Climbing the ladder I
The seventeen spoked
Turned and turned.
In the end
Why do I
Think of you?
.. 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
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.'
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 every hungry and homeless person in the country today is guaranteed assistance from the State. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ritain spent about £305,000 last year on educational programs for the Burmese military on English, democracy, and leadership. The programs do not include combat training.Unfortunately, it appears that the Burmese military have decided to demonstrate democratic leadership and gain popularity by brutally driving away darker skinned 'kalar' Muslims and Hindus who speak an Indo-Aryan language. Why did they do so? Was it their new found English skills which permitted them to access the philosophical musings of Katie Hopkins? We can't be certain. Still, as a precaution, it is heartening to hear Theresa May's robust assurance that the British Ministry of Defence will suspend these educational courses till...urm.. something or the other happens which makes it acceptable once again.
'Referring to the role of Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power in arguing for limited military action in Libya against the non-interventionist inclinations of the male defence secretary, national security adviser and counterterrorism chief, Jacob Heibrunn derided Obama for effectively having been henpecked into interventionism by ''these Valkyries of foreign affairs''.Not to be outdone on misogyny, Mark Krikorian commented caustically that ''our commander-in-chief is an effete vacillator who is pushed around by his female subordinates''.
The jury is still out on whether international military action in Libya will promote consolidation or softening of the R2P norm. The Libyan people's euphoria and NATO's relief over the successful military campaign to remove Gaddafi is likely to temper criticisms of the manner in which NATO rode roughshod over UN authorisation to protect civilians.
That said, we should not be naive about what may be required in particular circumstances. Already in 2003, as Commissioner for the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, I wrote that ''If defeat of a non-compliant state or regime is the only way to achieve the human protection goals, then so be it.'' In Libya, the West's strategic interests coincided with UN values. This does not mean that the latter was subordinated to the former. It does mean, as was the case with Australia vis--vis East Timor in 1999, that there was a better prospect of sustained NATO engagement in an operation on its borders than if Western interests were not affected. Paris, London and Washington - and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon - did not waver in their resolve, despite critics from the left pushing for diplomacy and critics from the right calling for boots on the ground. Too many seemed to expect and demand instant military gratification. Six months to overthrow an entrenched and determined dictator is not bad.
The outcome is a triumph first and foremost for the citizen soldiers who refused to let fear of Gaddafi determine their destiny any longer. It is a triumph secondly for R2P. NATO military muscle deployed on behalf of UN political will helped to level the killing field between citizens and a tyrant. It is possible for the international community, working through the authenticated, UN-centred structures and procedures of organised multilateralism, to deploy international force to neutralise the military might of a thug and intervene between him and his victims with reduced civilian casualties and little risk of military casualties.
If we find formal innovations in a non-European novelist, modulations on form unrelated to, say, identity, difference, or colonial history, we might say, “This novelist has a European air.” We could say the same about the more formally ambitious of the recent American writers, whose innovations are unrelated to Americana: that they are, in some ways, Europeans from, say, Brooklyn. At the moment, though, because of the centrality in the Anglophone world of the USA and of New York, we don’t think of innovations in fiction emerging from these locations as being primarily connected to what it means to be a New Yorker, or an American—we think of them as formal innovations in themselves. The American writer has succeeded the European writer. The rest of us write of where we come from.-
WHEN A COUSIN’S BELGIAN WIFE read my first novel, her response wasn’t, as it might have been: “I know these people, literally.” After all, the characters in the novel were people she’d come to know in Calcutta on her visits from America, then Denmark, in the first decades of her marriage. Her relatives through marriage were my relatives on my mother’s side. They were in the small novel. Instead, she said to my cousin, “It reminds me of Proust.”This passage is quintessentially Bengali. It establishes its intellectual and aesthetic credentials by wholly genealogical means. Amit might be a shite writer but 'maternal cousin's Belgian wife' is good; mobled Queen is good.