Friday 29 December 2023

Maskin rescuing Arrow

Last year, Maskin published a paper arguing 

 that Arrow’s (1951) independence of irrelevant alternatives condition (IIA) is unjustifiably stringent.

It is necessary otherwise preferences could be impredicative and thus any determination of them would be arbitrary or non-unique. In other words, any voting rule applied would be either wholly arbitrary of else indeterminate. Like Arrow-Debreu general equilibrium, the outcomes are 'anything goes'. 

Although, in elections, it has the desirable effect of ruling out spoilers and vote-splitting (Candidate A spoils the election for B if B beats C when all voters rank A low, but C beats B when some voters rank A high - - because A splits off support from B),

Why would this be a desirable property of a voting system? We want to be able to spoil the chances of dangerous but charismatic nutters if any such should arise. 

it is stronger than necessary for this purpose. Worse, it makes a voting rule insensitive to voters’ preference intensities.

So what? Voters can express their preference intensities by running amok or threatening to do so.  

Accordingly, we propose a modified version of IIA to address these problems.

The bigger problem is that there are no desirable properties for a voting system save that it already exists and things haven't already totally turned to shit in the sense that administrations change from time to time without large scale violence. 

Rather than obtaining an impossibility result, we show that a voting rule satisfies modified IIA, Arrow’s other conditions, May’s (1952) axioms for majority rule, and a mild consistency condition if and only if it is the Borda count (Borda 1781), i.e., rank-order voting. 

Sadly, this isn't true.  

In his monograph Social Choice and Individual Values (Arrow 1951), Kenneth Arrow introduced the concept of a social welfare function (SWF) – a mapping from profiles of individuals’ preferences to social preferences.

But 'individuals' preferences' are intensional and epistemic. Thus, they have no non-arbitrary or unique representation. There is no actual mapping here of a mathematical type. We may speak of Sociology or Social Psychology or Culture and affiliation as determining electoral outcomes but, it will also be the case, those outcomes won't matter very much. Public policy will be largely determined by economic and geopolitical considerations which are independent of preferences. 

No doubt, if politics didn't matter at all and voting in general elections was like voting for sexiest Soap Opera star then Borda might come into its own. But nobody would greatly care.  

The centerpiece of his analysis was the celebrated  Impossibility Theorem, which establishes that, with three or more social alternatives, there exists no SWF

No SWF ever exists save by arbitrary stipulation. Nor does any individual's preference function. Both are essentially epistemic and indeterminate. Why? The menu conveys information and thus changes the knowledge base and thus the 'extension' of any given 'intension' in welfare econ. 

There is a further problem of impredicativity relating to implementation of SWFs. Our preferences may change if we think certain Social Welfare configurations won't be implemented because preferences may change if they are. Now, it may be possible to arrive at an arbitrary 'equilibrium' but it would be non unique. Indeed, actual politics is about passing laws which everybody knows won't be fully implemented. Indeed- as with Prohibition- the thing may be so badly implemented that it is wholly counter-productive.

satisfying four attractive conditions: unrestricted domain (U), the Pareto Principle (P), non-dictatorship (ND), and independence of irrelevant alternatives (IIA). Condition U requires merely that a social welfare function be defined for all possible profiles of individual preferences (since ruling out preferences in advance could be difficult).

So my support for Trump might be conditional on the proof that P=NP while that for Biden on the proof that this isn't so. Preferences are epistemic. But the time class of calculating the general equilibrium under different economic policies would be exponential. Thus Preferences are approximate and ad hoc. The Law of large numbers means this doesn't matter too much if we are speaking of millions of voters. But, otherwise, there could be deterministic chaos. Arrow restricts the SWF to deterministic functions. 

P is the reasonable requirement that if all individuals (strictly) prefer alternative x to y, then x should be (strictly) preferred to y socially as well.

Robert Aumann points out that the Sanhedrin had a rule against unanimity.  We move closer to the Pareto frontier when the information set expands and/or Transaction costs fall such that more arbitrage occurs. If everybody always prefers x to y, that may be a reason to try y. However, the real objection to 'P' is that we need Society to certain things even if no voter wants those things done- e.g. killing invaders. More importantly, we may want constitutional checks and balances such that unanimity on a particular issue is not action guiding. There is a 'cooling off' period.

ND is the weak assumption that there should not exist a single individual (a “dictator”) whose strict preference always determines social preference.

What if some guy always happens to vote for the winning side? Why should he be described as a Dictator when he is nothing of the sort?  

These first three conditions are so undemanding that virtually any SWF studied in theory or used in practice satisfies them all.

None do. Unrestricted domain is impossible. Pareto means there can be no voting system because there could be unanimity not to implement it- which is a choice voters must have under U- but this also means there will be no voting system because it is always possible that those who dispute the outcome vigorously enough can put society on a slippery slope to that very unanimity. 

For example, consider plurality rule (or “first-past-the post”), in which x is preferred to y socially if the number of individuals ranking x first is bigger than the number ranking y first.
Plurality rule satisfies U

No. The majority of voters may want a guy who won't or can't stand. Equally, they may prefer candidate X but only if he represented Party Y and vice versa. No voting rule is operating on an unrestricted domain of voter preferences. Moreover voting is going to have a strategic component precisely because of restricted domain. We may also speak of 'substitution' and 'income' effects which are menu dependent. In other words, a given U has no determinate relationship with any restriction on Domain. 

because it is well-defined regardless of individuals’ preferences.

No. It is intensional- i.e. epistemic. The extension Whatever is arbitrary or by stipulation. People will say 'X only won because people were against Y and didn't get a chance to vote for Z' or things of that sort. 

It satisfies P because if all individuals strictly prefer x to y, then x must be ranked first by more individuals than y. 

Not if x can't or won't stand or is disqualified or dies.  

Finally, it satisfies ND because if everyone else ranks x first, then even if the last individual strictly prefers y to x, y will not be ranked above x socially.

Everyone writes in for Obama except me because I know Obama can't have a third term. My vote puts Biden in the White House. But this isn't the real problem with ND. There is bound to be some guy in Peoria who has always voted for the winning candidate since the time of Truman. Is he a Dictator?  

Turning to the mathematical meat of the paper, we find

The Arrow conditions for a SWF F are:
Unrestricted Domain (U): The SWF must determine social preferences for all possible preferences that individuals might have.

I prefer Biden to Trump iff there is a proof that P not equal to NP.  How is this evaluated by the SWF? The fact is our preferences are conditional. There is a 'characteristic space' and our support for a candidate is conditional on something in that space. How is the SWF to evaluate this? As a matter of fact, political scientists do 'factorize' the platforms of different candidates along socio-economic and ideological lines and try to work out whether this can give them a majority given what is known about the constituency. But candidates themselves use this type of analysis so you might have a Hotelling type convergence to what would be supported by 'the median voter'. 

Formally, for all [0,1], i i ∈ ℜ consists of all strict orderings of X.

There are no such orderings because X is unknown and some elements of it are ambiguous, impredicative or uncertain.  

Pareto Property (P): If all individuals (strictly) prefer x to y, then x must be strictly socially preferred. 

All individuals may prefer to have good Social Choice by magic or the intervention of providence without the bother and expense of holding an election. The thing is a 'second best' solution to minimize social conflict. Just as a harmonious society with optimal mechanisms wouldn't have much need of Law Courts, so too would it dispense with Elections and Parliaments.  

Nondictatorship (ND): There exists no individual who always gets his way in the sense that if he prefers x to y, then x must be socially preferred to y, regardless of others’ preferences.

Yet such an individual always exists. I and I alone get to decide whether I will scratch my arse when it feels itchy to me. Also, actual Dictators don't get to choose any outcome they like. This is because their bodyguards may shoot them. More generally, polities have to choose to do the things which enable them to survive as polities. Otherwise they get conquered or implode into anarchy. 

 Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives (IIA): Social preferences between x and y should depend only on individuals’ preferences between x and y, and not on their preferences concerning some third alternative

We don't have any such preferences. True, I prefer eating a burger to eating stewed eel but if the third alternative is that my family is butchered in front of my eyes, I choke down the stewed eel. All our preferences are like that. They depend on a ceteris paribus condition. Yet, new knowledge constantly causes us to discover that ceteris is not paribus. Smoking may look cool but it fucks up your lungs. 

Because we have argued that IIA is too strong, we are interested in the following relaxation: Modified IIA: If, given two profiles and two alternatives, each individual (i) ranks the two alternatives the same way in both profiles and (ii) ranks the same number of other alternatives between the two alternatives in both profiles, then the social preference between x and y should be the same for both profiles

Two people agree that someone should do the washing up. But the one assigned the task may change his mind. The mistake Maskin is making is to think that alternatives can be fully specified. They can't. Everything is connected. You may say 'you can vote for either Biden or Trump' but what we actually do is vote for an imagined outcome that we like. If things don't pan out the way we think they would we renege. Now there be some enforcement mechanism. But where did it come from? Was it itself created by voting? What about the creators of that creation? Were they empowered by voting? At some point there was some arbitrary, non-voting based, intervention. In that case voting rules are historical and hysteresis based. They are not ergodic or mathematical.

May (1952) characterizes majority rule axiomatically in the case X = 2 .

In which case there is a third alternative which is not voting at all.  

We will consider natural extensions of his axioms to three or more alternatives:

in which case there are an infinity of alternatives e.g. not voting but saying 1 instead, not voting but saying 2 instead, not voting but saying 3 instead... 

Anonymity (A): If we permute a preference profile so that individual j gets i’s preferences, k gets j’s preferences, etc., then the social ranking remains the same.

Very true. You will definitely take the trouble to vote if you are told your attendance at the booth will enable the preferences of your lazy Trump-loving neighbour to be registered.  

 Neutrality (N): Suppose that we permute the alternatives so that x becomes y, y becomes z, etc., and we change individuals’ preferences in the corresponding way.

Suppose word of this gets out. There is a hue and cry. Trumpistas burn your house down because you are obviously part of the conspiracy which stole the fucking election! 

Positive Responsiveness (PR) 28: If we change individuals’ preferences so that alternative x moves up relative to y in some individuals’ rankings and doesn’t move down relative to y in anyone’s ranking, then, first, x moves up socially relative to y; second, it does so continuously.

If such a mechanism were implemented for some x, it will become a 'wedge issue' and a site of strategic preference falsification.

 Ranking Consistency (RC): If, given a profile of individual preferences, each of a set of disjoint subpopulations has the same strict social ranking, then the (unique) top-ranked alternative for that ranking is also the (unique) top-ranked alternative for the union of those subpopulations.

If these genuinely are disjoint sets then it must be possible to unambiguously assign individuals to each. But, if that were the case, why not let representative agents of the disjoint sets engage in a bargaining game? Corporatism is the solution, not Democratic voting. 

 We are not aware of a SWF actually used in practice that fails to satisfy RC.

No SWF is actually used in practice. I suppose Maskin means 'theoretical SWFs' but they are all vitiated by the intensional fallacy.  

Indeed, RC holds for almost any standard SWF studied in the literature.

No SWF can be implemented because everybody wants to have an above average IQ. Stuff we all agree on is not feasible.  

As mentioned in Section 1C, RC is satisfied by all scoring rules – including plurality rule and the Borda count – because these rules satisfy the much stronger requirement of consistency.

Which is met by the assumption that there is a well-ordering on the set of finite rooted trees. However the 'reverse mathematics' type results this gives rise to would themselves need a 'Divine Axiom' for consistency. However Unrestricted Domain requires completeness. Also, the SWF is restricted to deterministic computability. Thus either the SWF can only be computed 'at the end of mathematical time' or else it is incomplete, inconsistent or arbitrary. 

The Borda count does have obvious advantages but in 'rich domains' (i.e. where there is no clear 'best' or 'worst') first past the post may be less, not more 'strategy proof'. Still, because of the intensional fallacy, this entire line of inquiry is vitiated. 

Avi Shlaim's suppressio veri

British-Israeli historian Avi Shlaim writes in Prospect magazine- 

In 7th January 2009, while Operation Cast Lead

which began with an Israeli raid to destroy a tunnel which would be used to kidnap IDF personnel.  

was in full swing, I wrote an article in the Guardian. “How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe”.

There was no catastrophe. About a thousand Palestinians died. Israel took few casualties.  

This was Israel’s first major assault on the Gaza Strip after its unilateral withdrawal in 2005.

Gaza should have stopped digging tunnels.  

Further major military offensives followed in 2012, 2014, 2021 and 2022, not counting minor flare-ups and nearly 200 dead during the border protests in 2018 known as the March of Return. By my count, the current war is the sixth serious Israeli assault on Gaza since, and by far the most lethal and destructive.

Because the recent Hamas raid was the most atrocious and lethal

And it also raises the ominous spectre of a second Palestinian Nakba.

Indeed. It appears Palestinians are sick of living under Palestinian masters. Every time the Egyptians loosen things up at the border, thousands of the smartest and best educated leave never to return. 

Going forward, either Gaza becomes a penal colony run by Israel's 'contractors', of they simply starve in the rubble. It appears that no Arab state will welcome them. Perhaps the Malaysians or the Indonesians will send ships to take those splendid, hard-working people whose only fault is that they voted in a bunch of gangsters fifteen years ago. 

The only way to make sense of Israel’s cruel and self-defeating wars in Gaza is

by looking at how much money Hamas's leaders have made. The Islamic Brotherhood has received a shot in the arm. But, how long will this last?  

through understanding the historical context. From whatever perspective one chooses to view it, the establishment of the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians.

This guy's family had to leave Baghdad. But they would have had to flee sooner or later even if Israel had been wiped off the map by invading Arab armies. 

Three quarters of a million Palestinians became refugees, and the name Palestine was wiped off the map. Israelis call it “The War of Independence”; Palestinians call it the Nakba, or the catastrophe.

Which they brought on themselves. Grand Mufti Husseini made a mistake by allying with Hitler and committing war crimes.

The most horrific event in the suffering-soaked history of the Jews was the Holocaust.

6 million were killed 

In the history of the Palestinian people, the most traumatic event is the Nakba,

In which 15,000 Palestinians were killed.  

which is not in fact a one-off event but the ongoing process of the dispossession and displacement of Palestinian people from their homeland that continues to this day,

about an equal number of Jews were displaced from Arab lands at around the same time.  

in the unspeakable horrors being visited by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on Gaza.

They speak plenty about them. Where the IDF falls down is in the rape and decapitation department. Give them time.  

The United Kingdom was the original sponsor of the Jewish state,

But the commitment to create a 'national home' for Jews was only made binding by the terms of the League of Nations mandate. This applied only to Palestine, not 'Trans-Jordan' which did well enough under British tutelage.  

going back to the Balfour declaration of 1917. But by 1948, the United States had replaced the UK as the principal backer.

Stalin, too, backed the creation of Israel. This was a disaster for Arab Communist parties.  

British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state,

Not really. They allied with Israel and France to try to grab the Suez Canal from Nasser. Eisenhower put the kybosh on that.  

although they themselves had enabled and empowered the Zionist takeover of Palestine.

Only because the Palestinians kept trying to kill them. So too did the Jabotinsky type Zionist extremists but there were far fewer of them. 

The conditions that gave rise to the Nakba were made in Britain.

No. They were made by Grand Mufti Husseini who was very popular in Iraq. The Brits had to send in troops to crush the pro-Axis regime there.  

Yet no British government has ever accepted any responsibility for the loss and suffering it brought upon the people of Palestine.

It withdrew because neither the Arabs nor the Jews wanted them to remain. The same thing happened in India where there was a big transfer of population accompanied by much more killing and rape.  

In the period since 1948 the western powers, led by the US, have given Israel massive moral, economic and military support, as well as diplomatic protection.

France was more important than the US in the Fifties and early Sixties. It is probable that they helped Israel get the atom bomb.  

The US has used its veto power in the UN Security Council 46 times to defeat resolutions that were not to Israel’s liking.

It also kept trying to get the Israelis to return to the pre 1967 borders. That was the Rodgers' plan. The Yom Kippur war was the turning point in US- Israel relations. The Soviets had already been thrown out of Egypt- because they would only give Nasser defensive technology- and US support for Israel paid off by greatly increasing American power in the region. Still, America was happy to broker a deal between Sadat and Begin. But the latter bungled his intervention in Lebanon. BTW, the Lebanese Civil War took 150,000 lives. France, it seems, was worse than Britain in creating confessional states.  

America also gives Israel around $3.8bn in military aid each year,

less than 1 percent of their GDP. There are strings attached to that aid. Perhaps Israel would be better of trading on open markets.  

with more this year to enable Israel to sustain its military offensive in Gaza. The trouble with American support for Israel is that it is not conditional on Israeli respect for Palestinian human rights or international law. As a result, Israel gets away, literally, with murder.

Just as NATO did during the War on Terror. What is sauce for the goose... 

In August 2005, a Likud-led government headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral Israeli pull-out from Gaza, withdrawing all 8,500 settlers and destroying the houses and farms they had left behind. Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, conducted an effective campaign to drive the Israelis out of Gaza. To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace. But in the year that followed, more than 12,000 settlers moved into the West Bank, consolidating Israeli control, and further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state.

The Palestinians had had a small civil war of their own. Both al Fatah and Hamas were as corrupt as fuck. 'Pay for slay' leads to Israel grabbing land and sending in settlers. Jewish blood purchases Palestinian land. In this context, Terrorism is a bad business model. 

The real purpose behind the move was to redraw the borders of Greater Israel by incorporating the main settlement blocs on the West Bank to the state of Israel. Withdrawal from Gaza was thus not a prelude to a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority, but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank.

D'uh! The question was whether this was economically viable. The answer, it seems, is yes. Real Estate matters, raping and beheading may be cool, it may be rad, it may get a lot of clicks on Social Media, but, at the end of the day, you lose real estate and start feeling sorry for yourself.  

It was a unilateral Israeli move undertaken in what was seen as the Israeli national interest.

It was an effective form of retaliation. You are cheering about a nifty piece of 'pay for slay' your cousin did. Then the IDF bulldozes your house and your ancestral olive grove is turned into a condominium for IT workers born in Stockholm or Seattle. So not worth it.  

Anchored in a fundamental rejection of Palestinian national identity, the withdrawal from Gaza was part of a long-term effort to deny the Palestinian people any independent political existence on their land.

The Jordanians and the Syrians and the Lebanese felt the same way about letting Palestinians have any 'independent political existence'. Egypt has sealed its border with Gaza. It has plenty of land in the Sinai which the industrious Palestinians could develop economically. But, having got rid of Morsi and the Brotherhood, El Sisi isn't going to let in the Ikhwan by the back door.  

This did not stop Israeli spokespersons from making the preposterous claim that by quitting they gave the Gazans a chance to turn the strip into the Singapore of the Middle East.

This was preposterous because Palestinian leaders dream or rape and beheading, not setting up a Stock Exchange and growing rich off medical tourism and IT services.  Lee Kuan Yew, on the other hand, was constantly sodomizing and beheading Malaysians- right? 

In December 2008, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, in breach of a six-month ceasefire that Egypt had brokered. This was not a war in the usual sense of the word but a one-sided massacre. For 22 days, the IDF shot, shelled and bombed Hamas targets and at the same time rained death and destruction on the defenceless civilian population. In all 1,417 Gazans were killed, including 313 children, and more than 5,500 wounded. Eighty-three per cent of the casualties were civilians.

That's what you get for building tunnels to hide terrorists. At a later point, Egypt would flood those tunnels and seal the border. Let Hamas stew in its own juice.  

War crimes were investigated by an independent fact-finding mission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council and headed by Richard Goldstone, a distinguished South African judge who happened to be both a Jew and a Zionist. Goldstone and his team found that Hamas and the IDF had both committed violations of the laws of war.

Bush's invasion of Iraq was, of course, perfectly legal.  

The IDF received much more severe strictures than Hamas, on account of the scale and seriousness of its violations. Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups were found guilty of launching rocket and mortar attacks with the deliberate aim of harming Israeli civilians. The Goldstone team investigated 36 incidents involving the IDF. It found 11 incidents in which Israeli soldiers launched direct attacks against civilians with lethal outcomes (in only one cause was there a possible “justifiable military objective”); seven incidents where civilians were shot leaving their homes “waving white flags and, in some of the cases, following an injunction from the Israeli forces to do so”; an attack, executed “directly and intentionally” on a hospital; numerous incidents where ambulances were prevented from attending to the severely injured; several attacks on civilian infrastructure with no military significance, such as flour mills, chicken farms, sewage works and water wells—all part of a campaign to deprive civilians of basic necessities. In the words of the report, much of this extensive damage was “not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly”.

Did Obama condemn Israel? Did Blair or Brown or Bush or anybody else?  Did anybody pay any attention to this? No. Still, you can't say Israel hasn't been consistent. It sent a strong signal in 2008-9 and kept repeating the message. Incidentally, Netanyahu had resigned because he opposed the Gaza pull-out. Olmert supported it. As Prime Minister, he was responsible for 'Cast Lead'. Facing criticism for his mishandling of the 2006 Lebanese war, Olmert pivoted to a dove like position- calling for talks with the Palestinians and conceding much to Abbas. Hamas rocket attacks led to 'Cast Iron' but Olmert's political and legal troubles meant that Abbas was in no hurry to sign up to what was quite a generous deal. With hindsight, Netanyahu has been vindicated but he may be a lame duck because the Hamas attack occurred on his watch. 

In conclusion, the 452-page report noted that while the Israeli government sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of the right to self-defence, “the Mission itself considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: the people of Gaza as a whole.”

This was hilarious because we were spending a lot of money killing Muslims of various descriptions. Sadly, we were taking a big financial loss on these operations. Let the A-rabs just kill each other rather than waste our tax dollars helping them out in this regard.  

Under the circumstances, the mission concluded that what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever-increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”

Sounds like what we would soon do to Libya.  They too are A-rabs right? Well, that's all right then. 

Goldstone later published an op-ed in the Washington Post, saying that while Hamas had committed war crimes (its rockets were “purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets”), “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy” by Israel. The other three members of the fact-finding mission said that they stood by the conclusions, which were “made after diligent, independent and objective consideration of the information related to the events within our mandate, and careful assessment of its reliability and credibility.”

Who gives a fuck?  Any way, after reading the conclusions of an IDF investigation, Goldstone conceded in 2011 that he'd got it wrong. Israel had not targeted civilians. Hamas had. The author has engaged in a deliberate 'suppressio veri'. He should know that Goldstone changed his mind. Yet, he pretends otherwise. 

Neither Israel nor Hamas was held to account nor made to pay any price for its war crimes.

Whereas Bush and Blair were sent to jail for the illegal invasion of Iraq- right?  

The Israelis resorted to a character assassination of the report’s author rather than engaging with any of its findings. Although it did not lead to any action, the Goldstone report offers a deep insight into the pattern of Israeli behaviour in Gaza in this and all subsequent operations.

The fact that this author suppresses relevant information- viz. Goldstone said, in 2011, that new evidence put Israel in the clear- tells you everything you need to know about his character.  This is a link to the article Goldstone published in the Washington Post admitting his mistake. Israel did carry out an internal investigation of war crime allegations. Hamas gloried in them. 

The absence of sanctions also explains why Israel was able to continue to act with utter impunity and, yet again, to get away literally with murder.

Iran and Russia and so forth have plenty of sanctions placed against them. That doesn't seem to stop them going in for murder on an industrial scale.  

While committing war crimes, Israel claims to be exercising its inherent right to self-defence,

which, Goldstone says, is all that they actually did. 

and its western cheerleaders repeat this claim parrot-fashion.

While this parrot pretends Goldstone found that Israel had committed war-crimes. It hadn't.  

In this most recent and most devastating attack on Gaza, Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour party, outdid even Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak by stating that Israel’s right to defend itself justified the denial of water, food and fuel to the civilian population.

Good on you Keir. 

All three leaders persisted for eight weeks in their refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire, contenting themselves with feeble pleas to Israel for pauses in the fighting to allow humanitarian aid to reach the besieged civilian population.

Why is Rishi Sunak not raping and beheading the Israeli Ambassador? Nothing less will do.  

Like most of its claims in this savage war, Israel’s claim that it is simply exercising its right of self-defence is baseless—or at least hotly disputed.

Not by Goldstone- who was a Judge, not a stupid pedagogue brainwashing retards. 

Francesca Albanese,

she studied at SOAS- i.e. is both stupid and bigoted. She thinks that Gaza is 'occupied'. But the UNHCR itself defines occupation as  the 'unconsented presence of foreign forces' which is scarcely the case. She calls Israel and 'apartheid' regime yet Israeli Arabs have the vote and can marry whom they please. 

the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, has noted that under international law this right is only relevant in the case of an armed attack by one state against another state, or if the threat comes from outside.

Nope. You are welcome to slaughter insurgents or terrorists of any stripe. The good news is that the Geneva Convention re. treatment of POWs does not apply. You can torture them to your heart's content before affording them the mercy of a bullet in the back of the head.  

The attack by Hamas, however, was not by a state, nor did it come from outside. It came from an area for which, under international law, Israel is still the occupying power because after its withdrawal it continued to control access to Gaza by land, sea and air.

No it didn't. Egypt sealed its border with them. Moreover, a state under embargo or naval or other blockade is not deemed to be under occupation. Only if there are foreign boots on the ground and they face no organized resistance can a place be said to be occupied.  

Put simply, one does not have the right to self-defence against a territory that one occupies.

Which is why no British soldier or policeman has the right to stop me from beating and sodomizing them. 

In this case, therefore, the self-defence clause, Article 51 of the UN Charter, has no relevance.

Because something superior is available- viz. your right to slaughter your own subjects wholesale. International law is irrelevant as the thing is an internal matter.  

It is the people under occupation who have under international law the right to resist,

Though, if they really are under occupation, they will be slaughtered wholesale.  

including the right to armed resistance.

Which, sadly, is also the right to get shot while your women-folk are being raped to death. 

And the Palestinian people are in a unique position: they are the only people living under military occupation who are expected to ensure the security of their occupier.

No they aren't. It isn't the case that when Moshe beats Golda, Golda rings up the local PLO or Hamas office and demands that they send a squad car to arrest Moshe.  On the other hand it is true that Putin is constantly emailing Zelenskyy demanding that he protect Wagner Group mercenaries. 

Taken together Israel’s attacks on Gaza reflect a profoundly militaristic outlook,

which is way better than a profoundly terroristic outlook 

a stubborn refusal to explore avenues for peaceful coexistence,

like inviting Hamas to Shabbat dinner followed by some nice rape and decapitation of all kaffirs present.

The plain fact is Olmert tried to do peaceful coexistence. Hamas wasn't having any of it.  

habitual disregard for the laws of war

Goldstone says Hamas, not Israel, was guilty of this.  

and international humanitarian law,

which requires the rape and decapitation of kaffirs- right? 

and utter callousness towards enemy civilians.

Including European and African and Asian kaffirs. 

Israeli generals talk about their recurrent military incursions into Gaza as “mowing the grass”. By this they mean weakening Hamas, degrading its military capability and impairing its capacity to govern.

There isn't a lot of grass in Gaza. 

This dehumanising metaphor implies a task that must be performed regularly and mechanically and with no end.

Like firing missiles into Israel.  

It also alludes to indiscriminate slaughter of civilians and inflicting the kind of damage on civilian infrastructure that takes several years to repair.

This time, there may be no repair.  

Under this grim rubric, there is no lasting political solution: the next war is always just a matter of time.

As Olmert discovered. Maybe Israel should have listened to Netanyahu and kept Gaza.  

“Mowing the grass”

as opposed to raping and beheading kaffirs 

is a chilling metaphor but it provides another clue to the deeper purpose behind Israel’s steadfast shunning of diplomacy and repeated resort to brute military force on its southern border.

Is that purpose to stage an all dancing all singing version of Death of a Salesman featuring animatronic cats? That would be cool.  

The current Israeli bombardment of Gaza is a response to the Hamas attack on Saturday 7th October, or Black Saturday.

No shit, Sherlock. 

This was a game changer. In the past, Hamas has fired rockets on Israel or engaged with Israeli forces inside its territory. On 7th October, Hamas and the more radical group Islamic Jihad used bulldozers to break down the fence round Gaza and went on a killing spree in the neighbouring kibbutzim and settlements, murdering about 300 soldiers and massacring more than 800 civilians, 250 of whom were at a music festival. They also captured 240 hostages, including some military personnel. The brutal, murderous attack on civilians was a war crime, and it was rightly denounced as such by international political leaders.

This caused Hamas to cry and cry. Islamic Jihad's condition was even worse. It has deleted all its Social Media accounts and is now retraining as a Dental Hygienist.  

Whether the Hamas attack was totally unprovoked, as Israel and its friends claim, is another matter.

The very existence of kaffirs is a terrible provocation. Sadly, they may kill you before you can send them to Hell.  

The attack did not happen in a vacuum. The backdrop was 56 years of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories—the most prolonged and brutal military occupation of modern times.

It was a picnic compared to China's occupation of Tibet. 

It constitutes daily violence against the residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and a daily violation of their basic human rights.

Sadly, this is likely to get much much worse. This has been a horrible decade. Chances are it will become more horrible yet.  The big question is whether there will be ethnic cleansing or nuclear armageddon. 

Hamas is not a terrorist organisation pure and simple, as Israel and its western allies keep insisting.

It is an offshoot of the Islamic Brotherhood- as is IJ. Currently it is Iran's puppet. A lot of money is being made in Doha. But that may change. Sunni Arabs may revive ISIS to break the Shia alliance.  

It is a political party with a military wing whose attacks on civilians constitute terrorist acts. Indeed, Hamas is more than a political party with a military wing. It is a mass social movement, a prominent part of the fabric of Palestinian society which reflects its aspiration to freedom and independence.

It is a Leninist organization aiming at an Arab Caliphate. It is sacrificing Gaza so as to improve its standing in Iraq and Turkey. But Erdogan is interested only in crushing the Kurds and helping the Turkoman. Will he fall out with the Iranians? Not yet- but it may happen.  

It is the failure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to achieve freedom and statehood that largely explains Hamas’s growing influence.

Fuck has Hamas achieved? It has lost its profitable smuggling operation in Gaza and nice little subsidy from the UNRWA. 

In 1993 the PLO signed the first Oslo Accord with Israel.

Why? Arafat had backed the wrong horse in the First Gulf War. But America was keen to settle the Palestinian problem so as to deny Saddam an opportunity to rebuild his position as the champion of that cause.  

Mutual recognition replaced mutual rejection. For the Palestinian national movement this was a historic compromise: it gave up its claim to 78 per cent of Palestine as it existed between 1920 and 1948 under the League of Nations Mandate, in the hope of gaining an independent state in the remaining 22 per cent, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with a capital city in east Jerusalem. But it was not to be. The Oslo Accord turned out to be not a pathway to independence but a trap.

Because of generous International assistance to the Palestinians whose leaders promptly stole every penny. The problem with Palestinians self-rule is that it makes things shittier for Palestinians. Obviously, this is Israel's fault.  

Following the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, the hardline nationalist party Likud came back to power under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has spent the rest of his political career in a relentless and so far successful effort to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Hamas has been a great help. However, it is the growth of the Israeli knowledge-economy and the success of the IDF as a tech incubator which has altered the picture. Back in the Nineties, people like me believed a Palestinian entity would concentrate on getting rich through hard graft and commercial acumen. 'Free money' undid that dream. 

He has never been a partner for peace with any Palestinian faction. His game is to play them off against one another in order to frustrate the Palestinian national struggle.

Which had frustrated the fuck out of Jordan and Lebanon and Syria etc.  

“Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas,” he told his Likud colleagues in March 2019.

He was right. Israel will now aggressively expand settlements and turn Palestinian areas into a prison camp run by thuggish 'kapos'. Just as Hamas committed atrocities 'up front' so as to ensure unconditional support from bleeding hearts, so to is Netanyahu playing the long game. The problem is Lebanon. Begin and Olmert came a cropper there.  

“This is part of our strategy—to isolate the Palestinians in Gaza from the Palestinians in the West Bank.” By weakening and discrediting the moderates in the West Bank,

who were corrupt, senile, and wholly incompetent 

Netanyahu inadvertently assisted the rise of Hamas.

Get your story straight! You just said he deliberately helped Hamas secure in the knowledge that they'd fuck up Gaza.  

The 1988 Hamas Charter is antisemitic, denies Israel’s right to exist and calls for a unitary Muslim state in the whole of historic Palestine, “from the river to the sea” as the slogan goes. But like the PLO before it, Hamas gradually moderated its political programme.

No. Hamas, as an Ikhwan off-shoot, had to subordinate its ideological line to that of the broader movement. Don't forget Morsi did actually come to power in Egypt. He was so fucking stupid and incompetent that El Sisi- whom he appointed- soon got rid of him.  

Perhaps realising that the suicide bombings it carried out during the Second Intifada were both morally wrong and politically counter-productive, it opted for the parliamentary road to power. In January 2006, Hamas won an absolute majority in an all-Palestine election, in both Gaza and the West Bank, and proceeded to form a government. This was a more moderate, pragmatic government and it offered to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel for 20, 30 or 40 years. Although the Charter was not revised until 2017, in a long series of speeches Hamas leaders indicated that they would accept a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.

They were lying. That's what Leninist parties do. But so do politicians of every description. 

Israel refused to recognise the democratically elected Hamas government and turned down its offer of negotiations. The US and EU followed Israel’s lead and joined it in measures of economic warfare designed to undermine it.

China recognized Hamas and was offering to broker a deal with Israel. That's one reason Hamas went ahead with its atrocities to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.  

The western powers claim to believe in democracy but evidently not when the Palestinian people vote for the “wrong” party.

This guy lurves Rishi Sunak and the Tory party coz they were democratically elected. He also lurves Netanyahu- right?  

To paraphrase Bertolt Brecht, if the Israeli and western governments are dissatisfied with the Palestinian people, they should dissolve the people and elect another.

This guy is dissatisfied with the Israeli people. Why can't he just dissolve them and elect another bunch of people who will express great delight if raped and beheaded by jihadi terrorists?  

With Saudi help, the rival Palestinian factions managed to reconcile their differences. On 8th February 2007, Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement in Mecca to stop the clashes between their forces in Gaza and to form a government of national unity. They agreed to a system of power-sharing, with independents taking the key posts of foreign affairs, finance and the interior. And they declared their readiness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel.

This soon fell apart.  It turns out that no nice foreign power wants to pay for Arabs to slay each other. They should do this for pure love of the thing. However, there's always money available for killing Jews or other kaffirs. 

Israel did not like this government either and again refused to negotiate.

Whereas Bush and Obama were constantly phoning Osama and offering to negotiate 

Worse was to follow. Israel and the US secretly plotted with Fatah officials and Egyptian intelligence to undermine the national unity government. They hoped to reverse the results of the parliamentary election by encouraging Fatah to stage a coup to recapture power.

The author disapproves of 'Remainers' who sought to reverse of the Brexit referendum. I often used to see him in the streets threatening to rape and behead Gina Miller.  True, he was wearing a BoJo type blonde wig, but I was able to identify him easily enough.

In 2008, a leak of memos from the Israel-Palestinian Authority negotiations showed that Israel and the US armed and trained the security forces of President Mahmoud Abbas with the aim of overthrowing the Hamas government. (Later, the “Palestine Papers”, a cache of 1,600 diplomatic documents leaked to Al Jazeera, would reveal more.) American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Hamas pre-empted a Fatah coup with a violent seizure of power in Gaza in June 2007.

That was completely spontaneous- right?  

At this point the Palestinian national movement became fractured, with Fatah ruling the West Bank and Hamas ruling the Gaza Strip.

What was the upshot? Olmert's peace plan would bite the dust by the end of the year. 

Israel responded to the Hamas move by declaring the Gaza Strip a “hostile territory”. It also enacted a series of social, economic and military measures designed to isolate and undermine Hamas. By far the most significant of these measures was the imposition of a blockade. The stated purpose of the blockade was to stop the transfer of weapons and military equipment to Hamas, but it also restricted the flow of food, fuel and medical supplies to the civilian population. One American senator was outraged to discover that pasta was on the list of proscribed items. The boycott applied not only to imports but, perversely, also to some exports from Gaza. Why prevent the export of agricultural products, fish and other non-lethal goods? It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the hidden motive was to cripple Gaza’s economy and to inflict poverty, misery, and unemployment on its inhabitants.

It is usual to try to cripple the economy of a hostile power which fires rockets at you. The author however is well known for his opposition to American sanctions against Putin. I often see him trying to rape and behead policewomen stationed outside the American Embassy in London. Since those policewomen represent an occupying power, they have no right to self-defence but must patiently submit to his senile attempts to penetrate their various orifices. Well, when I say I have seen this, I mean I've seen it on Pornhub.  

In its non-military aspects, the blockade constituted a form of collective punishment that is clearly proscribed by international law.

The same international law which forbids American sanctions against Iran or Russia. 

Given the scale of the suffering inflicted by the blockade on the inhabitants of the strip, if Israel were a person it could be considered guilty of “depraved indifference”, a concept in American law (its equivalent under English common law is “depraved heart”) that refers to conduct that is so wanton, so callous, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the lives of others and so blameworthy as to warrant criminal liability.

The author is wrong. Depraved heart means a sociopathic type of reckless endangerment. To prove this you need to show that the IDF does not have a proper military plan. Yet, if that is the case, it can't also be accused of being an occupying power or committing war crimes. The mens rea is lacking. This silly man doesn't get that 'deprave heart' is a lesser charge. It would be second degree murder if a fatality occurred.  

The Israeli bombardment of Gaza since 7th October may undoubtedly be described as “depraved indifference” on account of

the Israelis not intending to kill anybody. They were just having a little fun is all. They like seeing bombs go 'boom'. They are too stupid to understand that bombs can kill people.  

the indescribable suffering it is inflicting on civilians. While the main enemy is Hamas, Israel keeps targeting civilian infrastructure, residential buildings, schools, mosques, hospitals, ambulances and UNRWA food depots.

Because they are used as cover for Hamas weapons factories, tunnels, etc.  

By the end of November, the death toll has risen to more than 15,000 dead and more than 30,000 injured—more than the total of the previous military offensives combined. An estimated 6,150 of the dead are children and 4,000 are women. Slaughter of civilians on such an industrial scale may well have taken Israel to the verge of committing genocide, “the crime of all crimes”.

Why stop there? Why not suggest it has taken Israel to the verge of sodomizing its own grandmother while slitting her throat?  

There is one other aspect of this campaign that was not present in previous ones:

It is the epitaph of the 'two state' solution.  

the danger of ethnic cleansing.

Israel will take land as payment for Jewish blood spilled by terrorists. But this has already been going on.  Currently ten percent of Israelis are 'settlers'. That number will double by the end of the decade. It is likely that there will be more European and American immigration as anti-semitism rises.  

In previous campaigns Israel brought death and destruction to the people of Gaza but kept them cooped up in the enclave, “generously” allowing them to stay in their homes. This time Israel ordered the residents of the northern part of Gaza, nearly half the total population, to move to the southern part of the enclave. Some of those who obeyed the order were subsequently killed in Israeli air strkes. At the time of writing more than 1.8m, out of a total of 2.3m, have been internally displaced. As the Israeli military offensive moved into southern Gaza, the refugees were ordered to move out of the area to which they had fled. This amounts to a forced transfer of civilians: a war crime.

No. It amounted to issuing warnings to civilians which obligatory under the rules of war. Forced transfer means people being marched off at bayonet point. How fucking stupid is Shalim?  

The upshot is that nowhere in Gaza is safe.

Whereas Israelis are perfectly safe from Hamas or Hizbollah's rockets- right?  

Stretching the laws of war beyond credulity, Israel argues that civilians who disobey its orders and stay put in their homes in the north become legitimate military targets.

No. It argues that there are legitimate military targets which they are legitimately targeting. True, they inform civilians about this to the best of their ability but is because they expect civilians to move away from a place they know will come under attack.  

In addition, Israel seems to be working on a plan to transfer people permanently from Gaza into northern Sinai. In a leaked document dated 13th October, the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence drafted a proposal for the transfer of the entire population of Gaza to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian government has expressed strong objection to the plan as well as its determination to keep the Rafah crossing firmly closed—apart from to allow some aid into Gaza during the ceasefire.

So, Egypt is doing the same thing as Israel! It seems Hamas is hated by fellow Hanafis across the border.  

But the combined pressures of the massive bombardment by the IDF and its medieval-style siege on Gaza may result in a human avalanche across the border.

Apparently, there are hefty bribes to be collected from those seeking to leave via Rafah. Egypt has a vested interest in keeping the border sealed. Moreover, though Sina's infrastructure has improved a lot, it can't absorb the better educated Gazans who can pay to get out. They will work hard in the Gulf or other places and send money home. The problem now is that many of those homes have been destroyed. But the misery of the Gazans is a business opportunity. Grab as many of those talented and hard working as you can while the going is good. They will generate tax revenue for you to piss against the wall.  

One thing is certain: any civilians who leave Gaza will not be allowed to return to their homes. More than half of the houses in Gaza have already been destroyed or damaged in indiscriminate Israeli bombing. So nearly half the population do not have homes to return to. No wonder that the bleak legacy of 1948 haunts the Palestinian community.

More Gazans have already been killed than died in 1948. True, the population was much smaller then.  

While the martyrdom of over two million innocent Palestinian civilians continues,

suffering. To be a martyr you actually have to die. 

despite the temporary ceasefire and the exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners, a bigger question looms: who will run what remains of the Gaza Strip after the guns fall silent? Netanyahu has declared that he wants the IDF to keep indefinite security control of the strip but no one in Israel wants to assume all the responsibilities of an occupying power again.

Get 'kapos'- i.e. guys who run smuggling and human trafficking syndicates- to do the wet-work. The thing isn't rocket science. 

Meanwhile, his own grip on power at home is weakening. He faces strong popular opposition for his failure to prevent the horrendous Hamas attack and, more generally, for making Israel the most dangerous place in the world for Jews to live.

Only because they had the sense to run the fuck away from places run by Muslims. 

He is also embroiled in a corruption trial on charges—all of which he denies—including fraud, breaching public trust and accepting bribes. Politically speaking, he is a dead man walking. His days in power are numbered and there is a chance that he will end up in prison.

He may be replaced by more hawkish figures.  

But he is still the prime minister, and his clearly stated aim is to eradicate Hamas and to prevent it from returning to power ever again. So, who will govern the Gaza Strip after the Israeli army leaves?

Will they leave? Why not keep corridors and use them to take a cut on 'humanitarian' aid? Also, get in your own proxies to do the wet-work.  

Early signs suggest that the Americans and the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, favour the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza.

But the EU may be moving to the Right while America may turn isolationist. Talk of 'human rights' and 'international law' already rings hollow.  

This is a totally preposterous proposition. The problem is not Hamas—which did not exist until 1987—but the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Moreover, if only Pharoah had killed Moses when he had the chance, there would be no Jewish question or 'kaffir question'.  

Moreover, the Hamas that committed the massacre of 7th October is far more extreme than the Hamas that won the 2006 elections and formed a national unity government.

No. The Brotherhood thought it could benefit from the ballot box and thus took a pragmatic line. But it is difficult for a Leninist party to change its spots.  

By blocking the path to peaceful political change, Israel and its western supporters are largely responsible for this regression to fundamentalist positions.

Moreover, the refusal of men to chop off their own dicks is causing RAPE! 

Hamas may not be to their liking, but it still commands broad popular support.

Because Gazans become deliriously happy when their houses are blown up.  

If an election were held today, Hamas would almost certainly beat its Fatah rival again.

Neither Hamas nor Fatah believe in holding elections.  Still, Hamas might win in the West Bank which, no doubt, is anxious to meet the same fate as Gaza

And what about the sclerotic Fatah-led Palestinian Authority? It is docile, weak, corrupt and incompetent, and can barely govern the West Bank.

In other words, it is too lazy and senile to do lots of killing.  

It receives funding from the EU and to a lesser extent from the US, essentially to serve as a subcontractor for Israeli security in the area. It has shown itself to be utterly incapable of resisting the expansion of Israeli settlements, the escalation of settler violence, the slow but steady takeover of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the flagrant encroachment by fanatical religious Zionists on the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem.

Whereas Hamas has shown itself incapable of preventing Israel from turning half of Gaza into rubble. 

Fatah also lacks legitimacy because no parliamentary elections have been held since January 2006.

Like Hamas, Fatah doesn't believe in elections. 

It has stalled on holding another parliamentary election precisely because it realises that Hamas would win.

Why didn't Hamas hold elections? Was it because it was afraid Trump would win? 

The idea that this discredited Palestinian Authority can be imposed on the proud and long-suffering people of Gaza on the back of Israeli tanks is completely detached from reality.

So is the notion that they can win this war.  

But it is mildly interesting, in as much as it exposes the moral and political bankruptcy of the people who espouse it.

They're just talking. Nobody believes the outcome won't be one of Israel grabbing land and using AI enhanced drones or robot dogs to control a broken and demoralized Palestinian population. Indians will be brought in to do the menial labour.  

It is not for Israel or its imperialist backers to tell the people of Gaza who should govern them.

Israel is backed by King Charles III, Emperor Macron, and Badshah Biden.  

If the events of the last few weeks have demonstrated anything, it is that the old narrative of Israel having a right and a duty to defend itself against a terrorist organisation, no matter the human, civilian cost, can no longer be sustained.

Why not? That is what is happening. What can't be sustained is a fairy story about a two state or three state solution.  

What is happening in Gaza today is the cruel manifestation of Israeli state terrorism.

Just as what is happening today in London is the cruel manifestation of the Imperialist terrorism of Rishi Sunak. Did you know that if try to rape and behead a policewoman, she has the 'right' to beat the fuck out of you? This violates International Law according to which the occupying power has no right to protect itself from rape and decapitation.  

Terrorism is the use of force against civilians for political ends.

Which is why the British Bobby is actually a terrorist. A policewoman beat the hell out of me just because I tried to grab her titties. This was for a clear political end because I had exited the pub to lead an invasion of Iyerland which is currently being illegally occupied by a half-Maratha leprechaun named Varadkar.  

The cap fits and Israel must wear it.

Otherwise Shlaim will cry and cry.  

The Israeli politicians and generals who orchestrate the criminal assaults on the people of Gaza are no better than riffraff.

Because they are not wearing a cap which Shlaim wants them to. Riffraff are like that only. Fuck you, riffraff! Go back to Riffraffistan! 

This ghastly war has also exposed the ruthless hypocrisy of the western leaders,

they clutch their pearls when Israel kills a paltry twenty or thirty thousand. Once the death toll crosses 1.3 million, they will be more appreciate.  

their blatant double standards, their indifference to Palestinian rights and their complicity in Israel’s war crimes.

Not to mention the illegal actions of their policewomen who beat the fuck out of me if I try to grab their titties. The occupying force should express gratitude for being groped.  

Israel is an aggressive settler-colonial state

like England. The Anglo-Saxons should just very kindly fuck off back where they come from.  

and increasingly a Jewish-supremacist state

Golda Meier was actually a Buddhist lady.  

intent on keeping the Palestinians in a permanent state of subordination.

I think they may now prefer just to get rid of them.  

As long as Israel has western support, it will continue to act unilaterally, in violation of international law, in breach of a raft of UN resolutions and in defiance of the most basic norms of civilised international behaviour.

No. It will continue to do so till it is militarily defeated. As the West declines, it will find new allies in the region and outside it.  

This is not a conflict between two equal sides but between an occupying power and a subjugated population.

In which case, the conclusion to this conflict is foregone.  

And there is absolutely no military solution to this conflict.

Yes there is. Armies can kill more effectively and on a much bigger scale than terrorists.  

Israel cannot have security without peace with its neighbours.

It does have peace with its neighbours. Its problem is with Iran backed proxies- Hamas, Houthis, Hezbollah. The question is whether a second 'war of the cities'- i.e. ballistic missiles fired at Iranian cities- forces Iran out of the region.  

A negotiated political compromise, as in Northern Ireland, is the only way forward.

but the Brits didn't give a fuck about Ulster. Enoch Powell was the last mainland politician who cared about it- but only after he was forced out of Birmingham and had to relocate there.  

That settlement required external intervention, as does this one. Here, however, the US cannot serve as the sole broker because its pronounced bias in favour of Israel would make it a dishonest one.

Nor can China because Hamas was only pretending to care about their peace plan. The problem here is that Iran, Turkey, Egypt, China, Russia etc. don't really care about Palestinians. Nobody does. Who shed a tear for the Tamil Tigers? Not even the DMK.  

Ever since 1967, it has arrogated to itself a monopoly over the Israeli-Palestinian peace process but failed to put pressure on Israel to compromise. What is needed now is a new international coalition led by the UN

which everybody considers utterly useless. 

which includes the US and EU but also Arab states and members of the global south.

Furthermore lesbian penguins and disabled aardvarks must have a decisive voice in the proceedings.  

The priorities of such a coalition would be humanitarian relief, reconstruction and a long-term political plan that includes an independent Palestinian state on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with a capital city in East Jerusalem.

This was the Olmert plan. It failed because Hamas started firing rockets.  

Such a plan is eminently practical.

Provided Israelis start wearing various caps which Shlaim chooses for them.  

All it would take to realise it is for Israel to shed its settler-colonial and Jewish-supremacist ambitions,

furthermore, all Israelis should convert to Islam, undergo gender reassignment surgery and wear a burqa provided of course they don caps which Shlaim assigns to them.  

for America to end its unconditional support for Israel,

not to mention its unconditional support for America 

for the EU to morph from a payer to an active player,

so that Israel can turn into post-Gaddafi Libya 

for the United Nations to overcome its self-imposed impotence,

by conquering the Globe and forming a World Government 

and a few similar trifles.

which only the riffraff oppose. Fuck you riffraff! Fuck you very much! Why don't you all just fuck off back to Planet Riffraff so that Shlaim can get everybody to wear caps of which he approves? 

Thursday 28 December 2023

Richard Whatmore's Satori

Britain's population was less than 8 million in 1780. France's population was 28 million. Moreover, thanks to the Sun King, it was more centralized. Quite naturally, the Brits feared for their future. They worried needlessly. Their society was more commercially advanced. Private capital, channelled through financial markets, supplied the sinews of war and enabled the subsidy system by which the Brits could gain foreign allies- like the doughty Prussians. However, it was French folly- first the Terror and then Napoleon's megalomania- which ensured the defeat of that country. Britain had panicked quite needlessly. It could proceed to reform its politics without fear of a Revolution from below. King Louis Phillipe was less fortunate.

Reviewing a book titled 'The End of Enlightenment: Empire, Commerce, Crisis' by Richard Whatmore, Stuart Jeffries writes in the Guardian-

Britain, thought Thomas Paine, needed to be destroyed.

His attacks on Christianity and on George Washington made him unpopular in America. When he died in 1809, only 6 people attended his funeral. Meanwhile Britain continued to rise.  

Its monarchy must be toppled, its empire broken up and the mercantile system that propped up this debt-ridden, monstrous pariah state abolished.

It should have first destroyed itself so as to enable Napoleon to conquer it easily. He'd have appointed one of his brothers its new King.  

Only then could a better version – call it Britain 2.0 – arise.

It would be a colony of France.  

But how? In the 1790s, the revolutionary thinker and author of the bestselling Rights of Man was a member of the National Convention in Paris and advised republicans to invade.

So, the silly man helped France down the path to defeat, occupation, vast reparation payments and a return of the Bourbons.  

Later, Paine presented a plan to president Thomas Jefferson to send gunboats to make Britain a republic.

No wonder the Guardian thinks well of him. Sadly, he failed miserably and died a pariah.  

Sadly for egalitarians, anti-imperialists, anti-monarchists

i.e. people who wanted Britain to become the vassal of some Continental tyrant 

and those who regard the rapacious East India Company

which laid the foundations for the modern democratic Indian state 

and the transatlantic slave trade as Britain’s leading contributions

The US and Brazil continued that noxious trade after the Brits outlawed it 

to the oxymoron that is western civilisation,

That oxymoron continues to attract the smartest immigrants from the rest of the world 

neither happened. Had either been successful,

we'd be speaking French while dining on a turnip and half a potato 

Britain’s history might have been very different and such recent exposés of our imperial disgrace as William Dalrymple’s The Anarchy

Dalrymple has lost his mind. He has turned into a jhollawallah. 

and David Olusoga’s Black and British

Plenty of West African origin people are very successful in Britain 

might not have made such harrowing reading.

Their books are full of howlers. Perhaps that is what makes them harrowing. Does being a historian make you stupid? Evidently.  

Paine’s nemesis,

was his own ego. He shouldn't have attacked George Washington. Spitting bile at Mad King George was one thing but going after America's greatest man was folly. 

the conservative thinker Edmund Burke, thought the Thetford-born firebrand was a traitor to his homeland,

He had settled in America. He did return to England but had to flee after he was sentenced for seditious libel. 

but, like every intellectual worth their salt in the late 18th century, Burke conceded that Britain was a basket case.

No. Burke, like his contemporaries, was aware that France was much more populous. Had it followed sensible policies it was bound to dominate the Continent.  

Contemporary intellectuals as varied as the feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft,

who was ignored in her own life-time 

the historians Catharine Macaulay

The vogue for her was brief. It turned out that chopping off the head of the King caused rivers of blood to flow. It was a terrible idea. Then she married a man half her age whose brother was a notorious 'sexologist'.  

and Edward Gibbon, and the Scottish conservative philosopher David Hume, as well as Paine and Burke, were queasy about what Britain had become under its increasingly mentally troubled king, George III, and his corrupt advisers.

The Brits lost the 13 colonies. The fear was that they would lose their incipient Empire in the East. Defeat at Sea by the French would imperil the home islands.  

In a class-ridden Britain run by plutocratic public schoolboys it is hard not to see the sick man of Europe in 1776 as similar to the 2023 version

Very true. Lord North was actually a Parsi from Bombay named Firdaus.  

To understand what had gone wrong, they drew on Adam Smith’s 1776 The Wealth of Nations.

Burke was a long time admirer of 'Moral Sentiments' and commended 'Wealth' for being a comprehensive treatment of a subject he himself had little understanding of. However, the English were ahead of Scotland in economics and finance. Thus it was Malthus's riposte to Condorcet (his essay on population) and Ricardo's work which together laid the foundation for classical economics. Britain's superior ability to get the market to finance the War effort showed that its economic organization was more efficient and dynamic than that of much more populous France.  Napoleon's dirigiste attempts to control the European economy drove potential allies into the arms of the Brits. 

There, the great Scottish economist so beloved of neoliberal bruisers from Thatcher onwards damned a corrupt nexus of bankers, politicians and merchants for working to maximise their own profit, rather than the good of society.

They were acting in restraint of trade. Deregulation was the way to go. As markets become more open, rents disappear and rent-seeking is curbed.  

Plus ça change.

If woke nutter make Labour unelectable, the Tories have a monopoly on power and thus have no incentive to curb rent extraction.  

Across the ages, Smith’s words resonate.

Till you actually read his book and realize he was ignorant.  

In a sclerotically class-ridden, increasingly inegalitarian Britain run by plutocratic public schoolboys it is hard not to see the sick man of Europe in 1776 as similar to the 2023 version. “We too live in a time when political structures we inhabit are fluid and perhaps on the cusp of great and potentially dangerous changes,” writes Richard Whatmore at the outset of this nuanced history of the manifold discontents of 18th-century Britain.

This is because everybody always lives in such times. Unless the current administration changes course there is a clear and present danger that the people will revert to cannibalism while Cats sodomize Dogs in the streets of Mayfair.  

True, the parallel isn’t perfect, since much of Smith’s concern was Britain’s imperial folly.

What folly? The 13 colonies didn't need an Imperial garrison. Canada did. The West Indies did. Imperialism is merely the supply of a service in return for tribute or some geopolitical advantage.  

Indeed, what makes Whatmore’s narrative particularly compelling is how Britain postured as a free state whose subjects enjoyed more rights and liberties than other European nations.

Which is why it received refugees from all over Europe.  

But as the author puts it, echoing the worries of the thinkers he elegantly profiles here, “this free state amounted to a war machine that used individual liberty as a rationale for the destruction of other states and the subjugation of their peoples”.

No it didn't. Britain's standing army was relatively modest in comparison to its continental rivals. At its peak, the British Army was a quarter the size of Napoleon's forces.  

For Smith’s close friend David Hume, near death in Edinburgh, Britain had fallen for new gods – mammon, Mars and that slippery deity, liberty.

He was a peculiar sort of Tory who hoped Britain would be defeated and shorn of its Empire so that the nouveau riche burghers of the City of London would be ruined and have to suck off hobos in order to get a bit of protein in their diet.  

The previous century, fanatical Puritans had prosecuted civil wars in the name of religion.

there were no fanatical Catholics- right? 

But for a few blissful years, Hume thought that bloodletting had ceased, replaced by an enlightened Britain with a moderate and pacific public culture. This was the notion of Enlightenment he cherished whereby religious fanaticism had been exorcised from public life.

Though he was too cowardly to come out as an atheist. Blasphemy was a criminal offence in Scotland till 2021.  

Enlightenment today means something rather different.

It means nothing at all. European enlightenment was the notion that darkies- including the highly civilized Chinese- should be fucked over, if it was safe to do so.  

It signifies humanity’s stirringly unstoppable march from the cave of unreason to the sun of wisdom,

and lots of slaves labouring under the lash in the Indies 

and is associated with reason-venerating philosophers such as Spinoza and Kant.

Plato and Aquinas were against reason- right?  

That Pollyanna view, though, has been challenged by later sceptical thinkers.


Foucault associated the Enlightenment with the rise of the surveillance state typified by Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon.

Governmentality means that the State- which seeks to shove spiky things up your butt while the Pope, dressed in a gimp suit, and the Sun King stand by laughing maniacally- is very meanly refusing to offer this delightful service to its citizens because of 'bio-politics' and 'neo-liberalism'. 

Nothing came of Bentham's panopticon. Surveillance doesn't matter. If the workers prefer to wank rather than do their jobs then, under 'piece-work', they don't get paid.  

John Gray blamed the Enlightenment for the evils of global capitalism.

He was wrong. Recent research has discovered that many men have dicks. Dicks cause RAPE! Environment was just hopping and skipping and fisting itself when suddenly Capitalism threw it to the ground and raped it using its DICK! That is why Globe is getting so hot under the collar.  

And in Dialectic of Enlightenment, Adorno and Horkheimer reckoned the Enlightenment’s fetish for reason and calculation set humanity on the road to Auschwitz.

Why bother with gas chambers? The Rwandans showed that genocide is done more cheaply with agricultural implements. Still, the Frankfurt skool was undoubtedly German- i.e. as stupid as shit.  

Whatmore thinks each of these conceptions is wrong.

He isn't German nor does he want the Pope to stick cacti up his bum while the Sun King stands by laughing maniacally.  

Enlightenment, for him and the thinkers he so engagingly profiles, had an objective, namely to overcome superstition that had soaked 17th-century Europe in blood.

They failed. The Napoleonic Wars killed 6 million. Napoleon was plenty rational.  

It ended with Britain’s project to subjugate much of the rest of the world for its own benefit,

the Brits colonized France after Waterloo- right?  

or with the revolutionary terror unleashed in Paris after 1792. Or both.

The Bourbons returned in 1815.  

Whatmore, history professor at St Andrews University, draws the contemporary resonance: “Once again we live in a world that has suffered an end of enlightenment as strategies formulated after 1945 to prevent civil and international violence,

that strategy was 'mutually assured destruction' based on ICBM's with H-bomb payloads.  

fanaticism and chaos from breaking out have gradually failed or been abandoned.”

The War on Terror killed 1.3 million people- mainly Muslim. That failed sure enough.  

The book’s leading lesson is that Britain, albeit today a rain-soaked rump of a post-imperial polity,

as it has been longer than I've been alive. 

is, as in the 1790s, in thrall to graft, greed, folly and privately educated narcissists, not to mention deference to royal nonentities.

Only because Corbyn was utterly shit.  

If Tom Paine had managed to get foreign gunships to invade,

the Guardian would be happy. Why are Britons not the slaves of some foreign despot? Don't we owe it to Mary Wollstonecraft to invite Hamas to take over the Government?  

we might not need a new Enlightenment. But we do.

Why not drill a hole in your skull to let in the light? Oh. I see. It is the job of the Government to drill holes in everybody's skulls in a manner which promotes Diversity, Inclusivity, Equity and Environmental Sustainability within a framework of empathetic promotion of State funded instruction in Sodomy for all Senior Citizens of Colour.  

Tuesday 26 December 2023

Sen on Hare's universal prescriptivism.



THIS note claims that contrary to his denial,' Mr Hare's 'adherence' to 'Hume's Law' conflicts with his adherence to 'universal prescriptivism'.

You can say 'no ought gives rise to an is' while also saying 'there is a cat which is a dog'. That's what Hare did. He said ' whoever makes a moral judgment is committed to the same judgment in any situation where the same relevant facts pertain.' He didn't use the word ought. He said is. He was wrong. A cat isn't a dog and a moral judgment is not a 'universal prescription'. 

Or, to put it differently if value judgments are indeed universalisable, then there is at least one value judgment that follows from exclusively factual premises.

All value judgments could be said to follow from an exclusively factual premise- viz. that God exists and is the only efficient cause and implants value judgments in agents of various sorts. But this is like the factual claim that cats are actually dogs who cunningly disguise themselves for some fell purpose. This is a factual claim but a deeply silly one which we think is wrong.  

To keep the argument simple, we shall take a case of a nonmoral value judgment discussed by Hare, where the pattern of universalisability is obvious. Consider the following two statements. A purely descriptive one, to be called C: 'This motor-car is exactly like the next motor-car'.

 If a person thinks 'x is like y' we say this is a subjective reaction on her part. It is not factual. I may say 'cats are like dogs. As far as I am concerned a cat can do for me anything that a dog can do.' You may say 'cats are not like dogs at all. You can't play fetch with a cat in the same way you can play fetch with a dog.' 

The second, to be called V, is a value judgment: 'The next car is as good a motor-car as this one'.

What a person thinks is good is subjective. I may say that broken down jalopy is just as good to me as a brand new Rolls Royce because I'm not materialistic and don't covet what is more expensive or that which has superior functionality'.  

Examine now the following statement of Hare: ' I cannot say "This is a good motor-car, but the one next to it, though exactly like it in all other respects is not good".' 

This may be a factual claim- Hare is simply incapable of making this statement. It may be a value judgment- Hare thinks no one ought to make this statement.  

Does this violate Hume's Law?

In the latter case, yes.  

Not directly, for what is being claimed here is that if I do make a value judgment, which we may call V* (that this is a good motor-car), and accept a factual statement, which we may call C (that the next one is exactly like it in all descriptive features),

this is not a factual statement. Like is like good.  If 'descriptive features' are identical, then by identity of indiscernibles, there is identity. However, value judgments don't have to obey Liebniz's law. 

then I cannot make another value judgment, V** (that the next motor-car is not good).

You are welcome to make a factual statement 'people always obey Liebniz's law when making imperative statements'- which others can show is false.  

We can look at the argument slightly differently. If the first car is good and the next car cannot be called 'not good', what is being shown here is that I cannot deny that the next car is as good a motor-car as this one, i.e. I cannot deny V, as defined above.

And yet this is easy enough to do. I'm welcome to say I like or think good only such and such car even though it is indiscernibly identical to other cars rolling off the assembly line. You may say people ought not to say such things because it offends your ideas about how imperative logic should work.  

So it is being claimed that I cannot say, 'V*, C, and not V'. Would Hare permit us to drop out V* from this, and say 'C and not V'? Can we say, for example: 'This is a medium quality car. The one next to it, though exactly like this one in all other respects is not as good as this one'? Clearly, according to Hare we cannot say this either, because good being a 'supervenient epithet', two objects cannot differ only in 'goodness' being exactly alike (L.M., pp. 80-81, 130-1). So V* is really inconsequential in this context. What, according to Hare, we cannot say is simply: 'C and not V'.

If it is 'cannot' then it is a wrong factual statement. If it is 'ought not' then it is a value judgment. Either way, there is no conflict with Hume's law.  

In truth-functional logic,

either existence is a requirement for truth- in which case there is objective verification or falsifiability for valid propositions- or else truth is imperative and unverifiable. In this case we have a deontic logic which is wholly subjective. 

to deny 'C and not V' is to assert 'C implies V'.

Only if C and V are well-formed propositions. But, if they are, then there can be no violation of Hume's law.  

But this inference cannot be immediately applied to the logic of value statements,

any inference at all can be applied to what is wholly subjective. You are welcome to say 'If I think x is good I should infer x is bad'. This is because values are 'intensional'. They don't have a well defined 'extension' and thus don't obey Liebniz's law of identity.

as it might be Hare's intention to claim that we cannot say 'C and not V' without committing us to saying 'if C then V'. He might mean to suggest that if we say C, we cannot say 'not V', but we need not affirm V either. However, it is easily confirmed that this is not what Hare is suggesting; he is saying that we are committed to affirming V in such a situation. 'And if I call a thing a good X, I am committed to calling any X like it good.' (F.R., p. 15.)

Presumably commitment is about what one 'ought' to do. But this does not arise from anything factual. It arises from the notion that one ought to think in a manner consistent with a particular logic.  


This settles one problem but once again this looks like an argument with a value premise (this is a good X) and a factual premise (another X is exactly like it) with a value conclusion (the other X is also a good X). But it is easy to show (just as in the last para- graph) that what is being asserted is 'if C then V' (substituting X for motor-cars), i.e. if I agree that A is like B as an X,

 I am making a value judgment.  Cats are like dogs as pets because I like to play with cats in the same way I do with dogs. But, I understand that you value playing fetch with your dog and would reject a cat as a substitute. This is a matter of taste. 

then I am committed to saying that A is as good an X as B.

only if I make the value judgment that my imperative logic must have Liebnizian rather than dialectical rules.  

We arrive, therefore, at the position that according to Hare if we do say C, not only can we not say 'not V', but we are committed to saying V.

only in the manner I've outlined. Sen is simply wrong.

But this means that there is a value judgment that can be derived from an exclusively factual premise.

No there isn't. Two motor cars aren't identical for deontic logic. One is owned by me which is why I pay to wash and service it. The other is owned by you. I don't give a shit what happens to it.  

This is not transparent because superficially the argument has the form: 'if V * and C, then V * *', when V * stands for the value judgment 'A is a good X', C for the fact that A and B are exactly alike,

if Sen thinks this is a fact then he would wash and service every car of the same model and year as his own 

and V** another value judgment 'B is a good X'. To see how this violates Hume's Law, we can go in two steps. First we convert the argument into affirming: 'if C, then V* implies V**', i.e. 'if A and B are descriptively alike, then A being good implies B being good'. This itself is a violation of Hume's Law,

No. It is a violation of the rules of logic. Only if A and B are indiscernibly identical does the proposition follow. If you sleep with your wife's identical twin sister you are not considered to have done a good thing. 

but since the conclusion is in the hypothetical form, this might look like a trivial violation of it. (In fact, it is not a trivial violation; contrast the much-discussed trivial case: 'if x then y' implies 'if y ought to be avoided than x ought to be avoided'.

This is silly. Farting at the dinner table should be avoided. Yet eating food implies I will toot a lot. This does not mean I should avoid eating. It is better that I toot then that I starve. True, I could go fart in the toilet but fuck that- right?  

) We can, however, replace 'good' by 'medium quality', 'poor', 'high class', or any other value expression; and

still have only a value expression

consistent with 'universalisability' of all these value judgments, Hare will confirm the statement in each case. So that the conclusion is really more general than 'A being good implies B being good'. It is of the form 'A is as good as B', a relative evaluation of the two irrespective of the absolute value of A's goodness. Thus the argument is indeed one, as claimed earlier, represented by 'if C then V'.

But C is a value judgment and V is a value judgment so there is no violation of Hume's law. Sen's mistake is to think 'mediocre' isn't just as much a value judgment as 'good'. 

The source of this problem is this. Hare defines 'good' and 'better' in terms of 'ought' (L.M., section 12.3), and 'ought' in terms of an implied imperative (L.M., pp. 168-9); this fits in with 'prescriptivism'. But because of 'universalism', the notion of 'goodness' as studied by Hare cannot be independent of descriptive features.

It is independent of OBJECTIVE descriptive features. If they are subjective then there are no facts, there are merely opinions or matters of personal taste. Paranoid maniacs can find descriptive features in their hallucinations. But those descriptive features are not factual. They may however relate to the values or spiritual or other such beliefs of the person suffering from them. 

Hare states this quite clearly himself, but points out that there is no unique relation between descriptive features and their 'goodness', and criticises the naturalists for tying value judgments 'analytically to a certain content' .

Nothing wrong in that. It is obvious that some people may have values which others consider 'unnatural'. I see two men kissing. I think this is good because it shows that homosexuals are finding love and companionship. You think it is unnatural or even diabolical.  

But thanks to universalism he has to accept that if two objects have the same descriptive features, they cannot differ in goodness;

only for someone whose subjectivity is constituted in a particular way 

and even this modest claim violates Hume's Law.

No it doesn't. It is merely a claim about particular subjectivities. I may not believe angels exist but I may think that if you think St. Michael is just as good as St. Peter, then you should also consider votaries of the former to be as pious as votaries of the latter. But you would be right to point out that my views in this respect are arbitrary and lack any factual or logical basis because Liebniz's law can't apply to the relevant intensions. 

Hare seems to overlook this because he poses the problem in the model of 'if V* and C, then V* *', as discussed earlier. But thanks to universalisability of all value judgments, as shown above, this amounts to claiming 'if C, then V', when C is a factual statement and V a nontrivial value judgment.

C isn't factual. 'Like' and 'Good' are imperative not alethic.  Of course, one can have the subjective view that subjective preferences should be transitive or 'universalizable' or pleasing to God or whatever. 

Hare devotes a lot of time

time utterly wasted 

to distinguishing his position from that of the naturalists. In this context, he points out that 'for a naturalist the inference from a non-moral description of something to a moral conclusion about it is an inference whose validity is due solely to the meaning of the words in it'. (F.R., p. 21.)

but the meaning of words is whatever the hearer of those words decides. The thing is subjective or arbitrary. 

Accepting this description of a naturalist (and bearing in mind that the point at issue here is not the distinction between moral and other kinds of judgments), we can define a naturalist as one who claims that the inference from a factual statement to a value judgment is 'due solely to the meaning of the words in it'.

Only because we can also define a naturalist as one who shoves his own head up his own arse when nobody is looking.  

We can distinguish between two kinds of naturalists: 'existential naturalists', those who claim that at least one value inference can be made like this, and 'universal naturalists', viz. those who claim that all value inferences have this property. What is being claimed here is that Hare's position is an existential naturalist one.

as opposed to an existential naturalist one with its head up its arse 

The violation of Hume's Law follows from 'the way in which the word "good" functions' (L.M., p. 130).

to people who are violating the laws regulating the degree to which the spinal cord can bend by shoving their heads up their arse. In other words, no fucking law is being broken. This is just loose talk is all.  

The point can be put a little more precisely using elementary concepts of set theory.

No it can't. A set has to be well defined- i.e. there can be no ambiguity as to whether or not an object belongs to it. Sen & Co continually commits the 'intensional fallacy' and treats things which are not sets as if they are sets.

Consider the three following sets, S. T, and U. Each object to be compared is given a different number to identify, and the set of these numbers, each standing for one object, is S.

This is true only if there is a set of 'objects to be compared'.  

Each object has certain descriptive features.

'certain descriptive features' is vague. There is ambiguity as to what qualifies. Moreover, 'descriptive' is epistemic. It changes as the knowledge base changes. Thus there is no

set of all possible combinations of descriptive features, we call T. Finally, 'goodness' is represented by a set of numbers U,

this can only be done arbitrarily. Even so, the thing is epistemic or otherwise suffers from the intensional fallacy. This is not a set. 

such that a higher number represents 'better'. (These numbers need not have cardinal properties.)

So- there is a ranking or partial order- or would be, if there was a set or class or unique pre-order. But, in that case the Szpilrajn extension theorem applies and so cardinality comes in anyway.  

In terms of 'ought' statements, this corresponds to saying that if one has to choose between two objects with two different 'goodness numbers',

one is living in 'Imaginationland' and also has one's head up one's fucking arse. I can say 'if Sen has to choose whether to breathe in or breathe out he has to choose between devouring the turds of a Dalmatian and an Alsatian. This a wholly arbitrary statement. I can give some cockamamie reason for it- e.g. appealing to Yoneda lemma- but that doesn't change that it is merely ipse dixit bullshit

and one cannot have both, then one ought to choose the object with the higher number.

just as, if Sen chooses to breathe in, he ought to choose to devour Dalmatian turds not Alsatian turds.  

The universal naturalist will claim that by virtue of the meaning of the words, there is a unique 'transformation' of T into U.

While the Socioproctologist will stick to his claim re. these nutters eating only dog turds.  

If someone does not agree that one collection a of descriptive features (i.e. one element in T) must be related to one particular value P of goodness (i.e. one element in U) given by this unique transformation, then he is revealing a cognitive defect.

These guys are as stupid as shit. They don't even realize that they are eating nothing but dog turds.  

Hare does not claim this and does not, therefore, advocate universal naturalism. But his 'universal prescriptivism' does assert that while each of us can entertain a different transformation from T to U, the relation between the set T and the set U must be, for each of us, one of transformation (in the strict sense) from T to U.

It can't be any such thing because neither T nor U are sets. Both represent 'intensions' of an epistemic kind. The extension is unstable and ambiguous.  

That is for each element in T there is (for each of us) one and only one element in U (though for each element in U there might be more than one element in T). This means that if we take two objects, i.e. two numbers from the set S, but if they correspond to the same element in T, i.e. have the same descriptive features, then they must correspond to the same element in U, i.e. be 'equally good', or one 'as good as' the other.

This is why I can claim that Amartya Sen eats only dog shit. I arbitrarily assign the same number in some set of my own invention to dog turds as any given item in his diet.  

To illustrate, in the old example, the first car and the one next to it represented two different elements in the set S, but having the same features, corresponded to the same element in T, and thus, thanks to universalism, had the same goodness number, or were equally good.

They may have had the same price or resale value. That is an objective and factual matter. However, different people would consider their own car- or that owned by the priest or Doctor- to have more goodness than that which is being used by gangsters to do drive-by shootings. We may say 'use drone strikes to destroy the bad cars.'  

Thus, while universal naturalism requires that there be a unique transformation of T into U, Hare's position requires only that each relation between T and U must be one of a transformation of T into U, though not necessarily a unique one shared by everybody.

Because the thing is subjective and imperative, not objective or alethic. 

But this violates Hume's Law, because two elements in S (two motor-cars), because they correspond to the same element in T (have the same descriptive features),

They do so subjectively for some possible person. There is no violation. One can make value judgments about things which exist just as much as one can do so about things which don't exist- e.g. unicorns and vampires.  

must be judged to correspond to the same element in U (be regarded as good as each other).

by some person assumed to behave in a particular way. I assume that Sen eats only dog turds. I then stipulate that any item in his diet is less preferred by him than a steaming piece of puppy poo. I infer that he quietly slips away from High Table and quickly devours dog poo. His fellow diners don't notice. But Socioproctological Induction uncovers Sen's dirty little secret.  

And it is in this sense that Hare's position is an existential naturalist one.

It isn't. It is some silly attempt to be a bit Kantian while also sucking up to the Logical Positivists.  

We should now briefly refer to the background question whether two separate objects (or situations) can be exactly alike.

Indiscernible identity is sufficient for Leibniz's law to function.  

For a variety of reasons this problem is not a fundamental one for our purpose. Firstly, for Hare's universalisability, they need not actually be exactly alike;

which is why it is stupid shite. It amounts to saying, if you wipe your own bum you ought to wipe everybody's bum. It ignores 'uncorrelated asymmetries'. Still, I suppose, Sen was finding that his wife was alike enough to the wife of his best friend- which is why he'd run off with her.  

if they are thought to be so, that is sufficient. Secondly, Hare also considers cases where two objects differ in some respects that are irrelevant to the choice (F.R., pp. 140-41). Provided they are exactly alike in other respects, universalisability is applied. The notion of relevance brings in a possible ambiguity, in case there is disagreement about what is relevant.

Ambiguity means there are no well-defined sets. 

But this does not make Hume's Law any more valid.

Yes it is does. Anybody can arbitrarily assert that the Law of Gravity is not valid. You levitate when nobody is looking. But there is no proof of this assertion. Where is the counter-example? That's the problem here as well. 

Note the following argument to which Hare is committed : 'A and B have the same descriptive features except in respect R' implies 'If respect R is irrelevant to the choice, then A and B are equally good'.

This is a 'sequent calculus' of an imperative type. Its partial tautologies don't hold if tautologies themselves don't hold because of intensionality. 'Relevance' depends on the knowledge base. It changes all the time. All that we have here is a provisional or contingent decision which may have been good enough for a particular purpose- till it was discovered not to be. 

The conclusion is a conditional value judgment depending on another value judgment implied in the notion of relevance, but the condition is such a weak one that it does not make the conclusion trivial in any sense.

It means that the 'conclusion' is just an educated guess, nothing more.  

(It is like concluding in the motor-car argument: if the relative situation of this car and the next one on the shop floor is irrelevant to their relative goodness, and they are exactly alike otherwise, then they are equally good.)

This is a best guess. Still, we know one might turn out to be a 'lemon' which is why there is a market for extended warranties etc.  

The force of this conditional judgment is hardly less than that of V in our exact-likeness case.

The thing is just an educated guess.  

Lastly, we need not really spend sleepless nights on whether A and B can be relevantly alike. If they cannot, then Hare's principle of universalisability is empty of content.

No. It's just a simple ethical idea about how it's nice to be nice. If you like living happily you should understand other beings too want to live happily.  

If they can, then more than one element in S can correspond to the same element in T, and the problem discussed here arises.

What problem? Sen's ignorant assertion that 'like' is objective and 'good' isn't? The fact is, only if you have a structural causal model in which there is perfect substitutability or else 'identity of indiscernibles' (e.g your physical theory can't distinguish individual elementary particles) can you have Liebnizian identity and thus analytic or tautological statements. Otherwise, there's always a chance that the law of identity is violated. 

A more formal statement of the proposition being proved here is: Either Hare's principle of universalisability is empty of content,

it isn't. It's just saying 'its nice to be nice' or 'do unto others'. 

or it conflicts with Hume's Law.

It doesn't. There can be 'mixed' imperative and alethic propositions that are informative. They just aren't part of either an alethic or an imperative sequent calculus. 

The plain fact is, what we thing good or good enough or relevant depends on our preferences or values or interests.  

I should emphasise that I am not arguing here against Hare's 'universal prescriptivism' which is certainly among the most fruitful approaches to ethical discussions.

This guy would go nuts if he read the Sermon on the Mount.  

I am only objecting to combining this approach with a claim of strict adherence to Hume's celebrated 'law'. It does not worry me unduly to think that Hare's universal prescriptivism implies an existential naturalist' position,

it may imply anything it likes to a fucking cretin 

but it worries me to think that this implication is denied.

what should have kept Sen up at night back then was that his folk were at high risk of famine and genocide.  Instead he was writing ignorant nonsense and seducing his best friend's wife. No wonder he is considered the Mother Theresa of Economics.