Monday, 10 December 2018

Should Dr. Noah Carl be ostracized?

Dr. Noah Carl is a 28 year old 'Social Scientist' who has just been awarded a fellowship established by a wealthy Canadian historian. This has outraged a large section of the Academic community.

Why?

Well, as a case in point, consider the following abstract of a published paper of his-

Several reports have highlighted that, within Britain, allegations of electoral fraud tend to be more common in areas with large Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities. However, the extent of this association has not yet been quantified. Using data at the local authority level, this paper shows that percentage Pakistani and Bangladeshi (logged) is a robust predictor of two measures of electoral fraud allegations: one based on designations by the Electoral Commission, and one based on police enquiries. Indeed, the association persists after controlling for other minority shares, demographic characteristics, socio-economic deprivation, and anti-immigration attitudes. I interpret this finding with reference to the growing literature on consanguinity (cousin marriage) and corruption. Rates of cousin marriage tend to be high in countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, which may have fostered norms of nepotism and in-group favoritism that persist over time. To bolster my interpretation, I use individual level survey data to show that, within Europe, migrants from countries with high rates of cousin marriage are more likely to say that family should be one's main priority in life, and are less likely to say it is wrong for a public official to request a bribe.
This is utterly mad. Democracy took root peacefully and permanently in India but not in East or West Pakistan. Elections were always more or less fraudulent. It is no great surprise if a culture of criminality evolved around the ballot box in Pakistan but not India and if this was carried over into the diaspora in Britain.

Cousin marriage is normative in Islam and certain strains of Judaism but prohibited in Hinduism & Sikhism both of which, however, have a more complicated way of achieving the same objective- viz the maintenance of strong kinship bonds of reinsurance.

Electoral fraud is also a function of levels of literacy. Here, a gap opened up between Muslim and non Muslim immigrants from the sub-continent because of greater urbanization and upward mobility in the non-Muslim areas which exported labor to the UK. Furthermore, whereas undivided Pakistan actively encouraged migration from rural areas like Mirpur, the Indian authorities discouraged it in response to pressure from the British until the Indian judiciary prohibited the practice. However, Britain then imposed immigration controls on Commonwealth citizens. Nevertheless, poorer, more rural, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis were still favoured over Indians under the 'voucher scheme' precisely because the need was low skilled factory workers, cleaners and so on.

However, better educated and more entrepreneurial Indians found themselves under greater pressure to migrate at this time. Furthermore, the arrival of East African Asians, with sound English medium education and entrepreneurial drive, tended to lift up the aspirations and life-chances of other Hindus in Britain. Thus, the 'political culture' and socio-economic trajectory of Hindus started to diverge from that of Muslims and, to a lesser extent, Sikhs. As Hindus moved out of factory jobs and deprived neighbourhoods, the scope for, and rewards from, electoral fraud disappeared.This was not the case for low wage, low education, Pakistani and Bangladeshi populations stuck in deprived areas and working in 'ethnic' service industries rather than gaining access to well paid jobs in manufacturing or construction. It was among these 'ghettoised' populations that higher incidence of electoral fraud prevailed. It had nothing to do with the permissibility of cousin marriage as leading to greater nepotism or closer kinship ties.

Is it possible that Noah Carl is ignorant of all this? Or is it rather the case that he expected his paper to be read in the light of, a former Tory Cabinet Minister, Sir Eric Pickles' claim that 'political correctness' was causing the police to turn a blind eye to widespread electoral fraud and intimidation based on Religion, by Pakistanis and Bangladeshis (who voted Labor)? This was a time when some Tory candidates in London targeted Hindu and Sikh voters with thinly veiled Islamophobic pamphlets.

Brexit changed the political landscape in Britain at the same time that the election of Trump broadened the horizons for Junk Social Science. Dr. Carl attracted ire for attending a Conference on 'Intelligence' last year. He published a paper in April in which he gives examples of

 the violent lengths to which some people will go to in order to stifle debate around race, genes and IQ. Why does this area of research incite such vitriolic indignation?
The reason for this is historic. There was a Eugenicist 'Race Science' which was adopted by Hitler's Nazis. It was utterly foolish. The Slavs turned out not to be inferior to Teutons. Jews and Blacks and so forth were not just excellent soldiers, they were also superb scientists and artists. The same was true of women. Britain's superior female participation rate was a factor in its victory over Germany. The reason all countries- even Iran and now Saudi Arabia- want women to be economically and scientifically active is because that makes everybody better off. Irrational prejudices based on race or gender mean falling behind in an increasingly competitive world.

Dr. Carl takes a different, a bizarre, view.
A likely reason, as Winegard and Winegard (2015) argue, is that for a large number of academics in the West, the notion of biological sameness between groups (classes, sexes, races) has become what Tetlock (2003) calls a ‘sacred value’ (and see Ginges et al., 2007).2 
That's a likely reason? Do a large number of academics in the West really believe chicks got dicks same as wot blokes do? Is that a 'sacred value' for them?
Sacred values possess at least two important properties. First, they are incommensurable with respect to instrumental values: no amount of a sacred value can be traded off for any amount of an instrumental value.
Nonsense! A sacred value- e.g. getting into heaven or out of purgatory- can be traded for an instrumental value having to do with the opportunity cost of time and money and whom you beat or burn to death. If no trade-off is possible then sacred values can have no effect on revealed preference- i.e. actual behavior. But, in that case, sacred values would be worthless.
And second, proposals to accept such trade-offs are met not merely with rejection, but with moral outrage.
Moral outrage is appropriate if there is no trade-off between something inherently repugnant and some concrete benefit. Stem cell research sounds a bit yucky but if it can help people like Michael J Fox then there is a trade-off.

However, in the case of Dr. Carl's own work, there is no possible benefit. The thing is Junk Social Science of a click-bait kind.
Because arguments such as Wilson’s, Jensen’s and Murray’s clearly threaten the sacred value of biological sameness between groups, it is not enough simply to attack the arguments; the defenders of those arguments must be hounded, and their characters impeached.
Wilson, Jensen and Murray were not hounded, their characters were not impeached, by at least some people whose 'sacred values' consecrated the eschatological sameness of groups. This readily translates, in a Thomist manner, into a notion of biological sameness from the point of view of telos.

Furthermore, there is a large body of research in psychology showing that people are quite bad at objectively appraising risk (Kahneman, 2011, Ch. 13).
But, if you know that, why stick your neck out? You are likely to be underestimating the harm you do or the harm that will be done to you.
For example, we tend to be more afraid of snakes, spiders and large carnivores than of loaded guns, faulty electrical wires and driving without a seatbelt (Pinker, 1997, Ch. 6.) One particularly important source of error is the ‘affect heuristic’, whereby people judge things to have worse consequences if their mental images of those things are imbued with more negative emotional content. As Slovic et al. (2007) note, “activities associated with cancer are seen as riskier and more in need of regulation than activities associated with less dreaded forms of illness, injury, and death (e.g., accidents)”. The existence of the ‘affect heuristic’ should give us pause before concluding that the degree of moral outrage associated with a phenomenon constitutes a good measure of how much risk that phenomenon actually poses to society.
But, if you know about 'affect heuristics' why pretend moral outrage poses a risk to society? The thing is silly.
Although a great many areas of science (e.g., the germ theory of disease, the chemistry of particulates, the psychology of manipulation) are open to misuse, there are few if anywhere the putative asymmetry between societal costs and scientific or other benefits is held to be as great as in the area of race, genes and IQ.
Carl can't write a proper English sentence. No doubt this is because of something to do with his race, genes and IQ.
Of course, the main concern among commentators who subscribe to this asymmetry is that evidence of a genetic contribution to IQ differences between human populations would be used by racists to justify oppression or exploitation of populations with lower average IQs.
Don't be silly. If you are oppressing and exploiting someone you can't justify it by saying 'the fellow is a cretin.' You have to say 'this guy is real smart- indeed, he is so smart that he understands that I'm actually doing him a favor. You aren't as smart as him and so you'll never understand the reason for this even if he could be bothered to explain it to you. So just take my word for it already and let me exploit and oppress you in the same way.'
For example, if it were found that the difference in mean IQ between European Americans and African Americans is partly genetic, the difference would be in some sense fixed, and the worry is that racists would then have a justification for oppressing or exploiting African Americans.
Carl, have you ever met an African American? Do you really think it would be easy for you to oppress or exploit one? Let us suppose you are able to capture a cretinous little African American. What would happen if you started oppressing and exploiting the wee creature? You'd get arrested, mate. You may say to the Judge- 'I have evidence that this African American is an utter moron. This justifies my oppressing her. Coz, like that's the Law, right? Smart people are allowed to fuck over the mentally handicapped.'
I don't know much about the Law, but even I know that the statement given above is not exculpatory, rather it is damning.
One can't justify evil actions- like oppression or exploitation- by pointing to the mental or physical inferiority of the victim.

Carl, bless his cotton socks, believes otherwise-

It goes without saying that this concern should be taken seriously; the possibility of an asymmetry between the costs and benefits of discussing race, genes and IQ is not one that should be dismissed out of hand.
I have long contended that Iyers are stupider than almost everybody else. Indeed, my entire oeuvre is a testament to the right of all Iyers everywhere to be categorized as an 'Educationally Backward' Caste by the Government of India.

In the West, where Caste does not exist but Color does, I'd enthusiastically support any research which purports to show that Whitey be smarter than me. Why? The theory of optimal taxation would then militate for higher taxes on White people- and also Iyengars. I fucking hate Iyengars. It is because of them only that us Tambrams got stuck with a reputation for being brainy. Anyway, Rajaji was Iyengar and it was his idiocy which destroyed our caste's political prospects in Tamil Nadu.

Returning to Carl, who is Amia Srinivasan (& therefore Iyengar) level stupid, we find
his paper argues that.. that stifling debate around taboo topics can itself do active harm.3 To the extent that the paper’s argument has force, it cannot simply be taken for granted that, when in doubt, stifling debate around taboo topics is the ethical thing to do.
This guy writes worthless shite about how cousin marriage correlates with electoral fraud. The 'Structural Causal Model' he is appealing to can't be tested by picking out the one ethnic grouping in the UK for whom cousin marriage is normative and which also has a historical record of electoral fraud. You have to compare like with like- i.e. Indian Muslims settled in the UK who practice cousin marriage with undivided Pakistan origin Muslims. Immediately you do this, you understand the absurdity of the underlying 'structural causal model'.

Would it be a good thing for the Academy to stifle junk social science of this sort? No. These guys are monkeys playing with their own faeces. Let them do it in the Academy, where they earn peanuts- which is cool coz they iz monkeys- rather than let them loose on the City.

It is not ethical to let our future Ivy League Professors do anything useful in their late Twenties and early Thirties. They too, like the rest of us, must keep their nose to the grindstone of 'meticulous nonsense' or mindless shite. Since people wot go to posh Skools & Collidges are more at risk of ending up as junk Social Science monkeys, it follows that allowing that shite to flourish cancels out an aspect of their 'moral luck' and is thus part and parcel of providential theodicy.
Dr. Carl's main claim is that-

By equating particular scientific statements (e.g., “the difference in mean IQ between European Americans and African Americans may be partly genetic”) with racism (e.g., “African Americans are genetically inferior to European Americans”), those seeking to stifle debate commit the moralistic fallacy of concluding that a statement cannot be true if it has unpleasant moral implications (Davis, 1978)4.
WTF?! 'the difference in mean Spiritual Quotient between Iyers & Iyengars may be partly epigenetic' is as unscientific as the one Carl quotes. Both lack a coherent, not utterly absurd, Structural Causal Model. If it had been shown that a selective breeding program in a particular population had indeed permanently changed expected I.Q- in other words, if eugenics worked- then, there would be a coherent, not absurd, SCM. However, it would militate for an inter-racial selective breeding program such that 'Caste' would get delinked from Race. It may be that 'assortative mating' is already doing this amongst Ivy League STEM subject hotshots. But there is nothing 'Racial' about the fact that this leads to the existence of Iyers whose moms are Italian or Korean and whose brides or grooms are Ghanaian or Israeli. What matters is that the grandkids understand that the real enemy is the Iyengars. Fuck you Iyengars! How dare you deny the possibility of a jivanmukta? I'm sure, if I can just finish this bottle, I will attain complete metaphysical liberation while still alive in this body.  That will afford scientific proof that the difference in mean Spiritual Quotient between Iyers & Iyengars is almost entirely epigenetic.

But you and I and the next guy know this will never actually happen. Why pretend otherwise? Carl's next assertion explains the reason for this cretinous hypocrisy-

And in doing so, they make a rather perverse assumption, namely that if the relevant scientific statements were ever shown to be true, then the unpleasant moral implications would be valid.
Why impute so perverse an assumption to anybody? Ordinary people are perfectly happy for scientists to study genetic predispositions if this improves their own health. I don't call my Doctor a racist when she tells me that, because of my South Asian ancestry, I am more at risk of certain diseases.
The problem here is that Carl is not a scientist. His Junk Social Science isn't helping anyone. It is immoral to call it scholarship.
No doubt, a 'blank state' or 'Social Constructivist' dogma can hinder science, but useful discoveries persuade people to abandon such dogmas.
It is not the case that attacking those dogmas helps anybody. You actually have to do some useful science or put forward a better Structural Causal Model.

Carl claims that
 there are clear examples of where stifling debate has done material harm to both individuals and societal institutions.
The example he gives is that of Asian grooming gangs who targeted young white girls. However, these girls were regarded as delinquents by Social Workers. It was their policy to let them fend for themselves. They considered it inevitable that they'd end up 'on the game'. Theodore Dalrymple, a psychiatrist who had worked in the NHS as well as the Prison system, wrote an article in the Spectator about the plight of these young girls 'in care'. One 12 or 13 year old had her teeth knocked out by the older girls because she was undercutting the going rate for blow jobs- which was 50 pence. It was in this context that Asian pimps were considered a better option for these girls. They would be accessing a slightly safer and better paying client network. Indeed, shockingly, Social Workers still think it a good idea for these girls, who have given birth to children, to keep in touch with their rapists and to give them visiting rights. Why? The answer is that it reduces the case-load for the 'caring profession'.

The Police do want to put bad guys in prison. These were clear cases of (at least) statutory rape, pimping and so forth. This was organised crime. But it was a type of crime condoned by Society. It was assumed that these girls would end up as prostitutes. If their pimps were Pakistani origin taxi drivers, the crime statistics would go down because street-walking would decrease. The girls would be less likely to spend their time bashing each other up so as to prevent the price of blowjobs going down by ten pence. Hopefully, some of them wold convert to Islam and put on hijabs and stop showing up at the A&E or in the drunk tank.

No doubt, the Police Force is sensitive to claims that they are racist. Perhaps they genuinely are racist. But, the truth is, if Society at large believes the Police are racist then, in England, the conviction rate will go down. Juries will have a reasonable doubt. The CPS will use this as an excuse to drop the prosecution. Thus, it is very much in the interest of the Police to reach out to ethnic communities. Here in Fulham, we see personable officers in our Churches and Mosques and Gurudwaras chatting to the Vicar or Imam and smiling warmly at young people. I once made a complaint about what I thought was a case of the Police ignoring my call. Two officers turned up at my door and listened to me patiently. The younger explained that police procedure was to first locate the injured person, then apprehend the assailant and only return to the scene of the crime to take statements after that had been accomplished. I said I was perfectly satisfied with the explanation but the older officer reproved the younger. He said that the Force was grateful for my input and was always looking to improve its procedures. I got a follow up letter from the Superintendent.
This encounter showed me that even if the Police are racist and don't care about poor people, still, their rational self-interest will cause them to ignore race and economic status. It saves money in the long run. During the hoodie riots, Hammersmith and Fulham were unaffected. Why? Working class people trusted the Police.


It is quite true that 'Political Correctness' is counter-productive. But so is Carl's own work. What is needed is not yet more Junk Social Science but actual Science. A guy who has made a new and very useful discovery has a right to gas on for a bit about his beliefs. After all, his discovery is based on a better Structural Causal Model of some aspect of existence. No doubt, he is likely to say many absurd things along the way but there may be a grain of wheat among the chaff.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Chomsky & the 'Independence of Journalism'.

Chomsky's latest essay begins on a promising note-
Mark Twain famously said that “it is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.”
I suppose one might, with equal justice, credit not the Deity but Darwinian evolution for this happy circumstance.  A freedom is either a Hohfeldian immunity or a residuary control right which corresponds to a duty or obligation under a bond of law. Exercising a freedom imprudently can lead to its loss. Thus, the regret-minimizing course is to assert and exercise freedoms in a self-interested manner. Why? It is the self which is the holder of the freedom. That which kills the rights-holder extinguishes the right.

Of course, there will always be self-publicists who pretend not to care about themselves and gas on about how something very very stupid must be done to save the suffering masses who are too stupid to speak for themselves.

Chomsky picks upon an Old Etonian of this type.
In his unpublished introduction to Animal Farm, devoted to “literary censorship” in free England, George Orwell added a reason for this prudence: there is, he wrote, a “general tacit agreement that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to mention that particular fact.” The tacit agreement imposes a “veiled censorship” based on “an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question,” and “anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness” even without “any official ban.”
Chomsky knows that Orwell was writing about a very peculiar time in English history. Hitler had just attacked Stalin who thus became Churchill's ally. It was vital that the Soviets have faith in the Brits and not seek a separate peace with the Nazis.
It was in this context that the Ministry of Information advised that Animal Farm not be published.

However, Orwell himself says ' Any fairminded person with journalistic experience will admit that during this war official censorship has not been particularly irksome.'

Moreover, there was no 'tacit censorship'. Orwell's book was published and became a best-seller. The man would have looked an utter fool if this 'unpublished introduction' had in fact been allowed to stand.

Chomsky knows all this. Yet he quotes Orwell as if he were a Prophet rather than an Old Etonian silly-arse of a type we will always have with us.

Indeed, Chomsky- whose family background was quite modest- is now an ever sillier-arse of a patrician stripe who thinks that the opinions he hears at the dinner tables of the Great & Good represent the mind of the common man.

Evelyn Waugh, writing around the same time, satirizes the Ministry of Information and, later on in his 'Sword of Honor' trilogy, descries the shameless manner in which the British establishment kowtowed to the Soviets during this period. Waugh and Orwell, in polemical mood, might attribute this to some spiritual or ideological malaise. However, both knew the facts. Stalin was an ally. England was in dire peril. For God's sake, keep mum about Trotsky.

Orwell wrote-
The servility with which the greater part of the English intelligentsia have swallowed and repeated Russian propaganda from 1941 onwards would be quite astounding if it were not that they have behaved similarly on several earlier occasions. On one controversial issue after another the Russian viewpoint has been accepted without examination and then publicised with complete disregard to historical truth or intellectual decency. To name only one instance, the BBC celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Red Army without mentioning Trotsky. This was about as accurate as commemorating the battle of Trafalgar without mentioning Nelson, but it evoked no protest from the English intelligentsia. In the internal struggles in the various occupied countries, the British press has in almost all cases sided with the faction favoured by the Russians and libelled the opposing faction, sometimes suppressing material evidence in order to do so. A particularly glaring case was that of Colonel Mihailovich, the Jugoslav Chetnik leader. The Russians, who had their own Jugoslav protege in Marshal Tito, accused Mihailovich of collaborating with the Germans. This accusation was promptly taken up by the British press: Mihailovich’s supporters were given no chance of answering it, and facts contradicting it were simply kept out of print. In July of 1943 the Germans offered a reward of 100,000 gold crowns for the capture of Tito, and a similar reward for the capture of Mihailovich. The British press ‘splashed’ the reward for Tito, but only one paper mentioned (in small print) the reward for Mihailovich: and the charges of collaborating with the Germans continued. 



Orwell, as an Old Etonian, may not have known that England has never had an intelligentsia- its Universities produced 'flanneled fools' & 'muddied oafs'- but, surely, Chomsky grew up in a very different milieu- that of the immigrant Yiddish worker who debated Socialist or Anarchist ideologies with a Rabbinical passion. Thanks to the War, the children of these immigrants were lifted up into positions of power and influence thanks to their mathematical genius and skill at expounding complex ideas in an idiomatic and impassioned manner. However, by the mid Sixties, the Trotskyites were beginning their metamorphosis into neo-cons. Chomsky took a different tack- but, the truth is, his Research Project had crashed and burned and so his 'political' writings represented a jejune 'displacement activity'- like Cantor dashing off a monograph about who really wrote Shakespeare's plays.

Chomsky was right to be wrong about Language- thinkers should pursue a promising hypothesis if only to show why it is incoherent- but he was wrong to use an absurd theory of Language to write arrant nonsense about something ordinary people understand- viz Political rhetoric.

Consider the following-
We witness the exercise of this prudence constantly in free societies. Take the US-UK invasion of Iraq, a textbook case of aggression without credible pretext, the “supreme international crime” defined in the Nuremberg judgment. It is legitimate to say that it was a “dumb war,” a “strategic blunder,” even “the greatest strategic blunder in the recent history of American foreign policy” in President Obama’s words, highly praised by liberal opinion. But “it wouldn’t do” to say what it was, the crime of the century, though there would be no such hesitancy if some official enemy had carried out even a much lesser crime.
Why do people not denounce themselves for crimes they have committed with the same alacrity and vehemence that they denounce crimes committed against themselves? Chomsky thinks it is because of some sinister 'orthodoxy' which casts a cloud over people's minds. Would it surprise him to learn that it is irrational to confess to things for which one could be punished? If the people of the US and the UK went around saying 'we committed the crime of the century', then they would be under pressure to pay vast sums in reparations. This would mean higher taxes.
The prevailing orthodoxy does not easily accommodate such a figure as General/President Ulysses S. Grant, who thought there never was “a more wicked war than that waged by the United States on Mexico,” taking over what is now the US Southwest and California, and who expressed his shame for lacking “the moral courage to resign” instead of taking part in the crime.
This is sheer nonsense.  Grant, a drunkard, was writing 30 years after the event. He was seeking to influence how history would view him. There was no chance that either he, or his country, would suffer any financial or other loss as a consequence of his admission. Indeed, confessing to crimes which aren't crimes at all is just a cheap form of hypocritical virtue signalling.
Subordination to the prevailing orthodoxy has consequences. The not-so-tacit message is that we should only fight smart wars that are not blunders, wars that succeed in their objectives – by definition just and right according to prevailing orthodoxy even if they are in reality “wicked wars,” major crimes. Illustrations are too numerous to mention. In some cases, like the crime of the century, the practice is virtually without exception in respectable circles.
It is rational to only do costly things- and war is a costly business- if one is likely to benefit or, at least, avoid a greater loss.
 No 'subordination to the prevailing orthodoxy' is required. The Iraq War was supposed to turn a profit and some influential people did make a lot of money. However, the occupation of Iraq was mismanaged so badly- partly because of the greed of vested interests- that the voters ended up having to pick up a hefty tab.

I don't know much about 'respectable circles' and their 'prevailing orthodoxy' but how important are they? Did they really put Trump in the White House? If not, why should we care about them?
Another familiar aspect of subordination to prevailing orthodoxy is the casual appropriation of orthodox demonization of official enemies.
WTF? Orthodox demonizations are part of 'prevailing orthodoxy'. Subordination to orthodoxy means being orthodox. It means you already subscribe to 'orthodox demonization'. There is no need to 'appropriate' it.

Chomsky may be senile but the stupidity he is displaying here has always been a feature of his oeuvre. He confuses a pompous circumlocution- 'subordination to orthodoxy'- for something concrete. The phrase means 'x is orthodox'. It does not mean that 'orthodoxy' has an independent existence and that x has become subordinate to it for some occult reason.
To take an almost random example, from the issue of the New York Times that happens to be in front of me right now, a highly competent economic journalist warns of the populism of the official demon Hugo Chavez, who, once elected in the late ‘90s, “proceeded to battle any democratic institution that stood in his way.”
What's wrong with that? Chavez fucked up Venezuela. Everyone admits it.  Also, it is obvious that 'Democratic institutions' could have pulled the country out of a tail spin. Anyway, 'a highly competent economic journalist' isn't going to say anything sensible- least of all in the pages of the New York Times- so why rake up the matter?
Turning to the real world, it was the US government, with the enthusiastic support of the New York Times, that (at the very least) fully supported the military coup that overthrew the Chavez government – briefly, before it was reversed by a popular uprising.
So, the US didn't really 'fully support' the coup. Otherwise Caracas would have a Green Zone like Baghdad.
As for Chavez, whatever one thinks of him, he won repeated elections certified as free and fair by international observers, including the Carter Foundation, whose founder, ex-President Jimmy Carter, said that “of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” And Venezuela under Chavez regularly ranked very high in international polls on public support for the government, and for democracy (Chile-based LatinobarĂ³metro).
Yes, but Chavez undermined democratic and other institutional checks and balances such that, when oil prices fell, his Nation suffered enormously. Seldom has a 'resource curse' proved so utterly venomous.
There were doubtless democratic deficits during the Chavez years, such as the repression of the RCTV channel, which elicited enormous condemnation. I joined, also agreeing that it couldn’t happen in our free society. If a prominent TV channel in the US had supported a military coup as RCTV did, then it wouldn’t be repressed a few years later, because it would not exist: the executives would be in jail, if they were still alive.
'if they were still alive'? What is Chomsky saying? Does he think the US Supreme Court would hang TV executives for treason? Or is he hinting that they would have been the victims of extra judicial killing?
But orthodoxy easily overcomes mere fact.
What fact is Chomsky talking about? That the American judiciary would consider a military coup to be an event which abrogates the fundamental right to free speech?
Does Chomsky really believe the Bench would permit a President to use his influence to cancel the licence of a TV Station which had been critical of him?
Failure to provide pertinent information also has consequences. Perhaps Americans should know that polls run by the leading US polling agency found that a decade after the crime of the century, world opinion regarded the United States as the greatest threat to world peace, no competitor even close; surely not Iran, which wins that prize in US commentary.
I didn't know about these polls. What pernicious consequence have I suffered as a result? None at all.
Perhaps instead of concealing the fact, the press might have performed its duty of bringing it to public attention, along with some consideration of what it means, what lessons it yields for policy.
The Press reported it but readers didn't find it interesting. It yielded no lesson for policy whatsoever. A recent poll shows that half of Americans believe in UFOs. So what? Neither US bellicosity not Alien anal probes matter to us in our daily lives. Sure, after a few drinks, we might be willing to wax eloquent on such subjects but only because they allow us a momentary escape from reality.
Again, dereliction of duty has consequences.
Very true! Chomsky's asshole is at risk of being probed by Extra Terrestrials- or so almost half the American population believes- and yet 'subordination to orthodoxy' is preventing the FBI from taking this threat seriously!
Examples such as these, which abound, are serious enough, but there are others that are far more momentous. Take the electoral campaign of 2016 in the most powerful country in world history. Coverage was massive, and instructive. Issues were almost entirely avoided by the candidates, and virtually ignored in commentary, in accord with the journalistic principle that “objectivity” means reporting accurately what the powerful do and say, not what they ignore.
Right! Important stuff like Alien anal probes is totally ignored! But, why blame the Press when it is the Judges- who focus only on what people say and do, not what they ignore or are ignorant of- who are more greatly at fault? Even worse than the Judiciary, are the great mass of ordinary people who ignore paranoid nutjobs who think 'orthodoxy' is making people so irrational that they refuse to confess to their own crimes while complaining about crimes committed against themselves.
The principle holds even if the fate of the species is at stake – as it is: both the rising danger of nuclear war and the dire threat of environmental catastrophe.
Where is there a 'rising danger' of nuclear war? Not even in the sub-continent. What about 'environmental catastrophe'? There is zero danger of any such thing wiping out the species or greatly altering our collective fate. The only question is, who can be persuaded to pay 'carbon taxes'. The French 'yellow vests' have shown Macron that the embattled middle class won't pay. But, economists had already observed that 'green taxes' are only politically feasible if there are compensating cash transfers.

It is perfectly rational, if you don't want to pay higher gas prices, to vote for a guy who claims not to believe in climate change. Chomsky must know that it was blue collar voters- of a type not subservient at all to the 'prevailing orthodoxy' of bien pensant 'respectable circles'- who put Trump in power and who have now given Macron a bloody nose. Yet, he accuses the Press of 'neglect'!
The neglect reached a dramatic peak on November 8, a truly historic day. On that day Donald Trump won two victories. The less important one received extraordinary media coverage: his electoral victory, with almost 3 million fewer votes than his opponent, thanks to regressive features of the US electoral system. The far important victory passed in virtual silence: Trump’s victory in Marrakech, Morocco, where some 200 nations were meeting to put some serious content into the Paris agreement on climate change a year earlier. On November 8, the proceedings halted. The remainder of the conference was largely devoted to trying to salvage some hope with the US not only withdrawing from the enterprise but dedicated to sabotaging it by sharply increasing the use of fossil fuels, dismantling regulations, and rejecting the pledge to assist developing countries shift to renewables.
Trump's victory was newsworthy. Marrakech wasn't. Chomsky writes as though Trump had some personal animus against the Paris agreement. He didn't gave a damn about it because his business is unaffected by gas prices. If anything, it stands to gain by killing off commuting and forcing people to abandon McMansions for inner city developments.

To get elected, Trump had to pretend to be a 'climate change denier' so as to deliver lower gas prices- which is what blue collar voters needed.
All that was at stake in Trump’s most important victory was the prospects for organized human life in any form that we know.
Sheer nonsense! 'Organized human life' is not under any threat from climate change. The quality of life of billions of people in less organized, or poorer, countries may be adversely affected. But they themselves will have to first become 'part of the problem' before they can be 'part of the solution'. Telling stupid lies helps nobody.
Accordingly, coverage was virtually zero, keeping to the same concept of “objectivity” as determined by the practices and doctrines of power.
Wow! The Press should have been in Marrakech listening to boring speeches instead of focusing on Trump having pulled off the most incredible upset in American politics since Franklin Delano Roosevelt tugged off Wendell's Willkie.
A truly independent press rejects the role of subordination to power and authority.
Nonsense! The press is subordinate to legitimate judicial power and authority. The fact that no Democratic country permits the press to flout a judicial injunction with impunity does not mean that no element of its Fourth Estate is not 'truly independent'. On the contrary, it is the Rule of Law which safeguards that independence and confers legitimacy on its operations.

Chomsky believes otherwise. He thinks the Judiciary is useless. Only 'orthodoxy' matters. It has occult power. It can brainwash people. That's why people don't confess to their own crimes and yet lodge complaints regarding crimes against themselves.

Chomsky's 'independent press' would not bother with the Law- nor with the facts that the Law insists upon- rather it would liberate ordinary people from the strange delusion that they should act in a rational, self-regarding, manner.

He dreams of a world where the Press
casts the orthodoxy to the winds, questions what “right-thinking people will accept without question,” tears aside the veil of tacit censorship, makes available to the general public the information and range of opinions and ideas that are a prerequisite for meaningful participation in social and political life, and beyond that, offers a platform for people to enter into debate and discussion about the issues that concern them. By doing so it serves its function as a foundation for a truly free and democratic society.

So, this means the Press should take as its model the National Enquirer and Fox News. Forget Murdoch, Berlusconi has shown the way forward. We must all have topless TV presenters interviewing alien abductees who personally witnessed George Soros turning into a Lizard Person.
But what difference would it make? None at all. In the short run, people may be taken in by virtue signalling windbags and vote against their pwn economic interest. Longer term, there is a backlash. Venezuela would be on the path to recovery if Chavez hadn't destroyed the foundations of its Democracy. America could go the same way if its Judiciary and Legislature are similarly subverted. The Press doesn't matter. Professors don't matter. The Law does. The Economy does. But only if people behave rationally and act in a self-regarding manner.

By contrast, what people pretend to believe, or pretend to find shocking, doesn't matter at all. Orthodoxy has no occult power. It is 'preference falsification' merely.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Why Jason Brennan now justifies Violent Resistance to the Government

Jason Brennan asks-
If you see police choking someone to death – such as Eric Garner, the 43-year-old black horticulturalist wrestled down on the streets of New York City in 2014 – you might choose to pepper-spray them and flee. You might even save an innocent life. But what ethical considerations justify such dangerous heroics? (After all, the cops might arrest or kill you.) More important: do we have the right to defend ourselves and others from government injustice when government agents are following an unjust law?
The right to self-defence is unqualified save against an action sanctioned by law. An unjust law is no law at all because it has no focal salience. It is not the case that an unjust action of the sort described above gains legal sanction just because it is performed by government agents. Of course, all these matters are justiciable and juristic reason is notoriously defeasible. However, it is protocol bound and 'intensional' or 'buck stopped' in a certain sense which means that it is as much outside the scope of philosophy as questions about how to fix the plumbing.

Brennan, typically, thinks differently. What the Law, and the Law alone, can clarify, he believes Philosophy should shit all over.
I think the answer is yes. But that view needs defending. Under what circumstances might active self-defence, including possible violence, be justified, as opposed to the passive resistance of civil disobedience that Americans generally applaud?

In the Garner case, a passerby who happened to know that Garner was asthmatic and that Officer Pantaleo was killing him by applying an illegal choke hold would have been legally justified in using reasonable force- e.g. pepper spraying the officer- though, no doubt, that passerby might have an uphill battle proving it in Court.

Civil Disobedience is not germane in this context. There was no unjust law. There was an illegal action (the NYPD prohibits choke-holds) by a police officer. It is a different matter that the Grand Jury failed to indict the officer. Civil Disobedience might have a role in challenging unjust institutions administering the Law, but there was no unjust Law here for it to protest.

Once again, the Law has clarified all these matters. Philosophy has no role here. But Brennan, who has a worthless book to sell, insists otherwise. Why? Brennan believes that most people are stupid and have absurd beliefs.

Most people answer yes, believing that we are forbidden from stopping government agents who violate our rights.
Is Brennan utterly mad? Suppose a government agent knocks on Brennan's door and says, "I've come to rape your wife and sodomise your eye socket. Kindly sit down quietly while I violate your rights.' Would Brennan actually turn around and say to his wife, 'Gee honey, this sure is a tough break for us. I could just beat the shit out of this government agent, or shout out to our neighbors to do it for me, but here in America we are forbidden from stopping government agents who violate our rights. So just lie back and think of George Washington.'
I find this puzzling. On this view, my neighbours can eliminate our right of self-defence and our rights to defend others by granting someone an office or passing a bad law. On this view, our rights to life, liberty, due process and security of person can disappear by political fiat – or even when a cop has a bad day.
But this view is flat out crazy. It does not correspond to anything in American law or culture. It is a fantasy.
In When All Else Fails: The Ethics of Resistance to State Injustice (2019), I argue instead that we may act defensively against government agents under the same conditions in which we may act defensively against civilians.
D'uh! That has always been the case. What's next for Brennan? Will his next book be titled 'When all Else Falls: the Ethics of the Aeroplane's defiance of Newton's unjust Law of Gravity.'

In my view, civilian and government agents are on a par, and we have identical rights of self-defence (and defence of others) against both.
This is not a view, it is the Law of the Land. What matters is that the right of self-defence is exercised according to a reasonable person test. This means that it is inherently legal, not philosophical, since a reasonable person would look to the Law, not Philosophy, for guidance.
We should presume, by default, that government agents have no special immunity against self-defence, unless we can discover good reason to think otherwise.
Nobody as any immunity at all with respect to right violation. It is not up to us to 'discover good reasons' of a philosophical kind because a reasonable person would focus only on reasons considered appropriate by the actual law of the land.
But it turns out that the leading arguments for special immunity are weak.
There are no such arguments.
Some people say we may not defend ourselves against government injustice because governments and their agents have ‘authority’.
Who are these people? Do they really let 'government agents' rape them without trying to defend themselves? I don't believe they exist.
(By definition, a government has authority over you if, and only if, it can oblige you to obey by fiat: you have to do what it says because it says so.)
No such authority has ever existed. If it had, it could, by fiat, oblige a person to stay alive for ten thousand years. We would love to give ourselves over to a benign authority which had such a magical property.

Authority has no intensional definition. It may have an extensional, 'buck stopped' or otherwise protocol bound, definition for specific legal and administrative purposes.

Suppose a government can oblige its subjects to obey by fiat. Then it can decree that everybody is obliged to have the set of obligations ex post optimal for itself. Clearly, this is impossible because of Knightian Uncertainty. But, this also means no authority would want to be able to impose obligations by fiat because this would disable error correction in a manner fatal to its own longevity.

That is why there is no 'authority argument' anywhere in the world save in a cultic form. The thing is too stupid.
But the authority argument doesn’t work. It’s one thing to say that you have a duty to pay your taxes, show up for jury duty, or follow the speed limit. It is quite another to show that you are specifically bound to allow a government and its agents to use excessive violence and ignore your rights to due process. A central idea in liberalism is that whatever authority governments have is limited.
A central idea of any thing not an outright loonytoons cult is that authority is and must be limited. If it weren't pigs could and must fly and they'd shit over everything in the manner of Jason Brennan. Any authority which can sustain itself over time must have a more or less incentive compatible mechanism. But that means that rights are not cancelled by duties.Rather the rights holder is separate from the obligation holder. Otherwise both are meaningless and serve no error correction function.

This does not mean that a Liberal State can't do anything a Despotic State can. The folk theorem of repeated games explains why. Furthermore, Liberalism permits the Law to get things wrong without ceasing to be the Law. It entails only a commitment to focality, when it comes to natural law. Otherwise, it can always be considered positive or as a type of Economia.

Since there are 'open problems' in maths to do with whether Deontic logic can have 'univalent foundations', a Philosopher could have something to say in this context.

But Brennan is not a Philosopher. He is a cretin. He thinks philosophy is about inventing a straw-man who is even more cretinous and pretending to be all sweetness and light in comparison.

Consider the following-
Others say that we should resist government injustice, but only through peaceful methods.
We should complain about injustice by our public servants or institutions just as we complain about any tort or breach of contract we suffer in civil society. 'Resistance' is the wrong word here.  I am not 'resisting' Amazon when I demand a refund for a good which was not delivered. I am complaining.

We may speak of the French Resistance if that country is occupied by Nazi scum. Riots against Macron aren't 'Resistance'. They are hooliganism.
Indeed, we should, but that doesn’t differentiate between self-defence against civilians or government.
There is no such difference in Law. I am entitled to use force to stop a police man raping me in exactly the same way that I am entitled to defend myself from Jennifer Aniston who, for some reason, is delivering my pizza and pushes her way into my home and rips open my kimono and seeks to sate her vile lust upon my quivering body.
The common-law doctrine of self-defence is always governed by a necessity proviso: you may lie or use violence only if necessary, that is, only if peaceful actions are not as effective. But peaceful methods often fail to stop wrongdoing. Eric Garner peacefully complained: ‘I can’t breathe,’ until he drew his last breath.
Wow! Brennan thinks Garner was engaging in civil disobedience. This is not true. The  police officers were determined to manhandle him and  inflict pain and humiliation. They probably did not intend to kill him. Still, the choke-hold used was illegal.  There can be no civil disobedience if a crime is being committed. There is merely a failure, perhaps prudential, to use reasonable force to prevent the violation of one's rights.
Another argument is that we shouldn’t act as vigilantes.
Why not? There is no prohibition on vigilantism as such if no law is broken. It is a case of innocent till proven guilty.
But invoking this point here misunderstands the antivigilante principle, which says that when there exists a workable public system of justice, you should defer to public agents trying, in good faith, to administer justice.

There is no such principle. If there were, Public Interest Litigation would not be permissible. It is not the case that Sherlock Holmes 'should defer to public agents trying, in good faith,' to catch Dr. Moriarty.
So if cops attempt to stop a mugging, you shouldn’t insert yourself.
Unless, you are an SAS trained commando.
But if they ignore or can’t stop a mugging, you may intervene. If the police themselves are the muggers – as in unjust civil forfeiture – the antivigilante principle does not forbid you from defending yourself. It insists you defer to more competent government agents when they administer justice, not that you must let them commit injustice.
The test here is the 'reasonable man' one. There is no further 'antivigilante principle'.
Some people find my thesis too dangerous.
Fuck  off! Brenan's thesis is not dangerous. It is cretinous.
They claim that it’s hard to know exactly when self-defence is justified; that people make mistakes, resisting when they should not. Perhaps. But that’s true of self-defence against civilians, too. No one says we lack a right of self-defence against each other because applying the principle is hard. Rather, some moral principles are hard to apply.
This is a legal, not a moral, matter. Some jurisdictions have 'stand your ground' & 'Good Samaritan' type laws. Your personal morality might count towards determining intent which may affect the quantum of punishment but it has no bearing on your rights or obligations.
However, this objection gets the problem exactly backwards. In real life, people are too deferential and conformist in the face of government authority.
Where? Not down my neck of the woods around closing time on a Saturday night.
They are all-too-willing to electrocute experimental subjects, gas Jews or bomb civilians when ordered to, and reluctant to stand up to political injustice.
Nonsense! People are only willing to do stuff in return for money & social position.
If anything, the dangerous thesis – the thesis that most people will mistakenly misapply – is that we should defer to government agents when they seem to act unjustly. Remember, self-defence against the state is about stopping an immediate injustice, not fixing broken rules.
Very true! Yet, in America, millions of  people are being raped by 'Government agents' whom they feel they have a duty to obey. Brennan himself has just been reamed by the postman who is buttoning himself up and saying 'I order you to say nothing about this'. That is why, Brennan keeps writing these idiotic books. It is a cry for help.
Of course, strategic nonviolence is usually the most effective way to induce lasting social change.
Rubbish! Economic forces alone are effective in changing Society. Violence too is economic.
But we should not assume that strategic nonviolence of the sort that King practised always works alone. Two recent books – Charles Cobb Jr’s This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed (2014) and Akinyele Omowale Umoja’s We Will Shoot Back (2013) – show that the later ‘nonviolent’ phase of US civil rights activism succeeded (in so far as it has) only because, in earlier phases, black people armed themselves and shot back in self-defence.
But, it was economic forces- the tremendous talent, patriotism and productivity of African American people- which determined the outcome. No one would pay red-necks to shoot Black vets, or those they trained, who knew how to shoot back and who didn't require a pay check to do so.
Once murderous mobs and white police learned that black people would fight back, they turned to less violent forms of oppression, and black people in turn began using nonviolent tactics.
Sheer nonsense! The minority would have lost a race war. What changed was the amount of surplus their economic activities could generate. Murderous mobs actually have ring-leaders who get paid. The police won't get off their lard asses without gold plated pensions. That money has to come from somewhere. More and more of it was coming from African Americans and 'liberals' and...urm... those people Farrakhan hates so much.
Defensive subterfuge, deceit and violence are rarely first resorts, but that doesn’t mean they are never justified.

Rubbish! They are always first resorts unless preempted by an expensive mechanism which can only be dismantled by purely economic forces. Thus, it remains the case that you are justified in lying, cheating and using violence to prevent your rights being violated save if an expensive mechanism exists which will interpose itself in a manner a reasonable person would find preferable, if only for prudential reasons.

Justification is only required where no Hohfeldian immunity exists. We all have such immunities with respect to our philosophical beliefs. This does mean that, like Brennan, we can write any old shite. However, we don't all have his excuse- which is that he feels obliged to keep silent any time an 'agent of the government' sodomises him. If the poor fellow now thinks he is Malcolm X and dreams of a world where the people will rise up to overthrow the American Government, he is perfectly justified because of the incessant pounding his asshole is receiving from every passing Government employee.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

The Schelling segregation model is meaningless

We are not always aware of our external costs and benefits. Even if we have zero knowledge of them, over time, with low enough cost of relocation, populations will segregate on the basis of their externality profile.

The Schelling or Sakoda model provides simulations which show this process at work. But, the model is meaningless. What matters is externalities not attitudes or biases or 'segregation' per se. Why? If externalities are out of whack with attitudes, it is attitudes which get pruned by economic processes.

Furthermore, the existence of arbitrage between discoordination games will cause segregation to break down in any case. Thus we can expect the poshest segregated clubs to have more diversity. This works the other way as well. The most racist places with the worst attitudes too will have the most diversity.


Thursday, 29 November 2018

Barkha Dutt, Twitter & 'Brahminical Patriarchy'.


While I had no knowledge of the poster, Brahminical Patriarchy is a fair & entirely mainstream phrase in the way that we now know the intersectionality of Feminism & the critique of upper caste hegemony. It is NOT an attack on Brahmins but on hierarchy much like White Privilege
1,270 people are talking about this



Is it really true that 'Brahminical Patriarchy is a fair & entirely mainstream phrase'? What about 'Jewish Capitalism'? Surely that is not a mainstream phrase? It unfairly stigmatises a particular set of people on the basis of their ancestral religion. Moreover, it imputes occult powers and sinister motives to a group of people no different from their neighbors of other faiths or communities.

I suppose it could be argued that Rahul Gandhi's claim to the Premiership of India is an example of 'Brahminical Patriarchy' because he now declares himself a Brahman and his father and great-grand father held that position before him. But there is no need to 'smash' this example of Brahminical Patriarchy because people are free to vote for whom they please.

Barkha Dutt says that 'Brahminical Patriarchy' is a mainstream phrase ' in the way that we now know the intersectionality of Feminism & the critique of upper caste hegemony'. Does she really believe that 'intersectionality of Feminism' is a mainstream phrase? Does the average American use this term? I see from Wikipeidia that the first person to use it was one Kimberle Williams Crenshaw- a Professor at Columbia (where Barkha studied) in 1989. Since then it has gained no traction among ordinary people. Rather it features in an elite academic availability cascade more famous as a target of satire than for any real world achievement or accomplishment.

Similarly the Gramscian term 'hegemony' is associated with the elitist 'Subaltern School' scarcely any of whom remain domiciled in India. No one could understand what these people were talking about and they have had no political influence whatsoever.

Caste is a reality in India. To speak of 'Brahman patriarchy' is to attack a particular group of people who will respond in like terms. Barkha Dutt says 'it is NOT an attack on Brahmins but on hierarchy much like White Privilege'. However, in India, it means don't vote for X because he is a Brahman. Since most Brahmans are poor where they are numerous, it is not the case that any 'hierarchy' is being attacked. Rather, it is a particular group of people who will retaliate in like terms if they are able to do so.

Talk of 'White Privilege' may seem innocuous- more especially to dark skinned people like myself. However, it has created a backlash and polarised Society in the US. White people in certain occupational/regional groups can see their life-chances have declined relative to other groups. If White Privilege was what enabled them to prosper previously, then they will fight to impose it once again. There is no point in stigmatising people according to their birth or colour. They will retaliate in like terms. When it comes to 'smashing' things, they may turn out to be more effective. Why provoke them to do so if your aim is to improve Society by lifting up weaker sections?

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Was Sukhamoy Chakravarty the World's Worst Economist?

A laudatory booklet available here, suggests that if not the World's worst Economist, Sukhamoy Chakravarty was a strong contender for the title.

An ex-student of his writes-
 the first sentence he uttered in the first year undergraduate course on production theory at Presidency College was that the production function is concave because of super additivity. Since we had not even heard of additivity let alone super additivity, we couldn’t understand a word of what he said. He, on his part, couldn’t understand what we couldn’t understand.
Short run production functions are concave because of 'decreasing returns'- adding inputs does not lead to a proportionate rise in output because of some bottleneck or resource crunch. Superaddivity means a sequence such that {\displaystyle a_{n+m}\geq a_{n}+a_{m}}- i.e. it has increasing, not decreasing returns. Now if a function starts from zero, is convex and increasing then its sequence is superadditive. But a superadditivity does not imply convexity. Thus, the cause of concavity can't be superadditivity. On the contrary, a convexity, under certain conditions, implies superadditivity but the reverse is not the case. Furthermore, there is no mathematical reason to tell a bunch of beginners in Econ that superaddittivity causes anything or, indeed, has anything to do with the assumption of diminishing returns.

Perhaps Chakravarty simply wasn't very good at maths. The firs paragraph of the booklet concludes with this anecdote-
In the Netherlands in 1981 he was visited by professors from many different disciplines and they would engage in engrossing conversations as between equals. The only exception was when a mathematician visited him. Sukhamoy da asked him what he was working on. He replied don’t ask Sukhamoy. You won’t understand. 
A little later on the booklet appears to contradict this view. But does it really? It seems to me that something is being left unstated after each sentence. I will take the liberty of uttering what I think the authors are skating over discreetly. My remarks are in bold.

He was renowned for his mathematical prowess. But not among genuine mathematicians who knew he couldn't understand what they were working on. Yet mathematical economics was not an end in itself.  D'uh! Mathematical Economics aims at the same thing Economics does- viz. economizing on scarce resources. A good mathematician can save a company, or a consumer, or a country money by coming up with a better algorithm or formula. 
Analysis of economic development and economic policy choices did not flow immediately from these abstract mathematical models. Unless they weren't wholly worthless. A mathematical model devised after analysing economic development and policy choices might help save money or improve efficiency. Putting the cart before the horse could never do so. According to him, they emerged from the combination of such constructs and analysis of historical experience. “Economics as a discipline appears to me to be located at the edge of ‘history’ and ‘theory’.” History comes in not only as time is irreversible, but provides important insights into the emergence of institutions over time, an open ended process. Insights are not necessarily provided “by looking at institutions as solutions of suitably defined repeated games”.
This is sheer nonsense. Economics is about looking at a time series and saying- this is where things started to go wrong. We've got to restore the system to how it was before we screwed up. Time is not reversible, but Policy is. History provides time series data. It does not provide 'insights'. There is no such thing as 'Theory' or 'Economics as a discipline'. What Chakravarty is talking about is academic availability cascades with zero alethic value or social utility. 

Institutions may be 'focal points' for coordination games. They are not solutions to repeated games because, by the folk theorem, there would be no need for them. Thus they would have neither any coercive power nor any budget allocation. 
Chakravarty was keenly aware of the limitations of such models. Their limitation was that they were utter shite.  However, they were not useless (1989) as they provide a basis for discussions with political decision makers. Hilarious! Political decision makers are people like Ron Reagan or Rajiv Gandhi or, nowadays, Donald Trump. They don't know any math and have zero capacity to evaluate mathematical models of the economy. When, in the history of the world, has a mathematical economist been able to use his model as a 'basis of discussion' with anybody with real power? All he can do is pretend to be wiser than he is. But that is the modus operandi of the mystagogue and charlatan through the ages. Optimal growth paths provide scenarios for a dialogue between planners and the policy makers (Chakravarty, 1988). No they don't- for the same reason that Astrological Charts don't provide scenarios for dialogue between the scoundrel and the person he is duping. His proficiency in mathematical modeling and reasoning as in the well known Chakravrty, Eckaus, Lefeber Parikh model and his awareness of their limitations was one of his dualities, different to that pointed out by Prof. Samuelson of his being at home in both the sciences and humanities in his preface to his Capital and Development planning.
This CELF model was incredibly stupid. It assumed no technological or structural change between 1960 and 1972! Man had landed on the Moon, but this model assumed technology did not change! Indira Gandhi appointed this idiot head of the Planning Commission (because more honest, less sycophantic people had turned down the job) where he turned a blind eye to Sanju's corrupt and criminal dealings. No wonder India stagnated under Indira! Chakravarty's entire approach was worthless. He'd have been better off practising Voodoo!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Amia Srinivasan on Genealogy, World-making and a parrot

Nelson Goodman's 'ways of World-making' came out in 1978. Its 'irrealism' seemed quaint. After all, some Dr. Strangelove or other was bound to split the photon any day now and thus all worlds were on the point of turning weirder than we could possibly imagine. Sci Fi shows on the Beeb already took it for granted that everybody was their own Oedipal father as well as virginal Jocasta waging a relentless guerrilla war against her own conception. Salman Rushdie had just published his unreadable 'Grimus'. John Barth was about to jump the shark with 'LETTERS'. It had become clear that a way of World-making that didn't make the actual world a better and less psychotic place was utterly worthless.

Thus, thankfully, with the death of Brezhnev and the rise of Thatcher and Reagan, irrealism retreated and realty gained salience. The world was now a fixer-upper to be flipped. Conveyancing mattered, Provenance or 'Genealogy' did not.

Amia Srinivasan, seeking to find a relationship between Seventies style 'critical genealogy'- stuff like how Society had brainwashed prostitutes into taking money from johns instead of paying them for their jizz- and irreal 'World-making'- which is about how visualising the world as being one where you've already done your homework and the washing up means not having to do your homework or your chores- writes-
A genealogy endows us with more than the knowledge that there were once people who thought differently than us.
How? Looking at a family tree does not endow us with knowledge about different modes of thinking. The same is true about intellectual or aesthetic genealogy. The Mathematics genealogy project picks out mathematicians who are likely to belong to the same methodological school or research project. It gives us no information about those who thought differently from each other.

Amia's next sentence appears to acknowledge this-
(Indeed, certain genealogies, such as evolutionary genealogies, do not endow us with such historical knowledge at all.)
But, if she knows this, why does she say the opposite? A genealogy that is not 'evolutionary'- i.e. track genetic or memetic changes- is no genealogy at all.
A genealogy (also) endows us with the knowledge that there are other, perhaps many other, uninstantiated possible ways of thinking.
Rubbish! My neighbour's pedigree cat has a genealogy. It doesn't endow anybody with knowledge of the sort Amia mentions. How could it?
Put more simply, when genealogies reveal to us the contingency of our representations, they reveal to us that we could, perhaps even easily, represent the world otherwise.
The 'contingency of our representations' are immediately revealed to us when they disappear when we get drunk off our heads or are coshed by a mugger or fall asleep. Genealogy, on the other hand, doesn't reveal anything at all save who begat whom.

We all know we can represent the world differently because that is what happens when we take drugs or dream or listen to a persuasive speaker or study a subject, like Mathematical Physics or Economics, which makes representing aspects of the world its business to some useful end. Marxism is based on Economics- its votaries thought it enabled them to envision a very different Social and Political world. The same is true of the 'Washington consensus'- it is based on a mathematical model of the economy. Similarly, the world that Edison and Ford and the digital computer and A.I and so forth ushered in was based, ultimately, on Mathematical Physics. Even the theory of Evolution got a second wind and was able to dispose off false notions such as that 'homosexuality' was unnatural, once it got a consistent mathematical representation.

However, all this sort of scientific and mathematical progress which enables us to represent the world very differently- for e.g. by getting rid of the notion that there is some essential difference between the races or genders- restricts our ability to represent the world otherwise. The Nazi's found out that they couldn't get rid of 'Jewish Science' without falling behind technologically. Stalin and Mao found out that Lysenko type Lamarckian theories caused mass famine. Genetics wasn't 'anything goes'. Neither was genealogy. Magick does not exist. Critical genealogy is merely magical thinking. It is not the case that reviving Vedic mathematics or Aztec cosmology will enable India or Mexico to overtake America in technology.

Amia thinks magical thinking opens doors for us-
Critical genealogies, then, open up the possibility space for our representational choices.
But imagining anything we like can only offer us a momentary respite. Castles in Spain can't ameliorate our economic condition. The psychological comfort the provide are at best masturbatory. How does it help anyone if representational choices open up a space for surreal speculations about worlds where hookers pay johns and lunatics institutionalize the sane?
Such an enhanced modal sense is not itself sufficient for practical action. But by pointing to the contingency of what we took to be necessary –or whose contingency we were dimly aware of but never seriously considered – a genealogy can prompt us to ask questions that lead in the direction of action.
Wanting to make the world better, or just our own lives better, leads directly to practical action. But only actions which do in fact make our lives better get reinforced.

In the short run, we may feel better if  we lend credence to someone saying to us- 'you don't have to believe you are dying a painful death from cancer. Imagine yourself free of that terrible disease. Say to yourself 'everyday, in every way, I am getting better and better. Soon I shall be able to rise from my bed and walk unaided. Then I will be able to go back to work. I will then invent an anti-gravity machine. I will get the Nobel Prize. I will be elected President of the Universe.'

In the medium to long term, however, we will find that this sort of 'world making' is counter-productive. It leaves us spiritually and morally impoverished. We are trapped in denial, not on on our way to recovery.

That is why pointing to something already obvious to us does not prompt us to anything buy annoyance at the imbecility of the person doing the pointing. Hence 'critical genealogy' and 'world making' died a death, or were still-born, in even the drug addled Seventies.
If our representational arrangements could be otherwise, why this way of thinking rather than that?
Coz this way is useful. If some other way were more useful we might hire someone who has mastered that way of world-making to do useful stuff for us. My 'representational arrangements' w.r.t my TV involve little people living inside that box who put on nice shows for me. When my TV breaks down, I hire a guy with a different 'representational arrangements' involving...urm...electrons? pixels?...dunno...anyway the guy fixes my TV so the little people come back to life and put on nice shows for me once again.
How do our current arrangements compare with counterfactual arrangements? Might there be better ways of thinking? Quick on the heels of these questions comes another: in what sense ‘better’? We standardly compare ways of thinking in terms of their epistemic qualities: to the extent that they are true, valid, rational, justified, apt, and so on.
No we don't. We only care about utility. Epistemic qualities don't exist anymore than little people inside my TV set.
Certainly, discovering that our beliefs or concepts are contingent can prompt such calls for epistemic comparisons. Are our beliefs more plausible, or more grounded in evidence, than the alternatives? Are our concepts better at cutting nature ‘at its joints’ than the alternatives? But we can also make non-epistemic comparisons between our actual and possible representations. Instead of asking whether our representations are superior to the alternatives at getting onto the world – viz., whether they are superior qua representations – we can ask whether our representations are superior to the alternatives at making the world: whether they are superior qua social arrangements.
Sheer nonsense! We are in the world. Representations are a way of functioning better in it. We outsource representations it would be costly for us to acquire so as to function better than we otherwise could. We don't have to evaluate other people's representations. We can 'cloud source' the evaluation provided any given agent is more likely to be right than wrong- in which case Condorcet's Jury theorem applies. Those fields in which a person is more likely to be right than wrong- e.g. is the food at such and restaurant tasty- are also those directly linked to utility.

As for 'social arrangements'- better functioning means we find social arrangements are more satisfactory for ourselves. That is the extent of our interest in the matter.
To answer this question, we will want to know what it is our representations do.
They represent.
This, I will now suggest, is also a question that can be answered by genealogy.
Which represents stupidity, so it can answer the question stupidly.

The idea that a genealogy of a representation could tell us what that representation does – what effects it has in the word – is, on reflection, puzzling
Stupidity isn't puzzling unless one is very very stupid.
. A genealogy is an account of the causes of a representation.
But it is a stupid one.
How then could it tell us anything about the effects of that representation?
By saying the effects of that representation are stupidly genealogical.
The puzzle is dissolved via the notion of a function.
The notion of a function is mathematical. It involves dependence or unique association.I don't believe Amia is smart enough to know what that is.
To say that a representation R has a function F – e.g. that theism has the function of social deterrence, or that bourgeois morality has the function of sustaining capitalist relations of production – is to say that (1) that R has a tendency to cause, sustain or otherwise produce F, and (2) that the fact that R has the tendency to produce F is the reason for its current existence.
No. It is to say no F would obtain absent R. An ignorant fool may say 'there is no social deterrence in atheistic China. Everybody goes around raping and robbing whom they please. The Chinese think rape and robbery are quite delightful. That is why they have embraced an atheistic creed'.
A functional explanation of a representation, in other words, explains the emergence and dominance of that representation in terms of the worldly effects it tends to bring about.
No. A functional explanation says if F is absent, R would not exist. Thus, if I were asleep I could not have this representation of my computer screen in my brain.

A better functional explanation would permit an entrepreneur to create a cheap implant so that I could always have a representation of this computer screen with me.

A stupid person may give a stupid functional explanation- e.g. the 1 per cent have got you hooked on computer screens because they want to steal all the oil in your hair while you are occupied watching Porn.
Since genealogies are accounts of the emergence of representations, many genealogies are also functional explanations.
Very stupid ones.
Indeed, this is true of most of the genealogies we encountered in §1 are also arguably functional accounts, including the Sisyphus genealogy, the genealogies of Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche and Freud, and Foucaultian and feminist genealogies of our sex and gender concepts.
All worthless shite.
Not all genealogies are functional explanations – recall the earlier examples from Herodotus and Xenophanes – and not all functional explanations are genealogies.
But they are all worthless shite nevertheless.
For one can offer a functional explanation (e.g. the heart is for pumping blood) without embedding that functional claim in a genealogical account (the heart evolved because it was selected for its capacity to pump blood). This raises an interesting question: if we can learn about the function of a representation not via genealogy, but simply by observing what it does now, what is the point of genealogy?
Good question. The answer is that it provides a playground for stupid shitheads.
Or, to put it differently, why take a historical approach to our representations, instead of an anthropological or sociological approach? I think there is much to say here but I will leave this question aside in the interest of space. 
Anthropological and sociological approaches, as we have all discovered, are equally shite.
For a reading of Marx as offering a functional explanation of bourgeois ideology, and a general discussion of the notion of a functional explanation, see Cohen (1978), Karl Marx’s Theory of History and Cohen (1988), History, Labour, and Freedom: Themes from Marx. See also Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism. 32 Some functional genealogies – like Williams’ genealogy of the value of truthfulness, or the Sisyphus fragment’s genealogy of theism – offer explanations of our contemporary representationsin terms of the socially valuable functions they play, like social trust and harmony. In this they are (practically) vindicatory. By contrast, (practically) critical genealogies attempt to reveal the oppressive functions of one or other of our dominant representations, for one or other group. (As I will discuss below, even Nietzsche’s genealogy of morals can be read in this way.) Such genealogies, we can say, purport to reveal the ideological function of our representations: they explain the emergence and continued dominance of our beliefs, values and concepts in terms of the role they play in producing, propping up, legitimating and obscuring oppressive social arrangements. The practical upshot of such a revelation of ideological function is clear: insofar as we can – more on this shortly – we ought to jettison these representational practices.
Really? I should stop using my computer because some paranoid nutjob tells me that the 1 percent will steal all the oil in my hair while I'm watching Pornhub?

That's what I ought to do?
The idea that a genealogy can reveal the ideological function of a representation might seem to ignore Nietzsche’s warning, echoed by Foucault, not to mistake the historical function of something for its contemporary function.
If a historical function existed, it must be exactly the same as the contemporary function unless some decay or breakdown has supervened. Suppose I use an eighteenth century snuff box to hold cocaine. Its function has not changed. Even if I use that snuff box as a 'store of value', this remains the case.
But when I say that a genealogy of a representation can reveal its ideological function, I mean its contemporary ideological function.

Which cashes out as the 1 percent stealing the oil in my greasy hair.
A genealogy of a representation, like a family genealogy, does not simply pinpoint the ‘first cause’ of its explanandum. (A genealogy that simply identified a single historical ancestor of a living person would not be much of a genealogy.) Rather, a genealogy traces descent: it explains why it is that a contemporary thing – a living person, a dominant representational mode – exists, now.
Very true. The Aristocracy allied with the Church  to steal the oil in the hair of poor people like myself. They then cunningly disguised themselves as the two main Political Parties and carried on their nefarious trade.
Part of that story will be one of origination: it will identify, to the extent it can, the earliest ancestor of the relevant explanandum. But then it must explain, further, how the current phenomenon emerged from that ancestor. In the case of a contemporary representation, a genealogy will tell us not only when and how the representation was first introduced into our representational lexicon, but how and why it survived and flourished from that originary moment until now.
It's coz them 1 percenters are very cunning. Also, as David Icke says, they are actually lizard people from the Planet X.
And that story can and often will be a functional one: the contemporary representation survived and flourished because of the particular purpose it serves. The idea that a representation can function ideologically has an uneasy place in mainstream analytic philosophy. Indeed, analytic philosophers often see the attempt to reveal ideological function as a kind of historicist non sequitur. I don’t mean to suggest that it is only philosophers who in this way resist the notion of ideological function. For a defence by a historian of Enlightenment values against Horkheimer and Adorno’s argument that they function ideologically, see Wokler, ‘Ernst Cassirer’s Enlightenment’ (2012).  Thus a common response to the observation that a certain form of representation has historically gone hand-in-hand with – and thus plausibly serves to legitimate and sustain – a certain set of oppressive practices, is that there is no necessary or conceptual connection between the representation and its effects. Take, for example, John Tasioulas’ response to Samuel Moyn’s genealogical critique of human rights discourse as having done ‘far more to transform the terrain of idealism than…the world itself’.  Tasioulas objects to Moyn’s holding human rights responsible for doing, or failing to do, this or that. One might with no less cogency say that justice, equality, fairness, mercy and love have not ‘done enough’ to transform the world as it is…however, this way of speaking conflates human rights, understood as genuine normative demands, and the fallible practical measures through which we seek…to fulfil them. But Moyn is presumably not holding the discourse of human rights (morally) responsible for anything. His point is, rather, that the discourse of human rights serves the function of maintaining certain forms of political domination (specifically, material inequality), all the while purporting to serve the interests of justice. Thus the concept of human rights functions ideologically. Tasioulas’s response to this critique is to simply deny that this oppressive function could be part of the concept of human rights: thus ‘the project of limning the concept of human rights is not one of cataloguing the various uses – legitimate or not – to which speakers put that concept’ (ibid). But this retort misses the point of a functional genealogy. The connection that Moyn draws between human rights and inequality is not one of conceptual necessity. But nor is it not one of mere contingency, either. Rather, the proposed connection is functional.
No, it is wholly dysfunctional. The reason Human Rights are off the agenda is because they dilute Hohfeldian Rights. Poor people vote against Rights based approaches because their Entitlements can't be further diluted without their perishing.
Whatever the proper analysis of the concept human rights, and whatever the noble intentions of some of its users, its ascendancy as a normative concept, Moyn is arguing, has something to do with its ability to legitimate certain aspects of the political status quo.
That ascendancy vanished like a dream. Indeed, it never existed. It was an availability cascade simply.
 That said, the notion of ideological function is not without its problems. Functional explanations are teleological: they explain the means in terms of the ends. But, barring backwards causation, how could the effects of a representation explain the existence of that representation? The puzzle is easily dissolved in cases where representations are intentionally brought into use because of their effects – for example, when we say that theism was developed by a ‘shrewd and clever-minded man’ in order to deter evil.
On the contrary, if a 'shrewd and clever-minded man' could get people to believe in a God who would punish evil-doers, he could also get them to retrain as mathematicians or technologists or anything else. Moh Tzu, the utilitarian, irenic, technologist, thought that belief in ghosts (who see what you are doing when you are alone) was enough to keep the peasants honest. Why introduce a God whom, people might say, judges you to be evil and worthy of death? Ghosts is the way to go.
By explaining our representations in terms of their ideological function, critical genealogies also show us the precise ways in which our representations can and do affect the world they (purport to) represent.
Nonsense! Our representations don't affect anything. Only actions do. But actions are costly. They are pruned by economic forces and regulated by 'mechanism design'. Thus it makes sense to let go of fatuous representations because they can't hurt those against whom we feel malice. Furthermore, they irrationally constrain our own decision space thus putting us at a competitive disadvantage.
Some of these effects are straightforwardly causal. The widespread belief that women are submissive or that welfare recipients are lazy have familiar, discriminatory effects on how women and welfare recipients are treated – discriminatory effects that are plausibly part of the explanation for why these beliefs are so widespread.
Rubbish! If there were a widespread belief that women were submissive, there would be a female wage premium. Employers would see that women work more overtime than men. They have lower attrition rates. None of this is empirically true.

Welfare recipients may be lazy. So what? That does not affect how they are treated. What matters is whether or not they possess countervailing power. The same is true of employees with property righs in their job. They may be extremely lazy. But they can't be treated badly because they have the power to retaliate by getting the shop steward to declare a strike or go-slow.
Concepts like alien, immigrant, woman and homosexual also arguably serve an ideological function – legitimating the oppressive treatment of the subjects they pick out – as do, more obviously, concepts that might in fact be empty but are widely taken not to be, such as slut.
But this 'ideological function' is wholly ineffective. It changes nothing. Aliens, immigrants, women and homosexuals have gained not because ideology has changed but because of their own productivity and moral integrity. Societies and Corporations hostile to immigrants and career women and homosexuals decline relative to those which, no matter how prejudiced, take advantage of their productive and innovative power.

Only economic forces matter. 'Attitudes' don't.
The same might plausibly be said of concepts that are generally thought to pick out natural rather than social kinds. Thus Judith Butler tells us that, while the overt function of the concept biological sex is to help us limn the contours of biological reality, its covert function is to coercively order the world along the gender binary. 
But this 'covert function' has zero overt effect. It is a waste of resources. No doubt, some evil cabal of men are laughing into their sleeves about the 'covert' manner in which they've got the sheeple to believe there is more than one gender. But this evil cabal hasn't actually achieved anything. The joke is on them.
I have been speaking of the way that certain representations lead ‘us’ to treat the aspects of the world they pick out. But critical genealogy can also reveal the way in which the ideological function of our representations can work via our own self-representation. The belief that women are submissive, for example, not only leads men to treat girl and women in certain ways, but also – because of the internalization of that belief on the part of women – affects how women themselves behave, and treat each other.
Where? In Amia's ancestral South India? Are you kidding me? Tambram women pack a hefty punch. What about America or England? Where are these submissive women Amia is talking about? How come I've never met one?

The belief that women are submissive is also an example of a self-fulfilling belief: a belief that can become true, qua generic, precisely because it is widely believed to be true. Likewise, to borrow an example from Ian Hacking, being classified under the concept schizophrenic can lead people to develop schizophrenic symptoms that make it the case that they properly fall under the concept.
If this were true, then we ought to propagate the belief that schizophrenic women on welfare can prove the Reimann hypothesis. They will immediately stop hearing Voices- or rather they will hear only the voice of Reimann- and so one or other of them will very quickly win the Clay Prize.
 Is there a distinctive wrong involved, as Foucault and his followers often seem to suggest, in bringing into existence a new kind of subject (Amia is speaking of schizophrenia as a medical diagnosis) ? This is a deep and important question, and not one I can fully answer here. But let me say something brief in favour of the thought that there is in fact a distinctive wrong here. That defence takes up Searle’s way of understanding social kind concepts. According to Searle, a social kind (e.g. money) comes into existence because we collectively assign things (e.g. bills and notes) that satisfy a certain constitutive rule (i.e. are issued by a certain authority) a certain status (i.e. being money), which involves being endowed with a certain social purpose (i.e. to serve as an exchangeable bearer of value). Thus our concept money brings into existence a new thing, i.e. money.
Has anything like this actually happened in  the history of Monetary Economics? Nope. Fiat money comes into existence as part of fiscal policy- it is a way to pay one's tax which the Exchequer finds convenient. It is not the case that a new concept gave rise to something new in itself.
The assignment of the social purpose of serving as an exchangeable bearer of value to certain material objects might be perfectly innocuous.
It would also fail immediately unless backed up by a coercive fiscal authority.
We can also collectively bring into existence things with more problematic purposes.
No we can't. The best we can do is pool coercive or persuasive power. But the thing will soon collapse unless it is a focal solution for a repeated game in which case we needn't have bothered doing anything collective in the first place. Arbitrageurs would have done the job anyway.
Many radical feminists, most notably Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, can be read as arguing that the concept woman – a seemingly natural concept that simply picks out adult human females – in fact assigns the purpose of being for the sexual use of men to people who satisfy the constitutive rule of being adult human females.
Because that's how Society works, right? You are just walking down the street when some guy bends you over and unzips his pants. You say 'unhand me Sir! I do not satisfy the constitutive rule of being an adult human female.' He says 'My bad' and moves on to the next passerby.
The collective assignment of such a purpose might be (now) largely unconscious; but then so is, Searle says, the collective assignment of purpose to those things we pick out with the concept money.
There was no collective assignment. Money arose either by the activity of a 'Stationary Bandit' or else by that of arbitrageurs.

It was never the case that all 'adult human females' were assigned the purpose of sexual use by all men.
To see what purpose is essential to the social kind money, we need to examine how we in fact use money; likewise, to see what purpose is essential to the social kind woman, we need to examine how we in fact treat women.
Nonsense! To understand monetary economics we first have to understand fiscal policy. How we use money is irrelevant unless we happen to be Despots or Hedge Fund mavens.

We don't need to examine 'how we in fact treat women' because we already know we will get a tight slap if we say 'Mummy, kindly do my Sanskrit homework not due to you are so nice but because doing my Sanskrit homework is the purpose essential to the social kind 'woman' which you represent coz u don't got a dick like wot I do.'
Would it be so strange to think that such an examination would reveal that women are indeed for the sexual use of men, even if few were willing to consciously endorse such a view?
If women were 'for the sexual use of men' then there would be a demographic collapse by reason of the spread of STDs causing infertility.  Consider what happened during the brief 'collectivization of women' after the Bolshevik revolution. Its victims died very quickly.
If not – and I think not – the concept woman, rather than merely picking out people who satisfy a certain criterion, brings into existence people who have the social purpose of being for the sexual use of men. Since no one ought to have such a purpose conferred on them, there is a case for thinking there is a distinctive wrong in bringing the social kind woman into existence.
But no one has ever done so. This 'distinctive wrong' is wholly imaginary. The 'social kind' woman does not exist.
Once a genealogy has revealed the ideological function played by some representation, what practically follows?
We laugh at it.
That depends in part on what can in fact be done about it. On one extreme view – call it the idealistic view – worldly statesof-affairs are the mere products of our representations, such that a change at the representational level will necessitate a change in material conditions. But such a view is implausible. As Marx taught us, an ideology may have the function of legitimating and obscuring certain oppressive material conditions, but ideology is ultimately and also the causal product of those conditions. The mutually reenforcing nature of ideological representation and material reality might lead us to the pessimistic view that, after all, nothing can be done about either. But here, as Marx also reminds us, the correct answer is surely that something must be done about both, at once: a revolutionary practice thus consists in the simultaneous ‘changing of circumstances and…self-change’. 
Which achieved nothing. On the other hand, changes in the mode of production- which occurred for purely economic reasons- caused 'everything that seemed solid to melt into air'.
On the question of how to engage in such revolutionary practice, we might imagine that genealogy – given its essentially backwards-looking and diagnostic nature – must be silent. But this, I want to suggest by way of conclusion, need not be so.  
The thing is as crazy as a bedbug. Why would it be silent? Shrieking paranoid nonsense is all it knows how to do.
Genealogy as a guide to worldmaking In the preface to the Genealogy, Nietzsche proposes to ‘give voice to this new demand; we need a critique of moral values, the value of these values should itself, for once, be examined’.
The value of a value is its value. The truthfulness of truthfulness consists in its telling the truth. The compassion in compassion is its compassion for others. Why should this be examined even once? Univocity prevails save with respect to instrumental values which, however, can always be given univalent foundations by incorporating an intensional theory of types.
To be able to give such a critique, he goes on, ‘we need to know about the conditions and circumstances under which the values grew up, developed and changed’.
No we don't. Anyway, the thing is impossible. All we'd end up with is stupid just-so stories of a more or less paranoid type.
This pronouncement has led many to read the Nietzsche’s genealogical inquiry into the ‘conditions and circumstances’ of morality’s development as itself constituting a revaluation of values.
That is a perfectly cogent reading. Nietzche was a nutter, true enough, but he could be read as licensing a certain type of cynical power politics.
But in Ecce Homo, Nietzsche goes on to describe the Genealogy, retrospectively, as ‘a psychologist’s three crucial preparatory works for a revaluation of all values’. In what sense is the Genealogy merely ‘preparatory’ for this crucial task, and not the task itself? Nietzsche makes clear, in the Genealogy and elsewhere, that modern morality has the function of controlling, subduing and neutering the instincts of higher men, those individuals capable of the grandest reaches of human excellence.
But, there was absolutely no evidence for this whatsoever.
Nietzsche worries that ‘men of great creativity, the really great men…will be sought in vain today’ for ‘nothing stands more malignantly in the way of their rise and evolution…than what in Europe today is simply called “morality”’.
But that 'morality' had disappeared by the time he went completely off his chump. Antinomianism was de rigeur. Everybody and their Uncle was writing aphoristicall or epigramatically. Paradoxes were piled on paradoxes till outright Paranoia stood rampant.
The worship of meekness and forgiveness, the priority of the herd over the individual, the insistence on equality and universalism, the belief that suffering is to be minimised and happiness maximized: all these features of modern morality – a bastardized blend, Nietzsche tells us, of Christianity, Kantianism, utilitarianism and asceticism – conspire against what is best and most noble in men.
But the thing did not exist in Bismark's Germany, let alone that of the new Kaiser. Nietzche was tilting at windmills in a world of steam engines.
Thus Nietzsche inverts Thrasymachus’ dictum that justice is the advantage of the stronger into his own dictum that morality is ‘the prudence of the lowest order’.
Prudence, thrift, hard work, the cultivation of alethic disciplines- yes, these are the virtues of the lower order on its way to supplanting worthless shitheads who think they are the cat's whiskers.
The Genealogy constitutes a profound (if ultimately misguided) condemnation of modern morality.
How can something which is misguided also be profound?
In what sense, then, is the Genealogy merely preparatory, and not itself a full-blown revaluation of values? In a famous passage near the end of Book One of the Genealogy, Nietzsche narrates a conversation with someone who has taken up his invitation ‘to have a little look down into the secret of how ideals are fabricated on this earth’.His interlocutor, having descended into ‘this dark workshop’, reports back: I think people are telling lies; a sugary mildness clings to every sound. Lies are turning weakness into an accomplishment, no doubt about it – it’s just as you said.…and impotence which doesn’t retaliate is being turned into “goodness”; timid baseness is being turned into “humility”; submission to people one hates is being turned into “obedience” (actually towards someone who, they say, orders this submission – they call him God). The inoffensiveness of the weakling, the very cowardice with which he is richly endowed, his standing-by-the-door, his inevitable position of having to wait, are all given good names such as “patience”, also known as the virtue; not-being-able-to-take-revenge is called not-wanting-to-take-revenge, it might even be forgiveness…They are also talking about “loving your enemies” – and sweating while they do it…But enough! enough! I can’t bear it any longer. Bad air! Bad air! This workshop where ideals are fabricated – it seems to me just to stink of lies…“We good people – we are the just” – what they are demanding is not called retribution, but “the triumph of justice”; what they hate is not their enemy, oh no! they hate “injustice”, “godlessness”; what they believe and hope for is not the prospect of revenge, the delirium of sweet revenge…but the victory of God, the just God, over the Godless…Nietzsche’s interlocutor is here witnessing a sort of pantomime of the slave revolt in morality. But he is also witnessing, as Skinner tells us, the workings of an ancient rhetorical strategy, what Quintilian calls paradiastole, or paradiastolic redescription. This is the strategy whereby, Skinner explains, one replaces ‘a given evaluative description with a rival term that serves to picture the action no less plausibly, but serves at the same time to place it in a contrasting moral light’. What I want to suggest is that Nietzsche here satirizes paradiastolic description in order to call our attention to the basic mechanism by which the slave revolt in morality was achieved: to remind us that it was not a matter of sheer contingency or blind luck, but a product of human artifice and skill. In particular, the slave revolt in morality involved a conscious attempt to change our representational practices – replacing the good/bad dichotomy with the evil/good dichotomy; recasting virtues and vices, and vices and virtues; spreading belief in free will, agency, moral responsibility, and the afterlife – and thereby bringing into being a set of practices (of social debt and punishment, of promise-making and keeping, of asceticism and herd socialization) that are both sustained by and sustain these representational practices. Later in the same passage, Nietzsche describes the ‘black magicians who can turn anything back into whiteness, milk and innocence’ as having performed the ‘boldest, subtlest, most ingenious and mendacious stunt’. The slave revolt in morality is a ‘mendacious stunt’, but one that impresses Nietzsche nonetheless: it is a piece of ‘black magic’ that calls for both revulsion and admiration. It is in this sense that the Genealogy is, I want to suggest, a merely ‘preparatory’ work for the revaluation of values. A full revaluation of values will not merely diagnose the ideological function of our values, thereby prompting the ‘higher men’ to rebel against them, but will moreover revalue them, transforming them anew. For it is one thing to reveal that morality has the function of harming the strong at the expense of the weak, and another still to make the strong good once more. Nietzsche’s Genealogy, by revealing the means by which modern morality came into being, prepares the ground for the ‘reverse experiment’ and ‘redemption of this reality’ that ‘should be possible in principle’, at least for a future ‘creative spirit’ of ‘sufficient strength’.Reading the Genealogy this way is to read it as a guide to what I want to call worldmaking: the transformation of the world through a transformation of our representational practices. 
Okay. Amia has read Nietzche as a guide to worldmaking. Very good. What world has she made? Does it feature a cure to cancer? No? Then what good is it? Neither Amia nor Nietzche can guide us in any way. Nietzche was crazy and stupid. Amia is a pedant in a worthless University Department. Any 'world-making' of hers will be inconceivably dreary and fatuous.
A critical genealogy is a guide to worldmaking when it not only explains our representations in the terms of the ideological function they serve, but also shows us the role that agents have played in the emergence and continued dominance of those representations.
Anything at all, e.g the Nicaraguan horcrux of my neighbor's cat, which 'not only explains' all cognitive processes in terms of sociological functions but which also is able to specify what role any given agent has played or will play, would be able to reorder the world according to our own fancy. Every 'hard problem' of A.I, or open question in Maths, would be child's play to it. It could create Matrix like multiverses tailored to every individual. Life on earth would exceed any prevision of Heaven. Indeed, it would contain all such previsions.

Why not simply say 'a critical Raja Yoga is a guide to creating our own Trishanku heaven?' Why not dress up in Robes and claim to be the Divine Mother and drive around in a fleet of Rolls Royces?

Why does Amia pick on the ravings of a syphilitic pedant instead of some Tantric text familiar to her own ancestors?
For then we, as agents, might hope to be able to – by a similar mechanism, but to a very different end – make our representations, and thus our world, anew.
We could also ensure adequate aeronautical capacity for our porcine chums.
There are grounds to read Nietzsche as exhorting a worldmaking of a very ambitious kind.
Those are the grounds of a lunatic asylum where you can roll around in your own filth shrieking unintelligibly.
Nietzsche’s interlocutor describes the masterminds of the slave revolt as ‘telling lies’ and as ‘rumour-mongers and clandestine forgers’.
There was no such slave revolt either in antiquity or Nietzche's own century. Instead, there was Harriet Tubman.
That the slaves are lying about morality presupposes that there is moral truth that they are (deliberately) getting wrong: that they are speaking falsely when they say that the weak are good and the strong evil. 
Oho! That was Gandhi's shtick, surely? Is Amia attacking the Mahatma's slave revolt under cover of drooling over Nietzche's lunatic lucubrations?
It is doubtful however that Nietzsche thinks that the moral truth exists independently of what we make of it. In The Gay Science he writes that, ‘Whatever has value in our world now does not have value in itself, according to its nature — nature is always value-less, but has been given value at some time’.
But, this is also the conclusion that Neo-Classical Economics came to. There was no just price or natural wage or rate of interest. The paradox of Value was a piece of stupidity.
This seemingly anti-realist view of morality – on which what is genuinely valuable is constituted by what we think and treat as valuable – implies that we have the power to make what was once good now bad, and vice versa, precisely by changing our patterns and practices of valuing.
No. What matters is relative scarcity. That is purely objective. As Chichilinisky showed, 'limited arbitrage' is enough for a realist, but not externalist, Theory of Value to function consistently provided Preferences and Production functions satisfy a Goldilocks condition. If this is not met, there may be a speciation event or channelisation of a certain sort.
While rhetorical redescription thus begins as an affront to our created moral reality – an act of lying and forgery – it can, on such a view, end up as a true representation of it. For Nietzsche, I am suggesting, rhetorical description has the power not only to change our representations of value, but moreover to change what really is valuable: to bring value in and out of existence.
Why suggest this? The fact is the fellow went mad. He changed nothing, save for the worse.
Thus the ‘creative spirit’, Nietzsche says, will be ‘misunderstood by people as though [he is taking] a flight from reality’, when in fact he is here to ‘redeem it from the curse which its ideal has placed on it up till now’. In a crucial passage of the Genealogy, Nietzsche describes how it is that representations come to exercise their functional roles in the world: every purpose and use is just a sign that the will to power has achieved mastery over something less powerful, and has impressed upon its own idea of a use function; and the whole history of a ‘thing’, an organ, a tradition can to this extent be a continuous chain of signs, continually revealing new interpretations and adaptations….The form is fluid, the ‘meaning’ even more so…I lay stress on this major point of historical method, especially as it runs counter to just that prevailing instinct and fashion which would much rather come to terms with absolute randomness, and even the mechanistic senselessness of all events, than the theory that a power-will is acted out in all that happens….
 Schopenhauer, poor fellow, missed out on the Darwinian revolution which however his notion of 'Will' sought to capture. However it had no need to impress a function on anything it subordinated. Coevolved processes have high complexity in a manner driven by, but exponentially faster than, a set of random processes.
Nietzsche’s genealogy is not (as is sometimes suggested) about the revelation of sheer contingency, understood as ‘absolute randomness’ or ‘mechanistic senselessness’. Instead, his genealogy is about revealing just how deeply the way the world is depends on how we represent it; and, moreover, that how we represent it is a matter of which of the various ‘interpretations and adaptations’ vie for domination.
Rubbish. Nietzche didn't believe, like Novalis's sorcerer, that we create the world but have forgotten we did so. He did believe he had to write shite and this belief was reinforced by some who cared for him. Anyway, economic forces ensured the thing paid for itself though in a repugnancy market for adolescent psilosophy.
In revealing this, Nietzsche’s genealogy is a reminder – at least for those of us who are sufficiently strong, creative and noble – of our worldmaking power.
Very true! And Aleister Crowley's shite is a reminder- at least for those of us who are sufficiently deranged- of our power to do Magic.
It is also a reminder of the limits on that power. For simply changing one’s own local representations is insufficient to successfully worldmake. One’s proposed redescription must vie for uptake against the dominant mode of representation. What is more, for representational interventions to be successful, it is often the case that they must be taken up by the very people whose interests will be undermined if the representations do in fact take hold.
Yes dear. To remake the world it is not sufficient that we think of ourselves as very special. We must also convince everybody else that we are oh so special and everybody should do what we tell them. Then the whole world will become so nice.
The slave revolt in morality required not only, Nietzsche tells us, that the slaves believe themselves to be good. It also required that the masters come to believe themselves to be evil.
No! The masters had to come to believe that they were not just evil but also addicted to giving blowjobs to hobos. Won't somebody please think of the hobos?!
Such representational interventions – as all the most effective political actors know, and as the best histories teach us – require not only the gifts of sound judgment and persuasive style, but also the gift of good luck.
Indeed. Without good luck you can't find Alladin's lamp and command the genie to produce lots of gold and diamonds which you then use to buy political influence and media exposure and so forth.
For his own part, Nietzsche often seemed to rail against the way in which his worldmaking powers were hostage to the uptake of others.
Why just Nietzche? You should have heard me rail against Anver Shaked, my tutor at the LSE, who dared to dispute my proof that noughts and crosses is unsolvable.

More generally, every drooling nutjob is very very angry that nobody will take him seriously when he says he is the Emperor Napoleon.
He complains, for example, that his Thus Spoke Zarathustra sold so few copies, and explains that this is because it is an ‘unintelligible book…based on experiences that I share with nobody’. Of Beyond Good and Evil he writes that ‘[e]verybody has complained that I am “not understood,” and the approximately one hundred copies which have been sold have made it quite obvious to me that I am not understood’.Nietzsche’s Zarathustra begins with his title character stepping out of a cave and asking what the sun would be if not for those on whom it shines. After attempting and failing to take his message to the world, Zarathustra returns, at the end of the book, to his cave once more. It is a poignant image of a failed worldmaker. It also speaks of the pragmatic and political problems with Nietzsche’s profoundly individualistic vision of worldmaking.
There were no 'pragmatic or political problems' with saying 'Boo to Christianity' more particularly during the Kulturkampf. Ditto with respect to the revolting masses.
For an alternative vision, we should turn, I want to suggest, towards those whom Nietzsche would presumably despise: the participants in the various slave revolts still underway. I am thinking in particular of the representational revolutions, still incomplete, associated with the great liberation movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: workers’ struggle to end capitalist exploitation
which succeeded in...urm... Venezuela mebbe?
, the struggle of black and brown people against colonial and other racialized forms of oppression
which succeeded because Germany started two world wars it was bound to lose.
and the feminist struggle to bring an end to patriarchal domination.
which succeeded because patriarchal domination costs money.
All these revolutionary projects are in part projects of worldmaking: the project of  transforming our representational practices in order to bring into existence new, as yet impossible forms of life.
If so, they failed immediately. By contrast, purely commercial, not revolutionary at all, projects succeeded in bringing into existence new, previously impossible, forms of life.
Thus Marxist revolutionary practice consists, in part, in reinterpreting the world from the perspective of the proletariat.
and then fucking them over till they either run away or turn into alcoholics or hook up with a bunch of gangsters.
While the ‘Free-trader Vulgaris’, Marx says, sees the marketplace as ‘a very Eden of the innate rights of man’ where ‘alone rule Freedom, Equality, Property and Bentham’, those who are forced to sell their labour are positioned to describe a different world: to see buyer and seller transformed into ‘capitalist’ and ‘labourer’, and to see the marketplace as a place not of free exchange but of exploitation.
Much good this way of seeing does them. They get fucked over sooner rather than later as the good folk who voted for Chavez are finding out.
Indeed, Capital itself – despite Marx’s claim that it offered only a scientific theory – can be read as an exercise in reinterpretation of our economic and social realities, an exercise that brought into being whole new social categories.
Very true. New social categories like 'metrosexuals' or 'hipsters' came into existence because...oh! it wasn't Marx at all. It was Reality TV shows aimed at what Marx would have called the lumpenproletariat which is sooo unfair coz I've been dieting and am no longer just a shapeless lump of fat.
For Marx, it is the proletariat’s relationship to the means of production that allows its members to see, and thus conceptualise, the material reality under the ideological appearance.
The material reality turned out to be that they could feather their own nests by extracting a rent but that this would hurt their own children who would be condemned to the 'precariat'.
For a thinker like DuBois, by contrast, it is black Americans’ all too acute awareness of themselves as objects of white consciousness that gives rise to their worldmaking power.
Du Bois told the world about the black 'talented tenth'. By the Twenties or Thirties, the whole world could see that African Americans had prodigious talents and capabilities. The M.D of General Motors turned round the fortunes of his company first by selling Cadillacs to blacks and then hiring black women to work on the assembly lines.

By contrast, the equally dark skinned Tambrams- i.e. my and Amia's ancestors- were screwing up big time by following a stupid Mahatma. No doubt, Gandhi's 'worldmaking power' arose from how White people saw puny little Banias. But the world Gandhi made was shite and Tambrams started fleeing it for Greencard holder pastures as soon as racist quotas were lifted in '65.

I do listen to Carnatic Music- now almost entirely a Tambram preserve- but I have to admit it is as boring as shit. Non Brahmin composers like Illayaraja or  A.R. Rahman are so good even my African American friends willl listen to their tracks. By contrast, the whole world has given the highest place to African American musicians and singers. Why? Not because of their 'worldmaking' but because of their talent, innovation, and hard work.
Thus ‘the Negro…is…born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world’. What black Americans yearn for, DuBois says, is the reconciliation of two currently unreconcilable identities. (He might have added that, for black women, the challenge was to reconcile three unreconcilable identities.) To end black Americans’ oppression, DuBois says, a new sort of person will have to be made possible, a person who is simply ‘both a Negro and an American’. But that person will be made possible, DuBois thinks, only once we have reconceptualised what it is to be American. Thus DuBois ends The Souls of Black Folk – in a gesture that would later be echoed by James Baldwin -- by retelling American history as a history of its black slaves. ‘Would America have been America without her Negro people?’ DuBois asks. If our answer – or, rather, the answer of white people – is no, then we have opened up some small space of possibility for that which is currently impossible.
Facts are facts. The US Army, during the Second World War, realised that African Americans were superb and highly intelligent soldiers. To win they had to promote at least some of them on the basis of ability. Colin Powell's autobiography gives an eye opening account of the manner in which the white soldier learned to respect and honour his Black commanding officer- because the man would save his life and deliver victory. Off the Army base, however, Jim Crow might rule. The man he saluted on base could not sit down and drink a milkshake at the diner.
Similarly, for feminists such as Beauvoir and MacKinnon, it is women’s awareness of themselves as objects of men’s representations – the objects, that is, of male worldmaking – that gives rise to women’s own power to remake the world.
Neither Beauvoir nor MacKinnon succeeded in doing any such thing. Instead they helped erode the epistemic status of their own disciplines. They blighted the prospects of their disciples.  By contrast, women who never gave a second's thought to 'men's representations' of them, greatly improved life-chances for everybody.
‘[M]ale power creates the reality of the world’ MacKinnon writes, and it is the task of feminism to ‘expose it as specifically male for the first time’. She goes on 'For example, men say all women are whores; feminism observes that men have the power to make prostitution women’s definitive condition…Men say women desire to be degraded; feminism sees female masochism as the ultimate success of male supremacy and puzzle over its failures'. 
What is this shite? Who are these men? Losers, I take it. No doubt they are busy mounting in each other in some squalid prison cell.
But simply exposing our sexual reality as a result of male power is not yet sufficient. In a paradiolistic gesture more than worthy of Nietzsche, MacKinnon tells us that feminism claims the voice of women’s silence, the sexuality of women’s eroticized desexualization, the fullness of ‘lack,’ the centrality of women’s marginality and exclusion, the public nature of privacy, the presence of women’s absence. This approach is more complex than transgression, more transformative than transvaluation, deeper than mirror-imaged resistance, more affirmative than the negation of negativity. It is neither materialist nor idealist; it is feminist.
I don't wish to quibble but surely that should read 'more supercalifragilisticexpialidociously affirmative than the negation of totally un-supercalifragilisticexpialidocious negativity?' In matters of such high import, it is best to err on the side of caution when it comes to precision in language.
Feminism reinterprets the male-created world for itself, in a way that is at once true to reality,
that reality being the fact that every passing man keeps bending you over and fucking you when you are struggling with a push-chair and the grocery shopping.
resisting an idealistic flight from it,
into a world where strange men are not constantly bending you over
and transformative of it – resisting a materialistic capitulation to it. This dual demand – to resist both idealism and materialism, futility and complacency – structures all endeavours at worldmaking.
This dual demand sure is doing a swell job at structuring all the endeavours at world-making women apply themselves to in between being bent over and fucked all the livelong day.
Indeed it, in a broad sense, structures all our creative endeavours.
Very generous of it, I'm sure.
A creative act is a proposed interpretation of an artistic tradition.
Rubbish! Proposed interpretations of artistic traditions are worthless shite. They aren't creative at all. Rather, they are completely mindless.
If it hews too closely to that received tradition, it will be derivative, a complacent acceptance of what has come before.
Very true! That is why Emmy Noether was not a creative mathematician. She should have doodled figures of men being beastly to women and written 'Boo to Men!' in thick crayon on her mathematical papers.
If, however, it departs too radically from what preceded it, it will be simply be unintelligible, a futile attempt to make sense.
'Boo to men!' makes perfect sense. So does the claim that one is constantly being raped by all and sundry. I still remember all the Hollywood and Bollywood actresses who ravished me during the mid Seventies. God, they were insatiable!
Likewise with our attempts at worldmaking, individual or communal: our representational interventions must at once feel as if they are getting the world right, and to picture it anew.
So, to change the world, it is not enough to visualize Alexandria Ocasio Cortez becoming President in 2020. We must picture in her new way- maybe with her hair done up in an Afro or Mohawk. If that isn't enough, perhaps she could have a parrot on her shoulder.

I do not mean this as an argument for Fabianism, in either art or politics. Far from it.
Good! Fabians would definitely object to the parrot.
At its best, worldmaking is a radical endeavour, bringing into existence worlds we scarcely thought possible.
Coz the parrot would have the voice of James Earl Jones but the potty mouth of a Sarah Silverman.
But I do mean it as a diagnosis of the difficulty of worldmaking. In that, it is also one answer to why history matters for politics
Coz watching the History Channel can really freshen up your visualisation exercises. We must defeat neo-liberalism by forming an alliance with the Pirates of the Caribbean and the White Walkers from Game of Thrones. Also Nietzche could have a cameo as a Time Travelling hitman for a Colombian Cartel. And Sherlock Holmes would be there and Mahatma Gandhi would do a disco number and then I'd hook up with that nice girl who used to sit in front of me in Chemistry class and then we'd all go to Nirula's for masala dosas and ice-cream floats.