Sunday, 1 May 2016

Is Sanjeev Sanyal stupider than Amartya Sen?

Indian Economists, more particularly Bengalis, have long competed with each other by asserting the most foolish thing possible about Hinduism. Amartya Sen, being very old, has a head start but it seems he might soon have to look to his laurels.

Sanjeev Sanyal is a bright young Economist- not utterly shite to my limited knowledge- and he thinks Hinduism is a 'complex adaptive system'- which is why, no doubt, it is flourishing in Bangladesh and Pakistan and Afghanistan despite being persecuted.

Sanyal has a short essay in Swarajya magazine which I will now deconstruct to support his claim to be considered stupider than Amartya Sen.

This is his first sentence- my remarks are in bold italics.

Sanatan Dharma or Hinduism has long suffered from a very basic problem – the difficulty of defining it. 
Nobody and nothing has ever suffered from the problem of being difficult to define.  Contested definitions giving rise to differential entitlements can create conflict and suffering. However, neither Sanathan Dharma nor Hinduism, have essentially contested definitions. They are inclusivist by design, as Paul Hacker was wont to complain till I shat upon him and he ran away from Bonn. 
One can describe a particular sect, or philosophy, but it is not easy to explain the whole. 
Not easy for you, Sanyal- because you are a moron. All Dharmic sects or darshanas have a low Kolmogorov complexity canonical description. However, some of the sects defined by the traditional taxonomy- e.g. the living Sankhya tradition- have a widely divergent orthodoxy from that claimed for them on the basis of that taxonomy. This is funny- an example of 'rasabhasa'- Pundits working themselves up over the imaginary heresy of the rival sect- and has been an enduring source of comedy for all Hindus.
Thus, it is not uncommon for people to ultimately fall back on saying that it is a “way of life”. 
As opposed to a 'complex adaptive system' which is just as meaningless.
Unfortunately, such a definition is neither a meaningful description nor of analytical value. If anything, it causes a great deal of confusion only to morons like you by suggesting that Hindu religion is identical to Indic culture – the two are obviously linked but not exactly the same. 
There is no link between them at all. A lot of Muslims and Christians and Bahais and so on have 'Indic culture'. They are not Hindus. A lot of Hindus now have a wholly American or European culture. Their Religious practices alone incorporate aspects of 'Indic culture' but even in this sphere the logic of substitution has salience and the whole thing is gestural simply. For example, my fat nephew didn't don the traditional wedding finery of the Smartha Iyer (basically just a bath towel round your mid-riff) for his wedding because no one wants to see his man-boobs. He dressed instead like a Punjabi.
The purpose of this article is to investigate the systemic logic of Sanatan Dharma as a whole and the process by with it evolves. 
Sanatan Dharma is an Episteme with its own Logic and Hermeneutics. You are too stupid and ignorant to talk about that Episteme so you are now going to pretend that you know the Universal logic of all complex systems and that you will be able to say something meaningful on the basis of this particularly stupid species of reductionism.
You will fail. If you really knew the 'systemic logic' of Epistemes, they you would be able to predict which Research Programs in Maths and Physics and so on will succeed and which will fail.
It is not concerned here with the philosophical content or daily practice of any of the constituent sects, traditions and philosophies.
No, of course not- to write a wholly worthless article you have to exclude anything empirical.

Most world religions, particularly those of Abrahamic origin, are based on a clearly defined set of beliefs – a single god, a holy book, a prophet and so on. 
Nonsense. The Credo of a Religion must be either 'essentially contested' or else it is not Religious at all.  No scalable Religion started with a well defined Credo. In the case of Christianity and Islam, it is notable that internecine war between presbyters and proselytisers led the Secular Power to, again and again, and always in vain, intervene to achieve uniformity  regarding 'distinctions without a difference'. Yet, such uniformity killed the inner life of such Religion- it turned into an empty Imperial cultus- and thus 'essential contestation' came to be recognised by theologians and seers as the Faith's only elixir.
Jesuit sponsored Catholicism might appear a counter-example.  Here is a World Religion sponsored by the first States with truly global maritime footprints- with dedicated Missionaries and an incentive compatible proselytising strategy. Yet, despite the extraordinary achievements of the Order, the very word 'Jesuitical' came to mean the opposite of what pertains to Religion qua Religion. Indeed, if the Jesuits today deserve high praise, even from a narrowly Christological point of view, it is because their Order now displays such extraordinary diversity and doxastic humility.
These are articles of faith or axioms from which each of these religions is derived.

OMG! Has Sanyal really discovered a consistent and complete system for doxastic logic! Wow! This man should get not just the Nobel Prize but also the fucking Fields Medal! He just proved Godel and Turing and Tarski completely wrong! Why is he wasting his time writing about Hinduism in the Swarajya Ezine! How fucking stupid is he?
This why the terms religion, belief and faith can be used interchangeably in these cases (i.e. Abrahamic religions). 
Wow! So Luther's rejection of synderesis was silly. The entire Lutheran theology is false. Sanyal just keeps making amazing discoveries! Will the Pope make him a Cardinal?

In contrast, it is perfectly acceptable in Hinduism to be a polytheist, monotheist, monist, pantheist, agnostic, atheist, animist or any combination thereof. 

Urm...that's because Hinduism has been defined in an inclusivist manner. The same thing could be said for Christianity- which includes Unitarians, Doecists, Communists etc. 
In Islam, Sarmad is a Muslim Sufi Saint though he said 'La Illah', as is Mansur al Hallaj who said 'Ana'l Haq'. There is no real difference between a Muslim like Akeel Bilgrami or a Hindu like Amartya Sen. They affirm that they belong to a particular religion though they deny believing in God.
Thus Hinduism is a religion but not a faith, although constituent sects or philosophies can be termed faiths or beliefs. Instead, it should be thought of as an organic, evolving ecosystem of interrelated and interdependent elements that are constantly interacting with each other (and with the outside world).
Nonsense. Anything at all that arises in Human life can be described as an organic evolving ecosystem- if only by morons- because that's what morons do.
There are many systems that fit the above description – financial markets, economies, cities, the English language, ecological systems and so on. These are all examples of “complex adaptive systems”. Note the contrast between the organic and evolving dynamics of such systems and the static laws of Newtonian mechanics. In turn, this has important implications for how we understand Hinduism and manage it.
Urm... but complex systems are still supervenient on something like Newtonian mechanics. Hinduism is not different from Christianity or Islam. It will grow or decline for the same essentially 'Newtonian' reasons and History illustrates this amply.
Nessim Taleb's notion of 'anti-fragility' is stupid. Languages, Markets, ecologies etc do crash for 'Newtonian' reasons. 
Suppose Sanyal were not talking nonsense and Hinduism really was different from Christianity or Islam. Then, Darwin's theory of Evolution would have caused the latter two religions to crash, while Hinduism burgeoned. Nothing of the sort occurred. Islam, like Hinduism and Buddhism, simply claimed to have had the concept already by some more or less specious special pleading. Christianity, too, developed a Tielharidan 'noosphere' as foolish as Aurobindo's nonsense.

Sanyal goes on to make various other howlers too numerous to be listed here.

He says that Hinduism is more than the sum of its parts. D'uh. 
Thus, English language cannot be defined through even the most detailed description of its grammar. Similarly, the most detailed description of the Taj Mahal would not define the city of Agra. Yet, speakers of English -and the citizens of Agra have little difficultly identifying and using the language and city respectively.
Rubbish. The most detailed description of its grammar would include the parsing of every possible grammatical sentence in it. That's what an 'i-language' is. Why is this idiot pretending otherwise?
What's this idiocy about the Taj Mahal. How on earth would a detailed description of the Taj Mahal define the city of Agra? This fucker is writing in his sleep. He doesn't even bother to read his own shite.
Essentially, he starts by saying that Hinduism suffers because it is difficult to define. Now he is saying no fucking suffering actually obtains. He has just admitted that he is writing worthless shite.

Sanyal now goes on to talk nonsense about ergodicity and hysteresis-

History Dependent but not Reversible: One of the common characteristics of complex adaptive systems is that they are path dependent i.e. they carry the imprint of their historical evolution. Rubbish. There can be mimetic effects such that there is no path-dependence at all. The Japanese Navy in 1905 had zero hysteresis w.r.t its condition in 1855. Thus, most cities, biological ecosystems and living languages will show the layer-by-layer accumulation of their history. 
Nonsense. Invasion and extinction effects wipe out 'layer-by-layer' accumulation. There may be isolated islands or 'Zomias' where something of this sort obtains. But only briefly. An invasion event will soon wipe out all those layers. Readers will no doubt recognize how this applies to Hinduism. There is no 'layer-by-layer' accumulation in Smartha Hinduism. Even Shrauta Hindus don't display this, though- curiously- they were sometimes able to recover more ancient rituals than their parent population- e.g. Nambudris of Kerala.
Notice how this is distinct from Newtonian mechanics. Two identical footballs, in identical conditions, will behave in exactly the same way if exactly the same force is applied to them. There is no historical memory in the system, and it does not matter what was done with the two balls before we subjected them to this experiment. Oh idiotic Sanyal, don't you realize that every Hindu ritual is predicated on having exactly the same effect as it did in the past? When you get married or have upanayanam or perform any other ceremony, this ergodicity is what is believed to obtain. It is not the case that there is any hysteresis in the system. The fact that your grand-parents got married when a Christian monarch ruled India did not change the efficacy of the ritual- even if the fucking House of Lords refused to recognize the legitimacy, as in the Lord Sinha case, of the tie.. Their marriage had the same eusebeiac valency as that performed in the time of the Guptas or Mauryas or Vedic Rishis.

Complex adaptive systems, however, have an additional property – irreversibility. This means that the system will not reverse to its origin even if all historical events were reversed. Nonsense. Holland was occupied by the Nazis. It's political and socio-economic regime changed. However this change was entirely reversed once the Nazis were defeated and thrown out. No doubt, there were some irreversible entropic physical changes, but no imperative changes proved irreversible. Hinduism is an imperative, not a physical, system. It can reset because it is not physically constrained.
Thus, reversing history will not take English back to Old Saxon but to some other language. What is this 'reversing History' Sanyal is wittering on about? It is perfectly feasible to reverse demographics and technology and the official language and so on such that some Saxon type dialect is spoken. Nobody would want to do this but it is feasible. 
In the case of Paninian Sanskrit, we could have high confidence that what was spoken was the same as the literate language of the Gupta age.
Reversing the events of human evolutionary history will not take us back to our ape-like ancestors but to a new species. Nonsense. Reversing evolutionary history means changing the fitness landscape such that only a past state of the system is evolutionarily stable for a particular genotype. Either the program crashes- the genotype disappears- or, assuming unbounded resources, that is exactly what happens. Relaxing the constraint on the genotype means it becomes much more probable to reach, by convergent evolution, some 'ape-like' ancestor. 
Similarly, reversing urban history will not take a city back to the original village settlement. More likely one will get a deserted city like Detroit or a museum city like Venice. Again notice the difference with Newtonian mechanics where a perfect reversal of factors will take the system back exactly to its origin. Rubbish. If the arrow of Time was reversed that's exactly what would happen. Supervenient processes have no salience.
An implication of these characteristics is that Hinduism carries its history within it but cannot return to a pure origin or “Golden Age”. It is necessarily about constantly evolving and moving forward even as it draws inspiration and ideas from its past. The holy books, traditions, customs and tenets of Hinduism should not be seen as a path to an ideal “Kingdom of God” or “Caliphate” to which everyone must revert. Sanyal believes that there is some nutter somewhere who wants to put India in a Time Machine. He is the only nutter who holds this belief.  Rather they are the accumulation of knowledge and experience. Critics may argue that idea of “Ram Rajya” contradicts this point but this is a misunderstanding. Hindus draw inspiration from the idea of Ram Rajya as a time of prosperity and rule-of-law, but it is not vision for a return to the Iron Age. So, Sanyal admits that no one wants to return to the Iron Age. Why then is he making a bogus point about irreversibility? Ram Rajya has been defined by people like Sant Tulsidas as 
                                               Danda jatinha kara bheda jahan nartaka nrtya samaaja
Jeetahu manahi sunia asa Raamacandra ken raaja!
(Much prattles the Machiavellian parrot of Stick & Carrot, Divide and Rule
But Love’s plural dance of Ego-conquest was Ramrajya’s only tool!)
In other words, a compassionate, ethical Ruler can act as an Aumann signaler to achieve Myserson feasibility without the usual stipulations in the theory of repeated games or Mechanism Design. We might say, that the conduct of the maryada purusha has a mimetic effect such that games turn into relationships of the sort some Japanese General Equilibrium theorists attribute to the Sage Ninomiya.
No Equilibrium State: Yet another characteristic of complex adaptive systems is that they do not have an equilibrium or steady state in the long run. No. They go extinct. Again, note the contrast with Newton’s laws. Thus, the English language will keep adding words and usages with no tendency to stop. It will also keep dropping words. If the English speaking nations are conquered or lose economic salience, the language may go extinct. Similarly, successful cities will keep changing and/or expanding. Only if they get the mechanism design right.However, a corollary is that if the system begins to contract, because of incentive incompatibility, it can keep contracting with no tendency to self-equilibrate. Thus, a fucking horribly managed city like Detroit kept declining even though some stupid moron's theory would suggest that falling real estate prices would attract back people. Financial markets too behave in this way if they are incentive incompatible or there is a missing Credit market necessitating dynamic turbulence as a driver for liquidity– they will keep rising past what people think is a “fair value” and then fall back well below – hardly spending any time at the so-called equilibrium. Sanyal is assuming that Knightian Uncertainty is fixed and doesn't fluctuate. Why? We honestly know less today then twenty years ago about what type of energy is going to be cheapest in 2030. Our Information Set features more Uncertainty. The return on soi disant riskless assets probably really is negative because of this.
This behavior has important implications for how to manage complex adaptive systems. No it doesn't. Management means actually having some power. Talking worthless shite isn't management of anything. First, it means that managers should not attempt to hold the system at some preconceived steady state. Really? So if I manage a car factory, I shouldn't attempt to hold the car manufacturing system to a preconceived steady state such that my cars are safe to drive? Rather they need to accommodate the fact that the system is characterized by “increasing returns to scale” which can push the system into spiraling expansions or contractions. This does not mean that one should not attempt to manage such ecosystems – far from it, financial markets, cities and even ecological systems can benefit from active management. However, the management should allow for constant movement. A city mayor or a financial market regulator who insists on holding the system to a static equilibrium will either fail or effectively suffocate the system. A Mayor or Financial Regulator who insists on holding the system to an imperative- i.e. deontological- equilibrium which is Muth Rational and incentive compatible is doing his fucking job. If he doesn't do it, sack the cunt.
Although Hinduism does not have a centralized leadership- like Christianity, Islam etc-  the above characteristics have many implications for how Hindus think about their religion and manage its future. For instance, they suggest that Hindu leaders refrain from being too prescriptive of where Hinduism should go in the long run. Really? Hindu leaders shouldn't say 'Hinduism should become more Spiritual, Empathic, Charitable, Equitable, Knowledge based, Humanitarian etc? Why not? Fuck is wrong with you Sanyal?
Much better that they focus on continuously updating and reforming the system on an ongoing basis while taking care to maintain internal diversity. So Hinduism is actually a computer. Nobody told me. Boy, do I feel stupid. The lack of uniformity may seem like a disadvantage in the short-run but is a big advantage when dealing with an unpredictable long-term future. This is analogous to a species maintaining genetic diversity as a bulwark against epidemics and other shocks. Urm...yes, but that genetic diversity is only useful if there isn't too much phenotypal diversity or geographic dispersion.
Another possible implication of this intellectual framework may be that one needs to be less enthusiastic about “anti-conversion laws”. But, Sanyal Sahib, Hindus who convert take their 'genetic diversity' with them. Experience shows that where Hindus become a minority, they are driven out unless, as happened in Jammu, they take the initiative and do the ethnic cleansing themselves. These have been proposed by some activists as a way to “protect” Hinduism in some Indian states but these laws are based on an idea of static equilibrium. Rubbish! Static equilibrium is your idea- no one else's. Our analysis, however, suggests that such laws will have little benefit if the Hindu community is shrinking for whatever reason. In which case they are doomed- unless they hire thugs to do ethnic cleansing.In other words, a defensive tactic cannot work if the community is in a downward spiral in a particular area. It would be far better to focus on expansionary strategies to re-inflate the system. Yes, but an anti-conversion law provides cover for thugs beating up supposed converts till they cry Uncle and either run away or go with flow. These could include intellectual and cultural innovation, social and missionary work, building alliances with other like-minded religious traditions and so on. Which is why the Episcopalian or Anglican Church is in such great shape even on its own native soil.Some of these efforts can be derived from the past, but it is perfectly alright to use completely new strategies. Like talking shite about complex adaptive systems.
The Importance of Flexibility: One of the learnings (sic) from the study of complex, adaptive systems is that flexibility will always triumph over brute strength in the long run.Hinduism is thriving in Pakistan because it is a complex adaptive system and thus can't be coerced in any way by a theocratic Government. Every year, the number of Hindu temples and patshalas is increasing in Pakistan.
By contrast, Sumerian Religion was not a complex adaptive system. That is why it is not thriving in Iraq.
Sanyal does not get that even a relatively small amount of organized coercion or incentive incompatibility can cause a Religion or a Language or Economic regime to tip over from having agents of one Type to those same agents amalgamating with a completely different Type. Kill or threaten or pile discriminatory taxes upon enough Hindus and they convert to some other Religion or no Religion at all. Talk of 'complex adaptive systems' is sheer stupidity. History has shown that Hinduism can revive if it fights back and makes itself incentive compatible. It doesn't matter if Acharyas of rival sects denounce each other. What matters is fighting prowess and incentive compatible financing of that fighting prowess.
Instead of saying 'Hinduism is a complex adaptive system- so we can adopt a Managerial approach and never have to roll up our sleeves or get a bloody nose' why not just say 'Hinduism is an emanation of the Godhead. It survives or perishes by His Will alone- thus we need do nothing'.
Why is Sanyal writing this nonsense? Is it really the case that some Hindus have been annoying him by trying to impose 'Shrauta' Hinduism on him? No. He is not a Nambudri. There are no Shrautas in his part of the World. 
What about the Smartas- are they harassing Sanyal, perhaps by inviting him to a Smarta Vicharam to discuss his use of un-orthodox beverages like tea and coffee? Nope. There are no such Smarta Vicharams around any more.
Sanyal probably does have some contact with Brahmos or Arya Samajis but they long ago gave up any separatist chauvinism and don't condemn people like me as idolaters or purblind followers of Sayana. 
In any case, judging by his education, surely he can pick and choose whom he consorts with? It is not really the case that Sanyal, at this late date, needs to remind anyone that Smriti is defeasible according to a Mimamsaka principle that people like Chief Justice Gajendragadkar popularized before he, or I, was born.
There are a lot of people talking nonsense about Complex Adaptive Systems at this moment. ISIL is described as complex adaptive system by stupid academics with a vested interest in getting a bit of Pentagon research funding. Killing those evil nutters, however, is the simple and effective solution. Nobody doesn't know this.
Sanyal is an economist. He misses the fact that the Just King in the Mahabharata has to learn statistical game theory to overcome his 'vishada', He doesn't get that ancient Iron Age Religions incorporated the discrete Math decision theory of their day. Aumann shows there is Game Theory in the Old Testament. But Aumann was actually smart- not a stupid gesture political pedant like Sen or Basu. Indian Economists are too stupid to understand what they read even when it comes to the simplest of that 'Fifth Veda' which was specifically designed for the instruction of ordinary people. 
Why is Sanyal saying Hinduism is not ergodic? If so, it is deontologically and doxastically empty. It doesn't exist as a 'dharma'- (oh dear, did I just use a desi word? My apologies. I mean an eusebeia) 
If the Economy is a Complex Adaptive System, does Sanyal believe that it features no ergodic processes? If so, as Samuelson pointed out, he professes an empty subject. 
It defies belief that a Hindu intellectual, a well educated one, at this late date, does not get that Muth Rational Co-ordination and Dis-coordination games function so as to restore ergodicity to socio-economic processes. Capacitance diversity does get stored up at the margin but is expressed by a saltation or speciation event such that the underlying object of discourse disappears.
Of course, it would be unfair to judge an economist by the worthless drivel he pads out his policy prescription with rather than focus on what he tells us we need to do. In this case, Sanyal is clearly hoping to top Sen by making the worst possible prescription ever. Sen, idiot that he is, wants a Nalanda University where the lecturers have diplomatic immunity, even if they are Indian citizens. This is because the hankers after the 'benefit of clergy' enjoyed by medieval Universities in Europe.
Similarly, Sanyal wants -' to revive the tradition of writing new Smriti texts, a practice that went into decline in medieval times.'
This is extraordinarily stupid. Smarta Brahmins wrote Smriti texts and set up Smarta Vicharams because this secured a Tiebout manorial rent for their patrons. 
Now that India is unified, they won't do this for any money because it is stupid and unpatriotic and a waste of resources. Let me be clear- tying yourself up in legal knots while letting an active adversary free rein is a recipe for annihilation.
Smartas will happily sing the Bhakti songs of the Saints and participate in worthwhile Social Reconstruction. They won't go down a blind alley. At the margin, some will no doubt embrace the stupidest possible psilosophies and availability cascades on offer- like 'effective altruism' or some eco-feminist vegan nonsense. One or two might even pose as Swami Agnivesh type shit-heads- abolishing child labor without actually do any such thing and then glomming onto Anna Hazare or whatever- but the only proper response to such exhibitionism is ridicule or, if that doesn't work, urinating copiously into their open mouths. This is because malicious micturation is a complex adaptive system. We should not aim to manage it on the basis of a static steady state equilibrium. Kindly see my book 'Managing Micturation- for Fortune 500 Companies'.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Capitalism's Crisis & Plato's Lysis

In Plato's Lysis, Socrates points out that praising a boy's ancestors in order to seduce him isn't a proof of love, not because the project of seducing a boy is unlovely in itself, but because the poet is only magnifying the object of his lust in order to eventually boast of having fucked in the ass the scion of a family distinguished enough to have had no need of his flattering apostrophes to a gorgeous familial Pheme his own phallus remains engorged to extinguish.

Similarly, for a Professor to constantly harp on Capitalism's world historical hegemonic power is not a proof of love of any ism whatsoever, because the Pundit in question is magnifying the imaginary object of a lust only able to sate itself upon the supposedly historically inevitable spectacle of every last Top Hatted Stockbroker howling incontinently at being hammered on 'Change and hobbling away with his trousers around his ankles and cum dripping from his anus.

This last, which we may brutely eroticize by terming it the coction that resolves a Hippocratean Crisis- itself antonymic to that gradual loosening of ontic bondage, as in agape's Lysis- is the but logical consequence of the concoction of a binary under scarcity- that is diminishing returns. As Aristotle points out, if both elements of the binary grow together- as lovers desire to do, in Aristophanes' view of Eros- then one of the pair will disappear, swallowed up by the other. We might add, that if this is not the case, and they grow equally then, at the margin, by the identity of indiscernibles, no binary exists.

Of course, if no scarcity obtains then diminishing returns can't arise. However, this is an outcome ontologically dysphoric to 'second order' discourses like Philosophy or, that oxymoron, Political Science, because, if love can burgeon simply by its own actions, if theory is its own praxis, then there is no material curb or chorismos such that the one swells up only because the other is swaddled and constrained and so, at the end of the story, the boy Lysis skips away, unfucked to the Pundits' dismay, hand in hand with a friend his own age to engage in some healthier type of play.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Wendy Doniger repressing Religious Studies

The following is my comment on an article by Wendy Doniger titled- The Repression of Religious Studies- in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
I need hardly mention that it was 'detected as spam'.

Are Religious Studies being repressed in India or America? The short answer is no. People of any Sect can, quite legally, attend a Seminary of their choice where only such instruction as they find palatable is offered. At the margin, there may be restrictions based on Homeland Security but, in the context of Prof. Doniger's article, no such consideration is germane.
What is germane is whether American Professors in what for most Americans is the arcane, if not wholly irrelevant, subject of Indology or Oriental Religion, are in possession of a minimum standard of knowledge and whether they are able to present a reasoned argument. This is important as a matter of quality control. If one Department- even one most people have no interest in- of a University begins filling up with stupid or ignorant people then there is a risk that theses incorporating foolish or ignorant premises will receive the imprimatur of other Departments and this may have adverse real world consequences. The Turkish Economist, Timur Kuran, had highlighted the danger of 'Availability Cascades', based on shoddy scholarship, distorting Public Policy in the context of Islam. His empirical work led him to the conclusion that 'drain theories' of Underdevelopment led to bad 'autarkic' Economic policies whereas what was actually needed was a change in Inheritance Law which in turn required stronger Institutions, property rights and contract enforcement.
In the case of India and Hinduism, an Academic Availability Cascade based on the notion that 'Aryan' invaders created a theocracy which imposed an exploitative patriarchal caste system, made it possible, indeed fashionable, for Professors to abandon any pretense of methodical scholarship or reasoned argument in order to pose as 'engaged' intellectuals subverting an antediluvian Fascism with surrealistic texts. No very great damage was done- America understood India's increasing importance and signaled that it would support whichever Party won the elections. Thus, when the Congress party returned to power, the U.S put a visa ban on Narendra Modi. When Modi became P.M, Obama welcomed him warmly. If anything, American Academia's determination to equate Hindutva with Islamic Terror was a boon to Modi's party because it won over to their side even the upwardly mobile technocratic diaspora which previously had identified with the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and been suspicious of declasse vernacular politicians like Modi. It is true that the richest of the diaspora gain by pretending to be ultra-liberal opponents of the incumbent administration, but this is true of any 'one percent'.
Turning to what Prof Doniger has to say in this essay, I find myself struck by the following passage- '...there is no tradition of religious studies in Indian schools or universities. Like Europe when theology queened over the sciences, India had Sanskrit schools (called tolas (sic)) where Hindus studied both academic subjects and Hinduism, and Muslim schools (madrasas) that did this for Muslims, and, eventually, Catholic schools (where upper-class Hindus, as well as Christians, were educated). But public schools and universities in India never developed a tradition of teaching religion as an academic subject.'
I suppose an American might find little to cavil at in the above. Okay, she might say to herself, India was a place where you couldn't go to College to study theology and gain a qualification entitling one to become a priest. Perhaps, in India, Religion was simply too incohate to be studied as an academic subject. That's why Indians are protesting against American Professors who apply the techniques of the Academy to the analysis of Indian texts. No doubt, if the Indians ever found out that Biology Professors are engaged in a scientific study of how human beings evolved or that Astrophysics Professors study how the Universe came into being, they would be even more outraged.
By contrast, an Indian will find Prof. Doniger's pronunciamento bizarre in the extreme. India has always had centers of learning where students received a thorough indoctrination in the theology of their sect and how it differed from the doctrines of its rivals. This did not change after the British established their paramountcy. Every Educational Institution sponsored by them recruited learned Pundits and Moulvis who taught 'Religious Studies', published learned tomes and helped frame curriculuae and set exam papers. It is true that such Studies lost salience between 1857- when the 'Occidentalist' Calcutta University was set up and also around the time when Judges dispensed with the 'Court Pundit' relying instead on Case Law and learned arguments presented, more often than not, by Native barristers- and 1882, when the 'Orientalists' triumphed in determining the character of the newly created Punjab University. Ironically, it was the patriotic fervor characterizing the graduates of 'Occidentalist' Univerisites which won the argument for the 'Orientalists'. However, since the indigenous tradition of Religious Studies was so strong, parents wanted even wholly Religious Schools and Colleges to concentrate on Technical subjects and the teaching of English and the prestigious register of the Vernacular language which was being adopted for official purposes.
This is not to say that scurrilous attacks on Indian Religion and Customary Morality were not published by journalists nor that Academics then never stooped to the same means to garner gelt or vent their spleen. However, with the dawn of dyarchy, there was sufficient push-back from the electorate to curb the worst of this type of nuisance. Indeed, in the Fifties, the prestige enjoyed by people like S.Radhakrishnan- Nehru's Ambassador to Stalin and later President of the Republic- or Chief Justice Gajendragadkar, who was from a traditional Mimamsaka family- meant that faculties of Philosophy, Literature and Political Science appeared, much to the chagrin of the rising generation, to be dominated by orthodox Pundits enforcing puritanical mores with the merest tincture of the spirit of independent inquiry.
The economic crises of the Sixties and Seventies persuaded many young people that only 'sampoorna kranti'- Total Revolution- could clear away the puritanical gerontocrats who had presided over the massacre of the life-chances of India's youth. Indira Gandhi reacted by suspending the Rule of Law and incarcerating her opponents. One section of the Left supported her and were rewarded with Academic appointments. It was. however, the Hindu 'Right' whose clothes Mrs Gandhi, under the guise of the Goddess Durga, ultimately stole. Her handsome son, Rajiv, initially won a huge popular mandate because his large liquid eyes and gentle manner chimed with popular representations of Lord Rama. Later on, his widow- Sonia Gandhi- won all hearts because she was self-evidently a virtuous 'pativrata' and ideal daughter-in-law. However, Rajiv Gandhi had opened a can of worms regarding a disputed structure in Ayodhya and was heinously assassinated before he could turn the issue to his party's advantage. Modi's party was able to make capital out of the Ayodhya issue and emerged in the Nineties as an alternative to Congress. The Communist Party could have moved into the vacuum, more especially because Industrialists thought it would copy the Chinese model, but its politbureau wouldn't let Jyoti Basu take the Prime Ministership for some obscure ideological reason. During this interim, keeping Modi's party out of power was the sole synoecist focal point for all-India politics. Academics scenting an opportunity to pose as battlers of 'Fascism' or 'subverters' of Patriarchy were quick to fabricate an Academic Availability Cascade which appeared to promise tenure-track Research Programs to second rate students and was warmly welcomed for that reason. However, the rapid development of the internet means that the paranoid premises underlying such 'Research' are too easily discoverable to be absurd.
American Indology- being of no practical use to Americans and thus not subject to any sort of quality control- cheerfully abandoned any pretense of scholarship or rigor in thought because it no longer faced any rival as the Global Knowledge Hegemon. Whereas Saidian 'Orientalism' struck a chord with ordinary people from a strategically important part of the world, American Indology's project appeared, even to that Diaspora whom we would expect it to attract, to be a vulgar and tasteless Racism masquerading as Gesture Politics.
If there is a lesson here, it is that Repression or Promotion is irrelevant in determining whether a Subject can flourish within the Academy. What matters is competition. Availability Cascades which produce degenerate Research Programs won't disappear by themselves. It is only in rivalry and under contestation with a rival Hegemonic Episteme that it can re-establish its claim to represent scholarship as opposed to senescence.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Zagajewski's metaxu

 '...the present day favours only one stage of a certain ageless, endless journey. This journey is best described by a concept borrowed from Plato, metaxu, being "in between", in between our earth, our (so we suppose) comprehensible, concrete, material surroundings, and transcendence, mystery. metaxu defines the situation of the human, a being who is incurably "en route"'

Zagajewski is a self-consciously 'Western' writer precisely because he isn't Western at all but rather belongs to a class which nourishes a Western delusion in the same way that Polish aristocrats nourished a Sarmatian delusion about their origins and trajectory.

To the best of my knowledge- i.e. stuff I got off Wikipedia as opposed to some bloke at the pub- the first literary mention of the concept of metaxu, or barzakh, or antarabhava or bardo or whatever word is used to describe the limbo that is the 'limit, which unites as well as divides' occurs in an Iranian language related to Sarmatian and affirms 'golden liberties' with an erotic undercurrent. In India, certainly, antarabhava is wholly erotic and concerned with the Gandharvas. The Tibetan bardo, on the other hand, is Swedenborgian and, curiously, displays an affinity with the story of a pre-Islamic prophet. I believe a proper Westerner- i.e. a Californian- would naturally conflate this bardo with Japanese fucking haiku in which nativist jujutsuteki ardor ever collides with the nihilistic epiphanies proper to an M.F.A type Creative Writing Instructor. Oddly the wabi-sabi yojo or dhvani this gives rise to is not just eminently scalable- like McDonalds- it is actually Platonic being the child of Poverty and Possession which can never, like Kartikeya, sleep between them because they comprise a masturbatory Ardhanarishvara whose underlying maieutics, unlike that of Agnodice, is but a Credentialist couvade con.
Still, at least this shite, satirized by Garisson Keillor, is pretty harmless and goes down well enough with Paul Masson wine and fish tacos and the sort of weed they had back in the Seventies.

Not being a Westerner, Zagajewski- poor sod- had to come to metaxu via Eric Voegelin- who sought to ground Political Reality in Hermeneutic Religion as if this would stabilize the Polity- and Simone Weil who thought that God has nothing better to do than rigorously achieve nothing by spending all his time futzing around with our 'roots'- i.e. inherited or mimetic shibboleths- like that could actually solve Economic problems. The underlying notion here is that God, or the Good or Whatever, is fucked in the head and is constantly trying to help people who are being fucked over by stupid politicians, not by smiting those politicians, but by sending out good energy from behind the veil of metaxu such that some worthless pedant who happens to be studying that shite suddenly gains salience and can pose, at least in her own eyes, as a savior of Liberal Democracy, or the Purity of the Race, or Say No to Arse Bandits Getting Hitched, or whatever non-issue Op Ed fuckwits are jizzing over at the moment.

This raises an important question- viz. is Zagajewski utterly shit? Oddly, the answer is no. He's just not Western and thus has to play out a God's Gloaming gotterdamenung so as to reaffirm his own metaxu as the West's originary Orient of Darkness.
This passage is fine, if we think of it as applying to Careerist Economists as opposed to people like Kalecki.
Uncertainty doesn't contradict ardour. If we are to sustain the productive tension of metaxu, uncertainty (which is not the same thing as doubt!) will never be a foreign body, since our presence here and our faith can never receive absolute and permanent sanction, however much we long for it. Irony, on the other hand, undercuts uncertainty. When it occupies the central place in someone's thought, irony becomes a rather perverse form of certainty. Of course we can dig up dozens of uses for irony. In Zbigniew Herbert's poetry, to take one example, irony is ordinarily directed against the person passing judgment, the seeker of truth or law (the Greek Nomos), and often takes the form of self-irony. The truth-seeker views himself sceptically – "beware however of unnecessary pride/keep looking at your own clown's face in the mirror" – but not truth or law, as so often happens among contemporary authors, who happily cast doubt on everything but themselves.
Why do I highlight this passage?
Well, Zagajewski is Polish and them peeps be smart and know from Math. Since this is a racist statement, it follows from a lemma originated by Simone Weil, that Pontryagin Duality is Zaga Jew Ski's metaxu. (What? My plumber is Polish, so I know stuff like this.) Thus, Ardour and Irony are conjugate variables. One can be known to mount only if the other grows misty and imprecise.

For nice-but-dim Iyer boys like me both Ardour and Irony arise only by rasabhasa- getting worked up about incompossible shite, i.e. giving up on Viveka and getting ensnared in Maya. Contra Simone Weil's Christ & pace her brother's Krishna, our metaxu or antarabhava involves a cutting down of the hymn leaved banyan whose roots are in heaven and whose branches reach down below.

Sadly, this can only be done by the axe of non-attachment from which, like Parasuram, we might only be able to detach ourselves by throwing it into the Sea- thus giving rise to yet more Malyalees.

Friday, 8 April 2016

The Paraclete of Parson's Green

As G.K. Chesterfield said- in the 'Paraclete of Parson's Green'-
Our Judas adolescence is an obscenity liefer heard than seen.
Not Plato's Kalokagathia- the Beautiful and Good-
It takes a Carpenter's Son to shiver St. John's wood.

My Non Serviam & Nunc Dimittis in One

 His playtime smiles like a paternoster lift
Recycled my Caspar's Celestial gift
Till his angered cry- 'Babu, you're no fun!'
Non serviam & nunc dimittis in One

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Criticism's Terminus ad Quem

In an essay titled 'To think is to challenge Power', an Indian Professor  writes- 'The love that is indistinguishable from the love for violence in the name of nation-love is a love that can only be defended violently.'

  Is there a thought which corresponds to the sentence quoted above? Does it mean anything? If it is nonsense, does it still count as Foucauldian parrhesia undermining the structures of Power by speaking Truth to it?

   The author says that there is a particular type of love which can only be defended violently. Suppose I love not being beaten to death. Someone starts beating me to death. I can only defend my love for not being beaten to death by shouting for help or using violence against my assailant. Only if no one is willing to come to my assistance- i.e. there is no Rule of Law in the area- is it the case that my love can only defend itself violently.

   What about love-for-violence camouflaging itself as Patriotism or Socialism or zeal for Human Rights? Can such a thing exist?

 No. A guy who loves violence is going to beat up people regardless of their National identity or Socialist credentials.

   People won't be taken in by his protestations of acting under an ideological compulsion. They will say 'you are a hooligan. You love beating people up. We don't believe you are motivated by any abstract ideal. If you really love your country, you will stop beating up your countrymen. We are now going to restrain you and administer anti-psychotics and then psychoanalyze you to determine what is the aetiology of your behavioral disorder'.

In this case 'love-for-violence' is being attacked by psychiatric means. Can it only defend itself violently? No. It can start quoting Heidegger or some other such blathershite. 

Except, not even Heidegger at his most otiose wrote anything quite as meaningless as this-

'The opposite of this love – raging and thriving in the pages of our anti-colonial struggle – is the love that comes from criticism.'

So, kids, what have we learnt today?
The author tells us there are two kinds of love, one which can't exist (because if you love violence you will concentrate on beating up your own neighbors- who are likely to be fellow countrymen- and thus won't be able to deceive anybody, even yourself, that you are doing so out of Patriotism) and another which is the complete opposite of that something which can't exist- viz a love that arises out of 'criticism'. 

Yet, this can't be the case unless 'criticism' has a proven teleology. If it's trajectory is undetermined, or received as such, we can't know that 'love-arising-from-criticism' might not cash out as 'love-for-violence'. Is the author perhaps aware of some knock-down argument such that 'criticism' always has a predictable trajectory? If so, why not apply it to Mathematics and find a proof for P=NP or the Reimann Hypothesis?

The truth is that the author isn't really thinking- he's just scribbling senselessly. He is not challenging Power, rather he incarnates that Stupidity against which the Gods themselves battle in vain. Why does he do so? The answer is he is showing he has achieved a sort of Credentialized power which permits him to write nonsense without risk of getting kicked out of the academy. 

Suppose the author had written a thought-provoking and intelligent piece. His peers would look down on him. 'Just to get published' they'd say to themselves, 'he has to resort to presenting logical arguments and writing cogent sentences just like some faltu Undergraduate.'

The author is described as a 'political science scholar'. Yet he writes this- 
'Criticism is a form of nation-love that allows thinking and dissent against power, for power is far from delivering justice.' Why is this foolish? Well, when a 'Political Science scholar', writing in English, formulates a proposition of the order x allows y then he is saying x is a sufficient condition for y. Yet, unless 'Criticism' has a demonstrable Teleology, it can never be the sufficient condition for anything. How are we to know that the Queitists aren't correct and that 'Resist not Evil' is the Terminus ad Quem for Criticism? Indeed, it may be that at the end of the day, Violence is shown to be the only viable Virtue Ethics.
It might be argued that Criticism as qualified by something else- in this case 'Nation-love'- does indeed have such a terminus. We could have a discussion about the nature of 'Nation Love' and maybe it won't be a complete waste of time. However, the author has told us that anything- including love-for-violence- can camouflage itself as 'Nation-love'. Thus discussing the subject is pointless because human beings have no means of discriminating the genuine article from sociopathic behavior.

The author can pride himself on having disposed off the Public Justification Principle as applying to his bromides.
But, the author is now going to do something even more praiseworthy. He is going to show that 'Political Science' is empty.
He does so by making a startling claim-
'The only moral legitimacy the state has comes from its pledge to impart justice.' 
States come into being for purposes of mutual defense or aggression. If no such external threat exists, there is no need for States because Schelling focal 'Judges' can solve the underlying co-ordination problem.
The author, writing without thinking, has just outed himself as an extreme Libertarian!

The author praises Ambedkar but does not understand why the Indian Constitution invoked autocthony- i.e. the doctrine that all laws arise from the soil- on the Irish pattern. 
Ambedkar's purpose was simple. He wanted fools to stop saying things like this- 'Ironically, however, some of our laws are still dragging on since colonial times, and even by logic, we can see they are of no help as they are as opposed to our finding justice now as they were then. In a bizarre twist of historical fate, we are still facing and fighting the vestiges of colonial rule through its extending laws.'

Kudos to the author! He has managed to proclaim an extreme right wing Libertarianism and calumny Ambedkar's legacy all in the space of a short essay for the Wire!

Bravo! What's next? Will he clamor for the revival of Suttee?