Friday 31 May 2019

How Runciman's 'How Democracy fails' fails

Consider the following-
In India, Narendra Modi uses Twitter as much as Trump does to lambast those who are plotting his downfall, from foreign powers to the Indian ‘deep state’. Meanwhile, Modi’s opponents circulate ever-wilder conspiracy theories about him: his election victories were achieved by ballot-rigging; he is a Pakistani secret agent; he is a Jew.
 No one with the slightest knowledge of India could have written it. Nor could anyone with even a modicum of knowledge of International Politics. Modi has never tweeted about anyone 'plotting his downfall'. The thing is impossible. He has a majority and is loved by his party. India's 'deep state' is 100 % behind him because he is a Nationalist. Foreign powers may be able to inflict some harm on India, but this would only help Modi as the Pakistanis have discovered after the Pulwama attack.

Modi has plenty of opponents. Ballot rigging- or tampering with Electronic Voting machines- is always alleged. But no one has ever said he is either Jewish or Pakistani. It would be like saying Trump is a Jamaican lady in the pay of the Canadians.

Who on earth could have written the nonsense given above? The answer is that it is a Professor of Political Science at Cambridge who is increasingly quoted as an authority by our own, yet more cretinous, Professors.

His name is David Runciman and he is at least 4 types of posh. What's more he writes engagingly- probably because he is engaged in some more pleasurable activity while tossing off his chatty screeds- but is there anything at all of worth in his recent 'How Democracy Fails?'

Fuck would I know? I'm at least 4 types of stooopid and post this shite on my blog while binge watching Netflix and eating cold pizza and cursing myself for not stocking up on Zopiclone or whatever other soporific it is which permits Old Etonians to sleep walk through, not just Politics, but- in Runciman's case- Political Science.  

Consider the following wholly oneiric passage invoking an endless tedium from which one is unable to awake.
Our political imaginations are stuck with outdated images of what democratic failure looks like. We are trapped in the landscape of the twentieth century. We reach back to the 1930s or to the 1970s for pictures of what happens when democracy falls apart: tanks in the streets; tin-pot dictators barking out messages of national unity, violence and repression in tow.
Fuck is this shite? Our political imaginations are not stuck in that manner at all. We watch House of Cards and...fuck if I can remember the names of all those other Netflix or Amazon or Sky Atlantic series I have to binge watch so as to get paisa vasool, value for money, on my TV license. It's not that I'm a typical kanjoos Desi, but I grudge every penny I have to fork out to those elitist clowns at the Beeb.

Democracy fails in the same way and for the same reasons that Markets, or other Social Choice Mechanisms fail. The thing has had a canonical mathematical representation since before Runciman was out of short pants. Maybe, like his Dad, he didn't get the memo that Evolutionary theory says only the fitness landscape matters. Hysteresis is delusive. Everything is ergodic because capacitance diversity was dammed up long ago.

Knightian Uncertainty means Regret minimization is rational. The Hannan consistent strategy for Democracy to thrive involves specifying Democracy to fail under exigent circumstances. Absent the possibility of its failure, Democracy would feature Moral Hazard and adverse selection. Indeed, any fucker who describes himself as a 'Political Scientist' and who bleats about Democracy is Glasman level fucked in the head, or Runciman level somnambulistically, superficially charming, but more and more gratingly sententious in the manner of that Major Weaver, in Graham Greene's ghastliest story, who is 'Proof Positive' that 'without the body's aid, the spirit in seven days decays into whispered nonsense.'
Trump’s presidency has drawn widespread comparison with tyrannies of the past. We have been warned not to be complacent in thinking it couldn’t happen again. But what of the other danger: that while we are looking out for the familiar signs of failure, our democracies are going wrong in ways with which we are unfamiliar? This strikes me as the greater threat. I do not think there is much chance that we are going back to the 1930s. We are not at a second pre-dawn of fascism, violence and world war. Our societies are too different – too affluent, too elderly, too networked – and our collective historical knowledge of what went wrong then is too entrenched.
Trump's presidency has drawn widespread comparison with my toilet bowl after I've had the squirts. But Trump can no more become a receptacle for my faecal matter than he can become a tyrant. Runciman, who teaches very very stupid people a wholly worthless subject feels he has to spell this out in his nice shiny new book.

This is typical elitist behaviour. Why does Runciman not put a clear health warning on the cover of this tome explaining that it should not be eaten or used as a suppository? Does he think everybody went to Eton? What about young people wot went to Comprehensive Schools? Does Runciman not understand that many of them may suffer rectal injury or indigestion because he has callously failed to instruct them on the proper usage of his book?

Perhaps I overestimate the importance of a British Public School education. Still the fact is, Pico Iyer shits books out of his arse. There is no evidence whatsoever that he places them there- which is why my Dad- who was junior to his Dad- dissuaded me from sending my own self-published screeds to Pico 'for favour of review- or cramming them up your rectum you fucking class & caste traitor. Iyers should be as fat as fuck and groove to Thyagararja not Leonard fucking Cohen. Also they should say 'Aiyayo & mind it kindly. Mind it kindly. Aiyayo.'
When democracy ends, we are likely to be surprised by the form it takes.
Nonsense. You would be too stupid to notice. How, then, could you be surprised?
We may not even notice that it is happening because we are looking in the wrong places.
Do you read over your own shite, you stupid tosser?
Contemporary political science has little to say about new ways that democracy might fail because it is preoccupied with a different question: how democracy gets going in the first place.
So 'contemporary political science' is useless. A Doctorate in it is worth shit. Imagine an actual Medical Doctor who can't do anything when a patient's life support system starts to fail coz the fucker is preoccupied with a different question: viz. how Life gets going in the first place.
This is understandable.
Only because the discipline is adversely selective. It recruits cretins to teach cretins as part of a Credentialist Ponzi Scheme.
During the period that democracy has spread around the world the process has often been two steps forward, one step back.
Nonsense! The pretence of Democracy has alternated with other sorts of pretence.  What matters is whether or not Democracy is a focal solution to an actual coordination problem. If it is, then it pays for itself. If it isn't, shitheads like Runciman can puzzle over the scandal- or somnambulistically pretend to do so while whacking off- but everybody else moves on, their faith unshaken.

Democracy might get tentatively established in parts of Africa or Latin America or Asia and then a coup or military takeover would snuff it out, before someone tried again.
Wherever there is a coordination game, there you shall also have discoordination games so as to 'money pump' hedging and income effects. No economist or philosopher has said so in as many words- but all the ingredients were ready to hand by the time Runciman was ten years old.

The relevant configuration space can be described in terms of threat points and Shapley values.  But everybody always knew this. Game theory was playing catch up is all.

The fact is, to parse GoT or HoC or any other block buster series, stoopid peeps like me model the thing in some such way. Runciman isn't stupid. He is pretending to be so as to dash off a book at the lowest possible tariff of cognitive effort.
This has happened in places from Chile to South Korea to Kenya.
Chile, yes. But Allende was a nutter. It was a case of '68 and all that. South Korea faced an existential threat. It needed a dictator who'd get corrupt cunts to invest in export industries and who'd send a lot of highly effective troops to Vietnam.

Kenya is a different story- one I know well. Runciman evidently doesn't. Why does he say there was a 'coup or military takeover' in Kenya? There was nothing of the sort. This guy is writing in his sleep.
One of the central puzzles of political science is what causes democracy to stick. It is fundamentally a question of trust: people with something to lose from the results of an election have to believe it is worth persevering until the next time.
Sheer imbecility! People with something to lose hedge their bets. Either there is a mechanism which gets them into the 'core' of the game or they run away or get run over. An idiographic Game theory- or simply expert knowledge- navigates these streams and finds arbitrage opportunities. Only 'political scientists' need to stand around looking puzzled as to how their thumb came to be up their arse.

Trust does not matter. Nash equilibria do. Sure, there can be 'public signals' permitting better correlated equilibria but these can't arise from Poli Sci's 'cheap talk'. You actually have to see an Election Commission which is tamper proof kicking ass and taking names.  The pay off is that political parties spend less money on goons for booth capturing and compete in other ways.  I recall a wealthy NRI from a minority community taking the trouble to look me up when a guy I was distantly related to by marriage was appointed E.C. The NRI wanted the straight dope. Was the fucker on the level? I explained why, as E.C, he'd have to be, because that was the solution of a bipartisan coordination problem. The NRI nodded and smiled and spoke of my intellectual brilliance while cattily letting slip telling little details till I got the message and became morose. His hereditary village Munim had told him everything and more than everything I could tell him. Thus, the fucker, could father his Munim's views on me for the benefit of his investors. Like a fool, I'd spilled the beans- putting into English what had been told him in Gujerati- without getting paid in anything save Single Malt.

Still, the joke was on him. The guy didn't foresee 9/11 or Godhra. But, thanks to Modi, he still came out a winner. Oh. I suppose that makes me the loser and him the winner. Fuck!
The rich need to trust that the poor won’t take their money.
The super rich now hold assets elsewhere. It is only their liabilities which the poor get to divide.
The soldiers need to trust that the civilians won’t take their guns.
Nonsense! They shoot civilians who try to take their guns. They need to trust their pensions will be paid.
Often, that trust breaks down.
Why would it break down? The answer is if a shithead is elected. Shitheads can cause anything to breakdown- which is why Mom stopped asking me to fix the V.C.R.
Then democracy falls apart. As a result, political scientists tend to think of democratic failure in terms of what they call ‘backsliding’.
Which shows political scientists are as stupid as shit. They don't get that when a thing fails- whether it is the Soviet Union, or Chile in the early Seventies- it is because a shithead did something really stupid. What follows is not 'backsliding' but shit hitting the fan coz a shithead fucked up.
A democracy reverts back to the point before lasting confidence in its institutions could be established.
This has happened- never.

This is why we look for earlier examples of democratic failure to illuminate what might go wrong in the present.

No you do that because you are stupid and belong to a stupid discipline.

Sally Davies on why Women's minds matter

Sally Davis has an excellent article at Aeon titled 'Womens' minds matter'. The gist of it is 'Feminists never bought the idea of the computational mind set free from its body. Cognitive science is finally catching up.'

This is an article aimed at the layman or unlaid loser of indeterminate sex, such as sad to say, I, by reason of my man-boobs and bouffant- imagine a black, elderly, bespectacled, 6 months up the duff, Princess Di-  now gorgeously represent.

I'm sorry. Too Much Information. Still, the fact is, because I've just got back from the gym-where I used a hairdryer to give my thinning hair a bit of bounce- I currently have an awareness of my body in a modality of alienation. I am casting up my fast depreciating physical 'assets' which, because I lack mental distinction or refinement of character, affect how I'm viewed and used and, hence, how I am remunerated or respected.

I am calculating a 'regret minimizing' trajectory of diet and exercise while bearing in mind my time and motivational constraints. I am 'economising'.  In my lineage, this is what Moms did. I'm descended from udgatrs. Our Upanishad in the Chandogya. Men earned what they could but their wives kept the family going by 'economising'. Sometimes this meant- as is recorded- the husband was sent away without food. The kids always came first. In this context, a few men- with a priestly or other similar vocation- might cling to the rigid path of akrebia- algorithmic approaches to alethia encoded in an intensional rhetoric- but this was merely by way of speculation- i.e. it represented only a small portion of the family's portfolio. Yet, because the fitness landscape was so uncertain, it made sense for a few men to engage in this speculation. The fact that I am here now almost 3000 years later writing this shows that some one or two of my male ancestors were right to 'speculate' on essentially metaphysical, ontologically dysphoric, 'futures'. But, this was only possible because their wives did what was needed to keep the kids alive- even though this might mean having to tell hubby he'd to go find someone else to feed him.

I mention all this because the Chandogya tells the story of a poor and hungry udgatr who gets fed and is taught the solution to the 'Mind-Body' problem.  That solution is always the same- Occasionalism ameliorated by either Agapic Economia or Akrebic Ontological dysphoria.

Sally Davis- who belongs to a lineage which believes 'the birth of the modern study of the mind' occurred in the Low Countries- writes

The way we think about thought is political.
This is not true. Thought is generally 'a game against Nature' even when it features actions on Open Markets. There is a very small province of Thought where strategic considerations arise. However, even within this province, emotional responses dominate cognitive ones because they better capture preference intensity. 'Emotions are Darwinian algorithms of the mind'. Game theory itself tells us that that the way we thing about politics ought not to be political. Why? There's a Newcombe Problem, a  Kavka's toxin. Whatever is Political is improvable by better public signals to shift us to an improved Aumann type correlated equilibrium.

To be fair, Davis was merely making an elegant segue into this very well written paragraph-
This much was evident at the birth of the modern study of the mind, when Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia wrote to RenĂ© Descartes in 1643 to question his account of cognition. Her self-deprecation will be familiar to any woman who’s dared to dispute with an eminence, and knows that the best way to begin is usually by mollifying his ego.
Unfortunately, Elisabeth writes, the rhythms of her domestic life simply don’t permit the sort of calm introspection that Descartes declares is the key to doing good philosophy:
The interests of my house (which I must not neglect) and conversations and social obligations (which I can’t avoid), inflict so much annoyance and boredom on this weak mind of mine that it is useless for anything else for a long time afterward. I hope that this will excuse my stupid inability to grasp what you want me to grasp.
Elisabeth was helping the interests 'of her house' somewhat better than many other Stuarts. Essentially, she is saying to Descartes that Calvinist predestination is better than Occasionalism which is 'anything goes'- indeed, the Hindu and Islamic versions had become canonical centuries previously. Christianity is better off playing the 'bourgeois strategy' here- viz. defend your inheritance rather than abandoning it on a speculative whim. The bourgeois strategy is eusocial because it minimises 'wasteful' contestation.

We may compare Descartes' Elisabeth with Pierce or Brouwer's Victoria Lady Welby. Both were Christian because Christianity is a religion of Economia, not Akrebia. Julia of Norwich has spoken of Mother Christ on the Cross, not legs, but arms splayed, giving birth to the World.

We know from the Paston letters, that it was Sally Davis's own female ancestors who made this country great. How? By that 'mysterion' of 'oikonomia' which is ever Virgin though the mother of all who live. What could men have done by themselves? Establish a brief reputation as pirates or freebooters? England conquered India because it better represented 'Ram Rajya'. Lord Ram was monogamous. That is the lesson of the Ramayana. But, born though they be in whatsoever a manner, the kids always come first. And if the first born is denied his due status for some Akrebic, or strategic, reason- a Kurukshetra holocaust will follow. That is the lesson of the Mahabharata.

Forgive me for mentioning the Hindu religion. Currently, because Modi has just got re-elected, us Hindus are decidedly in the dog house with the liberal intelligentsia.

Thus, I ask you to consider the Ashkenazi Jews. Read the autobiography of Solomon Maimon. Notice, it is the wife that keeps the husband! We can see the same phenomenon in parts of North London! It is the wife that is the economist. The Husband is free to probe the bitter 'halachah vein morin kein' of akrebic Law. What happens at Sabbath? The same thing that happens at her, even widowed, husband's every Minyan. The Shekinah is there though she herself may be elsewhere.

I don't want to admit that Jews are smarter than South Indians. I hate racism. Still, once South Indian girls refused to marry men not notably smarter (or better looking) than themselves- though I myself might have had to look elsewhere- the fact remains, our part of the world has progressed. Why? Girls did STEM subjects. Gaining financial security, they could stipulate for grooms with better genetic material. Rather than taking over the household after ten or twenty years, they create and sustain the household as they think fit. Their hubbies go to the gym. They don't have man-boobs like me. This is good from an actuarial point of view- though no doubt there is some hedonistic sexual mutual bonanza of a type I shudder to contemplate. Still, it is the kids who come first- though, nowadays, most couples can only afford to have one child.

Returning to Sally's essay-
The gauntlet she throws down to Descartes, however, is anything but feeble-minded. In his Meditations on First Philosophy (1641), he had claimed that the mind and body were made from two distinct substances, one immaterial and self-contained, the other material and extended out into the world. Elisabeth sees that this dualism poses a problem: how could such a floaty, incorporeal thing as the mind (cogito) cause a body to do anything, if each is made from quintessentially different stuff? Descartes is faced with a choice: either provide an account of some medium within which these substances interact, or admit that the mind is nothing special, emerging from matter just like everything else. The first option seems strange and unparsimonious, while the latter leaves no space for the mind to really do anything, since in principle it could be explained away by the underlying physical processes that bring it about.
Descartes and Liebniz- though bright and making a contribution to Maths- shat the bed here.  The fact is, if you want a 'Mathesis Universalis' or at least Voevodsky's 'univalent foundations' (so, though not knowledge is generated algorithmically, still at least mathematical proofs are computer checkable), then you have to have to confine intensionality to a second order, protocol bound, category theoretic, language.

Sally, writing for the unlaid layman writes-
A body enervated by the duties that attend on being a woman affects one’s capacity to think.
Coz, having a big O as part of getting preggers is like so antithetical to thought. OMG! Breeders are such sheeple!
This basic framing of the mind-body relationship remains dominant in both philosophical and scientific frameworks for the study of the mind.
Nonsense. An explanation had to be found for why women- though bearing very high costs for child birth- might nevertheless form heterosexual relationships. The Price equation- kin selective altruism- did that once and for all when I was a kid.
Today, the domain of ‘matter’ maps onto the brain, fed by signals and inputs from a body that perceives and reacts to the world; the ‘mind’, meanwhile, has become a collection of intangible phenomena such as psychology or consciousness.
But 'cognitive science' is not greatly respected. It is not producing new inventions and thus isn't 'paying for itself'. Third or Fourth Wave Feminism, too, isn't paying for itself because it isn't translating into productivity boosting institutional and cultural reforms.
Since the mid-20th century, the most influential theorists and experimentalists have interpreted this Cartesian divide using the metaphor of computing.
But they have achieved nothing. Look at Chomsky's abysmal oeuvre. It is now purely defensive and cashes out as 'mysterianism'.
The brain is cast as a rule-based mechanism for manipulating abstract symbols and internal representations that somehow arrive at our awareness from the world outside via our perceptions. These perceptions are transformed into inner states such as beliefs, intentions or desires, and then translated algorithmically into actions.
Mimetic models are more persuasive because cognition is costly.
The brain needs a body, to be sure, but only the way a parasite needs a host, or software needs some kind of hardware on which to run.
'Only'?  But we all know software can't run on any old hardware. The latter has to be specifically designed so as to create environments where particular software modules can run. But they may still crash more often on some hardware platforms than others.

Parasites are in an evolutionary arms race with hosts and are constantly seeking ways to jump to new species. One legitimate reason for 'mysterianism' is the consideration that the solution to 'hard problems of consciousness' should be inaccessible so as to baffle predators and parasites. If you can't 'hack' your own mind, chances are your enemies can't either.
Our biohacking entrepreneur Faguet captures the essence of this view when he writes: ‘[Y]ou are a hackable, programmable biorobot constructed by evolution. You are just executing programs. Embrace the reality of what you are.’
If we were hackable, someone else would have hacked us by now. OMG, it was the Russians! That's why we voted for Trump or Brexit or whatever it is the bien pensant elite disapproves of.
But the mind-matter split, and its cognitive-computational descendants, are not logical necessities that follow from all attempts to understand the nature of thought. They’re really more like points of departure or grounding intuitions, and not everyone is going to share them.
Actually, they are 'just-so' stories or represent phenomenological 'bracketing' so useful work can carry on elsewhere. No doubt, when a smart person gets stuck on a useful project, she may- purely as a 'displacement activity'- start waxing philosophical. But this is a meaningless ethological tic with no survival or other value.
Elisabeth, for one, told Descartes that she leant towards physical reductionism over a dualist approach: ‘I would find it easier to concede matter and extension to the soul than to concede that an immaterial thing could move and be moved by a body.’ Her vignette about housework also serves as a sly criticism. She knows first-hand that a body enervated by the duties and niceties that attend on being a woman affects one’s capacity to think.
Duties and niceties attend on being a Prince as much as a Princess. A timesuck is a timesuck regardless of your gender.
Likewise, writing two years later from a Belgian hot-spring town, Elisabeth’s experience of illness makes her doubt Descartes’s assertion that virtue is largely about having the mental fortitude to follow the cool dictates of reason. ‘I still can’t rid myself of the doubt that one can arrive at the beatitude you speak of without help from things that don’t absolutely depend on the will,’ she says. Surely doing the right thing depends on many things beyond our control, Elisabeth argues – freedom from too many burdens, the correct upbringing, good health.
It’s not that Elisabeth simply rejected Descartes’s views without critical reflection, or fell back to simply asserting her subjective opinion. It’s that her particular life experience inclined her to develop different intuitions to him, and gave her good reasons to doubt the plausibility of dualism.
But her 'particular experience'- as described above- applies equally to men. She wasn't whining about her period or going into graphic detail about the horrors of giving birth.
As the philosopher Amia Srinivasan at the University of Oxford has argued, the contingencies of what happens to us in life – the people who have shaped us, the challenges we have overcome – invariably shape the sorts of claims that we’ll find persuasive or the arguments we’re inclined to doubt.
Amia finds bizarre claims persuasive despite having had a very conventional upbringing. The challenge she overcame was that of doing useful, highly remunerated, work in a STEM subject, or a business enterprise, in favor of joining a worthless University department and zeroing in on the craziest types of interlocutors- people like Jason Stanley- within that paradise of fools.
Here, it seems to me that Elisabeth’s experience as a woman meant that she did not have the luxury of entertaining anxieties about the stark separation of mind and matter.
Then why bother corresponding with Descartes? The fact is she was a Calvinist committed to Augustinian predestination. She was keeping abreast of a challenge to Christian orthodoxy. No doubt, being an Aristocrat, she was careful to write in an 'amateur' manner. It would never do to come across like some sort of pedant whose place was below the salt.
One might think that her concerns – as for many women, in fact, and other oppressed peoples throughout history – were not really about how to bridge a gaping chasm between some enclosed inner world and a remote outer one.
The trouble with saying, as some Feminists do, that the Queen, Gor'bless'er, is oppressed because she lacks a penis, is that Feminism then becomes preoccupied with the problems of Queens. It loses any possible social utility it might have.

The problem of 'chorismos' had a 'once and for all' solution in the Calvinist 'TULIP' doctrine of election. Elisabeth went on to become the Abbess of the Lutheran convent of Herford and as such was a forerunner of the ecumenical movement.
Rather, Elisabeth’s worry might well have been about how to preserve an inner sense of self against the relentless pressing-in of the world’s demands;
Christianity did this for her to such good effect that she became a very distinguished figure within the Reformed Church.

Why speak of Elisabeth as an abject creature? She made her own choices and led a good, a worthwhile, life.
about how to assert an entitlement to be a full person with distinct projects;
Being a 'Princess-Abbess' aint exactly chopped liver. Elisabeth asserted her entitlements very successfully.
and about how to carve out space to flourish in a society that relies on exploiting you.
Right! Coz, the Queen, Gor'bless'er, is being remorselessly exploited. Theresa May uses her as a foot stool. Boris Johnson, on becoming P.M, will declare her to be an ottoman, because he is of Turkish descent.
While philosophers are inordinately fond of comparing humans to entities that are different to ‘us’ – zombies, bats, AIs, octopuses, aliens – they’ve been rather slower to show an interest in the complex lives of certain creatures who already live alongside ‘us’ day to day, who can walk and talk and describe their subjectivity, but who until recently have been shut out of the category of full and proper personhood.
Oookay- philosophers be kray kray. Fair cop, Guv. But why pretend Princess Elisabeth was shut out of the category of 'full and proper personhood'. She had more, not less, of that than Descartes under the Laws of the period.
Feminist theory, concerned with the operation of patriarchy and the liberation of women, is a powerful tool for revealing the pernicious effects of setting women to the side – including how such exclusion might permit the persistence of unexamined assumptions and questionable theories.
Why has this 'powerful tool' achieved nothing except provoke what Susan Faludi has described in her book 'Backlash'? One reason is that it concentrates exclusively on flogging dead horses which, had they lived, might have eaten even the pathetic semblance of strawmen they assemble to attack but, mysteriously, are defeated by so as to revel in their own abjectness.
In her classic text The Second Sex (1949), the French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir performed just such a move against the bedrock of Enlightenment philosophy, the knowing human subject. ‘Man is not a natural species: he is a historical idea,’ she said, paraphrasing her fellow philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The very idea of the Human is not some universal given, de Beauvoir claimed, but a byproduct of how societies have systematically degraded women:
 The devaluation of woman represents a necessary stage in the history of humanity; for she derived her prestige not from her positive value but from man’s weakness; she incarnated disturbing natural mysteries: man escapes her grasp when he frees himself from nature.
Beauvoir was 'second wave' and part of a struggle which did tangibly improve things for everybody. She was writing in the post-war period when women were seen as 'proletarian'- child bearing- and their highest duty was considered to be having plenty of boy babies for the next big War.

France gives a higher status to Philosophy- you have to do it in High School in order to get to an elite College- and so Beauvoir had a useful role to play. Her work could be used against the Church, the Communist Party as well as the vulgar Poujadist strain even in Gaullism.

The English speaking world has a different, 'empirical, 'Law & Economics', tradition. There is little to be learnt from French thinkers though, no doubt, it is a gold mine for satire.
Woman, in other words, is humanity’s foil. She is the ‘Other’, bearing the brand of the not-quite-Human, which lets man point at her and whisper: 'We know what we are, because, thank god, we are not that'.
Yup! That's what happens when a young woman walks past a building site, true enough.
Thus when de Beauvoir makes the oft-quoted point that ‘one is not born, but rather becomes, woman’, she is not just saying that women’s minds and selves are socially constructed. More trenchantly, she is arguing that women become women precisely so that men can become Human.
French people are human? How come they jabber away in an incomprehensible lingo? Why do they wear a string of garlic around their necks? If they really were human, they'd speak English and wear bow ties and shower occasionally. Also, their cheese wouldn't be smelly and look and taste like plastic- as God intended.
While the Human has access to Cartesian qualities of reason, truth and clarity, the Other is linked to irrationality, emotion and vagueness; where the Human has civilisation and culture, the Other is aligned with nature and matter; and where the Human has a honed and powerful mind, the Other is at the mercy of the body. De Beauvoir writes:
 Man vainly forgets that his anatomy also includes hormones and testicles. He grasps his body as a direct and normal link with the world that he believes he apprehends in all objectivity, whereas he considers the woman’s body an obstacle, a prison, burdened by everything that particularises it.
Men don't forget their testicles. They take great care to protect them. Most men- or at least, inveterate losers like me- do spend a lot of time considering women's bodies. If it is a prison, it is one they long to break into. After that, they want to be looked after and protected from the big bad world out there.
The American philosopher Martha Nussbaum extends a version of de Beauvoir’s analysis in her book Political Emotions (2013). Drawing on child and developmental psychology, Nussbaum says that the human condition is framed by an awareness of vulnerability on the one hand, and the desire to change and control our reality on the other.
Awareness of vulnerability cancels out the desire to change things. The safer course is to get to somewhere you won't be so vulnerable. Thus, if a fire breaks out, we run away. We don't stand around saying 'OMG, I am vulnerable to getting burned to a crisp. I desire to change and control this environment. I feel an impulse towards narcissism and disgust. I will now take a selfie and post it up on Instagram.'
This inescapable bind creates a universal impulse towards narcissism and disgust, she says. We feel disgust at our own mortal and fleshly nature, and at any reminders of our finitude and fragility as creatures.
Very true. Being burned alive will do that to you more particularly if everybody else ran away.
So we subordinate others in order to project onto them all the qualities that we wish to deny in ourselves – that they are base, animal, Other – while we imagine ourselves as transcending to the realm of the mighty, truly Human.
We? We? I don't know about you, but when I feel vulnerable, I run away. So do most people. It may be there are one or two people who don't run away when the building is on fire. Before being burnt to a crisp, they may imagine themselves as transcending to the realm of the mighty, truly Human... thus becoming a pile of ashes. But, evolution weeds out such people.
Armed with these arguments, feminists appear to face a stark choice.
These arguments are not armaments. They are self-inflicted wounds. The only stark choice here is between going further down the road of stark raving madness and quietly going home and changing your course of study to something utile and remunerative.
They can argue that women should be allowed to ascend from their denigrated state to the domain of the fully free and rational human, the move of a classic liberal feminist such as Mary Wollstonecraft.
This involves changing laws and institutions in a manner which raises productivity and creates a virtuous circle from which all benefit.

Second Wave Feminists did an excellent job of this- even in some Communist countries.
Just as men are not defined by their bodies, nor should we be.
If men are not defined by their bodies, how do we know they aren't women or cats or items of furniture?
Alternatively, a feminist might reject this standard of humanity as hopelessly tainted and patriarchal, and suggest instead that we embrace the particularity of ‘female’ qualities.
Why not? Amia Srinivasan's ancestors did so, which is why the Iyengar community is now doing very well. Sally Davies's ancestors had a concept of 'Mother Jesus' and they did extremely well- which is why Amia now speaks better English than Tamil or Telugu.

Mahatma Gandhi embraced 'female' qualities as did Ramakrishna before him. This proved a great boon for Indian Nationalism and is one reason the country is a stable Democracy under the Rule of Law.
This latter strategy is evident, for example, in the American psychologist Carol Gilligan’s landmark study of women’s moral reasoning, In a Different Voice(1982), in which she argued that girls tend to think about ethical problems in terms of relations of care and emotion, while boys typically look at them through the lens of justice, reason and individualism.
'Economia' is female, 'Akrebia' is male. The Eastern Church argues that the former is superior to the latter.

A separate point is made by the Jain religion which valorizes 'many pointedness' in cognition. The first female Jain Acharya in millennia has established a branch of her 'Veerayatan' Ashram here in London. Some of the most successful people of Indian origin, regardless of gender, listen to the sermons of the Jain Sadhavi in charge. They quickly understand that 'many- pointedness' is similar to 'multi-tasking' and 'horizontal networking' (both of which are considered female work-skills) and that these ways of functioning must be cultivated to ensure the viability of the enterprise or research program they are engaged on.

Third and Fourth Wave Feminism lack precisely this 'many pointed' type of cognitive flexibility. It is an adversely selective academic availability cascade which has crashed as a Credentialist Ponzi scheme. Its chief function is to provoke a backlash so as to keep the likes of Trump in power. If the thing did not exist, Fox News or the Daily Mail would be forced to invent it.
In a more overtly activist mode, traditions of ‘ecofeminism’ draw a connection between the generative features of ‘mother Earth’ and embodied, ‘maternal’ qualities such as fecundity and a capacity for nurture. (In the ecologically unstable era of the Anthropocene, however, we might be more inclined to view Gaia as ‘a tough bitch’, in the mordant phrase of the American evolutionary theorist Lynn Margulis.)
Margulis had a vision of the entire biosphere being in communication through gene transfer of a recondite type. This could have operationalised an eco-feminist version of Dawkin's extended phenotype. The thing may still happen.
Yet both camps fall into the trap of thinking that the body is somehow primeval and immutable – a substrate, a ‘given’ that can’t be changed or questioned.
Fair point. Less bilge might have been written if soi disant savants had spent less time cashing the pension checks of Dead White Men and more time paying attention to developments in Evolutionary Biology. This would have been collectively rational but would have prevented individuals gaining a rent by publishing nonsense. This is an example of market failure.
In the 1980s, this presumption helped to push feminism’s focus towards gender, the set of social roles and practices that women are encouraged to perform, as distinct from their biological sex. The partition of women’s condition into sex and gender gave activists a way to demonstrate the effects of social norms and to wrest authority away from ‘the natural’. This strategy was undeniably transformative, but it also came at a cost.
In the Third World, this meant that NGOs doing useful work had to pay some idiot like me to translate their 'Women in Development' Mission Statement into fashionable 'Gender and Development' jargon. This 'second order', purely gesture political, work crowded out first order activism. It was 'transformative' in the sense of turning everything into bureaucratic shite.
For one, the body began to occupy some sort of liminal state, at once profoundly important and oddly obscured.
I recall attending a GAD conference. My body began to occupy a liminal position- in the downstairs bar. So did many other bodies. However, genuine activists were to be found occupying the even more liminal place of the public toilets barfing their lungs out because of all the shite they'd had to regurgitate.
Feminists wrote about how it was policed, represented and symbolised, but it became difficult to talk about embodiment in overtly scientific or material terms, as if that would let some sort of malign, deterministic genie out of the bottle.
Feminists wrote stupid lies. These could not be represented in 'scientific or material' terms. That is the problem with telling stupid lies. You have to tell even more stupid lies- like, don't try to verify our lies otherwise an evil genie will escape- so as to have an insanity defense against the charge of being a stupid liar.
Critics had rightly observed that biology and technoscience had been weaponised time and again to serve the needs and desires of men.
So has Reality. That is why we must have no truck with Reality. Evil genie will escape and eat you if you try to verify anything I've said.
These practices certainly deserved corrective doses of skepticism and critique, but the decision to do so ended up trading away feminist influence on the scientific process from within.
Telling stupid lies does tend to trade away your influence on scientific processes. So what? There's an Evil Genie that could escape from its bottle any second now! Screw scientific processes, we must journey to the 14th dimension to find Solomon's ring. The Nicaraguan horcrux of my neighbor's cat can help us. But first we must get down on all fours and say miaow.
Moreover, it meant that if some area of the relations between men and women was to be transformed – childrearing, the workplace, sexuality – feminists had to accuse gender, not sex, as the underlying cause of the problem.
But only because to do otherwise would release an Evil Genie before the Nicaraguan horcrux of the neighbor's cat opens the dimensional portal to Solomon's ring.
In this way, we transformed an anxiety about a determinism of nature into an equally untenable claim about the determinism of culture.
Ex falso quodlibet. From a stupid lie, all sorts of stupid lies logically follow.
Meanwhile, as feminists turned their attention away from the life sciences, deeming them suspect beyond redemption, biologists and evolutionary psychologists continued to expand their influence and capture the attention of the public and policymakers. Sex became the ‘Achilles’ heel’ of feminism, as the American biologist and feminist theorist Anne Fausto-Sterling wrote in 2005:
 We relegated it to the domain of biology and medicine, and biologists and medical scientists have spent the past 30 years expanding it into arenas we firmly believed to belong to our ally gender. Hormones, we learn (once more), cause naturally more assertive men to reach the top in the workplace. Rape is a behaviour that can be changed only with the greatest difficulty because it is wired somehow into men’s brains. The relative size of eggs and sperm dictate that men are naturally polygamous and women naturally monogamous. And more.
In other words, a feminist suspicion of instrumental scientific reasoning about the body – especially the sexed body – was totally understandable, but somewhat shortsighted.
Belief in Evil Genies is understandable- if the bottle in question contains a liquor you are partial to. Uncorking it leads, through some malign magic, to your waking up the next day face down in a pool of vomit.
In the face of this ‘oil spill of sex’, Fausto-Sterling thought that feminists face a different sort of choice.
Doing something useful? No.
Either they can push back against each claim about the causal role of the biological body. Or they can grapple with the reality of a body made up of cells and nerves and tissues, but still look critically at how bodies absorb and are inscribed by culture – how physiology and society, nature and nurture, are constantly co-creating each other, to the point where it doesn’t make sense to look at either of them in isolation.
It doesn't make sense for stupid people to look at stuff far beyond their ken. It does make sense for them to get proper jobs and do something useful for Society.
Imagine that someone presents you and a friend with a box, and asks you to take turns picking it up. According to the computational model of the mind, your brain takes in perceptual inputs from the body about the weight of the box, which then produces the feeling of how heavy it is when you lift it. Provided you and your friend are equally strong, then your sense of the weight of box should be similar. But that’s not what happens, according to a study in 2014 by the psychologists Eun Hee Lee and Simone Schnall at the University of Cambridge. These researchers found that people who felt themselves to be socially powerful experienced the physical burden as lighter than those with less social power.
Even if this study is replicable- which is highly unlikely- the fact is its statistical methodology is flawed. This is Junk Social Science.
Similarly, participants in other studies who faced an uphill climb accompanied by a friend perceived the same slope to be less steep than those who had to go it alone; those who consumed glucose thought an incline looked shallower than those who’d had a calorie-neutral sweetener; and those in negative moods perceived the slant to be steeper than those with a more optimistic outlook.
The intuition here is plausible, but the fact remains the studies are worthless because their methodology is flawed.
Computational thinking remains dominant within cognitive science and philosophy of mind.
But both are useless.
But new frontiers are opening up that view the body as something more than just a brain-carrying robot. In doing so, they have created the potential for alliances with feminist thinkers influenced by the likes of Fausto-Sterling.
So this is an alliance between the useless and the useless. Why not broaden it by getting on board with Alien abductees who have been anally probed? Why stop there? A broad alliance between feminists, Rosicrucians, cognitive scientists, Yogi Bears and votaries of Chthulhu might get their own Netflix series.
Within a broad church that can be called – not uncontentiously – embodied cognition, a growing number of psychologists, scientists and theorists are approaching mental life as something that is not just contingent on, but constituted by, the state of our bodies.
But these guys aint inventing cool stuff. They aren't incubating the next great start-ups. They represent failed research programs and a Credentialist Ponzi scheme which has already collapsed. It's a case of 'collect your sheepskin and application for a job at Starbucks. Thanks for all your tuition fees- sucker!'
In the place of a Cartesian computer, the mind becomes more like a clay pot thrown on a wheel, to use the philosopher Michael Kirchhoff’s metaphor.
A terrible metaphor. Everybody knows the ghost of Patrick Swayze will start fingering them if they buy into it.
The wet clay spins on a rotating disk, shaping and reshaping itself under the potter’s hands, arms and muscles, which in turn respond to how the material is moving. The mind is moulded by forces operating both within it and upon it, but also linked up to the world and the body as a single, dynamic yet mostly stable system.
But the potter's hands obey a mind. So this cashes out as 'the mind is moulded by Patrick Swayze's ghostly mind which is fingering Demi Moore who is still hot which is so unfair coz she's older than me.
It takes only a small leap to see the political potential of embodied cognition for feminists seeking a path out of the quagmire of sex and gender – or indeed any other critical social theorists keen to overthrow falsely naturalised and unjust hierarchies.
The political potential of linking up with the Flat Earthers or Climate Deniers would be greater still.
Embodied cognition allows us to recognise the agency of biology without ceding the significance of power or politics.
Being alive allows us to recognise the agency of biology. Being stupid involves ceding or not ceding biology significance with respect to power or politics. One may as well babble about how Quantum Mechanics inevitably gives rise to Totalitarian States. Bacon said 'either we must put Nature on the rack or Man'. Them evil scientists dun bin torturing sub-atomic particles! OMG! The Black Helicopters are coming for me!
In her essay ‘Throwing Like a Girl’ (1980), the American philosopher Iris Marion Young cites empirical research suggesting that women playing sport are more likely than men to perceive a ball to be coming at them, aggressively, rather than towards them; they also tend not to trust their bodies, and to experience their limbs as awkward encumbrances rather than tools to help them realise their aims.
Sadly, this also describes my own sporting career. Some people are good at throwing things or hitting things thrown at them. Being very short sighted, but quite heavy in build, I preferred getting close to and then thumping anyone who chucked things at me.
Drawing on the work of de Beauvoir, Young suggests that female bodily experience is often rooted ‘in the fact that feminine existence experiences the body as a mere thing – a fragile thing, which must be picked up and coaxed into movement, a thing that exists as looked at and acted upon.
Mum did have to coax me into movement- coz I iz is a big tub of lard- but no one had to coax her into movement. That's why I didn't starve to death. Mum even managed to get the LSE not to keep me back for failing to show up for my Second Year Exams, by telling my tutor the horrendous history of my toilet training. Her hints were scarcely subtle. If I were held back, I'd probably regress to pooping all over the place. Given that I was a fat sack of shit, the LSE authorities made sure I got my degree without having to show up for classes and lectures and other such opportunities for aggressive incontinence.
But Young denies that this state of affairs is in any way natural, or that it flows from something intrinsic to female biology;
Very good of her, I'm sure.
instead, she says, such feelings are byproducts of how women learn to live in their bodies.
How do they learn they are women? And how do they learn they are women learning to live in their bodies? What is to prevent them learning they are cats living in women's bodies?
One therefore doesn’t need some essential definition of ‘female’ to accept that embodiment matters, and to see how it shapes and can be shaped by culture.
Accepting embodiment matters as little as accepting the propinquity of the post Kristevan Chora's heteroclite anality considered, not under the rubric of the scotomized subject of Neo-Liberal hegemony, but, more daringly, under the aegis of post-scotomized hyper-Governmentality.
While embodied cognition has grown in popularity in recent years,
with dunces
it flows from a long history of counter-Cartesian philosophical psychology that predates the mainstream model of the computational mind.
But that long history of Cartesian or counter-Cartesian nonsense was still nonsense. Witness Chomsky's abysmal career.
De Beauvoir is often read
by cretins
as a deeply anti-biological feminist who inaugurated the sex/gender divide avant la lettre, but this overlooks her explicit acknowledgement of debt to the embodied phenomenology of Martin Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty.
Both of whom were utterly useless.
These thinkers were committed to the importance of the body, not as a mere thing in the world, but the ground and origin of each organism’s own reality, the very means of thought.
And this commitment enabled them to invent cool new stuff, like the iPhone- I don't think.
‘Because the body is the instrument of our hold on the world, the world appears different to us depending on how it is grasped,’ de Beauvoir writes. ‘[T]he body is not a thing, it is a situation: it is our grasp on the world and the outline for our projects.’
Unless you happen to have painful haemorrhoids. Then you have to go see a proper Doctor, though- admittedly- displaying your anus to Doctors of Philosophy can be a fun way to pass the time.
In phenomenology, the body becomes the reference-point for an individual’s experience. It is something that doesn’t simply record or register abstract representations, as if they are shapes being pressed into inert plaster; rather, it draws forth aspects of the environment that a particular creature deems meaningful at that moment in time.
Does anybody find this shite meaningful at this moment in time?
Heidegger’s favourite example was a hammer. Recognising that hammer, in terms of understanding what it is and what it can do, will depend on your prior bodily experience with a hammer. Only if you’ve hefted something like it in your hand before will you be able to guess whether it’s too heavy or too light for a task. To recognise a hammer is to grasp its significance to you, in that moment, which requires you to have some prior feeling of the action of hammering.
Nonsense. The thing is purely mimetic. You see other people using it in a certain way and follow suit.

The case of Mike May, an American professional skier, shows what this might mean in practice. At the age of three, May lost his sight when a chemical explosion from a lantern destroyed his left eye and scarred his right cornea. Remarkably, in 1999, at the age of 46, his sight was restored by a corneal transplant. But that did not mean he could see, in any standard sense of the word. Instead of cars, cats, people and trees, May saw only moving lines and blotches of colour. It’s unclear what accounts for May’s struggle to see after a 40-year hiatus; after all, he would seem to have access to all the same visual data as any other sighted person. According to the psychologist Louise Barrett and the neuroscientist Moshe Bar: ‘These ideas also suggest the intriguing possibility that exposure to visual sensations alone is not sufficient for visual experience.’ They thought that the reason for May’s continuing problems was because he had been denied the chance to connect the sight of objects to other bodily sensations at a crucial stage of childhood development. In their view, humans do not use our senses to develop an abstract representation of objects in the world, and only then graft on our feelings about such things. Instead, we see ‘with feeling’: we learn to see a cat or a tree by linking it to our history of bodily engagements, such as their smell, touch or the emotions it evokes when we see one. We do not reason from a position of detachment, but rather with a history of embodied encounters under our belts that allows us to make sense out of the world, quite literally.
Sadly, this example supports the computational view. May didn't have the software to process the signals his new hardware was sending his brain.
Like Heidegger, the American philosopher and psychologist William Jamesalso believed that our core cognitive processes were afterimages of the ebb and flow of our various bodily states as we navigated the world. Take fear: without the feelings of ‘quickened heart-beats nor of shallow breathing, neither of trembling lips nor of weakened limbs, neither of goose-flesh nor of visceral stirrings,’ James argued in 1884, we’d be incapable of grasping the concept. Likewise for grief, for ‘what would it be without its tears, its sobs, its suffocation of the heart, its pang in the breast-bone?’ Against Descartes, the body indeed thinks; it’s the very tool by which meanings are offered up to consciousness.
It is one of the tools but, by training, not the one that predominates. I run away from a fire. A member of the fire-brigade is trained to suppress his bodily responses and enters a blazing building in a cool and collected state of mind.

No doubt, academics have foolish ideas and spend a lot of time dissecting each other's folly in equally foolish terms. But why should the rest of us bother with a field which can't 'pay its way' in terms of inventing cool stuff or raising productivity in some other way?

All this talk of expectations and affordances leads to a potentially troublesome consequence: cognition can no longer be cleaved apart neatly from politics.
When could it? Under slavery in the antebellum South? Or under Jim Crow prior to 1965?
If I am black, my prediction of what a police officer might afford me is likely to be very different to that of my white friend, as well as eliciting very different felt responses and perceptions.
I am black. My prediction of what an English police officer might afford me is precisely the same as that of my white friends of a similar age and class. Actually, I'm better treated because I might turn out to be Lord Desai or the Sri Lankan Ambassador.

America may be different, but that's an American problem to do with bad mechanism design. It has nothing to do with 'embodiment'.
Undoing such expectations (which it might well be reasonable for me to hold) is not just a matter of changing my beliefs, but of modifying longstanding embodied reactions.
I'm not American, but if I were visiting that country and a cop points a gun at me, I've watched enough TV to know I should raise my hands, get on my knees or 'assume the position' against a wall.

I imagine that a black person in America who 'modifies longstanding embodied reactions' in such a context would be in danger of getting his head shot off.
Similarly, as a woman, I might not expect a dark and deserted street to afford me walking down it at night, while my male partner might feel entirely at ease in that space.
I wish I had such a partner- male or female! I take great care not to walk down dark and deserted streets in certain locations. That's why I'm nice to my Uber drivers so as to have a good feedback score. I don't want to end up having to walk home past the Council Estate at two o'clock in the morning. I might not be raped, but being knifed for my watch is not a pleasant prospect.
The fact that I feel myself to be vulnerable, in a very visceral way, means that I will avoid putting myself in that position, and so my predictions will be tacitly reinforced.
This is also true of animals. What point is the author making? It is a foolish one about taking illicit drugs or maybe turning into a cyborg coz that would be super cool.
Perhaps it would be super-cool. But it isn't political at all. It is merely spectacle.
The embodied world, as each of us encounters it, is a product of such self-reinforcing causal loops. Does embodied cognition get us feminists any closer to a recipe for women’s emancipation – one that avoids an unappetising choice between the unmoored human universal on the one hand, and an essentialist concept of ‘the female’ on the other? There are certainly hints of what a more malleable and creative feminist biopolitics might look like. In Testo Junkie(2008), the Spanish activist and writer Paul Preciado, previously Beatriz Preciado, gives a vertiginous account of his illicit application of topical testosterone.
 The truth about sex is not a disclosure; it is sexdesign… I don’t want to change my sex, and I don’t want to declare myself dysphoric about whatever it may be; I don’t want a doctor to decide how much testosterone a month is suitable for changing my voice and making me grow a beard; I don’t want to have my ovaries and breasts removed.
Preciado is clear that he’s not after any kind of ‘standard’ transition from one sex or gender to another; he does not take himself to be peeling away the female to reveal some concealed, genuine, male essence:
The body becomes a malleable substance – something that Preciado can toy and tinker with, rather than control and engineer.
Preciado displays neither a nostalgia for biological fixity, nor some techno-fantasy of embodiment as something that can be simply cast aside. His image of himself is closer to the transgressive feminist being that Haraway calls a ‘cyborg’: a co-evolving hybrid that emerges from a mosaic of technology and biology, thought and feeling, the material and the mental. These entities are a far cry from the demigods that Silicon Valley has in its sights. Instead, Haraway’s cyborgs revel in their own ragged borders, the cross-pollination and pollution of their biological and technological components, their entanglement and reliance on other creatures, their leakiness and unpredictability. ‘It’s not just that “god” is dead; so is the “goddess”,’ Haraway exults: there are ‘great riches for feminists in explicitly embracing the possibilities inherent in the breakdown of clean distinctions between organism and machine’.
Some Silicon Valley types get to talk stupid shit coz they are very rich and may have invented or be about to invent cool stuff. If poor people who haven't invented shit mimic the stupidity of Silicon Valley types, they make themselves a laughing stock.
Embodied cognition offers a way out of a false choice for a future feminist agenda: between a politics grounded in an essentialised notion of the female body, and one that risks quashing the particularity of women’s experience by forcing it to measure up to some falsely universal norm. Instead it leaves us with a view of women’s condition as being a biocultural artifact, enmeshed in tangled relationships with nature and matter that can be moulded and rewired, if not upturned overnight. In the place of Faguet’s invincible and omnipotent transhuman, embodied feminism might yield a figure more like Moon Ribas, a Catalan artist with a sensor permanently implanted in her arm that allows her to feel earthquakes anywhere on the planet.
Wonderful! Sign me up for one of those gizmos! That will make me the life and soul of the party- for about 5 minutes. Then everybody would shun me as a monumental bore whose arm keeps trembling and spilling red wine on their cashmere sweaters.
To recognise that our bodies are steeped in and fashioned by culture also means facing up to the unpleasant fact that we are vulnerable to manipulation and control.
Very true! I've been on a very strict diet for the last twenty years. Yet I keep gaining weight. It is because my body is being manipulated and controlled by Evil Multinational Corporations like McDonalds, KFC, Dunkin' Donuts & so forth.
The infiltration of digital devices into the most intimate crannies
speak for yourself dear. My intimate crannies are still cherry.
of our lives makes it harder and harder to cling to the belief that humans possess truly autonomous, bounded, sovereign minds.
Shoving your smartphone up your anus will do that to you.
Maybe we don’t need to look on this development with alarm, but see it as history granting us a form of permission – a licence to experiment with new kinds of empathy, fresh identities, and a range of more interesting, hybrid selves.
You are welcome to experiment with your own smartphone. I don't want to void the warranty on mine. Also turning up at Accident & Emergency with an A.R Rahman ringtone coming out of your ass is so like Nineties dude.

As for hybrid selves- have you ever met a Homi Bhabha type hybrid? They are as boring as shit. Take it from me, but for my problems with incontinence, I too- being fitted for nothing else- might have turned into that stupid sort of academic. Perhaps I should have done. Mum would have been so proud.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Amartya Sen on India's elections

Social Choice theory- of the mathematical sort- can seriously mislead if applied to actual elections. This is because the actual choice facing the voter is inchoate. Attempting to analyse it leads to 'framing' effects which can give rise to a 'money pump'- i.e. intransitive preferences.

What voters actually want is a good Ruling Party kept in check by a smart Opposition which can provide a viable alternative in a few years time.

An economist, however, might easily get the wrong end of the stick and, depending on his own prejudices, offer foolish advise because of a 'framing effect'.

Thus in the recent elections in India, some thought the issue was Modi in vs Modi out. Consequently they thought all Opposition parties should form a coalition. The problem here is that such parties have to compete among themselves otherwise they become inefficient and lose touch with voters. Furthermore, there is a genuine need for data about voter preferences which is needed for consensual seat sharing. In this context, the work around is for there to be some competition which focuses on 'vote splitting'- i.e. 2 opposition parties may limit their competition- so as to get an idea of their relative strength- by choosing candidates who will split the vote of the dominant party. Obviously, this is more an art than a science. But it is an art which Indian politicians must master in order to deliver what voters genuinely want.

Mathematical economists, or normative political political philosophers have no inkling of this art and add noise to signal. Thus it is important that political leaders disintermediate them.

In India, it is thought that Rahul Gandhi listens to 'public intellectuals'. This may go some way to explaining his abysmal performance.

Turning to the most venerated of our public intellectuals, let us examine an article in the Indian Express where Amartya Sen offers
a few simple thoughts about the organisation and use of our electoral system...

From the British, India has inherited a system of choosing the electoral winner on the basis of plurality — the candidate with most votes — who quite often does not have support from a majority of voters.
What India inherited from the British was a restricted franchise with nominated members. It did not inherit the current system. That was created after Independence. The Constitution of India declares itself autochthonous on the Irish pattern. Thus there can be no question of anything being inherited from the Brits.

Why did India choose a first past the post system? The answer is that it had smart people- like Ambedkar- who understood why proportional representation on the French pattern would have been a recipe for anarchy.

Why is Sen pretending the stupid Indians accepted some poisoned legacy from the Brits without understanding what it was?
The BJP won a majority of parliamentary seats, but it received only 37 per cent of the votes. Did the Opposition parties appreciate the difference between majority and plurality adequately?
Of course they did. Yet none have ever demanded Proportionate Representation in the manner that the Liberals in Britain have been demanding for many years. Why? It's because they aren't as stupid as Sen. After all, unlike Sen, those guys have to live in India. They don't want it to be ungovernable.

The alternative voting method- which would involve elimination rounds so as to get a pairwise comparison- would have given Modi and the BJP a bigger margin of victory.
Given the relative strength of the Bharatiya Janata Party, should there have been more alliances among the Opposition parties?
Not really. The Mahagatbandhan didn't do so well and Akhilesh is getting stick from his Dad for having given too much away to Mayawati. However, if Mayawati dies, Akhilesh has a shot of claiming her legacy. Neither Mayawati nor Mamta has a child and it is not clear if a nephew or other relative could inherit. In the case of Bengal, Rahul's failure to make nice with Mamta is puzzling. After all, she started off in Congress and he could promise to look after her nephew if anything happens to her.

However, a moment's thought and a look at the map suffices to resolve the puzzle. Congress did tacitly participate in the coalition and only ran candidates in seats it wasn't targeting so as to split the BJP vote.
Should the Congress have had more coordinated agreements with other anti-BJP parties, such as the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh?
With hindsight, no- of course not. Rahul losing Amethi means there was an anti-'pappu' wave. After all, he was the only other guy angling for the top job- or so it seemed. It now looks like he didn't even want his own job and tanked the election so he could quit politics and get to spend less time with his family.
Should there have been an alliance between the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress in Delhi, or between the Congress and Prakash Ambedkar’s party in Maharashtra?
In both cases, the upstart hopes to feast off the carcass of the Grand Old Party. Ambedkar splitting the Congress vote certainly did help the Sena/BJP. But, this time round, Ambedkar was concerned with showing his 'splitting' potential. This does not necessarily mean he is in the pockets of the BJP.  The long term plan would be to supplant the old left which means, sooner or later, gaining intellectual ascendancy over the 'useful idiots'.
Should the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar, which did make alliances, have gone a step further in not denying room for the youthful national leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, in Begusarai, without worrying about Kumar being a potential rival to the leadership of the 29-year-old RJD leader, Tejashwi Yadav (a consideration that, it is widely alleged, led the coalition to decide on fatally splitting the anti-BJP vote)?
Sen is being silly. The BJP vote was a lot bigger than the combined RJD, CPI vote.

Why would Tejashwi worry about Kanhaiya who belongs to the old pro-Moscow Communist Party of India which has only 3 MLAs compared to RJD's 79? Even if he quits the CPI- a dying party- being Brahman, he is no threat to the Yadav dynast. Moreover, Kanhaiya had touched the feet of the RJD supremo to gain his protection while facing sedition charges. He could only be a client of the Yadavs.

Still, Kanhaiya being a Bhumihar, like the BJP candidate, could split the sizable Bhumihar vote because of the national publicity he had received, thus helping the RJD candidate who was Muslim- the next largest community after the Bhumihars.

Muslims are not very happy with the Communists because Communist China is currently persecuting Uighurs. However, Kanhaiya got show-biz support from big names like Javed Akhtar & Shahbana Azmi which split the Muslim vote which should otherwise have gone to the RJD candidate.

 Giriraj Singh, initially miffed at being shifted away from a safe seat, saw his chance to play up his nationalist credentials so as to get the anti-Muslim vote without getting into hot water with the Election Commission. Bashing Kanhaiya was understood as bashing 'anti national' Muslims. He also took the opportunity to bash Kanhaiya for violations of the Bhumihar code which, in the light of his victory, burnishes his own standing within his caste.  Thus he romped home and instead of resenting Amit Shah, feels grateful to him for being shifted from a safe seat and thus getting a chance to flex his muscles and gain all India publicity.

Could the outcome have been different? Sure. The RJD should have made this an anti Bhumihar, not an anti Modi, election. The CPI does have a solid vote-bank and should have chosen a less controversial Bhumihar so as to make Giriraj sweat for his victory.
There are many such questions to ask, at the individual as well as aggregative level.
These questions were asked by people far smarter than me or Sen- viz. politicos in that district. Sadly, their calculations were thrown off by the 'useful idiots' from the metros who unthinkingly split the Muslim vote and consolidated the Nationalist wave.
No less importantly, should the coalitions that actually emerged have worked towards an agreed vision, and not been satisfied merely with the fact that the parties are “all anti-BJP”? I have argued elsewhere (in an opinion piece in the New York Times, May 25) that while the parties against the BJP were vocal enough on their shared dislike of the party, there was relatively little discussion on the basic ideological differences between the BJP’s perspective (particularly the philosophy behind the dominance of a religious identity — in this case, the “Hindu identity”), and the integrated vision of a common identity of Indians across the country (irrespective of religion).
This discussion occurred ad nauseam in the Nineties. However the subsequent Governance we witnessed was truly appalling. That is why Nitish Kumar was able to break the RJD's hold on power in Bihar. To do this he had to ally with the BJP. He then broke away but had to come back because he doesn't have an heir. Since Modi was good at 'last mile delivery' irrespective of caste, the Nitish-Modi alliance prevailed.

What about the Muslims? On the one hand, they do benefit from the last mile delivery, on the other, they feel insecure because of the 'anti national' tag. The problem here is that it is the Hindu Left which is pretending that they are so enraged or driven to desperation that they will actually become 'anti national'. The safer course is to kick the Left to the curb and try to get Muslims elected irrespective of party. Since Muslims are patriots, their visible actions will give the lie to the Left's narrative.
Indeed, the reasoning behind the powerful Gandhi-Tagore-Nehru vision of a united India, which had contributed to keeping India together for decades, received rather little attention.
Is Sen utterly mad? Does he really not know that Partition occurred? The Gandhi-Tagore-Nehru vision survived only in Hindu majority areas and some disputed borderlands where the Indian Army has a strong presence.

Back in the Nineties, there were coalitions designed specifically to keep the BJP out of power. That was when the 'reasoning' Sen speaks off predominated. Much good it did.

Had Jyoti Basu- the long serving Communist Chief Minister of Bengal become P.M (as he himself wished), then a Left Front of some sort would have become a truly National alternative party. But the CPM politburo forbade Basu taking the top job for some stupid ideological reason. The 'circular firing squad' of the ideological Left- which featured plenty of 'reasoning' and 'discussion'- has led to its long drawn out suicide and current almost complete annihilation.

In Kerala, the Communists decided that, for some reason, women must go to a particular Temple. The local Congress party opposed this and thus was able to steal a lot of seats from the Communists. God alone knows what 'reasoning' or 'discussion' led the Commies to the absurd conclusion that making women perform an arduous pilgrimage to propitiate a Male deity was a good and salutary thing.
A positive vision can play a constructive and inspiring role, going well beyond negotiated, possibly ad hoc agreements — what can be called, in Hegelian language, “negation of negation.”
This 'positive vision' existed in the Nineties. Everybody got sick and tired of it because it just meant more and more corruption and criminalization- especially in Bihar under the RJD. After 2001, the entire world agreed that Islamic terror was a nuisance. The Indian Left alone had to pretend that there was some equal and opposite 'Hindu terror' which must be persecuted so as to demonstrate a commitment to even handed secularism. What was the result? Pragya Thakur has trounced Digvijay Singh. Rahul Baba is sitting at home refusing to meet anyone save his sister and Mummy and now young Sachin. He insists his resignation be accepted while there are rumors that Sachin too will quit and rebel against Gehlot.

Turning now to the BJP, the winner, it has excellent grounds to be happy with the election results on May 23. And yet, the BJP leadership, and especially its highly talented and exceptionally ambitious top leader, Narendra Modi, have reasons to be disappointed by global reactions to the BJP victory.
The global reaction that concerns the BJP has to do with NRIs. Are they happy or sad? The answer is they are ecstatic.
There has been widespread criticism in the news media across the world (from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the Observer, Le Monde, Die Zeit and Haaretz to the BBC and CNN) of the ways and means of securing BJP’s victory, including instigation of hatred and intolerance of groups of Indian citizens, particularly Muslims, who have every right to be treated with respect (as under the Gandhi-Tagore understanding).
Does Sen really not understand that only wealthy NRIs have exposure to such media? What they read there drives up their blood pressure and increases the amount they donate to the Sangh Parivar.

This talk of 'Gandhi-Tagore' has led to an extraordinary situation where the people of Bhopal have elected a woman who says that Godse, Gandhi's assassin, was a patriot. Why? She was falsely accused of being a Hindu terrorist (a type of creature no one in the world has seen) and put in jail and tortured for 8 years. At least this was her election pitch. She won by a landslide. Why? Hindus feel that they themselves weren't being treated with respect. They have taken their revenge on stupid Leftist 'public intellectuals'.
Winning cannot be the only concern in fighting an election.
Quite right. The other main concern is not losing in a manner that makes one look an utter fool.
It makes a big difference how the winners are viewed in the post-election world.
The same is true of how the losers are viewed. If, like Modi, you are viewed as having won because the people are with you then that makes a big difference. If, like Rahul or the Communists, you are viewed as having lost because the people think you are stupid, incompetent and harbor an irrational hostility to the creed of the vast majority of the people, then that makes the difference between whether you continue to have a career in politics or have to reconcile yourself to a lifetime of drudgery writing shite articles like this.
A well-wisher of the BJP would have had reasons to desire more than just a win for her favourite party.
Quite true. We'd want the BJP to win despite adverse economic or other indicators on the basis that the Opposition is utterly shit. This is what has happened. Hopefully, idiots like Sen and Harsh Mander & Pratan Bhanu Mehta will just fuck off to Amrika and never be heard off again. That way, stupid dynasts like Rahul won't screw up so badly and we'd have a better Opposition in India so as to keep the BJP on its toes.
What about the people at large? India is, in many ways, a successful democracy, which — until recently — had an excellent reputation for treating different political parties with symmetry and equity.
Sheer nonsense! It was derided as a dynastic country- autocracy tempered by assassination- where the son or daughter of the PM would become PM and then jail the opposition and suspend the Constitution if faced by an adverse Court judgment.
However, in the 2019 elections, there have been reasonably convincing allegations of unequal favours received by the ruling party.
As there have always been. Under a previous Administration, all sorts of trumped up court cases were used to defame opponents. The Ministry of External Affairs permitted the CM of a State to be labelled a mass murderer and denied Visas on that basis.
These concerns have been partly related to the assessment of some of the decisions taken by the Election Commission, but they relate also to the unequal opportunities offered to the different parties by state-owned institutions (for example, state-owned Doordarshan gave the BJP about double the broadcast time in the crucial pre-electoral season, compared with what it offered to the Congress).
But Congress had less than a quarter the seats of the BJP. It has to share time with rival Opposition parties.
If India has to retain — and in fact regain — its past reputation for offering a level playing field to different political parties, these asymmetries would have to be removed, which is particularly important when the favoured player happens to be the ruling party in office, which appoints the administrative heads of state-owned enterprises, and which also has a bigger role in the appointment of the Election Commission.
God knows which planet Sen has been living on all these years. Anyway, if there are genuine concerns then a PIL should be launched. But you need hard evidence to present to Court.

Going further, the amassing of assets useable in elections of the different political parties has clearly been extraordinarily unequal in 2019. The BJP had many times more money and resources for electoral use than all its rivals, including the Congress.
Because the BJP is better than its rivals. The cure is not far to seek. Other parties need to stop doing stupid shit. They should do smart and useful things. Then they'll get not just money but votes.
The need for effective rules and regulations for reducing such huge asymmetries is very strong indeed.
Sen is being foolish. The BJP will be in control of both Houses of Parliament before the next election. Now is the not the time to make existing, or new, rules and regulations effective because it would freeze up current asymmetries.

This is similar to Sen's demand for 'autonomy' for Nalanda even after it had become an RSS stronghold.
This is important not only for the democratic credibility of India, but also for the way the victory of the electoral winners is judged, globally as well as locally.
How India is judged locally or globally does not matter in the slightest. Why? Only very stupid people sit around making judgments. Expectations, on the other hand, matter. We often hear people say 'all dem bankers be krooks'. That is a judgment. Those same people queue up to pay their money into their Bank accounts. Why? It is because they expect the Bank to keep their money safe and give it back on demand.
India does not lack people with moral courage.
Nor does it lack people with moral cowardice. In fact, it does not lack people, period.
Even though the resistance to injustice — economic, political, social and cultural — is easiest to articulate during electoral campaigning, the fight for fairness and justice is, in many ways, a continuous phenomenon in our country.
The fight for fairness and justice has, in many ways, been wholly counter productive. Why? Moral courage may express itself in stupid and ignorant judgments- the sort Sen himself always makes. Moral cowardice may express itself in having Rational Expectations- in other words fearing to talk worthless judgmental shite as opposed to doing your actual job properly.
But so are the attempts by the government to repress resistance.
Stupid types of resistance lead to a backlash which, during election season, the Government may profit from.
New restrictions have been imposed on the liberty of speech, which has included the imprisoning of people by branding dissent from the government’s super-nationalist beliefs as “sedition”.
Sen is being foolish. The fact is, people like Hardik Patel and Alpesh Kathiriya are 'super-nationalists' and yet face sedition charges. Why? They said that some policemen should be killed so as to get more publicity for their cause- which involves getting reservations for their own community.

Sedition has to do with inciting violence against policemen or soldiers or other employees of the State. It could also involve suborning them from their duty.

In the case of Kanhaiya Kumar, it is certainly true that 'resistance' has helped the BJP. However, whether a restriction is legal or illegal is a matter for the Courts.
New categories of offence have also been invented, such as being described as an “urban Naxalite” on the basis of utterances that the government determines are dangerous, leading to house arrest or worse.
Again this is a matter for the courts. However, it affects only a very small number of elderly 'useful idiots'.
The Indian courts have often intervened to restrain the government, but given the slow speed of legal processes in India, relief — even when it came — has taken a long time.
So Economists should propose ways of speeding up legal processes. That could be useful.
And a number of intellectuals have been murdered for expressing views that the Hindutva movement finds objectionable.
Again, this is a matter for the Courts.
The credit that the ruling party can get for winning the elections is seriously compromised by such repression.
Credit with whom? Sen himself? But who gives a toss about him? When was the last time the Stock Exchange or the Exchange rate or anything else people care about was affected by the sort of stuff mentioned in this article?
The victorious side has to consider what kind of regime it wants to run — and how it is viewed across the world.
No it doesn't. All that matters is whether people expect it to be stronger and more prosperous or weaker and poorer.  How they view it doesn't matter in the slightest because 'soft power' does not exist. The wise fly settles on the sugar not the honey.
It is not hard to appreciate that democracy demands more than the counting of votes.
It demands the Rule of Law. This means that 'Law & Econ' can be useful whereas 'an idea of Justice' will just add noise to signal.

In the NYT, Sen wrote
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India has led his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to a major victory in the country’s general elections, winning more than 300 of the 543 parliamentary seats and five more years to run the country.
This is an impressive achievement, but how has Mr. Modi been able to do it? And why has the Indian National Congress, the old national party, been restricted to a mere 52 seats? In attempting to answer these questions, some have been tempted to seek explanations in the realm of ideas and ideology, in particular in the dominance of Hindu identity in India.
This makes sense. There are a lot of Hindus in India. They view India as a Hindu country. The BJP shares this view. This gives it the edge.
We are told repeatedly that India has changed and that the old, pluralistic and secular ideology of the Congress Party and of India’s great leaders — Mohandas Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad — is no longer an effective option.
That ideology proved hollow. The country was partitioned on Religious lines.
There might be an element of truth in this line of thinking.
After all, though about 200 million Indian citizens are Muslim — more than 14 percent of India’s total population — political support for the victorious B.J.P. comes disproportionately from the Hindus.
Political support for any victorious party would have to come disproportionately from Hindus.
But ideas do not live in isolation.
Ideas don't live at all. Some people may get paid a little money, or have no better way to amuse themselves, then to talk about ideas but the thing does not matter in the slightest.
Are there not things happening in our actual lives that influence our ideas?
Yes. Those things also influence our bowel movements. So what?
This way of looking at politics starts the inquiry at too late a stage, avoiding the question of why the B.J.P. today has many more loyal supporters than only a few years ago.
We all know the answer to that. Modi was and is better than his rivals for office. We see this and act accordingly.
There can hardly be any doubt that Mr. Modi is an exceptionally skillful and charismatic political leader. To seek a part of the explanation there might appear to some to be a lazy thought, but there is nothing wrong in trying to examine the role of Mr. Modi in the startling rise of his party.
There is something wrong in trying to do something if you don't actually do it.
A fiery orator, he has been able to influence others’ thinking with his striking readiness to make political use of hatred and loathing — for people with different ways of life (leftists, rationalists, liberal intellectuals) and for those with different origins and religious beliefs, such as Muslims.
If Modi can influence others' thinking and if thinking is related to action why the fuck would he need to get elected to office? All he'd need to do is sneak into the bedrooms of important people and start haranguing them, using hatred and loathing, for people with different ways of life (terrorists, hedonists, academic economists who have made a career of stupidity) in order to carry out his political program.
Former B.J.P. leaders, like the unaggressive Atal Bihari Vajpayee, would certainly be unable to compete.
But Vajpayee did become P.M. and did appoint Modi to the Chief Ministership of Gujarat.
If Mr. Modi used his charisma in electioneering, he also poured money into electoral spending — many times more than the Congress Party and all the other political parties.
Modi has no money. Other people poured in the money because if Modi lost, the Economy would turn to shit and they'd lose much much more money. This is purely rational behavior.
The surge of nationalism after Mr. Modi ordered airstrikes inside Pakistan following a Feb. attack in Kashmir on Indian troops by a Pakistan-based terrorist group also helped the B.J.P. immensely. In fact, India’s general election was dominated by scaremongering rhetoric, used very effectively by Mr. Modi.
Sen may not feel scared by Pak-based terror strikes- but then he isn't in India a lot. Why should Indians not feel afraid of a real and present danger to their families?
We can see a change in Mr. Modi’s own evolution here. When he won the election five years ago, in 2014, his campaign greatly benefited from his promises of a well-functioning market economy free of red tape and corruption, plentiful employment opportunities for all, fair sharing of the fruits of speedy economic expansion, and ready availability of primary health care and school education.
In his recent campaign, Mr. Modi could not brag about his achievements: He has accomplished little of what he had promised. Unemployment is very high, a 45-year peak, economic growth is faltering and uneven in its impact, elementary health care remains comprehensively neglected, and there has been no striking decrease of red tape and corruption.
So Modi acted rationally by focusing on his superiority to his rivals when it came to National Security- which Indians like- and being pro-Hindus- which the majority of Hindus like because they are Hindus. Since people had good reason to believe that Modi had done better than any one else would have there was a Modi wave in many parts of the country.

Instead, Mr. Modi focused on the apprehensions and fears of Indian citizens: fear of terrorism, fear of sabotage by Pakistan, fear of apparently terrible deeds perpetrated by hostile elements within India.
Terrorism exists. Sabotage by Pakistan occurs. The Pulmama incident actually happened. Naxals really are murderous bastards. Modi showed he was superior at dealing with these genuine problems. Since he was also as good if not better at everything else, this put him over the top by a considerable margin.
Just as the Falklands War in 1982 shored up support for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain, who dramatically gained in popularity, the border battles with Pakistan in February helped Mr. Modi immensely in the elections.
Yes. Pakistan contributed to Modi's victory. But only because Modi had sufficient intestinal fortitude to take the battle to the enemy. Thatcher showed similar strength of character and was rewarded for it.
These factors fill up the story of what has been happening in Indian politics. Many might prefer the account that the B.J.P. won what is called “the ideological argument” against the Congress Party.
Rahul Gandhi said that his was an ideological (vichardhara) struggle against Modi.  He seems intent on resigning. It appears Rahul prefers precisely this account.
But there has been no particular victory for the philosophy of Hindu nationalism and no noticeable vanquishing of the idea of inclusiveness and unity championed by Gandhi, Nehru and Tagore.
Nor has there been a noticeable vanquishing of the idea that it is nice to be nice, nor of the idea that one should breathe in after breathing out even if they weren't specifically championed by Gandhi, Nehru, and Tarzan the Ape Man.

What is clear enough is that during the past five years of B.J.P. rule, India has become much more divided along religious lines, making more sharply precarious the lives of minorities, particularly Muslims.
But Hindus have become less divided on caste lines. This is good for Hindus.
The Hindu nationalist movement has won something in terms of power but nothing particularly serious in the battle of ideas. Pragya Thakur, a B.J.P. activist, said recently that Mohandas Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, was a patriot. This embarrassed even the B.J.P., which made her formally apologize.
However, Ms. Thakur, who was campaigning for a seat in the state of Madhya Pradesh, went on to win and will be a lawmaker in the Indian parliament. That is victory in terms of power but not in the battle of ideas.
Modi thought that Thakur would lose because of the Godse remark. She won by a landslide. Modi himself, as a Gujerati, would not praise a Maharashtrian who killed the most famous Gujerati ever. But others can now do so. This does represent a climacteric in the battle of ideas.
It is regrettable that this larger battle has not received more emphasis even from the opposition.
No it isn't. It would have been a waste of time.
There is need for much more engagement there.
Because what India really needs is more pious platitudes.
But the first thing is not to confuse the two battles.
Sen confuses 'the battle for ideas'- which senile NRI professors are welcome to indulge in because everybody enjoys laughing at their non sequiturs- and the 'battle for power'. Modi does not. He understands that Expectations matter but that ideas of Sen's type are wholly vacuous. He has gained power because he has created the expectation that he will wield it more effectively and to some better purpose than the dynasts and their caste based parties. Sen may think Modi very naughty. We may think Sen very stupid. But there is no confusion here.