Friday, 7 May 2021

Easterly on Adam Smith

William Easterly has a paper here   which links a smart Scottish guy who was a witness to actual Economic Development in a very smart, but very poor, part of the world and who was a Messiah to the 'enlightened' beamtenliberalismus  German bureaucratic class which later set in motion 'Listian' nationalist economic development to great effect.

By contrast post-War Development Economics was retarded shite which fucked up poor countries stupid enough to take 'free money' from the US, after which it retreated to the safe space of Ivy League Ivory towers to virtue signal while engaging in methodological masturbation and statistical self-abuse. 

Easterly writes-

Adam Smith is not sufficiently recognized as a founder of development economics.

He was part of actual Development based on Tardean mimetics. That's just 'Economics'- i.e finding cheaper ways of doing smart stuff. Amartya-fucking-Sen can gas on about Smith, mangling him completely in the process, but that aint 'development economics' at all. It is just retards doing what retards do. 

Smith challenged the longstanding assumption that inferior development outcomes reflected inferior groups, and that superior groups should coerce inferior groups to make development happen.

This is silly. It was always obvious that so long as land is scarce, superior groups replace inferior groups though no doubt slavery and a caste based miscegenation may happen along the way. The principle of comparative advantage does not apply if one side can take control of the factor of production of the other on the basis of an absolute advantage in killing and enslaving and exploiting the fuck out of the other.  

Smith made clear that the positive-sum benefits of markets required respecting the right to consent of all individuals, from whatever group.

But fucking over your slave aint a market transaction. Easterly has uttered a tautology- for a mutually respectful relationship to burgeon both sides must respect each other. However, once coercion enters the picture, one side may gain more while the latter loses out. The game may be positive sum but one side is worse off while the other side is much better off because of it.  

These ideas led Smith to be a fierce critic of European conquest, enslavement, and colonialism of non-Europeans.

The problem here is that if England's European rival was doing that shit then that rival could pay for a better Armada which meant England had to get into the game- e.g. by grabbing the Assiento- or else it was vulnerable to Catholic invasion. On the other hand, Scotland should not waste time and money on expeditions to Darien or wherever. 

The loss of Smith’s insights led to a split in later intellectual history of pro-market and anti-colonial ideas.

Intellectual history? Are you fucking kidding me? These guys were all as stupid as shit!  

The importance of the right to consent is still insufficiently appreciated in economic development debates today

Economic development does not depend on the 'right to consent'. It may burgeon because of consent. But the right to consent merely creates a holdout or concurrency problem. Essentially, importing 'rights' into the debate- i.e. pretending remedies exist- changes Shapley values such that no solution concept is robust. By contrast telling 'Development Economists' to fuck off helps Economic Development get off the ground. 

Easterly does not acknowledge that the pirates and privateers and slavers and slave-traders and so forth who created Empires were not 'intellectuals'. They were, at best, greedy sociopaths and, at worst, fanatical evangelists of an evil God.

It is true, there were one or two, not just 'Smithian' but full fledged 'Benthamite' intellectuals who lobbied Westminster for more colonists to be sent out. But those intellectuals had names like Ram Mohun Roy & Dwarkanath Tagore. They were rational in asking for Whitey to come fuck over their peeps because, as Roy said, the alternative was the Muslims putting them back in their place which would be sad coz they'd have less money and have to write shite Persian poetry instead of virtue signaling English prose. 

One such idea that was widespread and influential for a couple centuries in Western intellectual history is that less developed people were unfit to have the same rights as more developed people.

Rights are linked to remedies. A people who have no remedy for getting killed or enslaved have inferior rights. This is because getting fucked over is inferior to fucking over anyone who tries to fuck with you.  

Underdevelopment equaled innate inferiority,

No. Some underdeveloped people, then and now, were very good at fucking up anybody or everybody who came near them. It was enough for a bunch of guys- like the Afghans or Gurkhas- to show they really enjoyed killing your expensively trained soldiers for them to get as much respect as they wanted. Generally, this involved paying them a subsidy and getting their less blood-thirsty peeps jobs as mercenaries in your Army.  

which implied your inability to make wise choices for yourself.

Studying and then teaching stupid shite- which is what Easterly does- aint considered a 'wise choice' unless the guy really had learning difficulties growing up. 

Advanced development equaled innate superiority, which included the ability to direct development for the inferior people.

Then Mongols turned up to participate in the rape of Berlin and the occupation of much of Eastern Europe. At the time, the very word 'Mongoloid' meant intellectually inferior. The Soviet Union was less developed than East Germany or Czechoslovakia. But Uncle Joe could direct the shit out of development in both places.  

These ideas opened the door for the more developed, allegedly superior people to make choices for the less developed people. Europeans had the right to seize lands of American Indians because Europeans would make the wise choices that would develop the lands more. 

Ideas didn't do shit. Some Europeans seized stuff- sure enough. If their native countries had repudiated them, then they'd still have done it. The USA continued grabbing land and genociding the fuck out of indigenous people long after Adam Smith was in his coffin. But then the same thing happened in Africa and Asia and elsewhere without Whitey being involved. 

Easterly- an ignorant American- takes 5 steps to arrive at his stupid conclusion. 

Step 1: Adam Smith really was a Development Economist To learn from history of development thinking, we first have to be convinced there IS a history of such thinking. There is a curious notion in development economics that the field emerged out of nowhere right after World War II. I used to share that view, writing in 2001: “{For decades and centuries} No economists paid much attention to the problems of poor countries…Suddenly after World War II, we policy experts, having ignored poor countries for centuries, now called for attention to their “urgent problems.””

Development Economics, in India, begins with Dadhabhai Naoroji, a one-time Maths Professor who began compiling and interpreting statistics so as to critique Colonial policy. He became a Professor in London in the 1860s and influenced the rising generation of more radical economists- like Marshall, who knew his Marx and Lasalle as well as his Smith and Ricardo. Marshall's Indian students- but also the Maths graduate, and Financier, Harkishen Lal Gauba who took Marshall's lectures in the early Nineties- laid the foundations of Development Economics in India. The engineer Visvesvaraya as well as Judges, like Ranade and Dewans and other administrators worked together to create a synoptic vision of development which had its own cadre- viz. the Servants of India. Ambedkar, with a PhD in fiscal policy from Colombia, and another Doctorate in Monetary theory from the LSE, brought an anthropological and sociological perspective. Furthermore, from about 1900 onward you had Scientific Agronomical Institutes while Indian Statistics developed rapidly from the Twenties onwards. In other words, by the Thirties, everything needed for a comprehensive theory of Development was available in India. Yet development did not occur. Why? Gandhi and Tagore and other such virtue signaling nutjobs thought India should be inferior coz...urm... superiority is vulgar? It aint spiritual? Some shit like that. Still, my point is that it wasn't till American 'free money' was on the table to prevent Development that Mathematical Economists- mainly Bengali, like Sukhamoy how shit am I Chakroborty- got a chance to turn the very term 'Development Economics' into an oxymoron. 

To be clear, Indians- like everybody else- knew that they'd have to imitate Japan- a caste society which began to develop rapidly after it kicked Buddhism in the goolies- by getting rural girls into factory dormitories and conscripting boys and instilling fighting spirit and a proper work ethic into them and also beating and killing Marxists and libtards and so forth. 

Development just means imitating the more developed. Development Economics should be how to do it cheaper. It's what happened in China in the Eighties but only because no one involved was a Development Economist. 

 Step 2: Smith universally celebrates individual choice

But Smith could do shit about coercion.  

Smith is famous for stressing the power of choices of self-interested individuals, and he does not modify this approach when he covers less developed areas. There is so much attention paid to the “self-interest” part of this approach that the “individual choice” part is often overlooked. At the time (and for more than a century and a half afterwards), the conventional wisdom on development differences stressed innate group differences rather than individual behavior. As we saw with Hume, people thought it obvious that development outcomes for groups simply reflected innate superiority or inferiority of those groups. Inferior groups lacked, among other things, the ability to make the right choices for themselves. Smith opted instead for what historians of thought Peart and Levy (2005); Levy and Peart (2016a, b) called “analytical egalitarianism” for all individuals. He is assuming that individuals everywhere are capable of acting in their own interest, and then that their choices actually benefit society as a whole.

Smith does make an assumption which is peculiar to himself- viz. that at the 'parish' level- i.e. the lowest collective possible- individual self-interest will aggregate in the same way that it would at the highest level. Thus the parish could provide for itself rather than transmit funds to the center which the center sends back. Smith was right about his own 'parish'. The Lowland Scots were the smartest people on the planet back then. But he knew very well that everything could turn pear-shaped if Westminster fucked up big time. Like other Scottish intellectuals, Smith knew that the security of his own people depended on getting their cousins down south to be a little less swinish and stupid. 

Easterly quotes Smith as saying ' “To remove a man who has committed no misdemeanour, from the parish where he chooses to reside, is an evident violation of natural liberty and justice.” Yet, if a parish is a Tiebout model- i.e raises local taxes to fund local club goods- it must be the case that an immigrant who quits his job 'to go on the parish' must be either excluded or subjected to a punitive workhouse discipline such that people in the parish will cease to want to rely upon parochial relief in bad times. This means, provision of the thing collapses. This is an example of information asymmetry or preference revelation throwing a spanner in the works of the armchair pundit.

Actual 'Law & Econ' finds solutions for problems of this sort such that economic development occurs. But this is either a mimetic or wholly idiographic process. Ordinary folk can grasp the thing easily enough- but Development Economists aren't ordinary. They are very very special and require special education. 

Comparing China and India, we might say the former could develop  more rapidly because of its 'internal passport' hukou system. Each area was a 'Tiebout models' which could exclude 'free riders'- or even migrants who had more than paid their way. More liberal countries can't have anything similar. However, the problem arises that  poor area which export youth have little incentive to educate them. The Japanese have a peculiar system whereby you can nominate your home area to receive a portion of your tax bill. Taking advantage of an ethic concerning gift giving, poor regions give presents to their expats. Germany has a different approach. Assuming your Schooling is done by your Church, the portion of your tax which goes to your sect repays their investment. Another approach is for poor regions to 'defeat Baumol cost-disease' by specializing in a particular type of Higher Education which then ensures that kids in local schools have an acquired advantage in that subject. This can give rise to a 'Marshall industrial district' effect.  Indeed, this was what happened in some poorer parts of the United Kingdom in the Nineteenth Century which is why Marshall's name could be attached to the phenomena.

My point is that individual choice doesn't matter very much. It is collective choice at whatever level can best 'internalize externalities' and overcome preference falsification which matters. But finding the right level of subsidiarity is a discovery process. This is 'emic', not 'etic', stuff. This is an oikonomia to which all those not of the oikos have no access. Their 'akrebia'- i.e mathematical precision- bites at the empty air. 

Easterly speaks of 'Institutions'. That sounds plenty precise. Apparently there are 'good' Institutions and 'bad' or naughty Institutions. The problem is, as every ordinary person knows, that good Institutions can do very stupid shit while bad Institutions, precisely because they are utterly rotten, may not be able to prevent sensible things happening. 

Easterly, explaining why he has to take Step 3, says -

 However, there is still a major loose end – if good institutions partially determine the outcome, these superior institutions could still reflect the wisdom of superior individuals from superior groups.

He means, if black peeps have crap institutions then, in a sense, aint they still crap? The obvious rejoinder is that there were plenty of Whites at the time who were being fucked over- Celtic Highlanders and Irish Catholics to name just two groups close to home- and thus it is only Easterly's own unconscious bias which is being addressed here-

 Step 3: Smith denies that superior institutions reflect superior people This step is the most radical and the most intellectually challenging both in Smith’s day and in ours. It involves first the idea of unintended general equilibrium (or in Hayek’s more general and poetic phrase “spontaneous order”), of which the Invisible Hand of the market is the most famous example.

The invisible hand belongs to the Katechon, that occult economy of Providence which keeps the eschaton at bay- oikonomia mysterion as the good book says- and which had brought about God's universal plan of salvation for the low low price of 30 pieces of silver. Smith grew up at a time when people knew their Bible the way we know donkey porn.

Second, Smith describes how the extent of the market (if we think of that as an institutional feature) varies unintentionally with  geographic accidents that affect transport costs. Third, Smith describes how the institutions that support individual freedom to choose also evolve unintentionally

The problem here is that only people who want to be superior will allow the unintentional evolution of that outcome. But such superiority is arduous. Lazy peeps will prevent the unintentional evolution of shite which makes their life more complicated. 

Why speak of 'accidents' which affect transport costs? Smith may have not foreseen steam ships and railway trains, but we know about them. It was nineteenth century advances which made Scientific racism so plausible. Thankfully, Hitler & Co put paid to any notion that Whitey couldn't be as stupid as anybody else. The fact is Development is only worthwhile if it can defend its fruits. But that defense is game theoretic. Von Neumann in between working out how to make atom bombs go boom, put paid to Economics as something worth studying at Uni. Either do Maths or Accountancy and Finance. As Freeman Dyson & William Press have recently shown, cooperation only exists so extortion can exist and vice versa. Evolvability is cool but we may be evolving into a tastier snack for a predator. 

Easterly writes-

The most radical idea in the Wealth of Nations that breaks the seemingly inevitable link between innate group abilities and outcomes is that of unintended general equilibrium.

because the unintended general equilibrium of the indigenous Tasmanians had led them to discover quantum computers and time travel- which is how come they have gone to wherever the dinosaurs still roam. By contrast, the existing human population of Tasmania got there not through any 'unintended consequence' but because Britain wanted somewhere to send convicts and perhaps also to stop the French getting their hold on the territory.  

This is the real meaning of the invisible hand – related to the more general concept of spontaneous order (or with complexity theory, it could be “emergence of a complex adaptive system”). Spontaneous order is often seen today in development as a useless idea, not generating any policy recommendations except perhaps a scary passivity. But it is of great importance in the historical debate about innate differences between groups vs. different outcomes arising from intrinsically equal individuals under different circumstances. If individuals did not intend the good outcome for their group, their allegedly innate superiority does not so obviously get credit for it.

Yes it does. We are innately superior to monkeys coz our 'spontaneous order' is better than theirs. Sadly, if invaders turn up and start killing and enslaving us then our 'spontaneous order' is inferior probably because we are inferior in some sense. That may be the fault of our history but it doesn't change the facts. The Japanese decided they were inferior in many respects to the Americans. It took them more than a century to catch up but catch up they did by working hard and trying to do smart things. 

Individuals in the group with the superior outcome do not have the knowledge or ability to direct development for their own group,

Yes, they do. This is because they can do 'mechanism design' such that 'incentive compatibility' obtains and thus individuals and collectives are motivated to work together to realize a common vision.  

much less for other groups with inferior outcomes.

That's perfectly fair. We know what motivates us. We don't what motivates people in far away countries. 

Easterly quotes Smith at his most foolish-

This division of labour, from which so many advantages are derived, is not originally the effect of any human wisdom,

Yes it is! First there is human wisdom and then there is division of labor. But, it may be wiser to abandon it in favor of self-sufficiency. This is a pendulum which has been swinging for ten thousand years! 

which foresees and intends that general opulence to which it gives occasion.

But, so far as we know, this is precisely what happened wherever there really was 'opulence'. The 'stationary bandit' makes an effort to attract specialists of various sorts and guards trade routes and levies taxes upon them. If trade routes aren't guarded the division of labor collapses. People abandon the larger settlements so as to get by on subsistence agriculture in places difficult for slavers to get to.  

It is the necessary, though very slow and gradual, consequence of a certain propensity in human nature, which has in view no such extensive utility; the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another.

Which one can only do if there is no risk the other guy won't knock you on the head and grab your stuff. 

The size of the market is determined by the length and safety of the trade routes the stationary bandit can command. Easterly thinks it is exogenous. Did Smith think so himself? Perhaps- if his brain was made of porridge. The fact is the Royal Navy was creating a global market and this meant that British opulence would increase- for the opulent- in a manner Smith could little conceive. 

Smith says-

  In opulent countries, the market is generally so extensive, that any one trade is sufficient to employ the whole labour and stock of those who occupy it. Instances of people living by one employment, and, at the same time, deriving some little advantage from another, occur chiefly in poor countries.

Substitute 'counties' for countries and there is something to this assertion- but only if you define 'trade' as 'all economic activities occurring in a region whose main export is synonymous with it- e.g. Steel for Sheffield. Sheffield's tailors and bakers and so forth could all be said to be supporting the Steel trade. 

Easterly describes a strange sort of 'poverty trap'- 

there could be a vicious circle of poverty and no division of labor, or a virtuous circle of growing division of labor and growing prosperity reinforcing each other

This is nonsense. Poverty arising from agricultural involution of a Malthusian sort- or indeed any wider situation where there is zero marginal labour product in the main industry- will see a byzantine division of labor- e.g. domestic servants specializing in very narrow tasks- e.g. the 'hookah-wallah' & 'pankah-wallah' of the Raj era bungalow- but that division of labor disappears once the marginal product of labor begins to rise. That's why nobody now has scullery maids and boot boys and guys whose job it is to cut the tips off cigars. 

In a footnote, Easterly explains 

 To be more exact, the existence of a poverty trap also depends on the relative slopes of the two relationships of opposite causality between development and extent of the market. If the slopes are such that there is no poverty trap, it is still true that starting from a low level of each, the division of labor and extent of the market will feed on each other and increase till they reach a stable equilibrium.

This is nonsense. Either marginal product of labour is stable or rising or the people there are fucked. Expanding the market raises the marginal product of labour in high value adding industries. Thus, if you have a bunch of starving handloom weavers currently producing towels for 'Khadi Gram Udhyog' and you get them to produce stuff for L.A hipsters then, like Fabindia, you raise marginal product and suddenly these guys are doing well. That's why Khadi Gram Udhyog is so determined to prevent Fabindia using the 'khadi' tag.  

A factor that exogenously makes the market small, such as the high transport costs to be discussed next, will have a low stable equilibrium at a low level of development.

Nope. The workaround is to go for insanely high value added. Then high transport costs make the thing 'positional' at the farthest end of the globe. Thus coffee made from berries shat out by a rare breed of monkeys in some inaccessible rain-forest will literally be worth more than their weight in gold. 

Many globe trotters have expressed puzzlement as to why the crappiest stuff is found closest to where it is produced while in a distant city you can be sure of getting the best. Where transport costs are a factor, the best is reserved for the furthest destinations. 

Easterly mentions the 'gravity model of trade'. But that is a type of gravity which Force creates. Indian Development Economists created a situation where it was about 30 percent cheaper to buy an Indian made suit from Marks & Spencer in London than it would be to buy it in India. Incidentally, did you know India had its first SEZ fifteen years before China? Since it was put in the charge of bureaucrats who prefer to spend their time in Bombay, it managed to survive but couldn't really catalyse very much.

Finally, a large extent of the market depends on the existence of individual freedoms to trade and to have individual rights to one’s own labor, property, and one’s own choices of occupations and locations.

This exists under slavery because smart slaves pay a portion of their profits to the owner. Indeed, the big advantage of slavery is that people think twice about killing or raping you coz your owner will fuck them over.  

All the benefits of the market in step 2 above depend on these free institutions.

No. They depend on the credible threat of being fucked over by the Slave Owner, or Trading Company, or Monarch, or Mafia boss you answer to. Institutions don't matter. The strong right arm is what permits trade to burgeon. 

England, Scotland, British North America, and Holland had such freedoms, while China, India, and Egypt (especially after being conquered by the Turks) did not.

So, countries ruled by unpopular foreigners- Manchus, Mughals, Mamelukes- tended to stagnate. Was this perhaps because the foreign conqueror knew that if people got rich from maritime trade then these essentially land based Empires would begin to fray in exactly the manner that they did in fact fray and come apart? 

Were these free institutions designed by superior groups?

England and Holland's 'institutions' may or may not have been regarded as free. What is certain is that the guys who designed and controlled them didn't want to be inferior to even the most Catholic of Kings or Emperors. They wanted to be able to tell them to go suck the Pope's dick.  

Smith sometimes saw these freedoms as determined by discrete policy choices by a government. He was after all trying to persuade any governments who would listen to give up zero-sum mercantilist thinking and trade restrictions, and to embrace free trade.

The Germans listened to Smith and after getting the Zollverein, went in a Listian direction. So did the US after fighting a Civil War in which more American lives were lost than in the two World Wars. 

Sounding a lot like a modern IMF or World Bank mission, he preaches to China that 'A more extensive foreign trade… could scarce fail to increase very much the manufactures of China, and to improve very much the productive powers of its manufacturing industry….as well as the other improvements of art and industry which are practiced in all the different parts of the world. Upon their present plan, they have little opportunity of improving themselves.'

But the Manchus got to stick around for another century, living in undiminished splendor.  

This does sound like freedom depends on wise policies by wise leaders.

But the opposite may be wiser if the alternative is having your throat slit. Easterly appears ignorant of the fact that by the middle of the Nineteenth century smart peeps in China and India and the Ottoman Empire etc. all agreed that European mechanism design was superior because it deliberately aimed at making Europeans the masters of the World. Instead of the man of religion quarreling with the courtier or the man of commerce, Europe had mechanisms such that each 'representative agent's' ruling passion caused that guy to do something beneficial for the larger project. The Missionary turns up to preach the Gospel, but- as George Bernard Shaw remarked- gets eaten. Then gunships turn up to avenge the insult to Religion. Trade follows the Flag, unless it is real sneaky in which case the thing works the other way around. 

 The claim of Europeans to have a superior innate genius for institutional design does not hold up if institutions emerge without design.

Very true! The American Constitution was actually typed up by monkeys. NYU, where Easterly teaches, was originally chartered in 1831 not as a teaching institution but a center for cheese fondling. Thanks to 'spontaneous order' it developed into a world class research university though, if you look closely, you will see most of the Professors are fondling pieces of cheese in between writing complex equations on the blackboard.  

Again, Smith mocks the pretension of individuals from groups with superior outcomes – they lack the ability to design those outcomes even for their own group. So they also lack the ability to design a better outcome for other groups that currently have inferior outcomes.

No. Smith mocks certain other pamphleteers with silly 'plans of government'. But Defoe had done it better.  

Step 4: Smith finds moral principles that make possible universal individual choice

Individuals chose stuff all the time. No 'moral principle' is required to make this possible. What on earth could Easterly possibly be getting at? 

Smith also deployed moral principles that support individual choice. In modern terms, he recognized the need both for formal institutions and for moral norms.

In modern terms, I must- being modern- tell Easterly to fuck off. We know that 'formal institutions' are unnecessary coz we use things like Ebay and Paypal and may soon be using crypto-currency. As for 'moral norms' they are normally only mentioned by people who are, or think we are, morons. 

All of Smith’s analytical machinery is based on the notion of individual choice, presuming that the individual has a right to his own labor and property.

Why stop there? Why not presume the individual has the right to be herself? How about mentioning the all important right to have a right to be the subject of a right? If you are going to talk nonsense on stilts, why not lengthen those stilts till they overtop the Sun?  

Moreover, the opportunities for gains from trade only exist when individuals have their contract rights respected, when individuals do not steal from or coerce each other rather than honor the contract.

No. As with Ebay or Paypal, it is enough that the mechanism be incentive compatible. 'Respect' don't mean shit.  

Choice is equivalent to the absence of coercion – each individual has the right to consent.

No. Choice means actually picking between alternatives. Failure to make a choice may have nothing to do with coercion. 'Right to consent' does not matter. What matters is the externality associated with accepting that consent. The Mafia Don's daughter may have the right to consent to sex with me. But, I'd be a fool not to run far far away if she gives me the glad eye. 

The invisible hand of self-interest only works when your self-interest is constrained to recognize other people’s self-interest to have their rights respected as well.

Nonsense! You need have no knowledge or feeling towards your counterpart in a market transaction. The invisible hand would soon cramp up if I had to enquire if everybody at the grocery store or restaurant was having their rights respected before I could complete a transaction.  

If this principle is violated, this would make your self-interest harmful to others.

My self-interest may be harmful to others in any case- e.g. my winning an Ebay auction to the disappointment of other bidders. However, provided there are no costs or benefits received outside the market (i.e. no externalities) and thus no action in tort lies against me, then no principle has been 'violated'. 

This violation of the Invisible Hand by unequal rights and coercion does not get as much attention as it deserves

from Economists for a very good reason. Economists aint policemen. They aint even lawyers. Fuck they can do about coercion? Put on a Batman costume and go beat up bad guys?  

compared to the usual focus on market failures, externalities, etc.

which is stuff Economists can do something about- or at least make money out of. 

Although formal institutions could enforce these rights to choose, Smith recognized that strong moral principles were even more powerful to make them happen – and that the right institutions would not emerge without the right moral norms.

The Stock Market is an Institution. Which moral norms did it emerge out of?  

The right morals for Smith can be summarized with the idea of reciprocity – any rights that I want for myself, I should respect in others.

In that case, the Stock Market would have collapsed immediately because brokers- who wanted the right not to reveal whether they wanted to buy or to sell-  nevertheless demanded to interact with jobbers who were obliged to quote their spread. Markets are not based on 'equal rights'. One party has a superior duty of care and must observe more stringent disclosure requirements. 

Easterly it seems is a true Development Economist. He has hit on a formula to destroy the market. Gains from trade arise on the basis of opportunity cost ratios. How they are shared may be a function of market power. There is no connection between either of these things and morality and reciprocity. A slave bringing water to an escaped prisoner-of-war, who is perhaps a Prince in his own country, may be able to exchange that water for diamonds. There is no morality here and no mutuality. But there is a gain from trade.

Easterly however thinks that something, that fool, Lionel Robbins said must be other than utterly foolish. He concludes- 

Mutual gains from trade are possible only when there is mutual respect for rights.

This is nonsense. I hate and want to kill you. You hate and want to kill me. But we can transact business through a third party, who holds funds in escrow till conveyancing is completed, and there can be a 'mutual gain' even though there is no 'mutual respect'. 

Interestingly, when it comes to real estate and other high value transactions, we follow the same method even if we both respect the fuck out of each other's rights. 

Step 5: Smith criticizes the colonialism of the West and unequal rights for the Rest 

Smith's criticism, obviously, failed to influence history in the slightest. I suppose, in this respect, we may indeed say Smith was a Development Economist because he was wholly and utterly useless. The fact is even the least productive colonies served their European masters well. The Portuguese monarchy fell because Britain, rather rudely, took some territory in Africa they had been claiming. Spain's generation of 1898 similarly dug the grave of the Spanish monarchy, though it retained a small presence in North Africa which permitted Franco to return with 'Moors' whom he set to the task of systematic raping working class women in territory his Fascist allies had 'liberated' for him. 

Had Britain, for some high moral reason, decided to give up colonies, it would not have been able to pay for the Royal Navy. We'd be speaking French or German now. 

Easterly quotes Smith

  Hereafter, perhaps, the natives of those countries may grow stronger, or those of Europe may grow weaker; and the inhabitants of all the different quarters of the world may arrive at that equality of courage and force which, by inspiring mutual fear, can alone overawe the injustice of independent nations into some sort of respect for the rights of one another

It is certainly true that China is telling America in no uncertain terms that it has achieved 'equality of courage and force'.  Yet, Easterly writes-

 With the popular resurgence of xenophobia and zero-sum thinking in the Western world, perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to follow Smith and talk a little more openly about our economic ideas and moral principles— that individuals everywhere are indeed fit to choose for themselves, and that true progress happens by consent.

How did China get to a point where it can tell Biden to go fuck himself while all he can do is promise that China won't completely overtake America 'on his watch'- which, in the nature of things, can't be very long at all? It was certainly through 'mutual gains from trade'. But it had nothing to do with moral norms or 'respect for rights'.

Yet China is the biggest Development Economics success story ever. How is Easterly able to write such guff when everybody can see, and smell, the elephant in the room? 

The answer, of course, is that he has spent his life studying and teaching a shite subject. Sad. 

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

M.Giraldone on Rawls & Sen

 Prof Muriel Giraldone has a good chapter on Rawls & Sen's mutual interaction here.

The following was news to me-

It must be noted that as far back as 1965 Sen, together with Runciman, provided a game-theoretic interpretation of Rousseau’s “general will” and of Rawls’s original position, wherein the principles of justice can be viewed as solutions to cooperative games in the original position: 
Our view of the “general will”, which rather follows Rousseau’s emphasis on common interests than his implication of common principles, does not offer any way of establishing principles by which some players must accept to be losers except in so far as the acceptance of rules entailing loss accords with the players’ long-term interest or preference. […] we do not extend the general will so far as to allow persons to be “forced to be free” by the criterion of any principle to which they could be supposed, if rational, to have been prepared to assent from the state of nature. (Runciman and Sen, 1965, p. 560)

Runciman and Sen raise the problem of a potential conflict between the will of all and the general will, “because of the difference between the outcome of individual strategy and of enforced collusion which arises under the conditions of the non-cooperative, non-zero-sum game”; for that reason, they consider that the general will always demands fulfillment of the conditions of Pareto optimality, “although it is not suggested thereby that Pareto optimality is a sufficient criterion of justice” (p. 557).

This is nonsense. Rawlis is speaking of free agents coming to an agreement. This is not just a cooperative game it is a coordination game of a particularly stringent type. 

In any case, the will of all would achieve all feasible pareto improvements since that is simply of matter of mutually beneficial transactions without externalities. The 'general will' would not be concerned with such trifles any more than it would be considered with how you crack open your hardboiled egg.

However, in contrast to game-theoretic approaches, Rawls’s notions of “fairness” and “justice” are not related to cooperative solutions to bargaining problems in actual situations with given interpersonal inequalities, but with cooperative solutions in a state of primordial equality – so that “[their] reservations about the former as interpretations of fairness and justice do not, therefore, apply to Rawls” (Sen, 1970a, p. 136).

This is not the case. Rawls assumes that there are no 'uncorrelated asymmetries' among agents in the original position. But such must exist because of gender, sexuality and the fact that rational agents acquired language within a particular Society. 

 In reality, a man may have a fixed objection to being a woman who has to give birth, or to being a homosexual,  whereas a woman or a homosexual may not object to occupying a male, heterosexual, body. 

Further more, unless agents are as stupid as shit, they won't agree to participating in such a foolish exercise. Why? They already have experience of living in a Society which wasn't Rawlsian- which is how come they have language- and know that their Society wasn't founded on that basis. So why agree to be bound by a foolish exercise in sophistry? Why not say 'we won't play your game. If you really have a good idea about how a given Society could be better, go pitch your idea to the people in that Society. If they adopt your plan and then become happier and better off, other Societies may ask you to come and pitch your ideas to them. If you can't persuade existing people in existing Societies that your idea is better, why should we give you the time of day?'

Sen may say humans have a natural thirst for justice and fairness and they don't find enough of it in historical Societies. So they would want fundamental root and branch reform. But this simply isn't true. We may resent what we see as unfairness or injustice suffered by us and may be prepared to pay a little money to gain redressal. But all we want is Justice as a service industry. We don't want Society to be reformulated according to the principles of Justice. Similarly I may fancy an ice-cream and be ready to pay for one. This does not mean I am committed to Government support for the ice cream industry. 

The contract in justice as fairness is not a historical contract, but rather “a firm commitment in advance […] between free persons who have no authority over each other” on some principles according to which “their competing claims are to be settled.”

But 'competing claims' have already been settled in some more or less rough and ready manner since we first started to crawl! Why would 'free people with no authority over each other' start talking bollocks about 'principles'? The thing is useless. People who talk about it are as stupid as shit.  

They add: “That this is the essence of justice, and that the social contract (in a modified form) does provide a model for it, seems to us to be adequately demonstrated by Rawls” (Runciman and Sen, 1965, p. 559).

Did they stick with that belief? No. They may have been as stupid as shit, but even stupid people, in their stupidity, find new types of stupidity to uphold.  Runciman was a Viscount. His knowledge of 'Social deprivation' in Britain was about as great as my knowledge of the habits of the British aristocracy.

The demonstration consists in showing that the notion of “social justice” does not always correspond to the notion of the “general will,”

Why the fuck would the 'general will' be interested in 'social justice'? Surely surviving and thriving has to do with fucking over your enemies? 

and can thus generate ambiguities in its interpretation. In this paper, Sen and Runciman consider Rawls’s solution for the choice of justice principles to be appropriate, with the caveat “that it involves the assumption, which we do not ourselves wish to make, that there are no conflicts between the principles of, say, needs and deserts, except those dictated by a vested position” (p. 561).

In other words, Rawls's shite isn't fair or merciful. It has nothing in common with the sort of Justice we might want.  

Indeed, we have seen that Sen does not question Rawls’s principle of fairness until the eighties, except regarding the principles that would emerge from it and the fact that his “main interest is not so much in the ordering of social states, […] but with finding just institutions as opposed to unjust ones, which is a somewhat different problem” (Sen, 1970a, p. 140).

Were any just institutions found? No. Why waste time on this shite?  

But since “Equality of what?” Sen has gradually started to cast doubt on the relevance of this starting point for a theory of justice. In The Idea of Justice he extends his criticism of the original position as a starting point for an acceptable theory of justice: “there may be no reasoned agreement at all, even under strict conditions of impartiality and open-minded scrutiny (for example, as identified by Rawls in his ‘original position’) on the nature of the ‘just society’.”

There will be no 'reasoned agreement' to do stupid shit. Justice is as much a service industry as the provision of ice-cream. It will appear where there is effective demand for it. If it shits the bed, there will be jurisdiction hopping and it will collapse because nobody will pay for it.  

This means that it may not be possible to reach a reasonable agreement on a unique set of principles of justice.

If such 'reasonable agreement' is required as a condition for the industry to function and if that industry can pay for itself, then there is a coordination game which sooner or later will be said to have a Schelling focal solution as expressed by a bunch of maxims or principles.  

According to Sen, it cannot be presumed that “there is basically only one kind of impartial argument, satisfying the demands of fairness, shorn of vested interests” (2009, p. 10).

Nor can it be presumed that every kind of argument may not be said to be impartial and to satisfy the demands of any shite you like. If the thing is necessary for an industry to create good livelihoods, then it will exist.  

Besides, this would prove to be useless if it leads to the identification of an “unavailable perfect situation that could not be transcended.”

Nonsense! We may well speak of a perfect ice-cream while carrying on eating what we can get.  

In Sen’s view, it is more relevant to identify feasible alternatives, and then choose among them on the basis of practical reason.

But everybody already does this! Why not say 'it is more relevant to breathe air into the lungs and then identify stuff while breathing out and then in so as to oxygenate the blood and not die of suffocation'?  

However, Sen acknowledges that Rawls himself has considerably softened and qualified his basic claim of the emergence of a unique set of principles of justice in the original position – generating a real tension within Rawls’s writings over the years.

Rawls started off by saying something which looked imperative and timely viz.- be nice to poor folk. That's real justice, not just chucking them in jail any time they mess up.' Some people thought that Rawls's big book could be 'operationalized' for Cost Benefit analysis or for use by Judges. But, it turned out, Rawls had just crapped out this shite coz his job was to shit higher than his arsehole. This was useless to all but coprophagous credentialized cunts concerned to compete with Rawls in crapping out virtue signaling shite. 

Not only does Rawls note that “there are indefinitely many considerations that may be appealed to in the original position and each alternative conception of justice is favored by some consideration and disfavored by others”

in which case, if Political Science is a genuine epistemic activity, much can be learnt from taxonomizing and finding correlations in this field.  

(2001, pp. 133-134; quoted by Sen, 2009, p. 58), but he goes on to concede that “the ideal cannot be fully attained.” According to Sen, “if Rawls’s second thoughts are really saying what they seem to be saying, then his earlier stage-by-stage theory of justice as fairness would have to be abandoned” (2009, p. 58).

Not if it could do something useful e.g. predict how economic changes may lead to new juristic conceptions gaining salience. This is particularly important for MNCs which need to predict how different jurisdictions are likely to evolve on the basis of structural economic or other changes.  

But Rawls has never explicitly abandoned his theory of justice as fairness, despite its inherent and now accepted problems.

Poor fellow, he was very old and the thing was a feather in his cap.  

Sen has fewer scruples against ruining the foundations of Rawls’s influential theory.

But not of declaring his own oeuvre a derivative pile of shite.  

However, this does not mean he repudiates the whole body of work to which it has given birth – and there is a good reason for that: as I have shown, a large proportion of his contributions to normative economics have been directly worked out from it. Instead, Sen suggests a “dual assessment” of Rawls’s theory of justice, in a way that is both appreciative and critical: 
My own inclination is to think that Rawls’s original theory played a huge part in making us understand various aspects of the idea of justice,

but Sen's idea is completely empty! 

and even if that theory has to be abandoned – for which there is, I would argue, a strong case – a great deal of the enlightenment from Rawls’s pioneering contribution would remain and continue to enrich political philosophy. (Sen, 2009, p. 58)

If such are riches, what is poverty? 

As can be seen, Sen’s reflections here are not just critical of Rawls’s position, but positively devastating. However, although Sen rejects the device of the original position, he admits that “there is some merit in summoning the ideas of John Rawls and his analysis of moral and political objectivity” (2009, p. 42).

Sen is saying 'if Rawls could do that stupid shit and get famous for it, why not me?'  

Indeed, he draws inspiration from Rawls on one point, namely that “a conception of objectivity must establish a public framework of thought sufficient for the concept of judgement to apply and for conclusions to be reached on the basis of reasons and evidence after discussion and due reflection” (Rawls, 1993, p. 110).

This is mad. Objectivity is established by accuracy or precision of observation and the absence of a motive to act other than on the basis of observation. There is no need for a 'public framework of thought' or any 'concept of judgement' or discussion of reasons and evidence. There are quick and easy ways to establish this. Suppose I want to sell a particular item. I ring around two or three dealers and get their 'spread' on it. Then, as in the solution to the Secretary problem, I chose the next dealer who gives me as good a price satisfied that the valuation is 'objective'. 

No doubt, in certain complex judicial cases or administrative matters, greater inquiry is needed. But an ordinary person acting in a self-interested manner has a defense in saying 'in my objective opinion- based on my domain knowledge- x was the case. I can't explain to you all the reasons why I think so but ask any man in my line of work and he'll confirm that I acted properly.' 

In other words, objectivity is linked to the idea of deliberative democracy

because, in a tyranny, there is no objective way to measure height or weight. That's how come the Soviets and the Chinese can't get rockets into outer space. They don't know what the objective value of the escape velocity is.

and to the concept of legitimacy,

which existed in medieval times before there was any democracy- deliberative or otherwise

and thus appeals to the existence of a sphere of deliberation where competing lines of reasoning, diverse experiences, new information, and knowledge can be exposed and discussed concerning the specific evaluations and choices that are to be undertaken.

There is a sphere of deliberation re. whether Spiderman can beat up Dracula or what Harry Potter's porn name would be. I'm not kidding. Some very smart people discuss these things in between betting tens of millions of dollars on complex financial instruments. Some very successful arbitrageurs can explain their bets though, an economist might not find their explanation coherent. But other even more successful people can't explain their actions to an economist though they would be able to satisfy their own compliance people that they acted properly. 

Sen adduces another important quotation from Rawls in order to stress that individual judgments, particularly if they are to carry the concerns of justice, cannot be an entirely private affair that would be unfathomable to others: “we look at our society and our place in it objectively: we share a common standpoint along with others and do not make our judgments from a personal slant” (1971, pp. 516-517; quoted at Sen, 2009, p. 134). 

Either these are 'our' judgments- in which case there is a 'personal slant'- or these are judgments we consider to be more or less focal solutions to a coordination game. The latter are robust in a completely different way from the former. It is perfectly proper to withdraw from a particular judicial case or cause for wholly private reasons. Some things, as a matter of Justice, are wholly private to us. Everything else may be equally private with the exception of a duty of a protocol bound, buck stopped, kind which requires us to state what we consider to be the focal solutions to specific coordination games. 

This point cannot but strengthen Sen’s proposal that value judgments can be discussed and, in the process, evolve, allowing the positionality of such judgments to be both acknowledged and – to some degree – overcome.

But it can weaken it just as much. The fact is any nonsense can be discussed and that discussion could evolve into an orgy featuring barnyard animals. If the positionality of judgment is similar, in a certain respect, to howling at the moon, then we ought not to gas on about it. The thing is foolish.  

However, Sen does not confine the discussion to persons who are entitled to make collective choices or engaged in social evaluation because they belong to the polity, nor to a category of “reasonable” persons. Sen departs from Rawls in urging us to consider those “outside” as admissible voices, both because of the enlightenment that their perspectives may provide for those “inside,” and because they might “bear some of the consequences of decisions taken in that particular polity” (Sen 2009, p. 134). 

We may agree to discuss things provided

1) the number of nutters we have to listen to is strictly limited

2) there is cloture- the thing terminates quite quickly

Sen's genius is to prolong the matter indefinitely and let nutters in far away lands join in to howl at the moon and do unspeakable things to barnyard animals.  

Furthermore, he considers that “all of us are capable of being reasonable through being open-minded about welcoming information

this is not the case. Sen is not capable of 'welcoming information' from me- or indeed the vast majority of Indians familiar with his oeuvre.  

and through reflecting on arguments coming from different quarters, along with undertaking interactive deliberations and debates on how the underlying issues should be seen” (p. 43). Sen departs again from Rawls who states clearly that deliberation concerns reasonable persons who “enter on an equal footing the public world of others and […] are ready to offer or to accept […] equitable terms of collaboration with them” 

So there you have it. Rawls was a fool but Sen was a greater one. That's what happens to degenerate research programs. Harsanyi was quite smart. Rawls less smart. Sen is a cretin but those who come after him struggle with issues of personal hygiene and the moral hazard posed by easy access to barnyard animals. 

 Sen prefers to focus “on the characterization of deliberating human beings rather than on the categorization of some ‘reasonable persons’” (2009, p. 44).

Either 'deliberating' is a Tarskian primitive or Sen has a definition of it. If Sen has a definition of it then that definition must fit any valid mathematical method of representing deliberation. In other words, he must have a way of giving maths 'univalent foundations'. He has no such thing. Thus 'deliberation' must be undefined. In that case we can't characterize deliberating human beings at all. Can Sen actually characterize Mochizuki's proof of the abc theorem as a case of 'valid' deliberation? No. So what he has done is focus on something he can't know- nobody can know- and which it would be useless to have a 'working agreement' or 'convention' about. By contrast 'reasonable persons' is juristic and categorizable. I am a 'reasonable person' with respect to deliberations re. Netflix series about vampires and werewolves. I'm not a reasonable person at all when it comes to very complex medical or mathematical questions. 

This qualification is to be linked to Sen’s defense of a “plurality of impartial reasons,”

the problem here is that there is no good reason to believe that there isn't just one big reason, nor to believe that it is not anthropic rather than impartial 

considering the seeking of mutual benefits, based on symmetry and reciprocity, as one form of admissible reasoning among others. 

But greater mutual benefit flows from refusing to give the time of day to talk of 'admissible reasoning'.  

The aim, though, tends to coincide with Rawls’s: ruling out the judgments that do not survive open and informed public debate.

No judgment, unless buck-stopped and equipped with cloture, would survive an endless filibuster. It is not the case that we currently believe that any empirical proposition isn't not just falsifiable but sublatable nor that any law or principle is considered to have indefeasible force. 

Nevertheless, Sen seems to be less optimistic than Rawls concerning the issue of the deliberation, allowing that there might be no consensus at the end: 
When we try to assess how we should behave, and what kind of societies should be understood to be patently unjust, we have reason to listen and pay some attention to the views and suggestions of others, which might or might not lead us to revise some of our own conclusions. We also attempt, frequently enough, to make others pay some attention to our priorities and our ways of thought, and in this advocacy we sometimes succeed, while at other times we fail altogether. (Sen, 2009, p. 88)

 

The possibility of choice, whether individual or collective, exists only on the basis of this kind of deliberation, and with an acknowledgement of conflicts of interests and values.

Yet such choices occur all the time without any kind of deliberation. By contrast, there are areas where there is plenty of deliberation but no choice is made as a result, though, no doubt, the thing happens by default while we are all yapping away.  

Deliberation does not necessarily entail a coincidence of interests or priorities, but it can highlight a disproportion of advantages according to some shared values.

Or not. Campaigning may have the effect Sen speaks about. Deliberation? Not so much. 

This statement requires surmounting divisions of class, gender, rank, location, religion, community, and other established barriers with which injustices are often linked. From this, along with “an objective analysis of the contrast between what is happening and what could have happened” (Sen 2009, p. 389), “responsibility” can emerge.

or not.  Responsibility emerges where a specific agent or group of agents have some interest- monetary, reputational, ethical etc- which is damaged by failure to discharge the responsibility. However, where that agent, or bunch of agents, are widely regarded as worthless and where nothing whatsoever is entrusted to them, any 'responsibility' they may claim to have does not in fact exist. This is particularly galling for people who paid good money to be certified as Federal Boob Inspectors and who tried to discharge their responsibilities in good faith but ended up getting slapped in the face and barred from the pub.  

Undeniably, when disadvantage is clearly exposed within an open and public framework of thought, it is then very hard to pretend to be unaware of it.

But not hard to ignore it altogether. Only if you have set yourself up as a virtue signaling cunt, do you have to bother with this shite.  

In the context of deliberation, a sentiment of responsibility, or at least the conditions for its emergence, is thus enforced.

There is no evidence for this view. Campaigners have found it hard to get legislators- who spend a lot of time deliberating- to take responsibility for all sorts of elementary things. Where campaigning is forbidden, the situation may well be worse. Deliberation can go on increasing in a self interested manner. Arguably this is what happened to the type of Political Philosophy Rawls, Sen and other gobshites have been practicing for the last sixty years.   


Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Rawls, Sen & Social Primary Goods

Author of a new book on John Rawls, Katrina Forrester asks

what would happen if we put analytical political philosophy – often seen as too abstract, or too technical to be political – back into histories of twentieth-century liberalism? What might that tell us, not just about political philosophy, but about how we periodize the ideological regimes of the twentieth century?

I think 'analytical political philosophy' can help those who command capital and entrepreneurship as factors of production by providing or motivating the provision of superior  Hohfeldian immunities under the existing legal framework. These may be defenses against anti-Trust law, or involve freedom of expression being extended to party political donations of a previously forbidden type, or arise from complex tax and regulation avoidance mechanisms which cross international borders and rely upon clauses in International Treaties which may have been drafted with the opposite intention. 

Rawls is a case in point. Once you admit that where non-convexities arise- i.e. economies of scale or scope obtain- then the poorest may gain some vital benefit thanks to greater concentration of economic power in the hands of a narrow plutocratic class, then his theory is 'anything goes'. In other words, the middle class is shit out of luck because the plutocrat may be 'saving' very very wretched people scarcely visible to ordinary folk.

Of course, you may say 'Liberalism', historically, is whatever the middle class wants it to be. In the 'original position', it is quite possible that a middle class heterosexual of the majority ethnicity says 'under no circumstances would I want to live as a poor homosexual from the despised minority. I stipulate for a nation state where such people are painlessly put out of their misery.' One may reply, 'you'd feel differently if you actually were such a person. They have a lot of fun you know.' The problem here is that people may feel as strongly about race and gender as they do about justice as fairness. Furthermore, the suspicion that gay people from the minority are having a lot of fun just gets some people more steamed at their very existence. Surely, they should be mute specters of despair reminding us all that 'there but for the Grace of God...'

I've often wondered whether there would be any women in a Rawlsian society. The fact is child birth is painful. Rather than taking the chance I might have to go through any such thing, I'd prefer living in a Society where all girls are sterilized at birth. Indeed something similar could be said about being a 'Political Philosopher'. Ban the thing otherwise it might happen to us. 

The obvious flaw in Rawls's theory meant it couldn't really be 'contractarian' save in a piece meal fashion. Why wasn't it 'operationalized' as an approach to actual incomplete contracts? One answer is that this was happening anyway. When an S&L, or Building Society or other Mutual Aid Society became subject to a Management Buy out or otherwise sought to go public, it found it paid to offer a substantial reward, relative to accumulated assets, to its poorest members so as to get out from under the 'middle class' member who was better placed to gain 'dynamic' benefits going forward. In other words, focusing on the worst off was what the predatory capitalist would do in any case.

If I were a pimp, I'd focus on how my work helps the very severely disabled even if they represent a vanishingly small number of my clients. Similarly, if I were a drug peddler, I'd highlight the poor elderly woman whose glaucoma is eased by what I sell. There is a saying 'Hard cases make bad Law'. Rawls thought this just meant exceptional cases which '“distract our moral perception by leading us to think of people distant from us whose fate arouses pity and anxiety”. However, as Glanville Williams pointed out, it is the moral indignation, not pity or anxiety, such cases arouse which can cause us to judge badly. Yet Rawls's entire project is predicated on moral indignation- the feeling of 'unfairness'- as a constant feature in social life through all recorded history.

Rawls's genius was to erect a theory of Justice (as fairness, yet!) which focused on the hardest case so as to create a Legal system productive people would immediately flee thus causing it to collapse. 

Naturally, it had no real world effects. Justice, like Higher Education, is a Service industry. Long run, it either pays for itself or is pruned back. 

Forrester asks-

Why is it that such an influential theory within academia nonetheless had very little impact on the world outside it? There are a few ways to answer that question: one is to look at the theory itself and explain what it is about Rawlsianism, or liberal political philosophy in general, that made it quietist in this particular way. Another is to look at how liberals within academia failed to build liberal infrastructure outside the universities or failed to influence those who were trying to build that infrastructure. Both these ways are important to making sense of the successes and failures of left-liberalisms as public ideologies in the late twentieth century.

Back in the Seventies and Eighties, either you were for 'closed shop' Trade Unions or you were for those excluded from well paid Union jobs by 'Dad's Lad's' systemic discrimination. The trouble was, the Upper working class was voting for Reagan and Thatcher so as to reduce their own tax burden and to show contempt to 'Welfare Queens' or 'scroungers' or immigrants or whatever. The 'L word' was a handicap while the Left was associated with 'the Evil Empire'. The Trotskyite might become a neo-con without his real enemy having really changed. But that had always been happening. 

Rawls believed Political Philosophy was supervenient on Economic theory. First you get an Econ 101 plug-in before you are put in the original position. But, for Rawls, Econ was 'robust'- i.e. did not alter much when circumstances altered. This meant Political Philosophy too was robust. It could yield a priori principles. During the Seventies and Eighties, Econ was shown not to be robust at all. Even mathematically it was 'anything goes'. By contrast, the Justice System was more flexible. When I was young we spoke of American competition policy as 'rules based' while the Europeans tended to be discretionary. However, at a later point, the reverse could be more easily maintained. Furthermore, unlike in Europe, American Justice has hysteresis effects associated with the Executive role in picking, and the Legislature's role in confirming, high judicial appointments. Much depends on the longevity of incumbents and who controls the Legislature when a vacancy arises. 

In this context, an old fashioned 'Warren Court' liberal Political Philosophy found it difficult to make headway against Originalist or Federalist as well as Catholic jurists on the one hand and the Law & Econ type reasoning of Posner, Calaberese etc. Some bureaucracies were more hospitable but Sen-tentious 'capabilities' was an even better way to waste time and procrastinate as budgets shrank in proportional terms relative to private investment. 

Sen gaining the Nobel, said “If my work in social choice theory was initially motivated by a desire to overcome Arrow’s pessimistic picture by going beyond his limited informational base,

but Arrow's work was useless save as a wank mag for mathematical economists who weren't actually economizing anything 

my work on social justice based on individual freedoms and capabilities was similarly motivated by an aspiration to learn from, but go beyond, John Rawls’s elegant theory of justice, through a broader use of available information” (Sen, 1999).

Again, Rawls theory may have been elegant- indeed it featured in Welfare Econ 101- but nobody had used it for anything. 

In the old days Marxists would point to Arrow & Rawls as demonstrating the futility of 'bourgeois ideology'. Then the Berlin Wall collapsed. Sad. 

Sen, unlike Rawls & Arrow, came from a starving shithole. He deserved intellectual affirmative action. His successors- who had been victims of not just famines, but ethnic cleansing, repeated gang-rape and epistemic self-abuse, as well as horrendous persecution by reason of their gender, sexuality, disability and neurological diversity- would be even more worthy of similar accolades. Political Philosophy- like normative Econ- could provide safe spaces for such refugees from 'Reason' and 'Enlightenment', though, obviously Zoos might do a better job.  

Indeed, this follows if there being a Rawlsian Political Philosopher is the condition for the existence of any 'Social Primary Good'- i.e.  things citizens need as free people and as members of the societye.g. rights (civil rights and political rights), liberties, income and wealth, the social bases of self-respect, etc. Clearly, if Rawlsian philosophers are needful, then they should be kept in a Zoo or other place of confinement. Failure to do so may lead to their wandering off or getting run over by a bus. This would disproportionately hurt the worst off in that society- so why risk it? Reclassify Rawlsians as a type of animal- so no civil or political rights are breached- and nothing could seem more just or fair. 

Obviously, actually giving citizens 'Social Primary Goods'- e.g a nuclear deterrent so as to secure their civil and political rights- might not be a good idea. But this is no argument against confining Rawlsians to Zoos or other similar menageries.

Sen appears to have a counterargument-

 In justice as fairness, persons accept in advance a principle of equal liberty and they do this without a knowledge of their more particular ends. . . .

but human beings would prefer that a dangerous lunatic be restrained even if they might themselves be that lunatic. Similarly, rather than live in a Society without primary Social goods, they would be obliged to take the chance that they might be the Rawlsian philosophy who must be kept in a Zoo so everybody else can have a good life. Of course, if Rawlsian philosophers don't contribute anything worthwhile, why not stipulate that nobody should be allowed to lead such a useless existence even if there is a chance you yourself may want to do so?  

An individual who finds that he enjoys seeing others in positions of lesser liberty understands that he has no claim whatever to this enjoyment.

Yes he does. That 'lesser liberty' may be highly advantageous to the dangerous lunatic. Seeing him well secured, should be a source of satisfaction- even enjoyment- in the same sense that seeing a baby being given the maternal love it needs is highly delightful. 

The pleasure he takes in other’s deprivation is wrong in itself: it is a satisfaction which requires the violation of a principle to which he would agree in the original position. 

A pleasure may be wrong for all sorts of reasons. But we would never stipulate that our pleasures would be a priori wrong no matter in what body we end up. Why? This conflicts with the Human Psychology 101 plug-in we received. What we find pleasure and pain in is an ideographic matter of accommodation to our lot in life. We may- if we are fools or inveterate gamblers without any conception of the superiority of 'regret minimizing' strategies under Knightian uncertainty- accept a 'lottery in Babylon' such that we might be a beggar, a courtesan, or even the Caliph. But we would never be such fools as to stipulate that the pleasures and pains incident upon our social role should no longer count as such for us. We may, for prudential reasons, refuse to perform a pleasurable action- e.g. farting in the face of our Professor- but we would be foolish to deny that the thing would be pleasurable for a wholly moral reason. Indeed, it might be witty and apposite and a great contribution to political philosophy. 

This does not mean a Just and Fair society would mandate farting in the face of Philosophers. In any case, if they are properly secured behind smell proof glass in suitably furnished cages, a Rawlsian Society can assure its Political Philosophers of protection from such nuisances unless of course they are, as may well be the case, contortionists able to fart in their own faces. 

It could be argued that a Rawlsian philosopher must not be confined to a zoo because she is more in need of such human interaction as may ameliorate her condition.

Sen, setting out his stand for his 'capabilities approach' said

If it is argued that resources should be devoted to remove or substantially reduce the handicap of the cripple despite there being no marginal utility argument (because it is expensive),

there is a marginal utility argument. The 'cripple' has higher marginal utility of mobility precisely because it is costly for him. The law of diminishing marginal utility applies. It is perfectly proper for a court to award higher damages to someone crippled by an accident than to a person who suffered pain but no permanent damage.  

despite there being no total utility argument (because he is so contented),

Sen, very stupidly, thinks 'contentment' is associated with utility or pleasure. Courts have never held such a view.

and despite there being no primary goods deprivation (because he has the goods that others have

no he doesn't. He has lower 'natural primary goods'- e.g. functioning legs. 

), the case must rest on something else. I believe what is at issue is the interpretation of needs in the form of basic capabilities.

This is already there in the notion of a natural primary good. Not having legs, or not having the ability to control those legs is a deficit in natural primary goods. As a matter of fact, we would readily agree to join a suitable insurance scheme such that we would get a large pay out if we were crippled. 

Similarly, we must think of the Rawlsian philosopher as having a deficit in natural primary goods, not of basic capabilities. Their confinement in a zoo can't reduce capabilities because the natural primary good which might exercise that capability is severely missing.  Of course, if zoos are expensive to set up and if nobody will pay to see Rawlsian philosophers rattling their little cages, then it would be enough to designate any place where such creatures reside as an animal sanctuary of some sort. 

However, forgetting to do any such designation may be a superior option. The fact that we are capable of doing something can itself be a good reason not to do so.

As Sen confessed in 2013- 

I have to rescue myself by saying I’m not a capability theorist […] I have great interest in capability, I am proud that I had a role in leading the discussion on this in contemporary political philosophy, but I don’t think you can have a theory of justice based on capability only, there is no way. Capability analysis can be an important part of a bigger story.

Sadly, that bigger story is shit. Even Katrina Forrester is unlikely to want to tell it to us. Res ipsa loquitur- the thing speaks for itself.


Immerwahr & the Kerala model

Back in 2016 Daniel Immerwahr gave an interview to Dissent magazine which is worth reading as a whole. 

I focus on the importance of 'the Kerala model' for his thesis. This is eminently silly. Kerala had a large indigenous Christian community as well as an indigenous 'Ezhutachan' teacher caste. Missionary money and competition between sects meant a big expansion of Education as well as Healthcare. High population density meant mimetic effects were broadcast quickly. Lower castes were well organized. This meant that localized competition raised Health and Educational outcomes but, predictably, fucked up the Economy coz of crazy Commies running around like headless chickens. This was cool because Kerala could start exporting labor not just to Sri Lanka and Bombay but the Gulf- where the indigenous Moplah Muslims had historic connections. So Kerala turned into a remittance economy. Like Cuba which exported Medical services and Pharma, Kerala defeated 'Baumol Cost disease' by exporting people who wanted the money they sent back to go into Medicines and School Certificates as well as nice houses and better food for the family back home. Obviously, Keralites would have been better off if like, South Korean construction workers in the Gulf in the Seventies, they too could have invested in the Malayali version of Samsung. Still, they did pretty well because they were hard working, smart, and of good character. Furthermore, Kerala is quite far away from Bengal. Thus its Communists remained too stupid and provincial to properly understand that fighting American Imperialism must involve being utterly shite all the time. Now, because 'Teacher' Shailaja did such a good job handling COVID, 'Captain' Vijayan has got re-elected. He may be able to attract fdi to Kerala and give it high value adding jobs to make up for disappearing opportunities in the Gulf. 

But all this has nothing to with 'communitarianism' or 'the capabilities approach' or other such shite.

Dissent's interviewer asks-

Shenk: But you argue that Kerala’s experience was relevant for urban areas too—I’m thinking in particular of your discussion of what happened to community development when it returned to the United States under LBJ. How do these two fit together?

Immerwahr: If you imagine a typical Asian village circa the 1950s, you’ve got a few powerful men (nearly always men) and then a large number of people who depend on them. There’s a hierarchy, but it occurs on the intimate, interpersonal scale: tenants know their landlords, untouchables know who the Brahmins are, and so forth, because everyone lives cheek by jowl.

In Kerala, the Namboodri Brahmins were separate from their Nair allies who, themselves, had wanted to get rid of matrilocality and caste based curbs on occupation. 'Lower castes' had already gotten organized. The Christians and Muslims represented a check on the power of the Commies. You still had a recipe for frustrating economic growth, but localized competition could improve health and educational outcomes. Remittances began to grow rapidly in value after OPEC put the squeeze on the West. Thus Kerala was an exceptional 'Tiebout Model' which nobody really wanted to emulate. Doing construction in the Gulf isn't the ideal way to make money.  

When community developers devolved decision-making power to these “communities,” inevitably the local elite would step forward to speak for the village, sharply elbowing aside anyone who wanted to talk about redistributing land or challenging patriarchy. That’s why community development accomplished so little in India: it couldn’t challenge the rural social hierarchy.

The proper thing to do was to give soft loans to 'market makers' of various sorts so that the incentive system was robust to exogenous shocks. Localized competition would then drive mimetic effects. Bringing agricultural income into a local tax net would make subsidiarity self sustaining. This sort of stuff was happening anyway. Reducing uncertainty was a cheap way to catalyse it. An expensive way to retard everything was to create more 'stakeholders' and increase regulations and boxes to tick like crazy.  


Kerala was a weird exception. For various reasons, the intricate and tradition-sanctioned hierarchies of the Indian village just didn’t hold in Kerala. There was still inequality, but it was starker, because it was impersonal. Thus, when community development came to Kerala, there was no on-the-ground local elite in place to grab hold of the process.

Why? It had been largely 'Princely'- and so the Indian National Congress had less purchase there. Thus, the Congress 'machine' wasn't the default beneficiary. But this had been true of all of pre-Gandhian India.  

Community-building there meant peasants, women’s groups, and students coming together, and it all fed into the communists’ attempts to remake the state.

Thankfully the Christians and the Nair Service Society were strong enough to fight back. But Commies who have to compete for votes either stop being Commies in all but name or else they don't get any fucking votes at all- like the Left Front in Mamta's Bengal.  


That’s pretty similar to what happened when antipoverty experts tried to transpose community development from Asian villages to the urban neighborhoods of the United States.

Hilarious! This is like Scotland bringing in UN Special Rapporteur's on Food Security to enable mothers to feed their wee bairns by getting access to arable land  and she-goats to milk. 

The oppression that city-dwellers faced was harsh, but, thanks to white flight and segregation, it wasn’t always local. The landlords who collected their rent, the banks they owed money to, and the employers offering dead-end jobs weren’t prominent in the life of the neighborhood; those people and institutions were often geographically and socially distant.

I wonder why? Getting mugged is a fun recreation for all the family.

So when the government offered money to community organizations, the actual powerholders were nowhere to be seen. To the shock of the Johnson administration, the men and women who stepped forward as community leaders were activists with little interest in maintaining the social order. And so, as in Kerala, community development turned radical, before it was quickly shut down.

Because 'radical' means kray kray. Either the thing is shut down or other lunatics kill the current lunatics till they are themselves killed. Kerala's religious diversity prevented radicalism doing its thang, though- no doubt- Communism could survive as a cult amongst cults and a caste among castes. 

Dr. King in India

 Daniel Imerwahr has an excellent book chapter here on the mutual influence between Gandhian nationalism and the struggle of the African American people. Reading it enables us to understand Shyamala Harris's thinking. She came to an America which she already saw through a particular lens. Her husband, however, being an economist, was willing to go in a somewhat more radical direction. It may be beneficial to Kamala to be considered as a votary of the Christian/Gandhian Dr. King rather than the political thinker and strategist he was evolving into before his life was cut tragically short. 

Dr. King's visit to India, it appears, was 'overdetermined'. There was a big 'Gandhian' pressure group within America eager to push Dr. King towards India as well as a big Indian desire to glom onto him so as to pretend Gandhian India wasn't a shithole and that it had something to teach the world. 

The American side of things, being well financed and having the support of the State Department, went off without a hitch- though it took 3 years- but the Indian side was let down by the fact that Dr. King's party missed a connecting flight and thus landed in Bombay. Dr. King was exposed to the reality of Gandhian incompetence and stupidity before he could be taken in by Lutyen's Potemkin village on Raisina Hill which housed the Gandhian ruling class. 

The journey itself got off to a rocky start. Scheduled to land in Delhi, India’s capital, where Congress ruled, King’s party missed a connecting flight from Zurich and were forced instead to take a later flight to Bombay, the capital of Maharashtra, Ambedkar’s home state.

Which Congress also mis-ruled. Ambedkar hadn't managed to get elected to anything.  

There a very different sight greeted them than the planned welcoming party of five hundred well-wishers bearing garlands. “I will never forget it, that night,” King later preached, telling a story that he would find himself repeating often. 
We got up early in the morning to take a plane for Delhi. And as we rode out of the airport we looked out on the street and saw people sleeping out on the sidewalks and out in the streets, and everywhere we went to. Walk through the train station, and you can’t hardly get to the train, because people are sleeping on the platforms of the train station.

In other words, India was as poor as shit. The caste Hindu might not want to get too close to the pariah, but both were starving, naked, and likely to drop dead at any moment of some easily curable disease. Why did King not get that what India needed was rapid Development based on imitating countries which were growing rapidly? How come he didn't tell Nehru to get those homeless people into factory dormitories? Make a profit of their labor and build more roads so those who were yet poorer in the countryside could get the luxury of a bit of pavement to sleep on. 

Coretta Scott King also remembered it well. “We were appalled. When we asked why hundreds and thousands of people were stretched out on the dirty pavements, we were told that they had no other place to sleep: they had no homes... It was very hard for us to understand or accept this.” 

African Americans were discriminated against, exploited, and oppressed. But their lives were better than the lives of most Indians. Why? They were more productive. Productivity has to rise before living standards can rise. 

One can well imagine their surprise. Nothing could be further from the archetypal image of Indian poverty— the Gandhian peasant piously spinning khadi—than the sight of hundreds of thousands of urban homeless sleeping on the streets of Bombay. Shaken, the Kings continued on to Delhi, where they quickly rescheduled appointments with Nehru, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and Rajendra Prasad, the prime minister, vice president, and president of India. It was “like meeting George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison in a single day,” King exclaimed.

But Washington, Jefferson and Madison had fought the British and chucked them out. Nehru, Radhakrishnan and Prasad had done no such thing. The British had initiated the process of handing over power to people like them. They had objected to the pace and scope of this handover. Under Gandhi's leadership, they had claimed a monopoly or representing all Indians. But Jinnah, on behalf of the Muslims, and Ambedkar on behalf of the 'untouchables', had objected. Then, the Brits decided to get out while the going was good. Jinnah got his Pakistan. Ambedkar had to settle for becoming a Boddhisattva. 'Free money' from the US meant Nehru & Co could postpone economic reform- i.e. letting homeless people  into factory dormitories to slave away for evil Capitalist. India was so crazy it did not concentrate on textiles to begin its industrial revolution. Thanks must go to Gandhi's stupidity for this outcome. But then, the Leftists were just as foolish. It is only now, in 2021, that we have a popular Indian Communist leader- 'Captain' Vijayan- who is proud, not humiliated, to be known as the Deng Xiaoping of India. 50 years after the Vietnam War was lost and won, we finally have a few Leftists ready to accept that it is more important to grow the economy than to combat American Imperialism.

His audience with Nehru proved particularly fruitful; the two talked for four hours “comparing the Indian struggle for freedom with that of American blacks for civil rights.”

African Americans are less than 15 percent of the American population. The Brits weren't even 0.1 percent of the Indian population. They were just better at making India productive which in turn meant they could finance an administration in India which enabled India to project force in its neighborhood. Indeed, by 1914, for the first time in global history, Indian soldiers were changing the global balance of power by fighting in Europe and the Far East. Thankfully, Mahatma Gandhi rose up to turn India, for the first time in its history, into one vast, naked, hungry, begging bowl.  Truman hadn't been able to understand why a big agricultural country which had been unscathed by the War would need Food Aid. Eisenhower, however was happy to given India free money and free food. This is why Indian Communists are still so keen to fight American Imperialism.

King was fascinated to hear of India’s success in combating untouchability.

Those successes were the result of British policies- which, no doubt, had a divide et impera aspect. That is why Dr. Ambedkar opposed Gandhi and feared Indian independence. He believed that the 'untouchables' in a free India would suffer the same fate as the African Americans after 'Reconstruction' came to an end and 'Jim Crow' returned to the South. He wrote he would ' “let Swaraj perish if the cost of it is the political freedom of the Untouchables”. Foolishly, Ambedkar's pal, J.N Mandal, sided with Pakistan- becoming their first Law Minister. But he and many of his people had to flee to India. Thus, it was in Muslim Pakistan, not Hindu India, that Ambedkar's nightmare came true. However, in India, 'Dalits' only gained reservations if they remained Hindu. Muslim Dalits were stripped of this entitlement. In other words, Religion had trumped caste which- it turned out- didn't really mean very much. Ambedkar himself decided, as the Moses of his people, to lead then into a new type of Buddhism- though that religion had broadcast 'untouchability' all the way to Japan. By contrast, in Hindu Bali, you have Brahmins but no Dalits. 

Nehru told King of the anti-untouchability provisions that Ambedkar had written into the Constitution,

Ambedkar was a voice in the wilderness by the time the 1955 Act punishing the preaching or practice of untouchability was promulgated.  

and of the government’s policy of spending millions of rupees toward developing housing and job opportunities for ex-untouchables. “Isn’t that discrimination?” asked Lawrence Reddick, King’s traveling companion. “Well, it may be,” answered Nehru. “But this is our way of atoning for the centuries of injustices we have inflicted upon these people.” Clearly impressed, King repeated the story four years later in his 'Why We Can’t Wait'.

Nehru was happy to receive American 'free money' (as his cousin described US Aid) and to dole out money. What he wasn't happy to do was his job- viz. make India richer and more secure.  

Upon his return to the United States, King’s views on the subcontinent shifted. Now, India was not only the land that threw off the British through civil disobedience, but also the greatest extant example of a country that fought poverty and discrimination through massive state intervention.

based on asking Uncle Sam to hand over cash 

As Reddick put it, the trip “made him see that ‘Love’ alone will not cure poverty and degradation.”

Why settle for Love when you can demand money? This was around the time that Eisenhower doubled US aid to India. Sadly, this permitted India to put off needful reform with the result that things got worse- not better. 

Incidentally, it appears nobody called Dr. King an untouchable-

The most startling statement of King’s new view on India came in a sermon that he delivered on 4 July 1965. In it, King recalled visiting a school of ex-untouchables in Trivandrum, Kerala: The principal introduced me and then as he came to the conclusion of his introduction, he says, “Young people, I would like to present to you a fellow untouchable from the United States of America.” And for a moment I was a bit shocked and peeved that I would be referred to as an untouchable ...I started thinking about the fact: twenty million of my brothers and sisters were still smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in an affluent society. I started thinking about the fact: these twenty million brothers and sisters were still by and large housed in rat-infested, unendurable slums in the big cities of our nation, still attending inadequate schools faced with improper recreational facilities. And I said to myself, “Yes, I am an untouchable, and every Negro in the United States of America is an untouchable.”87 This anecdote, replacing the race–colony analogy that had been foundational to the importation of Gandhism to the United States with the race–caste analogy, is all the more remarkable because it is very likely that it never happened to King.       

Of course it didn't! The guy was a VVIP from the land of milk and honey and 'free money'.  Back in 1937 or 1938, when Benjamin E Mays was touring South India, it would have been okay to say a distinguished American visitor was an 'untouchable' in some respect. One could even refer to German Jews as a 'pariah class'. But the Second World War had changed things fundamentally. 

                                                                                                                      King’s mentor, told the following story of his own visit to a school in southern India: When [the principal] introduced me he made it clear that I was a Christian, from Christian America; yet he emphasized at the same time that I was an “untouchable” in America— ”an untouchable like us,” he emphasized. I was dazed, puzzled, a bit peeved. But instantly I recognized that there was an element of truth in what he said. As long as Negroes are treated as second and third class citizens, whether in the North where segregation and discrimination are spreading, where Negroes are frequently denied the privileges of eating in restaurants and denied occupancy in hotels, where discrimination against them in employment and civic life is rampant; or whether in the South, where segregation and discrimination exist by law and where gross inequalities exist in education, politics and work opportunities, they are the “untouchables” of America.

African American sociologists like E.F Frazier & O.C Cox opposed the tendency to substitute 'caste' as a euphemism for 'race' in the Thirties and Forties. The exotic word- redolent of timeless antiquity- was designed to paper over an atrocious, very modern, reality. 

Dr. King, after getting his Nobel, went in a radical direction seeking to unite poor Whites with African Americans in a classic class struggle of a 'Keynesian' type- i.e. one requiring massive State intervention and an expansionary fiscal policy. This could be financed entirely by not doing stupid shit- e.g. shipping off nineteen year old kids to go die or turn into drug addicts in Vietnam. 

Untouchability, which had formerly interested King only insomuch as it figured into Gandhian myth, quickly rose in King’s estimation to become India’s central problem. Less than a month after his return, King asked William Stuart Nelson to send him some books or pamphlets on the subject, claiming that he was “in the process of making a study of untouchability” and needed material.

There was some good Japanese Sociological work on their untouchable class which was being translated around this time. There was an important lesson for India in that literature. Sadly, by then, Dr. Ambedkar had attained parinirvana. Essentially, the lesson was that the Government needed to get behind Dalit entrepreneurs in traditionally Dalit occupations- like leather goods- so that Ambedkar's Jatav 'Kanpur Millionaires' could grow their industries, take export markets, and provide the entire Dalit community with Tardean 'mimetic targets'. This is the more recent project of creating Dalit billionaires instead of, like the silly Dalit Panthers, fulmining against 'the hideous plot of American imperialism' on behalf of 'the Third Dalit World, that is, oppressed nations'. Sadly, once Government or Quaker or Episcopalian or Ford Foundation money was on the table for stupid shit, only stupid shit burgeoned. Ambedkar had no successors- but then he himself had lost the plot. He should have been looking at Japan- which till very recently had been a caste society, had banned not just beef but all meat from four legged animals, and still had untouchables. India needed to imitate Japan to get ahead, not look at America which, like India, had had African slaves who, however, were so productively employed that their proportion of the population grew. In India however, descendants of African slaves were similar to the local population and had been absorbed into either the Islamic or Hindu caste system and many had lost their distinctive identity. I believe there is only one African origin legislator in India- he is with the BJP. Japan, by contrast, hadn't had slavery since 1590 and was untouched by Islam. It was more purely a caste society. Its path to modernization was the correct 'Tardean' mimetic target for India. 

Sociological literature, translated in the Fifties and Sixties, regarding what was happening to untouchability in Japan should have been compulsory reading for Indians. The fact was that untouchability got perpetuated because these people were excluded from the industrialization of their traditional occupations. They were further marginalized by the freezing up of mobility by the grant of small doles from the Government. Later, you had a 'Dalit Panther' type movement in Japan which seems to have done no good whatsoever because it was about taking money from the government and beating its own people to raise 'consciousness'. 

Whether he read the books Nelson sent or not, the importance of India and untouchability in King’s later political and economic thought cannot be denied. In 1960 King demanded that the federal government “carry on an active program of propaganda to promote the idea of integration” and “seriously consider making federal funds available to do the tremendous job of lifting the standards of a people too long ignored by America’s conscience.” These ideas, he explained, were “based on some recent insights that I gained while traveling in India,” where the government had not only made discrimination illegal but had spent “millions of dollars a year in scholarships, housing, and community development to lift the standards of the untouchables.”

America justified giving money to India on the grounds that this was a cheap way of keeping Communism at bay. But, surely, there was an internal problem in America? John Kenneth Galbraith, Kennedy's Ambassador to India, pointed out that the Punjabi peasant was better off, in some respects, than the poor White in the Appalachians. Clearly, tax cuts- as a Keynesian panacea- weren't enough. Government spending was required to break cycles of deprivation. Sadly, the type of Tardean mimetic process which Ambedkar- and the older Sociological tradition- had valorized was neglected. Instead, you had people like Moynihan talking shite about 'the Negro family'. The free market solution was to build up African American entrepreneurs and then tax them so everybody ended up better off. Owning property and rising up in commerce is what changes your 'caste', 'class', and ka ka so yore shit don't stink no more. 

By contrast, as Immerwahr showed in his book 'Thinking Small' doing 'community development' was often a waste of time and money both abroad and at home. This was not obvious when a 'community organizer' got into the White House. But it is obvious today. Prosperity and Security are gained when there is division of labour and specialization and economies of scope and scale and the dissolution of maladaptive 'moral economies' and the atomization of cultures of stoic deprivation. Development should be powered by mimetics, not community cohesion. Otherwise the thing is captured by rent-seeking cliques and virtue signaling cretins.

The next year, in another push to expand the government’s scope, King again cited India, claiming that his trip had “revealed to me the vast opportunities open to a government determined to end discrimination.”

There was a big difference between India and America. The fact is our ideas re. the 'touchable' was linked to the same type of primitive pathogen avoidance theory as other superstitious beliefs like belief in the 'evil eye' or witches casting hexes. The only way to uproot these ideas was through mass access to effective allopathic medicine- not Gandhian shite. Once illiterate grannies saw that Doctors could cure typhoid and cholera etc. they cheerfully accepted the germ theory of disease and lost their fear of 'pollution' by infidels and people of other castes. Gandhi's failure in this respect could be blamed on his pal Dr. Pranjivan Mehta who denied the germ theory of disease and who regarded vaccinations and quarantines etc as a hoax perpetrated by the Imperialists.

Indian untouchability was mutual not hierarchical. The Brahmin is as inauspicious for the Pariah as vice versa- one reason why Ambedkar's widow (a Brahmin Doctor) was shunned by the Dalits and thus couldn't have a political career. In the Nineteenth Century, British administrators, noticed that Scheduled Tribes in Bengal refused famine relief food if cooked by Brahmins. It may be that 'untouchability' was invented by indigenous peoples who discovered, to their cost, that intermingling with pastoralists could lead to pandemics which hurt them disproportionately and resulted in demographic replacement. This is because groups who live close to particular animals will have better antibodies against viruses which jump from those animals to humans. Interestingly, the only pure 'Ancestral South Indian' strain is to be found in the Andaman islands. This is because, very sensibly, these people simply kill any stranger who approaches them. 

Although there is no indication that King was familiar with Ambedkar, his model for positive governmental action, which he advanced most forcefully in his planned Poor People’s Campaign and Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged, was the very model that Ambedkar had fought so hard to bring into existence—and that Gandhi had fought so hard against.

I think this is a little unfair. Gandhi only fought hard against anything that would help the country. Poor People's Campaigns and Bills of Rights for every sort of animal don't help anybody. They are a fucking waste of time. Gandhi did not oppose any type of stupidity. The fact is Dalit reservations have to be renewed by Parliament every ten years. If the thing actually made any difference, it would have disappeared long ago. Still, if Dalits rise above Muslims, as appears to be the case, in some parts of India, then the Hindus are happy for a purely chauvinistic reason. As for 'untouchability', fuck it and the horse it rode in on. We want lots of hospitals with plenty of oxygen cylinders and ventilators and so forth. Sadly, in some rural areas, this means not allowing the local hooligans to tie up Doctors and make them watch their wives and daughters being gang-raped. On the other hand, in big Cities, beating Junior Doctors should be tolerated as a healthful recreation. At least, this is what we should conclude, from Mamta Di's recent landslide victory.