Saturday, 28 May 2022

Stein Ringen stupider than Amartya Sen

Stein Ringen may be an elderly Norwegian pedant. Equally, he may be a prank played on us- a sort of Nordic equivalent of Jean Baptiste Botul, the philosopher of Botulism, a hoax Bernard-Henri Levy fell for. 

Back in 2008 the following appeared under his name.
Liberty is not freedom.

But I am at liberty to say otherwise.  

It is a condition of freedom.

It is identical to it.  

To live freely is to be, in the words of philosopher Joseph Raz, the author of one’s own life.

& to enjoy liberty is to be, in the words of me, the auteur of one's one life- unless one has a wife.  

For those of us who are blessed with liberty, that means not just indulging but taking control.

But prisoners too can stop indulging in wanking and take control by making their cell mate their bitch. If one is truly blessed with liberty one needn't take control of shit. Indulgence is the way to go.  

Affluence – and it is time we recognise that most people in our part of the world are affluent –

which is why they are giving blow jobs at truck stops. They just happen to like swallowing jizz. Indeed, they'd pay for the privilege because they are affluent.  

does something to you: it enables you to do as you like.

No. Financial independence is not affluence. A guy with a million dollars in the bank is financially independent provided he is content with a disposable income of 50,000 dollars. That is scarcely affluence. By contrast, a person with an affluent lifestyle might be ten million dollars in debt.  

But we already know, because Aristotle told us, that “doing what one likes” is a false conception of freedom.

But we already know that Aristotle was wrong about everything.  

More recently, the Indian economist Amartya Sen has said of someone who is merely shrewd in getting what he wants that he is a “rational fool” and as much a victim of repression as the enslaved.

Not even Sen said anything so stupid. He merely said that a narrow view of utility theory (which nobody actually held) such that it depended solely on what was consumed by the agent for his own physical needs would lead us to predict foolish behavior. He never mentioned repression or slavery. 

A slave can be bought and sold though no doubt a shrewd slave will be able to get a good master. That slave may be more affluent than a free citizen. He may oppress the citizen in various ways. But a slave he remains.  

For years I have been examining what it takes to turn liberty into real freedom.

Those years were wasted. The answer would have been the same as if he had examined what it takes to turn freedom into true liberty, or happiness into true joy, or cats into true felines.  

In my research I have hunted for the secret of “good government”.

There is none. There are canons of taxations and canons of justice and canons of administration and so forth. However, whether or not a government is good depends on the fitness landscape.  

Democratic governments protect the freedoms of citizens,

Not necessarily. A democratic government can fuck up a lot of its citizens- if that is what the majority of voters want.  

but what kind of freedom should democracy advance?

Whatever the majority of voters want unless this leads to a war which the democracy is bound to lose or some other such predictable catastrophe. 

As a government servant (in the Norwegian Ministry of Justice) I know that governments seriously restrict liberties. How to square that with democracy’s duty to protect freedom?

A democracy may choose such a duty, or claim to have done so. But no such duty arises in any other manner than by its own free choice.  

I have tried to answer this question by unpacking the insight that people who demand liberty to indulge unexamined impulses are slaves.

No! They are purple pussycats which form unconscionable connections of a deeply repugnant sexual kind with plutocratic penguins! The fact is most slaves were not subject to 'unexamined impulses'. They cost money and could be sold for money. They were used in an economical fashion. You might subject a free citizen to your unexamined impulses, if you thought you could get away with it. But if you kept sodomizing your slaves and chopping off their noses, you would be lowering the value of your own estate.  

I have tried to put the flesh of real freedom on to the skeleton of liberty.

Said in a Norwegian accent, a statement of that sort would scare anybody shitless.  

For me this is a practical concern more than an abstract philosophical one.

The good folks at the Norwegian Ministry of Justice are constantly flaying and filleting free people so as to uncover their skeleton. Then they try to put the flesh of true liberty onto those skeletons. They fail. Still, it keeps them happy. 

After liberty, the second condition of freedom is control, specifically the self-control that is required to avoid becoming a prisoner of one’s own immediate desires.

Norwegians need to avoid becoming the prisoner of their desire to immediately flay and fillet anybody they meet so as to get his skeleton on which they will then true to attach the flesh of true liberty. It takes a lot of self-control to stop Norwegians doing so- till they join the Ministry of Justice.  

While we have created the condition of liberty – if not for all for the majority – we have failed to understand the second condition of freedom: the need to develop self-control which might enable us to use our liberty to address our pressing problems: social fragmentation, global warming and inequality.

No doubt this involves a lot of flaying and filleting so skeletons can be assembled. 

We could even end world poverty!

No. We could pretend to end world poverty by defining very very poor people as above the poverty line. But who would we actually be fooling? If there are people giving beejays for very little money, poverty exists. If some people don't got enough scratch for beejays, they are poor.  

We have generated sufficient wealth to do it without eating noticeably into the wealth of the rich nations – but we don’t. Why?

Because it would eat noticeably into wealth of every sort.  

It is not for want of means but for want of control. We are unable to make ourselves really believe that poverty should be eliminated. We blame “the system”, but we should look into our own hearts.

If this guy is going around handing out cash and giving beejays to homeless dudes- cool. If not, he is just virtue signalling. He should look into his heart after he has flayed and filleted himself and assembled his own skeleton upon which he can then try to graft the flesh of true freedom.  

For freedom, once there is liberty, also needs reason.

Fuck off! You can give freedom to a caged bird or animal. One can let a lunatic out of his padded cell so he can roam free flaying and filleting folk so as to graft the flesh of true liberty onto their skeletons.  

And that reason in turn depends on faith.

No it doesn't. Reason depends on not getting killed or not starving to death or avoiding other such pitfalls present on the fitness landscape.  

It is conventional to think that reason and faith are in different and competing worlds, that reason is the tool of the rationalist and faith the excuse of the believer. I propose a new understanding of faith in which religious faith is merely a subcategory.

This is not a new understanding. Everybody knows that saying 'I have faith in the plumber fixing the leak' is different from 'I have faith in God who will lift up my immortal soul to Paradise'.  

I do not reject religious logic as irrational, and I do not think rational logic can make do without faith.

But it does do so. Axioms aren't articles of faith.  

My logic is as follows: reason springs from an inner competence,

as does faith and intuition and suspicion and feelings of affinity or repugnance 

from an ability to listen to and be touched and moved by reasons.

so reason springs from...reasons. Do they not know about circular arguments at the Norwegian Ministry of Justice?  

It’s the ability to restrain: to temper self-interest in the choice of ends, so as to avoid blind egoism, and to temper single-mindedness in the choice of means, so as to avoid unbridled ruthlessness.

But all of this may have to do with character, or conditioning, not reason.  A foreigner who does not know our language and who can't understand our reasons may show these qualities to us. 


Such restraint is grounded in values and norms.

Which may be instilled without any appeal to reason. A lion may be conditioned to performing circus tricks. The lion tamer may be able to safely put his head in its mouth. This does not show that the lion is capable of reasoning or that it uses reason to arrive at certain values and norms.  

My values and norms are the instruments in my toolbox for forging reasoned choice out of the liberty to do as I like.

What this cretin has done is write worthless shite. His toolbox consisted of turds.  

Values and norms are the building blocks that make up a person’s inner competence. They are principles or higher-order rules that make themselves felt from the background of a person’s awareness and inform more specific opinions and decisions, what the sociologist Raymond Boudon calls “axiological beliefs”. Values are beliefs about what is good; they help us to decide on good and bad ends. Norms are beliefs about what is right; they help us to decide on right and wrong in the choice of means.

This is nonsense. Values are what give rise to preference orderings but they are context dependent. You chose differently if the context is a one night stand rather than a marriage. Norms are focal solutions to coordination games or 'costly signals' associated with discoordination games. They too are context dependent. Sartorial norms that apply in the board room, don't apply at the Golf Club. 

Our beliefs about what is good and what is right are context dependent. They are not related to our preferences or character traits or visceral emotions. I couldn't bring myself to kill a chicken but have no problem with the meat industry. I would happily throw the switch on a serial killer sitting in the electric chair but don't favor capital punishment- at least in affluent countries which can afford to warehouse scum. 

To say that values and norms are beliefs is not to say that they grow spontaneously from inner sources in the soul. They come from somewhere. I cannot form the belief, for example, that equality is a good thing unless I am aware that there is such a thing to consider as equality.

I can't form the belief that equality is a good thing because I'm an economist. Equality is a bad thing. Because of the Price equation, it would lead to a flight of talent and then a Malthusian disaster and entitlement collapse. Why? People will only limit their family size if they are personally better off as a result. If all babies get the same amount of gruel, the Price equation kicks in. You maximize your chance to have descendants. 


But for a belief to become a value or a norm for me there must be something more to it than simply knowing about it. I must believe in the belief, so to speak.

 This cunt must know Aristotle's Third Man argument. He now faces an infinite regress of believing in believing in believing in ...belief. 

“Do unto others as you want others to do unto you” becomes a value for me when I adopt that belief as my belief.

No it doesn't because that's a maxim or rule for conduct not a belief. 'Love thy neighbor' is a value. Belief in Christianity can cause you to seek to cherish this value. Faith will help. Beliefs tend to get superseded by casuistic or more convenient beliefs.  

The beliefs that I make mine are those that have some power for me. My values and norms are those beliefs about good and right which I have faith in.

A Christian might well say something like this and though the theology might be faulty, it is perfectly acceptable and sensible. We all understand that there is, or ought to be, a 'Higher Power'. Soteriology is doing the heavy lifting here. Sociology merely stands around holding its dick.  


I call this faith because in the end there is something intangible about values and norms.

Only if there is a Higher power. Otherwise the things are either 'action determining' or mere epiphenomena.  

When a value is established as a value in the mind of a person, it has some force in her mind which cannot be fully pinned down.

But could be with sufficient precision for any practical purpose. Courts decide on such matters every day.  

She knows it to express what is good, right or even true. She knows she should live by it. She knows that others, too, should share that value.

No. We don't know that. We may say this is a value worthy of respect by all. We can't say everybody should have it. Why? We are not omniscient. Furthermore, if Evolution is a true theory, then anything not hardwired oughtn't to be imposed on all because epigenetic diversity is needful for 'discovery' on the fitness landscape. Desirable social configurations are multiply realizable. Inquisitions may worsen outcomes.  

Faith in this meaning infuses beliefs with power.

No. A mental illness may infuse 'beliefs with power'. So may intoxicants or 'the madness of crowds'. Faith need not entail any type of belief.  I may have faith in Santa Claus even if I believe he does not exist. In some sense, the good kiddies get presents though I get none. 

Your awareness of a norm makes of it a reason for you to think or do as it says.

Or do the reverse. I know it is the norm for grown ups not to say miaow to kids they have never met. I do so because, if the kid is young enough, he may think I'm a fun Uncle rather than a boring old fart.  Actually, the reverse is the case. It doesn't matter what the norm is, we all subvert it in our own way. 

Your faith in it starts to make it a good reason.

You may have a reason to do things which make you stronger in your faith. But faith is a mystery. What reasons can it provide? If the heart can have its reasons which reason knows nothing of, why not the soul? Might that reason be Faith? We don't know. The thing is a mystery. It may be a gratuitous gift. It may arise by individual effort if there are indeed such things as individuals.  


Faith, firstly, separates those values and norms which you make yours from those you discard.

Reason may do so. Temperament may do so. Bitterness and disappointment may do so. Success and general acclaim may do so. The influence of another may do so. The withdrawal of such influence may do so. But Faith does not do so. Why should it? The Bishop dresses one way and conducts himself in a particular manner. The Friar does otherwise. Their Faith may be equal.  

In various ways – from parents, from teachers, from conventions, from laws – society offers you a menu of values and norms to consider.

No. Because of Knightian Uncertainty, information asymmetry, externalities etc. no such menu can exist.  

Some recommend to you the belief that equality is a good thing, others that it’s every man for himself.

No. Pretending equality is a good thing or signalling that nobody buys that bullshit is all that is on offer. Recommendations are signals though, no doubt, in some cases there is something worthwhile that could underlie that signal. But some signals which are worthwhile are wholly ontologically dysphoric. They are not at home in this world.  

Even values and norms are things people have to choose, if in complicated ways.

Or they don't have to choose in simple ways. 


In addition, faith enables you to live sensibly by those values and norms you make yours.

Only if you are already doing so.  

It is what enables you to do in fact as your super-beliefs recommend in theory. For example, a speed limit of 70 mph on motorways tells you how to drive.

No it doesn't. I know the speed limit but I don't know how to drive. 

We all know that, but we also know that it takes something more to actually do as the rule says. It takes the backing of a principle which I accept as authoritative, such as “it is wrong to not obey the law”.

Nonsense! It is an empirical matter as to whether a given law is enforced. Moreover, there are circumstances where any law may be safely broken.  

What makes me accept that super-belief as authoritative is that it is one I have faith in.

There are no super-beliefs or meta-preferences. Faith has nothing to do with Authority though, no doubt, we may pretend otherwise. But that is an imperative, not alethic, type of proposition.

The inner competence to reason rests ultimately in this elusive faculty of faith,

No. Faith survives even when one acknowledges one has lost competency to reason. Many die in the Faith after having handed over control of their estate to their heirs.  

a faculty which enables the person to actually believe in his beliefs and practically make them authoritative signposts for his opinions and actions.

but that faculty would depend on another faculty which would depend on another ad infinitum. This is Aristotle's 'Third Man' argument.  

For example, most of us today accept that it is wrong to treat people differently because of the colour of their skin,

unless it isn't at all. A Norwegian couple handed a black baby by the maternity ward in-charge will reject it just as a Nigerian couple will complain that there has been a mix-up if they are handed a blonde baby. Oikeiosis is not wrong. It is right. 

but the awareness of that norm needs to be backed up by faith in order for us to really stay clear of racial prejudice and discriminatory action.

No it doesn't. A healthy fear of having my head kicked in prevents me from directing much racial prejudice or gender based discrimination at the elderly ladies I've taken to doing aqua-aerobics with. 

We need something to resort to in order to find the strength of conviction to accept axiological beliefs as practically authoritative and get beyond only paying lip service to laudable ideas.

Brandy? Prayer and Fasting? How about a nice beach resort in the Maldives?  

Faith, then, is a quality of character.

No. Faith may come and go with character leaving unaltered. There is such a thing as a 'dark night of the soul'.  

Where character comes from is not easy to say, but a part of the answer must be that it is learnt. We need to be taught not only the facts of the world but also about good and bad, right and wrong.

And our teachers have to be taught and so on. But Universities are shite. This dude teaches at one or two. But the man is a cretin.  

Freedom in the sense of being able to live a life that is one’s own life rests on learning, on what the Germans call bildung.

But the German bildungsburgertum fucked up big time. Frege was an even crazier anti-Semitic cockroach than Heidegger. Come to think of it, Quisling was considered a bit of a philosopher. Quakers introduced him to Hitlerism as part of their mission to save Europe from War. 

Freedom is about telling pedants to go fuck themselves even if they also work for the Norwegian Ministry of Justice.

If faith starts to make a belief a good reason for choice,

Or Choice makes good faith a belief, or Good makes Choice a Faith, or Faith has a fling with Belief but then decides to shack up with Choice which causes Reason to hang itstelf. 

how can I know that what faith puts to me as a good reason really is a good reason?

You can't know shit. Read your own stuff. It is nonsense.  

Blind faith is not the stuff of free women and men.

Unless it is. Ukrainians may have blind faith that they will prevail over Putin's hordes. What is certain is that many of them will cease to be free women and men if they stop resisting with what appears blind faith. When the war started I thought Putin a genius and Zelenskyy a clown. But the comedian showed blind faith in his country as did the great mass of Ukrainians- including the Russian speakers who were supposed to welcome Putin's mercenaries. 


The alternative to blind faith is evidence-based faith.

No. It is spiritually enlightened faith.  

As a rational person you want to invest faith in those values and norms that there are good reasons to have faith in.

Credence is not Faith. On the other hand, maybe these words have different semantic values in Norwegian. 

Money is Credit- as economists know- but Credit only works if there is faith in the economic regime whose operation is mysterious. However this is merely a manner of speaking. But it does suggest that, because of Knightian Uncertainty, we pursue a regret minimizing strategy. One may consider theological Faith as arising under maximum Uncertainty- God or no God. Pascal's bet is a backward induction argument for God. But it clearly has nothing to do with actual Christian- or Hindu or Islamic- Faith. It is mere casuistry. 

Resort to evidence is the sensible way to decide which, in the larger menu of potential values and norms, to make yours.

Not if you know Statistics. Almost all 'evidence' in the Social Science is junk.  Even when it isn't junk, Rossi's metallic laws apply. Any policy intervention based on 'evidence' will have zero or negative impact over a long enough time period. 

Evidence comes in many forms. In a scientific age we want to trust science, but scientific evidence about issues of human passion is thin on the ground.

Nope. Science has shown that there's nothing weird about homosexuality or gender dysphoria or oral sex. The correct scientific theory predicts that they will exist.  

The law tells us about right and wrong, but the law can be mistaken.

Legal judgments are defeasible.  

Prime Ministers and Archbishops tell us what to do and how to live, but trust is thin. There is evidence out there but it is not complete, not objective and not easy to make sense of; it is of many kinds and from many sources, scattered and often contradictory, always ambiguous.

The guy is talking about information. Evidence has to satisfy certain protocols. But those protocols may be wrong. It is the Structural Causal Model that matters.  

Persuasive evidence is tested evidence.

No. It is evidence which satisfies a set of protocols. It may not be possible to test it.  

Is it for example true that “the nuclear family” is the best basis for raising children?

No. It may be the best basis for a particular couple to do so. But that depends on their circumstances.  

I can try to find the answer in my own experience, but I will know that to be a flimsy basis. I am better off by asking others: this is how I’m inclined to see it but what is your experience? If I ask several others and keep an open mind I am on my way to finding a safe opinion. I may ask experts or people I trust. Or I may say, let’s sit down and discuss and explore this difficult question carefully.

Or you needn't bother. The conclusion I came to is the only right one.  

In the end evidence is tested by conversation, exchange of information and opinions and discussion: in the philosopher Jürgen Habermas’s language, by deliberation.

This is false. Protocol bound deliberation may result in judgments of a juristic or administrative or institutional type. However, while the deliberation is going on a superior Structural Causal Model may have been found. Plenty of people were deliberating about what was best for Ukraine. There were some influential people who believed Putin's propaganda. The Russian speakers were being discriminated against. Russia had legitimate geopolitical concerns. Zelenskyy was a clown in the pay of an oligarch whom the FBI were after. We must send a signal that we won't do shit for Ukraine. Let Putin invade and chase away the clown Zelenskyy. He can go make slapstick comedies for Netflix. Let's all be reasonable about this. Wiser heads have deliberated on this. 

This is no foolproof method. Its quality depends on what information is available and our inclination and ability to deliberate openly and honestly.

But only stupid pedants or virtue signallers will bother with that shite. 

But it is the best we have. Tested evidence is evidence that has survived rational deliberation.

But which then turns out to be utter horseshit.  

Liberty is a strange commodity. Not having it is tantamount to social death,

Prisoners don't suffer social death. Some are better men and women than most of us. Others may be like us, but were unfortunate. Some may be wickeder than us but they may repent and atone.

but when you have it you find that it does not do much for you.

You have do stuff for yourself.  

If you do not use it well, its temptations strike back at you and you find yourself a rational fool living under a dictatorship of desires you just happen to have.

No! You find yourself living under the Imperium of the Ghoul-Vampire alliance of desires! But this has nothing to do with Sen's 'rational fools' who are imaginary beings obeying some version of utilitarianism which nobody ever proposed.  


To overcome this we need to develop the habit of restraint.

Norwegians may need to do so. The rest of us don't try to flay and fillet everybody we see so as to get to their skeleton onto which we then futilely try to graft the flesh of true freedom.  

But where does this come from?

Growing up. I no longer pee and shit myself and say goo-goo ga-ga except when of strong drink taken.  

It is something that is fostered in institutions, most importantly in the families in which children grow up, in the schools in which they continue to learn, and in political institutions of deliberation.

Fuck off! Toilet training is sufficient. Also language acquisition. Then being able to earn while you learn. That's how things have been for the vast majority of the world's population till very recently. If poor people have fewer kids then things can change but only because, now, standards of living diverge save where equal effort is equally productively expended.  

Institutions are the settings that protect us from isolation and loneliness, in which we can hone our beliefs about good and bad and right and wrong, and in which we find what I call social anchorage.

But sensible students avoid us. They do STEM subjects and get the fuck out of 'institutions'.  

A society of not just liberty but also freedom is a society of strong institutions in which people have belonging and live in community with each other. We little human beings are not just individuals, we are also social animals. For freedom, it is necessary but not sufficient that we have liberty. We must also invest in the institutions we need to live together with solidarity, civility and good sense.

Does this cunt hear himself? To be truly free you must do some stupid shit I pulled out of my arse. Fuck that! Nobody wants to live in solidarity or civility with a brain dead virtue signaller. Tell you what- let's export him to China! Fuck! I just checked on the internet. The Norwegians, with Viking wit, have already panned him off on Xi & Li! No wonder they are pissed off with us. Say what you like, Norwegians have a subtle sense of humor. I was born in Germany. Sadly, I gained only the German sense of humor. I'd be shit at making good cars. No doubt, this is because I was failed by Institutions. This was my own fault. I chose to study at the LSE. Just imagine what heights I might not have scaled had I gone to Pope School. In case you are wondering, I'd be Pope. That's what Pope School is for. Crack a book sometime.  

Friday, 27 May 2022

Ritwik Ghatak vs Satyajit Ray

Ritwik Ghatak was a film and theater professional who se first acting role was in a 1950 film which did well in the Soviet Union. This was the period when the Left realized it had to capture the Hindu refugee vote in Bengal otherwise they would vote for the Jan Sangh. They were very successful in this strategy which suited Congress- the other party responsible for the horrible plight of the refugees. 

Ghatak's first film was completed two years later in 1952- 3 years before Ray's first film- but was only released after his death.  He also worked as a scriptwriter on 'Madhumati'- a big hit- in Mumbai. By contrast, Satyajit Ray worked in advertising and developed a passion for avant garde Western Cinema. He financed his first film with his own savings and that of his friends and relatives. The C.M of West Bengal also gave him some money from the Highway budget because Ray's film had 'Path' in the title. 

Ray's film went down well in the West because his cinematic grammar was Western. The truth is Bengal has very talented crafts-people- cinematographers, lighting people, etc. I suppose a lot of them ended up in Mumbai. 

Ritwik had been part of the Communist theater movement which had to adapt to Indian conditions to retain an audience. They were particularly good at song-writing. He could have made good melodramas, provided there was some human interest angle to the plot,  which would have been marketable or, at the very least, which Bollywood could have remade for a bigger audience. It is doubtful if Ray could ever have made anything which appealed to the Indian masses. But Ray wasn't a Communist. He was perfectly comfortable with a haut bourgeois status. His films broke even and their international release was profitable. Ray was an auteur like Woody Allen- he loved Cinema but his later films were self-indulgent. The difference is that Allen was making films about successful people in places that mattered. Calcutta, however, had ceased to matter even to Indians. 

Ghatak was an alcoholic who passed away in 1976 at the age of 50. He was well respected in India- he had served as the Vice Principal of the Film institute in Pune- but considered a difficult man to work with. Ray's reputation in India peaked around the time Ritwik died. Shatranj ke Khilari came out when Sanjeev Kumar was a big star. It was as boring as shit- but surely that was Premchand's point? Be boring. You owe it to Mahatma Gandhi if not Kali Marx. 

 Ray's reputation declined thereafter. David Lean and Richard Attenborough made successful movies about India. Victor Bannerjee shone in 'Passage' but even he bombed in 'Ghare Bhaire'. The bigotry of the buddhijiv- the belief that anything commercial was evil- made both Ray, the talented hobbyist, and Ritwik, the programmatic professional with flashes of genius, deeply boring and stupid. They advertised a product which they could not themselves provide because they disdained their own milieu but could represent no other because they knew no other. But that knowledge was shallow because they  didn't bother with 'market research'. Commercial cinema has to be on the qui vive regarding public tastes and trends. 

Swagato Chakravorty writes in the LA review of books 

the historical formulation of categories like “global art cinema” or “world cinema” rests upon

a niche market. There would have been Film festivals in any case so that different countries could learn new techniques or adapt novel plots or (in the case of Hollywood) spot and recruit talent. However 'world cinema' as a category catered to a Left- Liberal or pseudo-intellectual market. Nevertheless some film-makers or stars could cross over to the mainstream. 

Cinema is a highly entrepreneurial commercial activity. Its categories arise for purely economic reasons. 

Swagato, whose PhD is from Yale, takes a different view. Reality is actually determined by ideas in the heads of philosophers. Those ideas have

certain premises which determine how cultural texts outside Euro-American frameworks are read.

This is certainly true of cultural texts like Japanese tentacle porn. The premise is that octopuses are good at pleasing pussies.  

One such premise, as the postcolonial historian Dipesh Chakrabarty influentially argued in Provincializing Europe (2000), is historicism — which “made modernity or capitalism look not simply not global but rather […] something that became global over time, by originating in one place [Europe] and then spreading outside it.”.

Modernity originated in America. Europe was playing catch up. India did not became 'modern' under the Raj. The place was overrun with be-jeweled Maharajas and half naked Mahatmas.  

 This logic of deferral translates historical time into “a measure of cultural distance,” securing for Euro-American cultural institutions the conditions for admitting a Ray but denying a Ghatak, saying “not yet.”

This is foolish. Both started off making at least one watchable movie. Ray's movies were marketed abroad because Indian foreign policy consisted of passing around the begging bowl. Ghatak's case was different. Since both Congress and the Communists could be blamed for Partition and the plight of the refugees, both ganged up to ensure that Komal Gandharv was a flop. Partha Chatterjee wrote-

The knowledge that Komal Gandhar‘s box-office potential was sabotaged by people who were once his friends, deeply hurt Ghatak. It is to this day widely believed in Calcutta that the Communists and Congress joined hands to finish him off. A large number of tickets were bought by goons of both the parties who then disturbed the viewing of the legitimate viewer by sobbing loudly during funny scenes and breaking into uproarious laughter at the serious ones. The audience was alienated and the viewer-ship fell dramatically after a promising run in the first week. The film had to be withdrawn. He, being the co-producer, had to share the burden of the financial loss. It broke him. His descent into alcohol began soon after

Ray doubled down on being a bigger bore than Tagore. Ritwik's personal life was soon as miserabilist as his oeuvre. The two fused into one in his last film. By then, Calcutta had acquired the reputation of being the arsehole of the Turd World. It was obvious that the place had turned to shit after the departure of the Brits.  What was the point of watching a movie by a Bengali which admonished Bengalis to stop being so shitty when, it was obvious, every Bengali was already admonishing every other Bengali in precisely the same manner with the result that the place had turned to shit?

The former becomes a global citizen,

Ray could have directed a film based on an original story of his for Columbia. His talent was of a type Hollywood could understand. After all, the bloke had worked in advertising- including a stint in London. His knowledge of American and European cinema was encyclopedic. Ghatak's 'Meghe Dhaka Tara' was good but its idiom was Indian. 

India’s contribution to a global cinematic modernism, because he is first read as such.

I think early Ray was read as 'Humanistic'- this was important during the Cold War. He could be the cinematic equivalent of Pearl Buck. Alternatively, he might turn totes Hollywood and start making films with titles like 'Tarzan vs King Kong'.  

The history of Ghatak’s reception in the West, both a prolonged deferral and a cycle of discoveries and rediscoveries,

Not really. Lefties tried to build him up but the message of his films was that Marxism can maybe polish up the Turd World a little but the place would remain a shithole.  

underscores the temporal asymmetries

This nutter thinks Time in America flows in a nicer way than back home. That's a good reason for emigrating. Incidentally, premature ejaculation is an example of temporal asymmetry.  

implicit in such notions of global art, which always presumes a legibility that originates within European contexts.

No. Japan's Samurai films influenced Hollywood. Hong Kong's Kung Fu films totally changed fight choreography. When I was a kid, big fat men would trade punches. Now it is very slim girls who jump into the air and kick the shit out of each other. 

If Ray’s Pather Panchali alerted the Western world to the emergence of a modernist idiom within Indian national cinema,

This is nonsense. The handful of people who knew Ray also knew that most Indian movies had lots of songs and dances and fights and villains in dark glasses. The problem was that Westerners didn't like our music and the fight scenes weren't very good. Also the movies were just too damn long. 

Indian film was 'modernist' long before Ray. Dungan- the guy who launched M.S Subbalaxmi and Sivaji Ganesan and Karunanidhi's career- was American. In Tamil Nadu, Cinema, in becoming political, took over Politics. In Bengal, such Cinema as became Marxist was deemed unwatchable even by Marxists.  

it — and the continuation of Apu’s story in Aparajito/The Unvanquished (1956) and Apur Sansar/Apu’s Household (1959) — also told a story of uplift. Throughout the trilogy, Apu moves from rural poverty (pictured early on as coeval with pre-modern pastoralism) to establishing, and securing, a domicile under industrialized modernity in the metropolis of Calcutta.

Very true. He works for a Hedge Fund and drives a Porsche.  

This politics (and poetics) of uplift is crystallized in one of the most rapturous scenes in the history of cinema: a near-fantastical vision Apu experiences as a child when, playing in a field of kaash flowers with his elder sister Durga, he sees a train thunder past. Ray films this scene in a way that makes clear the momentous impact this romanticized vision of radical modernity would have on Apu, changing forever the course of his life.

Fuck would he have done if he'd seen a plane? Become Elon Musk and launch his own Space Travel Company? 

Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara, the first of three films to confront the shocks of Partition, brutally undoes Ray’s romantic visions of modernity just five years later.

Nope. This is a story about a girl- the breadwinner of the family- dying or tuberculosis just when her family's finances turn the corner. She wants to live. Ray's characters can't be greatly bothered either way.  

Portraying an impoverished, displaced East Bengali family as they negotiate life in a refugee settlement just outside Calcutta in the 1950s, Ghatak sees trains as exemplifying modernity as a force of personal and cultural alienation.

East Bengali Hindus had to flee the murderous Muslim majority. That's what caused their 'alienation'. Trains weren't the problem. They'll come in handy for Hindus when West Bengal becomes Muslim majority. 

In the film, Neeta, the eldest daughter, shoulders the impossible burden of providing for her entire family: her older brother, who dreams of success as a classical singer; her mother who has grown bitter over their reduced circumstances; her father, an absentminded schoolmaster who seems to embody

a belief in Science and Technology. He admires those who do scientific research rather than getting a job with a commercial enterprise. He is very unhappy when his son gets a job in a factory.  

the bhadralok  humanism that sustains Ray’s Apu trilogy; as well as her younger sister and brother. In one memorable scene, Neeta and her suitor, Sanat, sit under a tree by the river as they discuss their current circumstances and hopes for the future. Abruptly, a train cuts across the frame, its clamor completely obliterating their conversation.

The world is moving on. Sanat will marry the pretty sister after getting a well paid job. Neeta is doomed to an early death. Since Ghatak has no God this is an unrelieved tragedy.  

The noise caused by the train seems inordinately loud given its distance within the frame,

but we are grateful because the dialogue was boring.  

in what is a typically unsettling instance of Ghatak’s audacious play with sound against image, refuting Ray’s seamlessly realist aesthetic and use of synchronous sound. It echoes, with amplified violence, a striking shot in the first moments of the film when Neeta is framed in a tight close-up along the same riverbank, listening to her brother practice his singing while a train passes by in the distance. Elsewhere in the film, Neeta’s father has a fateful accident when he breaks his leg in a fall on the train tracks, precipitating a course of events that will see Neeta give up on her education — and indeed gradually give up on living for her own self — as she must attend ever more to her family’s demands.

Railways are bad. They hurt my daddy.  


Another startling sequence in Komal Gandhar/E-Flat (1961), the second in the loose “Partition trilogy,” showcases Ghatak’s most uncompromisingly Brechtian commitments, which draw on Ghatak’s own experiences with the Indian People’s Theatre Association.

A Commie outfit which clamored for Partition because of Stalin's 'Nationality' policy.

Their manifestos contained shite like the following-

 Some Nationalities in India wanted Hindu Bengalis to fuck off from their territory. Ghatak's family had to run away from their ancestral homes. If the Commies had played up, then- as in Indonesia- Hindus and Muslims would have united to beat them to death. Ritwik may have been a leg up by the Party but that Party was shit.

The film weaves together a romance with an investigation of the possibilities for artistic and secular collectivity against the backdrop of a nationalist crisis.

The Muslims had kicked out Ghatak's people. Would the Bengalis kick out the Commies? Ultimately, yes. Mamta's goons were better at beating people than the Left Front's goons.  

It is also the most forthrightly theatrical of Ghatak’s films — it is worth recalling that Ghatak had extensive experience with the theater, and wrote at length on the relations between theater and cinema.

But Bengal fell behind in Film. Talent went to Mumbai.  But, in TN and then Andhra Pradesh, Cinema could do a reverse takeover of Politics. This was because Cinema can do stuff which Theater can't. It is a dream factory, not shite that puts you to sleep.  

Komal Gandhar is deeply informed by the jatra, a rural Bengali theatrical form that

is as boring as shit.  

Ghatak once described as “kaleidoscopic, pageant-like, relaxed, discursive.”

and as boring as shit. 

In Komal Gandhar, the protagonist Anusuya is a refugee in Calcutta; she has lost her family in the Partition violence.

They were killed by Muslims.  

She pursues her passion for the theater by joining a local performing group, and develops a romantic and creative partnership with its leader, Bhrigu, who like her is also a refugee.

Because he didn't want to stick around and get killed by Muslims.  

Through his use of dialect and folk music, histories of Hinduism and Islam, East and West Bengal, Ghatak reconstructs forms of collectivity and kinship, even as the singular catastrophe of a Partition born of centuries of colonial rule looms in the background.

It was born of Islamic invasion.  

In the sequence in question, Bhrigu and Anasuya converse by the banks of the river Padma. Bhrigu muses of a time before Partition, recalling the train tracks that used to bring him back from visits to Calcutta to the riverbank, where he would board a steamer to cross over: “I thought of something looking at that track now. It used to be a meeting point, a place of union, and now it has become a point of division. The nation is torn in two there.”

By the Muslim League.  

As Bhrigu mourns his displaced status, the film’s formal unity begins to disintegrate. In the background, the sound of women chanting “Dohai Ali”

which is Islamic 

(a traditional East Bengali boatmen’s prayer to nature for safe passage) rises sharply in volume. Cutting away from their conversation, the film transforms into one of those “phantom rides” so popular in cinema’s earliest years. The camera takes off down an empty rail track that is cut off in the distance — the India-East Bengal border — and accelerates until, astonishingly, it seems to shatter itself against the wooden barrier.

The Bangladeshis did bring in Ghatak to make a movie for them. I don't think it was released in India.

The sound of the chants, by now loud and frantic, is overwhelmed by what seems like the sound of a whiplash, and the scene cuts to black. If one were to translate into cinematic terms Walter Benjamin’s exegesis of Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus (1920), in which he describes the angel of history fleeing, blown toward the future by a storm called “progress,” from “one single catastrophe” with “his face […] turned toward the past,” one could do no better.

The Hindu refugees from Punjab and Sindh chased out Muslims to make room for themselves. Thus they had an increasingly prosperous future. Bengali Hindus did swamp some North Eastern Districts but they didn't make room for themselves in West Bengal. Perhaps this was because the local Hindus didn't like them and enjoyed watching them suffer. They got their revenge by turning Communist. 


Subarnarekha/The Golden Line (1965) concludes Ghatak’s Partition series, in which, once more, he is concerned with questions of caste and refugee crises, displacement, and the impossible absurdities caused by the artificial carving up of territories.

The Muslim League said that the Muslims were a different Nation. The Communists endorsed this claim. Is the author saying Islam and Communism are 'artificial'? That' could get him in trouble.  

At the film’s center are the siblings Ishwar and Sita. Ishwar adopts Abhiram, an orphan of lower caste, who eventually develops a romance with Sita.

That's incest- adoption or not. Ghatak's films depict the violation of Hindu norms. An adopted brother is still a brother. A father has a duty to marry off his daughter even if she is the breadwinner. Wives are supposed to know the names of their husbands more particularly if they have that husband's baby.  

Unable to see past caste lines, Ishwar wants none of it; the couple elope to Calcutta. They marry, but soon afterward Abhiram is killed in an accident. Struggling to support her young child, Sita turns to prostitution.

Which is still better than becoming a Communist theater worker.  

In a twist of the knife, her first customer is none other than Ishwar, who has come to the big city for a wild night out (rendered in a spectacular sequence that riffs as much on Edwin Porter’s 1905 Coney Island at Night as on Battleship Potemkin).

It may riff on what it likes. The thing is still shit.  

Ishwar fumbles his way into Sita’s room, which is submerged in darkness. He doesn’t have his glasses on (they shattered during the drunken revelries earlier in the night), but Sita, shocked, recognizes him. The lens drifts out of focus. Ambient sound drops out on the soundtrack, and all we hear is her quickened breathing. Before one can regain one’s bearings within this nightmarish space of darkness and blur, Sita seizes a nearby bonti — a kitchen knife found in most Bengali households — and slashes her own throat.

Go thou and do likewise. 

The focus continues to drift in and out, as though embodying Ishwar’s struggles to make some sense of what has befallen. He leans over to pick up the bonti, moving with a curious slowness, and then suddenly we are at a distance, watching him move — still with that eerie slowness — across to Sita’s body. The soundtrack is deathly still, until a small, still, male voice speaks: “Hey Ram.” The film scholar Manishita Dass puts it best when she reads this as a citation of Mahatma Gandhi’s reaction to being shot by his Hindu nationalist assassin, Nathuram Godse, thereby “linking Seeta’s death to a national tragedy and the aftermath of Partition.” 

Ishwar had gotten a well paid job in the private sector. This was very wicked. He would naturally end up trying to fuck his sister who would slit her own throat as a protest against Capitalism. The moral of Ghatak's movie is don't get well paid jobs with Capitalist enterprises. Also don't visit prostitutes who keep a bonti handy. 

At the crux of Ritwik Ghatak’s work, discerned most clearly in the Partition films, is a full-throated protest against the rhetoric of triumphalist Indian nationalism exemplified in Jawaharlal Nehru’s 1947 “Tryst with Destiny” speech, delivered as independent India’s first prime minister after three centuries of British rule over the Indian subcontinent. Nehruvian nationalism insisted that “the past [is] over and it is the future that beckons to us [now].”

Under Nehru lots of Muslims were ejected from the country to make room for Hindu refugees. However, in West Bengal the local people preferred their own Muslims to the East Bengali Hindus. However, there was economic migration of Muslim to East Bengal. 

 It embraced uncritically the European notion of the nation-state construct and viewed nationalist self-determination by the exact standards of European nationalism.

As opposed to what? The Indian notion of lots of Maharajahs and Nawabs and Zamindars and so forth? 

Partition, in all its shocking violence, was little more than “the pains of labour,” to be endured, but ultimately left in the past.

Islam is not a European creed. Pakistan was created on the basis of Islam.  But forcible conversion and ethnic cleansing of infidels had a long history under Muslim Sultans. 

But for Ghatak, it was the loss of subjecthood

His people retained subjecthood- unless Muslims killed them. What they lost was their homes. 

experienced by a nation’s people, newly divided along arbitrary lines

Not arbitrary- religious lines.  

— a condition imposed as the very criterion of claiming a newly conceived citizenship — that became a recurring obsession.

Only because the guy couldn't be honest with himself. Muslims had driven him out of his ancestral homeland. But Islam has been around for a long time. It has nothing to do with modernity or capitalism.  

Rather than try to dramatize all the physical brutality of Partition, Ghatak sought to understand the violence done to human subjecthood and relations by the machinations of the nation-state as it draws, and redraws, lines on a map.

Why is this cretin pretending that the Brits partitioned India, or that it was done in an arbitrary manner? Even if that was the case, why would Ghatak's family have had to leave East Bengal? The answer is that they were being killed there because of their religion.  

The specificities that ground Ghatak’s films

were stupid lies 

— from matters of Bengal’s history (and the larger history of British colonialism in India),

British colonialism had kept East Bengali Hindus safe. Then the Brits left and the Hindus had to flee. 

to subtleties of Bengali social hierarchies;

which not even Bengalis care about. Money talks. Hierarchies can go fuck themselves.  

from India’s vast cultural trove of mythology, folklore, and music, to their brilliant, if erratic, allusions to Buñuel, Eisenstein, Brecht, and any number of European figures of the avant-garde — are what make them resistant to easy assimilation into Euro-American canons of global art cinema founded upon historicist ideologies.

Marxism is a historicist ideology. Ghatak was a Marxist. That's why he was promoted so long as there was some human interest to his films.  

And this is also where the history of Ghatak’s reception in the West tells a larger story. When notions of world cinema or global art cinema take as their premise the principle that “local” texts must first make themselves legible to an international (read: Euro-American) community, they rehearse the logic of European historicism.

i.e. Marxist shite. By contrast the Japanese 'creature feature' of Hong Kong kung fu were able to make a market for themselves around the world.  

They consign such texts to what Dipesh Chakrabarty, in a lovely turn of phrase, calls the “waiting room of history.”

The rubbish bin of history- maybe. If you make boring films nobody will watch them. If you make films that grip the audience you can turn into a politician- at least in Tamil Nadu.  

So long as the terms of what comprises “the global” are inscribed by, within, and for Western institutions, the center remains unshaken and all else is reduced to subalternity.

But 'Western institutions' can't do shit even in the West. If audiences start watching Hong Kong movies, Hollywood has to start producing their own martial arts films. The 'Subaltern Studies' shitheads rushed to get jobs on Western Campuses. But they had no influence on anybody. This guy is now a curator of a Jewish Museum in New York. That pretty much sums up the trajectory of those who gas on about subalternity.  

Yet this is not to point an accusatory finger at well-intentioned efforts to globalize canons of cinema.

There is only one canon- make movies people will pay to watch while guzzling popcorn.  This generally involves vampires, werewolves or guys who got bit by a radio-active spider. 

Rather, I mean to suggest that the work of Ritwik Ghatak — at once historically precise

history says Muslims chucked Hindus out of East Bengal. Ghatak couldn't admit this.  

yet calling out to our contemporary moment of resurgent nationalisms

as opposed to what? Taking it up the arse from oligarchs?  

and their attendant crises — as well as its reception in Euro-American cultural contexts, urges us to think carefully about how we negotiate difference as we reconstruct histories of art that were always global anyway.

These guys can't reconstruct shit because they are committed to telling stupid lies. What fucking negotiation will be entrusted to this cretin? Modi and Sheikh Hasina may negotiate things. They have power and are popular. These nutters may have PhDs from fancy skools but they got shit for brains.  


Thursday, 26 May 2022

Dr. King's mofo Arc


When 'tis only when it adverts to Mother's milk, or Martyr's blood
That the manumitted second averts its own Second Flood
What mofo Kairos can Ink's Saqi serve?
Drink's Moral Arc to curve.

Rahul Gandhi as America's Manchurian Candidate

Much to the BJP's amusement, Rahul Gandhi appeared stumped by the following question at a recent conclave in Cambridge. 
"How have you envisioned the compact between violence and non-violence in Indian society?"
Since there is no such compact in India or elsewhere, Rahul had been asked a nonsensical question. Shruti Kapila- a Punjabi professor on the make- asked this question to promote her own crazy theory regarding some uniquely Indian fraternity based on Abel's non-violence having a compact with Cain's murderous hand. 

Under the circumstances, Rahul's response was sensible enough. He spoke of forgiveness. This makes sense. They Dynasty doesn't want any more of its members to be shot or blown up in retaliation for the senseless violence they unleashed. Forgive and forget. Don't fucking hack me to death. Thanks to me, you have Congress mukth Punjab. Soon you will have Congress mukth Rajasthan. Why assassinate me when only I can deliver Congress mukth India?

There are three worrying aspects to what Rahul was saying

1) India should break its long standing relationship with Russia and go over wholly to the American Camp. 
This is unprecedented. There had previously been an all party consensus that India needed the Russian UN veto. In breaking with this consensus, Congress under Rahul has shown it is now a US puppet. 

2) India is a 'union of States' like the EU which Britain has just left.
Congress is now the party of secessionists- backed by the US

3) Indian democracy is a 'global public good'- i.e. its internal affairs are a field where other powers may legitimately meddle. 

Congress is now openly an anti-national party because it says there is no Indian nation. There is only a collection of States which can have Brexit type events. Moreover, America should intervene in Indian politics because according to Rahul, China's expansionism on the border is directly connected to Russia's opposition to Ukraine joining NATO. In other words, there is already a 'terrestrial' Eurasian power-block which is leaning on India to cut its ties to the 'maritime' West. But the West can't allow this to happen because of some supposed 'global public good'. Thus Congress will now be America's agent in India. It will promote secessionism and sectarian opposition to the majority community. This is an advance on Cold War ideology. Back in the Fifties, America paid one or two crackpots to promote the idea that India should join the Baghdad pact in return for protection from the Communists controlling China and the USSR. However, those nutters weren't supporting secessionism or Islamic separatism. But this is what Rahul is doing now. He says India should become America's puppet in return for which America will fund anti-RSS activity. The Hindus will be divided and ruled by hook or crook. Hindu Nationalism will be defeated in India by Uncle Sam. No doubt, that strategy failed in Vietnam and Afghanistan and Iraq and so forth but with the brilliant Rahul as its Manchurian candidate, America is bound to prevail over Modi and Yogi and over one billion Hindu people.

It is perfectly possible that the CIA reached out to Rahul when he was studying in America. It may be, that his subsequent path was subtly influenced by them. They may have hoped that Modi would be 'polarizing' and 'divisive'. Thus they engineered Modi's victory by telling Rahul to play possum. Then they gave Modi enough rope to hang himself. But Modi turned out to be a great leader. Thus, Rahul, America's Manchurian Candidate, has now come out in the open as the man to back if you want to destroy the Indian Nation. But this means destroying the Hindu religion. The War on Terror did not cow Islam though 1.3 Muslims were killed. Whatever 'democracy' America was exporting turned out to be a global public 'bad'. Now, this brain dead mooncalf is being prodded by the senile promoters of a strategy which has comprehensively failed to make a bid to break the Hindus so that America gets something out of its Great Game in the region rather than nothing. No wonder, Modi is wary of Quad. America needs to cut Rahul loose. He may not be a Manchurian candidate. He definitely is a moon-calf. 






Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Matam, Vijnanam & Amartya Sen

In Sanskrit, 'theory' would be  मतम्- a doctrine- which might be a conceptual scheme but which could produce nothing of an informative value on an a priori basis. Indeed, having the theory might prevent one from understanding it and vice versa. As the Kena Upanishad says- 


Yasyāmatam Tasya Matam Matam Yasya Na Veda Sah
Avijñātam Vijānatām Vijñātam Avijānatām

Practice, as opposed to theory, was विज्ञानम्- the word we now use for Science. However, the 'Tarskian primitives' of Science are unknown or undefined otherwise there would be an infinite regress. 

Hindus felt they had too many 'Muths' with too many complicated ontological and epistemological theories which however cashed out as the same individualized intuition (pratibodha viditam) - i.e. there was a universal property. True, they were individuated and thus 'essentially unique'. But this uniqueness arose from equal non-informativity which meant India had too much theory and too little praxis- i.e. paths out of observational equivalence into what might become science and technology. 

There was a vicious circle here. Science costs money. Indians wanted degrees to get government jobs because cash was in short supply. The cheapest type of education was 'theoretical' only in the sense that it involved some particularly bigoted or obtuse doctrine of zero practical value. Still, maybe Kant or some other clever White guy had discovered a way to extract something useful from 'Matam'. It was in this hope that Sen-tentious Babus approached Sen-ility. 

The truth is, the ancients were right about 'matam' as being non-informative- unlike Kant's transcendental object- though this only became obvious with the Wu experiment and maybe Sen's generation didn't get the memo. Briefly, Kant thought that deterministic 'judgment' is required for us to experience anything at all. The Hindus held that experience is unmediated (aparoksha). Intuition isn't judgment. Experience isn't judgment. Decisions aren't judgments. Even judgments aren't judgments save by some 'samskar'- e.g. serving on a Panchayat to decide a case in which case the judgment is from God not you as an individual. This is also what Lord Jesus was getting at when he said 'Ye are as Gods'. The reference is to service on a Jury. 'Aham Brahmasmi' however is not juristic. In the Bible, first there were Judges and then Kings. For the Hindus, if you want to do Judging wait till after you are dead. We prefer Yamuna to Yama. 

 Sadly, lack of Godliness wasn't India's pressing problem. But the solution to it was blindingly obvious.  Impart basic scientific education and then get young people into the private sector to improve existing techniques and raise productivity. Commerce is all about 'practice' not theory. As it burgeons, Science more than pays for itself. But this is also true of other learned professions. Justice is a service industry. So is prostitution. If the laws are bad, lawyers are like prostitutes. If they are good, they can help strengthen the bonds of decency and morality which hold Society together and enable Commerce and Liberty to flourish. 

How do we get to good Laws? The answer is empirical and ideographic. We have to look at what works in practice and then figure out piece-meal reform to make those things work better and more cheaply and more ubiquitously. 

What leads to bad Laws? The answer is theoretical or nomothetic approaches. Consider the following extract from Amartya Sen's 'the idea of Justice' - 

What is presented here is a theory of justice in a very broad sense. Its aim is to clarify how we can proceed to address questions of enhancing justice and removing injustice, rather than to offer resolutions of questions about the nature of perfect justice.

This sounds reasonable enough. Theorists ponder perfection. Practical people look at how to enhance good outcomes. 

The problem is that a theory does not become better or worse if it invokes perfection. It remains merely a theory. To hold that God is perfect does not mean that one's creed becomes less attractive. The reverse is the case. The artist who says he aims for perfection does not lose thereby. Science has no problem with theories with 'least action' principles or notions of perfect equilibrium. The plain fact is that no practice is adversely affected by theories of perfect or ideal outcomes.  

In this there are clear differences with the pre-eminent theories of justice in contemporary moral and political philosophy.

Those theories have the virtue of being 'operationalizable' in some context- i.e. they can guide judicial decisions. Sen's idea however is wholly vacuous. Why? it focuses on  

three differences in particular demand specific attention.

First, a theory of justice that can serve as the basis of practical reasoning must include ways of judging how to reduce injustice and advance justice, rather than aiming only at the characterization of perfectly just societies – an exercise that is such a dominant feature of many theories of justice in political philosophy today.

This is not true. A theory of Gravity that can serve engineers doesn't have to show how to reduce or increase gravitation . Practical reasoning can proceed more expeditiously if it can picture the perfect outcome. Reality may fall short of what is aimed at, but having that aim improved reality. It is good that young people get married because they think they will enjoy perfect felicity.  People saying 'but would you really be happy if you had a happy marriage' may prevent desirable outcomes by disparaging a feasible alternative without putting anything in its place save wanking. The truth is imperfect felicity is itself more desirable than never getting around to committing to anything and expending your days in idle Sen-tentious chatter. 

The two exercises for identifying perfectly just arrangements, and for determining whether a particular social change would enhance justice, do have motivational links but they are nevertheless analytically disjoined.

So what? Everything is 'analytically disjointed' because we don't have a Theory of Everything.  

The latter question, on which this work concentrates,

does it though? There isn't a single example in it of how we can enhance justice by making a particular social change. Instead, it is obvious that justice would become a nuisance if Sen's proposal- which is that we consult with everybody and then try to find some impartial observer in a distant galaxy and then still do nothing because we need to agree on what agreeing means and what agreeing to agree to agree means and so on and so forth till the Universe ends.  

is central to making decisions about institutions, behaviour and other determinants of justice, and how these decisions are derived cannot but be crucial to a theory of justice that aims at guiding practical reasoning about what should be done.

Sen thinks decision theory is crucial to a theory of justice. But decisions are not judgments. Some decisions can be put off. By the time things reach the courts a speedy resolution is desirable. Judgments are protocol bound and buck stopped in a particular way. They are limited by jurisdiction and constitutional and treaty based constraints. Thus only such considerations as arise in jurisprudence, not decision theory, can be crucial to a theory of Justice. 

The assumption that this comparative exercise

which comparative exercise? Is Sen going to compare outcomes in countries with different Judicial systems? No. He knows nothing of that field. The fact is that, if jurisdictions compete, there are strong mimetic and treaty based reasons for convergence.  

cannot be undertaken without identifying, first, the demands of perfect justice,

Jurisdictions which don't claim to pursue 'perfect justice' are like Religions which say 'pray to our God. True, he's a shitty God but nothing is perfect'. People will shun such jurisdictions or religions. 

can be shown to be entirely incorrect

No it can't. You'd have to show that there's some Jurisdiction where the motto is 'our Justice is shitty. If you want perfect Justice, fuck off.'  No such Justice system exists.


Second, while many comparative questions of justice can be successfully
resolved – and agreed upon in reasoned arguments – there could well be other comparisons in which conflicting considerations are not fully resolved.

This is true about any subject under the Sun. Is Amartya Sen taller than me? No, by any physicalist metric. But there are an infinite number of other comparisons in which conflicting considerations- e.g. is my writing more pornographically exciting to lesbian penguins than Sen's shite?- which are not fully resolved.  

It is argued here that there can exist several distinct reasons of justice, each of which survives critical scrutiny, but yields divergent conclusions.

But that critical scrutiny does not survive itself. It is stupid. Sen is assuming that perfect 'critical scrutiny' can exist. But, if so, why not a perfect theory of justice or anything else? It may be that 'at the End of Time', such a theory of Everything exists. That it is not 'accessible' doesn't mean it can't give us a 'Schelling focal' direction in which to move.  

Reasonable arguments in competing directions can emanate from people with diverse experiences and traditions, but they can also come from within a given society, or for that matter, even from the very same person. 

But the 'ratio' of a judgment must pick out only one argument as applying.  

There is a need for reasoned argument, with oneself and with others, in dealing with conflicting claims,

No there isn't. Only if the matter is justiciable or required by the terms of a contract or professional code of conduct is one required to put forward a 'reasoned argument'. But you can outsource this to a lawyer or Union rep or whatever.  

rather than for what can be called ‘disengaged toleration’, with the comfort of such a lazy resolution as: ‘you are right in your community and I am right in mine’.

A better resolution is 'fuck off you verbose cunt.'  

Reasoning and impartial scrutiny are essential.

No. They may be required in some circumstances but then you are compensated for it in some way or else you try to exit the jurisdiction. 

It may be that, as School, teachers can demand 'reasoning' and 'impartial scrutiny' but you can either knife them or drop out and get a proper job.  

However, even the most vigorous of critical examination can still leave conflicting and competing arguments that are not eliminated by impartial scrutiny.

How does Sen know? Lots of 'competing arguments' have been eliminated during my lifetime. Impartial scrutiny will soon be able to pronounce judgment on Putin's Urkraine invasion. If the Ukrainians regain all their territory even the most partial Putin fan will have to admit he fucked up. 

It is true, that there are questions- e.g. will tomorrow be a happy day for me- which only time will answer. But that's no reason for me not to try to have a perfect day tomorrow. 

I shall have more to say on this in what follows, but I emphasize here that the necessity of reasoning and scrutiny is not compromised in any way by the possibility that some competing priorities may survive despite the confrontation of reason.

Reasoning and scrutiny are not 'necessities' at all. We are welcome to do a lot of wholly spontaneous things without having any reason whatsoever to do them.  

The plurality with which we will then end up will be the result of reasoning, not of abstention from it.

Why should we end up with anything? Will we get paid to do it? If so, how much? Would Elon Musk really give up his business empire to do what Sen is doing?  

Third, the presence of remediable injustice may well be connected with behavioural transgressions rather than with institutional shortcomings (Pip’s recollection, in Great Expectations, of his coercive sister was just that, not an indictment of the family as an institution).

But behavioral transgression's of Pip's sister's type are not justiciable. They can't be corrected.  

Justice is ultimately connected with the way people’s lives go,

No. It is ultimately connected only to what is justiciable. If I'm having a shitty day there may be nobody I can sue.  

and not merely with the nature of the institutions surrounding them. In contrast, many of the principal theories of justice concentrate over-whelmingly on how to establish ‘just institutions’,

No they don't. They assume that existing institutions can implement their theory. Provided that theory is 'operationalizable'- e.g. Rawls's maximin principle- then you have a rule which judges can follow. Sadly, Rawls was a cretin. The way to deal with risk is having a market for insurance (and, maybe, a Social Security safety net paid for through taxes) not some crackpot scheme to deliver 'basic goods' to everybody. 

and give some derivative and subsidiary role to behavioural features. For example, John Rawls’s rightly celebrated approach of ‘justice as fairness’ yields a unique set of ‘principles of justice’ that are exclusively concerned with setting up ‘just institutions’ (to constitute the basic structure of the society), while requiring that people’s behaviour complies entirely with the demands of proper functioning of these institutions.

Rawls thought existing institutions could implement his rule. Contra Sen, every existing Institution requires its employee's behavior to comply with what is required for its proper functioning. Judges are meant to be judicious. If they get drunk and take off all their clothes and have sex with the defendant in open court, they are likely to face censure. 

In the approach to justice presented in this work, it is argued that there are some crucial inadequacies in this overpowering concentration on institutions

Though the thing does not exist at all. On the other hand, in each country there are lawyers and economists and social scientists and community leaders who advise governments on how to improve the working of the Justice system. But this has nothing to do with Philosophy. 

(where behaviour is assumed to be appropriately compliant),

all Institutions assume that non-compliance will be swiftly punished or else some reward for participation will be withheld. 

 rather than on the lives that people are able to lead.

Which has nothing whatever to do with Justice almost all the time.  

The focus on actual lives in the assessment of justice has many far-reaching implications for the nature and reach of the idea of justice.

No. Looking at actual lives shows that Justice is merely a Service industry. If it is shitty, it is disintermediated. If it is good, enterprise is attracted to the jurisdiction.  

The departure in the theory of justice that is explored in this work has a direct bearing, I argue, on political and moral philosophy.

Both were and are shit. Sen made them yet more tediously shit.  

But I have also tried to discuss the relevance of the arguments presented here with some of the ongoing engagements in law, economics and politics, and it might, if one were ready to be optimistic, even have some pertinence to debates and decisions on practical policies and programmes.

So Sen admits his shite has no fucking pertinence to 'practical policies and programs'.  

The use of a comparative perspective, going well beyond the limited – and limiting – framework of social contract, can make a useful contribution here.

If by 'useful' you mean utterly useless- sure.  

We are engaged in making comparisons in terms of the advancement of justice whether we fight oppression (like slavery, or the subjugation of women),

Sen goes around rescuing women forced into prostitution. This is because he is actually Batman.  

or protest against systematic medical neglect (through the absence of medical facilities in parts of Africa or Asia, or a lack of universal health coverage in most countries in the world, including the United States),

Why not protest against old age? How about campaigning to outlaw death? If one is going to virtue signal, why not virtue signal about the right of elderly Tambrams to earn big money as Beyonce impersonators?  

or repudiate the permissibility of torture (which continues to be used with remarkable frequency in the contemporary world – sometimes by pillars of the global establishment), 

Sen demanded that the US end the use of waterboarding. I'm kidding.  He was as quiet as a mouse.

or reject the quiet tolerance of chronic hunger (for example in India, despite the successful abolition of famines).

Sen was so intolerant of chronic hunger that he ran away, with his best friend's wife, from India. The fellow predicted a famine under Thatcher. Maybe that's why he moved to America. 

We may often enough agree that some changes contemplated (like the abolition of apartheid, to give an example of a different kind) will reduce injustice, but even if all such agreed changes are successfully implemented, we will not have anything that we can call perfect justice.

How does Sen know? One change we could agree on is that everybody should live as long and as happily as they want with their own private paradisal planet to call home. Implement that and few will find fault with the outcome.

Practical concerns, no less than theoretical reasoning, seem to demand a fairly radical departure in the analysis of justice.

No. Both demand that we build on what exists and is known to work. 'Radical departures' from common sense lead to catastrophic outcomes.  

Economics should be 'Vigyan'- Science- and deal with practical, measurable, things, e.g. raising GNP, not imaginary things- e.g. 'Capabilities'- which can only be guessed at after the event. At the beginning of this year, I thought Putin was smart and Zelenskyy was a clown. I was wrong. Putin is incapable of doing anything but enrich a corrupt cabal. Zelenskyy is capable of pulling his nation together- or representing that nation which had already pulled together- in an exemplary manner. I may be wrong. But what can't be gainsaid is that nobody knows even their own capabilities. But we do know how much money we have in the bank. Science must concentrate on what is observable. It doesn't matter whether Scientists spend a lot of time chatting to each other or if they keep to themselves. What matters is which Scientist does stuff which can be embodied in productivity raising tech. 

Democracy, ultimately, is about not having to talk or listen to bollocks. You vote or if you can't vote, you exit the jurisdiction or disintermediate its institutions. 

Sen believes there was ' an understanding of democracy as ‘government by discussion’ (an idea that John Stuart Mill did much to advance).

Sen didn't get that this meant 'Parliamentary sovereignty'. Westminster has protocols about discussion. But voters don't have to join or listen to that discussion. They can give windbags the order of the boot. 

 But democracy must also be seen more generally in terms of the capacity to enrich reasoned engagement through enhancing informational availability and the feasibility of interactive discussions.

The internet can be seen in that way. Why? It is a communications technology. Democracy isn't any such thing. When India became independent there was precious little capacity, in the villages, to enrich reasoned engagement or informational ability. Now, for the first time, more rural than urban people in India are connected to the world wide web. This is changing the nature of Indian democracy.  

Democracy has to be judged

No it doesn't. If you don't like it, you can leave. There's no point judging it unless that's what you are getting paid to do. But other people get paid more for doing useful stuff.  

not just by the institutions that formally exist but by the extent to which different voices from diverse sections of the people can actually be heard.

Nonsense! Nobody wants to listen to lunatics and pedophiles. What matters is whether smart voices are listened to. But that means telling Sen-tentious fools to fuck off.

If democracy is not seen simply in terms of the setting up of some specific institutions (like a democratic global government or global elections),

Then there will never be a democratic World Federation. 

but in terms of the possibility and reach of public reasoning,

Sen is doing 'public reasoning'. But Sen is shit. Nobody wants more of this nuisance.  

the task of advancing – rather than perfecting – both global democracy and global justice can be seen as eminently understandable ideas that can plausibly inspire and influence practical actions across borders.

Has anything of the sort happened in the dozen years since Sen published his worthless screed? No. We don't want to give equal time to Lavrov- who says Zelenskyy is Hitler coz Hitler was a Jew- and the one great hero of European democracy the last fifty years has thrown up. Zelenskyy may have started out as a comedian but his stature is now that of a Churchill in his nation's finest hour. 

Democracy doesn't mean listening to fools. It means killing the knaves who try to take what is yours. But that is the essence of Justice.  Sadly, Democracy may be theocratic. It may, as in England, have an Established Religion and a hereditary Monarch. 

Sen can't actually point to any Democracy which fulfils his ideal. Instead he points to an Oriental despot who enforced 'sajda' (worshipful prostration) to the throne and who founded his own religion, or at the least, a sort of court religion ( ain-i-iradat gazinan) of an absolutist type.

Akbar engaged in a far-reaching scrutiny of social and political values and legal and cultural practice.

No. He slaughtered those who opposed him. On the other hand, he established the precedent of the Emperor choosing which Islamic 'madhab' or juristic school to follow in a given case so as to suit his own convenience. Essentially, Akbar was prepared to take any ruling from any religion which increased his own power. This was because he was powerful enough to declare himself Caliph- i.e. superior to any judge. 

He paid particular attention to the challenges of inter-community relations and the abiding need for communal peace and fruitful collaboration in the already multicultural India of the sixteenth century.

No. He paid particular attention to those who might challenge him. He didn't always kill them but they got the message after he kept throwing his foster brother off a terrace till he died. Akbar realized that those closest to him were the most dangerous. Thus he converted enemies into friends and, more importantly, conciliated the Hindus.  

We have to recognize how unusual Akbar’s policies were for the time.

There were several similar royal courts in India. Akbar defeated them in battle and secured himself against his own brother and cousins by allying with the Rajputs.  

The Inquisitions were in full swing

but Catholicism was on the back foot. Holland's Golden age began in 1588. Britain too was rising up.  

and Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake for heresy in Rome in 1600 even as Akbar was making his pronouncements on religious tolerance in India.

But Akbar killed divines and jurists like Mullah Muhammad Yazdi and Muiz-ul-Mulk if they criticized him. 

Not only did Akbar insist that the duty of the state included making sure that ‘no man should be interfered with on account of his religion, and any one was to be allowed to go over to any religion he pleased’,

unless this threatened his own position in which case he killed the offender.  

he also arranged systematic dialogues in his capital city of Agra between Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Parsees, Jews and others, even including agnostics and atheists.

This proved a mistake and Akbar discontinued the practice. The Jesuits had gone too far and in Goa there was an Inquisition.  

Taking note of the religious diversity of his people, Akbar laid the foundations of secularism and religious neutrality of the state in a variety of ways;

Nonsense! He curbed the power of the Hanafi Jurists. The State was not 'neutral in religion'. He himself was the Divinely appointed Khalifa to whom 'sajda' was compulsory.  

the secular constitution that India adopted in 1949,

made no mention of 'secularism'. Indira added that word later.  

after independence from British rule, has many features already championed by Akbar in the 1590s.

Nonsense! India became a Republic. It had no Emperor or Caliph. 

The shared elements include interpreting secularism as the requirement that the state be equidistant from different religions and must not treat any religion with special favour.

There was no secularism in Akbar's day- he was God's Viceregent on Earth- and there was none in the Constitution save such as already existed in the 1935 Act. However, Muslims were stripped of any special status they may previously have had.  

Sen says Akbar was attached to reason. But Akbar, for his own reasons, wanted absolute power. He didn't want Democracy. The question is whether Sen, like Akbar, really wants reason or just to get his own way? Akbar may have believed he was God's anointed. What does Sen believe?

Sen asks-

why should we accept that reason has to be the ultimate arbitrator of ethical beliefs?

We don't. Like Akbar we kill those whose ethical beliefs are causing them to try to kill us. We may reason with those we are fond off and who are still some distance away from having the capacity to harm us. Others we slaughter or run away from.  

Is there some special role for reasoning – perhaps reasoning of a particular kind – that must be seen as overarching and crucial for ethical judgements?

Yes. A type of reasoning which shows you are being very very silly and that you are likely to get beaten or killed and everybody will laugh heartily at you is 'overarching'. Thus if people are constantly calling you a wanker and beating you and chasing you away, then you stop making ethical judgments and devote yourself to masturbation.  

Since reasoned support can hardly be in itself a value-giving quality,

Why not? Anything at all can be 'value giving' it is the sort of thing you are into.  

we have to ask: why, precisely, is reasoned support so critical?

By stipulation. We like the thing and say it is critical for us to have it otherwise we won't do what is required. Sen may claim that this is arbitrary. But so is his claim. 

Can it be claimed that reasoned scrutiny provides some kind of a guarantee of reaching the truth?

Sure. God or Intuition or Evolution or Humanity or some other such abstraction provides the guarantee.  

This would be hard to maintain, not only because the nature of truth in moral and political beliefs is such a difficult subject

not more so than any STEM subject 

, but mainly because the most rigorous of searches, in ethics or in any other discipline, could still fail.

we don't know that. Maybe yes, maybe no. We'll have to wait and see.  

Indeed, sometimes a very dubious procedure could end up, accidentally, yielding a more correct answer than extremely rigorous reasoning.

Only if verification is cheap and certain.  

This is obvious enough in epistemology: even though a scientific procedure may have a better probability of success among alternative procedures, even a crazy procedure could happen to produce the correct answer in a particular case (more correct, in such a case, than more reasoned procedures).

Only if verification is easy. But verification isn't always easy. We may have to wait a long time or sift vast quantities of data before we can decide one way or another. The good thing about stare decisis judgments is they give quick and cheap, albeit defeasible, verification for a wide class of agents.

For example, a person who relies on a stopped watch to check the time will get the time exactly right twice a day,

no he won't. He will stop relying on it within a minute or two.  

and if he happened to be looking for the time precisely at one of those moments,

but this is impossible to verify.  

his unmoving watch might beat all other moving clocks to which he had access.

but he wouldn't be looking at it to tell the time.  

However, as a procedure to be chosen, relying on the motionless timepiece rather than on a clock that moves approximately close to the actual time does not have much to commend it, despite the fact that the moving clock would be beaten twice a day by the stationary timepiece.

This is foolish. Clocks may stop and start again. They may run fast or slow. Procedures for telling time involve verification protocols of various types. 

It is plausible to think that a similar argument exists for choosing the best reasoned procedure,

There is. But it is based on verification, nothing else.  

even though there is no guarantee that it would be invariably right,

so long as it has superior verification with respect to relevant criteria, it is the best procedure.  

and not even any guarantee that it would be always more right than some other, less reasoned, procedure (even if we could judge the correctness of judgements with any degree of confidence). The case for reasoned scrutiny lies not in any sure-fire way of getting things exactly right (no such way may exist), but on being as objective as we reasonably can.

This is nonsense. The only thing which matters, when it comes to reasoning, is verification. A person may be very subjective and partial but if their reasoning leads them to predict what will happen or to tinker with a mechanism to improve outcomes, then reasonable people follow their lead. On the other hand, such reasoning would be concerned with things which are outside ourselves or which are measurable or which interact with other things. 


Since objectivity is itself a rather difficult issue in moral and political philosophy, the subject demands some discussion here. Does the pursuit of ethical objectivity take the form of the search for some ethical
objects? 

Sure. Why not? They could be 'karma binding particles' or 'sin' or 'merit' and be wholly imaginary save when it comes to determining outcomes in the after-life. 
Kuhn's 'no neutral algorithm for theory choice' argument does not mean there can't be an arbitrary solution which matches with objective reality. 

While a good deal of complex discussion on the objectivity of ethics has tended to proceed in terms of ontology (in particular, the metaphysics of ‘what ethical objects exist’), it is difficult to understand what these ethical objects might be like.

Why? Indic religions have a plain and simple 'aashrav' theory in that respect. So does Islam and Christianity. Good ethical objects benefit the soul. Bad one's fuck it up something rotten. 

Instead, I would go along with Hilary Putnam’s argument that this line of investigation is largely unhelpful and misguided.

Also it isn't investigation, it is masturbation.  

When we debate the demands of ethical objectivity, we are not crossing swords on the nature and content of some alleged ethical ‘objects’.

We are wanking. Ethical objectivity is a predicate. Predicates either apply or they don't. They make no 'demands'. We may say, 'objectively, the Humanists were right to say that burning heretics was unethical. The Church turned to shit once it took that road. Compare countries which had the Inquisition with those, similarly situated, which didn't. Holland rose. Spain and Portugal fell. Case closed.'  Objectivity has to do with verification. 

There are, of course, ethical statements that presume the existence of some identifiable objects that can be observed (this would be a part of the exercise, for example, in looking for observable evidence to decide whether a person is courageous or compassionate), whereas the subject matter of other ethical statements may not have that association (for example, a judgement that a person is altogether immoral or unjust).

This is a foolish distinction. Clearly there is an identifiable object- a person- who has or lacks a particular trait which can itself be verified.  

But despite some overlap between description and evaluation, ethics cannot be simply a matter of truthful description of specific objects.

It can be mental masturbation. That is why ethical people don't go in for it.  

Rather, as Putnam argues, ‘real ethical questions are a species of practical question, and practical questions don’t only involve valuings, they involve a complex mixture of philosophical beliefs, religious beliefs, and factual beliefs as well’.

Practical questions involve verification not some complex mixture of gobbledygook.  

The actual procedures used in pursuit of objectivity may not be always clear, nor
spelt out, but as Putnam argues, this can be done with clarity if the
underlying issues are adequately scrutinized.

 No. There is no substitute for verification. The problem is that we have to act now and the outcome may only be verifiable at high cost in a later time period. Thus we follow some regret minimizing course. We could also have protocol bound, 'buck stopped', juristic and administrative mechanisms to improve coordination. 

The reasoning that is sought in analysing the requirements of justice
will incorporate some basic demands of impartiality, which are integral
parts of the idea of justice and injustice.

That 'impartiality' is merely a matter of protocol. It is not an integral part of any idea. Justice requires judges. It is not the case that the defendant should get a chance to pass judgment on the Judge. There are 'uncorrelated asymmetries' here.  

At this point there is some merit in summoning the ideas of John Rawls

Nonsense! The fellow was a cretin. 

and his analysis of moral and political objectivity, which he presented in his defence of the
objectivity of ‘justice as fairness’.

It wasn't objective. It was stupid. Knightian uncertainty is ubiquitous. We pursue a regret minimizing course. We buy insurance and hedge in other ways. We aren't stupid enough to maximize the utility of the worst off just in case we ourselves find ourselves in that position. Why? We understand 'moral hazard'. Anyway, Rawls's system could justify slavery or any type of price, wage, or service provision discrimination required by a 'natural monopoly' providing essential public goods. 

Rawls argues: ‘The first essential is that a conception of objectivity must establish

is verification by observable, preferably measurable, things.  

a public framework of thought

could feature unicorns and mermaids and Angels and Devils 

sufficient for the concept of judgement

Angel is causing unicorn to have sex with mermaid so as to defeat Devil's evil plan.  

to apply and for conclusions to be reached on the basis of reasons and evidence

fuck reasons. Evidence is all that matters. This is a video of me shitting in the street at the time when the police say I was murdering my wife in a forest. That's it. Case closed. No further discussion or reflection is required.  

after discussion and due reflection.’ He goes on to argue: ‘To say that a political conviction
is objective is to say that

it is associated with a particular bunch of policy proposals. A subjective political conviction may have no preference as between different proposals. Thus a guy who votes for Trump without any idea what Trump stands for has a subjective political conviction. He just likes Trump is all. Another guy who hates Trump but votes for him because he will lower taxes has an objective political conviction- viz. taxes should be lower. 

there are reasons, specified by a reasonable and mutually recognizable political conception (satisfying those essentials), sufficient to convince all reasonable persons that it is
reasonable.’

No reasonable person thinks guys shouldn't vote for whom they like regardless of what their policies are. Why? Personalities matter in politics. A guy with a particular personality may be more likely to do things consistent with his personality. The existing political menu is not exhaustive. We live in a world of Knightian uncertainty. Who knows what the future might bring?  

There can be an interesting discussion as to whether this criterion
of objectivity, which has some clearly normative elements (particularly
in the identification of ‘reasonable persons’),

No. 'Reasonable persons' is objective and justiciable. It is not 'normative', it is descriptive. True, the word 'reasonable' can be used in an imperative manner. But so can any descriptive word. I can say 'Be reasonable!' but I can also say 'Be thin!'  

would tend to coincide with what is likely to survive open and informed public discussion.

But these worthless shitheads never engaged in open and informed public discussion. If people found out how useless tossers they were, they'd be out of a job. They had to pretend to be wise but this involved never taking a stand on any 'wedge issue'- e.g. abortion, Gitmo etc.  

There is another, a Kantian, sense to 'reasonableness' which has to do with an autonomous subject imposing laws upon himself because Kant was German and them guys love having lots and lots of laws. However, in Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions it is never reasonable to accept any constraint upon action save for consideration. No passing of consideration, no fucking contract. 

Sen, obviously, doesn't get this. He writes

Rawls’s presumption that once the social contract has been arrived at,

on the basis of self-interest 

people would abandon any narrow pursuit of self-interest and follow instead
the rules of behaviour that would be needed to make the social contract
work.

This is true of any contract- though 'incomplete contracts' leave scope for re-negotiation- with penalty clauses. Self-interest is pursued subject to contractual constraints.  

Rawls’s idea of ‘reasonable’ behaviour extends to the
actual conduct that can be presumed once those chosen institutions –
unanimously chosen in the original position – have been put in place.

Because Contracts stipulate penalties for their breach.  

Quite demanding assumptions are made by Rawls on the nature of
post-contract behaviour. He puts the issue thus in Political Liberalism:
Reasonable persons . . . desire for its own sake a social world in which they,
as free and equal,

No they don't. It is perfectly reasonable for smart people not to want to be as free me to waste time on this blog. Also they don't want to be considered my equals in the one thing which truly matters. Flatulence. Few seek to rival my pre-eminence in that field.  

can cooperate with others on terms all can accept.

This is foolish. Antagonomia is a thing. Indeed, it is regret minimizing to have at least one nutter who objects to everything. The Sanhedrin, as Robert Aumann reminds us, had a rule against unanimity.  

They insist that reciprocity should hold within that world so that each benefits
along with others.

Why? Must everybody enjoy smelling each others farts? It is a different matter to say that contracts should be fair and equitable. But this does not rule out deeds which are not reciprocal at all.  

By contrast, people are unreasonable in the same basic
aspect when they plan to engage in cooperative schemes but are unwilling to
honour, or even to propose, except as a necessary public pretense, any general
principles or standards for specifying fair terms of cooperation. They are
ready to violate such terms as suits their interests when circumstances allow.

Rawls is saying that there is a penalty for not being reasonable enough to embrace his crackpot scheme. He might just as well have said 'you'll burn in hell if you don't put your underpants over your head and prance around with a radish up your bum'. 

The fact is that 'free riders' and 'moral hazard' exist. That is why the real world features 'separating equilibria' based on 'costly signals'. 'Pooling equilibria' reliant on 'cheap talk' can get invaded by parasites.  Nobody told Rawls about stuff like that. He was basically a secular version of a Bible basher. Be nice to the poor! There but for the Grace of God & c. 

By assuming that actual behaviour in the post-social contract world
would incorporate the demands of reasonable behaviour in line with
the contract, Rawls makes the choice of institutions that much simpler,

He says nothing about institutions. Still, we can assume that there are institutional                            sanctions against those who breach the social contract.  

since we are told what to expect in the behaviour of individuals once
the institutions are set in place.

We assume people enter contracts in good faith or that sanctions are strong enough for there to be  confidence in them.  

Rawls cannot, then, be accused in any way of either inconsistency or
incompleteness in presenting his theories.

Yes he can. If you are worried about ending up in horrible circumstances buy insurance and support a tax funded social minimum with protection against free-riders and moral hazard- i.e. keep out work-shy immigrants and don't harm work incentives. Don't subscribe to Rawls's crackpot scheme. 

The question that remains, however, is how this consistent and coherent political model will
translate into guidance about judgements of justice in the world in
which we live,

Easy. In every case, judges should side with the weaker party. Only those departures from equal outcomes should be allowed which are demonstrably of benefit to the poorer man. Fortunately, lawyers can use Econ 101 to prove that any arrangement whatsoever has this property. Rawls was wasting his time. Still, he was breaking with the traditional non-discretionary American anti-Trust tradition. In that sense, he was on the side of Mammon.  

rather than in the imagined world with which Rawls
is here primarily concerned.

Nothing wrong with gedanken involving imagined worlds provided agents get to use the right real world decision rule, not some stupid shit Rawls pulled out of his ass.  


There is a real similarity here between Rawlsian presumptions about
reasonable behaviour following the presumed agreements in the original
position, and Ashoka’s vision of a society led by right behaviour
(or dharma),

Because Rawls was basically a Christian pastor in mufti. Ashoka was an out and out Buddhist who believed he'd be reborn as a God or a Pratyeka Buddha or something of that sort.  

except that in Rawls’s critical hands we get a much fuller
picture of how things are supposed to work out in a world that we can
try to get to, taking note of the dual role of institutions and behaviour.

Or just coz our souls are saved and our hearts are turned towards Righteousness.  

This can be seen as an important contribution to thinking about transcendental
justice seen on its own.

It could be a contribution to soteriology. Identifying an optimal world is not 'transcendental'. Rawls, poor fool, thought that the Econ 101 which agents behind the veil of ignorance were provided with gave them an objective reason to choose an egalitarian income distribution. But this wasn't the case. Econ says hedge against bad outcomes through insurance. Don't offer to work for the same wage as the janitor, if you are CEO,  just in case there's a Freaky Friday type event and you end up swapping bodies with him. 

Rawls outlines his idealized transcendental
vision for institutions and behaviours with force and clarity:
Thus very briefly: i) besides a capacity for a conception of the good, citizens
have a capacity to acquire conceptions of justice and fairness and a desire to
act as these conceptions require;

But, if they also have a capacity to gain conceptions of incomplete contract theory and mechanism design, then they will be able to explain why Rawls's proposals were stupid.  

ii) when they believe that institutions and
social practices are just, or fair (as these conceptions specify), they are ready
and willing to do their part in those arrangements provided they have reasonable
assurance that others will also do their part;

This is 'incentive compatibility' 

iii) if other persons with
evident intention strive to do their part in just or fair arrangements, citizens
tend to develop trust and confidence in them

This happens anyway. The fact is 'costly signals' will evolve to support numerous 'separating equilibria'. We could equally speak of hedging and arbitrage on discoordination games. Throw in Hannan Consistency and you have a description of the world as it is. 

; iv) this trust and confidence
becomes stronger and more complete as the success of cooperative arrangements
is sustained over a longer time; and

which happens anyway.  

v) the same is true as the basic
institutions framed to secure our fundamental interests (the basic rights and
liberties) are more firmly and willingly recognized.

Those basic institutions are the Army and the Police and the Courts. Anything else may get pared down when the fitness landscape changes for the worse. Trust and Confidence can still flourish when there is an entitlements collapse for parasites.  

This vision is both illuminating and in many ways hugely inspiring.

It is stupid and based on a misunderstanding of reality. Because Knightian uncertainty exists, Social contracts are incomplete. One might say, Rawls is a limit case just as Arrow Debreu is a limit case. But, behind the veil of ignorance, we are more likely to choose a Borgesian 'lottery in Babylon' than a boring and featureless social landscape. I'd like to wake up a beggar one morning, the Caliph the next, and so on. 'Antidosis'- exchange of estates- is one type of fairness but so is pure stochasticity.  

And yet if we are trying to wrestle with injustices in the world

We actually need to go find some such injustice and put it in a headlock.  

in which we live, with a combination of institutional lacunae and
behavioural inadequacies,

we've got to be out there suggesting fixes for the lacunae and trying to improve behavior 

we also have to think about how institutions
should be set up here and now,

Like Nalanda International University? That was an institution set up with Sen as Chancellor. It was an abject failure.

It is costly to set up institutions. Work with what exists and if you do a good job maybe you'll get to set one up of your own.  

to advance justice through
enhancing the liberties and freedoms and well-being of people who
live today and will be gone tomorrow.

You need to work in a Law Clinic or take up Social Work or just make lots of money and give it to poor folk.  

And this is exactly where a realistic reading of behavioural norms and regularities becomes
important for the choice of institutions and the pursuit of justice.

Only if you are actually tasked with choosing institutions or have the power to 'pursue justice'. Sen wasn't so tasked. He was a little brown dude who was expected to say 'Democracy is totes cool!' at a time when the US thought it could export this profitably to countries with a lot of petroleum under their sands.  

Demanding more from behaviour today than could be expected to be
fulfilled would not be a good way of advancing the cause of justice.

But demanding more from the Government is cool because virtue signallers need to pretend that Governments are all powerful and can make everybody rich.  

This basic realization must play a part in the way we think about
justice and injustice today, and it will figure in the constructive work
that follows in the rest of the book.

There is no constructive work in the book. It doesn't say how the resources needed to do nice things are to be produced or procured. Thus the book is about how to commence discussion on how to properly divide up a cake which will cater to everybody's tastes without ever doing any baking. Sadly, it turns out that we need to consult impartial observers in distant galaxies before we can get round to saying anything about cake. 

Sen is crap at Econ and Philosophy. Did he do any minimal reading up on Jurisprudence before writing a book titled 'The Idea of Justice' ? Apparently not. He says

The question, ‘Are there really such things as human rights?’ is thus comparable
to asking, ‘Is happiness really important?’ or ‘Does autonomy
 or liberty really matter?’

 A right exists if a remedy exists under a bond of law. Some human rights exist in some jurisdictions at some times. We know this because Courts order obligation holders to make good the damage caused by a human rights violation. Thus the question, 'do rights exist?' is not comparable to a question re. happiness. Why? A 'right' is a term of art. 'Happiness' isn't. 

These are eminently discussable ethical questions,

No. They may be semantic questions or they may be questions about preferences and attitudes or psychological traits. They are not ethical in themselves though there may be a meta-ethical reason why they might arise in an ethical debate. 

and the viability of the particular claims made depends on the scrutiny of what is being asserted (the discipline of investigation and assessment of viability are subjects to which I shall presently return).

What great scrutiny is needed? Either human rights are justiciable in such and such place or they are not. This is an empirical matter which can be settled with a phone call to a lawyer.  

The ‘proof of existence’ that is often demanded from human rights activists is

foolish if the guy has got a court order which compensates a victim of a human rights violation.  

comparable to asking for the validation of ethical claims of other types – from the utilitarian to the Rawlsian or Nozickian.

If jurisdictions of such types existed, after a long enough period and with enough data, we could say that claims about them had been validated or disproven.  

This is one way in which the subject of human rights relates closely to the focus of this book, since public scrutiny is central to the approach that is being taken here.

But public scrutiny can do nothing till the verdict is in. Either the Bench says 'this right has this remedy' or it doesn't. The same is true of the verdict of history. Scrutiny is not a magic crystal ball. 

Bentham simply postulated that for a claim to count as a right, it must have legal force,

i.e. a remedy would be provided by the Judiciary. 

and any other use of the term ‘right’ – no matter how common – is simply mistaken.

Unless it is backed by a demand that the thing be enshrined in law 

However, in so far as human rights are meant to be significant ethical claims, the pointer to the fact that they do not necessarily have legal force is as obvious as it is
 irrelevant to the nature of these claims.

 But significant ethical claims- 'be nice!' or 'it's nice to be nice!'- can't be put into any terms enforceable by law. They are wholly disconnected with the idea of Justice which has to do with Judges deciding cases. 

The appropriate comparison is, surely, between a utility-based ethics (as championed by Bentham himself), which sees fundamental ethical importance in utilities but none – at least directly – in freedoms and liberties, and a human rights ethics that makes room for the basic importance of rights seen in terms of freedoms and corresponding obligations (as the advocates of ‘rights of man’ did).

If Courts decided all cases using a Benthamite rule the outcome would be very different from ones where Courts looked at rights as Hohfeldian incidents and added in equitable and other ethical considerations. There is a Utilitarian theory of jurisprudence and there is a Deontological theory. The two are comparable.

Just as utilitarian ethical reasoning takes the form of insisting that the utilities of the relevant persons must be taken into account in deciding what should be done,

only if it is then actually done. There is no utility to be gained by deciding what should be done and then not doing it.  

the human rights approach demands that the acknowledged rights of everyone, in the form of respecting freedoms and corresponding obligations, must be given ethical recognition.

No. Nobody wants human rights to be given ethical recognition along with Nazi rights and pedo rights and the rights of stars to shine brightly. They want human beings not to suffer privation and indignity. If this could be done by Law courts- well and good. Incorporate human rights into the legal code. But if there is an entitlement collapse- i.e. Courts can't enforce their judgments- then we're back to charity and moral suasion. 

The relevant comparison lies in this important contrast, not in differentiating the legal force of legislated rights (for which Bentham’s phrase ‘the child of law’ is an appropriate description) from the obvious absence of any legal standing generated by the ethical recognition of rights without any legislation or legal reinterpretation.

Legal recognition can alter outcomes provided mechanisms are incentive compatible. Ethical recognition may do so if the guy doing the recognizing is a billionaire or the Emperor of a vast realm.  

The child of law has muscles. The child of virtue signalling is a 'wind-egg'- or queef. 

Does Sen actually have a theory of Justice? No. He may have a 'Matham' of something else which he is trying to pass off as being about Justice. But this means there can be no 'Vijnanam' for Jurisprudence in his oeuvre. There is merely the contention that Judgments must not be made on the basis of any protocol bound juristic process more especially if its buckstopped. In other words, no Justice which serves any useful end fits his 'idea of Justice'. I suppose, he senses his own eminence arises from intellectual affirmative action. He is a perpetual specter at the feast reminding affluent White folk of  the starving Bangladeshi widow who, sadly, under Shiekh Hasina, is no longer starving but increasingly able to rise in the world through her own hard work and enterprise.