Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Metanormativism is not Muth Rational. Regret Minimization is.

This post arises out of a comment on the previous entry.

The following is excerpted from William MacAlill's dissertation 'Normative Uncertainty'.
Susan and the Medicine - II 
Susan is a doctor, who faces three sick individuals, Greg, Harold and Harry. 
Greg is a human patient, whereas Harold and Harry are chimpanzees. They all suffer from the same condition.
 She has a vial of a drug, D. If she administers all of drug D to Greg, he will be completely cured, and if she administers all of drug to the chimpanzees, they will both be completely cured (health 100%). If she splits the drug between the three, then Greg will be almost completely cured 32 (health 99%), and Harold and Harry will be partially cured (health 50%). She is unsure about the value of the welfare of non-human animals: she thinks it is equally likely that chimpanzees’ welfare has no moral value and that chimpanzees’ welfare has the same moral value as human welfare. And, let us suppose, there is no way that she can improve her epistemic state with respect to the relative value of humans and chimpanzees.
 Using numbers to represent how good each outcome is: Sophie is certain that completely curing Greg is of value 100 and that partially curing Greg is of value 99. If chimpanzee welfare is of moral value, then curing one of the chimpanzees is of value 100, and partially curing one of the chimpanzees is of value 50. Her three options are as follows: A: Give all of the drug to Greg B: Split the drug C: Give all of the drug to Harold and Harry

Finally, suppose that, according to the true moral theory, chimpanzee welfare is of the same moral value as human welfare and that therefore, she should give all of the drug to Harold and Harry. What should she do? According to (some ethical theory) both A and C are appropriate options, but B is inappropriate. But that seems wrong. B seems like the appropriate option, because, in choosing either A or C, Susan is risking grave wrongdoing. B seems like the best hedge between the two theories in which she has credence. But if so, then any metanormative theory according to which what it’s appropriate to do is always what it’s maximally choice-worthy to do according to some theory in which one has credence (including some ethical theory called MFT, MFO, and variants thereof) is false. Moreover, this case shows that one understanding of the central metanormative question that has been given in the literature is wrong. Jacob Ross seems to think that the central metanormative question is “what ethical theories are worthy of acceptance and what ethical theories should be rejected,” where Ross defines acceptance as follows:' to accept a theory is to aim to choose whatever option this theory would recommend, or in other words, to aim to choose the option that one would regard as best on the assumption that this theory is true;. For example, to accept 19 (Ross 2006, 743).  utilitarianism is to aim to act in such a way as to produce as much total welfare as possible, to accept Kantianism is to aim to act only on maxims that one could will as universal laws, and to accept the Mosaic Code is to aim to perform only actions that conform to its Ten Commandments. 

The above case shows that this cannot be the right way of thinking about things. Option B is wrong according to all theories in which Susan has credence: she is certain that it’s wrong. The central metanormative question is therefore not about which firstorder normative theory to accept: indeed, in cases like Susan’s there’s no moral theory that she should accept. Instead, it’s about which option it’s appropriate to choose.

What mistake is the author making here? He thinks people should maximize expected utility under uncertainty even if that uncertainty stretches to catastrophic consequences. This is not the case. What they should do, what portfolio managers do, indeed, what Evolution does, is 'minimize regret'.
The author is aware of this possibility, but dismisses it in a footnote- 'One could say that, in Susan’s case, she should accept a theory that represents a hedge between the two theories in which she has credence. But why should she accept a theory that she knows to be false? This seems to be an unintuitive way of describing the situation, for no additional benefit.' The answer here is that the first order normative theory which fulfills  'regret minimization' is the one which maximizes her welfare given her preferences- be they altruistic or otherwise. It also has a lot of other neat properties- for e.g. it can give rise to a Parrando game- a combination of losing games which is winning- because MUWA regret minimization strategies are higher entropy- as well as more effectively guarding against catastrophic risk.

A normative theory deals with things like guilt, remorse as well as the satisfaction of having done the right thing at high personal cost. Regret minimization is a desirable quality in a first order normative theory and, under the author's scheme, such a theory must always exist though it may not be known. Thus 'normative uncertainty' is a mere artifact. We have normative certainty about the regret minimizing first order normative theory- it represents the best we can do, all things considered- though we don't know its details. We may use some calculus- though not the one MacAskill prescribes, because it isn't Muth Rational- which uses other first order Normative Theories to arrive at an approximation to the true regret-minimizing theory, but this does not make it a second order theory. It is first order simply.
'Metanormativity' is a delusion. It is the sort of hysteresis effect that arises when a theory is not Muth Rational- i.e. when agents are constrained not to do what all would agree would be the best thing to do. It is not 'economic' because it is not ergodic.
In a future post, I hope to put flesh on the bare bones of the following intuition-
Regret minimization by means of the multiplicative weights update algorithm is Muth Rational because it preserves diversity. It can easily be incorporated into a first order theory such that 'overlapping consensus' prescriptivity is, so to speak, built in. There is absolutely no good reason why scarce resources should be diverted from doing good into studying false theories which mischievously claim that some people and organizations with expert knowledge who are doing good aren't as 'effective' as some hare-brained scheme invented by an ignorant academic without any expert knowledge.

Metanormativism is throwing up in the sink instead of doing the washing up.

This is from William MacAskill's Doctoral dissertation, titled 'Normative Uncertainty'. My comments are in bold.

'Normative uncertainty is a fact of life.
'Suppose that I have £20 to spend. With that money, I could eat out at a delightful Indian restaurant. Or I could pay for four long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets that would protect eight children against malaria. In comparing these two options, let us suppose that I know all the morally relevant facts about what that £20 could do. Even so, I still don’t know whether I’m obligated to donate that money or whether it’s permissible for me to pay for the meal out, because I just don’t know how strong my moral obligations to distant strangers are. So I don’t ultimately know what I ought to do.'

This is a good reason to hold that normative uncertainty can never be a fact of a truly ethical life but merely a fallacy that a self-publicist may strategically cultivate. Why? Well, a person whose life is truly ethical can never have disposable income for indulgence in a luxury while some people lack necessities. Thus, an ethical person never has £20 to spend on a 'delightful' Indian meal at a restaurant because she is already eating at a langar- or Community Soup kitchen-  and handing over her entire earnings to those in need.

'For an example of normative uncertainty on a larger scale, suppose that the members of a government are making a decision about whether to tax carbon emissions. They know, let us suppose, all the relevant facts about what would happen as a result of the tax: it would make presently existing people worse off, as they would consume less oil and coal, and therefore be less economically productive; but it would slow the onset of climate change, thereby increasing the welfare of people living in the future. But the members of the government don’t know how to weigh the interest of future people against the interests of presently existing people. So, again, those in this government don't ultimately know what they ought to do.'

Members of a Government are not principals, thus their own normative preferences are irrelevant, they are agents simply. If they know 'all the relevant facts about what would happen as a result of a tax', their duty is to inform their principal- viz. the citizens on behalf of whom they exercise authority. It is up to the citizens to decide how to allocate resources between generations. Once again, normative uncertainty can't arise unless members of a Government are violating their duty to act as agents, not principals, and thus are not living an ethical life.

'In both of these cases, the uncertainty in question is not uncertainty about what will happen, but rather is fundamental normative uncertainty. Recently, some philosophers have suggested that there are norms that govern how one ought to act that take into account one’s fundamental normative uncertainty. I call this suggestion metanormativism. '
Actually, in both these cases, people who are not living an ethical life are simply pretending that the reason for this is because they haven't yet made up their mind as to what type of ethical life they ought to adopt. Thus 'metanormativism' isn't normative, it is pathological. Indeed MacAskill himself writes 'Metanormativism isn’t about normativity, in the way that meta-ethics is about ethics, or that a meta-language is about a language. Rather, ‘meta’ is used in the sense of ‘over’ or ‘beyond’: that is, in the sense used in the word ‘metacarpal’, where, the metacarpal bones in the hand are located beyond the carpal bones. Regarding metanormativism, there is a clear analogy with the debate about the subjective or objective ought in moral theory (that is, whether moral norms are evidence-relative or belief-relative in some way). However, using the term ‘normative subjectivism’ instead of ‘metanormativism’ would have had misleading associations with subjectivism in meta-ethics. So I went with ‘metanormativism’ – with the caveat that this shouldn’t be confused with the study of normativity'
If you do the cooking, it is normative that I do the washing up.  Meta-normativity is like my claiming I'm actually doing 'meta-washing-up' by getting drunk and vomiting in the sink in which you piled up the dishes.
 If you are intelligent, you will say to me 'fuck off. Meta-normativity' is meaningless cognitivist shite. I'm going to beat you till you sober up and clean that sink.' 
However, if you are stupid- for example if you subscribe to comuptational cognitivism- then you are obliged to take my claim seriously. Following MacAskill's 'Maximal Expected Choiceworthiness' framework, you will be distressed to find that I am ethically superior to you because I have caused you to devote scarce resources to 'Philosophical research' which stupid people like you (i.e. computational cognitivists) consider a very good thing even though sensible people condemn it for 'crowding out' socially beneficial actions.

'There are two main motivations for metanormativism. The first is simply an appeal to intuitions about cases. Consider the following example:
Moral Dominance
'Jane is at dinner, and she can either choose foie gras, or the vegetarian risotto. Let’s suppose that, according to the true moral theory, both of these options are equally choice-worthy: animal welfare is not of moral value so there is no moral reason for choosing one meal over another, and Jane would find either meal  equally tasty, and so she has no prudential reason for preferring one over the other. Let’s suppose that Jane has high credence in that view. But she also finds plausible the view that animal welfare is of moral value, according to which the risotto is the more choice-worthy option. In this situation, choosing the risotto over the foie gras is more choice-worthy according to some moral views in which she has credence, and less choice-worthy according to none. In the language of decision-theory, the risotto dominates the foie gras. So it seems very clear that, in some sense of ‘ought’, Jane ought to choose the risotto, and ought not to buy the foie gras. But, if so, then there must be a sense of ‘ought’ that takes into account Jane’s first-order normative uncertainty.
Jane finds 2 options, which cost the same, equally good. Should she starve, like Buridan's ass or should she makes a choice based on an irrelevant alternative? Obviously, she should make a choice, finish her meal quickly, and get back to work. In this case, choosing the risotto represents compliance with a deontics that isn't 'true' because it includes supererogatory prohibitions of no ethical worth but which may have some signalling or strategic function.
There is no first order normative uncertainty here because we are told that an accessible 'true moral theory' obtains.
Decision theory is irrelevant. It doesn't matter what she eats. What matters is that she finish her meal quickly and get back to work.

'A second motivation for metanormativism is based on the idea of action-guidingness. There has been a debate concerning whether there is a sense of ‘ought’ that is relative to the decision-maker’s beliefs or credences (a ‘subjective’ sense of ought), in addition to a sense of ‘ought’ that is not relative to the decision-maker’s beliefs or credences (an ‘objective’ sense of ought). The principal argument for thinking that there must be a subjective sense of ‘ought’ is because the objective sense of ‘ought’ is not sufficiently action-guiding.
Once again, we find that the claimed motivation for metanormativism arises from the refusal to grant that some actions have no ethical or deontic status- they are 'supererogatory'. This is a good thing if Knightian Uncertainty obtains because the more 'free' choices each agent can make, the faster and more thoroughly the fitness landscape can be investigated. Suppose Knightian Uncertainty is small whereas the risk of a catastrophe is known to be high- e.g. 90 per cent. In this case, it might make sense to require that subjectivity be conditioned to show a preference for 'metanormativity' iff
1) there is always a null option- i.e. a choice which has neglibible effect
2) no scarce resources are used up as a result
In other words, metanormativism is not empty or pathological provided the people to whom it is touted can do no good but, at the margin, might do some harm. In this case, it makes sense to baffle them with bullshit.
However, there is a superior alternative. Tell them they are shite and they have a duty to resign from any responsible office or position of power or authority.

Consider the following case
 Susan, and the Medicine -
Susan is a doctor, who has a sick patient, Greg. Susan is unsure whether Greg has condition X or condition Y: she thinks each possibility is equally likely. And it is impossible for her to gain any evidence that will help her improve her state of knowledge any further. She has a choice of three drugs that she can give Greg: drugs A, B, and C. If she gives him drug A, and he has condition X, then he will be completely cured; but if she gives him drug A, and he has condition Y, then he will die. If she gives him drug C, and he has condition Y, then he will be completely cured; but if she gives him drug C, and he has condition X, then he will die. If she gives him drug B, then he will be almost completely cured, whichever condition he has, but not completely cured. Her decision can be represented in the following table, using numbers to represent how good each outcome would be: Greg has condition X – 50% Greg has condition Y – 50% A 100 0 B 99 99 C 0 100 Finally, suppose that, as a matter of fact, Greg has condition Y. So giving Greg drug C would completely cure him.

What should Susan do? Obviously, she should give him drug B. It's called 'regret minimization' or 'hedging your bets'. But, since you are a Professor of Ethics or some such shite, you aren't gonna say 'D'uh! The answer is B.' because the way you guys get tenure is by staying the stupidest possible thing.  In some sense, it seems that Susan ought to give Greg drug C: doing so is what will actually cure Greg. But given that she doesn’t know that Greg has condition Y, it seems that it would be reckless for Susan to administer drug C. As far as she knows, in doing  so she’d be taking a 50% risk of Greg’s death. And so it also seems that there’s a sense of ‘ought’ according to which she ought to administer drug B. In this case, the objective consequentialist’s recommendation — “do what actually has the best consequences” — is not useful advice for Susan. It is not a piece of advice that the she can act on, because she does not know, and is not able to come to know, what action actually has the best consequences. So one might worry that the objective consequentialist’s recommendation is not sufficiently action-guiding: it’s very rare that a decision-maker will be in a position to know what she ought to do. In contrast, so the argument goes, if there is a subjective sense of ‘ought’ then the decision-maker will very often know what she ought to do. So the thought that there should be at least some sense of ‘ought’ that is sufficiently action-guiding motivates the idea that there is a subjective sense of ‘ought’. Similar considerations motivate metanormativism. Just as one is very often not in a position to know what the consequences of one’s actions are, one is very often not in a position to know which moral norms are true; in which case a sufficiently actionguiding sense of ‘ought’ must take into account normative uncertainty as well.

A Doctor is an agent, not a Principal. The Doctor only gains salience in a Decision situation if there is a 'skill' or information asymmetry- in which case there is a dilemma re. operationalizing informed consent. . In this case, however, nothing of the sort obtains. Since Susan is posited as someone for whom advice from an Ethicist could be 'useful', it must be the case that she is as stupid as shit and thus a shite Doctor. She should resign. Why? Because it is 'impossible for her to gain any evidence that will help her improve her state of knowledge any further.' In other words, she will learn nothing from a failure. Consequently, in obedience to the Hippocratic oath, she has a duty to give the guardian of the Patient all the information quoted above, return any fees she received, and quit the role of Doctor. There is no 'normative uncertainty' here, unless she is living an unethical life and is happy to continue doing so.
Metanormativism, MacAskill tells us, is motivated by wanting to continue acting in an ethical capacity even when one knows one ought not to so act by reason of ignorance or stupidity or lack of competence. But such metanormativism isn't part of Normative Decision making any more than my throwing up in the sink is part of my duty of doing the washing up. However, as a matter of fact, not theory, if you invite me to dinner and I promise to do the washing up, what actually happens is I get drunk and vomit all over the plates you have piled up in the sink. You manage to get me into a taxi and hope you've seen the last of me. I send you an Email the next day showing, using MacAskills' 'Maximal Expected Choice Worthiness' decision framework, how my actions at your dinner party were actually highly commendable from the Ethical p.o.v. After all, you could have left the dishes in the sink for a couple of days without being greatly inconvenienced- in other words, the duty of doing the washing up at the soonest possible time was supererogatory to some degree. By throwing up in your sink, I made the action of cleaning it and the dishes that much more urgent. This tackled a lacuna in MacAskill's theory which neglects supererogatory duties. Another lacuna in his theory arises from the neglect of culpa levis in concreto type implicit delegation of duties such that a required action is better or more thoroughly or more predictably performed. Clearly, my duty of doing the washing up can be delegated to you if I am incapacitated. By throwing up in the sink, the duty of cleaning the dishes and the sink have become more urgent- you had to perform it right away. Furthermore, you are better at cleaning sinks whereas I'm good at making them dirty. Thus, my actions at your dinner party did not result in the dishes not getting washed. They were washed, probably more thoroughly than would otherwise have been the case. However, it remains the case that you may think there was a Normative failure on my part. This is quite untrue. You are actually suffering from Normative Uncertainty. You don't understand that though Metanormativism has nothing to do with Normative Behavior, nevertheless, if MacAskill aint talking utter bollocks, by causing you to devote more resources to a purely philosophical argument- viz. my claim that my behavior at your dinner party was super ethical- I am advancing the cause of Ethical Altruism which is a true Moral Theory.
As MacAskill says 'Moral philosophy provides a bargain in terms of gaining new information: doing just a bit of philosophical study or research can radically alter the value of one’s options. So individuals, philanthropists, and governments should all spend a lot more resources on researching and studying ethics than they currently do.'
By throwing up in your sink, and then sending you this email, I have caused you to devote more resources to 'philosophical study' and thus made you an immeasurably better man. Thus getting drunk at dinner parties and throwing up in the sink instead of doing the dishes is prescriptive for Effective Altruists provided Normative Uncertainty is ubiquitous or computational cognitivism aint shite.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Verdict on Hymen.

Because, having perfunctorily checked I was dead,
 She robbed and raped me in the grave
The Judge pronounced us wed
So predictably do brides behave

& because Darwin descended 'fore Elijah came
Amidst alien corn let Ruth repine
'Take responsibility for what you tame'
The little foxes that spoil the vine

Tho' Jacob's eyes' nacre Joseph's prison
 & Joseph's seed is Jesus risen
My Canaan's Moon, soured so soon
Wine stints me Death's benison.

Fighani's Ghanimat.

The two Worlds are a net for, not a bird,  but Beauty's deranging scent in the breeze
As, exchanging Love's bitter word, Wine & the Saqi meant but to tease
What boots the Tavern's ghanimat booty Fighani demands?
Tears for our own vintage are all Allah commands!

Prince! Levy Khums on Khayyam's quatrains- so red in tooth and claw
As to chill the amber wine of thy men of straw

Sunday, 9 August 2015

In nimborum patriam

Tell both the truth, Meghdoot, you know I wasn't really raped by Bharatnayam.
Connect my Mum and my son, or serve Juno in nimborum patriam
Speak of the soul- since the heart is a muscle & Love its defeat
Of Ind a corpuscle, no Dehli my retreat.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Greek Africanist smackdown- Lapavitsas vs Varoufakis.

Varoufakis is not the only Africanist Economist in Syriza. Lapavitsas, a Professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, too is convinced that his country ought to split off from Europe, squeeze through the Suez Canal, sail past the Equator and claim its rightful place between Mugabe's Zimbabwe and a Mozambique ruled by a resurrected Samora Machel.

Is Lapavistas stupider than Varoufakis? Let us weigh up the evidence

1) Lapavistas thinks accepting a bailout will be recessionary- i.e. aggregate demand will fall. This is false. If liquidity is restored, Aggregate Demand will go up. If there is no bail out, Greece loses its export market. Investment dries up. The Greek slump actually began before Govt spending was curtailed because of the poor climate for start-ups. Lapavistas, quite ludicrously, speaks of a mere 3 months of pain before Grexit restores prosperity. External depreciation takes 18 months under the best of circumstances. As for his proposed 1 to 1 conversion to the Drachma, European Law holds that Contracts denominated in Euros have to be paid in Euros. As for Vulture funds suing in U.S courts and grabbing Greek assets, our boy has nothing to say.
By contrast, Varoufakis simply puts his hands down the back of his pants and draws out fistfuls of shit which  he calls chocolate cake.
Advantage Varoufakis.
2) Varoufakis moans that the bailout is Versailles, Lapavistas says it's not Brest Litovsk, it buys no time for the Bolsheviks (i.e. Syriza) to reorganize and rearm so as to kill their own people more plentifully than the Germans.
Advantage Lapavistas.
3) Varoufakis is for Privatisation. Lapavistas invokes Harold Macmillan's 'Selling the family Silver' fallacy. When I sell an asset, I get cash now and nothing later. When the Govt sells an asset, it gets cash now as well as tax revenue on the stream of profits that the asset generates in, more efficient, private hands.
Lapavistas now leads by one point.
4) Lapavitsas says Euro mechanisms are 'reified class practice'. Fiat money always is. Nothing can change this. So you have to get out of the Euro. Also the Drachma. Cowrie shells are the way to go.
Varoufakis is getting desperate. He blurts out, to a bunch of hedge fund managers- i.e. the vultures who profit from the collapse of a monetary union- that he tried to hack the Tax files of every citizen. He gets charged with treason. Suddenly he's all over the news, shoving his hands down the back of his pants and feasting on his own shit.
Sorry, Lapavitsas. Your cowrie shells aint gonna cut it. Go back to SOAS and concentrate on trying to fuck up genuinely black people you worthless gobshite.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Naked Greek Aggression against India!- fatwa Stathis Gorgouris!

Pyrrho came to Punjab along with the Macedonian invaders. Instead of drinking lassi and dancing bhangra the fellow got talking to some naked Digambaras, gymonosophists as the Greeks called them, and learnt- if not syadvada- then at least the catuskoti 'trilemma'. Later, Timon- an over the hill lap-dancer refused re-employment as a bouncer at the establishment responsible for his infamy, thus becoming the archetype of the tenure denied Liberal Arts Post Grad- penned Pyrrhonist 'Silloi' (lampoons) to put paid to Phenomenology's Procrustean project with respect to such Platonic Shadows as constitute Psilosophy's pathologies of Thought.

So far so good. The Greeks- not even that Demetrius, defeated by Kalinga's Karevail in Magadha, and whom Modi was recently mocked for mentioning- were not aggressors towards India. They enriched it immeasurably.

Even if Ind, which Wine conquered without Violence, had been unreceptive; Nonnus's Dionysicaca- or its echoes in Camoen's Lusiadas- reminds us that amphorae shipped to Amaravathi via Arikamedu, and for that reason returned unsold, yet earned their vendor a profit- so much richer and more robust had the vintage grown during that round trip.
Not piss.
Soma, of course, was in such short supply that there was a market for my Vedic ancestor's urine.
But no export market.
Credentialised Academia was not yet Globalised.
Ever since it became so, we have exported plenty of Professors who take the piss out of their subject.
Spivak, Sen, the two Guhas, the list is endless.
By contrast, Greece can boast only a solitary Varoufakis.
A hyphenated Greek, true.
But then our biggest clowns are wholly ex-pat and hyphenated in all but name.
Still, India can't rest on its laurels.
Take the case of Stathis Gorgouris- a Literature Prof. at Columbia.
He is openly challenging Spivak's title to be the most illiterate pretend Lefty on Earth!
You don't believe me?
Take a gander at his article in Open Democracy published today. 

Syriza’s extraordinary problem – which would not be faced by any other political party in government – was to alter internal institutional frameworks under conditions of external institutional assault.
So, Stathis is saying, if some other party desiring to alter the internal institutional framework had been elected- Golden Dawn for example- the Troika would not have gone in for 'external institutional assault.' Okay. Maybe the Troika are secret Nazis. Fine. But Greece also has a Communist Party, a Green Party, a Classical Liberal Party and so on, all of whom would want to change the 'internal institutional framework'. Why does Stathis think they would not have faced any problem from the Troika? There is only one possible answer. Other parties might think they want to alter the internal framework, they might even try to alter it, but- because their Political Theory is not correct- it would be a case of impossible attempt. Thus no collision with the Troika would occur.-

Although the history of the Left has produced an extraordinary theoretical legacy, which continues to be the nucleus of almost all radical thinking, it has nonetheless left a trail of extraordinary failures in practice.
A theoretical legacy which continually prompts extraordinary practical failures is either shite ab ovo or has been implemented exclusively by shite people. Either way, 'the nucleus of radical thinking' needs to either stop being shite or so exclusively adversely selective of its exponents.
Fuck me, this Stathis dude might be on to something! I'm not saying he could redeem our own corrupt Kafila caravan of tenured shitheads- they kissed Satan's rectal ring long ago- but maybe he can put our young people on the right path.

I understand the dialectical relation between theory and practice, of course, but we have to admit that in real historical terms this dialectic is terribly uneven, to the degree in fact that it may render questionable a great many of these theoretical achievements, which, if we are going to be rigorously leftist about it, cannot really stand entirely on their own.

Cool! Spivak and Sen never spoke like this coz there was a Left Front Govt. in their home State. Thus, they had to 'extend and pretend' that their indebtedness to RAND's Arrow or that sociopath of Ann Randian proportions, Paul de Man, served some occult 'subversive' purpose.

To this general account, I now add a series of realizations that have arisen from the experience of a government of the left in Greece since Syriza was elected, a complex, circuitous, contradictory, and internally conflictual trajectory that is still unfolding in full force.

Anyone who thinks that Syriza as a left phenomenon has ended, been coopted or defeated, etc., is thinking too much too fast. Too much complexity is being swept carelessly under the rug. For this reason, despite everyone’s intense attention to the recent traumatic developments, it’s worth conducting an assessment of the full trajectory of Syriza in government.

Radicalising democracy

As a prelude to mapping the details, let me confess that the overall course of events has made me aware of the weakness of theoretical predeterminations, and especially of the dangerous tendency, common in left thought, of grasping at schematic theoretical straws in the face of the perplexing circuitry of politics in action – all in some fashion remnants of the history of the left, no matter how dressed up with new terminologies and allegedly new significations.

The field of historical action in the last few months has exceeded the theoretical armory that is presumed to be somehow its strongest signifying capacity, so that in all its turns, sometimes even counter-intended manifestations, historical action needs to be considered in itself, from its own standpoint, as it is happening and in the terms that it sets as it is happening, rather than encountered from the safety of our preexisting theories.

Okay, Stathis has gone overboard with the satire here. Indeed, it was this passage which led me to blow the whistle on this naked Greek incursion into territory upon which Spivak has raised the Triranga- viz. writing meaningless, lefty sounding, shite.

I understand how exasperating this is – indeed as exasperating as it has been to experience this phenomenon of the left in government. My hunch is – because it’s too early to tell – that this exasperation with experience and this theoretical incapacity arise directly out of the radical democratic process that makes the Syriza phenomenon different (perhaps even unique) in the history of the Left. It is, in other words, the very precarious, disorderly, an-archic, unpredictable, groundless, perilous, open-ended and resistant-to-closure ‘nature’ of democracy that has radicalized this already uneven dialectical relation between theory and practice in favor of the second.

Wow! Stathis is saying Syriza is shit. Maybe it wouldn't have been shit if it had come to power by the bullet, not the ballot. Perhaps, if Tsipras could put to death any of his colleagues who fucked up or failed to toe the line, things would have been better. 

Okay, this sounds like standard Stalinist shite. But our Literature Professor adds a twist- he calls attention to the word an-archic (without a leader).  The reference is to Athens in 404 B.C- the year of the Thirty Tyrants- with the Troika taking the place of the victorious Spartans. 

Thus the meaning is 'not only is Syriza shit, it is Thirty Tyrants type shit. The Troika are fucking over  even the embryo of Greek Democracy and replacing it by Globalised Oligarchy pure and simple. Tsipras, or if not him, whichever of his fellow 'Thirty Tyrants' has the biggest balls, is the new Critias- not a meretricious traitor at all, but a literary useful idiot. Plato can now have his Republic & Socrates a belated martyrdom. The damage has been done. Lefty shite is now sillography simply. Varoufakis, the new Demosthenes, rises up to utter his Phillipic but then grins strangely, shoves his hands down the back of his pants and fetching out fistfuls of his own faeces, claims it to be Chocolate Cake and starts eating it. But then, like Marie Antoinette, this peacock is a hyphenated Austrian- a 'Hayekian-Marxist'- so it is just as well that he not just tells the people he has impoverished to eat cake but also demonstrates from whence that confectionery can costlessly be procured.

Left governmentality

My wager here is to investigate a terrain that we can name left governmentality which has emerged as a problematic challenge with the worldwide, even if politically and culturally heterogeneous, phenomenon of the assembly movements since the Arab Spring, to which Syriza’s rise owes a great deal.

Why does Stathis say 'wager'? Is this a, not Pascalian special pleading, but sound Pyrrhonist 'epoche' or bracketing like our own Bhagvad Gita? 
If so, this posh Greek-American Professor is an Ariadne, not a Daedelus, and thus a fitting spouse for Ahimsa's Saqi.

He may be only hyphenated Greek, and teach at Columbia, but-recalling how far Euginides exceeds Rushdie- a stupid Indian like me needs to sit up and take notice.
I started this post in a militant mood. I thought, here is a Prof. with a Greek name trespassing on Ind's indalmoi of imbecility. But, fuck it, turns out even American-Greek Profs. at Columbia can't write utterly worthless shite because they know there are stupid Indians-okay, maybe there's just one really stupid Indian, namely me- who read stuff written by smart people coz they don't want to be a traitor to their own suffering people all their fucking lives.

This guy, though camouflaging himself in Spivakese- the phrase 'Left Governmentality' could be as foolish as 'strategic essentialism'- nevertheless himself points to a way of excising the idiocy of Agamben if not the vocabulary of crisis.

A couple of years ago- Stathis wrote as follows (bear in mind, he was writing for shitheads)
If it is indeed the case that, per Schmitt’s dictum, “the sovereign is he who decides on the exception” then we need to rethink sovereignty. Mere thinking about whether sovereignty is or is not a matter of exception is inadequate. Surely, we are forced to rethink sovereignty in a world where global economic agents, fully deterritorialized and beyond the boundaries of traditionally understood sovereignty, make direct political decisions that determine real territories, the terrains where actual people dwell. The essential sign of the sovereign in societies since the advent of capitalism is not the State (and therefore monarchy and law) but the national economy. The erosion of national economy as prerequisite of national independence is now the case everywhere in the world, no exceptions – another impetus to let go of the discussion of sovereignty as an extension of the monarchical law tradition of imperial Christendom.
In a society fighting against capitalist values – I am not being utopian – sovereignty needs to be located in unexceptional collective political action. Unexceptional because it can only take place every day – not once in so many years at a ballot box ritual – and it must take place by unexceptional people, people who are not in the business of politics.
- See more at:

Schmitt was schitt. Karl Lueger, as Mayor of Vienna, decided the 'exception'- a Yid was a Yid unless he himself liked the guy, in which case he was a Goy. That's why Lueger wasn't Sovereign. Hitler, on the other hand...fuck it, I'm not drunk enough for a reductio ad Hitlerum yet. Anyway, the Courts did in fact protect one or two Jews from Himmler.
Sovereignty is a concept which can only arise in a repeated game. Otherwise it is Fortuna simply- the transient shadow of Empery cast by the Weltgeist's Vulture. 
Stathis is saying that that 'Left Governmentality' can exist as an Aumann signaller in a repeated game correlated equilibrium. 
He may not be aware of the maths that proves market forces militate for sillier Schelling segregation and more tortuous 'Local Public Good' Tiebout model diversity than would be the case under contested- i.e. mimetic desire type- hegemony. 
Still, Literature, which is what he teaches, has shown him the way. This guy's C.V might sound as shite as one of our own, but the fucker is Greek. What he is saying can help us. Bastard! We gotta fatwa his ass!

I'm being hasty?
Stathis is too a posh pretend-Lefty talking ultracrepidarian Credentialist gobshite?
Here it is.
This strict isonomy (substitutability) of political actors ensures that the “self” in autonomy is unable to ever come to full self-sufficiency, full archē, for the limits of the self are the otherness of the other, who is utterly substitutable in a process of itinerant othering which makes the key element of autonomy to be self-alteration. This is best understood in theatrical terms where I is an other (Rimbaud) achieves meaning in a constitutive way: where the “I” inheres an otherness that makes the identitary utterance of being (“I am”) not quite adequate. Rimbaud’s famous phrase J’est un autre disarticulates the Cartesian cogito (Je suis) but also the Kantian anthropological prerogative that identifies the human being as the animal who can say “I”, for in this case “I” cannot be enacted but by the third person verb form, so that “to be” becomes demonstrably the verb of being an other - See more at:

Okay. I admit, the above sounds bad- indeed, rotten enough to be tenure-seeking Babu.
But, Stathis has once again instrumentalized oxymoron to preach a sermon from Samuelson.
If isonomy obtains, so does ergodicity.
Politics is empty.
Alterity is Genidentity, persistence through Time, nothing more.
This is the mystics' Yoga Vasistha cashing out as the metics' Vyadha Gita.

Stathis, unlike Yuddhishtra whom God vouchsafed an education in Statistical Decision Theory as well as the 'Song of the Billionaire Butcher', has had a purely American, wholly Credentialist, 'literary' (i.e. shite) education. Nevertheless, he hasn't forgotten how to be Greek. Look at the following-
In democracy, one may say that the “I” is already an other because the utterance I am is already caught in the sharing of archē (metechein tēs archēs is Aristotle’s exact phrase), mediated by lot, by being allotted (nemein) equally the responsibility of political action.  This would be an answer to those who think that substitutability is the weapon of consumer capitalist homogenization. For in that case substitutability takes place entirely in the language of numbers, while in democracy the equivalence is predicated on the recognition of every one’s heterogeneous otherness. Unlike how liberalism promotes and underlies the confusion of equality with social homogenization, I am talking here of political equivalence in a social sphere of ineradicable differentiation and contention. This is an equivalence that cannot be mathematized, since its operating system is not logic (of numbers) but lot (nomos). - See more at:

Christ says 'ye are as Gods', meaning when it falls to your lot to serve on a Jury, or hold some other Public Office, you must judge not according to your own preferences and prejudices but in a manner that might be apophatic- no question of 'Public Justification' here giving scope for hired sophists (the Paraclete itself began its career as an Athenian ambulance chasing attorney)- but must be Hannan Consistent, i.e. minimise regret according to the Muth rational Mulitplicate Weight Update Algorithm, Evolution itself uses.  This militates for not homogeneity but Nature's infinite variety which Custom can not stale.
Yuddhishtra's Vishada was cured by this knowledge; Arjuna, being an agent, not a principal, had his Depression dispelled by Krishna's Theophany, but Pyrrho actually talked to some naked Indian dudes rather than just getting gay with them and...what? Could Athenian Democracy really have been repaired? Dunno. But its recurrent Alcibiades adventurists would more quickly have despaired.

A Greek word.
Triumvirate or Troika, nothing imposed on Greece isn't transubstantiated.
Popular Sovereignty, the Rule of Law, Xenophilia
Greece will make a Holy Trinity of the challenges it faces.
Even this worthless Hindu will benefit.

Fuck are you waiting for?!
Fatwa Stathis immediately!