Sunday, 1 October 2023

R.Raj Rao wrong on Tagore

 R. Raj Rao is an important Gay activist and Professor of English. Sadly, he is also utterly ignorant. He asks in Scroll if Tagore was a nativist- i.e. whether he thought the natives of a country should have superior rights to immigrants or birds of passage from the metropole. The answer is no. Tagore's wealth depended on the Brits staying in India and keeping the Muslims from ethnically cleansing Hindus in East Bengal where Tagore owned a lot of land. True, the big beardie did go through a brief radical phase but then he noticed that the Hindu 'swadeshi' agitators were pissing off the Muslims who were the majority in the East. To be fair, Tagore did make it clear- particularly by the ending of his novel 'Home and the World', that Hindu Bengalis should support the Brits rather than slit their own throats. Nevertheless, when reading Tagore's novels or Gandhi's articles, we are struck by their evident inability to reason. Why did writing in their native tongue make them stupid and crazy? The answer is that both were writing in a loose manner as if addressing women and children. Men spoke in reasoned tones during the day. They were obliged to use the jargon of the Courts or that of the Administration or that of Commerce- i.e. English or its near equivalent constrained their bombast. In this field, there were ready made 'mimamsas' or principles of logic or interpretation which could be appealed to so as to curtail verbose nonsense. But, when men returned home and chatted to the women folk and the kids and guests who might drop by, there was no reason to speak reasonably. Indeed, it was enjoyable to display pig-headed bigotry and give vent to bile. In Bengal, this became the hallmark of buddhijivi culture. At work you might speak or write in what appears a reasonable, but vacuous manner, but only so as to rise high enough to spit out bile and bigotry in the manner of a Tagore or a Gandhi. 

What Tagore has come to emblematize is what Polanyi called 'moral inversion' of a bigoted and chauvinistic kind. It finds fault with India while finding fault with the world for letting so horrible a shithole as India to continue to exist. This is not 'nativism'. It is stupidity seeking to dignify itself as a neurosis. 

Incidentally, a Nativists need not be xenophobic. Thus a Kuwaiti may get along very well with migrants while insisting that native Kuwaitis enjoy citizenship and certain welfare entitlements. Equally, an immigrant to a country may be a rabid nationalist as far as hostile countries are concerned. 

Santiniketan, declared a World Heritage Site in September by Unesco, was founded in 1901 by Rabindranath Tagore.

It was created by his father, the Maharishi. Rabindranath, in obedience to his father, started a 'Brahmacharya-ashram' for young celibate Brahmin students. This could have been just a glorified 'home-school'.  However, he hired a graduate to prepare his son for matriculation and decided to charge fees for boarders. I believe an Englishman was hired at one point to give English lessons. Tagore hoped to send his sons and other students to places like Japan, to learn things like Mining Engineering and did in fact send his son and one other to America to study agriculture. 

The Vidyalay acquired a cosmopolitan character  in 1902, when a Japanese Buddhist monk- introduced by the brilliant world traveller and writer Okakura Kakuzo joined Shantiniketan to study Sanskrit. Kakuzo's 'Book of Tea' (1906) which was written in English became a best seller and was translated into many languages. A little later, Kakuz sent a Judo teacher from Japan and some of the boys learnt a little Japanese. 

It was started with just five students, one of whom was Tagore’s son. Tagore was disillusioned with the 19th-century formal school education that had English as the medium of instruction.

Indeed. But Tagore was practical and did try to ensure good quality teaching with a view to his sons being able to go abroad to study practical subjects. Sadly, because he hadn't bothered to get a degree, he had to rely on graduates who, however, tended to run away or expire. Still, the boys were being exposed to a lot of Bengali poetry- which was not necessarily a good thing.  Sanskrit and religious texts were not emphasized though this may be because the boys who attended tended to be 'difficult' and to prefer to climb trees.. It should also be mentioned that there was opposition to the practice of Brahmin boys bowing to a non-Brahmin teacher. Tagore's school was small, his means straitened, yet he persisted even after his youngest son died of cholera. I suppose a heart broken man has to keep himself busy. Still, it is noteworthy that Tagore had the idea of making Sriniketan an agricultural institute before he could dream of an Arts University at Shantiniketan. The Noble Prize made that dream possible. 


British politician

he is remembered as a historian and poet 

TB Macaulay, in his Minute on Education written in 1835, had emphasised on English language education: “The question now before us is simply whether, when it is in our power to teach this language [English], we shall teach languages in which by universal confession there are no books on any subject which deserve to be compared to our own...”

Macaulay was saying that the Indians wanted John Company to stop wasting money on Sanskrit and Persian. Spend that money on subsidising English language instead. This was because you could always learn Indian languages from the Pundit or Mullah. The Brits knew good English and could make sure that was what was taught.  


After that, Bengal Governor General William Bentinck officially made English the medium of instruction in schools.

No he didn't. Schools were welcome to teach in any language they pleased. English was already the language of schools for British children, British Eurasians or those who wanted to learn English. What Bentinck did was make English the official language of the East India Company. 

But Tagore, born in 1861, was of the view that children should be taught in the mother tongue, at least in their formative years.

Children were taught in their mother tongue till they were old enough to receive instruction in Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit or some other language. The Brits did not try to force Patshalas or Madrasas to teach in English. However, schools for Whites or Eurasians maintained by John Company were English medium for the excellent reason that English was the mother tongue of such children. No doubt, ambitious Indians sent their kids to such schools as well. Still, it is absolutely untrue that the Brits tried to force anybody to study in the English medium. This demand came from the Indians. By 1905, Indians even in remote districts were demanding English medium schools.  


Santiniketan, in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, was started as an experiment in alternative education.

It was started as a Brahmin school by the head of a Brahmin sect. It employed graduates, some with teaching experience but there was high staff turn-over. What is remarkable is that Tagore stuck with the thing after the death of his youngest children.  

What should be noted is that, unlike the Ramakrishna Mission schools which spread far and wide, the Brahmo variant was an elitist failure. True, Tagore had initially talked about 'Shikshar Herpher' or a type of discrepancy or unwelcome deviation caused by English style education but he was not able to supply an alternative model. He could merely create a sort of progressive boarding school for thickos or the less terminally stupid sons of one or two fellow Brahmos. 

The medium of instruction was Bengali and classes were held mostly in the open, under the shade of trees.

The school could only expand by taking older students. Together with high staff turnover, this meant quality of education suffered. Still, if you wish to have at least five teachers and thus be able to offer the whole curriculum, you need at least 50 students. At a later point, thanks to Gandhi and the influx of some Gujarati students, the numbers swelled to a respectable 200 or so. It seemed plausible that Shantiniketan might be a sort of Cultural version of the new University in Dacca. Thanks to Tagore's spiritual appeal, it did indeed have some brief currency of this type. But it produced nobody of Tagore's stature. Setting up shop in the boondocks was a bad idea. An Arts Institute in Calcutta might have done well. It could have become the centre of a burgeoning film and music industry. Instead, Shantiniketan was just an adjunct of the cult of Tagore himself. 

In this respect, Shantiniketan was a precursor to the open university system of education practiced all over the world today.

No. Open Universities provide 'distance learning' and evolved out of the 'correspondence college'. Shantiniketan was residential.  

Given his preference for the mother tongue,

His English was not fluent.  

it is not surprising that Tagore’s vast body of poetry, short stories, novels, plays and essays was mostly written in Bengali.

As opposed to what? Chinese? 

He was different here from his well-known contemporaries, Aurobindo Ghose and Sarojini Naidu, who wrote monolingually in English.

Because his English was not good. Ghose and Naidu had completed graduate level studies in England. Tagore did audit some College lectures on English poetry in London but his father called him back to India.  Had Tagore gained a degree, he could have himself served as headmaster of his School and ensured it got off to a good start. 


It is not as if Tagore did not write poetry in English.

It needed to be corrected. Still, precisely because it had to be simple, it was less boring than his Bengali lucubrations.  

But his relationship with the English language was an uneasy one. As MK Naik, a scholar of Indian literature, points out, Tagore’s career as an Indian English poet began by sheer accident in 1912 when he was on his way to England by steamer for medical treatment. He spent his time during the long voyage translating some of his Gitanjali poems into English.

He was looking for a new direction- one simpler and more poignant.  


On reaching England, Tagore showed his translations to Irish poet WB Yeats, American poet Ezra Pound and English artist-writer William Rothenstein who were enthusiastic about the content of the poems, given that they came as a breath of fresh air in a war-torn world.

There was no war as yet. The plain fact is Tagore was the head of a prestigious Hindu sect and his family held a high position in 'the Second City of the British Empire'. Anyway, Ramakrishna and Vivekananda were widely read at that time. Tagore's father was a competitor of the Parmahansa and the Swamy. But he was stupid and doomed to fail. 

But Tagore’s English was awkward and clumsy. Pound and Yeats realised that they would have to sit with Tagore to edit the poems before they could recommend them to the Swedish Committee for the Nobel Prize. Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature the following year.

Yeats wrote the introduction. Pound was not well known then. Indeed, Sarojini was more famous. Her 'Bird of Time' which came out in 1912 sold well on both sides of the Atlantic.


After Gitanjali, Tagore returned to India and wrote a few more collections of poetry in English. These were The Gardener, The Crescent Moon, Fruit-Gathering, Lover’s Gift and Crossing and The Fugitive. In the absence of poets of the stature of Yeats and Pound to work with Tagore, the poems declined in quality. Today, looking back, one can safely say that Tagore was a reluctant poet in English.

No. One can say he was unskilled in English. Had he studied hard in England, like Aurobindo or Sarojini or even Nehru, his literary reputation would not have sunk so quickly. Still, because he was the head of a religious sect, he retained some admirers abroad. 

In a way, Tagore anticipates writers of the nativist school of criticism who made their appearance in the 20th century in post-independent India.

No.  Bankim's first published novel was in English. Michael Madhusudhan wrote in English before Vidyasagar persuaded him to switch to Bengali. The plain fact is Indians weren't very good at English. But, there was a growing market for vernacular literature. 

These writers believed that writing should strictly be in the mother tongue and not in English, the language of the erstwhile coloniser.

It was the language of the Nehru Dynasty and a large portion of the 'power elite'.  

One of the pioneers of the movement is the Marathi novelist and critic Bhalchandra Nemade whose views author and Sahitya Akademi Award winner GN Devy describes as “widely influential”.

Among people who have no influence- sure.  

Nativism had a strong influence in India considering that writers and critics of the reputation of Devy himself, UR Ananthamurthy, Rajeev Patke,

surely he writes in English? 

Ravindra Kimbahune and many others became its adherents.

People who can't write English may be able to write in their mother tongue. But why bother reading boring imbeciles who made their living teaching literature to cretins?  


However, as writer Vilas Sarang says, “The concept of nativism is closer to nationalism.

No it isn't. An Urdu writer expects to find readers on both sides of the border.  

Nemade should be alerted that his concept of nativism is likely to be covertly misappropriated by those organisations who raise the high flag of aggressive nationalism in our country.”

Nemade's readers did join the Shiv Sena. He'd have had to be very stupid not to understand that a Marathi novelist might contribute to Maratha sub-nationalism or, indeed, Hindutva nationalism.  


Nemade may also be criticised for trivialising the argument by making the following facetious statements: (i) writing in English is like writing with one’s fingernails;

That sounds personal and not facetious at all. Nemade taught in London. Had he had any facility with English he could have written a good enough comic novel about Indian immigrants in that City.  

(ii) Indian English writers cannot make literary sense of the banter that goes on, say, among barbers in a barbershop;

There were no barbershops in the villages. Hairdressers in Cities banter in the same way as the rest of us though, no doubt, there is a generational aspect to the thing.  

(iii) in Jejuri, Arun Kolatkar goes to the Khandoba shrine in Jejuri as if he is going to a Juhu Beach cocktail party.

Kolatkar was a graphic artist by profession. Whatever he sees would be translated into similar imagery. Nothing wrong in that. 

And so on. (Poet Kolatkar’s sequence of poems Jejuri describes his visit to the temple town near Pune in Maharashtra.)

 


Such flippancy has provoked writers who write in English to strike back.

Sadly, they are wholly ignorant- thankfully so- of these Professors who do a bit of Vernacular Lit. on the side till they get a prize for being very very fucking old. 

In a 1997 issue of The New Yorker, for example, Salman Rushdie says: “The prose writing – both fiction and nonfiction – created in this period [1947-1997] by Indian writers working in English is proving to be a stronger and more important body of work than most of what has been produced in the eighteen ‘recognized’ languages of India, the so-called ‘vernacular languages’ during the same time; and, indeed, this new and still burgeoning ‘Indo-Anglian’ literature represents perhaps the most valuable contribution India has yet made to the world of books.”

Rushdie was Pakistani British and would soon become American. Only Indian Professors took him seriously.  

These language wars, as it were, have done nothing to give Indian literature the global visibility that it deserves.

No. Indian academics haven't written good novels or poetry.  

In retrospect, can Tagore be called a nativist?

No. He needed the Brits to stick around because Bengali Hindus needed protection. 


Although Tagore may resemble the nativist writers and critics in his preference for the mother tongue, he was by no means an aggressive nationalist.

Because the nationalists wanted the Brits out which would mean ethnic cleansing of Hindus from the East 

Tagore’s critique of nationalism comes out strongly in his 1910 novel Gora.

Tagore was saying that the Hindus were slitting their own throat by agitating against the Brits. 


Here, Tagore is clearly opposed to his protagonist Gora’s idea of Bharatvarsh, based on an acceptance of orthodox Hindu traditions and customs.

Because of Hindus actually had courage and intelligence neither Turk nor European would have established their rule.  

Instead, through the characters of Binoybhushan, Lalita, Anandmoyi and Poreshbabu, he upholds the principles of the Brahmo Samaj, founded in 1828 by Raja Rammohun Roy and Tagore’s own father, Debendranath Tagore.

Both lobbied Westminster to lift restrictions on European settlement in Bengal. Whites can protect Hindus from Muslims. The bhadralok buddhijivi can't do shit.  


The Brahmo Samaj rejected the authority of the scriptures

Though a guy who called himself 'Maharishi' obviously thought he himself was an authority of some sort. 

and the four-fold division of caste into Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra,

Tagore's daddy upheld the notion that Brahmins are superior to non-Brahmins because he himself happened to be one.  

elucidated in texts like the Manusmriti. In its belief in the monotheistic idea of one god, and its rejection of idol worship, the Brahmo Samaj actually came close to both Islam and Christianity.

Not in the view of either Muslims or Christians. Like Hindus they thought the thing was vacuous shite. 

In Gora, speaking unequivocally through the character of Poreshbabu, Tagore writes:

“The gates of the Muslim community are open to the whole of humanity, and the Christian community also welcomes everyone. The same law applies to all communities belonging to the Christian world. If I want to become an Englishman, it would not be entirely impossible: by living in England and obeying their laws, I can gain entry into their society; I need not even become a Christian...With Hindus it is the exact opposite. The way into their community is completely shut, but there are a hundred thousand ways out of it.”

So, get behind the Arya Samaj's shuddhi movement already! Of course, Tagore was talking bollocks. You can lose 'caste' but there is no way to stop being a Hindu save by embracing an Abrahamic religion. 

If only Tagore had done a degree or at least qualified as a barrister he might not have written such stupid shite.  

Tagore’s views become relevant in the light of a recent controversy in Pune, where a junior college lecturer was arrested for extolling the virtues of Islam and Christianity as monotheistic religions, while critiquing Hinduism’s polytheism.

This is a lie. He was arrested for making 'objectionable remarks about Hindu deities' in class-room under a law which makes 'outraging religious sentiments” an offence.

They also assume significance in the context of the Sanatan Dharma imbroglio

imbroglio means something jumbled. The right word is controversy. The question is whether those who follow Vedic Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma) should be driven out of the country. The answer is- no. Don't be silly.  

currently raging in India, and in the BJP’s changing of the name of India to Bharat.

Bharat is an official name for India. Still, maybe this elderly fool doesn't like change. He wants India to revert to the good old days when certain types of homosexual behaviour were criminalized.  

In the end, it is Tagore’s famous poem in Gitanjali (Poem Number XXXV) that proves without a shadow of doubt that he was neither a nativist, nor a narrow-minded nationalist:

He was loyal subject of the King Emperor.  


Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

and no Muslim cut-throats are nigh 

Where knowledge is free;

though Shantiniketan charged a fee 

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

it is very naughty to have a bedroom or a toilet with walls. Everybody should be able to watch you fuck or shit.  

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

as opposed to the arsehole of lies- right?  

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

anybody can stretch their arm towards perfection without any fucking striving. Tagore was a perfect imbecile.  

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way

why the fuck would it lose its way? Oh. There's no rhyme or reason to this beardie's bullshit. He is Bengali after all.  

in the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

not to mention the dreary kitty-litter where Tagore goes potty. 

Where the mind is led forward by thee

If God is doing the leading, why bother with Reason?  

into ever-widening thought and action

as opposed to the verbose bollocks Tagore prodigiously shat out 

– Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Meanwhile, let it slumber on. Otherwise the Brits might fuck off and then the Muslims will slit our throats.  No doubt, Raj Rao is liberal enough to wish the country to turn into an Islamic Caliphate where gay people are killed by having a wall collapsed upon them. 

Why did Vishva Bharati fail? The answer is that it held to two absurd propositions

1) people can only think in their mother tongue. Since, in the case of Bengali, only contact with and knowledge of English had enabled the language to become literary, clearly the opposite was the case.

2) Indians should learn only each others languages and religions and then go on to learning those of the rest of Asia. The problem here was that the West already had superior campuses where all of the languages and religions of Asia could be studied alongside cutting edge STEM subject stuff. Intellectual 'swadeshi' or dirigism was even more fucked in the head than the notion of economic autarky. 

What Tagore should have concentrated on was promoting the Brahmo Samaj as a cult to which American plutocrats could shower money. Set up a Shantiniketan in a rapidly rising metropolis and it might attract and retain talent. Choose to locate in a rural shithole and the thing is bound to degenerate into a cult of personality or, after Tagore's death, a Central University of appalling parochialism and stupidity. 

Friday, 29 September 2023

Amartya Sen's tolerance of the intolerable


Why do we tolerate poverty? The answer is that if we tolerate poor people and let poor people marry each other so as to bring more poor people into the world then we are obliged to tolerate poverty. I suppose, if we confined the poor in 'Poor Houses' or 'Work Houses' and segregated them by sex, then we would not be forced to tolerate poverty. The problem is that out population might grow more slowly than that of our rivals. There may be 'demographic replacement' or defeat in war. In any case, if everybody were rich, who would do the dirty jobs? 

Amartya Sen takes a different view. In an essay for Prospect magazine written a decade ago the suggested that 'It’s bad reasoning, not human nature, that blinds us to the predicament of the poor'. This is foolish. Actually being blind and deaf may cause you not to notice that a guy is loudly lamenting the fact that he is starving to death but 'bad reasoning' can't have any such effect. Poverty is defined as the predicament of having little money. Everybody can reason that out for themselves. 

For a person born in India, persistent encounters with poverty are inescapable.

Sen was born in 1933. In which country at that time would he have failed to see poverty? There was a little something called the 'Great Depression' back then. During the Second World War plenty of Europeans died of hunger.  Still, there have always been people who were born in India who didn't see poverty because their parents moved to somewhere rich and with strong immigration controls when they were little babies. 

By the time I was nine, I had come to see poverty as a fact of life, even though I had not yet fully grasped how appallingly nasty extreme poverty could be.

The British had put an end to big Famines but, in 1937, surrendered control over Food to elected Bengali politicians. Their corruption and callousness compounded a problem of War-time scarcity and this led to excess mortality on a large scale.  

It was in my 10th year that the Bengal famine of 1943 erupted—four years before the end of the Raj—

but six years after elected Bengali politicians had taken charge of Food. 

and the streets were suddenly full of dying people. Along with that came the inhumanity to which the famished destitute tends to descend.

 It is perfectly human to scream loudly that you are as hungry as fuck. It isn't very humane to promise to spend public money feeding the starving and then steal it.  Still, money talks. Bullshit walks- or, in Sen's case, takes a Jet plane to an Ivy League Campus where bullshitting is richly rewarded.

I came from a middle-class, academic family; we were stretched but not endangered.

His family was Hindu and from East Bengal. They were endangered. Many had to run away to West Bengal because the Brits left. 

I was allowed to give a small amount of rice to anyone who came to our door,

there was religious merit in making such donations. 

but felt very sad that we could not give more.

Sen was saddened by 'scarcity'. That is why, like his father- a soil scientist- he devoted himself to agronomy. He discovered ways to greatly boost agricultural productivity. I'm kidding. He devoted himself to a mathsy type of masturbation. 

Seeing the starving men and women quarrelling with each other for their own share was as demeaning as it was disturbing. I remember an occasion when I was able to give a banana to an extremely emaciated woman with a severely skinny child on her lap. After peeling the banana, she instinctively put it into her own mouth, and then immediately pulled it out, and burst into a piercing cry, bathing her emaciated face in tears, as she gave the banana to her child. She looked at me, confused and lost, and said, “We are no longer human beings—our instincts are now worse than those of animals.”

She also quoted Goethe and delivered a scathing critique of Neo-Liberal Political Economy.  Still, for Sen who read in Adam Smith about savage peoples- like the Bengalis- this particular sentence had resonance. I'm not saying any woman actually said this. It is likely a Smithian confabulation on the part of Sen. Still, during a famine, it is smart to pick up a starving kid so as to make more as a beggar. 

If poverty is intolerable, it is not just because serious deprivation makes our lives precarious and dreadful, but also because extreme poverty can rob us of the normal human feelings that we tend to have.

Sen was virtuous. He fed starving women. They, sadly, were worse than animals probably because they read Adam Smith's 'theory of moral sentiments'. 

Given the nastiness of extreme deprivation, and the wealth of the world, there is some difficulty in explaining how poverty is an accepted predicament of so many people across the world.

Virtue signallers like Sen can gain fame and wealth by telling everybody about their virtuous actions. Did Sen travel to Bangladesh when the democratically elected Government there presided over a famine? Of course! He was handing out bananas in Dacca. He wasn't lecturing on Social Choice theory in London. 

While the incidence of poverty varies from country to country, there is no country that is free from it: the question of why we tolerate the intolerable has relevance for every country in the world.

Why did Mujib preside over a famine? The answer is that he was a Socialist who liked nationalizing everything. Stalin's Russia and Mao's China had huge 'man-made' famines. Bangladesh could have outdone before. Sadly, Mujib and his family were killed before this could happen.  


Blaming the victim is as common today as it was in the days when very mild attempts at poverty relief, such as the English Poor Laws,

Which were about getting the poor to work in Work Houses- preferably segregated by sex. 

had their staunch opponents. It is not, however, easy to see how the army of the unemployed and the destitute can readily reverse their own predicament, without extensive social and economic change.

Extensive social and political changes can cause the destitute to die in great numbers. Fazl ul Haq and Mujib's pro-poor, poor-tenant, policies worsened the resulting food availability deficit famines.  

But what about people who are not severely deprived? How do so many reasonably secure people come to terms with the gruesome suffering around them?

They emigrate to UK or US- if they are Bengali economists. It is more convenient to signal your compassion for the poor from a place ruled by industrious White folk who don't have babies like crazy. 

There is something here that surely demands an explanation.

If you see starving people you think these are guys who might do something you find useful or pleasing in return for food.  The problem is that nutters like Sen will want you to agree to the programmatic fucking up of the economy as the price for helping the poor or the unemployed or whoever. So you then say you don't give a fuck about them.


We can consider three possible explanations that might have some plausibility. There is, first of all, the hypothesis of ignorance—the possibility that we do not really know with adequate clarity what poverty is like and how prevalent it is around us.

In which case, there is nothing to explain. The fact is we don't know how terrible it is to be an Iyer in a world where Iyengars refuse to rebut the allegation that they say we put garlic in the sambar. If everybody did have this knowledge surely Society as a whole would recognize my reparative claim to the title of Miss Teen Tamil Nadu? After that, I will do a movie with Rajnikanth before becoming CM as the second Jayalalitha. 

In this line of explanation, we tolerate the terrible states of affairs unknowingly—at least without adequate understanding.

No. We tolerate people who do stupid shit and thus fuck themselves up. Why? The alternative is to beat them and chase them away if they start doing stupid shit anywhere in our vicinity. Beating people, however, has 'disutility'. We may pay a few people a little money to do it for us but don't want to have to get our own hands dirty. 


A second line of explanation focuses not on ignorance, but on a possible belief that poverty cannot, in fact, be removed or substantially reduced—no matter how hard we try.

This is Malthusianism as justified by Christ saying 'the poor ye shall always have with you'. The fact is, when poor people have lots of kids, there is a 'discovery process'. Some of those kids may find a way to flourish and thus end up having a lot of descendants though some of their siblings quietly starve to death. It is a 'scatter gun' approach but is 'evolutionarily stable'.  

Along with this line of reasoning there can be some diagnosis of what is seen as “realism” about the impossibility of curing—or even substantially reducing—poverty.

It is easy enough to do. Kill the poor. They will run away or figure out a way to be less poor- or, at least, appear to be so.  

Actually, there is a 'regret minimizing' reason we should keep some poor people around and mendaciously promise to feed them in bad times. This is because, when the shit hits the fan, we can enjoy watching them starve while making a profit on diverting Charitable Aid to the Black Market. 

The so-called realists often spend a lot of time on this issue

No they don't. They just quote Malthus and point out that all animal populations expand quickly to exhaust available resources unless there are predators or parasites. Then they do stuff which is genuinely utile because Realism involves living in the real world. 

—not in trying to remedy poverty (a hopeless task, in their view),

hire poor people to do stuff and make a profit for yourself 

but in criticising those whom the self-identified realists see as hopelessly “romantic,”

wankers. Romantics might get their leg over.  

who attempt to do what cannot be done, and in the process (the “realists” argue) often make the world actually worse.

The thing can be done but nutters like Sen have no interest in actually doing it. 


A third line of explanation takes the very different route of postulating that human beings are basically self-centered creatures who do not worry about others.

But poverty is a business opportunity! Poor peeps will work for peanuts. That's why a lot of Indian entrepreneurs set up factories in Bangladesh. Five pounds a day isn't a lot of money but that's the going rate for a female garment factory employee in Dacca. But only around 15 per cent of the population get that munificent sum. Still, Bangladeshis are now better off than Pakistanis and many Indians. They have had demographic transition.  

Going further, some argue that there is, in fact, no compelling reason why others should have any moral obligation to help remove deprivation unless they are themselves responsible for the condition of the deprived.

Sen had a moral obligation not to run off with the wife of his best friend. Hopefully, he reduced his friend's deprivation by offering him a substitute spouse.  


In discussing the arguments involved, I shall use the example of India,

from which Sen ran away with his friend's Italian wife. His current wife is a Rothschild.  

focusing particularly on the slow removal of poverty and deprivation in that rapidly growing economy. India provides a good illustration of a country with much poverty but also a numerically large middle class whose tolerance of poverty is a big factor behind the amazingly slow progress in reducing poverty levels.

No. The slow progress has to do with Labour and Land laws which prevent the creation of giant factories in which rural girls can be put to work. India's female participation rate is falling. Bangladesh's is still rising. Some parts of India- e.g. Tamil Nadu- do have rising participation and hence are seeing big poverty reduction.  


I begin with the explanation of tolerance through ignorance. India’s poverty is no secret—indeed very few social facts have been as much discussed as poverty in India. That was not always the case: the founder of modern economics, Adam Smith, included India in general and Bengal in particular as being among the richest countries in the world.

Because it was previously ruled by Muslims who enjoyed the good things in life and were willing to protect an industrious population. Sadly, the Brits had Hindu compradors who wanted to get rich and didn't care how they did it.  

He even attempted to give, in The Wealth of Nations, an explanation of the prosperity of this part of the world by invoking its abundant use of trade and exchange (partly connected with its well-developed river navigation, in addition to sea trade), and referred to its “exportation of a great variety of manufactures” (paying particular attention to its flourishing textile industry).

Bengal wasn't over-populated at that time. But its people were not rich and perished by the million in periodic famines. 


India may well have been a relatively rich country in Smith’s time. Some recent empirical studies, for example by Prasannan Parthasarathi (Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not: Global Economic Divergence 1600-1850), tend to confirm that view. However, there can be little doubt that the proportion of the poor in India grew quite steadily during the period of British rule.

Because the severity of Famine diminished and Pax Britannica reduced internal disorder thus permitting the transport of food across vast distances.  

Indeed, during those centuries, when much of the rest of the world, particularly the west, was rapidly progressing, GDP in India seemed to move hardly at all.

But landlords were able to squeeze money out of their estates with little risk or effort. 

During the last half century of British rule, when there was some expansion, India’s GDP per capita grew at the amazingly low rate of 0.01 per cent per year.

It didn't greatly improve once Bengali mathematical economists were in the driving seat.  

As Angus Deaton, a leading econometrician and development economist, has argued in his recently published and authoritative book, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality: “It is possible that the deprivation in childhood of Indians born around midcentury [at the time the Raj ended, in 1947] was as severe as that of any large group in history, all the way back to the Neolithic revolution and the hunter-gatherers that preceded them.”

In which case, Indians are a shitty people. Their consolation was to point at China which had worse famines.  


Things have moved on since then (as Deaton has noted),

thanks to Punjabi economists like Manmohan and Montek 

and India’s income today, even after correcting for inflation, is about five times what it was per head when India became independent. However, its income level is still very low in absolute terms.

Because demographic transition has not occurred in many parts of the country. 

Furthermore, there are huge numbers of people among the Indian population who not only have very low income, but whose opportunities for healthcare, education and social security are dreadfully inadequate.

See above. 

Yet the Indian middle class, with comparatively comfortable lives, is quite large, consisting of 200m (according to some criteria, perhaps even 300m) relatively well-off people. They may not be very rich by western standards, but do all right in terms of modern facilities as well as traditional comforts.

This is what sticks in Sen's craw. Why can't all Indians come to him for a banana or a handful of rice?  


One result of having such a large—and dynamic—middle class is that their dominance has had a huge impact over the priorities and coverage of the Indian media, both print media and broadcast channels.

If there was no middle class, TV channels would be competing for the eyeballs of starving lepers- right? However, this problem also exists in America. Newspapers only seek subscriptions from literate people. Illiterates are not catered for. Even in Scandinavia, Cinema Halls refuse to admit dead people.  

This may have made Indian newspapers, television and radio remarkably lively, but one consequence of the glitzy focus is the crowding out of the ugly facts about India’s extensive poverty from media coverage and public reasoning.

This is why Sen left India. BBC and Fox News have much better coverage of starving Indian lepers.  


As it happens, India has taken a huge stride forward in terms of the availability of information through its remarkably extensive Right to Information Act, giving anyone access to a huge variety of information involving public affairs,

especially starving lepers who are able to satisfy their curiosity about arcane aspects of fiscal policy for a nominal fee.  

if and when any such data are formally requested. But this has not brought the unusual severity of the deprivation of India’s vast army of the poor into the political consciousness of the vocal and influential public.

Worse yet, living people are ignoring the deprivations of the dead even in so called 'enlightened' countries in Yurop/Amrika. 

Having knowledge is not merely a matter of unrestricted availability of information when sought.

It also has nothing to do with anything Sen has.  

Income data do, of course, bring out how poor most Indians still are, but to add to the complication in informational reach, the poverty of most Indians relates also to meagre and bad healthcare, limited and low-quality schooling, and other deficiencies of public services in a way that is far more intense than in many other developing countries—from China and Brazil to Thailand and Indonesia.

Sen is saying that teachers in Government schools and Doctors and Nurses in Government hospitals are worse than they should be.  

An exclusive concentration on private incomes misses the role of public services in education, healthcare, social facilities and environmental support, which can make a big difference in protecting people from deprivation and expanding their freedoms.

So what? If people buy superior medical and educational services in the private sector, the fact that the Government supply is shite does not matter.  


Elementary facilities such as a decent school, an accessible hospital, a toilet at home or two square meals a day are missing for a huge proportion of the Indian population in a way they are not in, say, China or Thailand.

Which are a lot richer than many parts of India because of higher female participation. 

Yet there is very little general understanding of how out of line India is in international terms in having such meagre public facilities for poverty removal, even compared with other poor countries (as the empirical analysis presented in the book I wrote last year with Jean Dr├Ęze, An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions, shows).

India is not out of line with its neighbours. That is the only international comparison that matters. Some Indian states have high female participation and have undergone demographic transition. Others are more like Pakistan.  


If India is out of line compared with other countries in its neglect of the persistently deprived, it is worth recalling that it is also out of line with the rest of the world in having a longstanding and pernicious caste system.

Japan had untouchability but no Brahmins. Bali had Brahmins but no untouchables. So what? The thing made no difference whatsoever. India could have done what China did in the Eighties. Sen-tentious cretins prevented this happening.  

It is hard to think that these two phenomena are not connected, particularly since a huge proportion of the disadvantaged families in contemporary India come from low castes.

Unless they come from high castes but haven't been able to emigrate. 

Yet the temptation to find an adequate explanation of the persistence of disadvantage solely in terms of the history of the caste system would be an error.

A temptation is not an error. Sen means 'the history of the caste system can't explain 'disadvantage''. But it can explain some disadvantage. It is obvious that if a particular group is stigmatized, denied ownership of land or opportunities to rise in business or in paid employment then it will be disadvantaged.  

For one thing, there are other disadvantaged social groups, such as poorer Muslims,

and poorer Brahmins 

and much more severely, the tribal groups.

some tribal groups. Others may have more land per capita and thus be better off.  

But no less importantly, the Indian state that has done most for sharing the benefits of schooling and health care for all is Kerala,

because it is a remittance economy. People send money back for their families' medical and school bills.  

which had an unusually strong form of caste system—perhaps the strongest in India—with the severest practice of untouchability.

Geographical mobility makes 'untouchability' irrelevant. All lose caste by 'crossing the Black Water'.

The socially radical movement that began transforming Kerala in the 19th century originated as an anti upper-caste initiative, with a particular focus on providing the benefits of education to the lower castes.

They obtained equally in Bengal- though nobody told Sen about this.  

Even the powerful Communist Party, which won the state elections in 1957 and proceeded to try to complete the social transformations initiated in the previous century, was largely an off-shoot of that anti upper-caste movement.

Whereas Bengal's 'Left Front' was an almost wholly upper-caste movement. As in Kerala, the result was that industry fled. This was cool if, like Sen, you worked abroad and only visited from time to time.  

Something similar happened in the state of Tamil Nadu, with its history of strong caste barriers and anti upper-caste movements, and its relative success in the achievement of schooling and healthcare today. It is interesting that the states with the strongest forms of caste division have led the country in egalitarian sharing of education and health.

You can have good education and health because relatives working abroad are sending money while remaining as poor as shit because there are no jobs or ways to make money in business. 

Which country had something worse than Caste- viz. 'one drop' Jim Crow? America where Sen now resides.  

So the impact of the traditional caste system on inequality in modern India is, to a great extent, contingent on the nature of the political developments in different parts of India.

 But, Sen has just said that 'political development' is contingent on the caste system! Which State in India has the highest Dalit population? Punjab. Yet because of influx of refugees and the ejection of Muslims, it became much more prosperous than Bengal. Why? The people worked hard. Agricultural productivity rose. 

More sociological research is needed into these regional variations,

No. Sociological research was useless. India is currently paying homage to 'Green Revolution' M.S Swaminathan who passed away at the age of 98. Nobody gives a tinker's fart when a Sociologist kicks the bucket. 

but for India as a whole the barriers of the caste system have made it harder to turn the predicament of the disadvantaged into a focus of public reasoning in general,

Nonsense! There are plenty of caste-based Parties which gain advantages for 'backward' and 'Dalit' communities.  

and of the mainstream national media in particular.

There is plenty of media coverage of atrocities against Dalits etc.  

The silence of the Indian media on the subject has been deafening,

No. Atrocity stories sell newspapers and attract eyeballs to ranting TV talking heads.  

and that has played a gigantic role in keeping the population grossly uninformed

If 'mainstream media' won't tell Indians they live in a poor country, Indians will come to believe they are actually Norwegian.  

and oddly complacent about the extreme nature of social inequality in India.

No greater complacency can be shown than pretending poverty will go away if only it gets more TV coverage. Sen believed that Bengal had plenty of food in 1943 and 1974. Yet people starved because TV and Radio and the newspapers weren't informing the people that they should give bananas to starving ladies.  


I turn now to the second line of explanation: belief in the unremediability of poverty.

Sen-tentious shite can't remedy shit.  

Many people take the existence and high incidence of poverty as a fact about which little can be done.

No. They take the fact that Bengal produces shit economists to indicate Bengalis can't do shit about poverty. Bangladesh, on the other hand, allowed poor women to work in factories rather than wander around trying to find a kid who might offer them a banana.  

However, the hypothesis of inescapability is very difficult to defend on empirical grounds, since major reductions in poverty have been accomplished across the world—from Europe and the USA to east Asia and Latin America—through determined human

as opposed to simian 

efforts (Angus Deaton’s book provides a good understanding of how “the great escape” has been achieved).

Deaton says working class White Americans- like Scottish folk of the same description- are dying deaths of despair. That's a great escape right there. Why are more dead people not being hired by Economics Departments? Even if death is not inescapable, it should be no bar to academic employment. The mainstream Media should do more to remind people not to fucking die. That way they will live forever.  

A weaker version of this scepticism takes the form of arguing in favour of single-minded concentration on high economic growth, without having to do anything directly about poverty reduction.

That works very well as the Chinese demonstrated because they also stopped poor people from having babies like crazy.  

Underlying this attitude is the increasingly popular belief that rapid income growth, even without anything else, is the quickest and most effective way of cutting down the incidence of poverty and deprivation.

This is because guys who earn a lot aint poor or deprived.  

How sound is this rather comfortable view that absolves society from doing things directly for the poor?

Society doesn't need to be absolved of anything. If God exists, sinners may need to be absolved so as to avoid Hell Fire. But we can abolish death- right?  


It is correct to argue that an important part of any serious and large-scale programme of poverty removal must include the cultivation and sustaining of economic growth.

No. Poverty removal can be done by removing poor people. The Brits used to pack them off to Australia at ten pounds a pop.  

It is also right to expect that some improvements in the lives of the disadvantaged would tend to occur almost invariably with economic growth, as employment and entrepreneurial opportunities expand, particularly for those who are not prevented from seizing these opportunities by ill health, lack of schooling, social barriers or other disadvantages.

e.g. being dead. 

However, public support for the underprivileged is extremely important in helping them to overcome disadvantage and in ensuring that the fruits of economic growth are shared widely.

Till the money runs out and there is entitlement collapse. Sharing fruit may result in the abandonment of orchards. 

Without it, a great many lives will continue to be tormented by hunger, poverty, illness and other deprivations, despite spurts in aggregate economic growth, from which the neglected groups could, in many circumstances, get very little help.

But hunger ends with death. Malthusian famines raised real wages for those who survived till the next famine.  

This has indeed been happening spectacularly over the recent past in India, with its falling behind—in many cases much further behind—a number of developing countries in terms of living conditions, even as it has overtaken them in economic growth.

Which is why those developing countries will have or have had an entitlement collapse before India. Look at Sri Lanka. 

An important understanding that has emerged quite powerfully from studies of international experiences is the recognition that the constructive use of public resources generated by economic growth to enhance human capabilities contributes not only to the quality of life but also to higher productivity, and further economic growth.

There was no need for any such 'studies'. Private resources are used by entrepreneurs to expand health and education coverage in areas they control so as to bring in higher and higher profits as they move into higher and higher value adding activities. Sen-tentious fools thought the same thing would happen if you just improve schools and health provision and give out doles without any entrepreneurs doing value addition. This was foolish. A 'remittance economy' might limp along in this manner but no very large geographical area could depend solely on remittances. 

In fact, the so-called “Asian experience,” beginning with Japan in the late 19th century, then South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and eventually all of China, has been based on

fighting wars or preparing to fight wars. Conscription itself raised productivity because Armies needed recruits who could read and write.  

exploiting the relationship between economic expansion and growth on the one hand, and human advancement through education, healthcare, better nutrition, and other determinants of human capability on the other.

You need soldiers who can kick ass. But 'human advancement' may mean ethnic cleansing or mass 're-education'.  

This is a two-way relationship, of which relatively little use has been made by India,

East Punjab did ethnic cleansing, grew a lot of food and sent its young men into the Army where they displayed valour. West Bengal did nothing of the sort.  

thereby ensuring not only that the country has fallen behind in terms of quality of life and living standards, but also making its long-run growth more fragile and less widely shared than it would have otherwise been.

Why? Because India has too many Bengali economists. Still, it did have a few Punjabis like Minhas, Montek and Manmohan.  


There is some tragic irony here.

No. Bengali buddhijivis are boring shitheads who think their job is to scold people.  

Insights about the intimate connections between health, education and productivity were not at all absent from the visions of the pioneers of economic and industrial development in India, such as Jamsetji Tata.

A merchant who became very fucking rich. Bengalis thought becoming rich was very naughty. First you must give banana to starving lady and then do mathsy masturbation in Cambridge. After that, by all means run off with your best friend's wife and pose as the Mother Theresa of Economics.  

As Tata’s biographer, FR Harris, describes his conception of industrialisation, “from the time of driving in the first stake, the Iron and Steel Company assumes the function of a municipality”—focusing on free healthcare, decent schooling, provision of safe water and basic sanitation for all, among Tata’s other industrial and social initiatives.

Nehru explains that the Tatas gave Congress a lot of money and they in turn got Tata a goodly sum to tide them over when they hit a snag in the Twenties. It must be said, Jamshedpur was highly racist. Whites were paid much more than Indians. A Parsi with a metallurgy degree from Pittsburgh protested and set up a Union with the help of the Bengali clerical staff. The Tatas enlisted Netaji Bose to stomp that Union. The Parsi Trade Unionist was sent to do hard labour in prison. Even after Independence, when he was rehabilitated, he had to keep very quiet.  

A clear understanding of the complementarity between production and productivity,

existed everywhere. Industrialists wanted to create factory towns where they were in charge and politicians and Trade Unionists could be told to fuck the fuck off.  

on the one hand, and human well-being and capability-formation, on the other, was also powerfully articulated in the famous report of the Bhore Committee on health policy

Bhore was an ICS man. He began working on this in 1943. However, it was a mistake to abolish the lower qualification to practice Medicine. People who could pay to do the whole MBBS course could also fuck off to Yukay, Amrika where they could get a better return on their investment.  

that nationalist leaders commissioned for the future independent India, as the Raj was coming to an end in 1946: “If it were possible to evaluate the loss, which this country annually suffers through the avoidable waste of valuable human material and the lowering of human efficiency through malnutrition and preventable morbidity, we feel that the result would be so startling that the whole country would be aroused and would not rest until a radical change had been brought about.”

India should have let ICS officers and big industrialists set up more and more 'Marshallian industrial districts' which the burgeoning middle class could relocate to so as to educate and supervise the 'Lewisian' surplus labour released by the agricultural sector. Sadly, Brahmin and Bengali soft-headed Socialists weren't keen on such Capitalist atrocities as the establishment of a well paid industrial proletariat.  

Alas, the country has not been “aroused” by the continued neglect of health and education and other public services;

Sen was aroused by his best friend's wife.  

on the contrary, this neglect and its far-reaching consequences have received little attention in public discussions over more than six decades of the functioning of independent and democratic India.

Sen prefers to conduct his public discussion in Yukay or Amrika.  

The media coverage of how much the government spends on enhancing the lives of the Indian poor has been extraordinarily distorted.

The media is owned by rich peeps. They point out that buying votes is no panacea. Sooner or later the country goes off a fiscal cliff. There is entitlement collapse.  

Reading the constant repetition in the press of critcism of the government for its “fiscal irresponsibility” in introducing some minimal employment guarantees in rural areas and some food subsidies for the poor, one would not guess how much larger is the amount spent by the same government on subsidising the good lives of the relatively prosperous classes.

But the relatively prosperous are net contributors to the Exchequer. Also the most prosperous of them can just fuck off to greener pastures- as Sen himself has done.  

In terms of the latest available figures, India spends at least 1 per cent of GDP subsidising electricity for those who have power connections (nearly 400m people do not have any),

so, the median beneficiary of the subsidy is still very poor. 

0.66 per cent of GDP on fertiliser subsidy that mainly benefits the rich farmers

who produce food for the public distribution system which feeds the very poor 

and 0.97 per cent of GDP on providing subsidised diesel, cooking gas and other petroleum products for those who have equipment for their use (not excluding luxury sedans driven by the very rich).

but the median beneficiary is still very poor. It is a different matter that, because of the black economy, some rich people aren't paying Income tax. 

These items together, even ignoring other forms of subsidy for the rich, come to a total of 2.63 per cent of GDP.

That's not much.  


Compared with that, the government spent 0.85 per cent of GDP in providing food subsidy

this figure would be greater if fertilizer and diesel for trucks weren't subsidized 

and 0.29 per cent on employment supplementation, totalling 1.14 per cent of GDP.

But those figures will keep growing till there is entitlement collapse.  

Indeed, even if we add to those pro-poor spending programmes the entire governmental expenditure on healthcare of all types to all the people of India (1.2 per cent of GDP), we get a grand total of 2.34 per cent of GDP, which is still less than what the government directly spends in subsidies that mainly benefit the relatively rich.

Why stop there? Why not say GoI is entering the shanties of starving lepers and draining them of their jizz through aggravated acts of fellatio?  

If the thundering of the media denouncing the subsidies for the poor on grounds of “fiscal soundness” is fed by the priorities of India’s stratified society, so is the comparative silence on the much larger sum spent by the government directly in the interests of the dominant groups of relatively prosperous Indians.

Sen's thundering in the media has been wholly useless. People make fun of the little Bengali monkey who is married to a Rothschild. What is hilarious is that he has a Belgian nut-case, who actually lives in India, do all the hard work for the books he co-authors with him.  


India has missed out pretty comprehensively on many of the lessons of the Asian economic development that has rapidly enhanced human well-being and capability as a part of pursuing fast economic growth in much of east Asia.

That lesson was beat Trade Unionists and kill or chase away Commie nutters.  

While the inefficiency and inequity of an over-extended “license Raj” that plagued India needed to be removed

something Sen never said should happen till Manmohan did it. 

(as India has been doing, and there is a strong case for speeding up that still incomplete process),

There was a strong case for Sen to run off with his best friend's wife because she was related to both Gramsci and Sraffa.  

it is also extremely important for the government to

ignore Sen completely. Modi has done so and gained by it.  

do those positive things that it should be able to bring about, including much faster expansion of public education and public health care. Indeed, those few states in India—in particular Kerala,

remittance economy. Also it exports Doctors and Nurses and so defeats Baumol cost disease in Health.

Tamil Nadu

oligarchy where wealthy people from the film industry took over politics and allowed their relatives to get rich through manufacturing and service industries. High female participation rate was the key 

and Himachal Pradesh—

big investment in transport and cheap and plentiful electricity 

that provided comparatively more schooling and healthcare for all, have over the decades climbed, from lowly positions, to be near the top of the comparative table of per-capita GDP in India.

Not really. Goa, Sikkim, Delhi, Chandigarh, Haryana etc. all do better. 

There is perhaps nothing as important for durable and shared economic growth as the enhancement of an educated and healthy labour force.

Which depends on either urbanization or remittances. But remittances may collapse for exogenous reasons.


Even in comparative terms today, China’s experience shows that devoting much more public revenue than India does to the education, healthcare and nutrition of the people is compatible with—and can indeed be very helpful for—high and sustained economic growth.

No. Indians won't pay for Government health or education because it is shit. The Chinese had population control and an internal passport system of a draconian type. Education is a tool for the Party to control the masses. In India, it is useless shite of the sort Sen spouts.  

Comparing India’s miserable overall allocation of 1.2 per cent of GDP to government expenditure on health with China’s much higher figure of 2.7 per cent, one is struck by two things: the poor appreciation of the demands of public health in India;

No. One remembers that our rustic folk have the habit of beating Doctors and tying them to a tree so they can watch their wives and doctors being raped. Doctors and teachers pay a little money to keep getting paid but are careful to stay the fuck away from the rural Schools or Hospitals were they are supposed to be working.  

and the failure of many champions of economic growth to grasp the precise requirements for fast and sustained economic expansion.

Those requirements have nothing to do with health or education. Illiterate people can be supervised by barely literate people. The sick can be sacked. Having a huge population means not having to worry about running out of workers.  

How has China been able to do something that India has failed to do?

By beating, killing and 're-educating' lots of people.  

It seems plausible to argue that given the nature of the political systems of the two countries, the vulnerabilities from which they respectively suffer are radically different.

No shit, Sherlock! Chairman Xi's 'vulnerabilities' have to do with his colleagues. They keep disappearing so he seems safe enough. In India you never know the result of the next election or the next Supreme Court case. The safer thing is to off-shore your assets and ensure your family members have the passports of different countries.  

With India’s open and multi-party democratic system, deprivations that are easy to see and politicise get immediate attention in governance through a process that is by no means guaranteed in China.

But ethnic cleansing or extra-judicial killing on an industrial scale can also occur. Deprivation does not matter. Killing terrorists or volatile minorities is how polities survive.

The kind of famine that China had when the disastrous “Great Leap Forward” killed around 30m people—with no criticism in any of the newspapers—could not have occurred in democratic India.

But did happen in democratic Bangladesh.  

Similarly, the sudden and unopposed abolition of the entitlement to health insurance that all citizens of China had—albeit at a rather low level—before the economic reforms of 1979 illustrates a kind of reversal of established political guarantees that would be hard to carry out in India.

Bangladesh had to do privatization more particularly under Ershad from 1982 onward. Being as poor as shit means having to do sensible things. Still, Ershad was not assassinated though he did spend some time in jail.

However, India has different handicaps.

Indira faced no great difficulty in jailing her opponents and forcibly sterilizing hundreds of thousands. But her son's cronies might have arranged an 'accident' for her, so she held elections. Still, had Sanjay lived, he might have forced India down the road of Capitalist growth with Trade Unionists being beaten to death and Socialists having their testicles stomped in police cells.  

Since its democratic system operates on the basis of a general public understanding of the problems faced by the country, when the problems are harder to focus on and very inadequately discussed in the media, they may get little political attention.

Very true. Indian people may not notice they are starving to death because Media is focussing on education rather than nutrition.


In China, by contrast, when the leaders of the political system determine that something must be done, this can happen with breathtaking rapidity, without any need to bring it about through a democratic process of public reasoning shared by the citizenry.

So can India. The license permit Raj was scrapped with out any 'public reasoning'. 

The healthcare setback in 1979, led by the new political convictions of the country’s leaders, was reversed sharply from 2004 onwards, when China’s leadership changed its mind—in this case in favour of very supportive policies.

What happened in China in 2004? The National Reimbursement rate FELL from 98% till it reached about 25 %. Why? The Chinese now had higher disposable income. They could pay much more for health care.  

By 2012, China had got back to a near-universal coverage of healthcare and at a much higher level of entitlements.

Because the State was providing a much lower percentage of the outlay.  

A reassessment by the leadership alone of what China urgently needed was enough to bring about a radical change in the lives of all people.

No. The Government could cut reimbursement because the people had more money in their pocket. Also, if the people didn't like it, they were welcome to eat a bullet.  What was interesting about China's National Reimbursement Drug List was the manner in which the State could force price cuts of up to half in return for a notional seventy percent reimbursement. 

The two systems have very different vulnerabilities. While democratic India has never been in danger of going the way of North Korea today, or of Cambodia, or for that matter of China yesterday, India’s ability to march ahead in healthcare like China has always been dependent on the slow process of bringing about a shared public understanding of its ailments.

Shared public understandings don't matter in the slightest. What matters is the budget. If the Government has no money, it stops paying teachers and doctors and so forth. There is entitlement collapse. People are welcome to stage big protests or even, as in Sri Lanka, storm the Presidential palace. But if there is no money, they have to accept their fate.  

And this is where the practice of democracy in India has badly failed, with its foggy media coverage and inadequate discussion of the country’s health predicament contributing to persistent deprivations.

Sen has been practicing democracy in Yukay-Amrika. That's why he needs a lot of media coverage. Has it occurred to him that there has been plenty of media coverage of the plight of the Haitians but things only seem to get worse there? What about the brave little women of Afghanistan whom Obama Mama was helping to go to skool and get nice jobs? They got media coverage in plenty but that didn't stop Biden from running away from there. No doubt, it Afghan Media gives plenty of coverage to the plight of transgender bar-maids, the Taliban will be forced to give them lots of money and create safe spaces where they can watch Pussy Riot.  

Basic liberties and civic freedoms, including democratic rights, may be much more vulnerable in China than in India, yet India can learn much from what can be seen as the intelligent welfarism of contemporary Chinese policies, without wanting to go over to its more authoritarian system.

Why stop there? Why should India not learn from Norway? True, India is overpopulated and does not have lots of petroleum but still we could dye our hair blonde and say ' Jeg er en ekte nordmann' to each other while eating pickled herring.

(In the absence of democratic guarantees, the Chinese system carries with it the kind of risks—social as well as individual—to which all authoritarian states are exposed.)

But non-authoritarian states can get invaded or go off a fiscal cliff and face entitlement collapse just like a totalitarian state. True the President and his family may run away but the next guy may be equally useless. 

Democracy doesn't guarantee shit. Money matters and having a kick ass Army matters. Nothing else will do.  


I am singling out India for illustration, but of course the failure to recognise the complementarity between economic growth and human capability expansion applies to many other countries as well.

No it doesn't. It is bleeding obvious that if you are more productive you will have more money and thus can spend on health and education and recreation.  

It can be argued, for example, that an odd “disconnect” between public action and economic expansion

there was no fucking 'economic expansion'. Public actions demanding more money for less work failed. Some countries went off a fiscal cliff and pruned entitlements. Savers and pensioners took a haircut. It turned out that there was a 'disconnect' in the minds of Leftie Economists between reality and the cloud cuckoo land they preferred to inhabit.  

has plagued the recent attempts in Europe at overcoming the continent’s on-going economic and financial crisis through largely indiscriminate “austerity”, without taking adequate account of the far-reaching social and economic consequences of withdrawal of public services and employment-supporting policies.

The far-reaching consequence was that people weren't paid more for doing less. They had to fucking emigrate or tighten their belts.  

I move now to the third line of proposed explanation of the tolerance of severe poverty.

There is only one line. We don't mind poor people unless they try to rob us or create a nuisance of some sort. It's good to know that there probably is a hot chick somewhere who would be grateful to suck us off in return for the protein in our jizz.  

The claim that human beings are incapable of sympathy for others is an often-repeated generalisation about mankind.

Sen had no sympathy for those of his students who didn't want to end up being useless tossers.  

Oddly enough, this epistemically unsupported and ethically befuddling point of view is sometimes attributed to Adam Smith,

even more oddly, Sen says Smith- who considered Bengalis to be savages- was actually against Racism- probably because Sen too believes Bengalis are savages.  

based on a misreading of a couple of paragraphs in one of his books dealing with a different subject (why bakers, butchers, brewers and all of us want trade and can benefit from it), and ignoring the rest of his writings.

Smith was merely a pedagogue. Why bother with him? 


Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments opens, in fact, with the following sentence: “How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.”

Fuck does this mean? People like seeing happy people. Why? Chances are if people in a place are happy, then it is a good and safe place for you. Back in Smith's time, it was remarked that some landscapes look nicer than others. A place with a lot of trees and grassland and streams and rivers was pleasing to the eye. A fucking desert was not. The former was a good place for humans to settle. The latter wasn't. Prosy pedagogues could make a bit of money by expressing this simple notion in a verbose manner. But only a stupid Bengali like Sen would think this was some sort of great mystical revelation.  

Smith’s analysis is further developed as the book proceeds, and he makes particular use of the thought-experiment of the “impartial spectator” as a device for the reasoned self-scrutiny, of which, he thought, human beings are perfectly capable.

This was just the notion that you shouldn't get drunk and avenge yourself on your cousin, who made fun of your kilt, by sticking a dirk in him. An 'impartial spectator' would tell the Jury that you did not act in self-defence. You ran into the room and stuck your knife in the bloke while shouting 'Fuck you and fuck Mad King George you fucking fuckster!' This might lead to your being hanged. 

The point about a witness in a court case who can show that he has no reason to be for or against a party to the action, is that he is likely to be believed since he is impartial. Observe yourself as if you were such a man. You will be less inclined to do stupid, impulsive shit. 

There is actually a close link between Smith’s discussion of the nature and reach of “moral sentiments” and the gradual emergence of political demands across the world, over the last two centuries, for social safety nets, human rights and even for the establishment of a so-called welfare state.

Nonsense! Political demands arose because those who made them sought political power. If you promise something like cheap or subsidized health and employment insurance, you may get the power to deliver if not that precisely then something better than what went before. This has nothing to do with 'sentiments'. It is merely a 'collective action' problem where there are non-convexities or the Law of Large Numbers applies. 

It is a different matter that the Sultan or Emir may, because he is a pious Muslim, create a welfare state for the people of his own tribe while bringing in labourers from far away to do the menial work. Sentiments can sway the rich. The poor have to be sensible or risk starvation. 


These connections apply as much to India as they do to Europe and America and the rest of the world.

So if Indians have very nice Sentiments they will have plenty of money and can send everybody to Harley Street for health-care after which they can spend ten years getting a PhD at Cambridge.  

For example, the rapid elimination of famines that followed Indian independence

depended on America sending PL480 food. True, India had to subsidize fertilizers and diesel etc. to have a Green Revolution because Nixon would have let the country starve the way he let Bangladesh starve, but that didn't happen till Nehru kicked the bucket.  

and the establishment of a functioning democracy

the Brits established the democracy. The Indians chose to keep it. Pakistan and Burma made the mistake of inviting in the Army. India and Sri Lanka did not.  

turn on the capability of people to relate to each other.

In India's case, democracy had to do with politicians having a relative succeed them. Rahul joined politics to spend more time with Mummy and Sister.  

The share of famine victims in the total population is always very small—it is typically not more than 5 per cent of the people, and hardly ever exceeds 10 per cent. So the power of voting in a majoritarian democracy would not be able to explain how a democracy could serve as a deterrent to famines,

only if it is America's policy to feed 'democracies'- unless they sell jute to Cuba.  

if other people really lacked sympathy or concern for the famine victims.

Which is what Bengal's famines in 1943 and 1974 amply demonstrated. Periodic Malthusian famines occurred and Indian classical literature has recorded examples of even great Sages being reduced to stealing dog meat.  

Public discussion about the agony and misery of the famine victims, along with an understanding of the complete preventability of famines, makes their elimination a policy priority for a majority of the people and thus irresistible in a majoritarian democracy.

Sheer nonsense! The subcontinent- even West Pakistan- preferred 'free food' and 'free money' from the US even though this was inflationary. The Commies, it is true, tried to make famine an issue. They failed. Mujib calling for 'Tebagha' and then presiding over a big famine was fucking hilarious. Oddly, Ershad did more to help the tenants.  

The use of the media in a functioning democracy is critically important for broadening the political reach of people’s moral reasoning.

No. It is useless. Moral reasoning is stuff you learn from your Mummy and then from the Priest or from Scripture. The reason you should help the poor is because you will go to Heaven or get a real nice re-birth if you do so.  


To conclude, it is hard to believe that the quiet tolerance of poverty and deprivation really arises from some basic inability of people to sympathise with each other.

You may sympathize greatly with me. It is clear I suffer acute deprivation. But will you lend me a couple of thousand quid? No. You suggest I get a fucking job.  

We get more help from the hypothesis of ignorance—not arising from the unavailability of empirical information, but from established barriers against paying attention to information about socially distanced people.

Sen is saying 'if Indians cared about each other, they would constantly be offering bananas to starving women. Why are they not doing so? It is because of the Media. Instead of headlines about Manmohan's meeting with Obama Mama, they should have a big big picture of me giving banana to a starving lady- preferably one who attended Vassar and who has a PhD in Capability Theory. Why is this not happening? The answer is, Indians are totes ignorant. Media is creating barriers which prevents the Indian masses from paying attention to me instead of Manmohan. ' 

In the case of India, it is almost certainly linked to hardened social stratifications of caste, class and gender and to the biases that these barriers impose on the coverage of the otherwise vibrant Indian media.

Very true! Why Indian Media is not tracking down starving women to whom Sen gave banana? Why is it that Sen himself is having to tell us about this wonderful achievement of his? BTW, did Manmohan give banana to starving lady? No! Sardarjis are eating makkiyan di roti only. They don't even know what is banana! Yet Indians are so stupid they are letting Manmohan be two term Prime Minister! Who will give banana to starving women? Will it be Montek? Don't be silly! He too is Sardarji and thus an incessant devourer of makkiyan di roti. 

The nature of that media, however, is not an immutable social fact, and a clear recognition of the need for change can itself be an important step towards remedying the limited nature of the coverage.

Very true! A clear recognition of the need for immortality can be an important step towards remedying the problem of mortality. However, so can fisting yourself vigorously while telling everybody about a banana you once gave a starving woman.  

The fact that the experience of the world—from Europe to east Asia—shows a positive connection between economic expansion, on the one hand, and public efforts to enhance human capability, on the other, has to be much more widely discussed and far better appreciated.

Only by those who don't get that having more money means you can buy more cool shiny stuff.  

If it seems possible that the tolerance of the intolerable arises ultimately from fallacious reasoning,

'tolerance of the intolerable' is an oxymoron. It represents fallacious reasoning like speaking of 'the son of the barren woman' or 'the cat which is a dog'.  

rather than from the unsympathetic nature of human beings, that recognition must surely provide some ground for relief.

Sen feels relieved that saying 'the cat which is a dog can cause poverty to turn into a mouse which it gobbles up' will cause every country to become rich enough to afford to take up the 'Capabilities approach' to pissing money against a wall. 

It also generates the understanding that there is work to be done.

Spotting a logical fallacy doesn't 'generate understanding'. It merely enables you to ignore the nutter who thinks 'tolerance of the intolerable' is not an oxymoron.  

Wednesday, 27 September 2023

Simpson's Paradox & Shaunak Rishi


Incarnating Simpson's paradox, Fatherhood inaugurates so chill a milliad
That, though I became but the feral Bart of my own broken home's Iliad
Yet, for Brittanically Black, blissfully contented,
By Rishi Sunak redeemed tho' bestial, demented

Envoi

Charlemagne- Prince!- Politics being a but Rathantar psalm
Toricelli's trumpet is Roland's self-harm.







Tuesday, 26 September 2023

The fairies up Bilgrami's garden's bottom- Part 2

In my previous post I held up to ridicule  Bilgrami's arrival 

 at a picture of values as properties in the world (including nature) via a dialectic that began with what seemed like a common sense distinction between intention and prediction partly in order to convey how commonsensical it should seem to say that values are in the world.

It is not common sense to think there are fairies at the bottom of the garden though it may be usual to tell children fairy stories. 

And a first pass at the genealogical issues

the only 'genealogical' issues are as to who impregnated Mum. Was it a fairy? No. Then who the fuck cares?  

I want to raise in this essay can be made by asking: why has this very natural way of thinking about values found so little place in the history of thought (and not just strictly philosophical thought in the narrow sense) about value in the last two or three hundred years?

The answer is because there was rapid economic and technological progress. It turned out the world was more exciting than fairy-land.  

To answer this question would require one to get a sense of the very interesting genealogy of our current debates about naturalism,

they are debates between cretins. They exist because Universities are slow to sack useless Professors or to take an axe to worthless Departments. 

and thereby to give a sense of the wider significance of that debate which today is, at best, only highly implicit, and, at worst, altogether missing, in the idiom and the arguments in which the debate is conducted. The answer to the question is to be found in one central strand in the intellectual and cultural history of the West in a phenomenon that can be traced, using a term that Weber put into currency and which McDowell too uses to describe it: ‘disenchantment’.

But Weber was stupid, ignorant and couldn't even fuck his own wife. She had some money and built up his reputation as a great savant after he popped his clogs. 

The problem with 'enchantment' was that your granny might be burn at the stake as a witch. 

For many centuries this natural way of thinking about values as being in the world that I have presented here within the secular terms of my more or less atheistic intellectual orientation, had its source in the presence of a divinity which was, in many a view, itself immanent in the world.

So, Bilgrami tried to be a good atheist but failed because he was too stupid.  

And it is this source which was undermined in the modern period that Weber described with that term.

Then came the Bolshevik Revolution. Suddenly having a clergy or even an aristocracy didn't seem so bad. Religion is useful. It is rational to have useful beliefs. Think Newcombe's problem.  

Anyway the chrematistics of 'regret minimization' involves investment in 'positional' but ontologically dysphoric goods- i.e. things which are 'not at home in this world' because most of us aren't or soon won't be. 

This sort of point has, for sometime now—ever since Nietzsche’s slogan—been made by summoning the image of the ‘dead father’.

Nothing wrong with a dead daddy whom we cherish in our memory.  

And it continues to be made in this way in the current revival of tired Victorian debates about the irrationality of belief in a God and in his creation of the universe in six days a few thousand years ago. It is common in the rhetoric wielded by those who speak and write today with scorn of such irrational beliefs, that they describe them in terms of one’s continuing immaturity, one’s persistence in an infantile reliance on a ‘father’, whose demise was registered by philosophers (Nietzsche, but Hegel before him) much more than a century ago, one’s abdication of responsibility and free agency in the humbling of oneself to an authority that is not intelligible to human concepts and scientific explanatory methods, concepts and methods hard won in a struggle towards progress and enlightenment, after centuries of obscurantism.

This is the sort of rhetoric that leaders of cults indulge in. The fact is, unless we are actually infants, our reliance on anyone or anything isn't infantile.  

All this may be true enough, but there is something concealing about making the point in just this way since it impoverishes the notion of ‘disenchantment’ to one merely about loss of faith in God and his creation and his authority.

Because what we should really be worried about is loss of faith in fairies up our garden's bottom. That verges on homophobia.  

What goes missing in this picture is the intellectual as well as cultural and political prehistory of the demise of such an authority figure.

The Church did have 'Fathers' and 'Mother Superior'. People who went to Church were mocked for not being proper adults. You should go to the Brothel, get Syphilis, and then watch your nose drop off.  

 

Well before his demise, brought about I suppose by the scientific outlook that we all now admire and which is rightly recommended by the authors of the string of recent, somewhat tedious, books that have inveighed against such irrational belief, it was the metaphysics forming around the new science itself and nothing less than science which—far from registering his demise—proposed instead in the late seventeenth century, a quite different kind of fate for ‘the father’, a form of migration, an exile into inaccessibility from the visions of ordinary people to a place outside the universe, from where in the more familiar image of the clock winder, he first set and then kept an inert universe in motion.

Bilgrami is of Muslim heritage. Islam has a God outside Time and Space and a sophisticated occassionalist metaphysics. But it leaves room for mysticism of a marvellous kind. Djinns exist but this doesn't mean you have to believe in fairies. 

The plain fact is Islam has a more logical and coherent theology than Christianity.  

And much more than his ‘death’, it is this exile and deracination of God from the world of matter and nature (and therefore from human community and perception) that reveals what is meant by ‘disenchantment’.

One may affirm a Deus Absconditus without giving up a belief in fairies and sprites and witches and warlocks. But what is better yet is to do useful stuff or, at the very least, to be entertaining.  

There is no Latin expression such as “Deus Deracinus” to express the thought that needs expounding here. The expression for the God exiled by the ideologues of the Royal Society in England in the wake of the developments in science around Newton in the late seventeenth century is “Deus Absconditus,”

From Isaiah. Aquinas and then Luther gave it currency 

which may convey to the English speaker a fugitive fleeing rather than what I want to stress—the idea that it is from the roots of nature and ordinary perceptible life that God was removed.

I think Bilgrami is getting at 'mechanistic' natural science which held that the only acceptable explanations of things involved Rude Goldberg type machines. No 'action at a distance' or teleology of the Aristotelian type should be permitted.  

‘Racine’ or roots is the right description of his immanence in a conception of a sacralized universe, from which he was torn away by the exile to which the metaphysical outlook of early modern science (aligned with thoroughly mundane interests) ushered him.

There were such Gnostic and mystical notions two thousand years ago. Tzimtzum in Kabbalah is an example.  Essentially, poets and saints saw that anything said of man in his relation to God might be said of God in relation to man. God exiles his people but, in a sense, God is exiled from his creation. I long for the g.f to cook me a nice 'full English' but suggest that her longing to do so is frustrated that she worries I'll have a fucking heart attack if ate my fill of bacon butties. She suggests to me that I get a fucking job. You want a full English? Earn some money and gorge yourself to death. 

Even so “Conditus” which literally means “put away for safeguarding,”

No. It means build or conceal. Abscondo means to cover or conceal.  

(with the “abs-” reinforcing the “awayness,” of where God is safely placed) conveys something about the question I want to raise. What I want to ask is: why should the authority figure need safeguarding in an inaccessibility?

He didn't. This was merely a poetic way of speaking. Mummy wails that baby has hidden himself from her and that she utterly desolate though she can see his chubby form is quaking with suppressed laughter from his hiding place behind the curtain.  Lots of peeps love God because babies and Mummies and mountains and rivers exist. They complain that he is far when he is near. But we often clutch wifey and complain she is abandoning us though she says she is only going to the kitchen to fix us breakfast. We feel this is unjust. She should kindly send herself to the kitchen while remaining cuddled with us. 

What dangers lay in his immanence, in his availability to the visionary temperaments of all those who inhabit his world?

Sodomy? Moses saw God's hindquarters. Does 'visionary temperament' make one gay for God? 

And why should the scientific establishment of Early Modernity seek this safekeeping in exile, for ‘a father’ whom its successor in late, more mature, modernity would properly describe as “dead”?

Clearly it was because some latter day Moses might try to sodomize the Deity. The Scientific Establishment, back then, was totes homophobic.  

These genealogical questions are crucial to the analysis I want to present about the wider significance of the debates around naturalism, first, because an answer to them would show that the ‘scientific rationality’ which is so insistently extolled by these attacks on religious belief today, did not emerge whole all at once, but also because the answer reveals that—even if we allow it to be a gradual outcome of a triumphantly progressive intellectual history—to focus merely on the end-point of that history as an ideal of rationality towards which we have sequentially and cumulatively progressed and converged in a long struggle against obscurantism, is to give oneself an air of spurious innocence.

Bilgrami thinks that some guys in the Seventeenth Century exiled God for fear he might be buggered by a visionary. Then some other guys- Hegel and Nietzsche- discovered this exiled God was dead. Scientific rationality triumphed- which is why the Brits took over from the Grand Moghul and Bilgrami's Daddy ended up a Judge rather than a guy who had plenty of fairies up his garden's bottom. Whitey gives itself an air of spurious innocence but it is totes homophobic. It shouldn't have exiled God even if that meant some visionary tried to get gay with Him. Also, even if God is dead, fuck did you cunts do to the fairies?  

Narratives of progress have been much under attack for some time for their self-congratulatory triumphalism,

Whitey pretends to be sooooo smart and is constantly gassing on about having invented motor cats and jet planes. But who do you think powers those cars and planes? Invisible fairies! Whitey won't tell you so but Bilgrami, a Rhodes Scholar, has been able to figure things out for himself.  

but I think it is arguable that things are methodologically much worse than that. They are wrong—at any rate, deeply limited—on, and by, their own terms. In general, a sequence, especially when it is consecutively narrativized and dialectically and cumulatively conceived, as progressive ideals are bound to conceive it, cannot have started from the beginning of thought and culture itself.

Why not? We know that there is a sequence to our own thoughts though we can't trace it all the way back to the very first thoughts we had as babies. Yet that's where they must have started.  

If a sequence is to aspire to conceptual and cultural significance (as the very idea of progress suggests) it cannot have its beginnings at the very beginning of conceptual and cultural life.

Einstein's autobiography would have had 'conceptual and cultural significance' even though nobody would expect him to give much insight into his thoughts much before the age of five. Yet he may illuminate those thoughts by saying 'I recall my father talking about electricity though I no longer remember what he said'. We can then do some research and get a picture of the sort of things the child might have heard and we can then speculate how this affected the trajectory of his later thought. 

That would trivialize things—evacuate the notion of sequence of any of the substance and significance that progressivist narrative aspires to.

Nonsense! A progressivist narrative doesn't need to begin 'ab ovo'. It can start 'in medias res'. All it has to do is demonstrate a 'secular trend' over a long enough period. 

It cannot be that we have been converging on the significant end-point from the random inceptions of our intellectual and cultural existence.

Yes it can if the 'fitness landscape' has been changing in a specific way for a specific period for an identifiable cause- e.g. the agricultural revolution or the use of fossil fuel to generate first steam power and then electricity.  

One assumes rather that there were many strands at the outset, endless false leads, but then at some point (what I am calling the beginning of the progressivist trajectory) we got set on a path, which we think of as the right path, from which point on the idea of cumulative steps towards a broadly specifiable end began to make sense, a path of convergence towards that end.

No. There were many paths and there remained many paths save where competition for scarce resources extinguished some 'genealogies' while causing 'learned' or 'mimetic' changes in others. Indians are still different from Europeans or Japanese people. But there is no 'Indian mathematics' or 'Japanese mathematics' different from European mathematics. One type of maths and one type of notation has won out and become universal. But this is 'replacement' more than it is convergence. The fact is once vastly more mathematicians were being trained in India and Japan, the cheapest and most efficient way to do so was using the European model. 

Accumulation and convergence, then, don’t start at the beginning of thought, but rather they start at some juncture that we think of as the start onto a right path.

No. Some neural paths get pruned or repurposed. Also people who do stupid shit die or don't contribute to the gene pool. Doing useful stuff promotes reproductive success.  

This has many implications for intellectual historiography, some of them highly critical. Just to give you one example, I think it implies a real difficulty for philosophers such as Hilary Putnam when they say that scientific realism is true because it is the only explanation of the fact that there is a convergence in scientific theories—-that is to say, the posits of science must be real because it is only their reality which would explain the cumulative nature of the claims of scientific theories over time.

But that convergence is on the basis of utility. Science costs a lot of money and so there is pressure on Scientists to do useful stuff. But this means adopting sensible ideas and methods. 

India pays some money to keep Ayurveda alive but, currently, there are twice as many 'allopathic' doctors. As India gets richer the disparity will increase. Even the mahacrackpot gave up Ayurveda because his body simply wasn't strong enough to cope with its remedies.  

What is the difficulty with this that I have in mind? It is this. Here too, the fact is that these converging and cumulative trends have not existed since the beginning of theorizing about nature.

Fuck theorizing. It was utility which drove 'convergence' and 'cumulative' progress.  

In fact Putnam would be the first to say that it is only sometime in the seventeenth century

when utility triumphed. A country which did stupid shit started to decline and ended up being carved up by those of its neighbours which concentrated on doing smart and useful things. Holland was a Spanish Hapsburg colony. But the wealth of the Indies permitted Spain to do stupid shit while the Dutch concentrated on useful stuff. Soon the Dutch were kicking Spanish ass. 

that we were set on the right path in science and from then on there has been a convergence that is best explained by the corresponding reality of what the converging scientific theories posit. But now a question arises. What makes it the case that that is when we were set on the right path?

Utility. Turks were great fighters but their savants were doing stupid shit while smelly White peeps in cold countries went in for utilitarian studies which would enable them to grow rich through oceanic trade.  

What is the notion of rightness, here? If we have an answer to this last question

we do. It is utility and the fact that land is scarce and if you do stupid shit sooner or later smart peeps turn up and establish their Raj over you.  

(about what makes the path the right path at that starting point),

the starting point is only important if the process is 'hysteresis laden' or 'path dependent'. But economics is 'ergodic'. You look around and see what the smartest peeps are doing and you imitate them. If you have economies of scope and scale and people who will work their butts off so as to have nice food to eat and nice clothes to wear and money to pay for good skools to which they can send their kids, then- like China you can pull 700 million people out of extreme poverty over the span of 3 decades. Who knows? China may overtake the US in per capita income in Vivek Ramaswamy's life-time. 

then that notion of rightness would already have established scientific realism and we don’t need to wheel in scientific realism to explain the subsequent convergence.

Bilgrami doesn't get that the fitness landscape determines what is utile and utility determines which way we should go. This may mean junking our heritage as unfit for purposes. If the fairies at the bottom of the garden can't help us pay the fucking mortgage then can go fuck themselves.  

Well, my subject is not scientific realism, so I give this example only to display the more general point that accounts of our rationality that stress our sequential development and progress towards a hard-won end, cannot then just focus on the end-point and avoid the importance of the beginning of the sequence, which, may have the greater power to illuminate than its end or even the sequence itself.

We don't know what the end-point of Science will be. Maybe we emigrate to a nicer dimension where there is no scarcity and thus utility doesn't matter.  

If you wanted a slogan for what I have been saying, it is: No teleology without genealogy!

But, Darwin's point, like that of Newton, is that there's no fucking teleology. This doesn't mean we can't extrapolate from existing trends. But that is merely inductive reasoning.  

And, as I have said earlier, my own reason for stressing the Early Modern origins of our late modernity’s proud embrace of scientific rationality, is to make us less complacent about the ideal that we have embraced by uncovering in its genealogy the thick accretions to it that have had large implications for politics and culture.

But politics is stupid shit. Only Econ and Defence strategy matters. As for culture, Netflix is good enough for me.  

Let me turn to these now and say more specifically why a scientific establishment of Early Modernity would have found it convenient to put away ‘the father’ in a safekeeping away from the visionary access of ordinary people.
My explanation is better. 

There are three things to observe at the very outset about this exile of the ‘father’ for some two hundred years until Nietzsche announced his demise.

But the fucker had syphilis and went insane! 

First, intellectual history of the Early Modern period records that there was a remarkable amount of dissent and very explicit dissent

there was a fucking Civil War! Thankfully a sensible Dutchman took the throne. He was followed by deeply boring Germans. England concentrated on getting rich though no doubt Anglicans hated the ranting Dissenters and the superstitious Papists and so forth.  

against the notions that produced the exile, dissent by a remarkable group of intellectuals, who were most vocal first in England and the Netherlands and then elsewhere in Europe.

The wrote books and published pamphlets at a time when such things had a market.  

For the sake of focus, I will restrict myself to England. Second, there was absolutely nothing unscientific about these freethinkers or their dissent. They were themselves scientists, then of course called ‘natural philosophers’, fully on board with the new science and the Newtonian laws and all its basic notions, such as gravity, for instance. They were only objecting to the metaphysical outlook generated by official ideologues around the new science, who began to dominate the Royal Society, in which the much more complicated Newton of his private study was given a more orthodox public face by people such as Boyle and Samuel Clarke, a public move in which Newton himself acquiesced.

Being known as a Deist or something of that sort could mean the loss of your Fellowship or stipend or whatever. England also had tough anti-blasphemy laws.  

And third, the metaphysical outlook of the dissenters was suppressed and the Royal Society ideologues won out and their metaphysics became the orthodoxy, not because of any superiority, either metaphysical or scientific, but because of carefully cultivated social and political factors, that is to say, alliances that the ‘Newtonians’ formed with different social groups such as the Anglicans and the commercial and mercantile interests of the time. 

That's what mattered. But money is made by doing useful things and even more money can be made if only useful studies are promoted though no doubt a knowledge of classical literature made for a refinement of the vernacular just as sound Christian instruction tended to make for good character and a prudent outlook.  

To put a very complex range of interweaving themes in the crudest summary, the dispute was at first sight about the very nature of nature and matter and,

useless. The first order discourse could be useful. The second order discourse was a waste of time.  

relatedly therefore, about the role of the deity, and of the broad cultural and political implications of the different views on these metaphysical and religious concerns. The metaphysical picture that was promoted by the exile of ‘the father’ to a place outside the universe was that the world itself was, therefore, ‘brute’ and ‘inert’ and needed an external divine source for its motion.

Because trying to find a perpetual motion machine was a waste of time and money. Digging coal out of the ground and burning it could give you 'steam power'. This could make you a lot of money. Hoping that the water would get steamed if you said nasty things about its sex-life was a waste of time- which, for smart people, is also money.  

In the dissenting picture, by contrast, matter was not brute and inert, but rather was shot through with an inner source of dynamism responsible for motion, that was itself divine.

Great! Why pay your utility bills if a nice river will kindly flow into your bath tub and then heat itself by thinking dirty thoughts?  

For the dissenters, God and nature were not separable as in the official metaphysical picture that was growing around the new science, and John Toland, for instance, to take just one example among the active dissenting voices, openly wrote in terms he proclaimed to be ‘pantheistic’.

Toland was right about one thing. Newton's notion of inertia had been misunderstood and mistranslated. Still, he didn't make money though his books were influential.  But Toland was very much on the side of 'disenchantment'. If the Church hierarchy is useless, then exorcisms are useless because there are no ghosts, demons or fairies at the bottom of the garden. If God is everywhere, then everywhere is boring and lacking in sprites and elves. Even the djinn are bound to be well behaved and as boring as fuck. 

This metaphysical disagreement, however, was caught up in a range of wider implications. One was this: Some of the dissenters argued that it is only because one takes matter to be ‘brute’ and ‘stupid’, to use Newton’s own term, that one would find it appropriate to conquer it with nothing but profit and material wealth as ends, and thereby destroy it both as a natural and a human environment for one’s habitation.

Very true! The India Bilgrami fled was not a boring shithole because it was as poor as fuck. On the contrary it had lots of nice fairies because 'profit and material wealth' were considered vulgar 'ends' to pursue. True, if you happened to be the Socialist Prime Minister of a Secular Republic your family might suddenly become as rich as fuck- probably because fairies kept filling up your Swiss Bank Accounts.  

In today’s terms, one might think that this point was a seventeenth century predecessor to our ecological concerns but though there certainly was an early instinct of that kind, it was embedded in a much more general point, a point really about how nature in an ancient and spiritually flourishing sense was being threatened and how therefore this was in turn threatening to our moral psychology of engagement with it, including the relations and engagement among ourselves as its inhabitants.

In 1716 Mary Hicks and her daughter- who was nine years old- were executed because they took off their stockings to cause a rain storm. A moral psychology which relies on 'enchantment' may have to witness the execution of little girls.  

This last point is vital to the breadth of significance of the issues at stake, which were not about nature in a purely selfstanding sense. That is why the qualms expressed by the term ‘disenchantment of nature’ were not by any means merely ecological qualms. The ideal of enchantment was (and is) an ideal of an unalienated life (to use Marx’s later term), whether from nature or from one another as its inhabitants.

If you see fairies at the bottom of your garden, maybe you should see an 'alienist'- which was the old fashioned term for a shrink. 

Marxism was and is an evil ideology when it isn't merely stupid and lazy. Run the fuck away from it.  

Nature, itself, therefore was conceived in terms of its relations with its inhabitants and a history of those relations and a tradition that these engender in different societies, within which subjects engage with nature (broadly conceived in this way).

Do these engagements lead to sex? If not, maybe they aren't really engagements at all.  

All this went into the understanding of ‘nature’ in what I have called the “ancient and spiritually flourishing sense” of that term.

No. The ancient and spiritual sense of Nature, or Prakriti, had nothing to do with agency, engagement, alienation or slitting the throat of the boss class.  

Today, the most thoroughly and self-consciously secular sensibilities may recoil from the term ‘spiritually’, as I have just deployed it, though I must confess to finding myself feeling no such self-consciousness despite being a secularist, indeed an atheist.

But you are as stupid as shit. If you had any fucking self-consciousness you would shut the fuck up.  

The real point has not much to do with the rhetoric. If one had no use for the word, if one insisted on having the point made with words that we today can summon with confidence and accept without qualm, it would do no great violence to the core of their thinking to say this: the dissenters thought of the world not as brute but as suffused with value.

Did the jizz on everything so as to suffuse it with 'engagement' or an Escort Agency or 'Enchantment'? I suppose so. Dissenters were randy buggers. No sheep's anus was safe when they were prowling around.  

That they happened to think the source of such value was divine may not to be the deepest point of interest for us today.

More particularly if what gets us hard is the thought of all those nasty fairies up the garden's bottom.  

We are much used to the lament that we have long been living in a world governed by overwhelmingly commercial motives.

Only if we are shitheads pretending to do 'Philosophy' or some other such shite. Still, stop paying the salaries of such lamenters and they will soon show that their motives are entirely mercenary.  

What I have been trying to do is to trace this to its deepest conceptual sources

All them guys knew Latin and Greek- or at least they knew people who were very good at both. The deepest conceptual sources are beyond the ken of those of us who didn't have the Classics beaten into us at boarding skool.  

and that is why the seventeenth century is so central to a proper understanding of this world.

Not in the view of the eighteenth or nineteenth century. Indeed, this is a relatively recent academic availability cascade favoured by cretins like Chomsky.  

Familiarly drawn connections and slogans, like “Religion and the Rise of Capitalism', are only the beginning of such a tracing.

They are silly. Capitalism just means financial markets allocate investment funds. This happens if no King or Commissar can confiscate wealth.  

In his probing book, A Grammar of Motives, Kenneth Burke says that “the experience of an impersonal outlook was empirically intensified in proportion as the rationale of the monetary motive gained greater authority.”

Which it could only do if you wouldn't get robbed.

This gives us a glimpse of the sources. As he says, one had to have an impersonal angle on the world to see it as the source of profit and gain, and vice versa.

Fuck off! You can see everything as highly personal and still understand that chopping down that nice forest and selling the timber will give you lots of shiny shiny silver.  

But I have claimed that the sources go deeper. It is only when we see the world as Boyle and Newton did, as against the freethinkers and dissenters, that we understand further why there seemed no option but to stress this impersonality in our angle on the world. A desacralized world, to put it in the dissenting terms of that period, left us no other angle from which to view it, but an impersonal one.

Or a personal one. It doesn't matter if you think the elves of the forest will try to fuck you up if you chop it down. What matters is your knowledge that if you have money you can hire a guy who will faithfully report on the horrific manner in which he raped all those elves to death.  

There could be no normative constraint coming upon us from a world that was brute.

Or one that was highly intelligent and sensitive and which would compose a very sad song about how cruel and insensitive we are being. Fuck we care about sad songs? Play gaangsta rap on the stereo of your sports car and drown that shit out.  

It could not move us to engagement with it on its terms.

It can't even move us to shit on it.  

All the term-making came from us. We could bring whatever terms we wished to such a world; and since we could only regard it impersonally, it being brute, the terms we brought in our actions upon it were just the terms that Burke describes as accompanying such impersonality, the terms of 'the monetary' motives for our actions.

We are welcome to try to convert trees to Scientology. Bushes on the other hand must be pissed on. Take it from me. They are all totes racist.  

Thus it is, that the metaphysical issues regarding the world and nature, as they were debated around the new science, provide the deepest conceptual sources. But why, one might ask, should the fact of ‘the father’s exile to an external place as a clock winder have led to an understanding of the universe as wholly brute and altogether devoid of value?

I've answered that. Religious visionaries would keep trying to fuck God in the ass which is why he had to be sent to wind up some clock of the other. But this did not lead to anyone thing the world was devoid of value. Many trees exist which have not yet been converted to Scientology.  

Why was it not possible to retain a world suffused with values that were intelligible to all who lived in it, despite the inaccessibility of the figure of the father?

Is it coz, lacking God to fuck in the ass, visionaries had turned their attention to fairies who, in consequence, were up the garden's bottom?  

Why must value require a sacralized site for its station, without which it must be relegated to proxy, but hardly proximate, notions of desire or utility and gain?

Coz otherwise everybody would fuck it in the ass.  

It might seem that these questions are anachronistic, suited only to our own time when we might conceivably (though perhaps not with much optimism) seek secular forms of re-enchanting the world.

by drinking beer in which quantum computing enabled nano-bots have been mixed. Then we piss on bushes which become sentient and acquire magical powers. That's one secular way or re-enchanting at least part of the world. 

One cannot put them, at least not without strain and artificiality, to a period in which value was so pervasively considered to have a sacred source.

but only by a few nutters who liked writing pamphlets.  

But even if we cannot put these questions to a world view which, by our modern lights, was constricted by impoverished conceptual options, we can ask a diagnostic question about what forces prevented the development of the idea that the world is enchanted with evaluative properties whose normative demands on us, even if now purely secular, move our first person point of view to a responsiveness into moral agency?

The force that prevented that stupid shit arose from the fact that Whitey, even back then, wasn't stupid or interested in only doing stupid shit.  

The core of the diagnosis is that (an alternative and more secular) ideal of enchantment never took hold because

the fucking Capitalists bribed or intimidated everybody into desisting from thinking stupid or useless thoughts. Why were they so evil? The answer is that enchanted bushes would tell peeps to just slit the fucking throats of the boss class already.  

there were too many powerful social forces that were complicit in keeping it out. The conceptual sources of disenchantment that we have traced are various but they were not miscellaneous. The diverse conceptual elements of religion, capital, nature, metaphysics, rationality, science, were tied together in a highly deliberate integration, that is to say in deliberately accruing worldly alliances.

This is still happening. Did you know that big Corporations use technology, not magic? Who do you think invents new stuff? Scientists! Even on this very campus there are Scientists who are hand in glove with the boss class! Talk to a bush sometime. It will tell you that you must immediately slit the throats of the boss class- and their evil henchmen, the scientists- otherwise everything will become disenchanted! 

. In a word, a creation of the oligarchic basis for a statecraft

like that of the Republic of Venice or Genoa or Florence 

needed to ensure the profitable extractive economies that were being generated effectively by and for the propertied classes.

as opposed to drunken hobos.  

From the point of view of this emerging ideology around the new science, the idea that values to live by are available to the ordinary perceptions of a world we live in, would have the effect of demoting these privileged knowledges possessed by the elites to something more arcane, by making the sources of political morality much more democratic.

Why? There had been very successful oligarchies in the ancient and medieval world. What was the need to waste money on an 'ideology' for something that had always existed? Oligarchies in the past had succumbed to Imperial conquest. The only way to avert this was to be very good at fighting. Ideology didn't matter in the slightest. Greece had plenty of philosophers but succumbed to the more militaristic Romans.  

Bilgrami, like most Indians, doesn't understand that the suffrage got extended till it became universal for a FISCAL reason. You elect people who get you to pay more in tax so as to permit investment in infrastructure and the type of public good which, soon enough, will make you more secure and more prosperous and thus able to pay even more in tax. 

Bilgrami thinks democracy is about rich and powerful people becoming ashamed of their greed and insensitivity and handing over their wealth and their power to the elected representatives of the poor, starving, masses who, as in fairy tales, are secretly helped by kindly fairies and elves and genies and such like. Sadly, due to Agency getting Alienated, Disenchantment occurs and so people can no longer see the fairies who are telling them to just cut the fucking throats of the boss class already. Incidentally, did you know that Amrika is actually very poor? Capitalists are 'manufacturing consent' that it is rich while India is poor. Only the fairies know the truth. That is why 'Scientists' have been paid to pretend they don't really exist. 

Some of you desi brothers and sisters say to me 'Bilgrami Sahib, you are soooo clever. You got PhD and started teaching Whitey useless shit thus getting revenge for all the wealth Whitey drained from us. I want to tell you, I have no hatred of Whitey. I found out that first they colonized themselves by disenchanting some bushes and trees. Only after that they were coming to our shores. 

... these mercantile, political, scientific, and religious alliances produced over time the mentality that justified the colonial conquest of distant lands. The justification was merely an extension of the ideas that I have outlined to colonized lands, which too were to be viewed as brute nature that was available for conquest and control—but only so long as one was able to portray the inhabitants of the colonized lands in infantilized terms, as a people who were as yet unprepared—by precisely a mental lack of such a notion of scientific rationality—to have the right attitudes towards nature and commerce and the statecraft that allows nature to be pursued for commercial gain.

Why portray the natives in infantilized terms? Why not wipe them out and bring in slaves? The only possible answer is that the natives will work for less money than it would cost to maintain a slave. But in that case poverty, caused by low productivity, is the reason you are in control of their territory. Just say so rather than pretend that they are cute little babies who need their nappy changed. 

 the very fact that Weber and Marx were able to mobilize terms such as ‘disenchantment’ and ‘commodification’ and ‘alienation’

proved they were as thick as shit. Did you know Weber was supposed to be an economist? Marx had a law degree. These nutters were useless in the field in which they had credentials. They both only gained importance because of the Bolshevik Revolution and the possibility that your time at Uni might be well spent giving yourself the alibi that you are a retarded 'fellow traveller' whose life might be spared when the boss class gets its throat slit alongside the 'right deviationists' and the 'left adventurists' and the 'bourgeois idealist' centrists and so forth.  

at all against these thick notions of rationality makes absolutely clear—what I have tried to motivate in the first half of this paper –the deep connections that exist between value and agency and a certain conception of the perceptible world which we inhabit as agents.

These are the arbitrary imputations of an utterly useless tosser. The deep connection here is that between shitting and defecating and taking an almighty dump.  

These are all terms that describe how our relations to the world were impoverished in ways that desolate us,

but do no harm to our bank account or Pension Fund and thus which we only pretend to find desolating 

once we sever these deep connections in our conceptual and material lives.

I took a week off work when my beloved grandmother died. My boss was very understanding. Then I took another week off work when my other grandmother died.  She was less understanding. I got the sack when my third grandmother died. What? Granny could have been a Lezza. Lots of people have two Mummies. 

This was the wider significance of the disputation about naturalism in the Early Modern period that I have tried to excavate genealogically.

Bilgrami appears ignorant of the strong scientific interest in various supernatural phenomena through the ages. There was no real 'disputation about naturalism' in the early Modern Period. The same sorts of ideas existed then as had existed in Classical antiquity and which would reappear in the late Nineteenth Century. One could write about the Cambridge Platonists and the fourth dimension or Bishop Berkeley as a precursor to Mach and the early Einstein. The history of concepts requires wide reading and some knowledge of current 'Open problems' in STEM subjects. Brown monkeys should concentrate on blaming Whitey for extracting all Ind's fabled wealth through aggravated acts of fellatio and cunnilingus. They should then queue up in an orderly fashion for some nice International Prize which gets awarded every so often to darkies from shithole countries. Sadly, under Modi, Indians may cease to qualify for intellectual affirmative action. This is the real reason we must oppose the BJP. Only Rahul Baba can restore our claim to being the veritable arsehole of the Turd World.