Wednesday 31 October 2012

Lloyd Shapley and the Bhagvad Gita

Shapley's well deserved Nobel win has been a long time coming. I know geniuses like him don't need Nobels but it is worth pausing a moment on an occasion like this to think about how India might have been different if people of my generation- or that of Gurcharan Das, for that matter- had not gone Gadarening after Amartya Sen and John Rawls and now Martha Nussbaum and Hilary Putnam and so forth, rather than Coase and Tiebout and Shapley and Buchanan who, I think, are right about Wicksteed & Choice and thus immune to pointless palaver over what the word 'Cost' means- i.e. dining philosophers starving to death for caught in a concurrency deadlock.
Still maybe these hunger artists on Ivy League catwalks were doing Gandhian dharna so my Hindu instinct was to worship them.
My own antipathy to Shapley is summarized by this extract from my novel Samlee's daughter-
In other words, since Shapley's work is very useful and highly relevant to India, it must be 'Right Wing' and thus it is to be feared and denounced or, at any rate, studied in the abstract but never applied to Policy making. At the same time, I guess people like me were uneasily aware that every semi-literate dehati politician was a master of calculating the Shapley index of power for various interest groups, not to mention  the most computationally efficient collocation method for solving for correlated equilibria (we call it corruption)- indeed that sort of thing is virtually hard-wired in their brains- and that even if us City boys mastered the maths or wrote a Computer program to do the same thing, we'd simply be outclassed by them.

It was only later on, thinking about Game theory in the Gita, that I realized that the paleo-discrete maths tradition in ancient Tribal Republics would have been strongly focused on the sorts of things Shapley taught us guys to at least be aware of, if not actually do. Since the Mahabharata's own compositional heuristic- at least in my belief- is part and parcel of that wider paleo-mathematical politics Welt Bild- it follows that the Bhagvad Gita, as its Pyrrhonist epoche- tells us that it is our 'svadharma' (i.e. there is a 'public signal' telling us our strategy so that, in a manner more general than Nash, we come to Aumann correlated equilibrium) to do Shapley not for the sake of the fruits of Shapley (good stuff, like getting democracy to work properly) but in an Amartya Sen-tentious spirit of utterly abnegating constructive Politics in favor of cunt-queefing pi-jaw so Man remain a futile passion and God again slay himself in vain.
Shapley & Roth's approach to matching problems is, of course, something the Mahabharata does very well so as to show that all 'svadharmas' have a stable way of meshing within just a few iterations. But the central epochee of the Gita shows that one such match- that of Nar & Narayan- is thereby rendered both a Philosophical Situation Comedy as well as Occasionalism's Nightmare on Om Street.
So I'm sticking with slagging off Sen- virodha bhakti donchaknow- but, sure, you guys just go ahead and read the Gita with Shapley as its Smriti. Not everybody can be a pointless fuckwit you know. Me, I'm just lucky that way.

Monday 29 October 2012

Our Fascism without Fuehrerprinzip

A great leader, as Pareto almost  said,  doesn't actually see the direction in which History is moving but urinates so copiously that people follow him in the natural belief that they are thus getting out of its way. By contrast, a good waiter also urinates copiously but washes his hands afterwards which is why people trust him with their orders. However, neither a great leader nor a good waiter can cause History to soil itself so intensively that the School nurse just wraps it in black plastic bin-liners and leaves it with the groundsman by the gates for its Mom to pick up. This, it seems to me, is the transcendent cloud sourced task us low rent right wing bloggers have been set.
For which I personally blame David Cameron.
That boy aint right.

Ethics, Engineering and Efficiency.

What is Ethics? Essentially it's stuff to do with your ethos- what you are for yourself, what kinds of things you value or want to value, your life project or salutary lack of any such hair up yo' ass, as well as what sort of World you want to inhabit, or want to want to inhabit, who you want to relate to and how you want them to relate to you or each other- so it would be reasonable to say Ethics is about what Economists call 'Preferences' except when it isn't and comes under the rubric of 'Signalling' or 'Mechanism Design' or whatever.

This brings us to the question- what is Economics? Well, its about how to economize- do the same thing but using less resources and from that point of view it is a type of Ethical theory- viz. it's better to do things in the least expensive and least stupid way. Engineers are attracted to this aspect of Economics and good Economics is smart engineering. However, Economics- like Theology or Literary Theory- is also something else- a Careerist Ponzi scheme based on the bankrupt notion of a totalizing 'grand narrative', whose hallmark is its radical heterogeneity with respect to what it claims to study. Thus, Theology explains why Religion and Spirituality and Love of the Creator is totally ungodly and spite ridden in a fucked up way & Literary Theory explains that good writers are really very very evil and bad writers and very very bad writers are actually very very good and saintly. Similarly, Economics is about being very very wasteful and stupid. Herbert Hoover was a truly great Humanitarian when he acted as an Engineer. As President, thinking he had to act the Economist, he fucked up big time.
Why? Well he'd spotted, as an engineer, that a whole industry can come forward when they put a floor under wages- so as to avoid cut-throat price and wage competition such that quality declines or a 'repugnancy' factor is created thus destroying the market long term. But, once President, he didn't get that downward wage rigidity meant that markets couldn't clear without an anti-deflationary monetary policy, a full employment balanced budget Fiscal policy as well as optimal, correlated equilibria (rather than Mercantilist, beggar my neighbour) Tariff policy. In other words, the engineer was seduced by the apparent similarity between Economics and his own profession and didn't do proper due diligence to check that Economists weren't all a bunch of irresponsible fuckwits whose idea of a good time is fiddling while Rome burns in a grand Concerto of 'told you so'.

The pity of the thing is that there was once an Engineer who took up Economics and invented a notion of Efficiency which ought to have got everybody singing from the same hymn sheet.
But, before looking at that story, the question arises- what is Efficiency and why would Economists care about it? Briefly, Efficiency is about waste, cutting it down, and it is the sort of thing you hire Engineers or Managers or Agronomists or other such people with practical skills to do for you. Economists can't do anything themselves except produce hot air, so its useful for them to set up problems such that Engineers can have a crack at them while standing back to take the credit.
That being said, let us now look at the trajectory of Vifredo Pareto, the paradigmatic Engineer who moved into Economics because he was sick and tired of the way the stupid pi-jaw of Economists empowered the Govt. to tie Industry up in knots and create waste. Pareto put forward a theory of 'residues & derivations' such that Moral & Political Entrepreneurs recombine various stupid and vacuous ideas (derivations) because there is a market for something which caters for irrational, or instinctual or thymotic or mimetic or other such Social glue (residues).
The theory of imperfect competition allows us to predict that you are going to get a lot of product differentiation with excess capacity in 'derivations' where there are low barriers to entry (anybody can set up a Think Tank), whereas you are going to get very little real product differentiation as opposed to wasteful advertising and branding if there are high barriers to entry (setting up a Political Party which has a shot at power under first past the Post). In other words the two main parties or sects or whatever will be virtually identical while the lunatic fringe will be all over the place. But, the important thing for Pareto is that 'derivations and residues' obscure the Engineering problem- cracking down on stupidity and waste. In other words, noise ye shall always have with you, so concentrate on the signal,  ignore the Careerist, Credentialist, pi-jaw merchants scoring points about which of them was more diligent at swallowing whatever shite Aristotle or Kant or Gramsci or David Icke bequeathed to posterity, or pretending to be more pro disabled Lesbian Bahishkrit Samaj Smartha Vadadesi Vadama Bloggers wot have been forced to repeatedly commit suttee by Narendra Modi just to suck up to the Tatas.
The concept of Pareto Efficiency was one of Pareto's legacies to Economics as wot she is taught but many Economists never liked it because it got in the way of Classical Economics- which consists in saying really sarky things to the Economy till it sits up straight and stops chewing gum and turns in its homework assignments on time.
This is a link to a paper on 'Ethics & Efficiency' by a Dutch Professor which summarizes the Hilary Putnam/Walsh/Sen approach which seeks to revive old fashioned Pigouvian Welfare Economics as a tremendous engine for whining and pretending to be a great big bleeding heart while quietly climbing every Careerist ladder in sight and living it large on the Conference Circuit.

At the heart of its complaint against Pareto Efficiency is the feeling that if bargaining power, or wealth or something else of value, is not equitably distributed to begin with, then the outcome of trade and exchange might worsen Social Welfare though technically leaving no one worse off.
Indeed, we all at some time or another- either by reason of information asymmetry, lack of endowment, neediness or desperation or some thing else of that sort- feel that we are likely to get the short end of a stick in a negotiation. Hence, middle men evolve who are either stronger or more daring or more in the know than you, and they act as your pimp or dealer or whatever.
The question which naturally arises is do pimps actually make under-age crack whores or elderly Tam Bram gigolos (what? You think this blog pays my dental bills?) significantly better off in the same way that the Feminist Anti Poverty industry (Gender and Development it used to be called) actually makes millions of women living in rural Belgravia significantly better off? The answer is, yes of course they do. Only pimps can make inter-personal comparisons of Utility and tell you which street corner to strut your stuff and decide how  much of your chest hair to expose or what to charge for a Manmohan Singh special (don't ask but at least its shuddh vegetarian unlike the Montek Singh Ahluwalia which Feminist Academics, flush with their bonus money from Big Pharma (what? they make tampons don't they and Feminist Academia is about menstruating all the time) insist upon just to humiliate us elderly Tam Bram prostitutes dressed in our P.Chidambaram style veshtis and untucked white shirt.

Yet, and this is the paradox, though Pimps and Sen-tentious Welfare E- Con Problematization represent a Ethical interessement mechanism they only do by involving all in a lasting impoverishment.
The Pareto efficient solution is to have no interessement mechanisms and everybody voting with their feet for a better Tiebout model- like how's about we just get dinner and maybe a movie and then call it a night. Which isn't to say you shouldn't murli Manohar Joshi. Murli him but good.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Impossibility of an Indian Liberal Party

We know about the impossibility of a Paretian Liberal, what about an Indian Liberal Party?
Under the Raj there were plenty of Indian Liberals but when it became apparent the Brits wanted out, Liberalism simply curled up and died. Why? Well, the Brit's 'dominance without hegemony' meant what you actually had was a lot of competing local Tiebout models rather than any one overarching 'Classical Liberal' regime which one could either support or rebel against.
 Indeed, Jinnah, Iqbal,  Shurawardy and so on embrace Pakistan without ceasing to be 'Indian Liberals' precisely because that option was the pre-existing Tiebout eqbm. which could only improve dynamically, i.e. fructify more swiftly, with violent ethnic cleansing rather than just old fashioned voting-with-one's-feet. Sikhs also wanted a Tiebout model local public good utopia and pursued ethnic cleansing just as strategically to achieve their aim.
In general, dominant castes have been able to get their desired Tiebout equilibrium because the fundamentally weak Center chose to pretend to be doing Economic planning when all it was actually doing was creating Rents to be divided up on the basis of dominant caste elite competition.
Briefly, 'Liberal' parties or alignments- like the Swatantra Party in the 60's- had an evanescent Parliamentary existence but  only because of a mismatch between dominant caste Tiebout preference and that of the intermediate Congress political class. Once the old 'Freedom Struggle' interessement mechanism was disintermediated, there was no check on 'intermediate class' (i.e. dominant caste in Gramscian guise) Tiebout model rent maximization- I mean what happens when local public goods are more than fully funded and this rent is divided up according to a power law- and this is the reason Indian Liberalism ceased to exist.  It got what it really wanted and the price was not getting rich quite as fast. But getting rich would have either reduced rents to Tiebout local public good provision or reduced uncertainty in a manner which reduced their capitalized value. So, at the margin, the decisive voter will acquiesce in keeping the marginal efficiency of Capital low so as to keep the inertial utility of maintaining the same portfolio profile (in which implicit rents bulk higher) as this  is both dynamically efficient and evolutionarily stable.
So that's why we can't have an Indian Liberal Party- except one composed of Australian citizens who haven't yet met or talked to each other and thus haven't had an opportunity to anathematize each other and split the Party into
1) Indian Liberal Party (Australia)- sole member Sanjeev Sabhlok
2) The Genuinely Indian Liberal Party (Australia)- sole member also Sanjeev Sabhlok because I've just expelled that other guy I saw leering at me in the mirror coz he's probably got the hots for Narendra Modi and just wants to use me for his own vile ends.

Thursday 25 October 2012

John Broome's foolish argument that Economics is essentially Ethical.

Most foolish statement possible on Econ's relationship to Ethics?
Surely this is a contender 'virtually all normative claims in Econ are ethical- for e.g. to claim interest rates ought to go up raises a conflict of interest between lenders and borrowers.'

Why is this nonsense? People who have borrowed did so because they had Credit- it was believed that they could and would repay. People who have lent money are people who believed they would benefit from a future stream of interest plus capital repayments from the borrower. Clearly raising the interest rate today has a redistributional effect only if these are 'floating rate' loans. However, in that case, both borrowers and lenders had a model of the economy, one that includes why and when policy might dictate a change in interest rates, and therefore there is no normative issue here- only one regarding the models used to formulate Expectations. But models aren't normative, they live or die on the basis of their predictive power. To argue otherwise is to believe Natural Selection is normative. Or, more foolish yet, it oughtta be.

Broome gives an example of a normative requirement that isn't ethical- viz.  you ought to clean your car occasionally. He is wrong. The statement is actually either positive- i.e. wash your car iff your Utility function satisfies x, y, z. - or ethical in the sense of altering your ethos- i.e. your preferences. 'It was only when I started washing my car regularly that I finally realized my Dad wasn't a fucking emotional zombie but a deeply gay man who dreamt only of cornholing Jehovah's witnesses the way I will henceforth dedicate my life to doing.'

Broome is a clever clever guy who writes lucidly. But he's a Professor. That's tragic. Like Oedipus- who sets afoot an investigation that will indict him, indict all investigation, as not merely the offender but one rendered thereby so heteronomous as to compound the offence and deprive it of any individuating, and hence instrumental, value- Econ's encounter with Ethics- resonant of that other encounter in a narrow defile between Delphi and Daulis- damningly undoes itself as Project and only blindly persists in haecceity by reason of that dread Deity whose days are delays.

Hilary Putnam on Amartya Sen's Economics

Hilary Putnam thinks logic exists independently of metaphysics- i.e. talk of possible or impossible worlds- as the form of coherent thought. Yet coherence means consistency of a particular type- one which exhibits a unified whole. But what unifies the thing and makes it a whole is 'compossibility'. In other words, coherent thought is a type of thought which can only be captured by 'modal' logic. But this immediately raises metaphysical questions of possible or impossible worlds and epistemological and ontological questions regarding what constitutes verification or faslifiability. 

Putnam also thinks Ethics can do without ontology- though Lebenswelts- 'life worlds'- can be  partially ordered only according to purely ontological criteria. It is no good saying that an impossible state of affairs is ethical or that we have an obligation to do something which is completely impossible. 

Putnam, in his book 'the collapse of the fact/value dichotomy', seeks abolish the distinction between Values as ends-in-themselves and what are purely instrumental, or subjectively experienced, Epistemic values- e.g. a Physicist thinking he's on the right track because his equation is elegant, or a Chemist who feels  he's onto something because his theory is more parsimonious, or a Mathematician whose confidence in a conjecture arises out of its 'beauty'- even though no Physicist will stick with an equation, no matter how elegant, which doesn't fit the facts; nor will any Chemist stick with a parsimonious theory which leads to his lab blowing up; or any Mathematician stick with a beautiful conjecture which has been proved wrong.

Elegance can be an end in itself- the dandy may persist in wearing a garment unsuitable for the weather though he perish of influenza- Parsimony can be an end in itself- the Miser might starve to death so as to increase his pile of gold coins- Beauty can be an end in itself- I wear a paper bag over my head while crossing the road because...urm... well, my g.f. makes me wear one in bed and I mean a chap likes to look his best...

I suppose one could argue that all values are instrumental. There is some other Value lurking behind them or else some blind Schopenhauerian Will. But, some values are ontologically dysphoric- their instrumentality lies in granting their holder a vantage point from which to devalue and denigrate this world and everything that goes on in it. But this is not Putnam's own belief. For him Values aren't ontologically dysphoric, at least not those he holds to be truly valuable. Perhaps his book is a defence against the unconscious realization that the reverse is the case.

Is this why Putnam now abolishes the distinction between instrumental or heuristic 'values' and absolute values? Or has his long life really led him to the conclusion that everybody just synchronically rapping in a coherent way in is a good thing and like mebbe results in Ethics developing super-powers, coz it gets bit by a radio active spider,  and then it like takes over Economics and things  just becomes so much nicer and I needn't get up three times a night to pee and though we can't rule out that we'd all know what to think about abortion and capital punishment and so on,  that still would be swell because we could have a gentleman's agreement not to talk about it in plain terms- at least, y'know, not pas devant les domestiques.

Thus, Putnam's role in Philosophy is now to say only incoherent things like 'Economics is  a 'policy' Science'- i.e. Economists are Scientists of a particular sort whom Govts. and NGO's ought to consult before deciding what to do or even what to want to do.

Are there any circumstances when this could be called a cogent or coherent point of view?
No, unless we adopt a linguistic conventionalism whereby 'Economist' is defined as the guy whom at any moment is most helpful in getting a Govt. or NGO to do something everybody later agrees was the best thing. Thus, in Kipling's story 'Todd's Amendment', Economist means the 5 year old boy whose providential remarks enable the Govt. to make the right decision. The senior Civil Servants holding appointments as Economic Advisers, however, can't be called Economists because what they are saying is not helpful and is in fact counter-productive.

I suppose, in a one period Economy- a momentary kshanikavada Universe- one can coarse grain one's definitions as much as one likes so as to retain the appearance of logical coherence.
This is what Putnam does to collapse the 'is' /'ought' dichotomy and praise up to the Skies, Amartya Sen's brand of Economics.

This raises the question- is Amartya Sen, Putnam's paradigm of a 'good' Economist, a guy Govts. or NGO's should consult before deciding what to do? The answer, for India, is- Fuck, No! He has never given a good Policy prescription, advanced a viable hypothesis, or made a sustainable forecast. Instead, he's muddied the waters and stalemated the reform process in a manner which most harms precisely those he would have us believe are closest to his heart.
Putnam may argue that Sen is still a good Economist because he tells Govts about what sorts of things they should want to do- stuff like making life better for everybody including the poor, the disabled, women and so on. But can't anyone do that? In fact, what would be a hundred times more effective than Sen gassing on  would be a You Tube video of a poor disabled woman actually saying 'hey guys, my life is real crappy right now, but guess what, if you do x and stop doing y then I can do z and the Social benefit of z outweighs the cost of x minus y and what's more it will have a demonstration effect and so the dynamic benefits are even greater. So, guys, get off your arses and do x and stop doing y already. '
Clearly the experience of the last decade and a half is that listening to Sen-tentious shite hasn't been good for the clients of Govts or NGOs as opposed to 'Moral Entrepreneurs' & Academic or Bureaucratic Careerists. Paying attention to Sen is a waste of resources. It crowds out genuine research. Sent-tentious nonsense about Famines being about democracy rather than crop failure increased African vulnerability and reduced funding for Norman Borlaug type Green Revolution programs there. He's now telling Indians to ban private tuition- the one thing preventing India lapsing back into mass illiteracy.
Even if Sen didn't always say the stupidest possible thing under the circumstances, even if all he did was say 'hey guys, be nice to the poor' he'd still not be a good Economist in Putnam's sense.
This is because Economics itself tells us that employing an Economist to tell you stuff like - care about the disadvantaged why don't you. Stop being such an almighty dick!- is throwing money out of the window. Plenty of people will do it for free if you will also permit them to slap you silly while doing so.

Now it may be Putnam believes that non Sen-tentious Economists are all very evil and bad and they trip or push the good Economists down in the playground and steal their lunch money and then when the good Economists try to complain they just accuse them of not having properly understood David Hume or Kant or some other dead Racist which makes the good Economists burst into tears and go running home to their Mommies.

If this is what Putnam believes, then his book makes perfect sense. Since good Economists- with the notable exception of Sen and some other guy who was Putnam's best pal at School- are really stupid and don't know from John Dewey and get cowed by the attacks of the bad Economists, which is why the bad Economists are running things and telling Govts. to be really corrupt and to implement really stupid policies. Thus Putnam has written a little book- or had it distilled out of some of his lectures- which will help good Economists to fight back and turn the tables on the bad Economists by getting off snappy comebacks  like- '1950 called. It wants back its 'analytic-synthetic dichotomy' which Quine totally ass-raped in 1951.' at which point the bad Economists  all get like real red in the face and start to sweat through their Brooks Bros. suits and then next thing you know they are blurting out in these like real tight little voices- 'Quine molested me! He touched me on my no no place behind the book stacks when I went to borrow a copy of Ayn Rand or Rice or whatever and he smelt just like my Grandmother and and and why are you being so mean to me? My other car is a Prius.'

Of course this is not what Putnam actually thinks but he's just going to go ahead and say it anyway because he believes by doing so he will be able to breathe new life into Classical Economics- i.e. strident feuilletonism or dyspeptic armchair polemics providing a mask for hypocritical rent-seeking within a game of elite musical chairs.

Putnam isn't an Economist so we mustn't blame him too much. The question is- what theory or theories within Economics itself are relevant to it as a 'Policy Science'? If Putnam addresses these theories in his book then it is worth reading. If he doesn't but just goes after dead-in-the-water Research Programs then his book isn't worth reading.
Obviously different people will have different notions of which theories are alive and which are dead. But, off the top of my head, my guess is everybody would agree that for real Economics, useful stuff, people can agree about 'facts' and have grounds to be suspicious of 'value-judgments' for reasons roughly similar to what I outline below.
1) Economics is a Science which only has a subject matter when preference diversity isn't too great or too small. It may be that Socio-Biology of some sort can tell us when Economics will have a subject matter but, assuming the fitness landscape is unpredictable then it can't tell us why and when genotypal canalisation type choke-points on phenotypal plasticisty will arise. Still, once preference diversity is within the 'Economic' range  , everybody studying it is going to good-faith agree that there are some canonical, or Schelling type, 'fact' demarcators which are the solution to the co-ordination problem. In other words, if a situation is one where Economics has a subject matter, then Economists can good faith agree on what are facts. If they can't, then the field probably isn't Economic at all and other disciplines (except Philosophy because it isn't a discipline) can explain why.
2) Values aren't necessarily subjective- they could be strategic or they could arise by 'preference falsification' or as being in joint supply with 'availability cascades'. In any case, if Values or meta-preferences themselves have Utility then there is going to be
 a) a drive to 100% preference diversity since everybody has an interest in valuing what he himself has or will have
b) some sort of Girardian mimetic desire type dynamic which constrains the bargaining problem re. Values to the neighborhood of a strange attractor such that 'the more things change, the more they remain the same'
In other words, Values are unknown and unknowable. We can show that Evolution might endow us with Rationality re. Choice of Technique, Bargaining, Optimization etc, because Engineering beats intuition in certain fields, but we can't show that Evolution would have given us a faculty for telling us what is really valuable or how to rank states of the World given an unknown future. If the future is going to be really hairy, maybe Thrift is the supreme Value Economists need to inculcate. On the other hand, if the Future is going to be fabulously wonderful, Thrift is the enemy. So long as there is no God constraining Evolution, not only would the Evolutionary Stable Strategy be for Value diversity but agents are going to be doing 180 degree Value reversals pretty often. If unpredictable changes in Values are what generate the 'mixed' (i.e. stochastic) aspect of the E.S.S, then another way of doing the same thing as Value pi-jaw is to say 'Let's randomly reward a certain percentage of crimes and punish a certain percentage of good deeds because that's a mixed strategy which can't be simply dominated so, actually, lets not even bother to do that but just let the current system of hack journalists and publicity hound D.As and corrupt Judges and bat-shit crazy celebrities and senile Professors talking shite, continue to muck things up such that a certain percentage of crimes are rewarded and good deeds punished the way it's always been.'

So far my contention is that Putnam is wrong about Economics. Still, some Economists may be trying to emigrate to Philosophy-land coz they have laxer drug laws there or else to escape alimony payments or something similar. So the question arises, is Putnam right about Philosophy? The short answer is no. He is making the assumption that Pyrrhonism isn't already everybody's default position from which they are momentarily seduced by ephemeral Faustian pacts. Worse, he refuses to see that 'Values' are what we are all most inclined to be skeptical about. If I tell you I suffer from haemorrhoids you are likely to believe me. If I tell you that my experience of haemorrhoids has led me to have a change of heart, I've now quit the Tea Party and support Gay Marriage coz why should the homos have it easy? You may still believe me. What you won't believe is that I've suddenly seen the light and stopped being a nasty little homophobe because 'Suffering is Redemptive' or any such pi-jaw.

Putnam stretches the word 'Values' to breaking point and then some. Maybe this would be okay if he weren't sticking with notions like 'logic is coherence' and 'partial ordering is possible' because new vistas upon the nature and implications of universal ontological dysphoria would be opened up.
One reason to think that logic isn't the 'form of coherent thought' is that imperative statements, though having logical form, gain visceral force by being incoherent- 'be sure to post the check to the Insurance company before Friday' is weaker than 'burn down the house. That will save you the trouble and inconvenience of posting the check by Friday. Go on, what are you waiting for?' This seems incoherent and violates transitivity because it says burning your own house down is better than living with an uninsured house, but it is effective which is why Moms use this strategy all the time.
Indeed, it may be- a subject for a future post- genuine Value Judgments, at least of a sort that give rise to a lexical ordering of preferences, always have this logical form. Rawls stipulates for a 'threshold of prosperity' and Nozick for a catastrophic event loophole for their lexical orderings such that they are lexical only in name. The question raised by the Prophet Amos- do two people walk together except they are agreed?- i.e. does some pre-established harmony obtain such that strategy and tactics are always univocal- can be answered in the affirmative only alongside 'Shall there be Evil in the City and the Lord has not done it?'

The other problem with Putnam's analysis is the notion that people currently believe 'facts' actually exist in such a manner that a Fact/ Value dichotomy can be usefully erased. But, the truth is, we don't believe there are any genuinely factual statements, just stuff that's as factual as we can get given our instruments and understanding and so on. So ' the facts' are just a pragmatics which evolves in one type of game. Do 'Values' arise in exactly the same type of game? Suppose I have a theory of Ethics which says real Value-judgments don't change when the facts change. Suppose, further, that I feel a sense of quiet virtue because I am deliberately failing my exams so as not to become complicit in the frauds of the Power Elite. Consider what happens when  I suddenly learn that the Power Elite only recruit candidates who deliberately fail the Exams by the widest margin- indeed, all the smart kids knew this and adjusted their answers accordingly but the Power Elite were smarter yet- in other words the reason that I'm a failure is not because I was too good for the system but that I was too stupid. Still, I feel my Virtue stands. The important thing is I wasn't tempted by power. I might even say that it is to my credit that, though stupider than other people, prompted by Virtue alone, I nevertheless succeeded where they failed.
In other words, if one says 'Value-judgments are what don't change when the facts change' then one can  also say, fine, in this case, we have a different sort of game than the one about facts. But, is it a game without ontology? I'd say- no. In the case mentioned above, I realize that all stupid people as a class have a sort of virtue similar to mine precisely because the Power Elite don't want to co-opt them. Those stupid people who clamor to be co-opted and try to pass their exams might even be said to be more virtuous than myself because they have an unconscious Faith in their own worthlessness which is certainly better than my own neurotic doubts about my essential idiocy.
I stand upon the threshold of becoming a Tolstoy or a Gandhi- if not a Christ.
But, Putnam has nothing to say about this sort of ontologically inflationary Value-judgement.  Putnam focuses on Sen's 1967 paper on Prescriptivism which shows that, for most types of Utilitarianism, Facts are relevant to value judgments. However, instead of a supervenience relationship of some sort, Putnam thinks this means that facts and values are hopelessly entangled. We can't decompose or 'factorize' them.
But why should this be so? Is it because Putnam wants an Ethics without Ontology but doesn't want to break with 'Classical' Utilitarian Consequentialism?
Before addressing that question, let's see whether decomposing facts from values is really so very difficult.
Let's say we're playing poker. Two different games are going on simultaneously. One is about the cards that have been dealt. The other is about reading 'tells' or strategically simulating such signals. In this case, we could go through a video of the game and construct two totally different narratives- one about probability which has to do only with the cards, and another which has nothing to do with probability but has to do with reading facial expressions and deducing psychological motivations. Is there any reason not to believe 'Facts' and 'Values' aren't similarly decomposable in any actual Economic policy debate? Couldn't we run back the Video of it and perform just such a decomposition? True it would be difficult. We'd have to look at a whole classes of similar videos before we got a sense of what we were actually discussing. We'd also need models, simulations- videos shot on possible worlds, or aesthetically important impossible worlds- and so on before we had finally got an idea about what our different claims actually amount to. From then on there is no reason why the game should not be decomposable with 'Values' turning into Ontological propositions about possible worlds and 'Facts' referring to stuff that can be measured or which has a measurable proxy.

 Because Putnam thinks Ethics without Ontology is possible, and because he endorses Sen's mania for partial ordering- he has no real answer to this objection. His invocation of 'thick concepts' only defines the antechamber to Economics' arena. Thick concepts are like the pre-fight Press Conference where each contender makes a statement mixing descriptive elements with intentional elements- 'I'm in the best shape of my life and I'm damned if I'll go down to a little pussy like him'- stuff like this may determine the outcome of the actual fight- but Economics is not about the fight. Its what what happens when the post-fight analysis starts. There everything is separated out. There can still be strategic differences of opinion- but in the long run, after everybody has retired, there's either a consensus about the facts or a factual question  has been referred on to some other discipline- Biology, Psychology, Game theory  or whatever.
Okay, if we break completely with Consequentialism of any sort, Utilitarian or otherwise, then we might  still have 'entangled statements'- but they would be Ontological in nature- and refer to an ordering of possible or impossible Worlds- and thus not at all part of the sort of 'ethical Econ' Putnam wants which would enable us to get an ought from an is without recourse to Ontology. This is important because every fuckwit can do the other thing- vide my cri de coeur in the Eighties- 'You must pay my air-fare to Calcutta coz my punching Mother Theresa in the face is that supremely Christ- like Act which will cause the Universe to turn into a Golden Syrup which appears exactly like whatever it takes the place of.'

Putnam's chapter on Sen, the Economist, is the weakest thing in his book. He believes Sen said something important about Famine. Sen said something horribly foolish and mischievous about Famine and then defended himself by unfair and stupid means. As for the 'missing millions'- when did Sen raise his voice against abortion? Infanticide was already illegal. Legalizing abortion, essentially as a population control method, with the postive encouragement of sex selective feticide, went against all pre-existing Values, Human or Religious. Yet abortion was supposed to be a very wonderful and good thing- 'pro-Wimmin' donchaknow- so Sen did nothing about this genocide which, unlike the Bengal famine, occurred on his watch.

Putnam misses the point that people pretend to have 'Values' they don't actually have. Even if there was some window of Momus into the heart and Values were known exactly, still unless Evolution had given us a mechanism for acting rationally on the basis of one's Values, then they remain a dead-letter. But anything which can be used to predict our actual behaviour is covered by the notion of Revealed Preference already. What Putnam is objecting to is the convention of arbitrarily constraining this to tractable Mathematical shapes. But Sen, as a professional Academic has been pushing nothing else these last fifty years. How does this make him one of the good guys all of a sudden?
Putnam thinks there was something sinister in Lionel Robbins getting rid of interpersonal comparisons of Utility. But what else was he supposed to do? Hitler  had plenty of followers who gave very good reasons why Jews and Blacks and Chinese and Slavs get negative utility from breathing and why, if they weren't too stupid to do 'inter-personal Utility maximization', they'd all have killed themselves or offered themselves as slaves to the Master Race. Similarly, Stalin worshipers were saying the Capitalist Class is yearning to be liquidated. It takes no genuine pleasure in its luxuries. The Capitalist actually wants to be re-educated in the Gulag. He's just too neurotic to do it himself. He's like a drug addict. He can't help himself.

Putnam thinks Sen is one of the angels because Sen made a big deal about men in China and Kerala outliving African American Males . Yet, once prison sentencing got a lot harsher and racially discriminatory, African American Male health and longevity started to improve because those most at risk spent more time locked up- and there was a material incentive for a greedy privatized Justice/Penal System to gravitate to that outcome. In any case, once statistics were adjusted for risk-factors like diet, drug use, gang membership, as well as for reward factors like differential Societal rents to Seniority and Male status, African Americans were back ahead. Any given Chinese of Malyallee would have been better off migrating to America but no African American, ceteris paribus, would have been better off going the other way.

The crux of Putnam's argument is his contention that all 'capabilities approach criteria'- like 'self respect', 'well nourished' 'able to take part in the life of the community'- are 'entangled' terms, i.e. values and facts are hopelessly intermingled. This can't be true in the light of  Putnam's other contention- viz. that Sen on partially ordering isn't foolish- because we can always run the video back on each evaluative occasion and turn every instance of a 'value' into something we can agree about how to better measure. Suppose this weren't the case. Then, there is no partial ordering. No partial ordering means Sen has been talking worthless nonsense for the last forty years.

Putnam's chapter 'on the rationality of preferences', gives the clue to his confusion. He doesn't have a theory of why concurrency deadlock is good and necessary and something our decision making has evolved to mimic because of its inertial or buffering properties. In other words, as Computers got off the drawing board the actual engineering problem of concurrency fixed the lacunae in decision theory which Putnam has returned to so as to talk up his fellow Harvard Prof.

Economics has a good theory for why there is so much bad Economics- it's supply and demand dude. Ethics does not have a good theory why every Ethical theory counsels only the most brutish and foolish thing to do under any circumstances. Putnam is a good guy. He's done great work. Yet he has written a book which will promote Sen-tentious pi-jaw as a substitute for helping poor people. Has Ethics, as a branch of philosophy, gained anything from this book? No- unless you read it in conjunction with 'Ethics without Ontology' as a method of showing why the latter must be crap. But, doing that wouldn't be playing fair.

It rubs the lotion on its skin or else Indology gives it the hose again

Western Indology kidnaps a fat chick and keeps her in a pit in its basement. It starves the fat chick and makes her rub lotion on her skin. It doesn't talk to her directly but says 'It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.'
Why does Western Indology behave like this? The answer, of course, is that it wants the fat chick to lose a lot of weight and thus provide a lot of loose skin for its Domestic Science Project of stitching itself a cute skin-suit so as to look real purdy and like mebbe get a date for Prom?
Now I'm not saying Western Indology isn't to be complimented for its Scientific attitude and Christian hospitality to fat chicks. The question for me is whether the fat chick currently getting the hose ever had any connection with India. What if she's from Georgia or Azerbaijan? Would we still care?
No is the short answer. The long answer, involving reading Billimoria on Spivak on Subalternity, is also no. But only the latter is complicit in Hannibal Lecteur's indomitable drive to ingest the inner organs rather than merely wear the skin of other people. Ultimately, Hannibal is shown to be the Superman and gets to marry Clarice. Buffalo Bill, on the other hand, was just a sad loser.
So, in nuce, that's the story of the Post Colonial critique of Western Indology. Except there's a sequel. Buffalo Bill had a twin sister and guess who she's got in her basement? That's right. It's Purushottoma Billimoria desperately rubbing lotion into his skin to avoid getting the hose again.
Karma's a bitch that way.

Friday 19 October 2012

Can Hypokeimenon be a predicate?

 Despite being of sound Mallu stock, Kay Kay Menon's nephew, Hypokei Menon, in the opinion of Aristotle, can't be a predicate of anything. Does this represent a damning indictment of Kerala's education system? No. If there is an underlying substratum, what is the grid to which it sticks? Spinoza might say there is nothing but the grid, just that one substance. But either Spinozan substance has only one possible way of existing or it doesn't. In either case it becomes a predicate of whatever it is that designates its  trans-nomological modal possibility. Anyway, that's the plot of Hazaron Kwaishen Part II- Return to the Planet of Naxalbari Apes.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Ka, Kha & Roberto Calasso

Roberto Calasso- an Italian publisher who has recently learnt Sanskrit- wrote a silly book called 'Ka' which has been translated into Hindi and now Tamil.
Since Google did not exist when he was writing it, he did not know what the Chandogya has to say about the Rg Vedic 'Ka' (Who).
'Ka and Kha are both Brahman. Ka means sexual pleasure or joy. Kha means akasha or the Ether. They are one and the same.'
What light does this throw upon the war between the snakes and the birds in the Adi Parvan of the Mahabharata? Birds fly in the Ether, snakes enjoy sex. The two types of prognostication- viz bird augury and krait bit Prophetic frenzy- too are equivalent.
In this context what, if not that Indology is ignorant shite, does Calasso's Ka mean? What? Ka? Ka?

Meta Metaphoricity, Zero derivation and Null morphemes

  A metaphor is a type of figurative language intended to aid the understanding or to give an added visceral or prescriptive force to a proposition.
  ' Love- True Love-  is an Eden whose abundance is predicated on the export of all its apples' is an example of figurative language in which two separate metaphors are employed in what I think is a meaningful way. A plain way of saying the same thing is, 'If you really love that old whore you've married, then, believe me mate, ignorance is bliss'

   A meta-metaphor is the figurative use of figurative language such that the speaker's own intentionality or epistemic status is either enhanced or rendered amphibolous. 'I am the apple our Eden exports' is a meta-metaphor based on taking the previous metaphor for a fact, indeed as something more real than that which ordinary Reality discloses as being the case, and deriving another metaphor, itself to be taken as even more real, on its basis. Notice there is now no single plain way of saying the same thing. All of the logically incompossible meanings listed below simultaneously coexist in my statement-
1) My 'I'- i.e. my ego-consciousness- that which outlives orgasmic death- presents a threat to our mutual Love. Fortunately, it has been taken out of the equation- i.e. our Love is safe. This is because our Love for each other is not based on ego but goes much deeper. Still, when I think about our perfect union I feel jealous of my own felicity because I am thinking with my ego-consciousness which has been excluded from the consummate and immaculate nature of our mutual love. This also means that though I may continue to  have many bad habits and faults- i.e. though your love does not seem to have made me a better man- this does not prove our love isn't perfect but just that my ego has been excluded from the Earthly Paradise we have found in each other.
2) Sex with you is great but you sure are one stupid broad. That's why I keep hitting on your ugly sister and alcoholic Mom and toothless old Gran. Live with it.
3) I'm Gay.
4) No! Your buying a bigger strap-on won't help.

  Meta-metaphors are useful, indeed vital, in a sort of ruminative speech or writing directed at oneself. They enable the entertainment of incompossible intentionalities and represent a sort of 'bracketing' or epoche such that- at least, the appearance of- paradigm busting thought becomes possible. Smoking dope achieves the same end but it makes me vomit.

 What does all this have to with Paninini's adarshanam lopah- i.e.  the null morpheme?

The Italian Philosopher/Indologist, Dr. Elisa Freschi- surely a winsome fanciulli rendering fragrant Mimamsa's Jurassic Park- whose book on Tantra is coming out next month, has this to say on her excellent blog.

Zero in Indian philosophy

Grammarians and linguists are familiar with the idea of a function of the ‘absence’ of morphemes which is currently called “zero”. Western linguists beginning with de Saussure's work of 1879 have often postulated the existence of the so-called zero-morphemes where the actual perceptible linguistic form does not match its relevant semantic and syntactic content (see T. Pontillo 2002, p.559ff.). They resorted to this device on the basis of a significant opposition pointed out between comparable morphological structures.
As focused by Al-George (Al-George 1967, p.121), on the other hand, the Indian linguistic zero is not a mere device, adopted for a descriptive purpose. It rather seems to represent “the consequence of a definite philosophy of form”, namely “the category which exists though not embodied in a concrete form, suspended as a pure virtuality at the border between existence and non-existence”.

Dunno 'bout you, but doesn't that sound a bit like Ibn Arabi's barzakh, if not the Tibetan bardo? But, before we develop that idea, let us define a notion of 'Zero derivation' as what happens, from the morphological p.o.v, when a word shifts from one category (e.g. noun, verb, adjective etc) to another without any apparent change in form. The null morpheme is invoked here, by formalists, as a sort of invisible affix permitting a word's conversion from one category to another. This poses the problem of polysemy for word-formation theory- which emphasizes connection between form and meaning- because visible affixes have a limited set of meanings whereas zero-morphemes are not limited in this way. For this reason, generative linguistics of the Panini/Chomsky type might appear to be of limited use. Perhaps language is just an extension of general cognition rather than syntax being an independent cognitive system autonomous from general cognition. Under this view, semantics takes center stage whereas for generative linguistics it is syntax which is the star of the show. However, the more inflectional endings a language retains, the bigger the constraint on run-away Congitivist metonymy and the greater the canalisation towards Generative null-morpheme polysemy. However what can be said about words- viz zero-derivation based on null morphemes- can be said of larger collocational units. In other words, we have a route from null morphemes, to metonymy via zero derivation, to meta-metaphoricity all of which occurs 'at the border between existence and non-existence'- i.e. in barzakh. Perhaps this answers the question with which Dr. Freschi concludes her post- 

A more general problem is: How can an absent element perform a function notwithstanding its absence? How comes that an effect can be grasped in absence of its cause? 

On the latter problem, see here (on tantra and prasaá¹…ga as a possible answer).

Her book on Tantra is coming out next month (November 2012)- so that's one for the Christmas stockings sho' nuff.

German Indology and the God of British Philosophy

Britain boasts some Philosopher Saints but has only one Savant who has been recognized as a God. Needless, to say the philosopher I am speaking of is Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh who cows the sullen Scots, and prevents a Second Enlightenment breaking out North of the Border, by holding a sinister Festival in his honor every Summer. When I was young, copies of 'the wit and wisdom of Prince Philip' featured prominently on the bookshelves of Company C.F.O's and Partners in Auditing firms. But it was only the aborigines of the Channel isles who dared to worship the Prince as a God.
What has all this to do with Western Indology? Well, since only God knows why Western, especially German, Indologists refuse to learn anything from India, only Price Phillip can explain the origin of this scruple. He did so on his visit to China in the 1980's. Meeting a group of British students studying there he observed with surprise that they had not all turned 'slitty-eyed'. So now we know. The parents of good little Gunther, learning he has elected to study Sanskrit rather than Sausage Making at University, naturally get very angry and put their foot down because they don't want their pink and plump little child to turn into a skeletal, ebony colored Mahatma, dressed in a dhoti rather than lederhosen. So Gunther promises them that he will stick with Western Indology which involves only talking to other plump, pink little lederhosen wearing sausage eaters and strictly avoiding any of them damn darkies South of Swabia.

'Deep Orientalism'- revisiting a dead debate

Sheldon Pollock was just a naive young shiksa playing the Barbara Streisland role in Summer Stock revivals of Funny Girl and Schindler's List when Edward Said wrote a very silly book called 'Orientalism' which was about how like there were these European professors and they said some awfully mean  things about A-rabs, okay?- and then coz like Foucault said Knowledge is like about Power, okay? and like them mean old Europeans had some power, okay? and like many Arabs didn't have as much, y'know? and that's like real important, dude, coz it's like 'Orientalism'? And that's bad okay?
The problem with Said's thesis is that the Europeans who had power didn't care about the stupid prejudices of European professors because in Europe and America and everywhere else, Professors have no power and are widely regarded as shitheads. Moreover, people with or without power are perfectly capable of making stupid, ignorant and prejudiced comments about any topic under the sun and so they didn't need Professors egging them on to treat some Arabs, who didn't have much power, badly because that's what  evil bastards do in the ordinary course of things.

Anyway, Said's book was a best-seller and so Sheldon Pollock wanted to write something even sillier because that's how Professors compete with each other. Amazingly enough, in 1993, he actually managed to write a paper even stupider than Said's book. In this paper he claimed that German Indologists- an industrious but low I.Q bunch of pedants who produced dictionaries and grammars and translations- i.e. who did some donkey work- were in fact so influential that they managed to get the German people to sign up for Nazism and Genocide because unlike English or French Orientalism 'which were directed outward at conquering and subduing foreign races', German Indology was 'potentially directed inwards towards the domination of Europe itself'.
German scholars protested that this was nonsense. The German people, like German politicians, cared nothing for German Indology. Latin was of interest to Catholics, Hebrew and Greek were important for Protestants- the Germans are a Christian nation- but Sanskrit did not matter, Pali did not matter, the religious observances of the Hindus or Buddhists or whatever was a matter of profound indifference to them. True there were all sorts of silly mystical ideas floating around. But these would have existed even if India had never existed. The India of the Aryans was on a par with the lost continent of Atlantis or the Tellurian civilization which survives under the Earth or the flying monkeys of Oz or the talking Triangles of Flatland.

No doubt some Indologists showed some marks of 'scientific method' in their donkey work. Indubitably, some Indologists, like every other type of Scholar, jumped on the Nazi bandwagon or provided material for Nazi ideologues, but Indology was no more complicit in the burgeoning of Nazism than Meiji era pornography or Mayan numerology.

The question facing Indian intellectuals is whether they can write something even stupider than Edward Said or sillier than Sheldon Pollock. Sadly, the answer is no, not yet. But Prof Visva Adluri comes close. Defending |Pollock's 'Deep Orientalism',  from a German critic he writes-
In other words, Pollock is saying, German Indologists were compiling their dictionaries and getting on with other such donkey work in a rational and methodical manner- let's call that 'scientific method'. True, they occasionally expressed some ideas of their own which were utterly stupid. let us term that stupidity- ideology. Adluri now makes his stunning argument. Since something German Indologists did was 'scientific' rather than 'ideological', and since like all other branches of Scholarship, Indology too jumped on the Nazi bandwagon, it therefore follows that it was the 'uncritical acceptance of the rhetoric of Science' which made German Indology unusually susceptible to being harnesssed to the most diverse and inhuman of ends.' 
Schrodinger knew a lot about both Science and Indology. He wasn't susceptible to being 'harnessed to the most diverse and inhuman of ends'. Andre Weil knew a lot about both Science and Sanskrit- he decided not to fight in the Second World War because that's how he interpreted the message of the Gita. Why was he not susceptible to 'being harnessed to the most diverse and inhuman of ends?' Clearly there were a lot of people in Europe who were extremely susceptible to being harnessed to the most diverse and inhuman of ends. But many if not most of them did not display an 'uncritical acceptance of the rhetoric of Science'. They did display an uncritical acceptance of the rhetoric of Hitler- but Hitler's ranting wasn't Science.

Adluri defense of Pollock, he tells us, is not based on showing that some Indologists were Nazis but that 'scientific' German Indology, by reason of its uncritical attachment to the rhetoric of Science, was somehow bound to express itself as a drive to dominate Europe. He quotes the example of Jakob Wilhelm Hauer-
Is Adluri right? Was Hauer a 'scientific Indologists' or just an 'ideologue'? Let us look at the facts. Hauer was humbly born and went to India as a Missionary. He learnt a bit of Sanskrit and, like the ultra-lovable American Missionary Samuel Stokes- Himachal's Johhny Appleseed-  abandoned Christianity under the influence of the Gita. He came back to Germany and after some further studies managed to get a teaching post. He also started up a new Religion of his own.
 So- what's your verdict? Was this guy a 'scientific linguist', like Saussure, or was he an 'ideologue' like Savitri Devi?
Recall, British India would have interned Hauer had he been in India in 1914.  Conditions in the Camps weren't always good. Tiny Rowland's parents were interned in India and it turned him against Britain permanently.
Savitri Devi too turned against the Brits because she was half Greek and (why?) misinterpreted British policy as a 'betrayal' of her nation (Eugenides shows that the Greek tragedy in Smyrna was 'self-inflicted' by a worthless windbag of a drug addled Athenian self proclaimed Alciabiades.)
People, even seemingly intelligent people, do stupid things. So what? How does a selective doxography of stupidity advance any Research Program?

Vishava Adluri teaches Philosophy- yet this is the argument he makes-
 Grunendahl says- look these guys didn't become Nazis because they were doing 'scientific' Indology- there were other reasons, for example that they were just predisposed to be Nazi type shitheads. Adluri says- sorry, Grunendahl, nice try but no cigar. Your argument might be persuasive if you guys (that is German Indologists) had distanced yourself from them.
Adluri's argument is simply mad. If German Indology really is conceives of itself as 'scientific'- or as Wissenschaft- then it thinks of itself as being like Chemistry or Maths. The fact that a guy is a Commie or Nazi or whatever does not change the Science he does. He still gets credit for his Scientific discoveries. At least that's what happens in Liberal Democracies. Adluri teaches in America but he does not know this. So why is he making such a ridiculous argument? The answer is that he thinks the fact that there was even a little bit of 'science' in Hauer means that Pollock is right; it was that bit of Science which turned Hauer Nazi. But here is the problem. Hauer was a stupid man. He loved the Gita. So he read whatever he wanted into it and said everything else was an interpolation. This isn't doing 'science' at all. Scientists have to be disinterested. Hauer wasn't. It doesn't matter what contemporary German Indologists think, unless you can show they are not morons but Adluri provides evidence that they are all worthless shitheads.
Adluri's inability to reason matches that of the German Indologists. All he has proved is the common sense view that Professors are stupid donkeys. That's one reason why they have no influence or power. They may be good at arse-licking but so are a lot of equally worthless sociopaths who don't got from education.
Adluri quite correctly shows the worthlessness of German Indology- which refuses to actually learn from India (okay, Paul Thieme was an exception because he taught for a couple of years in Allahabad)- but what Pollock or he himself is doing is exactly the same thing.

In other words, Pollock's 'Deep Orientalism' is right because German Indologists were stupid donkeys who, unfortunately, were German and hence suffered from Germanism. But what is this 'Germanism'?
Adluri evokes, in the second sentence of the passage quoted above, Hegel's struggle for Recognition as well as the notion of alterity. Is he suggesting that these concepts only have relevance to German people? Why? Is it in their D.N.A? Perhaps it has to do with their potty training? Surely, instead of talking about Indology, Adluri should talk about Germany and why it creates these savants who 'by reason of an uncritical acceptance of the rhetoric of Science' end up 'harnessed to diverse inhuman ends'. Or is Adluri saying that Indology somehow worsened Germanism, that it made that disease more virulent? Yet there were Scholars of all sorts of other things, besides Indology, who were attracted to Nazism.
The answer to this question is that, yes, Adluri really does have a theory of 'Germanism'.  What is it? Let us see how a German Indologist, Grunendahl, summarizes and responds to Adluri's astonishing discovery.
'Thanks to Adluri’s “own research” we now see what this agenda (i.e. German Indology as being complicit in Nazi ideology) is about, namely, “that German Indology was always far more preoccupied with the rivalry with its European peers than with legitimizing colonization” (which colonization this might have been is not specified, and probably awaits further research); in fact, “one can notice a preoccupation throughout its history with claiming a ‘European’ identity for itself,” an outrageous claim indeed, it must be said, “albeit one that also takes into consideration its unique place among other European nations” (2011: 266). One stands in awe at the profundity of these insights, and realizes only too clearly that common sense is indeed an urgent desideratum here, to say nothing of evidence-based research.' 

Said's 'Orientalism' passed muster as a sort of protest against racial stereotypes and 'essentialism'. Pollock's Deep Orientalism- on the evidence of Adluri's essay- is not interested in rejecting racial stereotypes but in reinforcing them with the stupidest, most parochial reasoning possible.
Why is he doing it? Everybody knows the Germans were deeply provincial pedants and shitheads.True they were industrious in a mindless sort of way. That's why they were good at the philological donkey work in their PhD factories. Yes, like all deeply provincial pedants incapable of reasoning they had a great opinion of themselves. American Indologists aren't any better. But whereas the Germans tried to conquer Europe and failed and were conquered instead, America hasn't been conquered. But that's scarcely Pollock's fault.
Returning to Adlui's theory of Germanism, the authentically German, Grunendahl writes- 'In this endeavour, too, Adluri merely echoes Pollock, who “had set the stage for radically rethinking…[the] scholarly dogmas on India” (257) by declaring that “in a post-colonial and post-Holocaust world,…these traditional foundations and uses of Indology have disappeared,…crumbled” and led to a feeling of “impotence” and “loss of purpose” (Pollock 1993: 111, 113); in short, Indologists “no longer know why they are doing what they do” (88). Consequently, we can only expect an “Indology beyond the Raj and Auschwitz” (114) from “self-consciously responsible scholarship in late twentieth-century America” 
"As Pollock’s post-Orientalist messianism would have us believe, only late twentieth-century (and now twenty-first-century) America is intellectually equipped to reject and finally overcome Eurocentrism” and “European epistemological hegemony,” that is, “a pre-emptive European conceptual framework of analysis [that] has disabled us from probing central features of South Asian life, from pre-western forms of ‘national’ (or feminist, or communalist, or ethnic) identity or consciousness, pre-modern forms of cultural ‘modernism,’ pre-colonial forms of colonialism”

So now you know.
Personally, I blame David Cameron.
That boy aint right.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Time to pension off the Indo-China War?

Sixty years ago, today, the Indo-China got underway. Sadly, the great cowardice and defeatism displayed by Nehru, Kaul et al, prevented these two grossly over populated countries collaborating properly on advancing modern Civilization- that is slaughtering each other and spreading syphilis- in the Himalayas.

I was astonished to learn that Neville Maxwell- who used leaked Indian source material, shamefully kept secret from the Public, to paint Nehru as the aggressor- is still alive and as combative as ever. Good luck to him, but it is certainly time to pension off the Indo-China boundary clash as far as Public discourse is concerned.

It is now clear that both India and China were wrong to consider Tibet a part of China. Its relationship with Mongols and Manchus may have come under the rubric of suzerainty, but that relationship lapsed with the fall of the Manchus and the reassertion of Han Rule. Manchuria itself had adopted much Confucian culture prior to its conquest of China and, later on, Chinese immigration changed the demographic balance such that the Chinese claim to Manchuria was reasonable. Nothing similar could be claimed about Tibet- not to mention areas which may at some point in time have been within the Tibetan sphere of influence.

Nehru, the disciple of Gandhi, had everything to gain by losing a war and coming across like a pathetic old woman. Even Nasser gained a boost in public esteem by querulously threatening to resign over his dismal performance in the 1967 War. Furthermore, India was heavily committed to begging bowl diplomacy, so the fact that the Chinese took their pants down and made jokes about the size of their genitals was, clearly a good thing. However, the most important aspect of 1962 was that it split the Communists and discredited the  Gandhian nutjobs- all good stuff which laid the foundation for Indira Gandhi's ascent, not to say apotheosis, to a type of autocratic power which her father certainly aspired to but never achieved.

I suppose, in one respect, the 1962 clash has had one lasting legacy- viz. the political expediency and acceptability of ignoring the North East. Nehru never apologized for his Radio broadcast abandoning the Assamese to their fate. It would have cost him nothing to indulge in a bit of 'blood, sweat & tears' rhetoric. Instead he sent an unmistakeable signal that them 'chinkies' in the North East aint asli Hindustani. The Army did beef up its presence on the Tibetan border and in Sikkim- but the Siliguri gap was neglected. Perhaps, Bengalis- Bangladeshis included- are seen as virtually 'Hindustani', whereas them chinkis up along the Himalayas have no similar importance- especially now they are progressing well Educationally and Culturally while the Hindi belt concentrates on Khap panchayati rape and murder to uphold Morality and protest against Globalization.

Monday 15 October 2012

Suka & Rahul

Suka was a bird, Rahu a snake- the bird flew by the net of karma and dharma leaving his father behind alone and bereft; the snake swallowed the Moon and Sun but it was still an obstacle, a fetter- Rahula- and so his father ran away.
In the brahmodya- the Brahmin duel- it is with amrit upon the tongue that the head is cut off- but the Kabandha torso left over, which thinks with its belly, is nevertheless  everything that is worthwhile for verily all that is, is food, all that was is food, all that will be, food so just imagine the washing up.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Philosophy's facile victories

Philosophy's facile victories over all past and future evils are only made possible, as La Rochefoucauld reminds us, by its fawning posture as the lap dog of what is most pressing in present inequity such that, as Nietzche says, Philosophy's cant, like Kant's, ever proves, in a way that would dumbfound the solid citizen, that the good burgher is actually right: that, verily, is the secret joke of Philosophy's flippant soul. It writes against the scholars in support of popular prejudice, but ever for scholars and never for the people.

So not Ararat, Eve's tears defile

The Future, vast, is unknown to me. 
It dams the Past's dark tributary
Soil Aswan Death's renewing Nile
 Not Arafat, Eve's tears defile

Caliban ycrypt in Miranda eyes

Too Beautiful child, you yet are wise
To turn a negligent ear to my replies
Nor with Worldy Wit to Catechize
A Caliban ycrypt in Miranda eyes

& so, tho' partaking of a common repast
I into outer darkness yet am cast
The lad you look at, looking only at me
So all, in him, my secret see.

That Love be humbled, yet is Pride
& to Caliban, betrothed, the Church as bride
 Beauty, Child, is this unshriven hide
It seeks The Word it can't abide

Prince! Milan had a Mage 'fore Prospero
Tho' Magic be all it now can know.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Andrew Nicholson's 'Unifying Hinduism'- a Nikal Seyni critique.

As a devout Nikal Seyni faqir, I feel it my duty to point out, right at the outset of my review of 'Unifying Hinduism', that Prof. Andrew J Nicholson is not the current avatar of Brigadier John Nicholson, avenger of the Mutiny, and so though this young Professor chastises the Subaltern or Sepoy or plain Silly Scholars who claimed that the Brits invented Hinduism a couple of Centuries ago, he does not do it by strapping those beggarly rebels against sweet Reason to the mouths of canons and blowing them to pieces- surely the kindest way of dealing with them- instead, he puts forward the equally ludicrous notion that actually some medieval Pandit accidentally unified Hinduism while compiling  a doxology or practising dialectics or ticking off his dhobi or some other such routine activity, and this happened a couple of centuries before British rule got off the ground. Why does Nicholson have to make this absurd claim? Well, if he admitted that the Gita already shows Samkhya and Yoga darshanas as being viewed as close to or complementary with Advaita then he pretty much admits the Hindutva 'Sanaatan Dharma' case. Indeed, since Buddhism and Jainism aren't really nastika in that both, from the earliest times, affirmed a relationship with the Rg Veda and moreover attracted a large number of Brahmin converts right from the outset, Nicholson's entire argument falls apart. Indeed, the material he presents supports only the common sense Hindutva view- viz. intellect applied to sectarian polemics is using one's brain as a bedpan- insanitary but not obligatory,
Nicholson's hero, Vijnanabhikshu, maintains a demarcation between Hinduism as against Buddhism and Jainism- but this could be because, under Muslim rule, Buddhism had disappeared and popular Jain religion was scarcely flourishing in his part of India. Prior to Muslim rule there had been many occasions, as is attested by Sanskrit and Tamil and Kannada literature, when Hindutva type Hinduism was the rule- i.e. it was a big tent affair- and sectarian polemics was a sort of hilarious joke or onerous chore Society imposed upon Soteriology so as to enliven its Saturnalia.
Nicholson tells us that prior to the 12th Century, many 'Hindu' savants devoted themselves to controverting the doctrines of rival sects. He does not tell us that this was considered very very funny and that in so far as the thing had a political dimension, or actual Sociological impact, the real question was which shrine or Saint had greater magical power or which dynasty was on the rise and which entering decline.
If it were really true that, prior to the 12th Century, there was no understanding that 'Hindu' thinkers shared a common orthodoxy, or at least had commonalities sufficient to differentiate themselves from non Hindus, then -clearly- it is only the Muslim invasion which is being remarked on (but only by implication coz otherwise one might be labelled a vulgar Islamophobe) because Jainism and Buddhism and Ajivika religion permitted dual loyalty- one could be an orthodox Brahmin or whatever and also a Jain shravak or a Buddhist lay disciple or whatever.  In other words, we can have confidence in advance that Nicholson is going to have to stack the deck in order to get the result he wants- viz. that something happened in 'intellectual history' which had nothing to do with Muslims but which 'unified Hinduism' anyway. Furthermore, we can predict how Nicholson will stack the deck based on our knowledge of the academic availability cascades of the last twenty or thirty years. To start off with, some pretty flakey whackjobs- like Paul Hacker, whom I personally drove out of Bonn in 1963 by reason of my ultra Hindu 'inclusivist' zeal to shit and piss on every resident of that small town- will get air-time simply so as to erect a straw-man purvapaksha- then, aberrant scholastics like Kumarila are going to have their importance totally overstated. For sure, foolish memes about Mimamsa and Nyaya- especially navya nyaya- are going to be repeated, as if that shite meant anything even to its own practitioners; the mainstream Jaina tradition will be ignored in favour of one or two tendentious Sanskrit belles lettrists; Sheldon Pollock's bollocks will be genuflected to- tatte utana we say in Hindi- and some perhaps sound enough PhD research is going to be stretched out into a real sketchy appearance of paradigm busting by means of a sort of self-willed cultural blindness that mimics but can't compete with that of asli head-up-one's-own arse tradition of authentic Indian scholarship.
Thus Nicholson, naively, will tell us that that he has discovered that at some point in time every sect has reckoned members of every other sect will burn in hell fire unless they convert immediately according to some complicated ritual. This is supposed to prove Hinduism wasn't unified. The trouble is the Indians already had the notion that everybody spends at least a few eternities in various Hells and Heavens not to mention countless births as bigoted upholders of the rival creed etc, etc. But karma working over infinite Time means that apparently conflicting ontologies- such as that of Umasvati, Nagarjuna and Sankara- cash out as the same thing because it turns out that all the eternities in Hell, Heaven and so on last less than a blink of an eye compared to the truly eternal eternity of kevalya/nirvana/mukti.
Nicholson, bless his cotton socks, plays the ingenue biting the finger of amazement that his hero found commonalities between totally distinct systems. But these systems were only distinct to scholars- i.e. people Indians have always recognized as utter imbeciles. This is not to say Vijnanabhikshu isn't interesting or rewarding to read. He is, but as a means of enriching our reading of contemporary riti poets and vice versa coz that kinda thing sure feeds bhakti and bhakti verily is bliss- well at least the kind of bliss that don't fast track you to type 2 diabetes.
One thing that always puzzled me was the claimed rediscovery of a living Samkhya tradition in Bengal back in the 1920's (if I recall correctly). I've got a Hindi book purporting to be from that Ashram on my shelf and always wondered whether maybe this Samkhya school is actually descended- or fabricated-  from Vijnanbhikshu, some of whose works were published in the Nineteenth Century.
Anyroad, nothing greatly wrong with the content of Nicholson's book that I could see. My feeling is that its faux naive problematization is just the two drink, intellectual dishonesty, minimum for getting into Academic Publishing's Comedy Club these days. This is Nicholson's first book- so there's hope yet is what I'm saying. Or perhaps that's just my own naive faith in the Nikal Seyni eschaton in which young Andrew is transfigured into the avenging Angel who finally puts the smackdown on, if not Michael Witzel or Sheldon Pollock, then at least Jeffry Kripal or  Purushottam Billimoria. Wendy O'Doniger, however, is off limits. But for her warning that the South Indian Brahmin female bites off the penis of her consort before beheading him, I might have had an arranged marriage myself. Not that Iyer parents are too niggardly to hire a nice electron microscope for my bride to detect my penis on the honeymoon night- it's just I don't believe in dowry system- that's all.

Raj Kumar Shukla- usurer or agriculturist?

In 1911 or 1912, the King Emperor visited the Nepal border terai for a spot of shikar. 15,000 tenant farmers from Champaran turned up to shout out their grievances to him. He was told they were just shouting because they were excited to see him. They then sent a petition. This was returned because it hadn't gone through the proper channels.

If King Emperors are useless, what about Mahatmas?

Mahatma Gandhi tells us that he came to the aid of the indigo cultivators of Champaran at the insistence of a humble agriculturist- Raj Kumar Shukla.

Yet I read here that Shukla 'was accompanied by two local Marwari businessmen in his visits to Gandhiji in Kanpur as well as Calcutta. A moneylender of village Murli Bharwa near Narkatiaganj in West Champaran, earning, according to his own statement before the enquiry committee set up by the provincial government, a sum of rupees two thousand a month from interest, Shukla, by no standard, was a needy or poor man. Earlier he was in the employ of a landlord in Benares but was dismissed on account of malfeasance. So he was a disgraced man per se.'

I would like to point out that the author of this comment, Dr. A.K. Biswas, though a former U.P University Vice Chancellor, is nevertheless not a criminal- charge sheeted or otherwise. This glaring lack of even the minimal qualification appropriate to high Academic office in the Gangetic belt totally undermines his credibility.

Still, he has solved the mystery of Raj Kumar Shukla. The man was a money-lender and thus wanted the agriculturists to have more disposable income so they could incur and service more debt. That's why the tenants trusted him and sent him to the I.N.C meeting at Lucknow. Bihari lawyers too wanted the same thing because, as Gandhi pointed out, they charged a lot of money and, driven by insatiable greed, were scheming to expand their potential client base even in the boondocks. Furthermore, in Champaran, there were many European leaseholders so what was essentially an agitation against the illegal advabs levied by zamindaris (i.e. illegal extortion by landlords of tenants) gained a sort of 'swadeshi' Nationalist tinge.

Prof. Girish Mishra writes- 'In December 1916, the Indian National Congress was holding its annual session at Lucknow, not very far from Champaran. A group of peasants, advised by some well-wishers, went there. This session proved to be extraordinary because, for the first time, a semi-literate rustic was allowed to speak from the dais. Raj Kumar Shukla spoke in broken Hindi but with lots of emotion and sincerity that moved the elite audience, but no one was prepared to go to Champaran to lead the agitating peasantry. Lokmanya Tilak was too unwell to accept their request. Almost dejected, they sought the advice of Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya who advised them to persuade Mohandas Gandhi who had recently returned from South Africa after leading a prolonged, but successful, struggle. If he agreed to go there, he would surely make them achieve their goal. Shukla, then, met Gandhi and narrated his tale of woes, but Gandhi did not commit though he listened attentively and asked Shukla for some time to think over his request after he reached Kanpur.

'When Gandhi arrived at the office of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi’s newspaper Pratap, he found that Shukla was already there, beseeching him to come to Champaran. Gandhi told him that he was going to Kolkata (then Calcutta) to visit Barrister Bhupendra Nath Basu and there he would give a thought to his request and decide. Lo and behold! Shukla was already there when Gandhi arrived. Shukla’s sincerity and genuineness of his case impressed Gandhi immensely and both of them set out on their journey to Champaran.'

So what do we have here? Gandhi sees this guy pop up wherever he goes yet calls him a simple agriculturist. Why? Because Gandhi liked 'experimenting with Truth'.


Champaran is the land of King Janaka. Just as it abounds in mango groves, so used it to be full of indigo plantations until the year 1917. The Champaran tenant was bound by law to plant three out of every twenty parts of his land with indigo for his landlord. This system was known as the tinkathia system, as three kathas out of twenty (which make one acre) had to be planted with indigo.
I must confess that I did not then know even the name, much less the geographical position, of Champaran, and I had hardly any notion of indigo plantations. I had seen packets of indigo, but little dreamed that it was grown and manufactured in Champaran at great hardship to thousands of agriculturists.

Rajkumar Shukla was one of the agriculturists who had been under this harrow, and he was filled with a passion to wash away the stain of indigo for the thousands who were suffering as he had suffered.

This man caught hold of me at Lucknow, where I had gone for the Congress of 1916. "Vakil Babu will tell you everything about our distress," he said, and urged me to go to Champaran. "Vakil Babu" was none other than Babu Brajkishore Prasad, who became my esteemed co-worker in Champaran, and who is the soul of public work in Bihar. Rajkumar Shukla brought him to my tent. He was dressed in a black alpaca achkan and trousers. Brajkishore Babu failed then to make an impression on me. I took it that he must be some vakil exloiting the simple agriculturists. Having heard from him something of Champaran, I replied as was my wont : "I can give no opinion without seeing the conditions with my own eyes. You will please move the resolution in the Congress, but leave me free for the present." Rajkumar Shukla of course wanted some help from the Congress.

Babu Brajkishore Prasad moved the resolution, expressing sympathy for the people of Champaran, and it was unanimously passed.

Rajkumar Shukla was glad, but far from satisfied. He wanted me personally to visit Champaran and witness the miseries of the ryots there. I told him that I would include Champaran in the tour which I had contemplated and give it a day or two. "One day will be enough," said he, "and you will see things with your own eyes." From Lucknow I went to Cawnpore. Rajkumar Shukla followed me there. "Champaran is very near here. Please give a day," he insisted. "Pray excuse me this time. But I promise that I will come," said I, further committing myself.

I returned to the Ashram. The ubiquitous Rajkumar was there too. "Pray fix the day now", he said. "Well" said I, "I have to be in Calcutta on such and such a date, come and meet me then, and take me from there." I did not know where I was to go, what to do, what things to see.

Before I reached Bhupen Babu's place in Calcutta, Rajkumar Shukla had gone and established himself there. Thus this ignorant, unsophisticated but resolute agriculturist captured me.

So early in 1917, we left Calcutta for Champaran, looking just like fellow-rustics. I did not even know the train. He took me to it, and we travelled together, reaching Patna in the morning.

This was my first visit to Patna. I had no friend or acquaintance with whom I could think of putting up. I had an idea that Rajkumar Shukla, simple agriculturist as he was, must have some influence in Patna. I had come to know him a little more on the journey, and on reaching Patna I had no illusions left concerning him. He was perfectly innocent of everything. The vakils that he had taken to be his friends were really nothing of the sort. Poor Rajkumar was more or less as a menial to them. Between such agriculturist clients and their vakils there is a gulf as wide as the Ganges in flood.

Rajkumar Shukla took me to Rajendra Babu"s place in Patna.

Rajendra Babu had gone to Puri or some other place, I now forget which. There were one or two servants at the bungalow who paid us no attention. I had with me something to eat. I wanted dates which my companion procured for me from the bazaar.1 There was strict untouchability in Bihar. I might not draw water at the well whilst the servants were using it, lest drops of water from my bucket might pollute them, the servants not knowing to what caste I belonged. Rajkumar directed me to the indoor latrine, the servant promptly directed me to the outdoor one. All this was far from surprising or irritating to me, for I was inured to such things. The servants were doing the duty, which they thought Rajendra Babu would wish them to do.

These entertaining experience enhanced my regard for Rajkumar Shukla, if they also enabled me to know him better. I saw now that Rajkumar Shukla could not guide me, and that I must take the reins in my own hands.

Reading the above, one would conclude that Gandhi wanted to stop peasants being forced to grow indigo. But the invention of a chemical dye by the Germans had already made indigo less lucrative. Acreage under indigo fell from a high of 96000, in 1897, to just 8000 acres in 1914. It was only thanks to the War that demand for indigo increased and acreage went up to 27000 acres in 1917.

Previously, the share-croppers, under the leadership of Sheikh Gulab, had put up some resistance to the planters, including murder and arson, and this had been partially successful though some tenants, including Sheikh Gulab, had to spend some time in Jail. Incidentally, a Marwari banker had played a part in this violent struggle. He was let off with a fine of 3000 rupees. The Govt. did make
inquiries in 1908 and a report was compiled but never published- a fact protested by Brajkishore Prasad in the Bihar Council in 1911 or thereabouts. Gandhi, of course, belittles him as an alpaca wearing lawyer sucking the blood of the tenants. Yet this man knew more in 1910 about Champaran's grievances than Gandhi ever discovered.

Rajendra Prasad, in his book ' Satyagraha in Champaran', paints a picture of a decline in the Government's ability or willingness to challenge 'adwabs' (illegal cesses) which distressed indigo factors were using to squeeze money out of the tenants to compensate them for their losses on capital invested in Indigo factories. Furthermore, Sir Rasbihari Ghose had given a legal opinion to the planters that they could increase rents by more than the statutory amount on the excuse of releasing tenants from growing a specific crop. Thousands of tenants agreed to higher rents so as to get rid of the onerous burden of growing indigo because, as they later said to Mahatma Gandhi, they were all beaten and dishonored till they agreed. They said that they knew indigo would disappear by itself because it was no longer profitable so why on earth would they voluntarily agree to a rent hike that would affect their posterity? Of course, the fact that War would break out and indigo once again become profitable was not known to them then. Thus, the truth of the matter is, those being forced to grow indigo were the ones who hadn't agreed to the higher rent, because they hadn't foreseen that Britain would go to war with Germany and thus the cheaper chemical dye would no longer be available. Not wishing to admit this was the case, they, with rustic logic, claimed to have agreed to higher rents only because they were beaten and tortured. Since the beating and torture was imaginary, they could maintain that they were unable to stop growing indigo, despite paying higher rents to escape from that onerous burden, because yet more beating and torture was being constantly piled upon them.

Rajendra Prasad observes- 'every tenant was not roughly dealt with, every tenant was not tied to a tree and then beaten with leather straps, every tenant was not shut up in a chicken-pen or in some dirty place in the factory, peons were not quartered at the house of every tenant, Dhangars (a low class untouchables)may not have been posted obstructing the egress from and ingress into the house of every tenant, every tenant may not have been tied down in the hot sun or a heavy load placed on his head or breast it may be that the services of barber, washerman, carpenter and smith may not have been stopped in the case of every tenant, every tenant may not have been made the victim of a false prosecution in the criminal courts, the roads leading to every village may not have been closed and the grazing lands may not have been closed against the cattle of every tenant ; but this much is certain that some of the biggest and most respectable and influential among the tenants were severely dealt with in some one or more of these ways, and their spirit having been crushed, the rest of that and the neighbouring villages were easily coerced into submission.
It was only natural that they should submit to what they considered to be the inevitable.' 

In other words, the testimony given to Gandhi was 99.99 % lies because the planters simply did not have enough coercive power to inflict all the atrocities attributed to them. Still, they did have some coercive power so some at least 0.001 % of the statements taken had some substance. 

This is not to say that the planter's rent enhancements were legal even if freely consented to. The District Judge, a Mr. Sheepshanks, found that in 5 out of 9 test cases the rent increases were illegal prima facie and appeals against this decision was subsequently barred by the Champaran Agrarian Act. In other words, if you read between the lines, Rajendra Prasad is telling us that Gandhi's tamasha in Champaran, aimed at disintermediating the Vakils (lawyers) was bound to fail. 

Poor idiot, the Mahatma thought he was destroying a source of profit for the lawyers but the issue had already been decided in law so and all those vultures needed was Administrative compliance. Here Polack and the great C.F. Andrews- as white men- were particularly useful in the early stages but Gandhi insisted Andrews return to Fiji- the Govt. of India had sent him to Fiji in 1915 to report on the conditions of indentured labourers there and so the danger existed that he'd get the credit for the I.N.C inquiry in Champaran into India's own quasi slavery- which was maybe why nothing lasting took root in Champaran despite some pretty impressive volunteers turning up to start schools with money from, the Marwari, Birla.

 Rajendra Prasad's book on Champaran is well written, Prasad was highly intelligent and well educated, and shows a mastery of the facts. But the conclusion it relentlessly militates towards is that it was the Zamindar's employment of goons which vitiated legal forms of redress. Add in well financed White planters with their ties to the Administration and the Anglo Indian Press and, clearly, the native lawyers and moneylenders were put at an unconscionable disadvantage when it came to making hay here where the Sun of Injustice shone so brightly. They needed an independent Inquiry in Champaran and- because Gandhi could still, at this early point in his career, be tricked into doing something useful- that's exactly what they got. But Zamindari as an institution- one that overwhelmingly benefited native lawyers and moneylenders- wasn't touched. Neither was Caste discrimination.

 Prof. Biswas (that brazenly un-charge sheeted Vice Chancellor) points out that the Champaran Agrarian Act did nothing to abolish illegal cesses and discriminatory rents on Scheduled Castes. Which, of course, just goes to show Gandhi's visitation really was the work of the same God who devised the terrible 1934 Earthquake in Bihar. Yet, the fact remains, Gandhi's Champaran sojourn wasn't utterly futile. It didn't actually make matters much worse. Why? The answer I suppose is because there was no 'dharna', no hunger strikes, no jail bharao, no nonsense about satyagraha. Just some sound lawyerly work which, strangely enough, was something Gandhi had actually been trained to do. There is a lesson here such that 'all who run may read'.
Mind it kindly.