Monday, 14 December 2015

Why India banned the 'Satanic Verses'.

Inder Malhotra has an article in the Express today about how and why India banned Salman Rushdie's controversial novel 'Satanic Verses'.

'Around the time Rushdie’s book was published, Rajiv Gandhi was being inundated with strong representations from Muslim leaders of all parties, including the Congress, protesting against horrendous anti-Muslim riots in Meerut, Hashimpura and adjoining areas in UP. During these, not only were the killings heavy but also some victims were blinded. The highly provocative movement for the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya had aggravated the situation. It was in this grave atmosphere that a note, informing him that since Satanic Verses was not published in India, several applications for the import of Rushdie’s book also landed on the prime minister’s desk. He called in his information adviser, G. Parthasarathy, who advised that the matter should be referred to the Union home ministry that was responsible for what is officially always called “law and order” despite Nehru’s repeated suggestion that the phrase “peace and tranquility” would be better.

'A couple of days later the PM heard on Doordarshan that the import of Satanic Verses had been banned. Parthasarathy’s RAX phone rang and he found that the call was from the PM asking him whether he had seen the news on Doordarshan, and if so, how the ban order was announced. The answer was available immediately. C.G. Somiah, then a highly-spoken-of home secretary, explained that under the government’s rules of business, it was his duty to deal with every major problem concerning law and order. On reading Rushdie’s book in its entirety, he added, he came to the conclusion that to allow it to be circulated in India in the existing law and order situation would be not only wrong but also dangerous. The home ministry issued the necessary orders. Rajiv evidently thought that this was the end of the matter.'

There are two points which can be made in this connection.

1) The political background was irrelevant. Rushdie's book wasn't connected to either anti-Muslim atrocities in U.P nor had anything to do with Ayodhya. The fact is a prominent opposition M.P, former diplomat, Syed Shahabudin had written an open letter calling for the book's import to be banned. By itself, this meant that no application for its import could be granted without ascertaining if prima facie it was noxious under the relevant act and, moreover, if it posed a threat to internal security.

2) The decision to ban or allow the import of a book is not made at the level of the Prime Minister. If the Home Ministry receives representations opposing the import of a book, it makes a decision based on certain objective criteria. These can be challenged in a court of law. However, it would still be open to anyone to approach the Court to ban the book and order copies destroyed on some other basis- in this case Hate Speech Law Section 295(A)- which was brought in after the scandal caused by the publication of 'Rangila Rasul', a book which was reminiscent of the Satanic Verses because of the inclusion of salacious material in connection with episodes in the life of the Prophet of Islam. Indeed, that's why Khushwant Singh, who trained as a lawyer, advised Penguin India not to publish the book.

This raises the question of Rushdie's open letter to Rajiv Gandhi- which the author now admits was 'cheeky' and 'arrogant, not to say hilariously ignorant- Rushdie called Khurshid Alam Khan an extremist and a fundamentalist!- and the dilemma faced by a democratic country under the rule of law when attacked by so-called 'public intellectuals' who affect not to know the Law and who pretend that Politicians are all powerful.

Rushdie wrote as follows to Rajiv Gandhi- 'A further official statement was brought to my notice. This explained that ''The Satanic Verses'' had been banned as a pre-emptive measure. Certain passages had been identified as susceptible to distortion and misuse, presumably by unscrupulous religious fanatics and such. The banning order had been issued to prevent this misuse. Apparently, my book is not deemed blasphemous or objectionable in itself, but is being proscribed for, so to speak, its own good!

This really is astounding. It is as though, having identified an innocent person as a likely target for assault by muggers or rapists, you were to put that person in jail for protection. This is no way, Mr. Gandhi, for a free society to behave.

The Indian Govt had been kind to Rushdie. Rather than saying baldly that the book contravened Hate Speech Law Section 295 (A) and that its import had been banned in consequence, the bureaucrats sought to give Rushdie a fig leaf.  The fact is, quite soon after, the British Police had to take Rushdie into hiding for his own protection. By then, of course, even Rushdie could see that such a measure was necessary to preserve his life. What is alarming is that a man born in India and who had lived in Pakistan could not understand that his book provided material for Islamophobes as well as serving as a pretext for mob violence by Muslim activists. Rushdie could scarcely have been unaware that mobs in Pakistan had burned down the British Council Library because of a tasteless joke by Auberon Waugh about the birth of the future Messiah and the peculiar shape of the trousers men wore in the region. In the twenty succeeding years, Political Islam had gained rather than retreated. Yet Rushdie wrote a scabrous book and expected to be taken seriously as a Public Intellectual- one, moreover, as he reminded us in a pompous TV interview he gave at that time, who had studied Islamic History in Cambridge.

Rushdie does offer a possible legal defence relevant to a prosecution under Section 295. Here it is-
'The section of the book in question (and let's remember that the book isn't actually about Islam, but about migration, metamorphosis, divided selves, love, death, London and Bombay) deals with a prophet - who is not called Mohammed - living in a highly fantastical city made of sand (it dissolves when water falls upon it).

'He is surrounded by fictional followers, one of whom happens to bear my own first name. Moreover, this entire sequence happens in a dream, the fictional dream of a fictional character, an Indian movie star, and one who is losing his mind, at that. How much further from history could one get?

'In this dream sequence I have tried to offer my view of the phenomenon of revelation and the birth of a great world religion; my view is that of a secular man for whom Islamic culture has been of central importance all his life.'
This defence could work if the reader could believe that the crazy movie star could himself have had the hallucination narrated. An American or German might think, 'okay, maybe Indian movie stars from humble backgrounds grew up listening to stories about their Religion similar to what is depicted in the book. Indian Judges, on the other hand, have direct access to the vernacular traditions re. the Prophet. Furthermore, the prosecution could call actual Muslim film stars from humble backgrounds and establish that the hallucinations Rushdie fathers on his protagonist are not such as might arise as a result of mental illness. Rather, they are meant to impress the reader as a type of Revelation. 
Rushdie refers to Hazrat Salman Farsi- a special hero to Ajamis (non Arabs). Why on earth does he conflate this impeccable character with the reviled Ibn Sarh who was not Ajami? Would Rushdie have uttered a similar slur on Hazrat Bilal (who was Black)?
The problem here, from the legal point of view, is that a lot of Rushdie's writing is of a low grade 'scenes a fair' type, which, though a defense against the charge of plagiarism, is no good at all for a plea basing itself on aesthetic value or scholarly integrity.

Rushdie said- 'When Syed Shahabuddin and his fellow self-appointed guardians of Muslim sensibilities say that ''no civilized society'' should permit the publication of a book like mine, they have got things backwards. The question raised by the book's banning is precisely whether India, by behaving in this fashion, can any more lay claim to the title of a civilized society.'
A Civilized Society is one under the Rule of Law. In India, Democratically elected Legislatures had approved or extended Laws against Hate Speech.
Banning Rushdie's book was the Civilized thing to do for the Indian bureaucrat concerned because it was enjoined by a Democratically enacted Law and was clearly in the Public Interest.  Protesting against an unjust law or seeking to redefine the Public Interest is equally, if not more so, incumbent on members of Civil Society. However, there are civilized ways of enforcing or protesting Laws. Indian bureaucrats did their duty in banning a book but did so in a Civilized manner such that the least possible damage was done to the author's reputation.  Rushdie, by contrast, though adopting an Olympian tone, protested the ban in the least civilized manner possible- viz. by telling stupid lies and putting forward obviously fallacious arguments. The proper way to change the Law is to bring a test case on a genuinely worthwhile piece of literature. Sadly, Rushdie is yet to produce anything that meets that description. 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Alan Gibbard, Semantic Normativity & Ontological dysphoria

Economics was once known as the 'dismal science'- its study appeared to hold little utility other than in salutarily lowering expectations and reconciling the productive classes to a miserabilist horizon.

Then, during the Second World War, some young Americans, not from established elites, got a chance to use their mathematical or analytical talents to redirect or even boost domestic production as well as to improve military tactics and strategy. What they were doing wasn't something wholly new- in the past, highly experienced men with 'expert cognition' had developed heuristics, some of which had been given a mathematical treatment. This time, however, Pure Mathematics had reached a critical mass such that exponential development in some fields- e.g. Turing's Enigma or Von Neumann's Los Alamos- completely altered the horizon in every other in a mutually intelligible manner.

Thus, after the war, though the contribution of women was still not acknowledged- indeed, historically, Economics has been the most misogynistic of the Social Sciences- the WASP establishment had to retreat in the face of some extraordinarily brilliant and prolific, often working class or refugee, Jewish scholars whose social optimism went hand in hand with a willingness to recast the foundations of their discipline on terms as rigorous as Mathematical Physics in the assurance that this would unleash human productivity in a manner more unequivocally positive than the Manhattan Project's splitting of the atom.

Rising prosperity during the Fifties and even into the Sixties, led to a completely altered public perception of the Scientific status of Economics. There followed a golden age, culminating in a Nobel prize being created for what had become, by default, the Queen of the Social Sciences, if not Philosophy's young and as yet promising Regent.

But this dizzying apotheosis was swiftly followed by a dramatic reversal of fortune- the 'Stagflation' of the Seventies- featuring a dialogue of the deaf between Keynesians and Monetarists, while Hayekians and Marxists prowled around like hyenas picking off the wounded- which brought Economics into secular disrepute but did so at precisely the time when advances in Information Technology and Dynamic Programming- as well as the increasing availability of 'big data'- had the potential to put flesh on an empirical, evolved under uncertainty, regret-minimizing, Mathematical Skeleton quite different from the Utility Maximizing Adam Kadmon of Arrow and Samuelson and Hurwicz and Baumol.

However, the ghastly interregnum between Economists pretending they were Physicists and Physicists steamrolling over Economics was not without its own landmarks such as the Gibbard-Satterthwaite and Myerson-Satterthwaite theorems which link mechanism design to evolutionary biology in an illuminating manner such that we realize Preference Revelation is not a hurdle to be surpassed but something Evolution has baked in to ensure enough hedging against uncertainty obtains. This is not to say that faith in a 'Revelation Principle'- i.e. the belief that if an outcome can be implemented by an arbitrary 'black box' mechanism, then it can also be implemented by a white box mechanism based on true preferences- might not be Muth Rational- i.e. something all agents are better off affirming.

Alan Gibbard- who first articulated this principle- is not however now an Economist but rather a glittering gem in the diadem of Academic Philosophy- a discipline which has suffered an even more radical depreciation in general esteem. He argues- following Kripke- that 'claims as to what something means are normative claims.' In other words, he refutes the notion that meaning is something objective- the solution to a coordination problem- which can be discovered by a purely alethic process- e.g. looking up words in a dictionary or working out the Schelling focal point or solving for the constrained optimum on a Social Welfare function. Rather, meaning is the instantaneous change in the action set brought about by its own acceptance. If this 'instantaneous change' accords with Gibbard's 'Revelation Principle'- so useful in incentive compatibility and mechanism design- then there is some point of view from which Gibbard's 'meaning of meaning' is also the solution to a coordination problem. If, however, people have an incentive to lie to themselves- perhaps to escape a computational cost or to baffle a parasite or predator which, otherwise, would be able to predict their behavior- then we have some Newcomb's problem or Kavka toxin type reason for believing this might not be the case.

Philosophically, one may still doubt whether 'lying to oneself' is meaningful. One method of circumventing this problem is to say that people may have a preferred ontology which is not at home in this world and so their truth-makers express ontological dysphoria, which- in Gibbard's system- could be called action states.

Consider what happens when two people meet up and first of all both agree that 'mutually beneficial trade is a good thing', and then one of them goes on to say 'the previous statement has a practical meaning- viz. you ought to trade me that pen you are not using in return for this calculator that I've no need for'.
I suppose the other could retort- 'The Myerson-Satterthwaite theorem suggests otherwise!' and that would be a 'knock down' argument.
In practice, the other party may refuse a transaction of the sort outlined above out of an obscure sense that in an uncertain future he may regret the transaction. The problem is, his interlocutor may say, or feel, that this agent is being a 'meanie'. Moreover, this interlocutor may refuse, at a later point, a univocally beneficial trade simply to 'punish' the meanie. In other words, there are hysteresis effects and reputational problems here which complicate things. 'Cheap talk' is being turned into a 'Costly signal' by an illicit mechanism.

Gibbard gives a philosophical defense against this sort of illicit mechanism but, unlike the Myserson-Satterthwaite proof (which links up with real world behavior under uncertainty in a fruitful manner such that new types of assets or exchanges can be mutually agreed) it is not intended to be categorical.
As he tells 3AM- 'The obvious approach to the meaning of meaning claims, though, is to try to define the concept of meaning in naturalistic terms, in terms that can fit into a purely empirical science. A central question for me, then, is why I reject treating meaning as a concept within a purely empirical science.
'As early reviewers of the book point out, I’m rather perfunctory on this question. I don’t come up with a knock-down argument that analyses in scientific terms won’t capture the meaning of meaning claims. In a way I don’t want to: as I say at one point in the book, I’m not convinced that treating the concept of meaning as a normative concept will be the most illuminating way to approach the theory of meaning'

Thus Gibbard on Normativity isn't like Myerson-Satterthwaite in settling an argument once and for all. Rather any hoped for similarity would lie in the fruitful avenues of further exploration which are opened up. At Gibbard says- 'A chief aim of the book is to try to show how fruitful a normative approach can be in identifying what might be at issue in questions of meaning.' 
Since most people find the math used in the Myserson-Satterthwaite proof a bit daunting- though, once grasped, it immediately suggests new and useful approaches- it would be great if there were a simple meaning to Gibbard's thesis, more especially as he tells us it would be fruitful.

Take the following dicta, as quoted by Tim Williamson-
1) 'The meanings of the words in a sentence combine to explain which inferential oughts apply to the sentence and the evidential conditions under which one ought to accept or reject the sentence. A word’s meaning what it does consists in the pattern of oughts that enters into such explanations. (p. 114)
The emphasis on explanation makes this seem a functionalist view of Semantics from a Normative perspective- not a Semantic Normativity. As such, it might encourage us to equate Game Theory with meta-ethics. However, this is not at all Gibbard's view.

2) ‘The point of normative claims is to tie in conceptually with action’ (p. 227).
 For example, ‘I can’t consistently believe I ought right now to leave my burning building and decide to stay. Naturalistic thoughts, in contrast, lack this conceptual tie to action’ (p. 224). 
As Tim Williamson points out, Gibbard's agent who thinks 'I ought to leave my burning building' has to distinguish whether this is a naturalistic thought or a normative claim. Only in the latter case does he actually have to leave the building. One way of making sense of this is to say that there is a Bayesian process going on. If you often have the thought 'gotta get out of this burning building' and you never do and nothing bad happens then, probably, there was no Gibbardian normative claim there at all. You just take too many drugs or else the fire alarm keeps going off and you have a vivid imagination or something of that sort.

3) This is Gibbard's reflection on Kripe's classic passage re. Meaning as Normativity-
Kripke  actually said 'what I intend to mean'- i.e. this was a hypothetical not a categorical imperative- but this does not alter Gibbard's point which is that normativity always has a conceptual tie to action.

 As readers of this blog may remember, I have previously argued that 'the other side of Hume's Guillotine is that belief in an 'ought' causes us to arbitrarily restrict the domain of what 'is'.
Gibbard, links the action space of an agent with Normativity. If ontological dysphoria is an action then Normativity is its high road because of the conceptual tie between thought and action Gibbard posits. Thus every admitted 'ought' leaves us less at home in the world.

Could Gibbard's first sentence, quoted above, bear the interpretation I have just put on it? Perhaps Meaning is Normative in the sense of mapping to changes in the agent's degree and type of ontological dysphoria- i.e. being a function of the mismatch between her ex post conceptual action space and that associated with the ex ante Bayesian-Nash semantic equilibrium- and this is fruitful in that we can now understand semantic processes as being like Newcombe problems with Kavka toxins releasing or damning up capacitance diversity on a high uncertainty landscape.

Alternatively, we can think of the conceptual thought-action tie peculiar to  Gibbard's system as analogous to his Revelation Principle because consistent discrimination of naturalistic from normative statements is a sequential equilibrium. However, in at least one case- viz. where regret minimization is incentive incompatible- his meaning of meaning may be gamed in an ontologically dysphoric manner such that mere Meta-Metaphoricity is its own bilateral context. Thus meta-ethics has no privileged diegesis nor intensional langue nor ideal type parole.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Affirmative Action & the Creamy layer

What happens if Colleges declares a quota for a particular identity group under the following conditions?
1) the identity group has relatively few people who can easily study hard and come up to the general level whereas most of its members find it very costly to achieve even a basic level.

In this case, the few will put in just enough work to beat the many so as to secure a place at the College with the lowest possible outlay. However, since they don't have experience of  studying hard they may continue to lag behind the others in the College.

2) the few who can easily study hard come from a 'creamy layer'- i.e. have better connections than the vast majority. (In India, the 'creamy layer' of the Backward Castes, but not the Dalits, is excluded from affirmative action)

In this case, such students would find it rational to put in very little work both at School and at College because they will try to use their connections to get a job rather than rely upon their own merit. If no one can get a job through connections, then students will soon learn that there is no point not studying hard at School, even if one has a guaranteed place thanks to the quota, because if you don't study hard at School you won't have acquired the habit of industriousness and thus will fail at College and end up unemployed and thus worse off than if you never went to College in the first place.
However, if some people can get jobs through connections then this lesson is never learned. On the contrary, what happens is that the lazy fellows who got jobs create a poor impression and so those without connections, even if they were industrious students, find their qualification does not get them employment.
Notice that the 'creamy layer' can remain 'creamy' from generation to generation but only if they can keep up their connections. They can never advance on the basis of merit.  However, since a person who both studied hard and who has connections can make more of his life than one who only has connections, it follows that the 'creamy layer' won't get as much out of education as the general category student who, even if he has connections, still has to compete with people like himself in order to get College entry in the first place. Thus the 'creamy layer', over time, will find itself falling behind what would otherwise have obtained as a result of the very affirmative action from which they benefited in the short run. As for the vast mass of non-creamy layer students, the quota system helped few of them and even those few faced prejudice in getting employment because of the laziness of the 'creamy layer' graduates.
One solution, favored by the creamy layer, is to ensure promotions are subject to quota in all industries.  However, this only postpones the problem. Cosmetically, the creamy layer is getting creamier, but they fall behind nevertheless because they don't have the skills to match their position. Thus they can't manage their own wealth as cleverly as the hard working general category student who went on to be a hard working employee having to cover for the incompetence of his 'creamy layer' colleague. This hard working employee is acquiring skills relevant to his own wealth management and valuable insights relating to the upbringing of his own children.
The Creamy layer may demand a quota of Directorships in the Enterprises set up by the hard working general category people but this will only be granted in a cosmetic manner. All that has happened is that the Creamy layer are extracting a rent based on their Social Identity. But this rent comes at huge cost to the class they claim to represent. They themselves would have been much better off if no quotas had been put in from the outset.
There is one caveat. Suppose some creamy layer types who do the minimum work to get in on the quota are randomly disqualified in favor of others from the same identity class, then they have an incentive to study hard (since this is relatively cheap for them to do) so as to guarantee their place. Similarly, if quotas in jobs and promotions and so on have this random element added on- such that some one who 'just' qualifies is randomly rejected- then Creamy layer candidates who have low cost of skill acquisition have an incentive to work hard so as to guarantee their success.
It might be argued that a better solution is simply to disqualify 'creamy layer' candidates ab ovo. However, there would still be the problem that non-creamy layer candidates with low cost of skill acquisition have an incentive to put in the bare minimum of effort. In other words, there has to be randomization in selection even for first generation 'creamy layer' aspirants, otherwise all that happens is that the second generation 'creamy layer' is skimmed off and behaves like the general category. In this case, there is no incentive to continue to identify with the disadvantaged group for them. They have been co-opted by the general category. Thus they can't act as a mimetic locomotive pulling their entire class upwards. By contrast, with randomized disqualification, the creamy layer has an incentive to work extra hard because the over all quality of their identity class would be lower than otherwise and this would make it more expensive for them to secure their own future through their contacts.
This may well have a 'mimetic effect' within their identity class.

Perhaps, Dr. Ambedkar, who well understood Gabriel Tarde's mimetic theory, favored a sunset clause for Quotas for this purely economic reason.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Contra Hayek

'One might almost say that each individual thinks with his past.' (Hayek, 1920)

Be it Plato's plonk at some wonk Symposium
Or Parmenides' singular Ambrosium
All end at last thinking through their peers 
Or, in tears, drinking with their past

Thursday, 26 November 2015

die Krone des Naherin

The slaving seamstress has a swain who, her smile to wheedle,
Mimes stitching up his lips lest her heart escape
Beauty's thread, in the eye of its needle,
Is ever Ariadne's abandoned rape

Prince! Make Drunkenness thy Ind lest Darkness abort
 & Love's bitter ends hold sacred its knot.

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Folk Theorem & Ontological Dysphoria- I

  The folk theorem of repeated games (or Myserson 'general feasibility theorem') has faded from salience over the last decade for good reason. It yields nothing positive nor effectively computable. At best, it is a stepping stone from Whig pi-jaw into Dawkins type cultic anti-Creationism which in less charismatic hands can't pay its way.

   Essentially, the folk theorem says any Social Outcome known to be feasible with a co-ordinated coercive authority is equally feasible as the product of an 'un-coordinated' or non-synoecist accidental Coalition provided agents are rational and think long-term.

The problem is that the literature produced under this rubric uses the axiom of Utility Maximisation rather than Regret Minimization and is thus ab ovo incompatible with Evolution under Natural Selection- i.e. where hedging endows survival value- and which, in this context, cashes out as Knightian Uncertainty.

  The fact is, Coercive authorities claim to be able to do something to payoff matrices which no non-Coercive or Organisation-less 'spontaneous' Coalition can accomplish even if, objectively, there is no difference in the observable outcome. This is something baked into the maths- vide Alan Kirman- and only in that sense deterministic.
  The fact is, under Knightian Uncertainty, incompossible or ontologically dysphoric payoffs have salience for mimetic contestation. This is because the underlying Schelling focal solution is only approximable by methods wholly divergent in terms of Capacitance diversity- and this is univocally 'regret minimization' rational. Thus 'substantive' though wholly fictitious solution gains salience for a large class of underlying Co-ordination and Dis-coordination problems.

  How square the circle between Presentist Utility Maximization and Backward Induction's 'Regret Minimization'? Trivially, one can abolish Knightian Uncertainty- i.e. invent incompossible pay-offs or ontologically dysphoric regimes. Non-trivially, one could actually do some fucking worthwhile research and make chrematistic money off the Market, but for genuine- i.e. very poor, ignorant and stupid- Economists like me, something more fundamental is called for.

  To illustrate the abstraction outlined above with something viscerally empirical, suppose the local Anna Hazare catches me wandering around in a drunken state and ties me to a tree and beats me with his belt till I beg for mercy in front of the entire village and promise to stop drinking. In this case, though my payoff matrix may in fact be worse than that I would have been subjected to by the relevant properly constituted Coercive authority, still, the real difference in my subsequent behaviour arises from things no intersubjective payoff matrix can capture.
  If it was the S.H.O who beat me with his belt and it was the Magistrate who accepted my vow of abstinence then, clearly, I am a great Iyer martyr victimised by the fanatical anti-Hindu Indian State.  Clearly Narendra Modi is orchestrating a campaign against pure and high minded Brahminbandhus like me by surreptitiously changing my pure and holy Gangajal- i.e. Jordan or Ganges Water- into 'Old Monk' Rum. Still, thanks to my unflagging Guru-bhakti to Mahasati Sunny Leone Maharaj, whose electronic darshan- i.e. theophany- on 'Pornhub' I am Googling for even as I write this now, the miracle occurred whereby though I did indeed drink two bottles of Gangajal which had been surreptitiously turned into 'Old Monk' by the evil RSS anti-Manuvadis, nevertheless I did not become inebriated at all.
   Rather, the fact that I removed my clothes, stuck a sprig of coriander up my arse, and ran around the Arya Samaj Prayer Hall singing 'Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai/ Sab se ho teri Maa chuddhai' only goes to prove that, despite the rabidly anti-Hindu attitude of the Indian State, true bhumiputras however 'bahishkrit'- true sons of the soil no matter how much the victim of Social exclusion- are nevertheless so armoured in their devotion to the one true Guru whose darshan all Indians spontaneously seek- viz Sunny Leone tho' gotta say Mia Khalifa's making converts- that the true facts of the case are these- viz.
1) I removed my clothes to show solidarity with Digambara Jains mercilessly persecuted by Emperor Ashoka and his 'sickular' successors e.g the anti-Manuvad RSS.
But, look at the irony!. Jains have been granted minority status. What about me? Just because I belong to the Majority why am I being condemned to not receiving Minority protection?
 British trampled my ancestors into dust. Now Narendra Modi is winning kudos in Downing Street and Wembley because he is doing what even Curzon dared not do- viz accuse a Brahminbandhu like me of drunkenness.
2) Jainism denounces use of alcohol because violence is done to microscopic organisms responsible for yeasting effects. However, Gangajal- water of Ganges- is known to be incorruptible. This is not a physical but spiritual property. It therefore follows that, for a Brahminbandhu taking refuge in incessant darshan of MahaGuru Sunny Leone Maharaj, no intoxication could be caused by the imbibing of Ganga Jal, even if it had been surreptitiously changed to 'Old Monk', because by the Buddha's declaration- 'Chetana ham bhikkave kamam vadami'- the intentionality was lacking for the relevant 'aashrav' of karma binding properties such that, by Pratityasamutpada, a momentary state of the Universe- such as that in which Moksha is gained- gains decoherence. In other words, since no one gained Moksha as a result of my drinking 'Old Monk' thinking it to be 'Gangajal' there was no decoherence event. There was no distinguishable moment in Space-Time where an actual observation could be made since none had Enlightenment's light by which to observe. No doubt, we may still speak in terms of 'wave functions'- i.e probability. But, ask yourself, is it really probable that an elderly Tambram Hindutva blogger, like me, would get roaring drunk and run around the Arya Samaj Hall singing 'Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai/ Sab se ho teri gand chuddhai', that too in a completely nude state and with a sprig of coriander up my arse?
3) In North India, coriander is called dhania which rhymes with bania- merchant- the caste to which Amit Shah belongs.
  As the Sama Veda says 'I went to the bania to buy me some dhania, but the dhania was dry'. Clearly this is the governing Sassureian 'mot theme' for a properly Gadamerian project of Hermeneutic Recovery in the face of the all-imperilling aporia or semiotic scandal of a senile descendant of Sama Vedic udgatrs being depicted as running around with a sprig of 'dhania' protruding from his sadly sunken and squishy buttocks.
  BTW, fuck you very much Rajiv Malhotra and Prof. Balagangadhara! You didn't lift a finger to help me even though I am the greatest Hindutva blogger ever and like how come youse guys don't even send me a nice bottle or two of Gangajal for Divali or Christmas or whatever?
4) You fucking bastards! You ban me from your comments columns just because I say I will rape and kill you and your family! Fuck is wrong with you? Just because I am not a Brahmin, but a Brahminbandhu, and don't have a PhD, you treat me like a piece of shit! Actually, it is my own fault. Should have pretended to be Prof. Amaresh Mishra. Still, as a genuinely Spiritually Superior Aryan, not a miscegenated Mleccha like you guys- I mean, even if you are celibate it is only by choice, not coz even the most 'Gandhian' g.fs tend to lose their rag, beat seven bells out of you and leave even if you are pretending to be having a heart attack or whatever- , why are you discriminating against me like this? It is people like you, not ISIS or ISI or whatever, who are the true threat, not just to India- which is like a Colony of the West under Narendra Modi; Indian Police treated me just as badly as the British Police, indeed they would have treated me worse if I hadn't got a British passport- anyway, my point is that I am the true martyr here. A martyr, a shaheed, is a WITNESS to the all-terrorising Inequity and Satanic tenor of the Times. I have every sympathy with the families of those martyred in Paris. However, 'those who will not learn from History are condemned to teach it'.  I have suffered brutal discrimination at the hands of not just the Indian or British Police but also from my own mother, grandmother and other relatives and friends! I have been slapped and told to 'shut up' even by people of wholly different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It is a mark of my superior Spiritual and Moral standing that I do not demand reprisals against the entire, soi disant, 'gentle sex'. My own Guru, whose darshan I am seeking (my internet connection has been disconnected because of 'non-payment' (i.e. Narendra Modi has done a corrupt deal with the City of London to silence Hindu dissent)  so I'm running a program to hack my neighbour's WiFi and, obviously, once that happens not only will I post this but also stop posting the better to be able to focus on Pornhub's sublime theophany of...actually Sunny Leone was always kinda soft core. Mia Khalifa's glasses, on the other hand...

Why ISIS attacked Paris- fracking fucked up their finances.

   Al Qaeda wasn't territorial. It wanted the US to come to attack it in Afghanistan- which had nothing of value- because as Gen. Hamid Gul said, it expected to kill G.Is, take their fancy weapons, and thus re-arm for an invasion of its own resource rich homeland.

   ISIS is territorial. Why is it provoking the French into bombing its oil wells? The answer is that petrol prices have collapsed. ISIS can't pay its recruits. Some are already defecting. Europe talked tough about imprisoning ISIS recruits if they returned but the threat was not credible because, if they were going to let in a million Syrians per year, the screening process could only be perfunctory at best. In any case, Islamists politicians in Europe, along with their 'Liberal' backers, could always raise a hue and cry about Human Rights for people born or already granted asylum in Europe.

  How could ISIS deter defections while simultaneously giving itself an excuse for not paying recruits? The answer, it is now clear, was to get European Islamists- e.g. from the Emirate of Belgistan- to conduct a bestial strike at the heart of European Civilization. Clearly, deserters from ISIS will now find themselves receiving a far less forgiving welcome. ISIS is now saying to its foreign recruits- 'you have no choice but to stay loyal and die fighting. The French won't forgive you. If you fall into their hands you will suffer something worse than Guantanamo'. In any case, a strike against the enemy raises morale and esprit de corps in short run and, the truth is, it is in the recruits interest to pretend to believe the Caliphate's propaganda for the time being.

  This does not alter the fact that ISIS is no longer financially viable. Its best bet is to disappear for a bit- till Petrol prices rise again. When it makes its comeback, people will have forgotten that it was improvident and ran out of money. All they will remember is that the palmy days when recruits lived large on 'ghanima'- the spoils of war.

 I should mention that ISIS declared a Caliphate only so that it could legally, according to Islamic Law, take a share of the loot secured by the freebooters of Jihad, the 'Holy War' which, once again, only a Caliph can legitimately declare.

 Sadly fracking fucked up ISIS's finances. The Petrol price collapsed. Those elements in the Caliphate which have kept lines of communication open with the Gulf and the Saudis can retreat to a comfortable Capua, while the less financially savvy elements are destroyed. Still, once Petrol prices bounce back (which is why fracking must be banned!) they can return. No doubt, they will be welcomed. After all, now the French are involved, hearts and minds have been alienated in advance. Furthermore, we can always trust the French to espouse the worst possible Military Doctrine and the American's to implement the stupidest Energy Policy possible.

 Things like fracking- i.e. technological changes which change ergodics- can defeat Terror- i.e. hysteresis- but, Western Pundits and Policy Makers can always be relied upon to disable or neutralize such technological changes so that the denizens of the 'Cradle of Civilization' continue to so cultivate Terror as to perpetually shit their pants.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Why we Britons are protesting against Modi.

Billions of ordinary Britons, like me, have taken to the streets to protest today against Narendra Modi's visit.


To answer this question, we must first dredge up deeply traumatic memories of what happened when the President of Turkey made a State Visit to London. I can still recall that nightmarish moment when eager young Britons, eyes glued to their TV screens, first saw the door of the ceremonial Carriage open and, instead of an plump and amiable turkey saying 'gobble gobble', we were faced with the appalling revelation that the President of Turkey is just some boring dude in a Business Suit. The Queen, God bless her, has never recovered from the shock- though it is true that she made a game effort at stuffing the President in a manner he, no doubt, found both gracious and edifying.

Foreigners need to understand that us Britons expect truth in advertising. If you are the President of Turkey you should make an effort to look like a turkey. Anything less is a glaring affront to basic human rights a complete travesty of democratic values.  

I may mention that the Turks call our favorite Christmas dinner 'hindi' i.e. Indian. Clearly, Modi has a duty to look like a turkey to make up for the lapse on the part of his fellow foreigner.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Cow belt votes for beef

Amit Shah refused to offer Bihar a Chief Minister. Instead, he put up an Upper Caste slate who would use the beef bogey to beat up on the Backwards and Muslims not just by cracking down on a lucrative trade but also by undermining the Yadav's claim to be the protectors of the cow. Sushil Modi, the obvious man to have given Nitish a run for his money, was sidelined by the beef issue- and ended up coming across as a money grubbing Bania hypocritically accusing the 'Yadav King' of eating beef to gain votes.

Congress played a positive role by staying away rather than seeking to split the Muslim vote and also by stroking Lalu's ego to cement the Mahagatbandhan. Of course, this is Nitish's well deserved victory but then he wasn't running against anybody- except Amit Shah's arrogance and Modi's bombast. The RSS once again showed its political ineptitude by chiming in at exactly the wrong time with a threat to quotas. The accident prone VK Singh worsened matters by comparing Dalits to dogs. All in all, the 'outsiders' showed themselves to be stupid, condescending and blinded by hypocritical zealotry, while the Biharis displayed intelligence, competence and esprit de corps. The good news is that Beef is now off the table. Cow protection was always a merely Bania shibboleth. Will the repulsive Amit Shah get the message? No. Cow is his mother. Vote for cow. Once cow becomes Prime Minister and is barbecued by Sickular beef eaters, Amitji can inherit power the traditional way.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Sin is the Crime all commit alone

Newly Articled in the City, at 19,  I took on such a mess
Affording a Clinic in Richmond- not her routine NHS
'It really was yours!', she cried, and wept on the phone.
Sin being the Crime all commit alone

Monday, 26 October 2015

Varoufakis' Vanity Politics

Vanity Politics acknowledges that Political Action is Vain but, out of Vanity, insists it must nevertheless burgeon senselessly.

This is Varoufakis explaining his brand of Vanity Politics. My comments are in italics.

'I have written extensively and spoken out extensively against the very DNA of the European Union. However it is one thing to criticise a set of institutions like the European Union, criticise the way it was put together and the way it functions. It is quite another thing to argue that it should be dismantled. This is what we call in mathematics, hysteresis. The path that you take to somewhere, once you get to that somewhere, doesn’t exist any more. We can’t just turn around upon the original path and find ourselves outside where we used to be. So we have walked this path towards a particular union, however toxic it might be, and if we try to step back from it, we are going to fall off a cliff.
Hysteresis means path-dependence, lagged effects and unintended consequences. These arise in all social situations- even something as simple as a marriage. A couple who mutually make a rational decision to divorce may find that there are unexpected costs and a period of adjustment. 
In the immediate aftermath of a divorce both parties may experience a fall in their well-being because of hysteresis effects. However, since human beings switch from trait-based behavior to a 'situational' calculus when there is a sharp change in circumstances, the hysteresis effects of divorce tend to fade away and both parties are likely to end up better off. 
'Situational' attitudes are based not on one's genetic traits or habits of thought but a rational analysis of the situation. People with dissimilar traits converge quickly to the 'situationally' rational solution once a sharp enough change in the decision environment is made. This return to 'ergodicity' is why Economics is not empty.
Varoufakis thinks that the EU mustn't break up because the hysteresis costs will be too high. This means that Europeans can never switch from trait-based to situational decision criteria. Suppose Varoufakis is right. Then Democratizing the EU would be the worst possible choice on our menu because Europeans can never vote for the best program (which is determined by the logic of the situation, not by inherent traits or preferences or ideologies) but are bound to vote for an incompossible, self contradictory, bundle. Thus they will vote for lower taxes with higher public spending, Open borders without any Immigrants from strange Cultures, Regime Change everywhere without any of our soldiers dying or our country suffering any terrorist blowback.
That is my view. It is exactly what happened in the 1920s. There was a union at that time. It wasn’t formalised but it was very strong. It was the gold standard. Its fragmentation brought about apocalyptic human losses and I very much fear that we would have the same thing now.

Varoufakis says the Gold Standard was a good thing. But Germany and Japan could only join it- thus accessing Western Capital Markets- after exacting reparations from the French and Chinese respectively. In other words, militarism is what made adherence to the Gold standard possible for two of the great manufacturing nations. Similarly, France and Britain had to maintain large Empires- to the detriment of their common defense- so as to stay on Gold.  But these Empires were a destabilizing factor in World politics. Indeed, the US had to abandon Bretton Woods quasi-gold because it got entangled in France's losing rear-guard action in Vietnam.
Getting on to Gold, or staying on Gold, caused the chauvinistic militarism & Imperialism which was responsible for 'apocalyptic human losses'. 
Does Varoufakis really believe that Britain going off Gold caused Luddendorf and Schleicher and Blomberg to pave the way for Hitler's expansionism and Ethnic Cleansing? Surely he understands at least basic Keynesian macroeconomics? Abandoning the Gold standard was a factor in saving the Democracies from Fascist parties at home. Deficit financing certainly helped defeat Hitler abroad. Does Varoufakis really not know this?

Varoufakis's Theory of the State
Europe and the European Union are not the same thing. The problem with the EU is that it has all the regalia of a supranational state, without being one. It is not only that it is not formally a state. Its DNA, its history, the way in which it has been put together is completely different from the way a state emerges. A state emerges as a result of the political need for a mechanism, a collective action mechanism, that ameliorates class conflict and group conflict.
Has any State anywhere at any time emerged as a result of the political need for a collective action mechanism that ameliorates class & group conflict? Nope. Not a single one. Every State which has ever existed emerged from Conquest or the exigencies of defense against Conquest. Collective action mechanisms for resolving 'class' or 'group' conflict may be forbidden by the State or may work in its absence or in a sub rosa manner. A few States do have organs responsible for particular types of conflict- e.g. compulsory arbitration in Labor disputes- but these organs tend to wither away or become ineffective. It might be argued that Parliament is nothing but a 'collective action mechanism' of the Varoufakis type. However, Parliaments have functioned perfectly well at times when collective action by particular groups have been wholly illegal and those groups have had no representation whatsoever. Currently, Parliaments pay scant heed to the demands of Labor because Industrial Action tends to hurt workers more than Globalized Corporations. This does not mean that the State has withered away. 

So take the US or the UK. The English state began with the need to find some kind of balance between different lords and barons. Rubbish! The Norman Conquest created a limited monarchy of a particular sort whose subsequent trajectory is not reducible to the amelioration of class conflict.  The Magna Carta was a clash between the king’s central authority and the barons, and later on you had the clash between the landed gentry on one hand and the merchants. The industrialists come in and the working class comes in. Different groups clashing mercilessly for control. And the state emerges through this clash of these tectonic plates smashing one another and the state becomes the set of institutions that have legitimacy or try to base their legitimacy on a mandate from the population as a whole, in order to create some kind of balance of power – to equilibrate these conflicts, to stabilise them. There is a conflict between the class of criminals and the class of their victims. Varoufakis thinks the State emerges so as to ameliorate this conflict by setting a Parliament where criminals can argue that medals should be given to stalwarts who rape victims while robbing them while law-abiding citizens can elect representatives who deprecate this practice.
Is this what actually happened? No. Not at all. There was no reasoned discussion or Parliamentary give and take. Instead the State set up Courts and Prisons and Gallows and Guillotines. Varoufakis may believe otherwise. He might think that, in England, the High Court Judge, in his horse hair wig, acts like the Speaker of Parliament, while the criminal class harangue their victims and propose that medals should be awarded to the most depraved of their members.  
So this is how a state forms. By definition, the state, even if it is not democratic, as in China for instance, nevertheless is a purely political process for the purpose of stabilising social conflicts. Rubbish! States exacerbate Social conflict to the point where some people cease to be members of Civil Society because other people are part of the State and have the right to beat and torture and imprison and kill them for a reward. Does Varoufakis think no State has ever been a 'Stationary Bandit'? Does he imagine no State would ever invade another State? If all State's do is 'stabilize social conflict' why do they have Armies and Navies?

Now Europe, Brussels, did not emerge like that. Europe emerged as a cartel of heavy industry. Europe emerged after the Conquest of Germany and its partition between the Soviets and the Americans.  The two super-powers wanted to develop the resources of their 'Allies' (willing or not) so as to shift some of the financial burden of defense onto them. Western Europe, in order to recover Economically and to shoulder more of its Defense burden had to improve Economic integration thus gaining Scale and Scope economies. The owners of the Mines and Steel foundries opposed the setting up of the ECSC precisely because it was not a monopolistic, profit maximising Cartel. The German Socialists also opposed it, because they wanted Nationalisation and re-unification on the basis of a shared Economic system.

Still, one could say the European project started as a Zollverein- as did German reunification. What's so wrong with that? Is Varoufakis saying that Germany would have been worse off if the wars of 1866 and 1870 hadn't been fought? Is he saying that German political unification, without Prussian militarism, would have been a worse outcome for Europe? 
It began with steel and coal, and then they co-opted the farmers, then they co-opted the bankers, and then the car industry and then eventually the service industries, and so on and so forth. It was an attempt to create stable prices, to limit competition, the opposite of the raison d’etre of the British state and of course the American state. When was the 'raison d'etre' of the British State the promotion of Competition?  'Restraint of Trade' is part of the Common Law, not King's Equity. It has to do with the enforcability of contracts and is not jurisdiction dependent. Combination Acts- which issued from the Legislature- did not promote competition. Rather they reduced Labour's countervailing power. Britain pursued Mercantilist policies till halfway into the Nineteenth Century. More recently, British Competition policy was far more permissive than that of the U.S. which did, at one time, pass robust anti-Trust legislation. However, the US was also more corrupt and vested interests could and can fund 'Agency Capture' quite easily. Thus Varoufakis is talking utter bollocks when he pretends that the reason the State exists in the U.S and the U.K is to promote competition.  So the idea was to stabilise prices and to stop the clash between German industry, French industry, northern Italian industry, Dutch industry - that kind of thing. What clash? Does Varoufakis not understand the importance of intra-industry trade and 'disintegration' for modern Industrial Capitalism? Does he really not understand portfolio diversification theory? In any case, Europe was a price taker in Coal and Steel. Coal soon had competition from Electricity and Oil. What was notable about the ECSC was its commitment to raising the living standards of workers- though, it must be said, it never managed to equalize rewards across borders.
There is a huge difference between a state that emerges as a political means for stabilising class conflict and the administrative personnel of a cartel. Multi National Cartels break down because of the free-rider problem- i.e. some Nations cheat. The 'administrative personnel' of a purely commercial cartel-like De Beers- may make monopolistic profits for themselves for a period- but only if they can purchase or otherwise avail of political complaisance. 

British industry was never part of that cartel and that is why Britain came so late to the European Common Market. Nonsense. 'Sunrise' Industries in Britain had close relationships with Continental firms.  Britain needed to join the Common Market for logistical reasons. True, there were some 'Sunset' industries which would lose out- but Europe was always about schmoozing and featherbedding so that wasn't the problem. Britain came in effectively to replace a lost empire by having access to these markets. But the markets were already cornered by the central European cartel. Britain was losing its domestic market because of high per unit labor costs and poor quality.  Why speak of some foreign cartel? Would Herr Schmidt really have preferred a British Leyland Car to a BMW or a Mercedes? No. Nor would Mr. Smith. 

So the reason why the British establishment has never been enamoured of the European Union is because it never was part of the cartelising process which gave rise to Brussels. Rubbish. It was the efficiency of the British agricultural sector and the malice of the French which caused Thatcher to protest the huge net contribution being levied on what had become a poor relative. That is not a bad thing. But I’m trying to explain why in Germany, Holland, Belgium, the establishment, the elites, do not ever question the European Union, whereas in Britain it is questioned. Urm...does the Channel not have something to do with this? A Belgian or French supplier or customer may be closer and have lower transport costs for a German firm- because there is no Channel to cross- and thus Economic integration was always likely to have a higher pay-off for them. Since the Channel is cheaper to cross than the Atlantic or the Pacific, Britain had to join the Common Market, though- being at the periphery- ceteris paribus, it gained less.
So here in the UK you end up with a situation where nobody likes it. The working class doesn’t like it, because the EU doesn’t have the interests of the working class of Britain in mind. Rubbish! The British Working Class wants the 'Social Minimum', reduced working week, higher statutory redundancy payments, longer holidays, taxes on Hedge Funds and so on. It doesn't want to give money to Greek kleptocrats. It does want French type featherbedding and German type Apprenticeships. But at the same time British industry does not have the same stake in it. The City has a stake in it, and some businesses, some small pockets of businesses also do have. Everything follows from this. The European Union had to develop a common currency because if you are going to build a cartel you need to have stable prices. OPEC was a cartel. Iraq and Saudi Arabia adopted a common currency- NOT! If Varoufakis is right about the Common Market starting as a Cartel how does he explain that there was no move towards monetary integration for thirty years? For the first twenty years the stability of prices was guaranteed by Bretton Woods. No, it was guaranteed by Exchange Control. Triffin's Dilemma  had a workaround so long as domestic savers could be denied access to foreign assets. After 1971, Europe tries to create its own gold standard Bretton Woods system, which then became the euro. Nonsense! Europe sought to reduce currency fluctuation- which increased uncertainty and reduced trade- by replacing a costly and inefficient system of exchange controls with an agreement by its Central Banks to support each other on the basis of Fiscal and Monetary policy Harmonization.

 To maximize Seignorage and reduce Uncertainty, some countries voluntarily adopted the Euro which was issued by an independent Central Bank and backed by an 'ordoliberal'  Stability & Growth pact (i.e. macro-harmonization while preserving Tiebout type subsidiarity) However, this proved a mistake in the case of relatively closed or dual type economies like Greece. Britain, wisely, didn't join because of structural dis-similarities and differences in its trade elasticities- i.e. the optimal currency area conditions were not met. So Britain is in a precarious situation vis a vis the EU. Britain keeps saying to the world that they want the single market but they don’t want Brussels. But they can’t have that. Britain keeps saying to the world that they want the single market but they don’t want Brussels. But they can’t have that. Britain's position isn't precarious at all. Why? It is not negotiating on the basis of hysteresis effects but ergodic truths. It has adopted a rational, situationalist approach and long-run everyone else is going to move to a stituationalist calculus thus militating for a rational solution. Britain isn't whining about German reparations or demonizing Brussels as part of some 'Global Minatour'. It is proceeding rationally. It will have a Referendum which actually means something unlike Syrizia's Referendum.
So my view is that the problems with the EU have to do with the way in which it was constructed in the first place as a democracy-free-zone. It is completely democracy-free by design. Which is why there is no European Parliament. Britain is not - due to the difference between Brussels as opposed to London in terms of DNA. From my perspective, progressive Brits have no alternative other than to stay in the EU and join us in trying to democratise it. If we fail to democratise the EU, it really doesn’t make much of a difference whether we’re in or out. Unless of course Britain finds a way of replacing the 60% of its trade with the EU, with someone else. This it won’t be able to do.If we fail to democratise the EU, it really doesn’t make much of a difference whether we’re in or out.

The E.U has undemocratic DNA. You can't change DNA unless you know Science and are smart. European voters don't know Science and arent' smart. Thus there is no Democratic way by which European voters can democratize the Union. Still, because human beings are incapable of situational rationality but remain trapped in hysteresis for eternity, leaving the EU would cause Economic and Social collapse. Thus we must all pretend to be trying to democratize Europe, though Europe can never be democratic, because Politics is an exercise in Vanity simply. Vain people, like Varoufakis, should be considered great Politicians because they tell us in advance that nothing they can do will make any difference but their pretending to do that nothing is not utterly vain because their Vanity still needs to be fed.

The single most important lesson that I have learned is that it doesn’t matter. Because if the message is strong, given the need for a movement that expresses this craving for a modicum of democratic control over the sources of power in Europe, I think the groundswell of people will, as it did in Greece, carry us through. We won 61.3% of the vote in the referendum against every single television, radio station and every newspaper. They were all campaigning for the yes. We could do it in Greece, we could do it in Europe.

And in the final analysis, it is as Homer has taught us. It is not so much the journey that matters as the destination. It is a good fight and we have to fight it

So there you have it. Varoufakis is a meat-headed Ajax who fights for the sake of the glory of defeat because nothing really matters. All is Vanity. Come on Sheeple! Join in the struggle! Here is your good Shepherd who- in the madness of his injured amour propre- flails along thinking the sheep he slaughters are actually the evil Achaens of Brussels.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Blight's seed in bitterness hurled

Not Knowledge is Duality's forbidden fruit
But its Incompossibility is, at root,
Blight's seed, in bitterness hurled,
Thy ruderal weed to a ruinous World.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Grothendieck in Ghalib 82

Tho' this plaint but ricks famine's sheaves above Aegypt's flooding woe
& only Echo grieves Yusuf's fetters the heart treasures to yet know
Ghalib's mirror-house black-holed by the Tyrant's lustration
Betters Her Metrical infold of Geometrical frustration

Vide Pritchett's 'Desertful of roses'.
bah nālah ḥāṣil-e dil-bastagī farāham kar
matāʿ-e ḳhānah-e zanjīr juz ṣadā maʿlūm

1) with/through lamentation/wailing, gather together the harvest/outcome of heart-binding
2) the property/wealth of a house of chains, except for sound/cry is-- 'known' [to be nothing]

bah qadr-e ḥauslah-e ʿishq jalvah-rezī hai
vagarnah ḳhānah-e āʾīnah kī faẓā maʿlūm

1) according to the capacity/spirit of passion is the {glory/appearance}-scattering
2) otherwise, the width/expanse of the mirror-house {is / would have been}-- 'known' [to be nothing]

asad fareftah-e intiḳhāb-e t̤arz-e jafā
vagarnah dil-barī-e vaʿdah-e vafā maʿlūm

1) Asad is beguiled/seduced by the choice/selection of the style/manner of cruelty/oppression
2) otherwise, the heart-stealingness of the promise/vow of faithfulness {is / would be}-- 'known' [to be nothing]

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Vyasa's Vighnaharta

Much has been written about the Gita but few mention the elephant in the room.
For Hindus- it is Ganesh.
The main obstacle Vyasa faced in composing the Mahabharata was finding a faultless scribe to take down his inspired verses. As 'destroyer of obstacles' our friendly elephant headed God volunteered to be Vyasa's amanuensis.

But Ganesha is also the 'creator of obstacles' and His presence lets us focus on the biggest obstacle that would arise in the composition of a work which shows that the Just King must learn Statistical Game Theory to overcome 'vishaada'- debilitating angst or Moral Uncertainty.

What is that obstacle? Well, in any didactic exercise or gedanken there is always the danger that either the speaker or the auditor, or both, will forget the wholly metaphorical nature of the underlying discourse and begin indulging in 'meta-metaphoricity'- i.e. taking a metaphor for a fact and constructing another metaphor, itself taken as fact, upon this illusory basis. In other words, there is a slippery slope from the rigors of Alice in Wonderland to twee Sylvie & Bruno type nonsense.

To underline this obstacle, it is interesting that Ganesha warns Vyasa that he must not stop the flow of his dictation- in other words, Vyasa has to have a heuristic against facile nonsense- and Vyasa adds the stipulation that Ganesha should pause if he does not understand a couplet- thus always being able to buy time for himself by employing Vedic 'Slehsa' or metonymy.
Thus Vyasa, internalizing a Noether type symmetry conservation heuristic, remains on his guard against facile prolixity while Ganesha, who only pauses for what is deep- i.e. Vedic- is able to remove the obstacle he himself, as Vighnakarta, created so that as a matter of fact, not conjecture, the Mahabharata becomes a truly divine book dispelling all delusion, though only for stupid debased drunkards like me. Savants and people of good character can always study the Vedas which I am too stupid and evil to propound, while my aleatory exposure to the 'fifth Veda' enables me to have a good laugh at the silly things scholars say about it.

In particular, in Game Theory- the dramatic scenarios it invokes- the word 'rational' is used in a wholly metaphorical sense. The elephant in the room is Muth rationality- human beings are social animals and only that is rational which we would all agree - this is called Rawlisan 'overlapping consensus'- is the correct theory all can act upon for the best empirical outcome.

Game theoretic exercises show how 'rational' following a rule leads to irrational catastrophes and this has instrumental value provided we don't forget the motivation of the elephant in the room- viz. the fact that we only created an artificial obstacle so as to improve our insight into how to get rid of a real stumbling block.

In other words, Game theory studies rationality artificially constrained to be irrational so that the actual constraints on Muth Rationality- re. Information aggregation and decisional heuristics- are better understood and circumvented.

The Mahabharata, though showing that Policy Principals need to apply Statistics and Game Theory, also reveals that Moral Agents need something else entirely to escape Vishaada- i.e. existential angst.
The Bhagvad Gita- in which both the incarnation of the Divine and the representation of the human-too-human are merely Agents, not Principals- comes to the conclusion that human life is ontologically dyshoric- even Presentism must turn into Theistic Occassionalism such that this world is devalued- it is rejected as heimat- and ontlological dysphoria is itself celebrated as 'Vishaada Yoga' and becomes foundational to Raja Yoga and Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga- i.e. all the good stuff.

Viktor Orban may be a cat even if no cat is Viktor Orban.

Does 'No cat is Viktor Orban' necessarily imply 'Viktor Orban is not a cat'? No because Viktor Orban may have the property of being a cat only when it is established that no cat does.

What happens when we add the stipulation that there is at least one cat? Can we now deduce from 'No cat is Viktor Orban' that 'Viktor Orban is not a cat.'? No because Viktor Orban may have the property of being promoted to cat status iff only one cat is confirmed in that property. Similarly the existence of n cats who are not Viktor Orban may itself vest the property of being a cat in him.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The truth about Jivanmuktas

My Seetha was an eight year old Iyengar whose fierce affection
Taught my Iyer alterity its grotesque reflection
 Fear mills Demeter on Belief's lathe
Till, Dis, thy LSEusis matriculates Faith

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Muth Rational Migration Theory.

When my mother asked if we were hungry, sister would reply 'So hungry, my Capital is Budapest!' which earned her a biscuit. I would get angry and weep bitter tears till my wife intervened and threatened my Mum with prison under India's draconian anti-dowry legislation. Then I too got a biscuit.

What prompts this digression down Memory lane, is the spectacle of Hungry Border Guards beating refugees from Syria because they don't all happen to look like Amal Clooney-
As Ghalib said-
I will swing for you, mate, the way you translate my ghazals all Auto-tuney
Tho' Heaven's Houris, too, could wait were my lawyer Amal Clooney

As so often happens on this blog, mention of Ghalib means I've been drinking and thus the great ethical dilemma of the day will, very quickly, be shown to decompose into a simple case of ignoring Muth Rationality. 

In this case, Merkel's  policy of dithering till Public Perception of a crisis for Liberal values snowballed meant that the 'Ordo'- i.e. rule based- part of Ordoliberalism- became a nullity.

Essentially, Merkel's salience meant Media led, ad captum vulgi, Crises were the 'discovery' process for Social Choice. This was fine if Europe actually had more capacity for Liberal policies than could be acknowledged by the 'Ordo' rule-set because of some cognitive bias or Ambiguity aversion.

However, Merkel's flip flop- saying 'come one, come all' one day and then suspending Schengen a couple of days later- means that Viktor Orban (who is actually my neighbor's cat which ran away back in the Nineties) has suddenly gained salience as the Arrowvian dictator or mimetic leader.

One outcome is that backward induction can now show the Muth Rational solution- viz. Country X, which will take migrant y, even in violation of its rule-set, should arrange the current safety and wait listed transport of that migrant immediately. Otherwise the present value of the cost of treatment for trauma, which will fall upon the final host, will outweigh the current cost of arranging safe warehousing and wait listed transport.

Of course, this way,  avoidable death and suffering to migrants, and profits accruing to people smugglers, would not arise. That's a good thing. The argument could be made that People's Preferences would not change unless these avoidable deaths actually occur- i.e.  bead babies washing up on the beach, or a dad with a bloody face clutching his baby running from the Hungarians- but this is not a moral argument. In any case, Human beings are very good at simulating horrible outcomes so as to awake feelings of pity and terror. A well made film- even a poem by a school kid- would change our preferences without even the depiction of death or suffering. The suggestion of vulnerability is enough.

The concept of Muth Rationality arose more than 50 years ago in response to the War time bureaucratization of Liberal Democracy with more and more decisions being delegated to clerks following rules mechanically. People like Arrow showed that Social Choice can't function democratically if rules are mechanically applied. John Muth explained why economic processes aren't hopelessly hysteresis entangled but quickly return to ergodicity from any perturbation no matter what traits or 'adaptive expectations' type heuristics are attributed to, or indeed affirmed, by people.

The idea is simplicity itself- people will expect the result of the correct economic theory. This expectation will create its own reality iff no current obligatory passage point seeks to capture a rent.

In this case Merkel wanted to capture a reputational rent as St.Angela without running the risk or expending the effort necessary to prepare Germany for the outcome she wanted. But this rent vanished very quickly. Orban became the obligatory passage point.  Expectations are already adjusting. Orban will probably get no more, and no less that the number of migrants his people really want. Suddenly he has salience as the mimetic leader- at least on this issue.

Avoidable suffering was caused by the mixed signal Europe was sending out. Now it will build capacity to receive migrants in a rational manner. More will be saved than under the old 'wait and see' approach because 'ambiguity aversion' means rational agents jump the gun in a collectively irrational way.
There won't be a 'cobweb' type increasing or decreasing oscillation around the Muth rational solution- provided Merkel learns her lesson.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Hindu Ethics vs Ethical Hinduism.

Hindu Ethics refers to the Norms observed by Hindus. Ethical Hinduism is the critical hermeneutics of Hindu Ethics.
To grasp the distinction, I will permit you a small glimpse of my personal life.

It so happened that a young friend invited me for his son's upanayanam (sacred thread) ceremony. I accepted graciously and mentioned what time he should pick me up. A couple of days later, I was having a drink or two and got to thinking.
My friend was certainly observing Hindu Ethics but was he really practicing Ethical Hinduism? Anyway, I sent him a Skype message to the following effect-
'Chiranjivi Sanjay,
You are a wealthy young man and carry on the philanthropic tradition of your ancestors. No doubt, you will provide us a splendid meal and have given a big donation to the Temple so the Swami is bound to deliver a marvelous sermon. Your son, too, is now sure to follow in your footsteps. It seems you have discharged your debt to the Manes while also benefiting numerous worthwhile charities.
I have no hesitation in saying that you are doing your duty as laid down by Hindu Ethics.  However, it seems to me, something is lacking. Your earning power is such that whatever sum you give away, you will earn more very quickly. Your nature, and that of your family, is so happily constituted that you get more pleasure from contemplating the benefit gained by the recipients of your charity than any you could have purchased for yourself. Where, then, is the sacrifice on your part?

'It is not enough to observe Hindu Ethics. You must practice Ethical Hinduism- which is founded upon sacrifice. Cut off your arms, roast them properly and then set off to feed some hungry cannibals or animals. After that, by all means, proceed with your son's upanayanam.'

I didn't get any answer. Next day I woke up late with a headache. The auspicious muhurath for the upanayanam had already passed. I asked my house-bound neighbor whether my friend had come to ring my bell. He was supposed to pick me up in his car. My neighbor said no one had rung my bell for months except the bailiffs. Anyway, I rang my friend and left some messages but got no answer.
A few days later I saw my friend's wife in the Ambala Sweet Shop. She saw me too but I was able to cut off her escape.
'What, I say, is wrong with your husband? I instructed him to kindly cut off his arms, roast them and find some hungry cannibals or animals to feed them to. Ethical Hinduism demands no less. Seems he is ignoring me completely! Didn't even come to pick me up for your son's upanayanam! Won't even answer when I ring! What sort of behavior is this? How he can still call himself Hindu?'
'Uncleji,' his wife replied, 'he cut off arms just as you advised. That is why he was unable to drive to your house or to pick up phone when you ring. I offered to do it for him, but he said only he can discharge his own duty- by learning to use his legs and prehensile toes- and must incur sin till he is able to do so. Let me give you his new private phone number. Leave as many messages on it as you like. Be sure he will answer you once he has properly trained his legs and toes.'

I must tell you, I felt greatly relieved to hear this. But along with relief, I also felt some remorse. I should not have recklessly accused my young friend of being an acharabrashta and Hindu by name alone.

This remorse was unwarranted. I just bumped into the fellow today. He explained that due to global liquidity trap arising from the Singerian sub-prime catastrophe relating to the currency of deontic Utilitarianism, there is contango in the alms market creating a Parrando's Game type Arbitrage strategy for Effective Altruism applicable to arms chopped off to feed hungry cannibals or animals. Thus his current arms actually belong to his younger self and can't discharge obligations undertaken after they had themselves been given up.
Since, as readers of this blog know, I am an expert on Financial Matters, I was easily able to understand how contango arises in this context.
Yet another reason that, as Varoufakis says, we Ethical Hindus must unite to slay the Global Minatour of Capitalist Humbuggery.
Meanwhile, kindly cut off your arms, roast them nicely and feed them to hungry cannibals or animals.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Muth Rationality and the Pirate's Game

Rationality has to do with making optimal choices by means of a effectively computable calculus. There are other ways to make optimal choices- e.g. 'expert cognition' which is apophatic- and situations where some wholly intuitionistic or oracular process can be shown to yield a better result than any effectively computable method.

What happens when you set up a gedanken where you specifically prohibit the rational choice, yet demand that a rational methods be applied?
The answer is- you get nonsense. Take the following example-

The Pirate's Game. (from Wikipedia)
There are 5 rational pirates, A, B, C, D and E. They find 100 gold coins. They must decide how to distribute them.
The pirates have a strict order of seniority: A is superior to B, who is superior to C, who is superior to D, who is superior to E.
The pirate world's rules of distribution are thus: that the most senior pirate should propose a distribution of coins. The pirates, including the proposer, then vote on whether to accept this distribution. In case of a tie vote the proposer has the casting vote. If the distribution is accepted, the coins are disbursed and the game ends. If not, the proposer is thrown overboard from the pirate ship and dies, and the next most senior pirate makes a new proposal to begin the system again.[1]
Pirates base their decisions on three factors. First of all, each pirate wants to survive. Second, given survival, each pirate wants to maximize the number of gold coins each receives. Third, each pirate would prefer to throw another overboard, if all other results would otherwise be equal.[2] The pirates do not trust each other, and will neither make nor honor any promises between pirates apart from a proposed distribution plan that gives a whole number of gold coins to each pirate.

The result
It might be expected intuitively that Pirate A will have to allocate little if any to A for fear of being voted off so that there are fewer pirates to share between. However, this is quite far from the theoretical result.
This is apparent if we work backwards: if all except D and E have been thrown overboard, D proposes 100 for D and 0 for E. D has the casting vote, and so this is the allocation.
If there are three left (C, D and E) C knows that D will offer E 0 in the next round; therefore, C has to offer E 1 coin in this round to win E's vote, and get C's allocation through. Therefore, when only three are left the allocation is C:99, D:0, E:1.
If B, C, D and E remain, B considers being thrown overboard when deciding. To avoid being thrown overboard, B can simply offer 1 to D. Because B has the casting vote, the support only by D is sufficient. Thus B proposes B:99, C:0, D:1, E:0. One might consider proposing B:99, C:0, D:0, E:1, as E knows it won't be possible to get more coins, if any, if E throws B overboard. But, as each pirate is eager to throw each other overboard, E would prefer to kill B, to get the same amount of gold from C.
Assuming A knows all these things, A can count on C and E's support for the following allocation, which is the final solution:
  • A: 98 coins
  • B: 0 coins
  • C: 1 coin
  • D: 0 coins
  • E: 1 coin[2]
Also, A:98, B:0, C:0, D:1, E:1 or other variants are not good enough, as D would rather throw A overboard to get the same amount of gold from B.

Is this solution 'Muth rational'? Does it conform to the prediction of the correct economic theory- viz that the booty will be divided according to fighting ability- i.e. Expected Value of their marginal contribution to any possible victorious coalition?
Clearly not.
This is a contrived paradox demonstrating something everyone already knows.
Induction is useless unless it also applies to the base case.
Here, voting on dividing the booty is irrational- pirates will always gang up to rob and kill any one with a gold coin- so no one is safe if they own gold. Thus Pirate A should offer 0,0,0,0,0 - unless Pirate A's seniority arises by reason of his superior ability to objectively and truthfully estimate each player's marginal product and this is common knowledge. However, in that case, the other rules stipulated are redundant. 
The fact that the Pirates are rankable at all means they must have a Expected Marginal Product based on their contribution to a victorious coalition. This may not be exactly known but it is something the Pirates can thoroughly discuss and, after a few iterations, you have a robust solution because it can incorporate newcomers & deal with deaths or defections.
Not so with the 'official' solution given above. A's proposal is voted down and he is thrown overboard because his solution concept is not robust at all. 

Consider the following scenario-  E is paralyzed completely. Should he vote for the 98/0/1/0/1 solution? No. Because he will be thrown overboard immediately for the sake of his gold.  Suppose D lacks arms and legs but can still roll around biting ankles and causing a minor nuisance . Should he vote for the proposed solution? No. Whoever gets the gold coin won't be him and anyway pirates like throwing each other overboard and there's little resistance he can put up. Suppose C has one leg and thus can deliver one potentially disabling kick but after which he just rolls around uselessly because he has no teeth. Should he vote for the conventional solution? No. He'll be killed for his gold. He votes with D and E and gets the pleasure of seeing A killed. Suppose B has one leg and one arm and can hop around waving a sword but will eventually be bested by A who has all his limbs- though there is a small chance that if D bites A's leg at just the right time and he trips over E, then B can deliver the killing blow.He votes yes, just in case C, D and E defect because only A is strong enough to actually throw anyone off the boat and they like contemplating that spectacle.

Of course, one can change the rules and say 'pirates can only throw people overboard after a vote of this type and are forbidden to steal from each other'. But this is equivalent of saying rationality means people can guess what I want them to do, just from the way I set up a voting game,  without my having to explicitly tell them because I have infinite power over them.' This is silly. Rationality means sometimes rebelling against a tyrant because there is no rule that says you have to follow his rules.

The Pirates' game is not wholly silly. It may have reference to poorly designed computer systems or stupid Indian politicians. But it isn't part of Economics which is about robust ergodic systems based on Muth Rational Expectations- i.e. ordinary people making situational, not trait based, hysteresis led decisions.

One other point, the question of dividing the booty would never be mooted unless it was common knowledge that no hegemonic coalition of a Barbarik type obtained.