the emancipatory promise of democratic equality.
What enabled Modi's rise? The answer is simple. As C.M of Gujarat he put an end to the political instrumentalization of communal rioting which was economically damaging. He then went on to do a deal with the farmers by which they paid for good quality electricity. He also worked with farmers to gain land for industries on terms they were happy with. The result was that Gujarat experienced unprecedented agricultural and industrial growth while also curbing criminal activity. In Delhi there was a horrendous rape and the C.M, Shiela Dixit, confessed that her own daughter would not be safe on Delhi's streets after dark. Meanwhile, on TV we could see footage of girls in Ahmedabad moving freely, and with perfect safety, on the streets at eleven o'clock at night.

There is no 'contradiction' between encouraging economic development and upholding the rule of law. Democratic equality does not have any 'emancipatory promise'. Only fools would believe that a shithole where everybody gets to vote will, by some magic, cease to be a shithole. The Rule of Law matters but what matters even more is sensible economic policies- not stupid virtue signalling.
In 1909, Max Weber asked: “How are freedom and democracy in the long run at all possible under the domination of highly developed capitalism?”
Weber was stupid. Sociology is a shite subject. Freedom is possible long run if countries pursue sensible policies with respect to Defense and Law and Order. The German General staff did not pursue sensible policies. Thus Freedom ceased to be possible in Germany. Capitalism was irrelevant. 
The decades of atrocity that followed answered Weber’s question with a grisly spectacle. The fraught and extremely limited western experiment with democracy did better only after social-welfarism, widely adopted after 1945, emerged to defang capitalism, and meet halfway the formidable old challenge of inequality. But the rule of demos still seemed remote.
The Nazis had adopted 'social-welfarism'. Indeed, Keynes- in the introduction to the German edition of his General Theory- said that the Nazi system was better adapted to Demand Management.

The Second World War saw an enormous expansion of the State's bureaucratic capacity which was re-purposed for Keynesian purposes. However, this experiment ended in 'stagflation'.

Interestingly, Herbert Hoover was an early 'social welfarist' who got industries to adopt minimum wage policies so as to get rid of 'repugnancy' markets in Labor. Sadly, Hoover did not understand price and wage stickiness being in thrall to what was then the consensus among mathematical economists. Mishra, being an ignorant fool, does not understand this. He thinks Capitalism is a beast which must be 'defanged'. He lives in the world of fairy tales.
The Cambridge political theorist John Dunn was complaining as early as 1979 that while democratic theory had become the “public cant of the modern world”, democratic reality had grown “pretty thin on the ground”. Since then, that reality has grown flimsier, corroded by a financialised mode of capitalism that has held Anglo-American politicians and journalists in its thrall since the 1980s.
Dunn had some marginal importance back in the Seventies because he denounced Marxist revolutions back when a lot of kids thought Che Guevara was cool. Since then, he has zero influence. There is a Chinese saying 'Science students look down on Arts students. Arts students look down on Poli Sci students. Poli Sci students look down on their teachers.' When was the last time any parent got naches for saying 'My son has a Doctorate in Political Theory'? What they say instead is- 'My son used to be my daughter. He has married a goat and lives on a commune. Personally, I blame his Professors at the Dept. of Political Science.'
What went unnoticed until recently was that the chasm between a political system that promises formal equality and a socio-economic system that generates intolerable inequality had grown much wider.
Wow! Mishra thinks that people in Communist countries did not notice that there was a chasm between the way the majority of the people lived and the luxury enjoyed by the nomenklatura. He also thinks that poor people in America or Europe did not notice that they had real shitty lives while all sorts of swindlers were making out like gangbusters. 
It eventually empowered the demagogues who now rule us.
Which demagogue rules us? Obama? No. He has gone. Trump is not a demagogue. His limited vocabulary is better suited to tweets at mid-night. What about BoJo? The man can't open his mouth without putting his foot in it. Bercow has him on the ropes. It remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court finds his prorogation of Parliament to have been illegal. He may yet go down as the worst and shortest lived Prime Minister in modern British history.
In other words, modern democracies have for decades been lurching towards moral and ideological bankruptcy – unprepared by their own publicists to cope with the political and environmental disasters that unregulated capitalism ceaselessly inflicts, even on such winners of history as Britain and the US.
Like Mishra, I live in England. What 'environmental disasters' has 'unregulated Capitalism' unleashed on me? None at all. I can't even add an extension to my house without filling out a thousand forms and paying for all sorts of surveys and architectural drawings and so forth.

What about Brexit? Surely that's a 'political disaster'? After all, the real exchange rate has fallen by about 15 percent. My wealth has decreased. On the other hand, a lot of young people in poorer parts of Britain can now more easily gain employment. Their life-chances have improved because they are no longer priced out of the global market. 
Having laboured to exclude a smelly past of ethnocide, slavery and racism – and the ongoing stink of corporate venality – from their perfumed notion of Anglo-American superiority, the promoters of democracy have no nose for its true enemies.
The promoters of democracy, like the promoters of Gravity, are wholly deluded if they think they are achieving anything. But the same is true of people who criticize these promoters. 
Ripe for superannuation but still entrenched on the heights of politics and journalism, they repetitively ventilate their rage and frustration, or whinge incessantly about “cancel culture” and the “radical left”, it is because that is all they can do.
So what? Fuck them. They don't matter. Mishra is himself a journalist of the 'views' not 'news' type. He may or may not be entrenched on the 'heights' of his profession. But, it is a silly profession. Why would British people listen to some Indian dude with a crap education from Goodhulia Gornmint Collidge? Does he run a hedge fund? Has he found the cure to Cancer? No. The fucker is an intellectual coolie employed under some sort of affirmative action program.
Their own mind-numbing simplicities about democracy, its enemies, friends, the free world, and all that sort of thing, have doomed them to experience the contemporary world as an endless series of shocks and debacles.
So, Mishra is railing against some cretins who are constantly getting spooked by stuff they read about in the papers. Why can't we just put them all into padded cells where their incessant incontinence won't pose a public nuisance?

Friday, 20 September 2019

Nahar Dinur

So low in the West, the arrest of our Solar Noon
To caves of frost, lost- Autumn Moon
For Life is Thirst & Time its River
Not Lethe laves Love's first mirror.


Envoi
Prince! Proletarian sweat being as but petroleum to Heaven's horseless chariot
Thy heart's houseled yet, sucking off the concierge at Gehenna's Marriott.


Thursday, 19 September 2019

Ratik Asokan looking for 'Reason' in all the wrong places

Reviewing Parwardhan's film 'Vivek' in the NYR, Ratik Asokan writes


(Dabholkar, Pansare, and, to a lesser extent, Kalburgi) are presented as classic figures in the tradition of the Enlightenment, promoting rational thinking to fight Hindu superstition, and the hierarchy of caste.

Dabholkar was a Doctor who sponsored a bill against black magic and fake 'healers' which was passed after his assassination in his native Maharashtra. He belonged to a long established 'Rationalist' tradition in India. 
Pansare was a Communist politician though of declining influence. Kalburgi was a Lingayat who favored separation from the Veerasaivas. 

It is likely that they were killed because they were easy targets who, nevertheless, had enough prominence to generate publicity for the perpetrators- thought to be influenced by a self-proclaimed God-man who used to work in the UK as a hypotherapist. 

All this has nothing to do with Narendra Modi. The murders occurred under Congress rule. Yet Asokan titles his piece 'Looking for 'Reason' in Modi's India'. Yet, it is scarcely reasonable to blame a politician for things which happened under his predecessor. 

Similarly the following incident occurred before the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh. A man was, probably falsely, accused of stealing and killing a calf, and then his family was attacked. But, this sort of incident has been common since much before there was any BJP or RSS. 
In the second section Patwardhan visits two places that have become infamous for religious violence. He speaks to the family of Mohammad Akhlaq, a Muslim man who was lynched by his Hindu neighbors in the village of Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, for the alleged crime of consuming beef (this crime sparked huge protests)
By contrast, Gujarat was firmly under the BJP when the Una atrocity occurred-

 Later, with the Dalit parliamentarian Jignesh Mevani, he travels around Gujarat on an inspiring civil disobedience march sparked by a gruesome incident in the town of Una, where seven Dalit men were beaten in public for skinning a cow carcass.

What was the BJP's reaction? The CM resigned, though citing old age. 4 policemen (all high caste) and all the perpetrators (except perhaps two Dalit boys) were charged and the trial has been expedited. Mevani did well out of this atrocity but he is still only a Legislator, not a Parliamentarian. Rajesh Chudasama kept the seat at least partly because the BJP pulled out all the stops in placating Dalits in the constituency.

It is plausible to suggest that the BJP is behind attacks on Muslims- because only 8 per cent of Muslims vote for the BJP. It is not plausible to suggest that they will tolerate attacks on Dalits because they need their votes and, in any case, their Hindutva ideology requires the elimination of this invidious distinction.

This is the central problem with Patwardhan's film. Its narrative contradicts common sense. It is reasonable to believe that Trump is against Mexicans, it is unreasonable to believe he is also against New Mexicans or Hispanics in Florida. Similarly, to say Modi is anti-Muslim is plausible. But to say he is also anti-Dalit is crazy. His party will become un-electable.

Asokan next writes something yet more absurd-
 The final section is set at two premier Indian universities. Here the Hindu right’s fear of rational thinking is given its purest expression. At the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, the BJP’s student wing harasses progressive students and teachers who question the basis of Hinduism and its caste order; at Hyderabad Central University, they launch a smear campaign of such ferocity against the Dalit students’ association that a brilliant scholar, Rohith Vemula, is driven to suicide in what has been labelled an “institutional murder.”
JNU is a bastion of the senile Left which is incapable of rational thinking. Its 'jhollawallahs' are a godsend to the BJP. Why? They are similar to the 'circular firing squad' represented by the fringes of the Democratic Party. Their antics get a lot of media exposure and generates a huge backlash in favor of the BJP. Look at Kanhaiya Kumar- the JNU's rising star. He helped the BJP to gain the Begusarai constituency by splitting the Opposition vote.

What about Rohith Vemula, who blamed both the Communists and the Ambedkarites for his suicide? His grievance was that the Left wanted to use the Dalits for their own ends while the Dalits would not recognize him as one of their own because his Dad was OBC. Moreover, he had given up a STEM type subject- which could have got him a well paying job on the basis of his skill-set- for Sociology, which is useless and where his belonging to the wrong caste meant he couldn't become a Kancha Illiah type icon.

Even when he'd done what every sensible student leader does- viz. bash up his opponent- he had not gained money and prestige as an extortionist because his opponent had gone running to his Mummy who had filed a court case against him! To do well, he'd need to actually kill a few people and spend some time in jail so as to gain recognition as a 'made man'. But, what the poor fellow actually wanted to do was write books like Carl Sagan! No wonder he killed himself when the payment of his stipend was held up. Still, his Mum and brother got Government jobs out of it. Incidentally, JNU is located in Delhi which is not ruled by the BJP. Vemula too did not study in a BJP ruled state.

Asokan says Hinduism is very evil and represents a threat to Democracy. Perhaps he is thinking of Tulsi Gabbard. The fact is India is a Democracy only because it is so largely Hindu. Why? Well, we need Democratically elected politicians to slowly change our personal laws and institutions. If this does not happen we get trapped in caste restrictions. Wealthy people can defy these but the middle sort are afraid to be the 'first mover' in breaking a taboo because of the risk of ostracism. That is why we have a Tardean mimetics mediated by Parliamentary elections. Hindu Law itself says that tradition overrides Scripture when it comes to Laws and Conventions. However, these can change where there is consensus that the 'best people' are changing the relevant 'achar' (righteous behavior).

Asokan says- 'On the whole Vivek leaves little doubt that political Hinduism is a dangerous threat to Indian democracy. In scene after scene, we witness how dogma is manipulated by cynical godmen and politicians, and how in turn the forcefield of faith pushes us to indulge our worst instincts. This menace isn’t new—in fact, it has been building for decades. To understand the rise of modern Hindutva, we have to look at Patwardhan’s older films.'

Patwardhan is an old fashioned sentimental ;useful idiot' to the Communists who thinks 'Religion is the opium of the masses'. He does not understand that Communism is the enemy of Democracy. In India, it was too cowardly or weak to actually kill off all opposition and establish single party rule. Furthermore, in the mid-Nineties, the CPM politburo refused to let Jyoti Basu become Prime Minister for some silly ideological reason. It then doubled down on the Comintern's failed 'Popular Front' strategy of the Nineteen Thirties and ended its 'Long March through the Institutions' in near total Political Oblivion.

Asokan, despite his Indian name, is completely ignorant of India. He writes 'In a narrative poem written in Sanskrit a century later, Tulsidas popularized the idea that this town is the birthplace of Lord Ram—who, until then, was not really a major Hindu god.'

Wow! This guy can't even look up things on Wikipedia! No wonder his 'looking for 'Reason' in Modi's India leads him to a senile cretin like Patwardhan!

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

BhuVai- a Tambram Chemist's Utopia

Bhuloka Vaikuntham means Paradise on Earth. Vaishnavites don't want Heaven or Gnosis. They want to remain on earth serving 'Daridra Narayan'- the God amongst us who is lonely and poor. Though, strictly speaking, they reject the notion of a jivanmukta (one who has achieved liberation in this life), yet the True Vaishnavs appear to have this quality. Though in the world, they are not of it. Though their cares and worries are the suffering of others; by taking on those cares and worries, they diminish that suffering. They represent 'Economia'- a type of management which is mutual, accommodative, merciful and joyous- as opposed to rigid, rule-enforcing, 'Akrebia'. These Greek concepts have a corollary in every Spiritual tradition. The Japanese 'peasant-sage' Ninomiya fused Confucianism, Shinto & Buddhism into a practice of agricultural economics which Christian Missionaries found inspiring. They translated a book about his work into many languages. A copy of this book is to be seen in Mahatma Gandhi's library- though it is not known if he read it. Perhaps he did and was repelled by the story of a Buddhist monk who takes up fishing to provide the poor with a source of protein. I mention this because 'Akrebia' when it comes to 'Ahimsa'- i.e. the Indian reluctance to violate the prohibition on taking even the life of a fish- constrained Hindu 'economia' from ever actually lifting the great mass of the people out of Malthusian poverty. Similarly, though Sufi savants like Fariduddin Attar had shown how Nishapur had been turned into a 'workfare' Utopia, Islamic jurisprudence reacted to the shock of the Mongol invasion by embracing beggary. Attar was saying no one should be a dervish. Everyone should be enabled to work and rise up. Rumi- who ran away to Anatolia (hence his sobriquet)- thought it was safer to be a dervish, preferably one who was completely insane, because otherwise you just end up being the slave of some genocidal Great Khan or the other.

In recent years, Hindus and sub-continental Muslims are increasingly influenced by our highly educated and successful diaspora in America. Unlike us, they have shaken off the miserabilist Akrebia involved in becoming a 'Sadhu' or a 'dervish'. Moreover, in contrast to British trained Indian intellectuals, these Americanized Indians aren't holier-than-thou elitists interested only in 'playing the race card' and leveraging their connection to a vast, seething, 'subaltern', mass of suffering, into personal advancement or sinecures in various Universities and NGOs and UN organizations.

As a case in point, l may mention Venkat Venkatasubramaniyam- whom I assume, on the basis of his sonorous name, to be a Tamil Brahman by ancestral origin- who is a Professor of Chemical Engineering concerned with the problem of economic inequality & distributive justice. He has coined the term 'BhuVai' to signify an ideal society whose members are equal in ability. Is there a way to also render them equal in happiness? Venkat believes so and he sets out his theory in a well-written, well-researched, book titled 'How much Inequality is Fair?'

In the Past, the basic problem for 'distributive justice' was thought to involve the theory of Value. The problem is that the Knightian Uncertainty of our fitness landscape means Value itself is Uncertain. Moreover, co-evolved processes defy the mathematics of complexity, getting rid of hysteresis but at the price of rendering ergodicity 'anything goes'.

 Breaking up ensembles by means of 'dis-coordination games'- spatially, this happens in 'Tiebout sorting'- permits mimetic, or bandwagon, effects to have a stabilizing, rather than runaway, effect. Incidentally, this would yield 'proportionate growth' in line with Gibrat's Law and hence generate a log-normal Income distribution. But, this does not mean such a distribution is 'fair' or 'natural'.

An alternative way of looking at this is to use the theory of congestion, or potential, games- indeed, this is what Venkat does. Here the Muth rational solution is to have an Aumann signaller dividing up the population. Thus, to reduce congestion, we may have a public signal- e.g. all those born in the first half of the year can use the congestible resource at such and such time. Those born in the second half of the year get a different time-slot. My point is that correlated equilibria based on public signals reduce the price of anarchy like nothing else and therefore we must expect them to arise and to 'partition' the relevant configuration space. This militates for a Schutzian 'ideal type' theory being heuristically useful or even approximating to the Muth rational solution.

In any case, from the point of view of Mechanism Design, there must, by the Spilrajn extension theorem, be a 'Revelation Principle' such that a Regret-minimizing, Hannan Consistent, multiplicative weight update algorithm exists which is 'natural'- i.e. similar to the sort of algorithms we believe Nature itself uses. This allows us to demarcate Nomos from Phusis. We can then create 'positional' goods to reflect the spread between the Imperative and the Alethic- i.e. Values and Facts- so this turns into a 'mechanism design' problem. However, doing nothing is an even better option. This is generally the case for any armchair exercise. Catatonics and Corpses are the most suitable candidates for conducting this type of research. At any rate, this is the common sense view. Nevertheless, there are elderly mathematical economists who have been discovered to be wholly useless and who are neither catatonic nor cadavers. A sense of 'there but for the grace of God goes I' militates for letting these pedagogues pretend to be Prophets of a new dispensation.

When I was 16, I attended the lectures of Professor Morishima (who had been chased out of Japan by his students) at the LSE. He thought he had solved this problem- thus reconciling Karl Marx and Adam Smith- with a 'rational distribution of Income' based on 'shadow prices'- i.e. the scarcer 'ability' gets a higher reward. The problem here is that 'Shapley values'- which factor in 'bargaining power'- are not aligned with 'shadow prices'. In other words, a Sociological 'Game theory' is at odds with the Production Engineer's view of the World. In 'Mechanism Design' (which is a reverse Game Theory) there is a trade off between incentive compatibility and efficiency. The theory of incomplete contracts is now the cutting edge of this type of research. However, from a historical point of view, this conflict simply recapitulates Pareto's own trajectory- he started off as an engineer (discovering power-laws in Income distribution in the process) in the laissez faire tradition before transitioning to Sociology with its sticky 'residues and derivations', thus becoming an intellectual pillar for everything from Mussolini's Fascism to post-Pigouvian Welfare Economics.

Interestingly, back in the 1950's in Venkat & my native India, two White savants, both Leftists, came up with what is known as the Goodwin 'Class Struggle' model- a predator-prey model in which Workers are the Wolves and Capitalists are the Sheep!

Turning to Venkat's 'Bhuvai' which is more in the Econophysics vein, it would be interesting to compare it to the recently published magnum opus of Anwar Shaikh (whose Mum was South Indian) and his Marxist analysis of 'turbulent flow dynamics' in Capitalism. Both Venkat and Anwar are good and decent men who write clearly and whose motivation is entirely good. However, in this branch of scholarship it is vain, worthless, hypocrites- people like Nussbaum, Piketty & Sen- who win the jackpot. Thus has it always been. Consider the notion of entropy and its possible application to economics. Venkat quotes Samuelson derisive comments on any such possibility. Yet Samuelson must have been aware that smart Jewish emigrants to the US- like smart Russian or German or even British emigrants- had used such notions to critique Capitalism. Their motivation was moral. In general, these guys worked hard and did quite well for themselves and for society. Anwar and Venkat have certainly done well by their students and made a very positive contribution to America. But, to hit the jackpot and advance themselves, they'd have been better off writing hypocritical, holier-than-thou, shite and playing the race card at every convenient opportunity. Thus, the reason their books on Econ aren't making them very rich is also the reason that Income and Wealth inequality has burgeoned. The good guys lack sociopathy. Yet, it seems to me, they populate an ontologically dysphoric 'BhuVai' which enriches our own world.

Venkat writes-
we study a competitive, dynamic free-market environment in BhuVai, comprising a large number of utility-maximizing rational agents as employees and profit- maximizing rational agents as corporations. Let us assume an ideal environment in which the free market is perfectly competitive, transaction costs are negligible, and no externalities are present. 
If no externalities are present, then there can be no coercive service industries- e.g. Police services or Armies. Also, there would be no corporations because there would be no Coasian need to 'internalize externalities'.  Thus, the solution concept is the folk-theorem, or Myerson general feasibility theorem, of repeated games. There may be Aumann 'signallers' permitting better correlated equilibria. However, Venkat proceeds to rule out this possibility by stipulating that there is no way to discriminate between signallers. Thus, either everything is 'common knowledge' or else there is no way to extract signal from noise.
There are no biases due to race, gender, religion, etc. We assume
that no single agent (or small group of agents), whether an em-
ployee or a company, can significantly affect the market dynamics;
i.e., there is no rent seeking or market power. In other words, our
ideal free market is a level playing field for all its participants.
However, under these circumstances, there would be no market. Society would be a wholly non-transactional repeated game- like family life. Mummy does not demand payment for nursing the baby. Daddy does demand money from Mummy for sexual services so he can go to the pub and get drunk, but Mummy beats him and makes him get a job as a Cost & Management Accountant instead.
We also assume that neither the companies nor the employees engage
in illegal practices such as fraud, collusion, and so on. We also as-
sume moderate scarcity of resources.
So, Venkat is describing a situation where a purely relationship based Society could thrive. History shows us that such Societies break down when there are exogenous shocks in demand or supply. That is why Venkat & me aren't living happily in some rural Agraharam.

Relationships are 'incomplete contracts'. The Market is a way of turning some 'incomplete contracts' into complete contracts of adhesion. However, there must be 'missing markets' unless complete fungibility- i.e. interchangability between commodities, but also agents- obtains. But, in that case, distributive justice is easily achieved by 'antidosis'- i.e. letting any agent swap places with any other agent. In ancient Greece, if your tribe decided you had to bear the expense of a liturgical duty, you could get out of it by offering to swap estates with some other guy in return for his discharging the duty. This is like the solution to the cake-cutting problem. Clearly, this is impractical. When Mummy beats Daddy for wanting to go to the pub, he says 'okay, let's switch places. You go be an Cost and Management Accountant. I'll stay home and breast-feed the baby. You just see, after a miserable day at the office, you too will need to go to the pub to relax and blow off steam.' Mummy beats Daddy some more because she knows nipples on a man are as useless as Amartya Sen as Chancellor of Nalanda University.
In our ideal free market, employees are free to switch jobs and move between companies in search of better utilities. Similarly, companies are free to fire and hire employees to maximize their profits. We also assume that a company needs to retain all its employees in order to survive in this competitive market environment. 
WTF? Why make such a foolish assumption?
Thus, a company will take whatever steps necessary, allowed by its constraints, to retain its employees. Similarly, all employees need a salary to survive, and they will do whatever is necessary, allowed by certain norms, to stay employed. 
Venkat has clearly never had to supervise an ordinary bloke like me. Elsewhere he says- 'The intrinsic properties of an employee are innate attributes that are exactly the same for all employees.'
If this is so, employees are 'fungible'. This means there can be an open market for them. But this means you buy their labor service on a just in time basis, you don't employ them. Thus there are no enterprises. Everybody buys and sells labor services on the open market in a frictionless manner.

Venkat's motivation is different. He thinks he is solving a deontological problem- 'These are the fundamental rights, such as the right to life and liberty, to a discrimination-free, healthy work environment, etc. 
Why employ anybody if you have to provide remedies for any breach of their right to life, liberty etc? You can just buy the labor service you need on a just-in-time basis.

These ought to be guaranteed to be absolutely the same for all the employees, and all employees are to be treated equally in this regard. This requirement in our theory corresponds to the first principle, the liberty principle, in the Rawlsian framework, where every individual in a civil society has equal basic 
liberties. Rawls arrives at this fundamental principle of equality through the application of his “veil of ignorance” concept to a group of rational agents in the original position. In our theory, we arrive at this by using the maximum entropy principle, which we discuss in chapter . 

The maximum entropy principle says ' the probability distribution which best represents the current state of knowledge is the one with largest entropy, in the context of precisely stated prior data.' Given the data Venkat has chosen for his gedanken, we know that maximum entropy is achieved when nobody is an employee. Labor services are fungible and sold on a frictionless open market. Everybody is his own employer and must safeguard himself from sexual harassment by himself- a full time job for wankers like me. Yet, I don't get paid to do it so I have gone on strike and thus am sexually harassing myself even as I type these words with one hand.

Venkat offers me some encouragement for my view that the Government- not of any existing State, but perhaps that of 'BhuVai'- will pay me for protecting myself from sexual harassment by me because it is only fair that I be adequately recompensed from my labor in this regard.

Venkat says-
It is important to emphasize that the free market itself, ideal or otherwise, is a human creation and “does not exist in the wilds beyond the reach of civilization”
Actually, the reverse is the case. Free markets only exist on terra nullis- i.e. 'in the wilds'. If there is a civilization, then there is a coercive contract enforcement mechanism. There is no 'free market'. All you have is a regulated market from which Manorial (or Tiebout) rents are drawn either by a 'Stationary Bandit' or by a Municipal Authority representing Civil Society.
(Reich 2015, 4). As Reich (2015, 3–5) observes, “Few ideas have more profoundly poisoned the minds of more people than the notion of a ‘free market’ existing somewhere in the universe, into which government ‘intrudes.’…A market—any market—requires that the government make and enforce the rules of the game.
Utter nonsense! Which government is enforcing 'the rules of the game' when it comes to drugs or prostitution or bribing senators?
In most modern democracies, such rules emanate from legislatures, administrative agencies, and courts. Government doesn’t ‘intrude’ on the ‘free market.’ It creates the market.” 
Sheer poppycock! Markets are created by Supply and Demand. Governments can't create a Supply of 18 year old virgins who want to sleep with fat, middle aged, very poor, men like me. On the other hand, if I had 'effective demand'- i.e. lots of money- I probably could find a girl ready to make this deeply repugnant sacrifice so as to rescue her family. This is why, I personally don't want a laissez faire utopia. Repugnancy markets- like the prostitution of innocent young people- would burgeon. I want cops to come and beat the shit out of pimps. I want a social welfare safety net, so young people can pursue their dreams. I also want good people, who have done useful work, to think about how to make 'BhuVai' a reality. Even if their general scheme is silly, they may have a practical 'mechanism design' type suggestion which improves at least one existing market or non-market mechanism.

Venkat, nice guy that he is, describes an ideal company which compensates workers according to their transfer earnings (which, in his model, would be their shadow price). He does not get that being required to simulate sociopathic behavior imposes a high psychic cost on non sociopaths. Most people don't want to be the guy who fires people. But, some people like firing people because they are sociopaths. Repugnant but necessary activities- e.g. firing the drunken Accountant who keeps bringing his baby to work and then tries to breast-feed it- get delegated to the sociopath who therefore commands a higher 'threat-point' independent of his shadow price. This is a story we have seen play out on a thousand TV shows and Movies since the time of J.R on Dallas or Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.

I recall my first job as a shop assistant. Suddenly the Assistant Manager- a weedy looking specimen- ordered us all to take off our shoes. He then came and searched us and looked at our socks. Why? He had found the discarded plastic wrapper of a pair of socks and assumed one of us had stolen the pair. Thus, for the theft of a measly pair of socks, this guy was keeping us in after work and treating us like criminals! I was fuming with anger at this humiliation. Some of my co-workers were tough guys who carried knives. I asked them whether they were going to teach this Assistant Manager a lesson. They averted their eyes and explained that his bonus was directly linked to 'stock shrinkage'. His anger was justified because money was coming out of his own pocket. He had 'skin in the game'.

Mechanism Design can get us to behave like sociopaths but sociopaths still have the advantage because they do the thing naturally and for pleasure. The same is true of risk-taking and telling lies and being a Nobel Prize winning Professor of Economics. Behavior we normally have to be compensated for, comes naturally to sociopaths. The smarter among them work out how to sell this ability of theirs to the highest bidder. Be it under Capitalism or Communism or Gandhian Socialism- the scum always rises to the top.

Venkat gives a brief account of Game theory and mentions that it can be found in the Talmud as Aumann has described. However, like most Indians, he is unaware that the first text to explicitly state that the 'Just King' (Dharma Raja) must study statistical game-theory to overcome his 'vishaada' (mental malaise involving choice theory) was the Mahabharata. Just as the 'Bhagvad Gita' helps Arjuna overcome his 'vishaada', so to does the Nalopokhyanam (along with the Vyadha Gita) help Yuddhishtra to overcome his fatal addiction to skill-less gambling.

Venkat may not know the work of the Jain polymath Umaswati. However, his ontology features an entropic end state or heat death wherein all beings attain kevalya. This concept was developed in parallel with Vaishnav notions of 'BhuVai' and is complementary to it. Umaswati, Nagarjuna and Sankara have different, but 'observationally equivalent', ontologies and epistemologies. Vaishnavs are not backwards in this respect. In other words, there is a synoptic Indian tradition in such matters and it can work very well in promoting the common-weal save when it runs up against the narrow Akrebia or deontological principles like 'Ahimsa'. But Indian jurisprudence has a workaround for this. The problem is that Hindu 'public intellectuals' are completely ignorant of Indian thought. They are credulous and naive when it comes to shitheads like Rawls and Dworkin. They also believe, against all the evidence, that Amartya Sen isn't a complete waste of space.

Is there anything valuable in Venkat's book? Yes. It is well written and sincere. Students should read it. I may write another post about some specific aspects of his model, but his quest is futile- its Grail is a crock of shit. On the other hand, if we regard it as what ethologists call 'displacement activity', then we should measure its worth by the other things Venkat and his colleagues are doing in their lives. I imagine these things would be very good and worthwhile in themselves. The same could be said of Yoga. The thing doesn't help others directly, but- if practiced by good people- it makes them better at serving others, which is their true path to 'Union'- which is what the word Yoga means.

I am not saying that there is no 'Revelation Principle' such that a Grothendieck Yoga of Mathematical Economics might not have univalent foundations. We know, a priori, that this must obtain and that is sufficient to create Schelling focal solutions which are 'indicative', not substantive or computable. That's good enough. A smart guy could write a long book describing this but the map would be larger than the territory. Why? Co-evolved processes get rid of complexity faster but less robustly than it can be generated. There is 'anti fragility' but the release of evolutionary capacitance depends on the future fitness landscape- so the underlying process is ergodic in one sense but not memory-less at all. Currently, the socio-technological landscape has become more uncertain. Thus, non-sociopathic Muth Rational agents, behind the veil of ignorance, would prefer a more skewed Income and Wealth Distribution because (1) they are only concerned with Friedman type 'Permanent Income' and (2) they are regret minimizing. What I mean is this. For an ordinary bloke like me, it is more difficult and depressing to suddenly become poor and lose my customary life style than to live high on the hog in good times and return to penury during a down-swing. So, it is regret minimizing for me to prefer that asset bubbles affect only sociopaths or 'lucky gene' legacy holders. Both may find an ordinary life more satisfying than their enjoyment of a tawdry type of wealth and privilege.

One final point. Venkat is a Professor of Chemistry. Yet his English is excellent. Why is it that our Professors of English Literature write like shit while our Chemists and Doctors write beautifully and clearly? The answer is that Higher Education in STEM subjects is not a Credentialised Ponzi Scheme. Mathematical Economics, sadly, can make no similar claim.


Monday, 16 September 2019

Sen on Capabilites & Functionings

 Amartya Sen says his Capabilities theory is 'a particular approach to well-being and advantage in terms of a person's ability to do valuable acts or reach valuable states of being.'

So Capabilities are abilities. Does the Capabilities approach tell people how they can improve their abilities? No. It does not have a 'Structural Causal Model' of any ability whatsoever. If it did, people would study Sen and his acolytes' work so as to personally profit by being better at their job or better at relationships or better at sports or better at some other thing that matters to them. This has not happened because Sen's Capability approach represents nothing more than his ability to talk worthless shite.

Stuff like this-

The expression was picked to represent the alternative combinations of things a person is able to do or be- the various 'functionings' he or she can achieve.
Abilities are 'functionings'. One possible ability, or 'functioning'  a person might have is to intuit all the alternative combinations of things a person is able to do or be. Such a person would be in great demand. We would consult them about what we should study, where we should work, whom we should marry, how we should educate our children and so on and so forth.  Governments would hire such a person to choose Cabinet Ministers and Senior Civil Servants and decide which Scientist pr Artist should get funding. No doubt, a person with this ability could spot others with the potential to gain this functioning. Soon you would have a class of people whose function would be to judge the capabilites of the population and direct them into the vocation in which they are able to do and be at their own personal optimum. There would be no need for Free Markets or Representative Democracy or Public Discussion. An elite class of self-recruiting 'Capabilities' savants would run things so much more efficiently such that a Benthamite paradise would come into existence. All would be the humanly possible best without the vast majority of humans having to make any major decisions on their own.

Sadly, even if there were people with this 'Capabilities' functioning, we would be foolish to trust to the judgment of those purporting to have that ability. There are plenty of charlatans who claim to know what is best for everybody and for Society as a whole. Generally, this turns out to involve your doing unpaid agricultural labor while your little children get raped by that sociopath.

Sen, of course, is not a sociopath. He is simply stupid.

The capability approach to a person's advantage is concerned with evaluating it in terms of his or her actual ability to achieve various valuable functionings as a part of living.
This is an ability everybody already has. I often say, if only everybody would give me all their money, I could be a wealthy venture capitalist. Similarly, if only beautiful virgins would form an orderly line outside my bedroom, I could achive the valuable functioning of fathering lots of cute babies thus replenishing the population.

Perhaps Sen means- 'The Capabilites approach is about looking at people who have ability but not the scope to use it to their best advantage'.  The problem here is that the free working of the market has already caused a class of 'talent scouts' and 'head hunters' and so forth to actively seek out people with valuable abilities who, currently, aren't able to use it profitably. Furthermore, there is a large Voluntary Sector where a similar things happens even if there is no arbitrage or brokering opportunity. Indeed, within every Vocation or well run Organisation, there are people who look out for people with ability- natural or acquired- and who seek to give them wider scope for the use of that ability.

Has Sen, or any of his acolytes, contributed anything either to the theory or the practice of developing actual Capabilities? No. They are useless tossers who write stupid shite. They already knew that 'utilities' or 'preferences' can't be aggregated. So they spoke of 'Capabilities' as if they could be aggregated. But they can't. They are unknown. Anyway, what good would aggregation do? No doubt, a pedagogue may think the mechanical process of adding up the marks a student gets to decide whether or not she gets a Diploma is very important. It isn't. Most Diplomas are shit. They are just a rationing device which may or may not have a signalling function.
The corresponding approach to social advantage-for aggregative appraisal as well as for the choice of institutions and policy- takes the sets of individual capabilities as constituting an indispensable and central part of the relevant informational base of such evaluation.
Some people do have the ability to evaluate Institutions and Policy Proposals. Sen does not have this ability. He is a cretin. He thought the creation of an International University in rural Bihar was a swell idea coz there was a famous Seminary there a thousand years ago when Bihar was ahead, not behind, most other parts of the world. Under Sen's Chancellorship, Nalanda University became infamous as a place where students couldn't even get yoghurt. They were robbed and sexually harassed. Instead of being taught by Internationally renowned Professors, they were consigned to PhD students of remarkable stupidity.

Since Sen's Capability approach to evaluation has no Structural Causal Model of what it is which is being evaluated- i.e. it can't say how an Institution or Policy Proposal can be improved- it is wholly worthless. To take a case in point, Venezuela under Chavez appeared to be cutting poverty. From Sen's point of view, Capabilities had gone up. But the reverse was the case- as everybody now knows. My standard of living can go up if I borrow and spend recklessly. But, in the medium to long term, I've impoverished myself. A proper Structural Causal Model would warn Venezuela, or me, against improvidence. Sen's approach can do no such thing. Its business is telling stupid, albeit holier than thou, lies.

Why does it exist? The answer is that various stupid pedagogues had put up various similar schemes which were all, almost immediately, shown to be wholly worthless. By changing the name of the scheme, Sen was hoping to keep a worthless type of pedagogy on the road for a little while longer.
It differs from other approaches using other informational focuses, for example, personal utility (focusing on pleasures, happiness, or desire fulfilment), absolute or relative opulence (focusing on commodity bundles, real income, or real wealth), assessments of negative freedoms (focusing on procedural fulfilment of libertarian rights and rules of non-interference), comparisons of means of freedom (e.g. focusing on the holdings of 'primary goods', as in the Rawlsian theory of justice), and comparisons of resource holdings as a basis of just equality (e.g. as in Dworkin's criterion of 'equality of resources'). 
Everyone knows personal utility can't be measured. Similarly 'commodity bundles' only matter if they represent recurring, sustainable, income. A guy who borrows and steals so as to drive around in a Rolls Royce isn't 'opulent'. He is headed for Poverty- perhaps by way of Prison. A 'deontological' approach is not concerned with aggregating or evaluating anything. In a Rawlsian world, people 'behind the veil of ignorance' have access to the correct economic theory and thus support Social insurance of some ideal type such that his own prediction is falsified. Thus 'evaluation' and 'assessment' at the aggregate level do not arise.

An ability is a 'primitive term' in Tarski's sense. It is undefined and depends on the context. One could say that a particular ability is made up of a set of 'functionings'. Thus shooting a target depends on the functioning of one's eyes as well as the functioning of one's hands and the functioning of one's nerves and so forth. However, an ability to do something does not depend just on one's own functioning- someone else may have a reason to do it for you. Sen doesn't get this. He says-

Perhaps the most primitive notion in this approach concerns 'functionings'. Functionings represent parts of the state of a person-in particular the various things that he or she manages to do or be in leading a life.
A man unable to breathe for himself may be attached to a device which pumps oxygen into his blood. His ability to breathe does not depend on his own 'functioning'.  Capability, thus, is not a reflection of 'functioning'.  Sen holds a contrary view-                                                                   
The capability of a person reflects the alternative combinations of functionings the person can achieve, and from which he or she can choose one collection. 
The problem here is that no one, save God, knows 'the alternative combinations of functionings a person can achieve'. We don't even know what combination of mental operations gives rise to our choosing things. Thus 'capability' is unknowable while 'functioning' is indefinable. This means, inter alia, that there can never be an enumeration of functionings or a method of demarcating them fully from each other.

Sen says ' If there are n relevant functionings, then a person's extent of achievement of all of them respectively can be represented by an n-tuple.' However, there can't be 'n relevant functionings' unless a full structural causal model of each functioning has been found in which case the functioning is not undefined but is specified as the outcome of a particular process. Having a structural causal model means being able to enhance or weaken that functioning. It would enhance or retard an ability. Genuine Economic activity does seek for such structural causal models and may use statistical means to test the efficacy and cost effectiveness of various measures to enhance ability. Fraudulent armchair economics does not seek for structural causal models and simply shits itself continually by parodying the methods of useful branches of inquiry.

Life mustn't be viewed as as a combination of any x and y, unless we can actually create life by combining that x and y. Why not? What's the harm in telling stupid lies? The answer is that stupid lies breed yet greater stupidity and even more worthless lies. It is a waste of resources and crowds out useful stuff we could be doing.

Sen says-
The approach is based on a view of living as a combination of various 'doings and beings', with quality of life to be assessed in terms of the capability to achieve valuable functionings.
I suppose a Doctor may use such an approach. She may say- 'the patient is breathing more easily- as can be seen from such and such instrument. However, the patient's brain activity has decreased. I wonder whether this is because of a problem with the functioning of such and such organ. I shall order a test to find out.' This approach seems entirely reasonable to us. We know that over the centuries, the Medical Sciences have greatly improved. They do enable us to improve our bodily functioning and general capabilities. True, Doctors can't yet create a human life in the laboratory- but, it may be, they could find a complete Structural Causal Model for the human body, perhaps even for the mind, and so the artificial creation of human life is a possibility we can't wholly discount.

By contrast, nothing is gained by viewing life as a combination of 'doings and beings' whose mechanisms remain unknown to us. The thing is pointless. We can't assess 'quality of life' because we don't know whether a 'doing' or 'being' is adaptive given the circumstances or whether it represents a pathology. Consider the case of a very thin person who seems to have a miserable life stuck in a tiny bed-sit without company. This person may be doing something whose nature we can't understand. It turns out that being thin gets them laid and the time they spend alone doing abstruse research may win them great acclaim and social status.

In Economics, a person- or people's- quality of life should not be assessed purely on the basis of present indicators. That person, or that nation, may be burning through its capital in an improvident manner. If it were sensible, it would be experiencing guilt and remorse, not a high quality of life.
Some functionings are very elementary, such as being adequately nourished, being in good health, etc., and these may be strongly valued by all, for obvious reasons.
Having lots and lots of babies was strongly valued by almost all societies till relatively recently. Notions of 'adequate nourishment' may turn out to be wrong headed. Public Health improved during the Cuban famine. Similarly, 'good health' may dictate the opposite of what is conventionally assumed. In the old days a stout body and florid complexion was considered a sign of robustness. Now, Doctors are likely to treat them as risk indicators.
Others may be more complex, but still widely valued, such as achieving self-respect or being socially integrated.
It is not a good thing if rapists and murderers achieve self-respect. Being socially integrated into a sociopathic regime should not be 'widely valued'. Why? Sooner or later, Nemesis will catch up with the miscreants.
Individuals may, however, differ a good deal from each other in the weights they attach to these different functionings-valuable though they may all be-and the assessment of individual and social advantages must be alive to these variations.
What good is this 'assessment' doing? If it is doing no good at all, it would be better if it were dead to everything. Put corpses in charge of the Assessment mechanism. Don't pay them. If they go on strike, who will notice?
In the context of some types of social analysis, for example, in dealing with extreme poverty in developing economies, we may be able to go a fairly long distance with a relatively small number of centrally important functionings and the corresponding basic capabilities (e.g. the ability to be well nourished and well sheltered, the capability of escaping avoidable morbidity and premature mortality, and so forth).
In dealing with extreme poverty, don't do any fucking assessment. Don't give money to assessors. Give it to the poor. Disintermediate Econ or Philosophy Professors the way that Mathematical Development Economics was disintermediated from the actual development of countries which actually developed. Indira Gandhi appointed Sen's mentor as head of the Planning Commission. She put a Bengali Philosopher in as Minister of Industries. What was the result? Stagnation. India only started to grow once people like Sen were excluded from decision making.

Valuation should be done on the basis of a proper Structural Causal Model. Surgeons may disagree on the proper sequence of operations and other therapies required to restore health to a severely injured patient. However, there is an objective way- at least after the fact- to determine this sequence. This is because some 'functionings' are more vital- hence valuable- than others in terms of preserving life and enabling recovery. This is a purely scientific matter. No doubt, there may be special circumstances where this does not appear to be the case. The Police Detective may say 'Doc, you gotta restore this criminal's power of speech. Only he can tell us where the terrorists planted the nuke. Millions of lives are at stake.' The Doctor may reply 'I am bound by my Hippocratic Oath. My only concern is the well-being of the patient'. But, there is no real dilemma here. Society has a workaround. The Detective pulls a gun on the Doctor and thus extracts the information he needs. But, he gets sent to jail for this offense.  His ex-wife, now the First Lady, persuades the President to pardon him. However, just at that moment, the Vice President- who was actually the head of the Terrorist group- jumps into the air and kicks off the President's head. Luckily, the President doesn't need his head to do his job. Indeed, his ratings shoot up. All's well that ends well coz the Vice President is put in charge of Evaluating Capabilities because the First Lady sat on his face and drowned him and thus he is a corpse. This does not mean the Veep get off easy coz as Sen remarks-

There is no escape from the problem of evaluation in selecting a class of functionings in the description and appraisal of capabilities.
This is only true if you are a corpse or if the 'class of functionings' does not correspond to a structural causal model. But even if it true, it doesn't matter in the least because the problems of dead or very very stupid pedagogues are wholly inconsequential.
The focus has to be related to the underlying concerns and values, in terms of which some definable functionings may be important and others quite trivial and negligible. The need for selection and discrimination is neither an embarrassment, nor a unique difficulty, for the conceptualization of functioning and capability.
The focus of worthless shitheads doesn't have to be related to anything because shitheads produce only worthless shite even if they are related to smart people.
3 Value-Objects and Evaluative Spaces 
In an evaluative exercise, we can distinguish between two different questions: (1) What are the objects of value? (2) How valuable are the respective objects?
It is true that, if you are asked to evaluate the performance of your students, you can distinguish between two different questions. (1) Who are your students?
and (2) How well have they performed? However, if you weren't an utter cretin, you would not in fact make any such distinction. Why? You already know who your students are. An evaluative exercise has a pre-specified domain.
Even though formally the former question is an elementary aspect of the latter (in the sense that the objects of value are those that have positive weights), nevertheless the identification of the objects of value is substantively the primary exercise which makes it possible to pursue the second question.
Nonsense! The 'primary exercise' has no 'halting' mechanism. Before we can say what are the objects of value, we first need to say what objects are. But before doing so we need to specify what saying is. But before that we need to be clear about what 'specify' means. But before we do so we need to understand what is meant by 'meaning' and so on and so forth.
Furthermore, the very identification of the set of value-objects, with positive weights, itself precipitates a 'dominance ranking' (x is at least as high as y if it yields at least as much of each of the valued objects).
If you are asked to do an evaluative exercise, the only proper result of doing that exercise is a ranking. But, if it is not tied to a proper Structural Causal Model, it will be shit. I could do an evaluative exercise on gene therapies, but because I don't know anything about gene therapies, the ranking I produce will be shit. To be on the safe side, I may content myself with cutting and pasting some math equations and claim to have developed a method for evaluating such therapies. But, it will still be shit unless it is applied by a smart guy who understands the relevant field. But, an even better result would arise if the smart guy didn't use my method.
This dominance ranking, which can be shown to have standard regularity properties such as transitivity, can indeed take us some distance-often quite a long distance-in the evaluative exercise. 
It can take you quite a long distance to being and remaining a stinky piece of shit.
 The identification of the objects of value specifies what may be called an evaluative space.
Evaluation is itself an ability or functioning. We don't know to what degree it is entangled with other abilities or functioning or, indeed, whether those abilities or functionings are themselves independent. Thus, there can be no 'evaluative space' corresponding to a 'commodity space'. Economists know that the 'general equilibrium' of a 'commodity space' is 'anything goes' precisely because of 'income effects' and 'hedging' both of which arise precisely because of 'entanglement'. Why is Sen, an Economist, importing something that failed with respect to commodities into a field where 'entanglement' is a much bigger problem? The answer is that, though he knows utilitarianism was useless, he wants to show he is a nicer guy than them and so, though doing something equally useless, he should get brownie points for being a nicer guy.
In standard utilitarian analysis, for example, the evaluative space consists of the individual utilities (defined in the usual terms of pleasures, happiness, or desire fulfilment). Indeed, a complete evaluative approach entails a class of 'informational constraints' in the form of ruling out directly evaluative use of various types of information, to wit, those that do not belong to the evaluative space.
Standard utilitarian analysis failed. Why? Because if it succeeded it would be a cardinal measure even if it tied itself in knots to avoid that outcome. But the moment it was discovered to be a cardinal measure, everyone who didn't like it would say it was subjective shite. The mathematics was just window dressing- which, indeed, it was.

This is not to say that we can't have useful 'evaluative spaces'. But that would involve having a useful 'Structural Causal Model' which people could use to directly enhance their abilities and functionings. In other words, evaluation would be useful- rather than an exercise in mental masturbation for armchair Pundits. But, if it were useful then smart people would be gaining acclaim and making money of it by helping people improve their own lives. This would mean that stupid pedagogues like Sen would lose salience as 'Mother Theresas' of Economics. People would say 'how many people has Sen lifted out of poverty'? The 'Mother Theresa of Pakistan' is a German nun who works with lepers. But she is a proper Doctor who actually helps people. Mother Theresa was not a Doctor. She was a Nun who helped the Pope by raising money and speaking out against contraception and abortion and so forth. Since she was genuinely Religious, Religious people liked her. Sen, similarly, is genuinely a worthless, hypocritical, holier-than-thou, shithead. That is why genuine, hypocritical, holier-than-thou, shitheads love him.

They think shite like this is profound-
 The capability approach is concerned primarily with the identification of value-objects, and sees the evaluative space in terms of functionings and capabilities to function.
Everybody is concerned primarily with the identification of value-objects. However, some people are hypocritical shit-heads. Thus they are primarily concerned with fooling other people into thinking they are actually 'identifying value-objects' for an altruistic reason. But they do no such thing. Sen does not go to the poor people of Bengal and say 'guess what guys! I've just found out that if you grow this particular strain of seed you will get a lot more money out of your farm. Thus your ability to eat well and educate your kids will increase!' Instead, he writes nonsense like this-
This is, of course, itself a deeply evaluative exercise, but answering question (1), on the identification of the objects of value, does not, on its own, yield a particular answer to question (2), regarding their relative values.
Wow! What a fantastic discovery! Identifying who your students are does not, by itself, yield a ranking of them!
The latter calls for a further evaluative exercise. Various substantive ways of evaluating functionings and capabilities can all belong to the general capability approach. The selection of the evaluative space has a good deal of cutting power on its own, both because of what it includes as potentially valuable and because of what it excludes.
Very true! By excluding cats who do are not your students, the cutting power of your 'evaluative space' increases greatly! Why not do yourself a favor and also exclude giraffes?
For example, because of the nature of the evaluative space, the capability approach differs from utilitarian evaluation (more generally 'welfarist' evaluation ) in making room for a variety of human acts and states as important in themselves (not just because they may produce utility, nor just to the extent that they yield utility). 
If something is important in itself, a utility can be assigned to it. But why bother? Assigning utility to things is just shitting higher than your arsehole. It does not help anybody. You may as well grade the stars according to the sort of perfume you think they use or which magazines you reckon they subscribe to.
Being happy and getting what one desires may be inter alia valued in the capability approach, but unlike in utilitarian traditions, they are not seen as the measure of all values. It also makes room for valuing various freedoms-in the form of capabilities.
But these freedoms, taking the form of capabilities, can be assigned a utility in the same manner as eating an ice-cream. Indeed, one could look at how much 'transferable utility' (money) people spend on preserving a freedom they don't currently use- like my paying a Gym subscription just so I could work out anytime I wanted to, though in practice I prefer watching Netflix while typing up this drivel.
On the other side, the approach does not attach direct-as opposed to derivative-importance to the means of living or means of freedom (e.g. real income, wealth, opulence, primary goods, or resources), as some other approaches do.

Those other approaches were less shit than this approach because they focused on things which could be measured- however imperfectly. Metrics re. real income and wealth are useful to businessmen and bureaucrats.

 Sen's innovation is to create an approach which can't be operationalized at all.  However, there is a disutility attached to this type of cretinism. Furthermore, at the margin, it may crowd out genuine research on Structural Causal Models. It's like what happens to a School when all the Teachers have to spend more and more time 'evaluating' and less and less time teaching. This could yield a benefit, if evaluation is on the basis of objective tests. It is wholly useless if teachers can make up anything they like or, even worse, if they are forced to make up imaginary qualities possessed by the child upon which they can make flattering comments. Come to think of it, I did attend a 'Progressive School' where the teachers would write nice things about my artistic ability on the basis of my drawing pictures of cats on my Maths answer sheet. My parents thought I should be a painter. Actually, thanks to my personality, Accountancy is my vocation. However, my inability to add and subtract led to my forcible exit from that profession. I'd have been better off having a teacher who slapped the black off me for getting sums wrong. Sen, too, would have been better off if he'd stuck with Physics- where his imbecility would soon have been apparent to all- rather than moving over to Economics at Sukhamoy Chakroborty's suggestion. Still, at least the fuckwit emigrated rather than join his old mentor at the Planning Commission. But, according to Meghnad Desai, Sen only left because of his divorce. Patriotism was not his motive. But that too has become obvious in recent years.