Monday, 28 February 2022
In 2014, Tony Blair famously declared that the West should 'forget Ukraine'- i.e. ignore Putin's grabbing Crimea- to focus on fighting 'radical Islam'. Why is it that, 8 years later, the mood in Europe has changed so drastically? Apart from the obvious- the perception of a Russian failure to establish air dominance and suppression of enemy air defense- I think the answer is that ordinary people identify with the Ukrainians and see the war there as a chance to confront Putin and bring about his downfall. Let us consider some possible reasons-
1) Disgust with our own billionaire class. Ordinary people think of Putin as a guy who has amassed 200 billion dollars which he holds through various prominent Russians who own large chunks of property in our poshest neighborhoods. They may also own football clubs and basketball teams and so forth. In taking action against these Russians, we gain the tools necessary to gain power over our own billionaire class.
The problem with this view is that it was Yeltsin who relied on oligarchs. Putin slowly but surely took power back from them. His creation is a 'siloviki' or power elite which is nationalistic and loyal to Putin because he puts Russia's traditional foreign policy goals above economic considerations. Sanctions help Putin in the same way that they helped the Iranian or Venezuelan regimes.
2) Ukrainian popular resistance- women making molotov cocktails, all men under the age of 60 being forbidden to leave the country and being asked to pick up a machine gun- as well as the hope that the javelin missile will be a game changer in the same way that the Stinger missile was a game changer for the Afghan mujahideen- has inspired ordinary people. For the first time since the French Revolutionary Wars we have the prospect of a popular levee en masse deciding the fate of the Continent. Zelenskyy and the Klitschko brothers embody the raw courage and will to win of an entire people. We have stopped thinking of Ukraine as a corrupt kleptocracy manipulated by oligarchs and populist chauvinists. Zelenskyy has reminded us that the Ukrainians are fellow Christians and fellow Europeans. Kyiv is a European city. If it can happen there, it can happen here. Thus, even the cautious Germans appear ready to, if not tool up and get into the fight, then maybe retool a couple of industrial units to signal sympathy. Macron, with his eye to the election, will, no doubt, bring out strong measures he has been holding in reserve. Turkey appears to be ready to place limits on Russian warships in the Black Sea and has started to refer to what is happening as a war. Even the Swiss are backing EU sanctions including those related to SWIFT and the freezing of Russian assets. All this is quite unprecedented. It may be that there has been secret diplomacy behind the scenes but, surely, such swift and dramatic policy reversals are a function of how ordinary people are reacting to what they see on their TV screens rather than the result of occult negotiations and recondite considerations of national interest and the geopolitical balance of power.
The problem here is that popular enthusiasm can quickly collapse. Putin may change his strategy to one of attrition and hit and run operations by mercenaries which wear down the population and lead to an exodus. There is also the question of how organized crime will react to the new possibilities presented by weaker border controls and the entry and exit of armed groups. Finally, there is the risk of a slide to a nuclear exchange reminiscent of 'Able Archer' back in 1983- the year before Putin was first posted to East Germany.
3) Economic calculation. Surely China- which does 20 times more business with us than it does with Russia- will sooner or later distance itself from Putin? The West may move ahead very rapidly with new 'clean' energy tech and this will drive the stock markets. For prudential reasons, oil and gas producers will ramp up supply and so the hit we are taking on cost of living may be just a blip. Indeed, if governments act in a concerted manner to 'sterilize' the supply shock, the West may quickly regain a 'feel good' factor. In other words, ordinary people may have more butter as well as more guns because Western governments will want to choke off the possibility of a Right Wing backlash which, inevitably, will focus on the fact that Zelenskyy is Jewish and which will then trot out the usual conspiracy theories.
My point is that subconsciously Western leaders may see this as an opportune moment to get rid of the virus of extreme Right Wing ideology which has attracted those with essentially economic grievances. Trump himself is now anti Putin. There is no reason why Governments should not unloosen the purse strings so as to keep the population on side for what would remain a proxy war.
The problem here is that the 'demonstration effect' of Ukraine might involve disgruntled groups being inspired to act against the State. That is the other side of the coin of 'people's wars'. Watching Ukrainian ladies make molotov cocktails may put ideas into the heads of all sorts of nutjobs back home. After all, one type of 'economic calculation' involves using force to get what is financially beneficial to you.
What is our strategy on Ukraine? What outcome are we looking for? The obvious answer is that we want Putin to be toppled by his own people. But what happens next? Before Putin there were oligarchs. After Putin there will be...what? Chaos? Motorbike gangs? Breakaway Republics all over the place busy ethnically cleansing minorities?
The answer, of course, is that though Putin may die or fade away after refusing to stand in 2024, Putinism will remain. A new leader may enjoy a brief honeymoon with the West and there will be talk of a 're-set' after Russia hands over some valuable real estate but then Russia will simply rebuild quietly and then try to get that real estate back. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, there will be an exchange of population with the Russian speakers getting a bigger or smaller chunk of territory. As for Ukraine, will fighting a war change their polity into one that is cohesive and able to undertake needful economic reform? Not if past experience is any guide. Meanwhile, a China led Eurasian bloc will continue to consolidate itself while the West Magnitskies non-aligned regimes till they have no alternative but to sign up with China. What remains to be seen is whether crypto mavens can run the settlement system this new bloc will need. If so, many Westerners will prefer to disintermediate their own financial system thus putting an end to American 'exorbitant privilege'.
Saturday, 26 February 2022
Ukraine is the only state, other than Israel, where both the President and the Prime Minister are recognized as Jewish- at least in the eyes of the Israeli Chief Rabbis.
Peter Beinart who feels obliged to write nonsense because he is Jewish but not too keen on Israel, ignores the elephant in the room so as to write in the Guardian
n 1943, the Hungarian-born journalist Arthur Koestler wrote: “In this war we are fighting against a total lie in the name of a half-truth.” That’s a good motto for American progressives to adopt in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Koestler was working for the British Ministry of Information- perhaps his befriending, in Malaga, of Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell who had been head of British military propaganda towards the end of the First War helped him get this job- but was not naturalized till 1948. Thus, he wasn't writing for himself or presenting the official British view. Rather this was 'targeted propaganda', written to order, aimed at American 'pessimists'- apparently Koestler's bosses thought America was well provided with such people- and so writing this dreck constituted Koestler's contribution to 'fighting'. Evelyn Waugh has satirized the manner in which if one worthless shithead wrote an article appealing to 'pessimists' then some other Department would get a different worthless shithead to write an article appealing to 'optimists'.
Why is Beinart quoting this shit? Is it because Koestler- who wasn't fighting at all- was Jewish and knew that this was a case of Jews surviving either by running away or getting to Israel and defending the Jews there and also enlisting in British or any other anti-German forces so as to kill the Jew-killers and thus save themselves from extinction?
The true significance of Putin's invasion is obvious. Whatever happens, Ukraine is going to turn into Syria- i.e. the oligarchs will either morph into localized Mafia Dons or yield to ragtag militias which will turn into extortion and trafficking rings. Who will be blamed for this shit-show which will gradually infect Romania and perhaps parts of Poland? Jews. That is why the Ukrainian Rabbis aren't pleased that two Jews are presiding over a populist, chauvinistic, linguistic sub-nationalism even stupider than that of Saakashvili's Georgia. On the other hand, Orban is dreaming of getting territory from Romania after it succumbs to the Ukrainian infection.
Saying the US stands with Ukraine because America is committed to democracy and the “rules-based international order” is at best a half-truth.
The US does not stand with Ukraine. That is why it has not gone to war. The UK did stand with Poland in 1939. It went to war. It could not stand with Czechoslovakia in 1938 because even Poland wanted a piece of that hodge-podge nation. Nobody can stand with a country stupid enough to try to impose the majority language on one third of the population who have never used it in their own region.
Saying the US will ramp up sanctions on Putin because of Ukraine is true enough. It is also quite true that America always mentions democracy and other such stuff on such occassions.
The US helps dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates commit war crimes in Yemen,
in return for help in committing war crimes. So what?
employs economic sanctions that deny people from Iran to Venezuela to Syria life-saving medicines,
How? Such medicines are easy enough to get much more cheaply than from America. Indeed, lots of Americans travel across their border to get life-saving medicines at an affordable price.
rips up international agreements like the Iran nuclear deal
It was a multi-lateral, not an international, agreement. Why pretend that P5+1 is 'international'? The fact that a Permanent Member can withdraw from it, even if certification occurs, means it is neither international nor an agreement. It was merely a coordinated plan of action. Thus it was not regulated by the law of treaties and thus was wholly unjusticiable.
and Paris climate accords, and threatens the international criminal court if it investigates the US or Israel.
So these aren't 'international agreements' at all- just stuff Beinart thinks ought to be subject to the law of treaties.
But this hypocrisy wouldn’t have fazed Koestler, because it’s nothing new.
Koestler wasn't a lawyer. But he wasn't stupid. There was no hypocrisy in the U.N declaration because the US had an explicitly racialist legal code which drew a wide distinction between 'Caucasians' and others when it came to civil and political rights.
In 1943, the alliance that fought Hitler
who recruited non Caucasians- including Indians- into the Waffen SS and who supported Netaji Bose against Churchill
was led by a British prime minister who championed imperialism,
not against White Dominions which were fully autonomous and permitted to treat their darkies in a manner they pleased- even if those darkies were the majority
an American president who presided over racial apartheid,
Had Churchill been killed by Hitler's agents, the plan was for Jan Smuts to take over as the head of the Imperial forces. Apartheid is a South African word.
and Joseph Stalin.
whose credo opposed any type or racial or religious or linguistic chauvinism. Fuck is wrong with Beinart? Does he really not know that lots of Jews, like Koestler himself, aligned with Stalin purely because of his ideology?
Koestler’s point wasn’t that the US or Britain, let alone the USSR, were virtuous in general.
Has Beinart never read Koestler? Is he utterly illiterate? Or is he simply lying? The facts are plain enough. Koestler, like Orwell- another Ministry of Information employee- was an ex-Communist disgusted by Stalin's perfidy. He was useful to the Brits for the same reason Orwell was useful. He was telling the ex-Communists in the States ('pessimists') not to cling to isolationism or to say 'a plague on both your houses', but instead to back the War and buy war bonds or whatever. Meanwhile, that same Ministry of Information was employing all sorts of nutters- Pan Islamists, Vegans, Occultists, spoiled Catholics, pedophiles, witch-doctors, you fucking name it- to write various types of shite which were then 'placed' with appropriate journals here and there. This did not represent any type of 'fighting', but it beat getting shot at on the battlefield. To his credit, Evelyn Waugh preferred the latter course.
It was that they were virtuous relative to Nazi Germany in the specific circumstances of the second world war, and that these sinful governments were the only ones with the geopolitical heft to stop a totalitarian takeover of Europe.
Fuck off! Pearl Harbor had already happened. Hitler had declared war on the US. It was obvious that winning the war meant that you could be as pessimistic as shit about all sorts of ideological bollocks, but the fact remained that the scarce resources of the world would be at the command of the victors. They would dine well because they had ended up with both the butter and the guns. The losers would starve.
Vladimir Putin’s Russia is neither as powerful nor as genocidal as Hitler’s Germany.
It is infinitely more powerful. It can blow up America and England and anybody else who tries to invade it. Does Beinart really not know this? How fucking ignorant is he? The guy is a Professor of Journalism. Every line he writes is obviously, mischievously, false. Is that what he teaches his students?
But Putin’s claim that historical and cultural affinity gives Russia the right to bludgeon Ukraine into submission is a total lie.
A right exists if a remedy exists. That remedy may be self-provided- e.g. the right to self-defense which is effective if you can kill anyone who tries to kill you. We don't know whether Russia can bludgeon Ukraine into submission. The balance of probabilities is- sure. It can do so in the medium term. It is a 'total lie' that there is no 'historical and cultural affinity' between Russia and the Ukraine. It is also a total lie that the West will risk getting nuked to stand by the regime of Jewish comedian- if not a clown.
It is no less of a lie because the US – by pushing Nato ever-further eastward after 1989 – exploited Russian weakness and compounded Russian humiliation.
This is silly. If the Ukrainians had done sensible things they would be perfectly safe. Indeed, Companies headquartered in Kiev would be building factories in the poorer parts of Russia to take advantage of lower wages. The richest Russian oligarchs would site their most ostentatious palaces in a Crimea which remained wholly Ukrainian and thus safer for them. Indeed, a Ukrainian accent would be as fashionable among Moscow's elite as it had been in the time of Kruschev and Brezhnev.
The Treaty of Versailles was also a victor’s peace.
It was a piece of shit. Everybody was terrified by the Bolshevik revolution. The Allies failed to topple it and so the German General Staff did a deal with the Reds who had previously also helped Kemal Attaturk.
Keynes, fuckwit that he was, published a book after the War explaining that America would turn into a net food importer (he claimed it already was!) and thus the Germans would starve unless they conquered Ukraine. That's why, once the 'extend and pretend' financing of the Weimar Republic collapsed (because of the Wall St. crash) Germans had no alternative but to vote for the Army's maximal program. The only surprise was that it was a Catholic Corporal not a Junker General who presided over that shambles.
It also strengthened toxic political forces in the defeated nation forced to accept its terms.
Fuck off! Germany lost much more territory after the Second war. No 'toxic political forces' rose as a result. The Germans realized that General Staffs are as stupid as shit. They are happy in their so called army drills with broom stick handles painted black.
Hitler’s murderous revanchism, like Putin’s today, was still a crime.
Sheer fantasy! The French may have had 'murderous revanchism' but they didn't have an offensive doctrine and didn't try starting any trouble coz they knew they'd be fucking stomped.
Putin is exchanging access to Western markets- which does most Russians little good- with tangible real estate. Basically, if sanctions say you can't get a Lexus, then you double down on grabbing olive trees. However, if Ukraine's economy had grown on the basis of a vibrant manufacturing sector, the Rooskies would be cool with its rise. After all, it would be able to pay for more and more for gas and other raw materials while providing a safe place to build your palaces and stash your loot. Moscow's elites during the Soviet era were perfectly happy to see Finland thrive economically. It was a great place to shop with your hard currency allowance.
Koestler’s adage is subject to abuse.
It was stupid shit. Fight only if it profitable to do- i.e. you have a good chance of winning and that outcome is much better than the alternative. Also, definitely fight if you will cut your own throat tomorrow because of your remorse for not fighting.
This holds even if it is a complete lie to say that the rapist who is trying to grab your kid intends to eat him. It is a half truth to say that he is going to fuck your kid in the ass because actually the rapist suffers from premature ejaculation. But this is not the reason you should punch and kick that pedo scumbag till the police arrive. The reward will be obvious to you when you find nobody will let you pay for your drinks at the pub tonight.
Hawks might interpret it as suggesting that because the US is a democracy and Russia is a dictatorship, America has the moral high ground in every clash between the two.
Fuck the moral high ground. Are guys who occupy it actually buying you drinks after you kicked the shit out of a pedo? No. They are tut tutting about your vigilantism and the fact that you might have voted for Brexit or Trump or Netanyahu or Narendra Modi or whatever.
That’s not true. Democracies can commit aggression and tyrannies can oppose it.
Democracies- like Hitler's Germany- can do genocide. Tyrannies, like Stalin's Russia, might oppose it.
When Putin opposed the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, Russia was defending a half-truth against America’s total lie.
No. It was defending a former client. But that defense was half-hearted because Saddam was as crazy as a bed bug. Dr. Assad wasn't. That's why he is still around. Ukraine may become like Syria but I bet it won't have the same Jewish President or Prime Minister ten years down the line.
When his government backed UN resolutions condemning Israeli settlements that the US vetoed, Russia supported human rights and international law while the US defied them.
Perhaps Beinart thinks the Ayatollahs and Al Qaeda nutjobs are equally praiseworthy supporters of human rights and international law when they decided it was safer to kill non-Israeli Westerners because Mossad be gangsta.
When Joe Biden declares, as he did last Thursday in his remarks on Ukraine, that “America stands up to bullies. We stand up for freedom. This is who we are,” progressives should hold their applause.
They do hold their applause because they are holding their dicks or, if they don't have dicks, are fisting themselves vigorously.
Claiming the US possesses an inherent inclination to support liberty implies that the United States can be trusted to act outside of the bounds of international law – a logic that leads to the torture chambers of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay.
If so claiming human beings possess an inherent inclination to support democracy under the rule of law involves subscribing to a logic which entails the conclusion that Peter Beinart is torturing his own mother in Abu Ghraib by inserting dead cats into her rectum. This is completely unacceptable behavior.
But Koestler’s point was that progressives can puncture America’s pretensions to universal virtue while still recognizing that it is sometimes one of the few instruments available to combat evil.
Very true. If you constantly tell people that they are truck-stop whores sucking off dudes for a dollar at a time then you can still recognize that these truck-stop whores are sometimes one of the few instruments available to prove the Reimann Hypothesis. On the other hand, people may beat you if you incessantly berate them for their supposed occupation. Still, the best sort of 'progressive' is the one which has just had its head kicked in by a hen-party of lasses from Hendon with burgeoning careers in Cost and Management Accountancy or Digital Advertising. This didn't happen to me. It was somebody else. I can't tell you his name coz we were in the SAS together.
As important as it is to recognize that the US is capable of wars like Vietnam and Iraq, it’s equally important to recognize that not everything the US does is Vietnam or Iraq.
It is not important at all to recognize stupid shit. Just don't do it.
In Ukraine, it was Putin, not Biden, who lied about weapons deployments.
This is foolish. Heads of State are not deemed to lie on such subjects. Why? Of their nature, such matters are subject to strategic ambiguity. A President may 'mis-speak' about them but there is an immediate official correction even if what was said was obviously true. In other words, there are protocol bound matters where truth is undefined by convention or because this is the 'canonical' solution to a coordination game.
Beinart has done nothing but lie during the course of this article. Though a Professor of Journalism, he has shown a reckless disregard for the truth.
It was Putin, not Biden, who defied the UN and international law.
We may have different views about what the law will decide but, till a Court has spoken, the matter is moot. We don't know whether International law really has been defied until a sentence has been passed. As for the UN, Permanent Members have a veto. There is no question of defiance.
It is Putin, not Biden, who is bombing another nation and creating vast numbers of refugees.
And it is Biden, not Putin, who is refusing to permit the influx of vast numbers of refugees into his country. So what? Either America will stop being a global military power or it will sooner or later start bombing another nation. Indeed, Biden has ordered air-strikes just like Putin.
In Ukraine, the US is sending weapons not to a prop up a dictator but to defend a free nation against one.
Will javelin missiles win the war? No. But they could turn the thing into a Syria like quagmire. Maybe just handing out machine guns and teaching everybody to make Molotov cocktails wasn't a smart thing to do. When neighborhoods have to defend their water and bread and pool of conscripts from each other, this will become clear.
In a rare and admirable act of self-reflection, the left-leaning journalist Matt Taibbi last week noted that he had underestimated the chances that Putin would launch a full-scale invasion because of “reverse chauvinism”.
American journalists are utterly shit. Why not find a proper 'structural causal model' for Putin's actions? Why just write any shite that comes into your head?
He was “so fixated on western misbehavior” that he discounted the possibility of Putin’s.
This is stupid shit. Putin waited to hear back from China etc. Then Imran Khan came to see him. That set the optics right. Putin is fucking over the Christian West. Islam is cool with that. The UAE abstained. The Eurasian block will grow and grow. Magnitsky will push more and more 'non-aligned' countries- Bangladesh, Myanmar etc- into the China bloc. Then the Chinese, who always recognized Hamas, will show Israel that the path to peace is through Beijing not Camp David. Suddenly Beinart will have nothing to virtue signal about. Sad.
It’s not surprising that American progressives, having lived through the debacles in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, would grow skeptical when Washington’s military and foreign policy establishments gear up for conflict with a foreign adversary.
There is gearing up here whatsoever. Obama said 'American foreign policy is doing stupid shit'. The Biden doctrine is 'shit yourself while running away'. The bonus is if Biden manages to destroy 'exorbitant privilege' by making the dollar too politically perilous to act as a reserve currency. China and Russian and the BRICs do have some sort of sub-par settlement system. But if Russia is cut off from SWIFT, smart crypto types will cobble together something no country owns but which all can use. The good news is that everybody could then disintermediate the regulated sector which is getting stupider and more bureaucratic and maybe even a little bit 'woke'.
But that skepticism must extend to America’s adversaries as well. As one socialist put it last week on Twitter, “believing America has a monopoly on being evil is just another kind of American exceptionalism”.
as is having any such belief. The truth is most Americans don't give a shit about virtue signaling bollocks and moral high grounds and such.
And in the current conflict over Ukraine – where the US is a flawed but essential element in the fight against Vladimir Putin’s murderous lies – it’s a form of American exceptionalism progressives must avoid.
Where are these 'progressives'? Do they have any power? Are we talking about AOC? Does Beinart think she is asking Biden to send troops to Ukraine- rather than get Congressional approval first? Is that what Beinart himself wants? Does he not get that every fucking jihadi will turn up to kill those troops? American air power will be ineffective. So there will be no saving Private Ryan. Except, there won't be many privates with names like Ryan. Rodriguez maybe. Oh. I see. That's the whole point right? Save White Christendom by sending in Latinos. Works for me. What this Continent needs is better Mexican food. And tequila. Lots and lots of tequila.
Friday, 25 February 2022
In 2008, Saakashvili looked like a smart, brave, reformer in Georgia. But he was Christian and Georgians have a strongly Christian identity. But some Ossetians were Muslim and wars in that region have to be about Christians taking a battering because...urm... how can I put this delicately?... Christians aint gonna come to our Cities and suicide bomb us so as to get to fuck plenty of virgins in Paradise. Thus Sarkozy turned up to broker a deal between the Georgians and the Rooskies.
Where is Saakashvili now? On hunger strike, in prison in Georgia. Previously he'd been taken up by the Ukrainians and Poroshenko had appointed him Governor of a Province but then Poroshenko kicked him out and then Zelenskyy brought him back but then Saakashvili thought he could return to Georgia in triumph and now the guy is just a laughing stock.
Poroshenko too has returned to Ukraine but may stay out of jail for the time being because he claims he is there to fight the Rooskis. Zelenskyy rose to power by making fun of crazy narcissists like Poroshenkov and Saakashvili and others more evil yet. But the guy is of Jewish heritage as is his Prime Minister. Guess who is going to get the blame when things turn pear shaped?
Ukraine, on independence, was about 20 per cent richer than Poland. It had nukes. If it had grown as fast as Poland, it would be a regional power. Sadly, Ukraine did not free up manufacturing for f.d.i. Instead oligarchs were favored in that sector while the country pursued a chimera of wealth through finance and real estate speculation. Thus, after 2008, the country was ripe for revolution. It had fallen behind even Belarus. Sadly, its 'Euromaidan' revolution did not improve economic policy. Unlike the Armenian Revolution, in 2018, which elevated Pashniyan who did improve the economy and reduce corruption and so forth, Zelenskyy and Proshenkov failed on the economic front. Thus, though Pashniyan got re-elected after the Azerbaijanis gave his country a beating, it is unlikely that Ukraine's clowns will be rehabilitated if it is discovered that they are shit at fighting Rooskies. They led their country down an internally divisive, economically disastrous, garden path. Poroshenko, in particular, passed a law in 2019 making Ukrainian mandatory for all public sector workers- a stupid piece of chauvinistic populism- in a country where 30 percent speak Russian while only 53 percent say they speak Ukrainian at home- thus making a widening of the conflict inevitable. Zelenskyy, a Russian speaker, was supposed to roll back this law. He doubled down on it. The consequence are now visible in bombed out buildings in the capital itself.
Biden, of course, is known for his hatred of Putin and his son's entanglement with Ukrainian craziness. Putin's reckless action gives Biden a unique historical opportunity to undermine American 'exorbitant privilege' by fucking up SWIFT. Sadly, BoJo is taking the lead on this. That is a clear signal it is the stupidest possible thing to do. Meanwhile, the comedy of Christian Europe fucking up all down the line runs and runs.
Thursday, 24 February 2022
Sen is a crap economist because he doesn't get that if you say 'I will list out your options' then whatever you say is not necessarily the actual choice menu. Why? Because there is a difference between intension and extension. An item in the menu may be expressed in an 'intensional' manner and thus escape any extensional constraint. In other words, there is wriggle room for another option which the speaker may not have had in mind. This is the essence of the 'masked man' or 'intensional' fallacy.
Sen, it turns out, is a crap philosopher for the same reason he is a crap economist. His worldly knowledge is lacking and thus he is not able to see there are always more options than the ones he recognizes.
Dworkin says that what he calls “the hydraulic principle”
by which an act is yours if you have responsibility for it if in the sense that it only exists because of some uncaused act of will of your own
denies “responsibility if either determinism or epiphenomenalism (the view that mental events have no effects) is true.”
This follows because nothing you can do is the product of an uncaused act of will because either you have no free will or that free will can't do shit. It is foolish to speak of 'responsibility' as anything other than a title to a reward or punishment of an ethically arbitrary type.
Why does Dworkin use the term 'hydraulic model' for an obsolete type of thinking which scientifically minded people should replace with a 'creative model' where determinism does not negate responsibility?
Perhaps Dworkin was influenced by Justice O.W Holmes remark that 'great cases', like hard cases, make bad law because of the 'hydraulic pressure' of 'immediate interests' of a controversial and envenomed type which causes even long settled general legal principles to bend and become distorted. In other words, the 'hydraulic' model is Manichaean. It divides up the world between those on the side of light and the others who are destined to perdition. Dworkin, as a Liberal 'New Dealer' may have felt that the atmosphere on Campuses in the late Sixties and early Seventies had become too extreme- indeed, paranoid. Our own problem with 'toxic wokeness' enables us to have some empathy for Dworkin. However, the fact remains, there really are some evil cunts out there. The hydraulic model has its uses. We should be content to tell woke nutters who call us Nazis to go fuck themselves rather than dismiss the notion that some things about us really are the uncaused product of our own will.
Of the two, it is the claim of a conflict between determinism and responsibility that is more engaging: Dworkin’s dismissal of the reach of epiphenomenalism is swift and seems to me to be largely compelling.
It has no reach. The fact that a class of mental acts are inconsequential entails nothing about the will because its operations may not be mental at all.
The tussle with determinism is more substantial, but Dworkin’s presentation is enlightening in covering a lot of ground with care.
It is horseshit as I explain here. The fact is there is always a truth making particle for moral judgments in a Gentzen calculus. They just aint necessarily 'canonical'.
The central issue is similar to David Hume’s reasoning that outside influences may explain our judgments and even make them predictable, and yet they do not make our judgments any less genuine or any less important in assessing our responsibility.
This is not reasoning because 'inside influences' may explain 'outside influences'. As for our judgments some will always seem less genuine than others and it is always possible that they have no importance in assessing our responsibility.
This is a subject of some nostalgia for me, because in my first philosophical essay published fifty years ago, in 1959, I tried to chastise Isaiah Berlin for his belief that determinism and predictability make the idea of moral responsibility entirely unviable.
We can hold contradictory ideas. Viability is not a function of consistency.
Berlin was extremely gracious in his reply – though remaining in disagreement with me – and he answered my criticism patiently in some detail in the Introduction to his Four Essays on Liberty published ten years later.
Berlin said that Sen had accused him of confusing fatalism with determinism. This was funny coz Berlin was White. Sen was Brown. Only darkies are 'fatalists' coz they got shit for brains and quickly starve to death if Whites stops ruling over them or sending them PL480 food. It is true that any 'thoughts' a darkie may think he has is merely an 'epiphenomenon'. But that's coz those monkeys can't think to any useful purpose.
My point, basically Humean (though I had not seen the connection very clearly then), was not, of course, new.
In which case it was silly. Berlin talks up this brown monkey to chastise his white critics- ' I cannot see how one can say of Helen not only that hers was the face that launched a thousand ships but, in addition, that she was responsible for (and did not merely cause) the Trojan War, if the war was due solely to something that was the result not of a free choice - to elope with Paris - which Helen need not have made, but only of her irresistible beauty. Sen, in his clear and moderately worded criticism, concedes what some of his allies do not - that there is an inconsistency between, at any rate, some meanings attached to the contents of ordinary moral judgement on the one hand, and determinism on the other. He denies, however, that belief in determinism need eliminate the possibility of rational moral judgement, on the ground that such judgements could still be used to influence men's conduct, by acting as stimuli or deterrents. In somewhat similar terms, Ernest Nagel, in the course of a characteristically scrupulous and lucid argument, says that, even on the assumption of determinism, praise, blame and assumption of responsibility generally could affect human behaviour - for example, by having an effect on discipline, effort and the like, whereas they would (presumably) not in this way affect a man's digestive processes or the circulation of his blood. This may be true but it does not affect the central issue. Our value judgements - eulogies or condemnations of the acts or characters of men dead and gone - are not intended solely, or even primarily, to act as utilitarian devices, to encourage or warn our contemporaries, or as beacons to posterity.
On this analysis, Sen and Nagel are indulging in a 'Noble Lie'- viz determinism not being inconsistent with pi-jaw about responsibility provided it us, not our enemies, who are doing it to advance our own cause. Berlin is saying that it is foolish to instrumentalize a lie which advances your own cause if your own attachment to it was not motivated by anything other than your own moral responsibility to yourself.
Of course, a 'fatalist' may believe in a 'caste system' whereby the higher caste intellectual is programmed to tell Noble Lies to the helots. His pay off is dialethia- two truths, one higher, one lower and the glorious possibility of incessantly confusing the two so as to generate arguments and counterarguments and generally waste everybody's time.
What Dworkin does beautifully is bring out the richness of counter-arguments that have to be addressed and the counter-counterarguments needed to construct a more complete picture that corresponds to Hume’s rather rapid reasoning.
So that instead or 'rapid reasoning'- which may be useful, you have interminable nonsense. Cool.
I find Dworkin’s discussion to be both illuminating and persuasive. My main difficulty with Dworkin’s reasoning about ethical responsibility, however, concerns his principles of “self-respect” and “authenticity.” Let me go along with Dworkin to the extent of agreeing that a person is not acting responsibly if he leads his life in a way that he would have compelling reasons to judge as “a wasted opportunity”
should of spent more time killing and raping babies instead of doing cancer research.
and also agreeing that a person has some responsibility to consider what would “count as success in his own life.”
only to the extent that he also has some irresponsible, drug induced, experience of crazily smearing himself with feces to consider what would count as success in his own life
Nevertheless, my problems remain even after this broad agreement. To explain why, let me consider four possibly “irresponsible persons” in Dworkin’s framework: Anne, Beth, Carla, and Dora. Anne thinks that there are good reasons for her to value either a life of type A (respectful and conservative on traditional matters, without hurting anyone’s feelings), or of type B (being radically “contemporary” and reshaping lives, including her own, in a way that would give adequate recognition to what modern scientific knowledge could offer). Anne will face no difficulty from Dworkin if she proceeds then to decide that one of these lives – either A or B – would be distinctly better than the other. But suppose she does not come to that conclusion. Rather, Anne continues to believe that even though life A and life B are each better than other kinds of lives (such as confused living without adequate thought on what should count as success in her life), she has a reasoned incompleteness in ranking A and B against each other.
So what? Daddies got dicks and Mummies don't. We have reasons to value both life-forms. We may also have reasons to think it is better to have one or other type of genitals rather than be smooth down there like a Barbie doll. But we may rank Mummies and Daddies for some purposes- e.g. if you need some one to piss out a fire, Daddies are better- and refuse to rank them for others.
Given this partial ranking, which does not reflect any lack of reasoning, but which is, in fact, a result of her reasoned scrutiny, Anne believes that it would be responsible enough for her to pursue either lifestyle. Is Anne right?
No. There is some further uncorrelated asymmetry concerning herself which Anne should seek to discover before she decides to become a Daddy who specializes in pissing out fires.
And would Dworkin accept this? If Dworkin’s answer is, “Fine, that’s okay,”
Then he has shit for brains. He should say 'do a bit of 'discovery' before you make up your mind. The fact is some uncorrelated asymmetry concerning you makes you fitter for one role rather than another.
then I would like to see in his writings a greater recognition of the possibility of incompleteness of preference ranking and the far-reaching implications of reasoned choice according to partial rankings (a subject that interested John Dewey very much).
This is stupid shit. Either ranking has no 'cash value'- in which case don't bother doing it- or else you need to do a bit of 'discovery' so as to have a more complete ranking. In fairness to Sen, he was probably thinking of Dworkin's notion that- “Someone cannot lead a life if he has not formed a normative personality – a reasonably stable system of desires, preferences, tastes, convictions, attachments, loyalties, ideals, and the rest – and if he cannot make decisions that exhibit that personality'. Like everything else Dworkin wrote, this is vacuous shite. One can always impute an infinite number of such 'stable systems' to even the most impulsive sociopath.
The case would, of course, be unproblematic with what may look like a small variation: in particular if Anne found that A or B are equally good and that each would equally make her life a success. In that case, Dworkin should – and I believe would – allow Anne the freedom of being loyal either to A or to B, without calling her irresponsible.
No. If Anne has no compelling reason to prefer A to B, then maybe she should take into account the interests of those in whose welfare she is concerned. She may choose 'A' because she meets a square who lurves her and so she is a Stepford housewife and her kids grow up happy. Equally, she may choose 'B' coz she meets a dike who lurves her and they set up a plumbing business together and raise kids who...grow up to be equally happy and way cooler.
However, incompleteness is a far cry from indifference. Perhaps Dworkin has an argument why incompleteness of rankings is not permissible. Such arguments exist in the literature, but I would argue none are convincing. But more particularly, I did not see any such argument as I read the manuscript.
It is only if incompleteness has some negative 'cash value' for some useful purpose that we'd be against the thing. Thus my own desire to be a Mummy not a Daddy had negative 'cash value' coz my parents had to buy me nice sarees without, however, any prospect of my getting married to a suitable boy and thus moving out of the house.
Consider now a second case, in which Beth is certain that there is a unique way of ranking A and B,
No. There are infinite ways of ranking A and B depending on some extraneous C, D, E etc.
and that the incompleteness of her ranking the two lifestyles (A, B) is only tentative,
It can only be that unless she has some way to bind her future actions.
not assertive. So, she is not equilibrated on this (unlike Anne); not now, nor ever – even though she works hard every morning on deciding what would make her life more “successful” and less “wasted.”
In which case, that is the lifestyle which corresponds to her 'revealed preference'.
Not all our efforts yield what we hope to get, and given her efforts and commitment to resolve her dilemma, does Beth not get a passing grade because of her endeavour and application, despite her lack of “success?”
Who gives a fuck whether some fuckwit gives her a passing or failing grade? If Beth will pay some dude for this service then the thing has cash value. Otherwise, why worry about it?
Now, imagine a third person: Carla. She believes that leading a life in such a super-disciplined way is itself “a wasted opportunity.” The secret to making a life a success is not to think in those terms, but to go by spontaneous decisions, even though in hindsight some of the chosen paths may turn out to have been mistakes. Would Carla be irresponsible to herself if she follows one of Dworkin’s demands (by seriously asking what would make her life “successful”) but not another (about creating the lifestyle that she could say she had most reason to have)?
But that's exactly what Carla has done. Sen's mistake was to think that just because A and B were 'pure strategies' there were no acceptable mixed strategies on the entire menu. The fact is, Carla's following a 'mixed strategy' based on 'choice sequences' is still from an intensional point of view an authentic and self-respecting alternative.
And, finally, we come to Dora, who thinks it is very “silly” to keep asking restlessly whether her life is “successful.” “Stop this search and get a life!” she says. We should – at least she would – reasonably live without such an overriding concentration on self-assessment.
Sen was useless at assessment in Econ but developed a mania for it. Did Dworkin share this foible?
Assessment takes time away from other things one could do and is itself a part of living. To keep assessing whether one is giving “a successful performance” would itself be a part of a particular lifestyle (a rather obsessive one), and it is, Dora argues, not an especially good lifestyle. It is possible that all these cases can be well addressed within Dworkin’s general framework,
or just by using our common-sense. No responsibility is being discharged by talking witless shite about responsibility or pretending the thing is always being assessed and this could affect your grade point average and then OMG I won't get into a decent law skool and so I'll end up a crack-ho giving beejays in truck-stops.
in which case I would like to hear more from him on these issues. Or, if they really violate the demands that Dworkin imposes on personal responsibility to oneself, then I would like to know why he imposes these demands in that form. Having taught joint classes with Dworkin at Oxford for many years, I know there are few things as enjoyable as hearing him explain what exactly he wants to say – and why. I look forward to that pleasure.
I like to think that Dworkin felt the morally responsible course was to drop dead so as to deny Sen that pleasure.
By 1963- the year in which I was born- two things were clear to policy planners in India
1) There was extreme vulnerability to exogenous shocks- e.g. the Chinese invasion or a failure of the monsoons. This meant Soviet style Planning, with emphasis on highly capital intensive industries, was unworkable. There would have to be 'Plan holidays'. The Government could not survive widespread famine or a collapse of Army morale. This was because the ruling Party could not kill its opponents by the thousand or the million.
2) the 'license permit Raj' had bred economic stagnation. It artificially restricted the size of the market and thus prevented exploitation of scale and scope economies. The private sector could not absorb the 'jobless graduate' and a further expansion of the government bureaucracy would merely crowd out productive work.
Thus, if India was to industrialize, it has no choice but to abandon Stalinist planning and emulate South Korea, Taiwan etc. The alternative was to lurch to the Left and nationalize more and more of the economy in which case there would be bureaucratization without industrialization. Talent and Capital would flee the country.
Back in 1964, Amartya Sen, who hadn't yet decided to run away with his best friend's wife to England, wrote in the Statesman-
Two questions in particular have been raised persistently in recent discussions. First, should we continue to accelerate our rate of investment, or go slower?
India did not have the resources to accelerate shit. The stock market was in the doldrums. The Government faced a balance of payments crisis and thus had introduced forex and gold controls.
the second question, not unrelated to the first, disputes the emphasis placed on physical capital investment., as opposed to what is now called "human capital", especially the development of knowledge, education and skills.
This question was foolish. Everybody could see that stuff taught at University was useless. Even if a guy studied Engineering or Medicine, his knowledge was useless to him because there were no jobs as engineers and starving people can't afford to buy medicine.
India needed to concentrate on labor intensive manufacturing. A few might need a bit of education to supervise those on the assembly line. But this did involve any great investment in 'human capital'.
Suggestions about toning down investment efforts seems to arise from two different attitudes that are poles apart. For some it arises from defeatism about our ability to grow fast without causing serious inflation (and the avoidance of inflation is obviously given top priority by this section in the scale of values).
Getting folk into factories avoids inflation because the supply of wage goods increases. 'Export pessimism' was not justified in this connection because India was poorer than Africa, or almost everywhere else, and so it could supply cheap wage goods in return for raw materials.
For others it arises from bouncing optimism about our ability to grow even in the absence of huge physical investments.
It was bleeding obvious that India had lots of very poor folk who would do boring and repetitive work in light industry in return for food and rudimentary shelter and heath services. No very big 'physical investment' is required in stitching shirts or cobbling shoes or whatever.
This miracle is to be performed by human resources, with physical capital given only a minor role.
Because labor intensive industries- by definition- are not capital intensive. It was easy to see that 'wage good' industries- i.e. making shirts or shoes- didn't need a lot of physical capital.
The latter view reflects the doubts raised by the second question, to which we might turn first.
That second question related to 'Human Capital' which Sen thought meant getting a PhD from Cambridge in shirt stitching. I mean to say, if you haven't written a dissertation on 'choice of techniques in threading needles' how would you be able to figure out how to get started? Clearly, India needs to first make breakthroughs in algebraic topology before it can get its people to learn how to use a sowing machine- preferably at MIT.
There are certain mystifying features about inflation in India.
Nonsense! Supply wasn't rising fast enough because the Government had fucked up industry. Demand was rising because people kept having babies like crazy. That's why prices went up. There was no mystery here at all.
Its rate has not been very fast if judged in terms of international comparison.
Because the quality of what was consumed had declined in relative terms. This was fucking obvious every time you went to the market. Only in India, in 1964, did the term 'pre-war inventory' still mean superior quality.
Many Latin American countries have a larger rise in prices each year
because inflation was a monetary phenomenon
than we have had in a whole decade, but at the same time the suffering arising from this seems more acute in India.
because it represented an absolute decline in the 'budget set'.
This cannot be dismissed as propaganda by the groups in opposition: there seem some genuine factors to consider. First, the Indian wage structure seems to be such that there is no redress for the rise in prices as has been evolved in latin American countries.
Because productivity had stagnated. This meant exogenous shocks had a downward ratchet effect.
This is partly connected with the weak bargaining power of labor.
If what you do is useless, your bargaining position is indeed weak. This is why I don't get paid for writing this dreck.
Also the low salaried employees in the Indian urban community are in a poorer position to keep up with the inflationary pressure.
Because their 'work product' was useless if not downright mischievous.
Besides, few Indians have a margin over subsistence.
Because their productivity was shit.
Given all this, inflation succeeds in affecting India more sharply than in Latin America.
Because India's population was growing faster than productivity.
It should be remembered, however, that it is only a small group of "essential commodities" that are crucial.
To the Government staying in power or else its being replaced by some other bunch of equally shitty nutters till they too fell after an exogenous shock.
The avoidance of inflation is, however, a negative kind of policy, and at its worst amounts to no more than keeping prices low for those who can afford to pay more, by denying to others sufficient income for certain essential goods.
What was the positive kind of policy? Sen doesn't know or won't tell us. The answer is 'raise productivity'. Only the Supply side matters in a very poor country. You don't have to hire Madison Avenue to persuade emaciated people to eat more.
Take the case of food prices. Given the supply of food, which will not be raised by cutting down the size of investment,
Yes it will if that investment is crowding out the production of productivity enhancing agricultural inputs.
the only way a "small plan" as opposed to a big one can keep prices down is through
reduced crowding out which increases supply
preventing many people from having the necessary purchasing power to demand more food that they might otherwise buy.
Sen is assuming that investment is financed by lumpsum taxes on the population. This was not the case. Investment was financed through borrowing and aid money. The problem was that this still had a crowding out effect and thus inflation was a supply side phenomenon.
Why did inflation disappear in the Nineties? China. Everybody could buy more and more, ever cheaper relative to quality, 'wage goods'.
The people concerned are the poor, because it is their capacity to buy food that is most sensitive to changes in their incomes,
Most had no fucking incomes to speak of. They were trapped in involuted Malthusian agriculture or virtually zero-marginal product service industries e.g. being a servant in a family itself little above the subsistence level.
since the rich succeed in any case in buying as much food as they want,
No. The rich may want to buy enough food to feed a vast retinue of servants.
There are, so to speak, two methods of keeping food prices down.
Lying that food prices are down on the basis that shops aren't supposed to sell at market clearing prices and shooting people till prices actually fall.
One is to keep the supply up, for which a big rather than a small plan seems to be required.
Not if that big plan is doing stupid Sen-tentious shite like investing in steel plants which will end up running at a loss or adding negative value to iron ore
Another is to keep demand down, which a small plan achieves by the brutal method of denying a huge section of the population the purchasing power to buy more food.
Sen is pretending that very very poor Indian peasants and illiterate menials of the servant class derive a large part of their income as metallurgists for steel plants or aeronautic experts for airplane factories. No wonder he thought Nalanda International University wasn't a fucking White Elephant money-pit. After all, the money spent setting it up must have gone to the poor peasants of Bihar right? I mean, when thousands of dollars are spent organizing a steering committee meeting at a ritzy 5 star hotel, that money goes straight into the pockets of starving peasants because they own 5 star hotels. The Hilton family are actually Bihari. Just look at Paris Hilton. She is clearly a small brown man from Rajgir.
The second method is a purely redistributive one, and the redistribution of the food supply it achieves is not always particularly laudable.
No. Rationing is laudable if there is a supply shock. During the first days of the lockdown, it was sensible for shops to ration the number of loo rolls people wanted to buy. I may mention, I was already fully stocked up because of a mistake I made in an Amazon order. Thus once I started shitting myself from fear of COVID, I was well provided for.
The fear of inflation and the hardship that is caused by it is only a symptom of a much bigger problem - that a great many people in our country live on the border line of subsistence and eat a great deal less than they would like to.
Why? Because of low productivity. Tackle the problem at its source by encouraging, not penalizing, employers in labor intensive industries.
A small conservative plan will hardly contribute to the solution of this basic problem.
Yes it will. There will be less crowding out. Furthermore smart peeps won't want jobs on the Planning Commission. They will want private sector jobs in rapidly growing industries. Instead of only getting to stay in a 5 star hotel when it is your turn to attend an International junket, you could be jet-setting across the globe getting export orders. You'd earn enough to spend your holidays in exotic locations.
The methods of keeping prices down by denying the people the ability to buy more food by keeping their income down
is a fantasy of Sen's. If the Government has the power to 'keep incomes down' it can also keep prices down because incomes come from prices.
may seem sound economics to some,
Even sixty years ago, Sen only tilted at windmills and belabored strawmen of his own invention.
but it is not as civilized a method as some of its champions seem to think.
There is nothing civilized about Sen's stupidity.
I do not wish to enter into a full-scale discussion on the right size of the fourth Five Year Plan.
Because you are lazy and stupid.
That discussion is proceeding at the moment as it did for the the second and third Five Year Plans. I would like however to point out that the "anything-but-inflation" argument for a small plan is rather less convincing than it looks on the surface.
No argument summarized by Sen is convincing at any level because he is as stupid as shit. The only connection between investment and inflation is via crowding out. Sensible investments don't crowd out. The rich voluntarily postpone consumption so as to get even richer. We could call this 'Ricardian equivalence'.
The problem also concerns the ability of the government to execute an effective system for repressing inflation through rationing, control and other means. We are facing today much the same crisis that Britain faced after World War II, and there is every reason for us to consider whether we should not, like Britain, repress inflation through rationing in a big way, if inflation is the inevitable result of the required rate of investment.
This cretin does not get that Adenauer's Germany did well by scrapping rationing faster than Atlee's England. However, once Churchill was back in Number 10, Labor got the message and went in a 'Butskellite' direction. Did Sen really learn nothing at Cambridge?
We have been arguing so far from the premise that a big plan
of the stupid type Bengali mathematical economists were enamored of
must mean inflation, open or repressed.
but only if there was monetary accommodation.
This need not necessarily be the case, but much will depend on the performance of the agricultural sector.
Nonsense! A sound investment pays for itself in raised productivity or higher and higher value addition regardless of what any other sector did. A supporter of Sen may say 'but you can only eat food grown in your own country. The Americans and Australians and Argentinians and so forth refuse to sell their food to foreigners.' Our reply is 'you can only eat dog turds. Fuck off.'
This question of agriculture is integrally related to education and human capital,
Only in the sense that every question is. But that's not saying much.
though champions of human capital seem to concentrate on rather different areas of the Indian economy.
Sen would soon find it paid better to do this type of championing in England or America.
Studies in USA
The current interest in the role of human capital in the process of economic growth originates in a number of studies that have recently been completed in the USA suggesting that accumulation of education and knowledge have played a much bigger part in the US economic growth than the accumulation of physical capital.
Because the US was not doing 'low lying fruit' type 'catch up' growth. It was ahead of the innovation curve. It created new industries or else showed how they could fully exploit economies of scale and scope.
The works of Edward Denison, for example, are often quoted in this context.
Denison was saying growth in capital played less role than education in the period after 1929. There was an obvious reason for this. However, Denison did not point out the bleeding obvious. The Second World war is what laid the foundation for the 'affluent society'.
It is however, dangerous to draw any lessons about India from these studies. First of all, they are specifically related to the US economic situation, and do not pretend to say anything about the rest of the world.
The fact is economically successful countries are one's which responded to an exogenous military shock. Why is Singapore so rich? Well, during the Japanese occupation, Lee Kuan Yew realized that only conscription and a military sense of discipline could keep his country- if not safe then at least not a fucking Triad run bordello.
Secondly, even about the USA, there are wide gaps of analysis.
Of which Sen was ignorant.
There is also a more fundamental drawback. These studies systematically underestimate the contribution of physical capital because they overlook that new technical knowledge has to be embodied in new machines, and new knowledge requires fresh investment to be effective.
But the guys with that technical knowledge could live ten thousand miles away!
Also, the progress of knowledge and of skill depends not only on formal education, but also on actual industrial experience.
Which can be gained in a plant attached to the Tech School in some lovely Ivy League Campus.
Indications are that "learning by doing" is at least as important as learning from schools.
Not unless you can buy the machine you are learning to operate and set up on your own. Otherwise, you are a monkey getting paid peanuts. If India used public funds, or borrowed money, to buy super-expensive stuff then the scope for 'capital-widening' and thus employment growth, external economies, etc was greatly curtailed. All you ended up with was increasingly obsolete plants making losses and adding negative value to inputs.
And in providing this opportunity for learning by doing, a big plan must be credited with a reasonable role.
No. Even in 1964, it was obvious that you might get 'capital deepening' if the Government continued to waste money on White Elephants, but there would be no capital-widening or 'Marshallian industrial districts'. Indeed, the brain drain had already begun. Guys who got their start in the Public Sector found they could do better for themselves by emigrating. At home, sooner of later, some stupid IAS officer would shit on your head and put you firmly in your place.
The importance attached to human capital in recent years is a very welcome change, but one should not take too light a view of the accumulation of knowledge and skill.
Which is also classed as Human Capital. Sen became senile even before he reached the age of 30.
The process of economic development can be regarded as much a process of learning as it may be viewed as a process of capital accumulation.
But it is neither. Economic development only occurs if productivity, or value added, rises. It doesn't matter how this happens. If oil prices go up, then value added in the petro sector goes up and this may be enough to cause economic development of the type already becoming visible in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia etc. That's why in 1962, on Naipaul's first visit to India, he took note that Jeddah had more modern infrastructure than Bombay. Also, you couldn't get cheese in Bombay. Naipaul meets an engineer with a foreign degree who is classed, socially, below the IAS officer. That's a guy who would emigrate and get rich while India turned into more and more of a shithole.
But the two processes are integrally related to each other.
There is no such 'integral relation'. Development means either marginal product or relative price or both have risen so value adding has risen and so you have state of the art ports and airports and bullet trains and 50 varieties of cheese in the market.
It has been shown in a number of economic calculations that, if physical capital were the only bottleneck, an economy could raise its income many times in a very short time.
Everybody could see during the Fifties and Sixties and Seventies etc, that this was perfectly true. If you went to Kuwait in 1950, you would have considered it a fishing village compared to Bombay. By 1960, it was showing signs of a very different trajectory. By 1968- when I first saw it- Indians knew it was the place to emigrate to. By 1978 it was wholly unrecognizable as a place once as poor as Karachi.
The reason why this does not work is the relatively slow process of accumulation of human skills compared with that of physical capital.
Nonsense! It takes less time to train a metallurgist than to put up a steel plant. Indeed, by 1964, there was an oversupply of nuclear physicists.
When all the skills are present, and only physical capital is lacking, as in war-destroyed Japan and German economies, growth can indeed be very fast.
But this is even more true of places where no fucking skills are present. If you pay enough, the skilled will come.
When, however, skills have to be bred, growth resulting from capital accumulation is tempered by the more sluggish accumulation of skills.
Sen came from Bengal- a country ruled by a tiny number of Brits. When he was born, the ADC in his District was a young white dude a couple of years out of college who may have just passed his Bengali proficiency test and was swotting up for the Sanskrit test so as to get his salary increment. If these young whites could so quickly gain the skills needed to run vast Districts, then it was obvious that skill accumulation is only sluggish if you are Bengali or as thick as shit.
The same machine when transferred from an advanced to a backward country becomes much less efficient.
If managed by Bengalis- sure. But the Japs did not have this problem, nor the Koreans or the Malaysians or even the Gujjus or Tamils.
To surmount this obstacle is perhaps the most difficult step in economic development, and it depends crucially on education.
Sen's own solution was to use his education to run away from India along with his best-friend's wife whose parents, however, were connected to both Gramsci and Sraffa.
But the education that is needed here, as should be clear from the nature of the problem, is not of a general kind alone. What is needed most is working experience, and this depends on rates of investment.
Nope. You can send your guys to do industrial apprenticeships in advanced economies who will be grateful for the cheap labor.
The massive physical investments that were undertaken in economies like those of Russia and Japan to break down the barrier of under-development contributed perhaps as much through their indirect effects on skill formation as through their direct effects on physical capacities.
Both Russia and Japan were happy to bring in foreign experts and pay them very well. Sen thinks people in a country can only eat food grown in their own country, they can only learn in their own country, they can only gain practical knowledge in their own country- but, for some reason, they can't use their own money to buy technology from abroad. Only the Government can do so as part of a Five Year plan. Yet the Tatas had shown that the private sector could do this perfectly well thirty years before the First Five Year Plan.
It is reasonable to argue that the big hurdle to cross in the process of economic development is skill formation rather than capital accumulation,
If so, India should have been sending tens of thousands of their smartest eighteen years olds to work on low wages in high tech industries. Indeed, Sanjay Gandhi was supposed to be one such apprentice at Rolls Royce.
but, since the former depends on the latter, this does not amount to arguing for a small and conservative plan of physical investment.
If Sen says x depends on y, we can be sure there is no fucking connection between them of any sort. Capital accumulation can occur without any domestic skill formation- just bring in foreign guest-workers- and vice versa. A country can live off remittances from young people it trains in various ways. Thus, the Brits had a training college in Haileybury where a few kids were taught a little about India. They then received on the job training and did such a good job that the British Empire kept expanding and Indian troops helped change the outcome of battles on European soil. Sen himself soon escaped to England and provided comic relief as a Bengali monkey who could imitate but could not comprehend an elite type of Paideia meant to handicap the cognitive functioning of its future leaders.
What you chose to prefer is a constraint you place on your own behavior. One reason we may act consistently with reference to our chosen preferences is because our behavior become predictable to others and thus they repose greater trust that their transactions with us will have the desired outcome.
It is foolish to distinguish preferences from constraints we place on ourselves. Rather we may speak of our preferences as arising from such self-imposed constraints.
Sen, naturally, takes the opposite view.
PREFERENCE AND SELF-IMPOSED CONSTRAINTS In the discussion so far, the influence of the process of choice, and in particular of the menu, has been considered interchangeably (i) through the preference ranking (incorporating concerns about choice acts within the preference ranking), and (ii) through self-imposed choice constraints, excluding some options from "permissible" conduct (we leaned towards this latter way in the formulation of the "fruit-passing game").
The fruit-passing game was mis-specified. The best outcome is to take command of a scarce resource and gain credit for disposing of it in some optimal manner. The process of choice does not influence the menu considered as the set of feasible outcomes. No doubt, in a restaurant, if we dither and dither and speak at great length about how what we want is not on the menu, the maitre de might say 'look, I'll tell the chef to prepare the dish as you stipulate'. But in that case the restaurant menu wasn't really fully specified. It is not the case that your preferences caused the restaurant to suddenly be able to make something it could not otherwise do.
As for 'permissible conduct'- that is a constraint on the feasible set. True, the restaurant kitchen could prepare you a dish from a freshly slaughtered baby. But the police would arrest all concerned. The restaurant would be closed down.
They are not, of course, formally equivalent,
Nonsense is formally equivalent to nonsense. Ex falso quodlibet applies.
and it is useful to consider how they may relate. We must also examine the nature of self-imposed constraints as parts of "norms" of behavior or "rules" of choice.
Why? If 'norms' or 'rules' exist, they are not really 'self-imposed'. In so far as we speak of ourselves as following rules or norms, it is in connection with what we believe ought to constrain everybody else. There is nothing individual or idiosyncratic about them- unless we are speaking facetiously.
The practice of enjoining rules of conduct that go beyond the pursuit of specified goals has a long tradition.
But rules of conduct have specified goals- e.g. gaining a reputation for rectitude.
As Adam Smith (1790) had noted, our behavioral choices often reflect "general rules" that "actions" of a particular sort "are to be avoided" (p. 159).
This is because an 'impartial observer' inside us has drawn the conclusion from long experience of society that violating those 'general rules' will have adverse consequences for our reputation, our position in society, and thus our own flourishing.
To represent this formally, we can consider a different structure from choosing a maximal element, according to a comprehensive preference ranking (incorporating inter alia the importance of choice acts), from the given feasible set S (allowed by externally given constraints).
We could minimize regret. That would be the sensible course because Knightian uncertainty obtains and thus we don't know all possible states of the world and thus the maximal is inaccessible to us.
Instead, the person may first restrict the choice options further by taking a "permissible" subset K(S), reflecting self-imposed constraints,
The result is exactly the same as ruling out everything in the set S which conflicts with our preferences- e.g. all the non-veg options, anything containing garlic, etc, etc. Indeed, our preference may be to have the same thing we always have. If the restaurant can't provide it today we may go to another restaurant or decide to skip the meal. This is purely a matter of one's own tastes and preferences. We may speak of it as arising from a self-imposed constraint, but we could equally speak of all our preferences as arising from our own limitations which, in some sense, we choose to take as binding upon us.
and then seek the maximal elements M(K(S), R) in K(S).
In which case no 'different structure' obtains. We are still choosing a maximal element.
The "permissibility function" K identifies the permissible subset K(S) of each option set (or menu) S.
No it does not. The law may have such a function. What is permissible is not as sharply defined as what is legal. No mathematical function can describe what is inchoate and only very vaguely defined. We can no more choose the 'maximal' element in what is permissible than we can choose to always do the best possible thing with the result that we soon become the richest and most powerful person on the planet. It may be that an infinite intelligence can compute what that trajectory should be. But it is inaccessible to us because the 'time class' of that computation greatly exceeds the life-span of the universe.
How different an approach is the use of such a permissibility function in comparison with incorporating our concerns fully in the preference ranking itself?
The difference is that 'permissibility' is a partition on the set S of feasible outcomes.
The formal features of the difference can be more readily disposed of than its substantive relevance. Consider a person with a preference R over the universal set X;
The universal set is unknowable. No functional relation on it is accessible to us.
I am taking this R to be menu-independent, but the argument to be presented would hold a fortiori if the preference were menu-dependent.
The menu is unknowable. It is foolish to speak of independence or otherwise in this connection.
When it comes to choosing from a specified menu S (determined only by externally-given limits, but no self-imposed constraints), the person aims at identifying the maximal elements M(S, R) of S with respect to R. The effect of a self-imposed constraint that specifies a permissible set K(S) to which she deliberately confines her selection is to make her pick a maximal element, according to R, of K(S) rather than of S: (6.1) C(S) = M(K(S), R). Can the route of self-imposed choice constraint be represented as maximization with an as if preference relation R *? The answer to this question turns on the issue of menu dependence, as the following results immediately establish (for proofs, see the Appendix). THEOREM 6.1: For any permissibility function K and any S, there exists an "as if" preference Rs such that: (6.2) M(S, Rs) = M(K(S), R) = C(S).
The theoretical existence of a theory of everything does not mean I can choose to know that theory. If I claim to do so, by reason of my choice, people will laugh at me. I may then say 'a permissibility function' exists such that it is not permissible for you to know that I'm a genius. It is only permissible for you to laugh at me.' You may well say 'you have an 'as if' preference for eating only dog turds. That whatever it is that you dine on, it is as if you are dining on dog turds'.
This sort of back and forth represents the entire epistemic content of Sen-tentious Economics.
A morally exacting choice constraint can lead to an outcome that the person does not, in any sense, "desire," but which simply mimics the effect of his self-restraining constraint.
Preferences are a constraint on choices. No mimicry is involved.
To illustrate, there has been a good deal of discussion recently on the alleged tendency of many Japanese workers to work extraordinarily hard, and the idea of "karoshi" (death through overwork) has been discussed in that context (see, for example, Morishima (1995)). The tendency to do one's "duty" to the point of severely damaging one's health (whether or not leading literally to "death") is easier to explain as the consequence of adhering to a deontological obligation rather than as an outcome that is actually "preferred" by the hapless worker.
This is foolish. Soldiers, in doing their duty, get severely wounded or killed. We don't say they preferred to get killed. We say they preferred to do their duty even though this meant risking death. If you 'work yourself to death', it may be that you overestimated your stamina or recuperative capacity.
Japan took the 'samurai spirit' from the army into the work-place. What Morishima was commenting on had nothing to do with the theory of consumption. Like other Japanese Marxists, he believed that Japan's 'damaged modernity' and 'dual' economic structure had deep cultural roots. Thus, he was fond of telling his students, when the first Japanese scholars to gather Confucian texts were on the ship back to Japan, they decided to translate 'benevolence' as 'obedience'.
Social psychology can be important here.
Because we are talking of the psychology of a given Society- does it encourage its people to be happy-go-lucky? Does it try to make them thrifty and hard working?
The as if preference works well enough formally,
They are utterly useless. They do no work whatsoever formally or otherwise.
but the sociology of the phenomenon calls for something more than the establishment of formal equivalences.
There is no formal equivalence. Sociology requires a lot of descriptive work and has a wholly independent analytical structure.
This issue is close to Adam Smith's general point that many behavior regularities can be explained better by understanding people's attitude to actions, rather than their valuation of final outcomes.
Nonsense! Smith said that people's attitudes are affected by their empirical observations and these attitudes determine whether they will act prudently and thus gain good outcomes.
Similarly, Immanuel Kant gave a central position in social ethics
No. His 'Anthropology' was quite different from his critique of practical reason.
to a class of restrictions on actions,
No. He had a positive view of the Law. It was 'command' simply.
which formed a part of what he saw as the "categorical imperative," as elucidated by the following remark in the Groundwork: "There is...but one categorical imperative, namely this: Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal law" (translated by Abbott (1889, p. 38)).
Which is cool if, like Kant, you believe pure practical reason delivers an assurance of the immortality of the soul. Thus if you are killed because of your virtuous action, you get eternity in paradise. That's a good deal from the consequentialist point of view.
The form of the imperative, which is crucial to Kant's reasoning, is the need to impose on oneself some constraint on how one can act.
Because your soul is immortal whereas your body will give out in 90 or a 100 years.
While the focus of Smith's and Kant's reasoning is normative rather than descriptive,
Both did plenty of descriptive work- or rather relied on the descriptive work of others. Smith's reasoning is empirical and 'associationalist'. Kant was more of a Pietist upholding the immortality of the Soul.
the two are closely linked in their analyses, since both understood actual behavior to be partly based on norms.
Smith derived norms from the actual behavior of successful people who, like him, had risen in Society and who enjoyed a high reputation for prudence and probity.
Their behavioral analysis included seeing the process of actual choice through K(S), and not just through an "everything considered" grand preference ranking Rs.
Neither believed choice was based on an unknowable set of feasible outcomes or that mere mortals could construct 'everything considered' grand preference rankings. Smith was saying 'emulate the guys getting ahead thanks to their prudence and perceived probity.' Kant was saying that just as Pure Reason could justify credence of Newton's Absolute Space and Time so too could Practical reason justify faith in the immortality of the soul. We know Kant was wrong. Absolute Space and Time don't exist. Even Godel's proof of God was shown to be wrong by a computer.
We live in a world of Knightian Uncertainty. That is why evolution is a true theory whereas creationism or occassionalism is not scientific or useful. The Church itself declares Faith to be founded upon a mystery which neither pure nor practical reason can elucidate. Economists need to admit that 'utility maximization' is just a limit case, where uncertainty is zero, of 'regret minimization'.
Sen, oblivious, of the growing literature on Hannan consistency, comes to the opposite conclusion
In this paper I have tried to examine the role of the choice act in maximizing behavior, which has to be distinguished from maximization without volitional choice by a maximizer, as, for example, in standard models of physics (Section 1).
It is not possible to do so. A mathematical theory has no way of distinguishing whether it is being applied to elementary particle or cognitively complex humans.
The process of choice can be an important concern
which is why 'behavioral economics' was finding useful applications outside the classroom whereas Sen-tentious shite was favored by useless UN bureaucrats
and so can be the necessity of choice
If the thing is 'necessary', it is not free and thus not really choice at all. It is something coerced. We don't think 'Sophie's Choice' was any reflection of Sophie as opposed to the beastliness of Nazi cunts.
even when the alternatives are not fully ordered and the conflicting considerations not fully resolved (Section 5). The analysis shows how the maximizing framework can adequately accommodate both issues, once its axiomatic structure is correspondingly adjusted
So, Sen thinks shit will stop being shit if its 'axiomatic structure' is correspondingly adjusted such that shit is defined as tasty and nutritious food which did not come out any being's rear end.
Some of the findings can be briefly identified. First, one aspect of volitional choice is the possibility that choice acts may have to be undertaken with substantial incompleteness in judgements (arising from instrumental or valuational reasons). While this is problematic for the framework of classical optimization standardly used in economics, there is no great difficulty in systematically accommodating such incompleteness in a framework of maximizing behavior and to study its regularity properties as distinct from those of optimization (Section 5).
We now know that this wasn't true. The Arrow Debreu framework can't accommodate regret minimization. We need to go Bayesian or go home.
Exploration of the relationship between maximization and optimization (characterized in Theorems 5.1-5.6) shows exactly how they relate and where the gaps are.
No. Maximization is not economic. There may be a maximally good choice of food, clothing, employment etc. Optimization is economic. It involves trade offs and occurs under Knightian Uncertainty.
The difference between maximizing and optimizing can be formally closed,
by waving a wand and saying 'abracadabra'!
in one direction (from maximization to optimization, not vice versa), through an "as if" preference,
which is like saying 'dog turds are as delicious and nutritious as truffles & caviar provided we act as if this were so'.
but a substantive interpretative difference remains even here. The directional asymmetry lends further support (in addition to the larger reach of maximization) to the case for taking maximization to be the mainstay for rational choice functions.
In other words, Sen was only pretending to find fault with Arrow-Debreu. The truth is his own shitty 'Capabilities' was built on that nonsense. This is not to say that Scientists can't improve 'capabilities'- e.g. figuring out a way for athletes to run faster or fat cunts like me to fill our bellies with tasty treats which don't cause diabetes or heart disease or whatever the fuck it is which will put an end to my swinish existence.
Simon's formulation of "satisficing" behavior,
was useful in the context of competition policy- the monopolist may prefer 'a quiet life' to maximizing profits- as well as nuclear strategy- it is enough to be able to take out a few cities belonging to the enemy rather than just blow up the entire world.
connected with his important idea of bounded rationality, can be accommodated within a general maximizing framework, eliminating the tension between satisficing and maximizing (but the tension with optimization remains, except in terms of the formal device of an "as if" preference).
This was always obvious. However, the future lay with Bayesian methods and machine learning and so forth.
Second, the process of choice-and in particular the act of choice-can make substantial difference to what is chosen.
But that process is itself decomposable into choices just as an act can be decomposed into choices between mental states.
While the differences can take various complex and subtle forms (Sections 2-4 and 6),
No. The differences can take stupid and shitty forms if the guy making the distinctions is a Sen-tentious cretin.
there is a particular necessity to take note of (i) chooser dependence,
Choice does depend on the chooser just as a fart depends on the farter. This no particular necessity to take note of the bleeding obvious.
and (ii) menu dependence, of preference, even judged from a particular person's perspective.
There is no 'menu dependence'. However, if you are as stupid as Sen, you might be too stupid to work out what is actually on the menu. Indeed, you may not be able to distinguish the restaurant from the side-walk. You may also thing a lump of dog shit which you find on the pavement is actually the best dish on the menu of the posh restaurant nearby. But the fact that you get down on all fours to feast on that dog-shit and then leave a large pile of banknotes to pay for your repast, does not mean you dined well from the menu of the restaurant in question.
The parametric preference relation RjV' of person i can reasonably rank the same elements x and y differently depending on who (j) is making the choice (in particular whether it is the person i herself: i =j), and the menu S from which the choice of x or y is being considered (Section 3).
No. This is a stupid, not a reasonable, way to proceed. If you starve to death while standing beside a free buffet of delicious food just because you wanted Beyonce to come and fill up your plate and to feed with her own dainty hands, we consider you a cretin. It is another matter that you could fill a couple of plates and take them to a beautiful lady who, in consideration of the sprained wrist you claim to have, may be persuaded to express her gratitude by popping a samosa into your slavering mouth. Well when I say 'you could'- I don't mean you. I mean a handsome dude wearing a gold rolex watch around his sizable dick.
This is analytically important for understanding the nature of rational choice and maximizing behavior (it militates, in particular, against many widely-used "consistency conditions" that ignore these parametric variations).
It militates for eating dog shit outside the restaurant and then paying through the nose for that privilege.
It is also practically important in explaining a variety of behavioral regularities in economic, political, and social affairs-from variations in work discipline and in economic corruption to the operation of social norms and of voting behavior (Sections 2-4 and 6).
Nonsense! Choice may be delegated where information asymmetry obtain or transaction costs are high. But that has nothing to do with preferences.
Third, it is necessary to distinguish between menu-independence of preferences and menu-independence of choice functions,
Rubbish! Preferences give rise to choice functions within the 'budget set'.
since there is, in general, no one-to-one correspondence between preference relations and choice functions.
Yes there is. The choice function is a preference relation on the budget set. However, both may be unknowable and thus it is foolish to pretend an 'existence proof' means the thing is accessible or computable.
While menu-independence of preference entails menu-independence of the generated choice function, menu-independence of a choice function need not entail menu-independence of the preference that generated that choice function, as shown by Theorem 3.1.
So what? If preferences were menu dependent, the choice function would be too.
The connection between binariness and menu independence can also be identified,
because either the axiom of choice or something like countable choice is assumed
and it is in fact convenient to see binariness of choice as a condition of menu independence (Section 3).
only if preferences are binary
Fourth, the role of the choice act can be particularly significant in decisions made on behalf of others-a feature of economic policy-making on which Ragnar Frisch himself had put much emphasis.
Frisch used thought experiments to put demand theory on an independent footing from utility theory. What Sen is talking about is something different- viz. agent-principal hazard- which must be tackled by incentive compatible mechanism design- i.e. the incentives facing the agent must elicit behavior advantageous to the principal.
The presence of fiduciary responsibility calls for some reformulation of the standard axioms of choice theory because of the role of the choice acts.
No. Only mechanism design matters. It is obvious that if the agent can safely get rich by screwing over his principal, they no fucking 'fiduciary responsibility' will obtain.
This also has implications for the formulation of games and strategic concerns, as the "fruit-passing game" illustrates (Section 4).
It illustrates nothing except Sen's stupidity. Take command over a scarce resource and then dispose of it as you think best. Don't starve to death while standing next to a free buffet because you'd prefer Beyonce to come and feed you with her own dainty hands.
The role of behavioral norms in general, and of the common knowledge of norms in particular, can be quite important for understanding strategic actions (including "strategic nobility") and the corresponding game outcomes.
No. A stupid action is explained by stupidity not some supposed norm that the stupid cunt claims to be upholding. On the other hand, it is common knowledge that Beyonce would like nothing better than to feed me with her own dainty hands.
Finally, the accountability and obligation to others may take the form of self-imposed choice constraints (as formulated by Immanuel Kant and Adam Smith) rather than being incorporated within reflective preferences in the binary form.
Either such 'accountability' and 'obligation' is voluntarily chosen or we are not talking of the free action of a rational agent at all. Economics is not concerned with actions taken under duress.
This is not a major technical gulf, unless we insist on preferences being menu-independent (as is standardly assumed in traditional theory of preference and choice).
A list of commands is not a menu. It is stuff we must do to avoid being beaten to death. Sen doesn't get this. If 'menu-dependence' is admitted, then preferences are irrelevant. Suppose, as you read through the menu you come across the following item 'egg salad- patrons are advised that failure to order this item and no other will lead to immediate decapitation.' You then notice that the maitre de is holding an executioner's axe. There are photographs on the walls depicting the severed heads of former customers. You decide to order the egg salad. Why? What we actually have is a command, backed up by a credible threat of decapitation, not a choice menu.
The operation of self-imposed choice constraints can be readily represented through devised "as if' binary preferences in a menu-dependent format (Theorem 6.1),
I suppose some cretin might say 'you have an 'as if' preference for egg salad' but this isn't genuinely the case. We have a preference for not getting our fucking heads chopped off.
but not in general through menu-independent "as if`' preferences (Theorem 6.2).
Nonsense! It doesn't matter whether you read ' egg salad- patrons are advised that failure to order this item and no other will lead to immediate decapitation' on the menu or if some fellow diner whispers it in your ear. Your preference not to be decapitated is 'menu independent'.
However, irrespective of formal representabilty, the tangible differences made by the use of choice constraints can be materially important for the psychology of choice
Twenty years later we can be sure that wasn't the case. There's no pop-psychology book or self-improvement TED talk which tells you that 'menu dependence' can improve your life. Mindfulness, sure. Transcendental Meditation- maybe. But Sen-tentious shite about Menus?- fuck off!