Saturday, 8 May 2021

Kharijites & Mu'awiya

  Hassan Abbas, is the Distinguished Professor of International Relations at the National Defense University’s Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies in Washington. He has written a book titled 'The Prophet's heir' for which he received support from the National Defense University in Washington DC and the Harvard University Project on Shi’sim and Global Affairs at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

In the conclusion, Abbas, who is Pakistani-American, writes-

The impact of Kharijites and Muawiya’s brand of politics would centuries later be seen in the continuation and increase of the devious actions they had initiated—to an extent creating the modern day extremist groups knowns as al Qaeda and ISIS.

Most sub-continentals of my age know that Oman is perfectly peaceful. Yet its Ibadi form of Islam descends from the Kharijise tradition. There are plenty of Indian and Pakistani people living in that beautiful country.

Muawiya was the founder of the Umayyad dynasty and the man who turned Islam into a great naval power. Urdu speakers in the sub-continent were proud of the Umayyad achievements in Spain. By contrast, one may condemn Yazid- Muawiya's son- who grew up with Christians and was a wine bibber, though rather a good poet. 

After 9/11 it was fashionable to blame everything on either Ibn Taymiyya or the Wahhabis or both. But the Saudis dealt successfully with their extremists. Qatar is the other Wahhabi nation. It too appears to be more interested in economic development than creating 'extremist groups'. 

Where did Islamic extremism come from? Pakistanis know the answer to this very well. The Pakistani Army had started to use Islam as a 'force multiplier' against both India and Afghanistan in the early Seventies. Bhutto, too, saw an advantage in anathematizing Qadianis. The Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan were great pretexts for Gen. Zia, who had hanged Butto, to double down on Islamization. But Generals don't create the economic conditions which lead to extremism. Consider the Sipah-e-Sahaba. It started off as a protest against Shia landlords in Jhang.

Great spiritual and religious personalities who lived long ago may certainly inspire us or lead us to faith. But they bear no responsibility whatsoever for bad economic and social policies. This is not to say that there were no crazy people who believed they were the Mahdi or whatever. But every Society can have a Jonestown or David Koresh. 

The Hindu theory of Justice

Navadvipa in Bengal was both the ancient center of 'Navya Nyaya' (the Neo Legalist or Logical school) as well as close to the center of Britain's- and British Law- power and influence in India. Sir William Jones, a Supreme Court Judge in Calcutta in the Eighteenth Century, was unusual in owning both Oxford and Navadvip as an alma mater. Over the next century many Indians deserted their Navya-Nyaya heritage for the more substantial benefits associated with practice at the bar. One result was that Hindu notions of Law and Justice were being translated by 'emic' practitioners into Western terms at precisely the time when British jurisprudence was being conceptually restructured. However, the Indians were pessimistic about both epistemology and deontic or juristic science. It was blindingly obvious that their pursuit led to ignorance and slavery. What was meaningful (artha) was utile and concerned with not a priori cogitation but going out in the world and learning new ways to transact business. This is not to say that Hindus adopted Instrumentalism or Pragmaticism because, truth be told, their economic and technical horizons were shrinking. Rather they reverted to a thoroughgoing Pyrrhonism artfully disguised as Babu pi-jaw. 

Some older lawyers and judges- some from Mimamsaka lineages- may still keep up a nineteenth century availability cascade re. the heteronomy of Navya Nyaya (which couldn't get its head around a property not accepted and therefore wholly unvested) as grounding our newer addiction to the British system of Justice (which couldn't vest in our Commons save by a republican doctrine of autochthony)  but the prestige of the Law has been in continuous decline in India for over a century and most Hindus now are quite blissfully unaware of the interaction between Hindu and British legal concepts. As a case in point, Amartya Sen appears to believe in- or believes he won't be detected in fraudulently claiming- some fundamental Nyaya/Niti distinction in Hindu thought. What actually obtained was a doctrine of 'Viddhi', positive injunction, & Nisheda, negative injunction, which, however, were restricted to actions which would not arise 'economically' but which were necessary for the commonweal till the uncoerced working of economic forces found a superior mechanism to achieve the same goal. In other words, the Hindu 'unthought known' is that all Law is 'apadh dharma'- i.e. arises out of exigent circumstances which cooperative 'regret minimizing' agents can banish by superior collective prudence and foresight.

I can cite myself as a limit case of the particularly gross & unthinking Indian. For me, any principal (as opposed to an agent) can dispel his 'vishada' (abulia or akrasia) by first digesting the 'Vyadha' (butcher's) Gita- which basically says you should (only mentally, to be on the safe side) tell Pundits and Princes to go fuck themselves while concentrating on looking after your own parents and spouse and kiddies etc. as if they were Gods- this is all normative economics as natural oikeiosis- while using, or better still 'cloud-sourcing', Statistical Game theory, a la the Nalopkhyanam- to do mechanism design and actualize the folk theorem of repeated games on the basis of Muth rational regret minimizing strategies. 

Oddly, this means we can be good old fashioned Smarta or Puranic Hindus taking joy in a whole bunch of idolatrous gods and cutesy festivals- not excluding those which permit occasional intoxication and gambling and squirting each other with colored water and tearfully claiming the girl who got away to be your very own sister who is obliged to feed you one day of the year while her own darling hubby has to slink off to find some 'raakhee' sister of his own to rescue him from starvation.

This is not to say that we Hindus are wholly contemptuous of our own Logico-scholastic or other such over-learned shit heads. But this is only because their lucubrations have great comic potential. 

It should be remembered that P.G Woodhouse is the Tambram (i.e. the stupidest and most backward type of Indian Brahmin) humorist of choice. But only because of the greater occulted humor contained in PeeGee's elder brother's oeuvre. That Classicist- and War hero (PeeGee was kept out of combat by his poor eyesight)- was a leading Theosophist and, Aristotle to its Alexander, tutor to the Universal Messiah Jeddu Krishnamurti.

Bearing this in mind, it is not difficult to find the Woodhousian element in a standard Law textbook where P.M Bakshi writes
"Aprapta parpako Vidhi".
Translated into English, it means, "A Vidhi is that which puts one in a position which ordinarily one is not apt to get into".

i.e jams Bertie Wooster gets into coz he ignores the guidance of the Spinozan jivanmukta Jeeves.  I won't even try to imagine the Woodhousian shenanigans this Bakshi dude is suggesting in what follows- 

What is meant is, that the command indicates the necessity of a compelling power. The command - "Maintain your forsaken wife", - for example - urges the doing of something which the man would not otherwise do

This is further clarified-  

"A Vidhi tends to secure what is otherwise not attainable at all."
"A Niyama tends to secure what is partially otherwise attainable."
"A Parisankhya consists in a statement or recital as to a benefit which is
commonly attainable in its entirety, either by acting according to the statement or by other means."
Sarkar has expressed the effect of the above, in the language of the modern law, in the following form:-
1 . A Vidhi is a perfect (imperative) command.
2. A Niyama is an imperfect (directory) rule.
3. A Parisankhya is a monitory precept."

The above gives a flavor of Indic judicial hermeneutics and why the thing is pure Gilbert & Sullivan to those who practice it at the higher levels. 

The reason, though a humorist, I can't myself get in on this wheeze is that there's a dude named Jonardon Ganeri who occupies the Matilal charpoy of Psilosophy in Toron-toto.  How can I compete with this great satirist? Consider the following-

To give just one example, when Gangesa

a Brahmin who saw that Turks were fucking over his peeps but good 

says, at the beginning of the Gemstone [Fulfilling One's Wish] for Truth, that the whole world (''jagat")

which the Turks were busy conquering so as to remain plenty happy for well provided with concubines and catamites and, what's more, lots of virgins in store in their, equally Monist, Religion's Valhalla or more permanent Indralok.

is steeped in suffering, and that philosophy is a method of alleviation, Raghunatha's note refers to the scope of "the world", which he affirms includes everyone, women and untouchables included.

The guy doesn't mention Turks! There had already been a Turkish Sultaness- Razia- and 'untouchables' who got the fuck away from Hindu philosophy and converted to Islam and who showed skill in fucking over High Caste cunts till they handed over more in 'jizya' tax weren't 'suffering' at all. They were laughing all the way to the bank. Good for them. It is their mt-DNA we celebrate in our cult of six-pack displaying Khan thespians. I don't mean me. I iz not Gay. I'm into Dilip Kumar & Bade Gulam Ali Khan & so forth. I honestly don't jerk off to Salman's hairless torso. Seriously, dude. I'm not lying. Check my browser history. 

Matilal says that the view that "world" refers to all sufferers is "clearly ascribable to Raghunatha ... according to Raghunatha's cryptic statement, Gangesa was saying that 'philosophy' or anvikshiki is open to all, not restrictive to the male members of the three varnas." (Matilal 2002: 367).

This is fucking hilarious. Metaphysics or 'Logical Philosophy' is wholly useless save to a handful of otherwise unemployable, or pederastic, pedants. This may not have been obvious to Kautilya at a time when the Mauryas were kicking ass and taking names. But it was bleeding obvious in Gangesa's time. Hinduism needed warriors who were good at killing people- not Meta-fucking-physics. 

Ganeri- for all I know, may be a Hindu Borat or Buddhist Ali G or something yet more weird and wonderful. I can't hope to rival his comic creations. Instead, as a Hindu of the most humorless sort, I ask- what is the Hindu theory of Justice in itself?

The conventional answer is-  Justice, or Nyaya, arises from ‘that by which man is guided’ (nīyate aneneti nyāyaḥ)- i.e Niyams mother Nyaya as, for Tambrams, Muruga's six heads suckle on the starlight of such Pleiades as are Indicly visible.

Fuck are Niyams?

Niyamas are rules which prescribe actions while Yamas restrain actions- though exception too are noted.  Mythologically, Yama- 'restraint' personified- is the King of the Underworld and judges the dead. But Yama is the twin of Yami, who represents Nature and Life and Evolution. Yami wants to have sex with Yama so as to procreate even though this violates the incest taboo. Yama prefers Death and rectitude. Yami's grief gives rise to Night.

 It is tempting to see the Yama/Yami syzygy as similar to the Purusha/Prakriti or Shiva/Shakti or Atman/Jeeva syzygy. The male principle is contemplative and refrains from action. It is the witness whereas the female principle is active and performs all necessary functions. This gives rises to the paradox that Nyaya is guided by not yama. Justice is not just- it is expedient or evolutionary.  Though it may condemn to Death, its purpose is to serve Life which is unrestrained and burgeons continually under new names and forms. In other words, the Hindu idea of Justice is that it is merely an ironic, or even oxymoronic, service industry- like 'Higher' Education- rather than something to get too worked up about.

Nevertheless, to say 'Justice is based on positive injunctions (Niyama)' suggests that Hinduism is based on Law as Command- thought this command may be generated by some internal process rather than be explicitly provided by an external authority- on the other hand, to understand that 'positive injunctions' themselves arise only as the result of proscriptions- non-violence, non-attachment, etc- suggests that Laws are radically defeasible and Justice itself is apophatic. Life, like the dark waters of the Yamuna (Yami personified), flows onward removing the taint of sin and putting Man beyond the scope of Judgment. 

By contrast, Yima, in Zoroastrianism, has a completely different trajectory. We are not told who Yima's twin is- perhaps because of the sacred nature of brother-sister marriage in certain Regal dynasties in that part of the world.

Yima rejects the role of prophet but takes that of the king of the living but too greatly increases the population.  This calls forth a terrible winter. God gets Yima to create an underground bunker which is like Noah's ark. Then, like Prometheus, Yima sins. He teaches Man to slaughter the cow and eat meat

A Zoroastrian website explains- 
However Yima later falls due to his hubris and his callous disregard for animal life. As we seen before, Yima accepted to be the steward and guardian of the world of the living and be a hero king; yet he failed.

In the poetic gathas, Yima is mentioned once in Yasna 32.8: “Among the sinners, Yima the son of , has been renowned //to delight us mortal men, he forswear God and taught the slaughtering of the cow// May I be apart from this in your future decision/verdict.”
The Middle Iranian or Pahlavi commentary maintains that Yima taught people to sacrifice the cow and eat meat.

However, it may be that what is prohibited is slaughtering animals for food with 'wild cries of delight'. If the thing is done as a sacrifice in a pious spirit perhaps no sin attaches.  Justice could be viewed as such a sacrifice not done with any vengeful, or gloating, intention but in a chastened and detached spirit. 

Zoroastrianism, on one view, is different from Vedic Hinduism- though their origins appear intertwined- in that 'yamas' in the latter- proscriptions like non-killing- are turned into positive commands- e.g kill noxious creatures- and thus the Zoroastrian religion is more fitting for a centralized type of Empire with a clear cut distinction between Good and Evil and a positive duty to destroy the latter to uphold the former. On the other hand, Zoroastrian Religion could also be seen as arising from oppressed farmers, blacksmiths etc. Vedic 'Rta'-the principle of natural order found in all existence- has, in Iran, a 'ratu'- or leader- who brings about reforms. In both religions, Mithra is the God who presides over contracts- including the Social Contract. But in India, Mithra becomes friendship and fraternal behavior or, most especially in Buddhism, metta- loving kindness of a universal sort. The contract is superseded by the relationship it permits to burgeon. Love usurps Truth. The essence, which is purely intentional, transcends existence and modality. 

 It is difficult to say how exactly Zoroastrian notions of Justice- had that religion retained a polity- would differ from what obtains now among Hindus. However, nobody doubts that the Zoroastrian Emperors were renowned for Justice. It has been suggested that this meant greater persecution of 'heretical' sects. On the other hand, the Iranian homeland was far more vulnerable to invasion and a greater rigidity of religious doctrine may simply have been a function of geopolitical vulnerability.

Returning to Hinduism which, because it still exists over a wide area, we can speak about with more confidence, the question arises as to whether the Law is truly founded upon 'restraints' which in turn give guidance re. positive duties?

Speaking generally, this view is not tenable. Why? What precedes the existence of Yama or Niyama is Aaya or Vrrdhi- i.e. 'increase' or profit of a cumulative type- e.g. compound interest- which gives rise to enjoyment as a right-  eṣa vṛddhi-phala-bhoga-nyāyaḥ. The paradigm here is 'krishi'- agriculture- sowing a relatively small number of seeds yields a much greater output of fruit. The disproportion between reward and effort for clearing and planting land in Iron Age India, gave rise, in Hinduism, to an ethical optimism and an embrace of stochastic rather than bargaining solutions.  Notionally, guys who got land which turned out to be crap were put on the short list for good land as soon as it became available. But, for the simple reason that there was free entry and exit on an almost infinite contiguous Christaller plain, and plenty of agricultural land available for those willing to clear it, this mechanism whereby good land, which had longer leases, was swapped for crap land, never needed to be implemented- or since the thing was obviously bullshit, nobody bothered to demand that the thing actually occur. 

It may be that one vector for 'Hinduism' was pastoral tribes who to supplement their income fostered babies who were orphaned or sickly. Obviously, the pastoralists had a surplus of milk and, what's more, cultivated poetry and grammar and so on such that, when the child was restored to his family, he was robust and 'educated' and thus very useful in making trade deals and diplomatic alliances and so forth. Clearly such individuals, as part of a 'panchayat' panel, could provide useful judgments which however would be viewed as conventions of a localized type which nevertheless might become 'Schelling focal' solutions to coordination games. This persists in the Hindu view that laws are merely 'samskars'- conventional or behavioral- and thus sublatable or defeasible. There is also a mimetic aspect- one can't go too far wrong following the example of 'the best people'. I suppose this is linked to pessimistic notions of Man being currently caught in an age of degeneration- Kali Yuga. Justice is itself 'apadh dharma'- exigent action- and the path away from it is imitation of those who keep well clear of its toils. This was the appeal of barrister Gandhi who denounced lawyers and law courts in the most vituperative terms. Sadly, unlike Sinn Fein, the INC completely failed to set up a parallel legal system and, today, the Indian Bench has higher authority and is more activist than any other in the Common Law tradition. On the other hand, it must be admitted that Indian Supreme Court judges, in their own estimation, are beneath contempt. This reinforces my view that the Hindu view of Justice is that the lady is no better than she ought to be. 

Was it always thus? Perhaps. Where happiness is, Justice casts no shadow. The burgeoning of both grain and dairy products, along with the spread of a grammatically 'canonical' link language endowed the Indic sprachbund with something it still retains- ethical, soteriological, aesthetic, epistemic, optimism independent of the existence or enforcement of Law or indeed its effability or utility.

The Vedantic point of view is that 'uncreated' Vedic Scriptures are themselves the origin of ritual actions (karma kanda) based on Yama & Niyama as well as the enjoyment (bhoga) that nevertheless burgeons by reason of the univocally good imperative they contain. In other words, Hindu Religion isn't a 'zero sum game' between the Gods and Men. The underlying benefit grows cumulatively. Thus ritual action is gratuitous with reference to what Rosseau calls the 'Will of All'- i.e. ordinary self-interested behavior. Why thank the Sun for rising when the whole world inevitably gains more and more warmth and illumination? The answer is that the General Will, being itself imperative, burgeons in a like enlightening manner by a 'Niyama' which 'does justice', or condignly commemorates, what could be, and thus imperatively is, univocal with itself. Contractarian theories are thus depassed in favor of a richer view of relationships as ethical interactions with 'field effects'- i.e mimetic and moral 'externalities'. 

The Shramana traditions posit one big, 'slingshot' type, reason, but also a univocal imperativity, such that their own category theories- or that of Nyaya-Vaisheshika or Yoga-Samkhya- are winnowed by their own 'reverse mathematics' project. Thus there is an 'observational equivalence' between Umasvati-Nagarjuna-Sankara canonical forms of both Shraman & Brahmin religion. In other words, no tension between rival sects drives Jurisprudence in the manner seen in some other jurisdictions.

The view of Lord Buddha, viz that there was a true Veda and a false and adulterated Veda is uncontroversial for Hindus. So many Brahmins flocked to Lord Buddha- indeed, one particular sept of Brahmins were granted automatic diksha- and all branches of Sanskrit study so flourished at Buddhist Universities that such adulterated Scripture as imposed upon the ignorant was driven out of circulation. Thus Lord Buddha is viewed as an Avatar of Lord Vishnu- the Preserver, the Katechon- though, obviously, we could, with equal eusebia say, by postponing his own liberation, Gautam Buddha epitomizes the Katechon, whereas by proclaiming kshanikavada- momentariness- he is Shiva. What is left is pure intensionality- our unknowable univocal, 'slingshot', imperative cleansed by the Lord of the burning ghat of every 'klesha', every type of filth that clings to the soul. At this point, an old fool like me is bound to speak of Tara, tear born mother of the Buddhas &  you too, gentle reader, may wish me swept away in the economy of that droplet's flood- Oṃ Tāre tuttāre ture svāhā &c.

What then is the Hindu theory of Justice? It is simply a samskar provided by a Service Industry as economic 'aaya' burgeons. If that industry is competitive, localized, and 'incentive compatible', then- cool! But it's not a much bigger deal than having access to Priests and Monks or Artists and Musicians or Sciencey guys and Tech guys or whatever. If we can find good things to do together and cheap and robust mechanisms so 'aaya' burgeons, then Justice and Beauty and Knowledge and Virtue will turn up by themselves in the same way that whores and thieves and Poets as Socio-proctologists too will arrive. 

Is God Just? No. God is all Merciful. Even I, worthless shithead that I am, will attain Death. 

Friday, 7 May 2021

Easterly on Adam Smith

William Easterly has a paper here   about 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. Easterly's claim is that this smart Scottish guy founded his own academic discipline.

Can we do other than laugh at Easterly?  Some fifty or fifty-five years ago, post-War Development Economics was universally recognized as retarded shite which fucked up poor countries stupid enough to take 'free money' from the US. By the late Seventies, the loathsome thing had 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.

Smith was part of actual Development based on Tardean mimetics. That's just 'Economics'- i.e finding cheaper ways of doing smart stuff one's Tardean target is already doing. Amartya-fucking-Sen- because he actually came from a famine stricken shithole- could gas on about Smith, mangling him completely in the process, but that wasn't 'development economics' at all. It was 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 them.  

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 and is suffering demographic or cultural replacement while the other side is much better off because of it. Moreover, rents are created and lodged in an asymmetric manner such that the terms of trade may worsen over time as 'invisibles' increase over 'visible' transactions.

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 became vulnerable to Catholic invasion. On the other hand, Scotland should not waste time and money on expeditions to Darien or wherever. Also, Scotland should try to make England feel bad about itself- coz the Sassenach needs to be taken down a peg or two. It is intolerable that they consider God an Englishman and spend most of their time stuffing their faces with beef steaks while drunk off their head on port wine rather than eking out a bottle off claret over a dish of haggis. 

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 it burgeons yet more because of patriotism and  a spirit of self-sacrifice for the Fatherland. Harping on the right to consent merely creates a holdout or concurrency problem. Essentially, importing 'rights' into the debate- i.e. pretending incentive compatible 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 about how to do it cheaper. It's what happened in China in the Eighties but only because no one involved was a Development Economist. China, for its part, was imitating countries like South Korea which, it is true, had listened to Irma Adelman- the woman who could have won the Vietnam war for the US- but then Irma wasn't a proper Development Economist who knew from Turnpike theorems and Bayesian methods. Also, she lacked a penis. So even referring to her as an economist was stretching things a bit.

 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. On the other hand, an outsider- like Irma Adelman- can say sensible stuff like 'devalue your currency and do export led growth. Don't price yourself out of the market coz you want to stay virginally poor. Shake your money maker while you're still young enough to have a cute turd cutter.' I'm not saying Irma used those exact words. But, there can be little doubt, that she mimed the relevant actions till the South Koreans caught on. 

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 hold of 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 know 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 granddad shirts 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. It gets money from the Government to keep weavers desperately poor. 

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 their 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 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 relying upon 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 though distribution of rents- which may involve no 'visible' coercion- may lead to worsening terms of trade for the 'inferior' party. 

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 

 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.

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 Spain 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. Since Franco, as a professional soldier, concentrated on raping and killing his own people- rather than picking fights with foreigners- he showed the superiority of Fascism in the field of Economic Development provided it first concentrates on rape and afterwards gets Opus Dei type Religion and gives up such strenuous sexual activities so as to just get rich and die peacefully in its bed. 

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.