Tuesday, 17 October 2017

If Adorno is left in peace


T
Like the colliding neutron stars which birthed their wedding bands's precious metals
Cyanean the Sirens who sang, baring their breasts and showering flower petals
Albeit as but Angela's firestone Avis-ing Shulamith's disease
'If Adorno is left in peace, Capitalism will never cease!'


Envoi- 
Midons! Marx's laws are as the time release on Oxy
Be thou its Midas or go the way of Mayakovsky.


Saturday, 14 October 2017

Cuz, bridging be a beeyatch.

Danielle Allen- a MacAruthur Genius and Harvard Professor- whose parents bonded across a Racial divide, thinks 'bridging ties', that link people who come from different social spaces, are more important than 'bonding ties' between people who have something in common- like a baby. 
She says- 'Since the 1970s, scholars have been aware that “bridging ties” are especially powerful for generating knowledge transmission; more recently, scholars have argued convincingly that teams and communities that, first, emphasize bridging ties and, second, successfully learn how to communicate across their differences outperform more homogenous teams and communities with regard to the development and deployment of knowledge.'
Every clause of every sentence in the above is obvious nonsense.

1) Since the '70's scholars in shite subjects, more especially at Ivy League, haven't been aware of anything, least of all their own ignorance and stupidity. Mark Granovetter did write a much cited paper- 'the strength of weak ties'- in 1969 and it has been very widely cited. Indeed, he was mentioned in connection with an Econ Nobel. But then Social Networks get pruned by purely Economic forces.

2) 'Knowledge transmission'? What is that exactly? Knowledge is created and destroyed. Where any two create or destroy Knowledge together, a bond- something approaching a vinculum juris- not a bridge is created. Memes may get transmitted just as germs are transmitted. Not so Knowledge. Knowledge involves justifiable trust. It isn't just hearsay. It must pass a due diligence test. This means it uses up scarce resources. Trust is costly. The highest degree of trust involves zero-knowledge proofs. This is something we don't have even with respect to ourselves and the reason we might subscribe to some system of askesis so as to establish ourselves in Truth.

3) No scholar in a shite subject has every argued anything convincingly even to fellow shite scholars- which is why their subject is shite. Availability cascades are a different matter. No team or community ever started off by emphasising bridging ties. If it did, that's all it would do. Teams and communities are held together by the bond of co-creation- stuff like making babies, or money, or pushing forward a scientific research program. Communication can be entirely phatic- everybody high fiving & fist bumping each other. A community characterised by phatic communication might appear to be great at bridging but every, oh so affable!, fist bumping member of it may view every other with dark suspicion and thus bonds may never be created. Communications can be 'cheap talk'. It characterises a pooling equilibrium trapped in a Prisoner's dilemma. 'Costly signals' make for separating equilibria which feature complexity gradients and permit higher levels of organisation. They may also feature far less phatic communication- or indeed no communication at all save through some abstract nexus. A guy in Tokyo may collaborate with a guy in Toronto on a mathematical or programming project without ever meeting or speaking the same language. What is important is that interchange at a given complexity level is reliable, cheap, and convergent to a zero-knowledge proof protocol. Essentially, if we can get confidence regarding the rationality and competence of a counter-party, we don't need to socialise with them to monitor their willingness or ability to keep their side of the bargain. Information from this type of reliable source is knowledge. Anything else is just chit-chat and doesn't alter our behaviour or episteme.

4) No heterogeneous team or community outperforms one which is homogeneous with respect to which ever costly signal gives rise to the needful, complexity gradient based, separating equilibrium. Math has progressed by leaps and bounds because shitheads like me are screened out. Whatever shite subject Allen professes has degenerated calamitously because its screening mechanism is adversely selective. At one time, Classicists would have called foul on a Nussbaum's tolmema. Bad philology attracted the wrath of good philologists. That time has passed because philology took a wrong turn with Buckhardt and, devoting itself to sedulous mendacity, became the purveyor of ignoble but modish lies.

Like her father, William Barclay Allen, the anti affirmative action African American Political Scientist who, bizarrely, believes that the US Constitution granted full citizenship to Blacks ab ovo, Danielle Allen gushes like a school girl over the Declaration of Independence- which rendered void Dumore's Emancipation Proclamation and condemned her paternal ancestors' to slavery- but has some waspish, but utterly misguided, observations, fatal to the amour propre of her own bien pensant class.

This quote from the Guardian captures this contrarian aspect of hers-
Robert Putnam, in 'Bowling Alone: 'The Collapse and Revival of American Community', argued that the US's stock of "social capital" – informal social connectedness and formal civic engagement – had fallen to dangerously low levels. Americans, said Putnam, were far less likely to be members of community organisations, clubs or associations in the 1990s than they were in the 1950s. He argued the causes of this decline were commuting, compulsive television-viewing and 1960s counter culture. Allen says the reason for the decline was more prosaic. In 1987, the US supreme court ruled that 26 of 32 clubs studied by Putnam were illegal because women were barred from membership.
Of course, this is nonsense. The Rotarians and Kiwanis and so on needed to become more family friendly and provide a space for couples to bring their kids because the middle class was increasingly dual-income and featured shared domestic chores and child care. Also they needed to offer recreational drugs and not be as boring as fuck.

Allen has a different take. She believes that the term 'Social Scientist' is not an oxymoron. In the same Guardian article she says
"Putnam has a huge influence on public policy in Europe and the US. But he made an error of significant proportions."
Putnam had zero influence because he was American and a Professor of a shite subject. Allen too is American and a Professor of a shite subject. What impression did Putnam's work leave upon her? The answer is, Putnam left the impression on her that Putnam was talking shite. Shite doesn't influence anyone. It puts them off. Mutatis mutandis, the same thing can be said of her own work. Why? Coz she is a Professor of a shite subject.
Even worse, four years later, Putnam claimed US studies showed trust and co-operation fell as communities became less homogeneous. This led to the idea, propagated in the UK by Demos's David Goodhart and universities minister David Willetts, that there is a limit to how much diversity a welfare state can tolerate – and ultimately translated into calls for a cap on immigration.
Urm...caps on immigration were put in before I was born to stop people like me coming in and stinking up the place with our curries and popadoms. Goodhart and Willetts had a but ephemeral salience. Like Putnam, they influenced nothing and have faded from even bien pensant horizons.
Allen says those who have raised questions over the consequences of immigration – including Miliband – "have missed a step". She says there is no trade-off between diversity and community, it is about people learning to "bridge" cultures. "Diversity plus social competence at bridging relationships leads to far more effective problem-solving. Therapists help us get better at our bonding relationships. Who helps us get better at bridging relationships?"
Graciella Chichilnisky's work shows that if preference diversity is too great, there will be no gains from trade, or indeed communication. But the bar for communication can be pretty low. Pidgin will do fine for most economic and epistemic exchanges and, in any case, will turn into a full fledged Creole within a generation.
What does 'social competence' mean? Nothing very much if you aren't trusted. A morose misanthrope who communicates by means of grunts may yet be trusted and thus can run a roaring trade whereas a hail fellow well met type fails to make an impact as an arbitrageur.
What matters is whether a bond expressible as a vinculum juris arises from observed conduct. No amount of 'bridging', which doesn't terminate in such a bond, can retain salience.

Bridges, we have all learnt, are only important because trolls live under them. Brexit and Trump's apotheosis show that all those wonderful bridges Allen and Obama and Milliband were so busy building went nowhere but did shelter the trolls who have put their Twitterer in Chief in the White House.
The more bridging relationships in a society, the more that society appears democratic, egalitarian and "connected", Allen believes. The opposite happens when small cliques hoard contacts, access to information and, ultimately, power. No society is perfectly connected, she says, and, in the UK class divides are far greater than in the US, where race segments society.
A bridge doesn't just shelter trolls, it also can be used to exact tolls. Coordination games arise where Preference diversity fulfils a 'Goldilocks condition' such that there are gains from trade. Dis-coordination games- e.g. when Allen's Mummy and Daddy got married and raised a family- arise where preferences change and become univocal with respect to at least one thing- like making sure baby gets the bestest start in life. Not all babies. Just ours coz she sure is the bestest baby ever. Discoordination games generate arbitrage opportunities- cultural 'market makers', including pedagogues- who thereby garner a rent and talk each other up like they have some fundamental significance or ontological privilege.
Allen's ideas of connecting people to policy lie behind Obama's success and should be emulated by Miliband's party, she argues. She points out that Obama is slowly morphing his re-election campaign into a non-profit group – Organising for Action – that will build public support through community-organising for the president's policies, including gun control and an overhaul of immigration laws.
This is hilarious stuff. Obama's success had to do with putting a Nigger in the White House so as to scare Wall Street straight. White voters thought he'd go ape-shit on the Bankers. But, no drama Obama- Allen tells us- was busy doing something else- 'Organising for Action' without actually acting at all. Obamacare is unique in that it is legislation purposely designed to be rendered two thirds ineffective by a stroke of the Presidential pen. Never before has a 'policy wonk' purposely designed Legislation which binds successors so little.

Obama, a Law Professor, made Trump possible. What price Gun Control? Where is this 'overhaul of immigration law'?
Embedding this into a party lessens the possibility of politicians talking about community politics in opposition, but practicing technocratic politics in power. "The idea is having lots of local conversations and bringing people's stories to the table when policy is formed. [Organising for Action] is probably what Obama will lead after he leaves the White House."
 So, Allen didn't understand what was happening in the White House under a President she was quite close to. She talked stupid, self regarding bollocks then. What is she doing now?

The answer is she's jumping belatedly on a Black Lives matter type bandwagon except she is doing it in the perverse manner of her father. Thus, she tells the story of her cousin who, incarcerated at the age of 15, thrived in Jail- finding love, a vocation as a fire fighter, and also getting a GED- but was shot by that same lover three years after being released. The boy had been safer in jail and what's more had known it even at the age of 15. Why? He wasn't very good at shooting people. He was robbing a middle aged man at gun point when the geezer grabbed his gun and shot him in the neck. On Allen's account, it seems the kid immediately realised that the Crips would kill him, as a potential informant, unless he got sent away for a good long stretch which is why he spontaneously confessed to two other crimes in which gang members might have been involved.

If he'd got 25 years under three strikes, he'd be alive today. Indeed, he might have developed into a better writer than Allen.

Allen has a different view- one based on meta-metaphoricity. She takes a figure of speech for a literal fact and erects another figure of speech, also to be taken as a literal fact, on the basis of it.
“To fight back against the War on Drugs,” Allen writes, “the drug gangs who took the business seriously established their own system of deterrence. In short, if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, you’re shot immediately. In the knee first. You try to buck again? Then maybe you’re killed. Or maybe someone you love is killed.”
The 'war on drugs' was just a figure of speech, like Nixon's 'the war on cancer'. Breaking Bad fused these two metaphors in an artistic way. What Allen is doing, by contrast, is sophomoric sophistry. Drug gangs kill people so as to control territory and make money. They do this even in countries where there is no 'War on Drugs'. A certain section of African American males had better health and educational outcomes, not to mention lower mortality, if they were incarcerated. Other African Americans voted for longer sentences for such males- though, showing superior rationality they were less likely to favor the 'Three strikes' proposition, support for which had been fuelled by a horrible case involving a white child rapist and killer.
 No one, not Obama, not Allen, put a better choice on the menu for African Americans. In the case of Obama, we may say that there was a concurrency or McKelvey chaos type problem. Allen is simply stupid.

This isn't to say Allen is not a good and virtuous woman- though she writes shit.
She genuinely did a lot of 'bridging' for her cuz- getting him an apartment, a job and a library card- when he came out but that bridging failed because it wasn't a bond. Similarly, her academic work bridges a shite type of Classical studies with saying stupid things about the Constitution and contemporary politics. This creates gains for gesture politics' despicable trade in Academic availability cascades- and as such would happen anyway- but it binds nothing together because nothing unique, no 'apoorvata', is created thereby. Babies- or even the possibility of babies- bind people of the most diverse sort together. Books, too, can serve the same end. Not Allen's books. They testify to nothing but the inutility of a Genius (even if only a MacArthur Genius) dedicating itself to shite studies.

Allen has a curious theory about why her cousin was incarcerated for so long at such a young age.
California’s legislators had given up on the idea of rehabilitation in prison, even for juveniles. This is a point that critics of the penal system make all the time. Here is what they don’t say: legislators had also given up on retribution. Anger drives retribution. When the punishment fits the crime, retribution is achieved, and anger is sated; it softens. This is what makes it anger, not hatred, a distinction recognized by philosophers all the way back to antiquity. Retribution limits how much punishment you can impose.
Anger doesn't soften. If feeds on itself. The guy who gets angry with his wife for burning the roast and who gets away with slapping her will, one day, kick her head in for over-buttering the toast. The victim of road rage will testify that 'retribution' has nothing to do with the quantum of 'punishment' meted out.
No philosopher in antiquity or modern times has ever suggested that anger should be linked to punishment. Moral indignation- perhaps. Not anger.

Why is Allen making such a ridiculous claim? She has  previously told us that half of males in her cousin's cohort, in the County in which he lived, were linked to gangs. They had higher mortality on the streets than in jail. Those lower down the food chain were simply taken out of circulation and warehoused because nothing could be done for them and they could do nothing for themselves. On occasion, it was parents or loved ones who reported these adolescents to the police. No doubt, drugs played a part in dis-inhibiting in-group violence. Certainly, drugs were the a currency but extortion and prostitution and theft and so on also featured. Allen's cousin was arrested for carjacking. That is why he was tried as an adult.
The legislators who voted to try as adults sixteen-year-olds, and then fourteen-year-olds, were not interested in retribution. They had become deterrence theorists.
This is nonsense. A legislator who poses as a 'theorist' won't get re-elected. Folksy is the way to go.

In any case, nobody thought that 15 year olds like Allen's cousin could be deterred from anything. They could only be taken out of circulation till they had passed what Tacitus calls 'Youth's dangerous years'. Nor did anyone feel any rage against these kids. They simply had to be taken off the streets for their own good and be warehoused somewhere where they didn't have access to guns.

Reading Allen's article, we get a picture of a kid with no impulse control. If he had shot his victim, rather than let his victim get hold of the gun and shoot him, he would have gotten better at shooting people and thrived as a gangster, till drugs or a bullet ended his career.

It is true that California's 'three strike rule' was intended as a deterrent. One consequence was that gangsters recruited kids to do the shooting. It is also true that a good lawyer could have got Allen's young cousin a much better deal. The problem is that his mother may have wanted him off the streets till he'd matured a little more. She thought he'd get 7 years which might come down with good behavior. He got almost double that. We can't say that was too long. Had it been even longer, he'd be alive.

Allen thinks legislators 'design' sentencing policy in the manner of wonkish Social Engineers. Perhaps they do so in Scandinavia. But California? In the Nineties? Are you kidding me?
They were designing sentences not for people but for a thing: the aggregate level of crime. They wanted to reduce that level, regardless of what constituted justice for any individual involved. The target of Michael’s sentence was not a bright fifteen-year-old boy with a mild proclivity for theft but the thousands of carjackings that occurred in Los Angeles. Deterrence dehumanizes.  It directs at the individual the full hatred that society understandably has for an aggregate phenomenon. But no individual should bear that kind of responsibility.
This is nonsense. If Allen's cousin had been involved in the 'parastate'- i.e. a proper Drug gang- he'd have had a good lawyer. If his family had believed his only problem was 'a mild proclivity for theft' , rather than a habit of armed robbery, they would have done a lot more to keep him out of jail.
His Mum certainly didn't hate him. She wasn't concerned with 'the aggregate level of crime'. She just wanted him locked up somewhere he couldn't get hold of a gun and, in concordance with his 'mild proclivity for theft', try jacking some dude who grabs his gun and shoots him in the neck with it.


Allen has a different explanation. Apparently, her family- for some reason- believes in 'retribution'. They don't beat the shit out of a kid who steals as their grandparents would have done, they expect the State to do 'rehabilitation' for them. Why? Apparently, because they believed American jails were lovely little places where kids don't get sodomized.
“How could it have happened?” is the question everyone asks. Where were the lawyers? What did your family do? I think back to the stolen radio. Michael came from a family who believed that if you did something wrong you admitted it, you fixed it, and you suffered the consequences. Michael was guilty of the attempted carjacking; he was going to have to suffer the consequences. Our family trusted in the fairness of the criminal-justice system. At each turn, we learned too late that this system was no longer what we thought it was, that its grip was mercilessly tightening, that our son would be but one among many millions soon lost in its vise.
Wow! The kid's uncle was Prof. William Barclay Allen-  Chairman of the American Committee on Civil Rights in Reagan's final term. Even if this proves he is an idiot, his sister had no degree and thus must have been relatively sensible. She made a rational decision. The kid had higher life expectancy in jail. Indeed, had he gone to trial and got 25 years- he'd be alive today. True, if trans-gender maniacs with a 'mild proclivity' for shooting their boyfriends had been kept out of male prisons, then, too, Allen's cuz wouldn't have ended up with a bullet in his head. Still, it will be difficult to persuade us that these two wonderful young people- one of whom kept cutting the other who, however, could knock the other out with a punch- with 'mild proclivities' towards gun related crime shouldn't be simply warehoused somewhere where they couldn't shoot each other. Their world may well have been a Dantesque Inferno, but ours is less so without them in it.

Ultimately, Allen herself stopped 'bridging' with her cuz because, it turned out, he had an actual bond with a crazy trangender ex-con who, from the sound of things, was pressurising him to put the bite on his rich, bien pensant, relative. But, underneath the Ivy League veneer, it turned out Allen had shrewd instincts. The following could have been written by a young V.S Naipaul

He had found an apartment, he told me, and was ready to put down a deposit. Could I come and see it? The place was on the fourth floor of a vintage Craftsman-style building overlooking the 101 freeway. It was big and spacious, with gleaming wood floors. As I wound through the rooms, Michael began telling me about how he and Bree wanted to move in.
I had no idea he was still seeing Bree, let alone making plans to move in together. My face must have conveyed surprise, though I tried not to react too strongly. (Learning how to suppress visible emotion is an occupational demand of being a dean.) I told him that I wanted to know what the job situation was. Had he lined up a new gig? What did Bree do—did she have a job? Our voices echoed in the empty apartment. Michael leaned against a windowsill, the sky and the freeway shining behind him.
There was something shamefaced in him as he answered. No, he didn’t have a job. Bree was into hair styling, but, no, she didn’t have one, either. What, exactly, were they thinking? Michael didn’t have much of an answer. Plainly, the plan involved taking advantage of me to some degree.
In that moment, I encountered a different Michael from the one I knew. I saw something calculating, something I’d never seen before. I didn’t ask to talk to Bree, who I’d come to realize was the woman in the gold Mercedes crawling past our homecoming party. All I was able to say was that I couldn’t possibly pay the deposit—plus some number of months’ rent, plus co-sign a lease—when neither of them had a job.
Michael’s face tensed. He said he understood.
This was the day I understood that the idea that I could stand my baby cousin up on his own two feet was a fantasy; it had always had too much of me in it. From this point on, Michael ceased confiding in me. Our phone conversations never burrowed below the surface. I no longer knew how to help.
So, there was never a real bond here- just some amateur bridging of a bien pensant sort which was abandoned once the realization dawned that the thing could be written off as experience- and, if an appropriate bandwagon chanced to trundle by, written down as a type of 'literature' whose worth is not related to anything alethic or aesthetic but which is measured by academic citations of an article, ironically, titled 'The Life of a South Central Statistic'.

What is wrong with Danielle Allen?
What was wrong with her father?
Why is this woman writing- 'Michael ceased confiding in me' when we know he never confided in her?
Why does she blame the 'Drug Wars' and the 'parastate' for her cuz's conviction for carjacking? She herself tells us he only got into drugs a couple of years after his release when he had street cred as 'Big Mike' and had better impulse control and so could be trusted with a consignment.

Why does she speak of anger and retribution when nobody in the Nineties felt any anger towards these kids and their own families wanted them put away in a place they couldn't get hold of guns?

The last question is easily answered. Allen's thesis was on ancient Athenian penal practices or some such thing. It was worthless, but then the Academy had already turned to shit in that respect so no great blame attaches to her.

Allen says of the ancient Athenians-
With rare exceptions, cases of punishment in Athens were directed at resolving a problem that had arisen between two people and that were identified when someone said he was angry.
 This is silly. Wrongdoing was punished. In certain cases, the Ecclessia was urged to feel outrage at the wrongdoing in the same way that a modern prosecutor, or Judge pronouncing sentence, articulates a Civic duty to condemn specific actions as abhorrent and greatly to be condemned.

Take the case of Euthyphro. He is going to Court to charge his father with the murder of a slave. Why? Is he angry at his Dad? No. He is doing what is right. The Court will probably levy a small fine and this will purge the family's guilt and restore their ritual purity and respectable status in their community. Most court cases are of this type but they don't get recorded because they lack drama. Allen has been misled into talking worthless shite by a textual availability cascade.
Anger was so central to the Athenian experience of wrong-doing and punishment that courtroom litigants could describe laws as having been established for the purpose of establishing what levels of anger were appropriate for various acts of wrong-doing.
Rubbish! They were saying that some acts are more outrageous than others.  But, we can substitute the word 'repugnant' for 'outrage' with equal justice. In certain highly dramatic cases, disgust can turn to anger. If some mentally challenged paraplegic loser behaves like Harvey Weinstein, we feel disgust but not anger because the fellow did not have the wherewithal to do any damage. We feel disgusted with Weinstein but also anger because he could and should have acted otherwise.

Allen is talking bollocks about ancient Athenians because she thinks we know nothing and care nothing for them
Demosthenes writes: “Observe that the laws treat the wrong-doer who acts intentionally and with hubris as deserving greater anger and punishment; this is reasonable because while the injured party everywhere deserves support, the law does not ordain that the anger against the wrongdoer should always be the same” . Anger was thus assumed to be not only the source of particular punishments but also at the root of law itself.  Athenians accordingly felt relatively little uncertainty or unease about why (that is, in response to what causes) they punished: they acted in response to anger.
Anger was not at the root of the law for the Athenians. Solon was not an angry man- he was a poet. Thumos- which is 'spiritedness' and corresponds to Sanskrit 'rajas'- does also mean a healthy type of indignation that is protective of honourable conduct and fair dealing. Orge is another type of anger- what in Sanskrit we call manyu- which is dark and brooding and poisonous to the commonweal. Neither term can be translated simply as 'Anger' because English owes most to the Bible which views anger that is provoked (parogismos) in a wholly negative way.

Allen describes the type of punishment Socrates would have been meted out had he not had wealthy friends who could pay a lot of money for the privilege of taking hemlock.
'the convict was (probably) fastened to a board with iron collars around wrists, ankles, and neck, and the collar around the neck was tightened to strangle the wrongdoer.'
This was wonderfully humane because no blood was shed and anyway people only got convicted if someone else was angry with them.
When it came time to punish, the Athenians acted out of anger and to cure anger, but this does not mean that they acted in anger. Rather, they interposed an extensive institutional system between the moment when an angry victim pointed to a wrong-doer and the infliction of punishment. The purpose of this system was to allow the citizens to convert a moment of private anger into a public decision crafted with a view to curing the community through a restoration of peace.
So that's what happened to Socrates. Some guy got angry with him and so he was sentenced to death- not out of anger- but to extirpate wrath from the body politic. Oddly, this does not seem to have worked at all. Socrates's friends were angry at what happened to him. Peace was not restored. Faction and counter-faction flourished.

What Allen is saying is terribly foolish- viz. that ancient Athenians thought anger could be soothed by crucifying some guy who made some other guy angry. This is the sort of thing some worthless, publicity hungry, Anthropologist might say about some remote Amazonian tribe. The Athenians themselves satirised 'snowflake' type indignation or 'ressentiment' based prosecutions. Aristophanes satirises the elderly jury-man who can't wait to get to court to cast a black ball against some blameless defendant.  Allen must know this. But she has a paper to write and she is a Professor of a shite subject, so her task is to promulgate the most obviously and ludicrously false thesis anyone can imagine. Her cuz, by contrast, was truthful. He confessed his crimes and did his time. Yes he was killed. But he was killed by his lover. He had thumos but not orge and, by his death, outlives both, for his readers, in some sunny fields of asphodel where no Fear is, nor Hate, nor privation of the Spirit.  And that is Justice.

The root of sin is lust and the desire to satisfy that lust. . . . Lust only creates wanting and wanting creates greed and greed burns Flesh. It is lust that causes us to believe we have to have something at all cost. This is my suffering, this is my hell. 24 hours all night. There is no day. My soul in its entirety is in darkness.

There are those who await to fulfill their destiny. I see in them a sincere and apologetic heart for their ill misdeeds. They are the one who will change the world positively or positively change someone’s world. Hell cannot hold the latter of the two opposites but in time will only spit them back out into society to do what is right. The hell that I live in cannot hold Dante. Hell can test and try one’s self but it cannot hold Dante and it will not hold me. In the Inferno, the dead are trapped forever. Surely, the biggest and most important difference in the Inferno and my hell called prison, is that I have a way out.
Danielle complains that the preacher at her cuz's funeral descended into 'an anti-Semitic rant about moneylenders and lawyers'. Dante, famously, was kinder  on the sodomites- like Bruno Latini- than the usurers. Jews, of course, were just fucked. Perhaps, Allen's cuz- whose beloved was transitioning, saw a particular 'crime against nature' being reversed by surgery and took this as an outward and visible sign of a Grace which, if it prevails not against wrath in this World, yet descends never in vain. 

Monday, 9 October 2017

Cinara vs Lyce


Like a poke from the MILF of a, now, but Face Book friend
Or some meretricious Sylph who on Twitter might trend
Interring Cinara in Lycemater saeva Cupidinum.
 So senescence serve Dike, call the stupid dumb

Envoi- 
Prince! From Pindaric palinode, Horatian recusatio therein canonises a Malatesta
 Kairos such Eros as. Galeotto, excusatio non petita accusatio manifesta

Bruce Gilley and the case for his colon.

The Third World Quarterly has withdrawn Bruce Gilley's article 'The case for Colonialism' on the basis of  'credible threats' of 'personal violence'.

Was the article any good in the first place? Let us see- (my comments are in  bold)
For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. Nonsense! A little less than a hundred years ago, the British and the French and the Belgians were given League of Nations' Mandates- later the U.N would do the same thing- over territory controlled by defeated powers. Clearly, at the time, Western Colonialism was considered a good thing, not a bad thing at all. It is true that Colonialism wasn't a particularly paying proposition and ceased to be militarily & financial viable by the late Forties or Fifties. However, Colonialism didn't really have a bad name at all. India's annexation of Portuguese Goa was vigorously protested. Niradh Chaudhri was acclaimed by the Brits as a master of English prose because he said that Bengalis were a pile of shite and needed proper Aryans to rule over them. He hoped the Americans would step up to the plate. 
Later, V.S Naipaul got a Nobel for harping on the same theme. However, once Americans discovered that 'Nation building' was tough- which is why the Army refused to do it- and an excuse for colossal corruption- they too recoiled from it. Colonialism has a bad name today because the thing can't be done profitably & without a lot of body bags. Similarly, Professors of Political Science have a bad name today because everybody can see that the sort of shithead that would take the job under current conditions must be stupider and more ignorant than anyone able to work Google Assistant on her smartphone.
 It is high time to question this orthodoxy. Why? What's changed? 
Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts. So what? The thing was supposed to make a profit or contribute positively to one's defence capacity. In order for that to be possible, obviously, it either had to wipe out or marginalise indigenous people or else it had to 'objectively benefit' them in some way and thus gain some sliver of 'subjective legitimacy'. Otherwise it wouldn't have existed. There would have been no 'Western Colonialism' just a war zone where Westerners kept wasting money and getting killed. 
The countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it. Nonsense! Countries stable enough to maintain administrative continuity did better than countries too unstable to maintain any sort of continuity.  Why? Was it because of stuff to do with 'embracing' or 'smooching' or anything of that sort? Nope. What mattered was if effective Governance was achieved on an incentive compatible basis. Inheritance had nothing to do with it.
Anti-colonial ideology imposed grave harms on subject peoples and continues to thwart sustained development and a fruitful encounter with modernity in many places. This is sheer stupidity. Subject people are incapable of harming themselves no matter what ideology they espouse because, by definition, they have no power. That's what makes them a subject people.  Perhaps what this idiot Professor means is 'newly liberated people suffered because they did not understand that Colonial institutions were useful and thus they destroyed those institutions because they were motivated by a mischievous anti-colonial ideology.' However, this view is foolish. Why? Because 'newly liberated people' cared about bread and butter issues- not about ideology. Their leaders cared about increasing their own power and revenue. They may have pretended to care about ideology but it was all just pretence. Why? Because ideology is shite. Only very very stupid and ignorant people- the sort who might become Associate Professors of Poli Sci at Portland State Uni- think 'ideology' aint a joke word used only by gobshites and blemmya whose heads are lodged securely up their rectums.  
Colonialism can be recovered by weak and fragile states today in three ways: by reclaiming colonial modes of governance; by recolonising some areas; and by creating new Western colonies from scratch. If a State is weak and fragile it can't enforce its authority even within its own borders. Thus it can't do any of these things Gilley suggests. Myanmar has a pretty impressive army. Yet, it struggles to 'recolonise some areas'. Aung San Suu Kyi would last for about 5 minutes if she tried to 'reclaim colonial modes of governance'- like putting the Army Chief on trial for genocide.  Even if she granted the Americans a naval base in Rakhine, she would still have to flee. China may be able to operate a naval base there, but it would have to turn a blind eye to ethnic cleansing. No Western nation is going to set up a 'new Western Colony' in some 'weak and fragile state'. It wouldn't be profitable for one thing. It also probably wouldn't be legal because of things like the Alien Torts Act.

Gilley thinks Colonialism ended because of 'anti Colonialism' rather than because it was no longer viable.
 I suppose, in the case of Singapore and Cyprus and Aden, there is some truth to this. After all the Royal Navy might have wanted to retain these strategic colonies and the Americans could have supplied the cash to make it feasible. Sadly, anti-colonial demagogues; like Lee Kwan Yew, and that 'Castro of the Mediterranean', Archbishop Makarios; put paid to this dream. True, Britain retains its base in Cyprus- but only because the US insists they stay. The Greek Cypriots know that the Americans will recognise the Turkish breakaway Republic if they make trouble.
 governments and peoples in developing countries (need) to replicate as far as possible the colonial governance of their pasts – as successful countries like Singapore, Belize and Botswana did
Gilley thinks Singapore replicates as far as possible 'the colonial governance' of its past. He must be mad. It is run on very different principles. That's why Mrs. Thatcher wanted to make Britain more like Singapore rather than the other way round. Unfortunately, she was too stupid to understand how the Singapore Financial Sector actually works. Lee Kwan Yew didn't try to explain it to her. British politicians are as thick as shit. Why waste your breath?
Cyprus, it is true, is better than Greece, because of the superiority of British institutions, but those institutions were still shit when compared to Singapore's which is why they are now in a hole.

What about Botswana? Is it replicating 'colonial governance'? Hardly. There was hardly any governance to replicate. It made things up as it went along. Belize has an even tinier population than either Singapore or Botswana. It can either continue in vassalage to some private company or other or else get gobbled up by Guatemala.

Gilley quotes Africans in failed states asking 'when are the Europeans coming back?' The answer is never. The thing isn't profitable and Europe is, in any case, too weak.

On the other hand, it is quite true that stupid shitheads write books about evil colonialists. But only shitheads read those books. The debate is a circle jerk for dickless wonders. It may be that these guys get paid a little for this fluff but it is very very little. Now that they are getting physically threatened, they will drop even the pretence of 'critical' argument and 'peer review' and other such bullshit.

Western Colonialism is as dead as the dodo. Western Poli Sci is as brain dead as that dodo's Uncle wot sexually molested it when it was but a chick. Now, more than ever, it is vital that we create a truly autonomous Academy where sexually molested dodos can speak truth to power and recover memories of having been Bruce Gilley's colon. There is a case for serious debate on only that last aspect of the extinct bird.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Patricia Sauthoff & Nalanda's rebirth


Patricia Sauthoff is a PhD candidate at SOAS who taught briefly at Nalanda International University.

She writes in the Scroll (my comments are in bold)
'From the very beginning I knew that government interference into the curriculum at Nalanda University was a very real possibility. Nearly a year before I moved to Bihar to teach a course in the History and Politics of Yoga at the university’s School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions, its founding chancellor, Amartya Sen, published a piece in the New York Review of Books describing his resignation as chancellor amid government interference of academic leadership throughout India.

Sen said there was Government interference in Nalanda.  He was removed from his post as Chancellor, despite being an Indian citizen and a Nobel laureate, for political reasons by a new Administration whom he had expressed grave misgivings about.

Not the possibility of interference, but actual interference, according to Sen, had already taken place. Patricia didn't believe Sen- few do- but, surely, she must have asked herself why a BJP Government would want anti-BJP academics to flourish at an institution whose bills were paid by the Centre? If the Govt. could sack an Indian Nobel Laureate from the Chancellorship, what hope had a foreign faculty member who doesn't even have a PhD?

However, by the time I arrived at Nalanda in late July 2016, George Yeo of Singapore had been named as chancellor, which led me to believe that the spirit of academic independence would remain strong and that the university would thrive to be an academic powerhouse in Asia.
Challenges at Nalanda.
Yeo is from Singapore- a place where student protest is not tolerated in the slightest.  Did Patricia really think a failed Singaporean politician was in any position to defend academic independence in India when that commodity is notoriously absent in his own country? He was only appointed because Singapore had promised to build a big library. He was gotten rid off because Singapore had not stumped a single red cent. Govt. of India decided that 'if you don't pay, you don't play'.

The challenges of starting a new university in a poor and rural part of India with inadequate transportation links was clear from the outset. Healthcare was non-existent, food quality poor, and living conditions for faculty and students unhealthy due to mould and damp, as well as the lack of basics such as access to cooking facilities.

What? Did Amartya Sen really preside over an institution which failed to meet elementary Health and Safety standards? Why did he do nothing about it? What about George Yeo? Why was he silent? What is wrong with these people? In what manner have their discharged their duty of care to Nalanda's students?
Students were asked to persevere, and they and the faculty worked together to try to bring these issues to the attention of the administration and offer solutions. We expected these growing pains and tolerated them because we had academic freedom and believed in what we were doing. We were told that we had autonomy.

Who told them they had autonomy? Not Sen, he wrote an article saying it did not exist. Perhaps it was Yeo. But Yeo resigned. It must have been Gopa Sabharwal,  the saheli of the former P.M's daughter. But the writing was already on the wall for her.
Last November, at the end of my first term at the university, the government chose not to extend Vice Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal’s contract and dissolved the governing board, which led to the resignation of Yeo, who accused the government of failing to maintain the autonomy he was promised. It appeared Hindutva was about to knock at my own front door. I believed there would be no better time to discuss the history of yoga with my students than this one.

So, Patricia believed 'Hindutva was knocking at her door'- i.e. she was about to be sacked. She had nothing to lose. Thus there could be 'no better time to discuss the history of Yoga' because she was about to be sacked and might as well do something to deserve it.

The 15-week History and Politics of Yoga course began as many yoga studies do, with the Yoga Sutras. I believe it is important to read the source material for oneself as well as to examine the various contexts in which such materials are interpreted over time. 

In what language is the source material written? English. Her course says that you don't need to read any Sanskrit or do any Yoga for the purposes of the course.

David Gordon White’s biography of the text demonstrates that even today, academics and yoga practitioners read the text in very different ways.

Mallinson who has comprehensively rubbished White's work. But neither Mallinson nor White have any salience in India, for Indian students, when it comes to Yoga which is entirely indigenous. 

 Through this lens my class was able to discuss the text in terms of its influence on Indian philosophy, the response of British colonial translators, and the teachings of thinkers such as Swami Vivekananda.

Mallinson says the lens in question is cracked and spotted with dirt. Nothing can be studied through it because if obscures, not clarifies.

Already we began to find politics. British translations helped to spread yogic knowledge throughout the West.

What? You only 'begin to find politics' when 'British translations' come into the picture? Why? Did Yoga have no political dimension previously? 

 These translators, able to access yoga teachings because of British rule, helped to shape yoga going forward. 

British Translators helped access Russian thinking without there being any British rule in Russia. China was able to access Indian teaching on Yoga without any Chinese rule in India. The same goes for Japan and Korea and so forth. Indeed, ancient Nalanda was a place where 'translators' gained access to, among other things, Yoga teachings. 

Britain ruled many parts of the globe. Sometimes administrators translated certain texts or recorded certain customs. In most cases, this sparked no interest in the West and nothing came of it. There were places Britian did not rule- e.g. Japan- which had 'teachings' which became popular in the West- e.g. Jiu Jitsu. 

No British translator 'shaped Yoga going forward'. Why? They would have been laughed at just as I would be laughed at if I returned to Kumbakonam and set up an 'Englis Gentilman Traning Colidge' in which I demonstrate the proper way to wear a top hat while sipping rasam from the palm of one's hand.

For example, in the documentary West Meets East (or Mystical Journey: Kumbh Mela as it was called in America), Sanskrit and yoga scholar Sir James Mallinson (note: Mallinson is one of my academic supervisors) states that the British were wary of gatherings such as the Kumbh Mela because of the risk of the spread of disease, and because such gatherings were often a platform for insurrection and nationalist propaganda. Its practitioners responded by developing the myth of the four kumbhs, which reinterpreted and expanded upon an ancient myth, to protect the mela.

Mallinson may be a supervisor of some PhD candidates in Britain, but he is a joke figure- an Old Etonian Baronet who smoked too much hash on his Gap year and thinks he can be a Hindu ascetic without, as his wife points out, being either Hindu or ascetic. He is an eccentric and not taken seriously. Obviously, it makes for a nice sound bite for an English aristocrat who thinks he's a Hindu Sadhu to magnify the role of his ancestors. Similarly, some Indian Eng Lit Professors- like Gauri Vishvanathan and Gayatri Spivak- magnify the impact of English language instruction in India under the Raj upon the literature of the home country. This is just stupidity and silliness characteristic of Soft Subject pedagogues with barely a brain cell between them.

Though the myth is now taken as ancient it does not appear in any pre-colonial texts. Learning this history does not undermine the belief in the story but merely adds context to how beliefs develop over time.

The myth is ancient because it is based on an oral tradition which however is supported by 'pre-colonial texts' in Chinese and Arabic. To say that Indians invented something purely to subvert British authority is a myth because that authority was always fragile.

Media outlets around the world, from Foreign Affairs and Forbes in the United States, Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, and The Indian Express have described Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push to spread yoga throughout the world as “yoga diplomacy”. Events such as International Yoga Day (June 21) are a prime example of the use of soft power to influence the behaviour and beliefs of others. By projecting yoga as, in the words of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev to the United Nations, “India’s gift to the world,” yoga is defined as Indian first but accessible to all. 

Okay, India is asserting intellectual property rights- fair enough. Maybe, there is some 'soft power' involved- if you teach a 'soft subject' and are soft in the head.

This gives the impression that yoga is open to interpretation and leads the way for such innovation as Christian yoga, aerial yoga, nude yoga, and so on.

What?! Does Patricia really believe that what Modi is doing is spreading the impression that there could be a 'Netflix Yoga' or 'Beer Pong Yoga' which would have all the moral and spiritual and physiological benefits as the type of Yoga he himself practices?

 I asked my students to think about these forms of yoga, how they grew from yoga practice in India and whether we could define them as authentic experiences of yoga. We also discussed the implications of myself, an American of non-Indian descent, teaching such a course.

This is quite mad. A foreigner who is a teacher of Yoga is simply described as being the reincarnation of a Yogi. In the past, there could have been some prejudice regarding the caste, or gender, of an indigenous Yogi- but the RSS is putting paid to such prejudices. Modi may be an 'OBC'- so what? Who cares? 'By their fruit, shall ye know them'.

That politicians such as Modi work to encourage the spread of yoga outside of India makes it inherently political. 

How? Why? The C.M of Tamil Nadu will always work to promote Tamil in foreign countries. So what? This isn't political in the least. It is a bi-partisan issue.  The P.M of India promotes Indian culture abroad. Once again, this is a wholly bi-partisan issue.

Further, during the course of the semester Modi appointed Yogi Adityanath, the chief priest of the Gorakhnath temple, as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. Adityanath’s appointment ties yoga and politics together in no uncertain terms. His asceticism is as much a part of his image as his politics. Though academia often takes time to keep up with current events, we acknowledged Adityanath’s rise in my class and discussed how his role as a priest as well as a politician might have an impact on his tenure as chief minister. 

Patricia is teaching mainly Indian M.A students. They would have to be extraordinarily stupid if they didn't know a great deal more than their teacher about this issue.

For instance, as soon as he took charge he shut down slaughterhouses, a major source of income for Muslims in the state.

Umm... the mahant of the Goraknath Matt shuts down slaughterhouses operating in violation of the law- wow! that's a real head-scratcher! Except, it isn't really. Gorakshanath means 'cow protecting Lord'. The Laws were already on the statute book and the Election result gave the necessary mandate to proceed on the issue.

 His past rhetoric, which we did not discuss in class, has included statements saying that Hindu idols should be installed in every mosque in India, that anyone who opposed surya namaskar (the sun salutation, a yoga sequence) should drown themselves in the sea, and that those who wish to avoid yoga can “leave Hindustan”.

Patricia says she is teaching her students to think critically and to properly interpret texts. Has she properly interpreted what the Yogi said? Let us see- these are his actual words-
'Lord Shankar was the biggest Yogi who started Yoga. Mahadev (another name of Lord Shankar) lives in every particle of this country. So, those who want to avoid Yoga and Lord Shankar can leave Hindustan.” He also criticised different groups for opposing Surya Namaskar. He said that sun is the source of all energy in the world and Surya Namaskar is part of the Yogic act.
“My humble request to those who see communalism in even Sun God would be to drown themselves in the sea or live in a dark room for the rest of their lives,” he said while arguing that more than 43 countries will celebrate June 21 as Yoga day across the world.
If Patricia is right a Court, or the Election Commission, could find the Yogi guilty of hate speech. But, Patricia isn't right. She is either being stupid or is telling malicious lies. What the Yogi has said is 'My God is in every particle of India- if you wish to avoid my God then leave the country.' Moreover 'there is no place which is not dependent on the Sun's energy. If you dislike this dependence you can only hide in a dark room or under the sea'. There is no threat here. I am welcome to say that my God pervades the Universe and that people of other sects only gain spiritual benefit from their worship because such is His will. If I believe that a statute of Ganesha endows auspiciousness, I am expressing my love, not hate, for others if I express the wish that their homes and offices and places of worship should all possess such statues.


Not only does it seem that yoga is for everyone who wants it but also, at least within India, those who might not. 
To whom does this 'seem' to be the case? Does Patricia herself really believe this? Why would she want to remain in a foreign country which forces people to do Yoga? 
I cannot help but wonder if those critical of my discussion of yoga and politics would cheer if instead I had taught a course on the History and Politics of Islam during the Mughal empire.
Why would they cheer? Is it because a course on the 'History and Politics of Islam' would necessarily show that Religion and  its adherents in a bad light? Is this woman an Islamophobe?


Similarly, one of India’s most prominent yogis, Baba Ramdev, involves himself in politics regularly, appearing frequently onstage with Modi. Ramdev not only supported Modi’s decision to demonetise old high-denomination currency notes overnight in November, he claims he had himself been calling for such a move for years. As a businessman, he has been hugely effective. He owns the Patanjali brand and his face is ubiquitous in much of North India.
So what? This might be news to Patricia but her Indian students grew up with Ramdev on TV. What value is she adding exactly? In the next paragraph, Patricia seeks to reassure us that her course wasn't wholly bogus.

Selective controversy

Of course, the history of yoga is also the development of practice, innovation in the understandings of supernatural powers, new medical regimes, and a rich textual and visual tradition that reinterprets the tenets of beliefs and explanations of the world. While these often have political implications, to only focus on that would have been a disservice to my students and insulting to the rich ideas practitioners of yoga have developed over the course of hundreds of years. Much more of our time was spent discussing the fine points of kaivalya (perfect isolation or absolute unity), various meditative practices, and how texts such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika came into being.
At the Post Grad level, this can't be done through the English medium and without actually practicing Yoga. Students have to work with original texts- otherwise they might just as well just watch a couple of You Tube videos and get Credit for 'likes' or 're-tweets'.
Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding my course ignores the history part of the syllabus and focuses only on the political.
What history is Patricia talking about? White & Mallinson? That's history? 
 That I am a foreigner adds fuel to the fire as this allows those who object to the course to let their imaginations regarding my background and intentions run wild. However, the biggest issue is not that I, a non-Indian, taught Sanskrit and Yoga at Nalanda. It is that the academic freedom of the institution has been trampled. Nalanda’s current vice-chancellor Sunaina Singh told The Telegraph newspaper that, “the very title of the course is problematic”.
The problem is not that Patricia is a foreigner. It is that she is an ignorant foreigner without an Indian qualification in an Indic subject. She may well be a great T.A, but that's as far as it goes. Clearly, she had no supervision at Nalanda. She did the best she could under difficult circumstances but her best was less than Post Graduate students are entitled to expect.
Sunaina Singh, whatever her faults, knows a thing or two about Indian academia and the future prospects of her students. This type of Course may have been all very well twenty years ago. It is useless now.
But no one ever discussed any problems with the course with me before, during, or after I taught it. The course began in January, after Yeo’s resignation and ran till the end of the academic year in May. When I left Rajgir at the end of the term, my contract was set to expire in July. In mid-June I received a letter from the university inquiring about my intention to continue. A week later another letter arrived, rescinding the previous letter, thanking me for my service to the university, and assuring me that I would be paid through the end of my contract.
Okay, so you have a new broom and the grace and favour appointees of the previous administration have been sent packing. These things happen. Why the big boo hoo?
To say that the course had been “abolished”, as BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav claimed in a tweet last week that went viral, is an assault against not only intellectual freedom but puts my students and colleagues in danger.
Nonsense! The new Chancellor is an RSS man and senior to Madhav. He has the clout to protect his students and staff. Better still, the new VC, Sunaina Singh, is considered a tough administrator. She won't tolerate sexual harassment on the grounds that 'Biharis will be Biharis'. Patricia looks quite hefty herself.  I hope she thrashed a couple of Romeos herself while at Rajgir. That is true 'hard core' Nationalism- not tweeting rape threats, but beating the shit out of students or staff who harass women.
 Some of the replies to Madhav’s tweet called for a purge of all foreigners from Indian universities, sexually degrading remarks about me, and calls for investigations into ideas at universities across the country. Recent threats and acts of violence against academics and journalists in India indicate that people are willing to take action against those with whom they disagree. It is not difficult to spot members of the university in Rajgir and I fear Madhav’s tweet could make those in the Nalanda community targets.
Is Patricia's fear well founded or rational? This is the tweet.
Follow
Ram Madhav
✔@rammadhavbjp



Stunned to hear dat Amartya Sen's Nalanda Univ regime had a course on 'Politics of Yoga' taught by a foreigner. Now course abolished
4:48 AM - Sep 9, 2017
488488 Replies
4,0394,039 Retweets
6,5676,567 likes
Twitter Ads info and privacy

Madhav is saying the course has been abolished. The Sen-apods have been purged. Nalanda is an RSS bastion. This makes its students and staff safe from the Parivar. 
Now let's look at Patricia's tweet-

Follow

Patricia Sauthoff
✔@gitagovinda



Stunned that a high level government official has chosen to spread misinformation about my class. https://twitter.com/rammadhavbjp/status/906363607541092357 …
4:10 AM - Sep 12, 2017
8888 Replies
1,1921,192 Retweets
1,2121,212 likes
Ram Madhav is not a high level government official. He works for a political party, not the Government. Patricia is spreading misinformation.
Either that or she is simply ignorant and has no access to Wikipedia.
This is how she ends her article-Finally, I also wonder what is to become of my students, who have paid tens of thousands of rupees after being promised a world class education, and who instead find their instructors fleeing due to academic interference, and their programme a shell of what it once was?
These are Post Grad students being taught by T.A's who may not even have completed their PhD and who are, on her own evidence, completely unsupervised. This might not matter too much if they were being taught 'American Studies' by a bright American. But that's not what is happening. They are being taught about India by someone who knows very little about that country.
Students aren't stupid. Even when the UPA was in office and Sen was talking grandly of securing 'diplomatic immunity' for staff (including Indian staff!) very few signed up even after the fees were scaled down. Under the firm hand of a RSS technocrat, it might still shape up- more particularly because Nitish is now on side- into something more than a White Elephant or money pit. But for that to happen you have to get good Professors to actually come and live in Rajgir and to provide proper supervision and guidance to enthusiastic young T.As working towards their PhDs in London or Berkeley or wherever.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Fabian Wendt & apophatic Justification

Fabian Wendt's prize winning paper seeks to integrate Comprehensive Liberalism- i.e. the old fashioned sort which had a full theory of Value and brighline judgements on everything under the Sun- with Public Justification Theory so as to depass the dilemmas and aporias of 'Public Reason' Liberalism which shies away from wedge issues.

He writes-
.. laws are publicly justifiable when all members of the relevant ‘public’ have sufficient reason to accept them, whereby ‘having sufficient reason’ is taken to be relative to the individuals’ values and beliefs, not relative to some external standard
Why enact, or justify an existing, law if everybody already subscribes to values and beliefs such that they will abide by it? 
Consider my proposed law banning people from calling each other up in the middle of the night in order to recite the Sillapadikram backwards. Everybody already abides by its stipulation. It is a waste of resources to see it enacted though, no doubt, it is publicly justifiable and need not be repealed if it is already on the statute books.
It may be argued that there is some moral consideration which gives rise to a quite separate 'sufficient reason', for approving the Law I have proposed. It may be that 'respect for persons'- more especially Tambram retards like me- militates for the promulgation of this law.
On the other hand there may be a visceral moral objection to appeasing a repugnant imbecile seeking to validate his own gross superstitions and impious dreads.
In both cases, a new second order, albeit pro tanto, 'sufficient reason' has been created purely because of public justification of a proposed or established law.
In the interests of 'stability'- i.e. to prevent fractious discord- the best thing to do would be to exclude  public justification of my law because nobody is breaking it anyway. Could there be a publicly justifiable general- that is 'constitutional'- law to this effect?

Fabian Wendt concludes his essay thus-
Let us for the moment imagine a comprehensive liberalism that does not include a principle of public justification. In that theory, we still have to accommodate different moral considerations that stand in tension with each other, since every plausible moral-political theory should acknowledge that there is a plurality of values to be considered. When assessing a law, we can ask how just it is, how effective it is, and so on. All these different considerations have to be taken into account before we can come to an all things considered judgment about the law. This makes moral thinking complicated, of course, and the issue of comparability of values is a serious one, but it does not lead to a split personality in any meaningful sense. Now the point is that public justifiability does not make moral thinking more difficult than it already is. It is just another consideration that is to be taken into account. The dichotomy between public justification and correctness-based justification stresses that there are two very different forms of justification, but this obscures the fact that public justifiability functions as one consideration among many other considerations within correctness-based justification, when it is integrated into a comprehensive liberalism. Here is the picture: on the first level in the evaluation of laws , we engage in correctness-based justification and evaluate laws in terms of their justice, fairness, efficiency etc., and we determine what the best law would be in light of these values. On the second level we take into account that others disagree about what the best law would be, and thus we consider moral values that become relevant under such circumstances of disagreement. Here, public justifiability comes into play as one such second-level moral value, and so public justifiability co-determines what the all things considered best law is within a correctness-based justification. Because public justifiability is just another moral consideration to be taken into account, it does not introduce any form of schizophrenia to our moral thinking. We can safely endorse a comprehensive liberalism and incorporate a principle of public justification.'

This means that even under the most favourable conditions- i.e. where there is an ubiquitous  'comprehensive liberalism' with a full theory of value- it would not be the case that 'constitutional laws'- i.e. laws about how laws are to be made or abrogated- could be publicly justifiable. This is because either there is no 'first level' efficiency filter- in which case my law has to be treated in the same manner as one which would filter it out- or else all second order moral considerations are effectually estopped unless they have no bearing on efficiency, justice, fairness etc and thus failed to be taken into account at the first level. But, in that case, they would have failed the first level test anyway.

For a truly Comprehensive Liberalism, Efficiency is all that matters. All rational agents would happily delegate determination of their 'sufficient reason' to an expert, if this could be done for free, and disintermediate themselves from the public justification process. This means that a Revelation principle obtains as does a Justice mechanism which needn't have a representation as a universal law code.

Either there is a 'mysterious economy' in which our Values and Beliefs cause us to affirm Faith or else nothing is, of its nature, secret or apophatic or too complex or computationally costly for utterance. In the former case, Public Justification is either foolish or otiose; in the latter, Values and Beliefs are either puerile or mischievous.

Chris Renwick on why we need the Welfare State.

Chris Renwick, an erudite History professor with a gift for pellucid English prose, writes in today's Guardian-

The poor law, established in 1601, at the end of Elizabeth I’s reign, made Britain’s guarantee of help for the destitute unique among European nations.
Britain did not exist in 1601. James I, introduced the term at his accession in 1604. There was no 'guarantee of help for the destitute' then, nor, truth be told, is there one now. It is not the case that any destitute person is guaranteed help. Various conditionalities have to be met. Genuine claims may be arbitrarily rejected- for example a sick person may be 'sanctioned' for failing to attend an interview- and a legal challenge may fail to avert death by neglect and inanition.

The last peace time famine, in England, occurred in 1623- a time of agricultural collapse in the North and North West. However, the underlying Malthusian aspect of the problem had peaked some sixty years previously and Market based reforms had already been set in motion. This meant that mortality ceased to be linked to bad harvests because trade and diversified specialisation- as well as improved entry and exit- had tackled the underlying problem of 'entitlement collapse' in a rational, not Sen-tentious manner. In other words, people hedged against dearth by their own efforts and decisions. They did not rely on some bogus 'guarantee' which the Crown had supposedly given.

Interestingly, contrary to the Thanksgiving myth, the Mayflower Pilgrims suffered dearth in 1621 and 1622 because most of the colonists were lazy thieves. Things turned around in 1623 and the next year there was an exportable surplus. What changed? The answer is that the guarantee to supply each colonist according to his need was done away with. Instead, each household was allotted land and allowed to keep what they produced.

Had 'Good Queen Bess' actually introduced a Socialistic 'guarantee of help to the destitute'- England would have starved in the same manner as those of its colonies in the New World which initially adhered to the principle 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs'.

Renwick is of a different opinion. Perhaps he thinks Britian was an 'organic' Polyani-type 'embedded' Society where the Lord and Lady of the Manor spent their days nursing the sick and distributing largesse to the destitute before getting all dolled up to dance the night away in beautiful ball rooms.

Then something terrible happened. The Jews came. Ricardo showed that, under diminishing returns, Landlords have an incentive to preserve a Malthusian reserve army to enforce the iron law of wages at the expense of Entrepreneurs in a manner which boosts their own rents. A corrupt 'pocket borough' riddled Parliament was holding the productive putative middle class in check by keeping the price of bread high and the wages for labour low. The more industrious farmer or craftsman bore the burden of the 'poor rate' so as to keep the very class he sprang from in a demographic poverty trap.

No doubt, the Reverent Malthus had a 'Keynesian' justification for this Divine dispensation. You see, the Aristos don't like saving money. They are notorious spendthrifts flinging coppers to the destitute and guineas to the gambling tables. They delight in ostentatious consumption. The Middle Class likes to save and invest its money. That would cause an under-consumption crisis. So Aristos we must always have with us. They must be tortured into trusses by their valets and scourged into salons by their footmen. Their gamekeepers lead them to a Golgotha where they are crucified for our sins seated upon their own shooting sticks. Such caviare and champagne as they are forced to partake of are as but vinegar & gall. Yet, in their measureless suffering we are all redeemed.

Renwick doesn't actually say it was the Jews who upset this beautiful apple-cart. Political Correctness gone mad, by Jove! Still, the man is sound enough- probably of solid Cumbrian stock- and he lets those nasty 'reformers' and 'modernisers' have it but good.

In the 1830s, an influential group of reformers, who later would be known as “modernisers”, changed the terms on which that help was offered. Assistance should amount to less than what the lowest-paid labourers could obtain with their wages, reformers insisted. Furthermore, help should only be available to people who were prepared to live in a workhouse – a dark, dank and miserable place where they were given an ill-fitting uniform and forced to carry out menial tasks in exchange for shelter and meagre rations of the most basic food.
Since the middle class paid for the wage subsidy to their less fortunate or skillful cousins, which in turn benefited the big manufacturer or Agricultural Estate, they used their political power to curb such expenditure. They were bound to succeed, because the rapidly growing middle class dominated industrial Towns and Cities had no Poor Law obligation to migrant workers. Rather, it was their own natal agricultural parishes which were on the hook. In other words, the letter of the Law was a double edged sword for the landed class. They would have to give up Agricultural protection (the 'Corn Law') if they wanted to save 'outdoor relief' (i.e. wage subsidies). In the end, they lost both but that wasn't till the dire boom-bust of the '40's shook them out of their complacency.
Renwick himself says
The country had grown wealthy during the industrial revolution, via the financial might of the City of London, the manufacturing power of the north of England, and an enthusiastic embrace of free trade.
But, Poor Law reform was part and parcel of what drove the industrial revolution and turned the north of England into a manufacturing power house. Other monetary and financial reforms, culminating in Gladstone's Free Trade budget, ensured the security and burgeoning might of the City of London.
None of this would have been possible if an able bodied pauper could receive a wage subsidy to remain in his accustomed profession- or no profession at all- at the expense of the rate payer.

Once fallacious and hypocritical arguments- like the notion that widows and orphans would starve unless the yield on consols was maintained, or that Aristocrats had to be profligate to stave off an under-consumption crisis, or that 'outdoor relief' was an intrinsic aspect of 'Merrie England' as was the Corn Law- were driven out of political discourse, the face of the British working class changed completely. The Workhouse became a Hospital for the elderly and indigent. Admittance to it was a matter of bitter shame for the able bodied. The British worker became a Staknonovite avant la lettre. Productivity, not Parasitism, was a badge of pride. Even the Aristocrats began to despise sinecures. The definition of a gentleman became one who held irregular perquisites in abhorrence. In any case, the door was always open to emigration. A Moll Flanders or Magwitch might make good in the Colonies rather than eke out a miserable existence in some Bridewell back home. Rising prosperity meant that hard working immigrants more than made up for the outflow. The perceived need for a captive workforce- itself a cab-rank type fallacy- was reduced.

However, there was still information asymmetry and adverse selection in Insurance markets- where they weren't wholly missing. Employers and workers faced the same problem re smoothing consumption and investment flows. Alfred Marshall would take trains to distressed areas and walk around looking into the pinched and wan faces of laid off workers seeking to divine the cause of this periodic curse. He read Marx and Lasalle but was left none the wiser. Still he soldiered on and, contemporaneously with quite a few other math mavens, founded the 'Marginal Revolution' which clarified the dynamics which Classical economists had left opaque. As he grew older, he grew more Conservative. Increasing acquaintance with bureaucratic reformers pushed him onto Pareto's trajectory. Like Herbert Spenser, Marshall felt instinctively that State Social and Health Insurance wasn't the panacea it might appear from a purely 'missing market' perspective. The underlying problem has to do with 'stickyness' in bureaucratic service provision under Knightian uncertainty. At the margin, it must be the case that some 'noise' is actually a signal. The longer you block that signal, the more painful the eventual shake out.

Renwick paraphrases Beveridge, a math maven Lawyer assimilable to the Coasian tradition, thus-
The biggest contribution to unemployment outside the downward slopes of the trade cycle, Beveridge argued, was the inefficiency of industry when it came to hiring workers. He asked readers of his book Unemployment: A Problem of Industry (1909) to imagine a scene he had encountered on many occasions: 10 wharves that each employed between 50 and 100 men per day, half of whom were regular staff and half of whom were reserves. While each wharf would experience similar high and low points in trade throughout the year, they were also likely to have their own individual fluctuations within those patterns. Anyone looking at the 10 wharves as a whole would not see these smaller deviations. The problem was that those smaller deviations were all that mattered to the reserve labourers walking from wharf to wharf asking for work each morning, because they meant the difference between them and their families eating, or going hungry.
If there was better communication and planning, Beveridge argued, almost all of those men would be able to find work each day. The problem was that business and industries were quite happy with the situation: they often had many more workers than vacancies, and did not need to pick up the costs of supporting those who couldn’t find work. Beveridge believed the state was the only institution with both the power to solve this problem and the interest in doing so. The political will to act on this conviction would have far-reaching implications for the millions of people who have found themselves out of work since. But we have slid backwards into a situation where precarious work paid by the hour is considered a sign of progress.
What could the State do in the above situation? Well, it could regulate the industry such that a levy on employers supported the unluckiest workers. Fine! But two things would happen in response- firstly there would be increased amalgamation within the industry, because of a one-off change in relative costs as well as a migration of business to an unregulated area- secondly there would be rent seeking behaviour on the part of the Industry. Political will suddenly increases in supply where rent-seeking behaviour increases. In the case of vital distribution networks, rent-seeking behaviour has complicated dynamic effects on the economy- none of them good. 

A Coasian solution- viz. voluntary insurance- fails because of adverse selection. The puzzle of existential entrepreneurialism- i.e. poor people taking risks affecting their daily bread- can only be solved by positing a habitus of risk taking. The guy whose income is precarious is thinking furiously about niches in the market. Some of his ilk will succeed, others will go to the wall. Sill, since the fact he is he took the risk, this might actually be individually regret-minimizing as well as Hannan consistent (i.e. dynamically efficient) at the aggregate level.

Beveridge, an old fashioned Fabian who strongly believed in the work-ethic, gained salience because of post-War overfull employment. What was actually happening was that the working class was acquiescing in a shift of the tax burden onto its own shoulders.  Since a reasonably functional democracy and fairly good governance ensured that at least some of that money was spent on things which created assets for working class people, the only nigger in the woodpile was people like me- globally footloose Coloured or, more recently, Continental immigrants.

This led ignorant people to confuse cause and effect. Somehow, the 'Welfare State' was given credit for a phenomenon- overfull employment- common to all Post War industrialised countries- even one's where no such thing existed and which grew far more rapidly. It was thought that the Beveridge Report was the Trojan Horse of Keynesianism. It was no such thing. Overfull employment happened by itself. An inflationary bias was a good way to shrink War time Debt. In the Seventies, 'fiscal drag' increased the tax burden on the working class. This was the other side to the coin of an unprecedented rise in Labour's share of National Income. But, once global monetary policy became explicitly Keynesian- Nixon's folly- Stagflation meant that it was the Welfare State which became the target of choice. Indeed, it was blamed for us immigrants who supposedly only came over to go on the dole. The truth is, what was happening was Tiebout sorting. Workers were coming to a State where workers were taxed and thus some of that tax revenue could be spent on the local public goods such workers valued. This was incentive compatible but it wasn't what Keynes or Beveridge or any other bien pensant Liberal ever envisaged or desired.

Renwick writes
The welfare state that came into being during the late 1940s underpinned a whole way of life that politicians only started to pull apart from the early 1980s onwards.
This begs the question- why then and not previously? The answer is obvious. State capacity had greatly increased because of the War. The entire population had been bureaucratised. Everybody had a ration card and anyone capable of productive work was sure of employment.
Industry took a different shape- not so much in England, where issues of 'caste as class' embittered everything, but elsewhere- because of the integration of a military style line management into the older commercial order. This increased 'Duality' in the Economy and occulted the actual distribution of Income and Wealth. Britain's exceptional Trade Union tradition was a separate factor which, however, proved fatal to its continuing success as a great manufacturing nation. It is not true to say that the welfare state underpinned a 'whole way of life'. Corporate health insurance and Union based unemployment benefits would have been an even better underpinning of a 'way of life' which was Americanised. It is not the case that Beveridge made Keynesianism possible or vice versa. The War changed the population in fundamental ways. It created State capacity of an unprecedented sort. I suppose, overfull employment meant that the Welfare State developed some persistent pathologies- families on the dole generation after generation, shuttling between the Probation Officer and the Social Worker- and undermined the viability of an 'efficiency wage' for the vast majority. However, it did cushion, to some extent, structural unemployment of an inevitable sort in extractive and heavy industries. There were other developments in the Seventies, which were 'Welfarist' but more obviously counter productive, but they have been quietly dropped from the core notion that Renwick cherishes-
The intention during the third quarter of the 20th century was to bring capitalism under control, specifically its tendency to interrupt and put downwards pressure on people’s earnings, rather than dispense with the system entirely.
The third quarter of the 20th century commenced with an unprecedented accumulation of power in the hands of the State. In Britain, Exchange Controls were only fully abolished in 1979, and the fear that they might be restored only dissipated after '92. Capitalism was already under control. Americans couldn't buy gold for most of the period. Markets weren't free and, in the Seventies, it was big Industries which went on the dole. The worker now had to pay for his idle cousins at the racetrack as well as for his inefficient managers on the golf course. The Welfare State had become a Monty Python sketch. At Number 10, the shop stewards have turned up for their ritual 'beer and sandwiches', but the CBI barges in whining for champagne and caviare and millions in bail outs. Everybody has a sob story. The 'White Heat of the Technological Revolution' means handouts to a new class of entrepreneur who promises to bring hi tech jobs to unemployment hotspots. But industry has turned into a money pit.
The Government is no longer in the business of paying people to promise they will build factories where workers will be paid. Why? Because the thing is an obvious swindle.
No doubt, the Govt does pay people to promise they will cut Welfare by pretending sick people aren't sick or unemployed people are not actually looking for work. Without question, the Government throws money at 'public private' initiatives which destroy National Wealth. Clearly, this too is a swindle. But it isn't the same swindle exactly.

Renwick says-
We have come to see the welfare state simply as a cost to be kept down rather than part of an economic and social strategy that aims to deliver security for all and opportunities to obtain more for those who want to.
This is nonsense. Costs should be kept down. Benefits should be increased. Stop doing stupid shit or giving money to obvious swindlers. That reduces costs. Make sure you get value for the money you do spend- that increases benefits. An economic and social strategy that aims to deliver security for all is bound to involve doing stupid shit and giving money to obvious swindlers. Politicians have a fiduciary duty. This duty can only be discharged with due care and diligence if there is clarity as to the corpus available and the class of beneficiaries.  Security for all is meaningless. At the margin, agents need action guiding signals. If the State covers their ears, on the excuse of shutting out 'noise', they may get some false security. But sooner or later, the State will face a fiscal crunch. It's 'guarantees' will turn out to be worthless. Just ask the Greeks or the Venezuelans.
The idea that these goals are no longer obtainable is clearly false. A good start would be to reconnect with the liberal idea, now more than a century old, that everyone sees returns when they pool risks, whether it’s the individuals who can stop worrying about what is around the corner, governments that might otherwise cut their headline costs but succeed only in shifting it somewhere else, or the companies that benefit from healthy and educated workers operating in a safe environment.
A pooling equilibrium is not necessarily a good thing. That's why Nature and Economics display separating equilibria on the basis of costly signals. In the short run, the State can suppress costly signals in favour of cheap talk.  But, the crisis, when it comes, will be that much more severe because an eusocial mechanism has been thoughtlessly disabled.

It is never a good idea to 'reconnect' with century old notions. Why? The guys who had those notions are dead and can't speak up for themselves. The historians who tell us about those notions are stupid and ignorant and tell stupid, ignorant, lies.

We now have a new type of technology which can plug 'missing markets' and do 'separating equilibrium' based risk pooling better and more cheaply than ever before. The British Govt. has shown no deftness in adopting this technology. On the contrary, it appears to be in the business of handing over money to whichever contractor can screw things up most royally.

Companies that benefit from healthy and educated workers operating in a safe environment are doing very nicely for themselves, thank you, without any assistance from the State. They don't want 'risk pooling'. Employees may, because of Knightian Uncertainty, but it is regret minimizing for them to ask for this and remain content when it is denied. In other words, this isn't a first order Preference. It is strategic behaviour.

Renwick says-
A successful economy requires all these actors to understand that they need to give, not just take, in order to build an environment in which they and those that follow them are able to succeed.
This is nonsense. Economic agents don't need to understand meaningless bromides like 'you need to give, not just take' because they already understand that they have to pay for stuff they buy and get paid for stuff they sell. There is no need to 'build an environment' which appears spontaneously all over the world and throughout human history.

By contrast, when it comes to eating a slice of Pizza we do need urgent Government intervention to ensure that a safe and sustainable environment is created in which agents who bite into the pizza are properly cautioned to unclench their jaws and begin a chewing motion. Furthermore, it is important that salivary juices are released as this aids in the formation of a bolus which can be swallowed safely. We must reconnect with the idea of the great Horace Fletcher who propounded this revolutionary doctrine of chewing and mastication a little more than a century ago.

I must stop now, because the guy from Papa John is ringing the bell. Tragically, I may choke to death because this Tory Government has criminally refused to build a proper environment for pizza chewing in this country. If I die tonight, Theresa May and her neo-liberal cabal will have my blood on their hands.