Saturday 28 June 2014

My little flask

Ye Jamsheds who hold the Earth in fee
Your cups belie ecstasy.
Tho' Khayyam's songs the Heavens scry
That Galaxy is wrong in which we die.

My little flask
You only ask
That her to view
I empty you.

Thirsty is the lip o' the tilth
Sehra's tongue for Khizr's filth
Did the Saqi depart to seal its doom?
Or are my eyes now their own simoom?

Little flask, why
Do you empty lie?
She isn't here
Nor was ever near.

In the Stars' Wine Cup, the Sun casts its stone
Shadows forsake us, themselves forlorn
The world is the prayer mat on which Muezza sat
Couldn't the Prophet shoo a sleepy cat?

Why in these wastes did you let go my hand?
My little flask filling up with sand
Will you with the desert's advancing dunes
Hunt the gazelle with goliard tunes?

Or, like the Sphinx enclosed at Sehra's heart
Practice yet the Saqi's art?
Self mutilation is the only Sin
Yet how else heed the Muezzin?
Prince! Tho' savants thrill thy Cup to task
Happier yet my little flask.

Thursday 26 June 2014

The truth about the Brahmo Samaj

A bunch of gangsters move into your neighborhood and start beating up everybody and stealing anything they can get their hands on. Some locals cut a deal with the gangsters. These greedy little shysters work for the alien Crime Lords and get rich. Naturally, such scum are shunned by the better class of their own people. But they don't like being shunned- more especially because knowledge of their degraded status reduces the commission they are able to charge the Mleccha Mafia.
So they claim to be far Holier and more Spiritual and more Moral than even the elite of their own Society. How do they get away with this imposture? Well, one way is by claiming to know the true interpretation of Holy Scripture- indeed, they go further and claim they know the true interpretation of any and every Holy Scripture that ever was or might come to be.  Another way is to claim to be great patriots who only collaborated with the foreign gangsters so as to raise up the Nation till it once again occupy a wholly imaginary pinnacle of Purity and Enlightenment and true Humanitarianism.
Such was the origin of the Brahmo Samaj. Its founder thought worshiping idols was very very bad even though guys who weren't worshipping idols were self evidently no angels themselves.
Another thing which was very very bad was polytheism- like that of the Trinitarian Christians. Since conversion to Islam was no longer profitable this was an excellent argument to make. After all, Hindus who converted to Christianity were expected to lead a more, not less, moral life by their new Masters. That, by itself, disqualified converts from being the gangsters' compradors of choice. Hypocritical Hindu 'Brahmos' on the other hand were just what the Doctor ordered.
Unfortunately, though Brahmoism started off as anti-Hindu, its swift degeneration into an endogamous caste meant that Hindu values spontaneously regenerated within it and so, as time went on, even Brahmo's became patriots. Tagore himself stopped inveighing against the Freedom Fighters.
Why? He needed Marwari money.
Brahmoism had all but disappeared by the time I was born. Hegelian Marxism had been found to be a more potent source of mischief to the commonweal than even Benthamite Unitarianism. However, one wan hope remained- viz. the elderly expat Bengali Econ Professor. Don't write off Brahmoism till the very last of them bites the dirt pillow.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Why we must immediately ban D.H. Lawrence

I recall, as a boy of 14, thrilling to the sight of huge muscular coal miners suddenly appearing on the leafy lanes of Cricklewood in support of frail little sari clad Gujerati women who had gone on strike protesting the lack of air conditioning (London is very hot) at the Grunwick photo lab which happened to be owned by an Anglo-Indian with Right Wing views.
Imagine my dismay when the Indians, truly a beastly people as Churchill pointed out, repaid this generous gesture of solidarity on the part of the Miners by proceeding to make a hobby out of sodomizing them and hanging them from trees in various backward parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. When will this epidemic of sexual violence against Miners cease?
The answer, I'm afraid, is not till we ban D.H. Lawrence whose books sexualise and objectify Miners in a totally unacceptable way. His infamous 'Lady Chatterjee's lover' which propagandized for the pleasures of 'a bit of brown' has been turned, by brown people, into an instrument for the oppression of Miners who have already suffered enough at the hands of Mrs. Thatcher.
For which I personally blame David Cameron.
That boy aint right.

Aumann agreement and Arjuna's Vishada

The Bhagvad Gita tackles Arjuna's Vishada (Depression) which arises when he realizes that by doing his duty as a warrior in the Kurukshetra War he will have ended up bringing about the worst possible outcome for all sides- including his own.
Previously, a Gandharva (demi-god) had granted Arjuna the gift of' 'chaksushi vidya' such that Arjuna could always visualize whatever he wanted to know, that too in the manner he wished to visualize it. Arjuna did not accept it but the Gandharva didn't take it back either. This meant that it could vest in Arjuna the moment he ceased to be master of himself (which is what happens when you suffer 'Vishada'). The dramatic element in the Gita has to do with whether Lord Krishna will be able to prevent Arjuna from finding out, using the Gandharva's boon, that Karna is his true eldest brother because then the war can't go ahead as Karna wants. 

"The Gandharva said 'O Arjuna, I would like to impart to thee the power of (producing) illusions which Gandharvas alone have... This science is called Chakshushi. It was communicated by Manu unto Soma and by Soma unto Viswavasu, and lastly by Viswavasu unto me. Communicated by my preceptor, that science, having come unto me who am without energy, is gradually becoming fruitless. I have spoken to thee about its origin and transmission. Listen now to its power!rly One may see (by its aid) whatever one wisheth to see, and in whatever way he liketh (generally or particularly). One can acquire this science only after standing on one leg for six months. I shall however, communicate to thee this science without thyself being obliged to observe any rigid vow. O king, it is for this knowledge that we are superior to men. And as we are capable of seeing everything by spiritual sight, we are equal to the gods.'

Unlike Yuddhishtra, whose Vishada was only dispelled by having to learn Statistics and mathematical Game theory, Arjuna just gets, by 'moral luck', the equivalent of a perfect information, Bayesian predictor for everything. What's more, it has a neat little g.u.i such that it can show its results as a perfect simulation of a real world video, or even a Supernatural video, where Gods or Abstractions or  'Emergents' do the Narration, which is super-cool.

What has this to do with Aumann's agreement theorem? (which states that two people acting rationally (in a certain precise sense) and with common knowledge of each other's beliefs cannot agree to disagree. More specifically, if two people are genuine Bayesian rationalists with common priors, and if they each have common knowledge of their individual posteriors, then their posteriors must be equal.[1] Ziv Hellman has recently extended this result.)

Well, the Gita looks forward to a piquant situation where Arjuna fights his eldest brother, Karna, and slays him under the influence of 'Manyu' (dark anger).  Karna knows that if he reveals his birth, then Arjuna won't fight him and there will be no War. But Karna wants the War to go ahead- the condition for it is that 'common knowledge' is blocked by Karna's desire that his paternity remain unknown. It may be that Arjuna, who wants to obey his eldest brother, is constrained in some magical way by this wish of Karna. However, Arjuna- as is quite natural- does want to know the outcome of the War and immediately gets a vision of the horror and destruction and futility of it all. He still doesn't see the worst aspect of it for him personally- which is that he kills Karna in a mood of dark fury, exulting in revenge, and thus violates his own Dharma by committing the moral equivalent of parricide- but, perhaps, he doesn't want to see this because what he wants is already determined by Karna's desire that his paternity remain a secret and the War proceed as a great sacrifice by which warriors gain Heaven.

Interestingly, the Gita would still have the outcome if Arjuna had no special feeling of filial piety.Suppose Arjuna and Karna were not younger and older brother but two independent scholars of equal stature. Suppose both want 'common knowledge' except if at some later point they might regret it. Suppose, further that they each receive Arjuna's chaksushi vidya so they have zero computational or informational constraints. In that case, 'regret minimization' or 'Hannan consistency' militates for not Aumann agreement but disagreement iff the multiplicative weights index algorithm is efficient. Another way of saying the same thing is- Life is what makes the price of anarchy negative- or, as Heraclitus put it, Gods and Men die each others lives, live each others deaths.

Reading this interview with Hannan, what astonished me was how far ahead the Indians (mainly Bengalis and Maharashtrians) were in Statistics some seventy years ago. But, truth be told, there was nothing surprising at all about this.
The Indian clerisy- Revenue officials in the main- were doing boring Statistical Decision theory most of the time though, no doubt, with a bit of ars dictaminis Sycophancy as the cherry on top.

Thus, the traditional Indian reading of the Gita was always, au fond, Decision Theory based. It's basic finding- viz. Prescriptivity is vector not scalar- agree to disagree and then try to kill each other but stop short of complete genocide so some diversity at the margin is retained- is pretty much what Nature- the chrematistic aspect of Life- keeps telling us.

Since Hannan's result was known to the Indian Math/Stats community some sixty or seventy years ago and since, furthermore, Game theory was going from strength to strength over the same period, how come Maharashtrian Statisticians, like Kosambi, and Bengali Academics, like Amartya Sen, write utter shite about the Gita?

Well, clearly, it's because they are smarter than you and me- 'drunkards, fools and fishermen' that we are- because, though the Mahabharata was written for us, only the savants are blinded by it and proceed to enact their genocidal illusory wars coz Aumann agreement actually means not that you can't agree to disagree but that everybody has to just go on shitting all over everybody else lest, by some mischance, whatever strain of bacteria it is that makes our own farts pleasant to only our own nostrils go entirely extinct and it is to that great end that Poetry as Socioproctology too is a true emanation of the Blessed Gita.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Kalidas, thy Martingale

Love, Ghalib, is a losing bet
Memory maximises but regret
Anarchy's price let Ind entail
Kalidas, thy Martingale

The Qasidah's Naseeb & Nehru's tryst
Sophie's Choice from Schindler's list
& the Mahatma's  too secular ordination
 Schelling's Shoah of Co-ordination

O'er Shakuntala, yet, a vulture hovers
So only a Gossen ken 'ye heavenly powers'
I too would slaughter Helios' kine
Could Bharat drown in Balram's wine

1) Ghalib- 'the winning throw in a game of dice'- more generally the power of God as the 'king of strategists'.  Also the nom de plume of two great Turkish origin poets of the Nineteenth Century.
2) Vide- 'regret minimization and the price of total anarchy'. The chrematistic diversity of Life arises from an algorithm (mechanical decision process) associated with 'Hannan consistency' which, obviously, is like totally Indian dude cause Hannan, during the Second World War, was in India getting dysentery and malaria and shit and actually passed the site of the future Mahanalobis campus- this at a time when he'd never heard from Stats, later he found the 'Indians' to be way ahead in that Dept.- so like Q.E.D dude; Hannan is too totally Indian especially coz S.N. Roy taught him for a bit and from that sort of Bengal famine no one who recovers ever afterwards discovers Ramprasad Sen's intuition that Life is the Mother Theresa of Life- i.e lets it die so Not Life can burgeon.
Of course, Sen- good Bong that he was- derives entirely from Navadwipa's detournement on the Shakuntala's author's philosophically necessary Kumarasambhava.  Love is Memory and both are loser take all till the Lord burn up Eros and Ergodicity resumes with the birth of the War God.
3) Qaisdah- Arabic ode which begins with a nostalgic evocation of the Beloved's abandoned bedouin encampment- this erotic prelude is called 'naseeb'. This word has come to mean 'Fate's apportionment'- i.e Destiny.
4) Jawaharlal Nehru spoke of India keeping 'a tryst with Destiny' in his speech on the occasion of Indian Independence from Britain.  Conventionally, for Hindu poetry, such trysts are secret, transgressive and ontologically dysphoric.
5) Thomas Schelling's book on the Co-ordination problem decisively influenced David Lewis and thus shines a satirical light on much modern American psilosophy. If Professors- including Putnam and Dennet or even Dawkins and so on really believed Life evolved- if they believe it aint ontologically dysphoric, if not incompossible- then Abrahamic 'prophets' or Delphic 'oracles' or even fucking Gandhian/Rawlsian minimax gobshites gain a salience they themselves, by Putnam/Quine indispensability, are denied save as Lovecraftian revenants consecrated to the priestly service of not just Elder, but utterly Senile, Gods.
6) Shakuntala- play by Kalidasa. As a babe, she was sheltered from the Sun by the outspread wings of 'shakun' birds. Not doves, vultures.
7) Bharat was the son of Shakuntala. It is independent India's self-chosen name- 'Bharat, that is India'.
Balram was the elder brother of Lord Krishna who, during the Mahabharata war, chose to remain wholly drunk rather than participate in the slaughter.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

The British Struggle for Independence needs Gandhian leadership

The recent electoral success of UKIP has suddenly made the British Struggle for Independence newsworthy. For too long, the British people have been ground down by the jackboot of Europe.  Yet, what is the alternative? Without Brussels to tell the British what to put in their Pork Pies and Cornish pasties, the British will inevitably revert to cannibalism.
Prof. Majumdar, of Bhagalpur University, disagrees. Deciphering ancient Bengali manuscripts, he has found references to the existence of a flourishing manufacturing industry in Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century Britain. This, of course, does not prove that the British are capable of ruling themselves. Proponents of the Aryan Invasion theory suggest that German industrialists, like Friedrich Engels, had established small centers of Civilization  in places like Monchister and Burningham where people could talk boring bureaucratic shite to each other and fill out forms and hold endless meetings. Interestingly, the British people retain no such memory themselves. What, then, motivates their Struggle for Independence? The answer, I'm afraid, is that they're trying to mimic the Scots without realizing that Scots, too, are Brits, which is why they are fighting so desperately to go their own way.
Mahatma Gandhi, you will remember, got involved with the Indian Freedom for Struggle because Muhammad Ali Jinnah had removed the biggest obstacle towards its achievement by getting the Hindus and Muslims to form a common front and that was just Wrong coz Jinnah wore trousers instead of striding around in a diaper and True Independence can only be achieved if you wear a diaper.
The Gandhian contribution to the British Struggle for Independence, similarly, must concentrate not on establishing a common front with the Scots but insisting that politicians wear only diapers and babble incoherent nonsense. The alternative is that Brussels will just simply cut the apron strings and do a bunk.

Ghalib's ghazal 59

 Upon the latch of your gate, since I erect, with no word spoken,
Natch, my Estate,  you'll only detect by heard token

She says- now my Logos fails and her Laughter too is weak-
'What hearts say, I can't know, no wights speak!'

She who fixed upon my neck Love's collar of iron
This World surnames the tyranny of Zion.

By the time ghazal 59 was written, Ghalib had already composed several odes (qasida) to Ind's true 'sitamgars'- i.e ruinous tyrants- the British Imperialists and their ever Victorious Queen. Some of these qasidas were returned as improperly addressed- a familiar plaint in succeeding decades; Champaran's indigo farmers went en masse to petition the King Emperor, who was in their vicinity, for a spot of Tiger shooting ( this was a few years before Gandhi appeared on the scene) but their petition was rejected because it had not gone through the proper channels.

Conventionally, the qasida opens (nasib) with an account of the poet's sense of ruination on arriving at the encampment of the beloved only to see that it has already moved on.
First couplet

ghar jab banaa liyaa tire dar par kahe ba;Gair
jaanegaa ab bhii tuu nah miraa ghar kahe ba;Gair
1) when I built a house at your door, without [your/my] saying [anything]

2a) will you not know my house, even/also now, without [your/my] saying [anything]?
2b) you will not know my house, even/also now, without [your/my] saying [anything]!

Nowadays, of course, the beloved aint a bedouin- tho' perhaps little better than a 'street Arab' subsisting upon 'the produce of her vagrant amours'- yet her house is the centre of a now universal depredation which mirrors the activities of the 'Stationary Bandit' that is Company Raj- and though the foundation of my house is now but the eddying of dust at her too frequented door, yet she refuses to know my location save by way of my own nasib which is to but describe my desolation at her having already moved on though still at the same place.
It seems Ghalib has predicted the trajectory of the 'Post Colonial Subject' in this pithy verse.  The fatalism of the 'Musselman' in Primo Levis Auschwitz now has a triple valency as 
1) the beginning of Philosophy, which is the beginning of Love, which is the rekindling of anamnesis (the qasidah's nostalgic nasib) and proper induction into the Socratic practise of Death (T.S. Eliot knew that the Sanskrit 'Smara'- Love but also Memory- is but a sibilant prefixed to that distinguished...nothing which destroys both) i.e. the ecstatic, in articulo mortis, practice of relinquishing Maieutics for Mousike (the Urdu word derives from the Greek) but all to no avail for, Post or Pre Colonial subject- i.e. qua subject- all that is recited is some muthoi of Aesop such that the Lion in its net is rescued by mice who nibble away not the rope that binds the noble beast, but its very marrow and sinews.
2) The transformation of the notion of Sacred allotment or apportionment (nasib) into negative Entitlement- a tax owed to a Secular Aeon (ad-dhar) which we can't vilify because it robs us so thoroughly no tongue is left to us nor candle, book or bell.
3) Nasib not as the tempering of Thymos by terminable Fate but an un-annealing amor fati and Eternal, worse un-Ergodic, and therefore unmeaning, Recurrence and Seriality.

Second couplet 
kahte haiñ jab rahī nah mujhe t̤āqat-e suḳhan
jānūñ kisī ke dil kī maiñ kyūñkar kahe baġhair
1) [she] says, when the strength for speech did not remain to me,
2) 'how would I know [the speech] of anyone's heart, without [his] saying [it]?'

Sukhan, as used by Sheikh Galip, means 'Logos'- more particularly 'Logos' as self-evidently Logos, not vainglorious doxa, by reason of the special facility- or Lewis 'elite eligibility'-  which 'Poetry'- at least that of Galip or  Ghalib's-  shows in carving it up along its joints; or rather the reverse, restoring the Lion Aslan whose sinews our mind mice had previously been snacking on.

Third couplet
kām us se ā paṛā hai kih jis kā jahān meñ
leve nah koʾī nām sitamgar kahe baġhair

work/desire} with/through that one has befallen [me]-- [that one] of whom, in the world,
 no one would mention/invoke the name without saying 'tyrant'

Kaam, in the Hindvi tradition has a double valency- both 'work' and 'Eros'- and both are sublated by 'Naam'- the name- Eros perpetuates either an honourable family name or the stain of infamy just as Work (karm) perpetuates bondage to karma- the cycle of re-birth and nescience. Chanting the name of God- for example that of Shiva, one of whose epithets is 'Smarahara'- destroyer of 'Eros', destroyer of 'Memory'- including the memory of work done and debts owed- on the other hand releases from the delusion of ontology- the Name is higher than the Reality it signifies, indeed the Names of God- independent of attributes- are both cause and cure of worldly dysphoria.
From the time of Amir Khusrau, if not earlier, this theme had been very thoroughly integrated into Islamic mysticism- indeed, there is no difficulty in warranting it a wholly Arab intellectual provenance.
The equation of the beloved with the tyrant has, however, a specifically Indian meaning- given the use of the Hindvi words 'kaam' and 'naam'- best explicated by the story of, the Turkish, Sultan Mahmud and his beloved slave, the native, Ayaz who, proverbially, knew his place.
Ahmed Ghazzali analysed their relationship in terms reminiscent of Hegel's 'Master-Slave dialectic' such that, the 'Young' Marx's 'Alienation' applies equally, or- indeed- more particularly- to 'Love' rather than 'Labour' such that, in the same way that the Thymotic Roman Master becomes the helpless slave of the Wealth created by the self-objectifying Arts of his Stoic bondsman, so too does the  capricious Turkish Sultan come under the tutelage of his all tolerating Punjabi peon.
From the ecumenical Spiritual point of view, this raises a question regarding the archetypal figure of the 'beloved disciple'- be it Christ & St. John the Evangelist, or Lord Buddha and Ananda, or some rather more antinomian syzygies in the Malamati Sufi tradition which however should not be taken at face value so as to give scandal to the Faithful.
Goethe, I think, said that of the animals we know are assured of heaven, sans doubt, Prophet Muhammad's beloved cat Muezza, is up there along with the dog of Ephesus' Seven Sleepers.  Was that cat a Pharaonic 'tyrant' or 'Abu Houl' type 'father of terrors'- i.e. a Sphinx? It caused the Prophet to mutilate his robe.
Yet, surely, for all hearts, be we Muslim or Kaffir, that cat which sat on the mantle of Prophethood, is verily the name of all that empowers, honours and strengthens our own self-sought bondage to Love be that parole howsoever delayed.

Monday 16 June 2014

Vilayet-e-Faqih is both Rawlsian and euvoluntary

Newborn babies are among the poorest and most vulnerable communities on the planet. Yet, absent State action, most newborns tend to do all right because their Mums fuss over them and politely but firmly reject well-meaning attempts by Fathers to share the burden of child care by eating or auctioning off the obstreperous little interlopers.
The argument most tellingly employed by Mums on these occasions, comes in two parts- first, a reminder that Fathers too were once babies; and, second, that the onset of Senility's second childhood might leave a Daddy as vulnerable as a baby, though a good deal less cute and cuddly and, anyway, you can't go through life simply borrowing money off my brothers, you'll need sons and daughters to sponge off in your old age.

More generally, the knowledge that someone we care for, like ourselves, or might care for, like our future selves, could end up poor and vulnerable is sufficient to ensure widespread Democratic support for a Social Insurance scheme which provides an incentive compatible safety net. 
What can't arise from Democratic Social Choice is
1) the Rawlsian Liberty principle- this is because differences exist in the capacity to exercise Liberties- whether autonomously or via an attorney or other agent- in a self-regarding way. Those we might most feel a duty of care towards are likely to have the least capacity in this regard. Furthermore, Agent-Principal hazard is most extreme with respect to the most vulnerable, and there is no Secular workaround for this compatible with equal basic liberties for all. 
2)  the Rawlsian Difference principle- if we don't know if we're going to be losers or winners in the Game of Life, we might want to mitigate catastrophic consequences for losers, not because we think we will be losers- fuck it, if I'm gonna be a loser all my born days just put a bullet in my head, why don't you?- but because we know there's a chance we are going to be winners and so we want to be able to increase the pleasures of victory by pretending to have provided for the losers before hand- just to rub salt in the wound, don'tchaknow? I mean, when I'm crowned Miss Teen Tamil Nadu- as will inevitably happen this year due to astrological alignment- I want to be able to clutch my tiara to my bald spot while jiggling my man-boobs tearfully and say in good conscience that I will henceforth dedicate my life to working for World peas rather than scratching the eyes out of my fellow competitors who advised me to wax before wearing bikini as if my hairy thunder thighs weren't the ultimate turn-on for the old lechers who organize pageants of this sort.

Thus, Rawls has no relevance for Liberal Democracies. What about  Illiberal Theocracies?
Take the doctrine of Vilayet-e-Faqih (rule of the Islamic Jurist)- there are two possibilities
1)  either it is confined to the care and protection of those with diminished capacity
2) it turns into the rule of Ayatollahs
Iff (2) then there is no Judicial redress for Agent-Principal hazard w.r.t to (1).  This is against Fiqh. However, on Rawlsian assumptions, the Guardian of the Poor is dictatorial. But who should be that Guardian?
Behind the veil of ignorance- which is the barzakh of 'harmonious construction' hermeneutics- we can stipulate that the best Guardian is one who, on behalf of the Poor, negotiates the optimal euvoluntary (i.e. uncoerced and mutually beneficial) series of exchanges with the non-Poor.
Thus the 'true' (haqiqi) Vilayet-e-Faqih is consecrated by a process both Rawlsian and Euvoluntary.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Bilgrami's Evil Enchantment.

Akeel Bilgrami believes that Gandhi was an erudite philosopher rebelling against some terrible metaphysical atrocity that occurred in the Seventeenth Century which involved killing off 'Enchantment'- i.e. fairies and elves and hobbits- and turning Mother Nature into an ugly quarry or all polluting iron-works for evil Orcs laboring under the blazing eye of Sauron who had somehow managed to unite all the multitudinous forces of Darkness under his sole command.

Bilgrami believes that Pantheists protested against Sauron but were mercilessly crushed. Perhaps, if he were writing about Islamic history, he would equate the Zanj rebellion (whose leader, though claiming to be a Syed, had an Indian slave in his maternal lineage) with a similar Pantheistic protest against Puritanical Plutocratic Capitalism. However, the crushing of the Zanj rebellion did not involve a Sauron who co-ordinated Capital, Religion and Science in such a manner that they turned into an evil 'thick' concept of Scientific Rationality which went on to rule the World and systematically exterminate fairies and elves and hobbits and everybody just worshiping trees and peacefully having orgies under the Midsummer Moon and other such hippy shite.
Why did Seventeenth Century succeed in yielding all power to Sauron while Ninth Century Iraq failed to achieve the same thing? The answer, judging by the evidence Bilgrami provides, is that Ninth Century Iraq did not have the Printing Press and so all manners of Pantheistic nutjobs- Ranters, Diggers, Quakers, Levellers, Anabaptists, Monetarists etc- did not get to circulate their silly pamphlets. True, they were crushed, just as the Zanj rebellion was crushed, but they were not exterminated and continued their corporate existence and textual availability cascades and preference falsification hypocricy down to our own day. Gandhi, according to Bilgrami, was part of this long running tradition of stupidity but for the shrill existence of which Sauron doesn't get hegemony and the ability to enforce 'thick' scientific rationality which is like totally evil and genocidal and not at all nice.
So there we have it. For Evil to triumph- i.e. for 'thick' Scientific Rationality to become hegemonic and make fun of Pantheism's pee-pee- it is both necessary and sufficient that Gandhian shite is endlessly spouted. Suppose Gandhian shite isn't spouted or its spouting is ended by killing those who spout it then Sauron doesn't get the Magic Ring which enables the unification of Capitalism and Science and Metaphysics and Ethics and dunno other such shite such that the entire planet is laid waste and no blade of grass is spared by Mammon's maw.
Bilgrami writes - 'Were we to apply the thin conception of “scientific” and “rationality” (the one that I imagine most of us in this room embrace), the plain fact is that nobody in that period was, in any case, getting prizes for leaving God out of the world-view of science. That one should think of God as voluntaristically affecting nature from the outside (as the Newtonians did) rather than sacralizing it from within (as the freethinkers insisted), was not in any way to improve on the science involved.
'Both views were therefore just as “unscientific,” just as much in violation of scientific rationality, in the “thin” sense of that term that we would now take for granted. What was in dispute had nothing to do with science or rationality in that attenuated sense at all. What the early dissenting tradition as well as Gandhi were opposed to is the metaphysical orthodoxy that grew around Newtonian science and its implications for broader issues of culture and politics. This orthodoxy with all of its implications is what has now come to be called “scientific rationality” in the “thick” sense of that term and in the pervasive cheerleading about “the West" and the Enlightenment'.'

So, kids, what have we learned in School today? Bilgrami admits that Pantheistic shite is shite. He doesn't say- 'if stupid Lefty nutjobs stop spouting holier-than-thou Pantheistic shite then there would be no market for 'thick' Scientific rationality and endless triumphalist cheerleading for 'Western Enlightenment' values and that would be a good thing coz Sauron would be foiled in his quest for the Magic Ring'. He doesn't need to say it. That's the only possible take-away point from his lecture. Unless you really believe there are fairies at the bottom of your garden. In which case, lay in a couple of six-packs and get busy with the weed whacker.

This follows if you believe, as Bilgrami does, that Spinoza was right when he said you can't predict and intend to do something at the same time- i.e. if you intend to do something it can't be because you predict it is what you want to get done. Hence, if your are an Ethical Consequentialist or Epistemological Instrumentalist, you can't intend to do anything at all- unless you are stupid and don't get Spinoza though you intend to get Spinoza and haven't predicted that you won't coz Spinoza is stupid and so are you and there is nothing to get anyway. But this also means there really are fairies at the bottom of the garden whom you are currently killing with your weed whacker while drunk off your head on Special Brew. This is because there is a predictive element in visual and all other perception. But, since you can never intend to see what you predict you will actually see, the fact that you don't see you are in the garden killing fairies proves that you can't have the intention of not killing fairies at this very moment.
 Predictions can be falsified, not so intentions. We can imagine a situation where you can intend to have your predictions falsified in a systematic way. Perhaps not seeing you are killing fairies when you intend to do so and are doing so is good strategy on your part. Ergo you can't prove you aren't killing fairies if and only if you don't see that you are killing fairies.
Bilgrami wants us to see that the World may be value laden. This is the phenomenological project which features such egregious shite as Hegel's refutation of Newton and Goethe or Schopenhauer's theory of Color and Malfatti's crazy Tantric nonsense and so on down to Weber's silly ideas about Capitalism and Protestantism and Husserl's wasting his time on Phenomenology and Heidegger's worthless rubbish and so on and so forth.
Bilgrami doesn't get that Gandhi fucked up big time with his Khadi (his chakri added negative value to cotton) and Basic Education (Zakir Hussain ultimately called it a fraud) and other such fuckwittery.
Kenneth Boulding, a Quaker and Environmentalist avant la lettre but also a great Economist, has written about why Gandhians fucked up. It was because they were as stupid as shit and refused to use their brains. Screw Scientific Rationality. Common sense tells us that prediction and intention are inextricably intertwined. But this means when you see that stuff aint panning out as you intended you stop doing what you're doing and try to think of a better solution.  Scratch that. Don't try to think of a better solution. Ask around till you find a guy who HAS a better solution. Copy him.
The alternative is killing fairies.
To see why consider Bilgrami's rejection of Economics on the basis that it doesn't permit a 'secular enchantment' of the world such that if you see a glass of water you don't think of the opportunity cost of your drinking the water but rather ask yourself- whom does that glass of water want to be drunk by?- and then go out on a mystic quest to hunt down that suffering Grail-King because only in this way can you end your own 'alienation'.
That way all the water gets spilled and you lose your job as a waiter at the Tandoori Restaurant coz the customer choked to death on his onion bhaji when you snatched away his water and so your kids back home starve to death and as for them fairies they all just laughed themselves to death at the spectacle of your stupidity.

Bilgrami thinks Gandhian politics in pre-Independence India was made possible because Indians were stupid and believed in fairies. He is wrong. Gandhi got money off the Hindus and Jains and Khojas and Memons and other such business castes. They got a 'reputational' benefit from such largesse as did lawyers who signed up with Gandhi. In the short run, some weavers did get a bit of money out of it and, ultimately, secured their main goal which was to get a quota of mill-spun (NOT HAND SPUN) yarn. Still, the Gandhian interlude meant a lot of weavers starved to death and the industry as a whole was de-skilled. Capitalist methods have revived some sectors. Gandhi himself wanted to boycott the one prosperous section of weavers because they were doing well by supplying the luxury market.
The reason the 'Untouchables' are so angry with Gandhi is that his ideas fucked them up big time. They now shrilly campaign for compulsory English medium Govt. schools. They have even declared English a Goddess and worship a statue of Macaulay!
 Scientific rationality says all human beings have evolved such that there is territory specific canalization of Cognitive and Perceptual faculties.
Bilgrami type shite says that fairies are a persecuted minority or silently suffering subaltern majority whose cause only Ivy League Professors of Philosophy can legitimately champion. But, this is killing fairies with a vengeance because only kids can see fairies and a Credentialized 'Liberal Arts' Education System,  the apex of which pyramid Bilgrami occupies, is itself the blazing eye of Sauron which destroys all that is enchanting about this our, albeit ontologically dysphoric, World.
For which, needless to say, I blame David Cameron. That boy aint right.

Monday 9 June 2014

Zuleika Dobson at Cambridge

After all the undergraduates at Oxford killed themselves for love of her, Zuleika Dobson- Max Beerbohm tells us- set off for Cambridge.
What happened to her there?
English Literature supplies no clue but Bengali Poetry does-
Chilo onek rajar bari - chok milano, hajar gari
ebong jole shonali agonon,
hNasher dol dolay pakha, tobu tomar shonge thaka,
chomotkar Zuleikha Dobson.
Ishankone omonojoge - megher tNuti dhoreche roge,
dumre pore probola shalbon,
chNad utheche ontoreekhkhe, monosthapon kori bhikhkhe,
tomar jonno, Zuleikha Dobson.

I have previously mentioned that Zulieka married Rajni Palme Dutt and eventually settled down to be an instructor in Econometrics at the L.S.E. 
What I didn't explain was how that came about. You see on her first arrival at Cambridge, she fell among Bengalis all of whom, for they are a most obliging and gentlemanly race, did in fact fall madly in love with her and vow to kill themselves to testify to their passion.
Sadly, when it came to writing out their suicide notes (for which Zuleika was a stickler) the regrettable Anglo-Bengali predilection for uchchvaas go the better of them and so their suicide notes turned into immense dissertations which, in the fullness of time, earned them Professorships at Jadavpur and Yale and every where in between.
It is in this context, that the Hungrealist poet, Shakti's poem, quoted above, should be read.
Zulieka's long vigil at Cambridge, though taking its toll on her looks, nevertheless much burnished her intellectual equipment and constituted her an excellent helpmate for her ideologically inclined husband in his many and voluminous works.

Sunday 8 June 2014

A theory of Hinduism

Suppose India were an isotropic plane of the Christaller (Central Place Theory) type. In fact it isn't but a lot of the rain fed agricultural areas are actually quite easily inter-connected for purposes of migration and let this be the topos of the Median Hindu.
Furthermore, this area is also suitable for cattle rearing but not particularly good for horse breeding. Pastoralists create one type of pecuniary asset (indeed, the word pecuniary derives from the Latin word for cow) and can quickly achieve linguistic hegemony of a particular type if they solve the coordination problem for Commerce by providing focal points (which Mauss misunderstood as potlatches). In this scenario, instead of a white shoe law firm, you have a 'kavi' intermediate your transactions and he gets to pretend his poetry is super-duper and there is a Textual availability cascade which later on gets mistaken for a Prophetic Religion by shitheads.
No doubt, the elite (Margi) form of the Religion, which the Literature holds as normative, may actually derive from privileged locations- e.g. a riverine 'Hydraulic' elite society, or a Maritime Center or a Caravan hub or some sacred Mountain or Forest- and no doubt the actual vyayahara (customary) laws obtaining at any point (desh) of the (economically) isotropic portion of India are going to show marked variations- still, the dynamics of that vyavahara are going to obey the same laws in the long run because
1) arbitrage type inter-migration dampens hysteresis effects- i.e. path dependence vanishes after a couple of iterations (rather like epigenetic effects)
2) changes in relative wealth distribution would give rise to Invasion/Exodus type events militating to the same end.

Now let us identify the primary driver for Social Geography (i.e. hierarchy) in this idealized rain-fed Agricultural plain. Can it be 'Accumulation'?
No because stuff that can be accumulated is also stuff that can
1) be stolen or taxed or become the object of seditious or fraticidal contestation
2) lose its utility as a store of value because either trade collapses, and hence comparative advantage based industry is extinguished, in which case both Credit and Fungibility dries up- or else the asset is simply eaten by rats or ends up taking the form of like those ugly mo'fo Easter Island Statues or is expended on White Elephant Courtiers and Public Intellectuals and Amartya Sen getting appointed Chancellor of some Nalanda University which will never come into existence coz like, dude, which ultracrepidarian Careerist gobshite (as opposed to genuine Scholar) wants to go live in Bihar?

Indeed, the moment you speak of Accumulation, you open the Pandora's box of Chrematistics- i.e. you are confronted with all the Mental torments involved in the question 'how do I get to keep what I have?'- in other words, how do I trade stuff which depreciates over time for other stuff which is guaranteed to appreciate or keep its value? The problem here is that, even if we have perfect information regarding all agents and all Social Change is uncoerced and Muth rational and so on- still, we don't know the future fitness landscape so we can't predict which asset vendors will be able to fulfill their contract with us.
No doubt, nowadays, we have a branch of Theology called Mathematical Economics which is supposed to exorcise this ghastly specter, whose stark reality no one doesn't secretly recognize, to wit the fact that the real rate of return on every portfolio is negative because the future fitness landscape is unknown.
Currently there is a sort of panic that only the very rich are getting richer and, certainly, it is true that those with the greatest elasticity of response w.r.t. signals relevant to Portfolio Choice get to keep something of value rather than suffering total impoverishment servicing White Elephant assets, still, the fact remains that the first guy to get totally ruined and, stochastically, to hit on the right sort of asset to hold might end up with descendants at the top of the tree in the future fitness landscape.

Thus, instead of speaking of 'Accumulation' which is linear but imaginary (and thus gives rise only to Paranoid theories of History) we need to speak of 'Security' which itself relates to notions of Habitus-as-Conatus and takes us directly from Secular to Sacred discourse without the need for postulating either a Conspiracy theory of Religion (Priests were crooked Shamans in league with 'Stationary Bandit' Princes) or some Racist nonsense about Noble Aryans or Spiritual Semites or Pure Blooded Red Indians (no, I don't mean Ranajit Guha) or the mermen of Atlantis or the mages of Shangri La or whatever.

Of course, the above is way too simplistic. Essentially, I'm assuming an isotropic topos such that ergodicity prevails and Econ type (well, Mechanism Design type) Analysis can yield something useful. However, since Religions are about 'costly signals'- i.e. irrational shibboleths which impose a high barrier to entry- as well as 'cheap talk', of a Preference Falsification type- and since, moreover, India exhibits numerous privileged and non isotropic sacred topoi and associated Availability Cascades, 'epigenetic' type effects, i.e. path dependence, might well be more than transitory. Indeed, given a sufficient number of privileged topoi we can predict that there must be long periods of non ergodicity such that either
1) Marxian stagnation obtains - 'unchanging India' where Hinduism is not a Religion but 'a way of life' normative only to the curator (who, of course, would be the ideal comprador for a foreign Ruler) of a Social Jurassic Park
2) Tardean mimetics (stuff like Srinivas 'Sanskritization') or its reverse (Barrister Gandhi deciding he's actually a village dolt of a Bhangi- coz them guys are just too cool for school and all the hot chicks dig them)- but this cashes out as the same thing as (1).

I suppose one might also mention
3) Girardian mimetic rivalry such that a scapegoat is constantly being sacrificed, some random sample of the poorest and least offensive are callously put to death in the name of defeating 'Imperialism' or 'Capitalism' or 'Casteism' or whatever.

However, just because you can have a longue duree like the above doesn't change the dynamics of the system which predicts that endogenous saltations will arise only during brief spells of ergodicity- i.e. the longue duree captures nothing about the essence of the system and has no utility or instrumental value for Progressive Public Policy. This is another way of saying the more a guy knows about Hindu History the more worthless his advise. Of course, I mean History the academic subject not Hindu Itihaas which was specifically written for 'fools, drunkards, women and working class people' like me (well, I score two out of four on that list and, no, I haven't had gender reassignment surgery, my 'man boobs' just naturally look this way).

Let us now, if only to briefly distract you from the sort of lubricious thoughts which mention of my 'moobs' must inevitably have set in motion in that sewer you call your mind, consider the dilemma of the  agriculturist who has settled in a rain-fed area. He could simply be a subsistence farmer and, in bad monsoon years, depend on roots and nuts and small game from uncleared forest land. However, unless he is well entrenched in a 'Zomia' uninviting to other more enterprising agriculturists, he faces the danger of being displaced from more fertile land by Iron age farmers who grow a sufficient surplus so as to not merely have superior technology but also to arm and maintain a warrior cohort . In other words, to be Secure, you need to always aim for a surplus, which means you need specialised Artisans like Blacksmiths and Carpenters and leather tanners and rope makers and so forth, but also a dedicated Warrior cadre.
True, this poses the risk of being enslaved- of being turned into a helot caste- by the very warrior cohort you hire. Thus you need to hedge against 'Agent Principal hazard'. Indeed, hedging against Mechanism Design type risks, in my view,  of the essence in any theory hoping to connect Secular and Sacred or Kantian Morality and Hegelian Sittlichkeit or Vyavahara and Dharma or my man boobs and Marilyn Monroe. What? If she were still alive, they'd probably be as low hanging and hairy nippled as mine. Anyway, could we please stop talking about my moobs? Like, dude, u r making me seriously uncomfortable.

It is tempting to take a sort of sanctimonious 'Manuvadi' line here and say that Hinduism is the solution to Mechanism Design hazard. For example, after the Godhra riots, Prime Minister Vajpayee (a scholarly Brahmin) pointedly ponitficated, during a Press Conference, that Modi (a 'Shudra' from a 'Service caste'- his ancestors were oil pressers) should observe 'Raj Dharma' - i..e. the Religious duty of the King to render Justice to all irrespective of their caste or creed- and Modi, grinning and chuckling, cut his Chief down to size by saying 'Wohi to kar rahe hain Sahib!' - 'that's what we are doing, Sir!'- using the Muslim term 'Sahib' (which derives from the word for the Companions of the Prophet s.a.w) and thus dismissing the comprador Priesthood as worthless windbags whereas true 'Raj'- Rulership as arising indigenously- is always the work-in-progress solution to the multiple Agent-Principle type hazard problems facing the productive classes.

Anyway, as a Brahmin myself- I no longer call myself a Brahminbandhu, which is all Vajpayee was, because I am now both the only Rishi as well as the only Acharya of 'Sura Veda' such that, like my Sama Vedic udgatr ancestors, people pay not to partake in but put a term to attendance of the, now incessant, Soulful Song of my Symposia- I feel emboldened to say that Modi, true to Ghanchi Dharma, was able to extract some useful oil- jet fuel more like!- out of that oleaginous Vajpayee who offered the Nation only the dubious Vajapeya (elixir) of Appeasing impenitent Aggressors, Aggressively Advertising imaginary achievements and incessantly talking such tripe that Sonia and Rahul appeared the Hindi voice of Sanity, by comparison.

Returning to the topic of this post- viz. seeing Hinduism as an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy- there are a couple of myths that first need to be disposed off

1) Jati/Caste as a sort of Trade Unionism such that 'Service castes' (i.e. tanners, carpenters, oil-pressers etc) gain countervailing power by recourse to 'boycott'. Westerners like this idea. Sir Mark Tully's defence of the Caste System is based on it. But is it true? Fuck no. Indian production functions aint convex. There are just too many 're-switching' type possibilities. True, there is Preference Falsification the other way. But, for the Median Hindu, or the isotropic median Indian topos, reswitching rules.

2) Supposed Social Conservatism and/or Weberian characteristics of the Trading Castes.  To my mind, this artefact arises from rational Portfolio Diversification in favor of Credentialized Education/Religion which can be entered into from different motives (Like how becoming a Minister of Religion, in England, was more often a strategy to arrest downward mobility rather than enabling upward mobility, as in America at the same period.)

In India, at times of Grain surplus, it makes sense to get your kids some Bhramin/Shraman/Whatever Credential both as a matter of 'just in case' as well as of 'WTF, let's roll the dice on this'.
 This is the true driver of what appears as 'Sanskritization', or 'Gandhization' or 'Nehruvian consensus' or our contemporary Technocratic 'Great Moderation'.  But, a hedge is a hedge is a hedge. It can't drive dynamics except in so far as it fails in which case it definitely can't drive dynamics.
Now, I'm not denying that something like Tiebout model manorial rents exist and extracting them can look like Social Conservatism or 'Liberalism' or whatever. However,  contested rent extraction too can't drive dynamics except in a 'no escape' strip of fertility- which India aint.

What, then, is my theory of caste? Um...turns out I don't have an actual theory- just a Verstehen and a caste based one at that.
For which, as I needn't tell you, I personally blame David Cameron.
That boy aint right.

Friday 6 June 2014

Bilgrami's Gandhi-2

It is a commonplace in our understanding of the western moral tradition to think of Kant's moral philosophy as the full and philosophical flowering of a core of Christian thought.
Our? Bilgrami, you are an Indian Muslim. It is not a commonplace for your people to believe any such shite. Nor is it commonplace for any German Christian to do so. Radhakrishnan did not make so vulgar an error in his engagement with Lutheranism even as a student. Why are you writing such ignorant shit? Does your colour (which actually is pretty white) or your status as a Muslim (non believing, it seems) give you a laissez passer to tell stupid, illiterate, lies?
No. But you are a Professor of a shit subject and that's all the excuse you need you worthless fuckwit.

 But Gandhi fractures that historical understanding. By stressing the deep incompatibility between categorical imperatives and universalizable maxims on the one hand, and Christian humility on the other, he makes two moral doctrines and methods out of what the tradition represents as a single historically consolidated one.
I see-only acting according to a maxim that can become a universal law means you have to be a self righteous dick and get up everybody's nose with your holier than thou sermons. Why? Who would agree that 'be a self righteous dick' is a universal law? Imagine the following- Gandhi turns up and starts telling you what a worthless cunt you are coz you wear trousers rather than a diaper. You promptly tell him he's an even slacker twatted ho coz he didn't personally sow the cotton from which his diaper is woven, He's going 'yeah, but like your're wearing trousers dude! Diapers trump trousers.' 'Ordinarily they would,' you reply suavely,' but these aren't trousers at all. What they are is the collected faeces of low caste bhangis which have been cunningly moulded to look like trousers. I personally, as a form of satyagraha, gathered all the shit by hand out of the anuses of Untouchables and as a gesture of humility and a blow in the face of British Imperialism fashioned them into the appearance of trousers. Ha, Ha- I win.'
Is that the sort of world anybody- more especially a self righteously dick- want to live in?
Surely, Bilgrami is wrong. Kant's categorical imperative entails'don't be a holier than thou Gandhian dick or Taliban dick or Amartya Sen type dick.' Why? Imagine a world where everybody is a dick of that sort. The Taliban dicks kill each other because the true Taliban kills anyone who might not be a true Taliban- i.e. everybody.
And discarding one of them as lending itself ultimately to violence, he fashions a remarkable political philosophy and national movement out of the other.
Shite cobbled together from Ruskin and Chesterton and Carlyle aint a Political Philosophy. It is shite. Why are you not saying Gandhi fashioned Khilafat and hence Al Qaida and the Taliban etc? Gandhi got money off the Khilafat guys for his shite Ashrams and Congress work.
He also got money and prestige off the I.N.C by promising to deliver Swaraj within 18 months.  He didn't.
Both Khilafat and the Swaraj movement existed before Gandhi. He just made money out of them and gained a temporary obligatory passage point status. But, he made himself irrelevant by his antics. He was a stupid fuckwit.
I want to stress how original Gandhi is here as a philosopher and theoretician. The point is not that the idea of the 'exemplary' is missing in the intellectual history of morals before Gandhi. 
Are you fucking mad or just stupid? What does 'insaan-e-kaamil' mean? What about 'Purushuttama'? Hang on, here's one you definitely do know- how's about Thomas a Kempis' Tshirt slogan- 'What would J.C do?'
The notion that the moral axis of the World does not coerce or criticize but that a sort of Boscovich 'field'- as in the Vimalakriti- emanates from him has been a constant feature of the 'intellectual history of morals' for at least two thousand years. Indeed, Occasionalism gains ethical salience precisely because this type of 'field' theory is hugely fecund.
What is missing, and what he first brings to our attention, is how much theoretical possibility there is in that idea. It can be wielded to make the psychology surrounding our morals a more tolerant one. 
Gandhi spoke his mind. He generally thought other people were selfish swine who didn't really understand stuff like their own Religion, Economics, Politics, Law, Education, Medicine, etc. He was swift to condemn behavior he thought immoral and to mete out punishments.
Now it is true that Spiritual Religion- whether Buddhist or Hindu or Sufi or Christian- teaches techniques to conquer cognitive dissonance and to control visceral reactions. Thus the sage should be able to serenely contemplate the most atrocious of spectacles without losing his equanimity.
Gandhi makes no special contribution. Furthermore, he simply wasn't a Philosopher.
If exemplars replace principles, then it cannot any longer be the business of morals to put us in the position of moralizing against others in forms of behaviour (criticism) that have in them the potential to generate other psychological attitudes (resentment, hostility) which underlie inter-personal violence. Opposition to moralizing is not what is original in Gandhi either. There are many in the tradition Gandhi is opposing who recoiled from it; but if my interpretation is right, his distinction between principle and exemplar and the use he puts it to, provides a theoretical basis for that recoil, which otherwise would simply be the expression of a distaste. That distaste is a distaste for something that is itself entailed by a moral theory deeply entrenched in a tradition, and Gandhi is confronting that theory with a wholesale alternative. 
When was Gandhi not 'moralizing' and criticising? He says again and again that anyone who does not do exactly what he says is evil and corrupt and likes eating nice food and wearing cool clothes and probably having sex and stuff.  True, he was 'passive aggressive' and backed down pretty quick unless it paid him to put on a gesture political drama to suggest otherwise.  Still, he was a major holier than thou shithead of the worst Gujarati type. Which is why Narendrabhai loves him so much.
Bilgrami doesn't say what 'Tradition' Gandhi was opposing. Was it Hindu? No- Bilgrami can't make that claim because he knows he is ignorant of Hinduism. If not Hindu, then what was it? It couldn't be Western because Gandhi denounced Western education.
Perhaps Bilgrami means 'Universal tendency' not 'Tradition'. In that case he is making an extraordinary claim- viz. Gandhi was the first and last man to achieve some very elevated moral stature.
But Gandhi was also a worthless fuckwit who alienated Jinnah and Ambedkar and did lasting damage to India in every conceivable way.
Moreover, his worshipers tell stupid lies about him like 'Gandhi got Freedom for India' or 'Gandhi healed Hindu Muslim disunity.'
So even if Bilgrami's claim is true, it is not interesting
This conception of moral judgement puzzles me, even while I find it of great interest. It has puzzled me for a long time. Before I became a teenager (when I began to find it insufferably uncool) I would sometimes go on long walks with my father in the early mornings. One day, walking on a path alongside a beach we came across a wallet with some rupees sticking visibly out of it. With a certain amount of drama, my father said: “Akeel, why should we not take that?” Flustered at first, I then said something like, “Gee (actually I am sure I didn’t say ‘gee’), I think we should take it.”  My father looked most irritated, and asked, “Why?” And I am pretty sure I remember saying words more or less amounting to the classic response: “Because if we don’t take it then I suppose someone else will.” My father, looking as if he were going to mount to great heights of denunciation, suddenly changed his 
expression, and he said magnificently, but without logic (or so it seemed to me then): “If we don’t take it, nobody else will.” As a boy of twelve, I thought this was a non sequitur designed to end 
the conversation. In fact I had no idea what he meant, and was too nervous to ask him to explain himself. Only much later, in fact only while thinking about how to fit together the various elements in Gandhi's thought, did I see in his remark, the claims for a moral ideal of exemplary action. But notice how puzzling the idea is. 
Not puzzling at all you fuckwit.  BTW you did too say 'Gee' or rather its homophone 'Ji'.
In any case, there is no great aporia here. Simply a story of any Ashraf or Caste Hindu taking a stroll on the beach with his Dad.
If you don't take the money you are somebody- i.e. a khandani Bilgrami Ashraf who will go on to occupy Chairs of Philosophy without blushing- this does not mean nobody takes the money but that a 'nobody' takes it.
Of if you feel this smacks of 'Casteism', look at it Game Theoretically. Your discounted reputational gain as the man who didn't take a wallet in the sight of another fully offsets the monetary loss.
Here is a wallet, abandoned, and we should not take it. This would set an example to others, though no one is around to witness it. 
No it wouldn't. Not unless you believe in something totally fucked liked Rupert Sheldrake's morphic resonace or shite. Fuck me, you probably do!
The romance in this morality is radiant. Somehow goodness, good acts, enter the world and affect everyone else. To ask how exactly they do that is to be vulgar, to spoil the romance. Goodness is a sort of mysterious contagion.
No. It's doing good things. Like tracking down the owner of the wallet. Or, if that is too difficult, just fucking obeying the law- which says hand it in to the nearest Police Station.

Gandhi was not a good exemplar. There were thousands of Gandhians but they produced nothing lasting. By contrast, take the case of Abdul Sattar Edhi. He came to Karachi a penniless refugee and penniless he remains to this day. Yet thanks to his personal example, nothing more- no long speeches or dramatic political gestures- his foundation is probably the largest voluntary Ambulance and Hospital service in the world.
Gandhi would have loved to have such a legacy. He probably genuinely believed something good would come out of his Khadi work and Basic Education scheme. Both were a massive waste of resources.
The Gandhi cap became a symbol of corruption- and, latterly, criminality and rape.
Perhaps, Bilgrami, in his own way is veering round to this view in his essay. He finally comes out and says Truth has to be about, at least partly, facts about the world. It can't simply be empty posturing. Perhaps, Gandhi wasn't really concerned with Truth at all. Perhaps he was a 'bullshitter' jumping on any bandwagon as an occasion to spout his self-serving holier than thou shite. True, Gandhi was afraid of violence because he himself and his own followers would die first, and this meant that he needed to spread hate by criticizing others without that hate spilling into violence because his side would get their heads kicked in. It was a tightrope that Gandhi had to walk. Fortunately it was a tightrope to nowhere and affected nothing. People who write shite may have their own reasons to pretend otherwise. Still, it is perhaps a good thing that they write shite on a topic which we have prior knowledge about. In this way, we are able to properly judge shite-writers as worthless shitheads whose oeuvre we do well to avoid.

Bilgrami's Gandhi- 1

Prof. Akeel Bilgrami, a nice guy- not obviously a witless careerist- has some extraordinarily foolish things to say about Gandhi. So what? So does Prof. Sorabji- an all round good egg. Surely, writing foolish things about Gandhi is what Indian origin Philosophers are supposed to do?

My contention- and, sure, I admit it is a scandalous one- is, NO, nice guys needn't write shite even if it's about Gandhi.  Omitting to publish one's quota of shite every other year won't directly result in Modi becoming P.M.

Writing non-shite, at least for an Ivy League Prof who has the ear of Rahul's elite buddies,  could however, at the margin, have helped the 'Secular' forces (by definition, anti-Modi) put up a better show in the recent elections. If nothing else, it might have given Modi an excuse to cull some of the more repellent senile shitheads in his own party- like the 84 year old Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Babulal Gaur Yadav, who reckons rapes are okay provided the rapist is a Yadav but a bad thing if the reverse is the case.

In what follows, I'll be quoting Bilgrami's Essay on Gandhi from his Columbia Uni. Webpage. My remarks are in bold.

Bilgrami's Thesis
1) Gandhi held a consistent but highly unusual philosophical position. 
'Universalizability suggests merely that if someone in particular holds a moral value, then he must think that it applies to all others (in relevantly similar situations).'
Bilgrami is wrong. A moral value can militate for a 'mixed strategy'- i.e. one with a stochastic component- which can't be simply dominated. Thus a man who abhors gambling may still permit a contentious zero-sum issue to be decided by a coin toss. Yuddhishtra was a moral man. If some people in his kingdom MUST be slaves why should he and his kinfolk not themselves become slaves by virtue of a coin toss? It's a perfectly plausible Rawlsian, or 'overlapping consensus' solution IFF Econ 101 in the original position tells you that some necessary Public Good only becomes available if some people are slaves. Otherwise the species goes extinct.

As a matter of fact, in the Mahabharata, the Just King, to overcome his vishada or harmatia, has to learn both Game theory (in the Nala episode) as well as the wisdom of the low-caste butcher (the Vyadha Gita) which shows that perfect felicity in this world and the next is attained by ignoring Kings and Priests and just taking your own elderly parents as your Gods. Notice, the Vyadha's ethic is universalizable; yet entails no obligation to go around making a nuisance of yourself lecturing all and sundry on their moral shortcomings and ignorance of the Chandogya's highest truth which is known equally to the carter and Krishna Devakiputra neither of whom go in for pi-jaw.
2) Philosophers aren't stupid and Gandhi was a philosopher
 'Yet despite the fact that it is much weaker than universality in this sense, it still generates the critical power that Gandhi finds disquieting. If moral judgements are universalizable,  one cannot make a judgement that something is morally worthy and then shrug off the fact that others similarly situated might not  think so. They (unlike those who might differ with one on the flavour of ice cream) must be deemed wrong not to think so.'
Why? All we can say about them is that they have a different Vyavahara/Jati dharma/Verstehen than we do. Since Gandhi claimed to have read the Gita- indeed, he claimed to understand it better than anyone else- why should we assume he hadn't read its dual, the Vyadha Gita? Furthermore, Gandhi learned a little Jainism from his greatest supporter's brother-in-law. Where is the scandal for Anekantavada in what Bilgrami is saying? Indeed, there is no scandal for European thought here either.  No doubt there is some narrow textual availability cascade in the Academy that pretends otherwise- but it is fuckwitted merely and has had zero impact on anyone whether Western of Eastern or whatever.
3) Gandhi was a hermeneut of traditions he was entirely ignorant of.
Gandhi repudiates this entire tradition. His integrating thought is that violence owes to something as seemingly remote from it as this assumed theoretical connection between values and criticism.
Gandhi was blissfully unaware of any such tradition. People would tell him about it and he'd basically tell them to fuck off in a polite way while underlining his firm conviction that everybody else was a moral worm or eunuch and he alone was worthy of worship. Why did Gandhi do that? The answer is because that's what guys who run expensive Ashrams with other people's money do if they want to be successful and get to sleep naked with young girls.
Take the Maharishi; instead of saying 'ply chakri and Universal Peace will reign' he said 'Do Yogic Levitation and then Universal Peace will reign'. Still, Mia Farrow wouldn't sleep with him. The Beatles wrote 'Sexy Sadie' to commemorate this terrible crime which the Materialistic West inflicted on the Spiritual East.
4) Shite gobshites write can cause violence even without the instrumentality of a sociopath
Take the wrong view of moral value and judgement, and you will inevitably encourage violence in society. There is no other way to understand his insistence that the satyagrahi has not eschewed violence until he has removed criticism from his lips and heart and mind.
Urm...not just satyagrahis, every one who knew him well,  was constantly tempted to criticise Gandhi for sleeping with naked chicks and making his wife cook mutton chops for Maulana Azad and fucking up the Independence Movement, the Khadi Movement, the Basic Education scheme and anything else he stuck his oar into. Telling his wife she was guilty of 'himsa' (violence) if she didn't cook mutton chops (coz Azad really liked them and was a total fuck-wit of Gandhian proportions who had dreamed of becoming the Imam ul Hind and buggering with all them smart Aligarh M.U. types) was par for the course.  
Gandhi, himself, of course, criticised everybody and anybody unless they got stroppy and made him stop. That's just standard operating procedure for charismatic fuckwits running a Credentialized Ponzi scheme is all.
5) My name is Bilgrami and I'm an Indian Muslim and can't reason for shit. Watch Slumdog why don't you?
But there is an interpretative challenge hidden here. If the idea of a  moral value or judgement has no implication that one find those who disagree with one's moral judgements, to be wrong, then that
suggests that one's moral choices and moral values are rather like one's choice of a flavour of ice cream, rather like one's judgements of taste. In other words, the worry is that these Gandhian ideas
suggest that one need not find one's moral choices and the values they reflect relevant to others at all, that one's moral thinking is closed off from others. But Gandhi was avowedly a humanist, and repeatedly said things reminiscent of humanist slogans along the order of 'Nothing human is alien to me'. Far from encouraging self-enclosed moral subjects, he thought it the essence of a moral
attitude that it take in all within its concern and its relevance.
A guy running a Ponzi scheme has an interest in broadening the base of his pyramid to cover not just all sentient beings but imaginary ones too.
Now, it is true that there is a Jain Gandhism- originating with Dr. Pranjivan Mehta and Raichandhbhai and very effectively developed in vernacular languages like Gujerati and Hindi (see for e.g. H.H. Amar Muni Upadhyay of Veerayatan fame) but it is based on a monadology which is 'self-enclosed' and which rejects the notion that one substance (dhravya) can, for woe or weal, operate directly on another. However, this is a dynamic conception- i.e. a field theory- and features fuzzy logic and other such high I.Q stuff- so forget I mentioned it okay? 
How, then, to reconcile the rejection of universalizability and of a value's potential for being wielded in criticism of others with this yearning for the significance of one's choices to others? That is among the hardest questions in understanding the philosophy behind his politics, and there are some very original and striking remarks in his writing which hint at a reconciliation.
Name one. Go on. I dare ya.
So far, I have presented the challenge of providing such reconciliation as a philosophically motivated task.
Why? Gandhi was a stupid guy. He passed the University entrance exam, but realised he'd gotten as far as he could and, sensibly, never pretended otherwise- at least to himself.
But it is more than that. It is part of the 'integrity' that I am pursuing in my interpretation of Gandhi that it also had a practical urgency in the political and cultural circumstances in which he found himself.
We know very well that it was close to this man's heart to improve India in two ways which, on the face of it, were pointing in somewhat opposite directions. On the one hand there was the violence of religious intolerance, found most vividly in the relations between Hindus and Muslims. This especially wounded him. Religious intolerance is the attitude that the other must not  remain other, he must become like one in belief and in way of life. It is an inclusionary, homogenizing attitude, usually pursued with  physical and psychological violence toward the other.
Right! Jinnah was constantly trying to get Hindus to convert to Islam wasn't he? Liaqat actually did convert one person- his second wife, but she was Xtian to start of with and, come to think of it, she converted voluntarily. Under Muslim Law, Liaqat could have kept an Xtian wife. 
Who else? Savarkar was constantly badgering everyone to like get with the program and worship a cow already. Same was true of Bal, Pal and Lal.
Are you fucking kidding me? The whole point about Ashraf Muslims like Bilgrami is they didn't want their Kayastha clerks or Bania agents to convert to Islam and then start inviting themselves around on the excuse of Eid or whatever.  If nothing else, it would damage their efficiency.
Similarly, no Iyer has ever tried to convert a Muslim. Them guys are way smarter than us Smarthas.  The last Tamil Avadhani was a Muslim. As for Sanskrit- don't even start.
As a particularly vicious Hindutva nutjob myself, suppose I have a chance to slip A.R. Rehman a mind-altering drug and then to 'shuddify' him- i.e. reconvert him to Hinduism. Would I do it? Fuck no! The Tamil film (music) industry was a sewer of drugs and drink and dishonourable conduct to women. God bless the Pir who- WITH NO INTENTION TO CONVERT- helped the family when the father was dying in hospital. Thank God, the young genius took shelter in Islam! That way he could refuse drink or drugs on the grounds of Religion. Had he remained a Hindu, those bastards would have forced him because- don't you know?- Hinduism is very evil and the best way to escape its to get drunk and rape some girls belonging to a lower caste.
Modi has been in power for 12 years in Gujerat. Show me the Muslims he has converted even from his own 'Ghanchi' caste (for example those in Godhra). 

Ethnic monopoly and/or cleansing is a different kettle of fish. Partition wasn't about converting people- it was about coveting their possessions and perquisites of office and then conducting a cull. Still, it is noteworthy, Pakistan banned the exodus of 'bhangis'- i.e. the guys who did the dirty jobs- while, Paul Brass tells us, the Jat Sikhs deliberately cleansed their own Muslim 'service castes' so as to create space for Mazhabi Sikhs. (I don't personally believe this story- but a 'Secularist' like Bilgrami is bound to pay lip service to it.)
On the other hand, for all his traditionalism about caste, there was something offensive to Gandhi within Hinduism itself.
Yes. It was the notion that he himself wasn't educated enough in it to claim a scholarly or clerical title.
The social psychology of the Hindu caste system consists of an exclusionary attitude.
Unlike the non-Hindu caste system.
For each caste, there was a lower caste which constituted the other and which was to be excluded from one's way of life, again by the most brutal physical and psychological violence.
Is this true? Let us look at Dr. Ambedkar's biography.  Parsis beat him and throw him out of their lodge. Muslims deny him water. A low caste Hindu 'banjara' won't carry him to his destination- even though he's just a child and well educated and affluent.
By contrast, his teacher is a Brahmin who delights in him and gives him his own surname- which is why Gandhi thought him to be some over-educated Westernised Brahmin who didn't really understand the 'Harijans' and thus was heating his brain for no reason- and, later on, his second wife- a Medical Doctor whom he married to care for him because he was diabetic- was also a Brahmin. She was ostracized and accused of having poisoned him after his death by his own son.  Yet, right from the start, the educated Mahar (thanks to the British Indian Army) was a significant threat to the Maharashtrian Brahmin. 
Yet it is from that equally martial community that he received most support. Hegdewar and Gowalkar loved him. He himself appreciated the R.S.S for its anti-caste attitude. That's why, later on, people like Barrister Khobragade had no compunction in allying with the BJP or Shiv Sena even though it wounded the hearts of LSE fuckwits like me.
Why? What was the reason?
The Chitpavan, who were getting demoralized and sinking as a community, knew that the Mahars were a heroic people like themselves.  
Dr. Moonjee volunteered to serve during the Boer War, as did Gandhi, so as to learn Military tactics. Any future Indian Army which neglected the Mahars' martial prowess- their sheer courage and intelligence and long tradition of uprightness and pietistic 'Bhakti' religion- would be bound to fail.  The great qualities of this 'caste' are visible to all- then and now. But, I can multiply instances.  Look at the Balmik caste, the Jatavs, or (for Tamils) the Valluvars who technically are 'Pariahs'. Can you imagine Tamil without Tiruvalluvar? Hinduism without Valmiki? A.K Ramanujan tried but he also told us his grandmother enjoyed being taken from behind by underemployed fishermen, but only with the fell purpose of using her vagina dentata (I'm not making this up) to bite off their low caste dicks.

Army discipline requires that the 'high born' show 100 per cent obedience to the orders of his 'low born' superior. Nothing else will do.  This is the basis of the R.S.S ethos and the real reason people like me used to hate them. Don't get me wrong. I love the Indian Army- but only coz their officers looked so smart and their lovely wives and daughters spoke such beautiful English.
Now, because my 'posh' English accent (hey! I went to St. Columba's!) is starting to fray,  and I can't understand Rahul Baba's English (he did spend a little time at St.Columba's but then Harvard got hold of him) and have to settle for Modi's Hindi- what? I'm a fucking Madrasi!- all bets are off. Let the Indian Army promote according to Merit. Let English die in India. But fucking fix it so children don't get raped!
Sorry, for that outburst. I'm truly shit, I am. Senile fucking debility, mate. 
Returning to Bilgrami's thesis, there may well be 'alterity' here. But it is an alterity which cries out for an, I will not say Levinasian, but 'Mussar' response such that 'the spiritual needs of the other are my material needs'. If Acharya Kosambi, a Brahmin, and Babasaheb Ambedkar, a Mahar, both embrace Buddhism- where is the problem for the 'Caste' Hindu?
Are we so fucking stupid that we prefer to be ruled over by Mlecchas just so as to preserve our 'Smarta Vicharams' and plague afflicted 'Agraharams'? 
Bilgrami, as a deracinated emigre, may believe Gandhi's return to India marked something genuinely new. It didn't. If Khilafat was a success- was it because of Gandhi? As for Hindu 'Anushilan' or 'Jugantar' type radicalism- Gandhi was no where in the picture.
As a prematurely senile but active man, no doubt, he provided a cover for those- like Birla- who needed to retreat from Revolutionary politics. He was the provider of a 'Good Conduct' certificate which kept you out of the clutches of blackmailers and police-spies while also granting you a sort of post-obit on the resources of the dying Raj.
When I think sometimes about caste in India --without a doubt the most resilient form of exclusionary social inegalitarianism in the history of the world-- it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that even
the most alarming aspects of religious intolerance is preferable to it. To say, "You must be my brother", however wrong, is better than saying, "You will never be my brother." In religious intolerance there is at least a small core that is highly attractive.
Bilgrami Sahib, you must know the expression 'sag bash birader-e-khurd na bash' (better a dog than an younger brother). Is that not what has happened in the Indian subcontinent? 'You must be my brother' means- 'you must be my younger brother and let me shit in your mouth.'
You may find this 'small core' in Religious intolerance highly attractive. Why? Believe me, the stuff they are serving you isn't goulash- it's shit. I found out the hard way.
The intolerant person cares enough about the truth as he sees it, to want to share it with others.
Why, Bilgrami Sahib, why? What you describe is a strategy that is easily dominated if the other has an equal endowment of knowledge and/or reasoning power. Even if he doesn't, still, the optimal strategy is to only grant the privilege of being witnesses to your truth to those who immediately die for it- i.e. martyrs or shaheeds.  
Of course, that he should want to use force and violence in order to make the other share in it, spoils
what is attractive about this core. No need to do so. Just pretend that the truth is esoteric or requires some long praxis of unquestioning obedience. If you are speaking of 'cognitive dissonance reduction'- just pretend to be a bien pensant humanist till some over-educated shithead from somewhere else turns up to sit at your feet. It was Gandhi's humanistic  mission to retain the core for it showed that one's conception of the truth was not self-enclosed, that it spoke with a relevance to all others, even others who differed from one. How to prevent this relevance to others from degenerating into criticism of others who differed from one and eventually violence towards them, is just the reconciliation we are seeking.
O...kay. You're about to say something real interesting, right? After all, you're one smart dude and, more to the point, belong to the Bilgrami khandan.
In the philosophical tradition Gandhi is opposing, others are potential objects of criticism in the sense that one's particular choices, one's acts of moral conscience, generate moral principles or imperatives, which others can potentially disobey. For him, conscience and its deliverances, though relevant to others, are not the wellspring of principles. Morals is only about conscience, not at all about principles.
There is an amusing story about two Oxford Philosophers, which makes this distinction vivid. In a seminar, the formidable J. L Austin having become exasperated with Richard Hare's huffing on about how moral choices reveal principles, decided to set him up with a question. "Hare", he asked, "if a student came to you after an examination and offered you five pounds in return for the mark alpha, what would you say?" Predictably, Hare replied, "I would tell him that I do not take bribes, on principle!" Austin's acid response was, "Really? I think I would myself say, 'No Thanks.' " Austin was being merely deflationary in denying that an act of conscience had to have a principle underlying it. Gandhi erects the denial into a radical alternative to a (western) tradition of moral thinking. An honoured slogan of that tradition says, "When one chooses for oneself, one chooses for everyone". The first half of the slogan describes a particular person's act of conscience. The second half of the slogan transforms the act of conscience to a universalized principle, an imperative that others must follow or be criticized. Gandhi embraces the slogan too, but he understands the second half of it differently. He too wants one's acts of conscience to have a universal relevance, so he too thinks one chooses for everyone, but he does not see that as meaning that one generates a principle or imperative for everyone. What other interpretation can be given to the words "One chooses for everyone" in the slogan, except the principled one?
WTF! That's your apercu culled from decades and decades of elitist Anglo education? Austin was clearly wrong. He said 'No thanks'- which means the other guy has to offer him more money or a beating or a buggering or whatever. The point about deontics is that it solves a co-ordination problem. It is Eusocial. Austin should have punched the student. A punch has illocutionary force. A.J Ayer once argued Mike Tyson out of raping some hot chick. How? Flattery and nimble footwork. Language is strategic or not at all. 
Gandhi was too making a privileged claim re. his Conscience. It was the voice of God. Marie Stokes heard the Voice of God in 'a dark yew wood' and it is to her we have all harkened. Flaubert spoke of Art as being the Soul's condom in this brothel of a World; Bilgrami spouting Gandhian shite too is a prophylactic but not for the Soul, no, rather for a burnt out Careerism which now must take recourse to the dirtiest sort of Senile, Syphilitic, gesture politics.