To continue from earlier post, I think any discussion on freedom is essentially framed around two propositions, one the extent to which freedom can be restricted, and more importantly the rationale behind freedom.
Now using libertarianism as the reference point, as I pointed out (rather obviously) that libertarianism (or to be more precise mainstream libertarianism distinct from anarcho-libertarianism or similar crazy stuff) doesn't guarantee unrestricted personal freedom, but this is not inconsistent because the restriction is only to extent of imposing institution(s) whose only mandate is (or should be) to safeguard the rights. Hence even libertarianism aims to optimize the extent of freedom.
Now comes the rationale, one point of view is of right theorists, essentially holding freedom as an end in itself, or to put in other words, starting point of any discourse. Now this sort of axiomatic position is bound to pass unchallenged in polite society, considering how any disputation to notion of inviolability of freedom will be considered scandalous. Being impolite I hold this position to be more or less worthless, and entirely based on contemporary sentimentalism.
The second position, of consequentalism, holds more appeal for me. Briefly, this position supports freedom as the means with overall social prosperity as the end. However in this case to determine the extent of freedom is a very difficult question and determined by prevailing definition of social good, and also broadly by the social conditions. The nature of rights have a profound effect on civilization.
Now personally speaking, I have yet to arrive at any concrete conclusion of my own. Meanwhile the premises (or the guidelines) that I favour for my orientation are
1. Any constructive work, any innovation is only possible out of a man's own volition. If I were to elaborate, explanation would be something like this.
2. People, generally speaking, are idiots. Therefore it follows a vast majority will use freedom to do something idiotic, with some able to accomplish acts stupendously idiotic in nature.
3. State, by virtue of having monopoly on use of force, is inherently evil.
Monday, May 21, 2007
To continue from earlier post, I think any discussion on freedom is essentially framed around two propositions, one the extent to which freedom can be restricted, and more importantly the rationale behind freedom.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
George Bernard Shaw couldn't have been more truthful than when he said,
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. " *
For the truth is only those who are crazy enough, and also audacious enough to tilt at windmills *, can and will tilt at world.
Whenever one beholds a revolutionary, one is also witness to a phenomenon which defies reason. Self preservation of life is the strongest instinct and choosing death for sake of others or ideals is insanity.
We should thank God for such insanity, for this preserves the civilization.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
(Most of this is speculation, it may be correct, or it may be way off the mark)
The previous intervention was rhetorical. However the purpose of rhetoric was not to imply any contradiction and hence invalidate libertarianism, but to emphasize the nuance involved in the personal freedom argument. Now at risk of repeating, I am not well versed with libertarianism and hence this is speculation.
Now taxation as a rule involves coercion by state, with many people paying taxes only to avoid punishment by state, some of course even risking the punishment by evading tax. Hence taxation as policy does suppress and restrict personal freedom. Even then taxation doesn't introduce contradiction in libertarianism.
Now libertarianism comes in hazaar flavours (which is one of the reasons that I am not committing), however following statements holds true for most of the case.
"State will not restrict personal freedom of individual(s), (which includes transaction between two individuals) unless any non-consenting party is affected adversely as result of action of the concerned individual. "
From the above definition one may be tempted to conclude that taxation is unreasonable restriction of freedom by state. However this is not true, and not very hard to see why.
State collects tax to fund its activities and organization, without tax state can not exist.
But existence of state is assumed as given in the above definition of libertarianism.
This essentially implies that even with libertarianism while individual can not be stopped by state from exercising his freedom, his submitting to the authority of state is not subject to his agreement, he is coerced to accept the authority .
This means that personal freedom is circumscribed. This of course follows from definition of state and social contract.
I do admit that I am being Captain Obvious. Unfortunately people seem to miss obvious nowadays and increasingly consider Personal freedom to be either axiom to be used in deductive logic or holy grail of induhvidualism. It is nothing of sort.
Friday, May 11, 2007
For some reason I made a claim in earlier post that Spiderman - 3 was the best of the franchise. I have no idea what made me say this. It isn't
Now as far as the idea behind movie, portrayal of a darker Spiderman, is concerned, it certainly had potential. However one suspects that Sam Raimi was overwhelmed by the complexity of the plot and lost his way.
In terms of characterization Spiderman never had much of a meaner side as opposed to Batman, who, let's say, had issues. This is the reason why historically Spiderman has held more appeal for adolescent readers, with the character etched over the years to reflect its demographics.
Spiderman in addition to dealing with scum of the earth and space, also grapples with issues like insecurity and fear, and therefore strikes a cord with young. He is a typical silver age hero contending with the modern age.
Now the previous movies were thematically similar in that they dealt with Peter Parker, a weakling coming to terms with his new found powers and subsequent transformation to a somewhat reluctant super hero responsible for protection of others on the way dealing with his insecurity and angst, the latest movie was intended to project a darker Spiderman.
The idea was to show Spiderman dealing with his own ego. The idea is not novel, having been dealt with in literature since times immemorial and in works as diverse as Shakespearean drama to juvenile literature.
However to project this idea on screen was problematic. The portrayal could either be that of a teenager with bad attitude or that of fallen angel although redeemed in the end. Director tried to incorporate elements of both, but the genres are so disparate that there was never a coherent narrative, which was the strength of previous two movies (and special effects of course).
To make the matter worse, plot was further muddled by first unnecessarily including love triangle between Mary Jane, Harry Osborne and Peter Parker, and then treating it half hearted. But for me the biggest let down were the villains. Now even in the previous movies Green goblin and Doc ock were essentially grey characters, not inherently evil but rather transformed due to sleight of fate, propelled by their ego and ambition to their demise.
However there the internal conflict and the succumbing to evil did not hamper the flow of narrative.
Unfortunately the latest film is for most part tedious and banal, a story most contrived.
Every character in this movie except for the Peter Parker's aunt is conflicted. The development of multiple back stories and attempt to explore the struggle take too much time and distract from the action, the ambiguity which pervades through out the film throttles the narrative. The villains are also a puppet of their fates, petty jealousy and insecurities. This might have worked in previous movies, but when already the protagonist and antagonist are grey, one questions the wisdom of painting the whole canvas in same colour.
It would have helped if the villains were presented as evil and larger than life, somewhat like Mephistopheles of Goethe's Faust.
The moral of the story, "Too many hamlets screw a comic book adaptation."
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Sunday, May 06, 2007
1) While I was returning home after enjoying a delicious buffet (which was after watching Spiderman III, certainly not a master piece but the best movie of the franchise, the most disappointing being Spiderman II), I had a Eureka movement. A long time ago, cartel heretic RaviKiran had claimed that civilization must be annihilated from time to time, so as to make people miserable and thereby eliminating ennui. Now I have a simpler solution, in one word, "Bureaucracy".
2) If you are moving to Pune and intend to drive a bike, it is advisable to get rid of your spine, in fact all the bones. I am feeling a bit tender (literally, not figuratively)
3) Now to more important things. Consider the statement, "the sum of the angles of a triangle is always equal to two right angles". This holds true every where whichever nook and corner of universe you might be*.
The above statement is a theorem and once proved using necessary steps has universal validity as long as the the underlying assumptions hold.
As opposed to theorems, "rule of thumb" is not supposed to be accurate, more a reflection of existing context, and therefore statistical in nature. Also unlike theorem it is not dependant on mathematical proof.
This means I can say "If I were to state the rule in one sentence, “Don’t do anything in
public,that you would’t do in front of your parents”. How is this? ", to summarize my argument, even though it is possible that there are parents who like to watch their offspring swear in front of them, or fornicate in front of them, or even fantasize about having a bit of poontang with them. I can state my rule of thumb without caring about what logic may say, as long as I can demonstrate that my rule holds empirically.
4) Now coming to logic, suppose there are two attributes 'X' and 'not X' (represented as '~X'), you assign a action 'S' either of above attributes dependant on a criteria 'func', such that 'func(S)' either evaluates to 'X' or 'not X' . Now if you assign a certain action, a certain attribute based on certain criteria, it is perfectly logical for me to ask what attribute you will assign a different action based on same criteria. Therefore when I ask this, all I am interested is in value judgement system, I am not concerned about 'truth value' of that action. More on in it later.
5) Public property and private property is different. A theatre is a private property, a television is a private property, a road is not (or to be precise more often than not). I don't care about private properties, for all I care people are free to organize roman orgies in a theatre or show smut on channel as long as the owner of property is willing**, because I can avoid going to them. I am concerned with public property, I can't avoid walking on road. People should have that much of common sense.
6) Now before jumping onto more important things, a clarification.
I am a normal human being, those looking for alpha males (or females) should look elsewhere, I am sure Indian blogosphere is full of them. Further while the questions whether I have kissed, or I had orgies while in college or whether I use toilet paper or good old finger may be of interest to some (for whatever godforsaken reason), I don't discuss my private life on blog, and I find a bit amusing when people do it. I also do think that it is a somewhat of a sorry state of affairs when debates degenerate to the level where mocking someone for "scores" is considered to be humorous or witty. To repeat I never claimed I was a lady killer, if someone thought otherwise I can't help it.
7) Back to the topic, expecting that deductive reasoning can explain existence is absurd. Considering we are living in age of conceit, it is positively dangerous (for civilization). Of course that will not stop people from believing in exactly the same folly.
8) As far as public decency or more generally social ethos go, I have already claimed that I don't have watertight logic. From my previous statement I also do not believe such kind of logic is possible for all the cases, this case is certainly one. Social ethos if any exists is dependant on the context.
Pharoahs married their sister, Greeks had Paederasty, Spartans instituted nudity as a custom to forge soldier society, also infanticide was acceptable in Greece. Then there are the societies, imagined in "Stranger in a strange land", "Moon is a harsh mistress" , "The number of the beast"and even "Time enough for love"
Even considering if I were pushed, I can only venture the explanation that I feel sex is something which is very intimate and private and therefore bedroom is a proper place for it.
Of course kissing is not intercourse, but at least in case of India, it is in the same league, if not the same ballpark.
But why should I feel so. I am again at less. But if I were to hazard a guess, then it would be something like this. I believe that a result of evolution, human is among the few animal who can procreate at any time of the year, and also who indulges in sexual activities purely for pleasure (the other being dolphin, I think) . I think that these factors make sex a very strong influence on human instinct, just like hunger. And also like hunger, even for sex evolution is not able to keep up with rapid changes humans have affected. And hence social mores evolve to moderate the influence of sex. That combined with the fact that sex is a crucial (if not the most) factor effecting the stability of the fundamental unit of society, that is family and therefore the whole society. Hence this historical progression to push sex towards a private sphere. But I am not a expert in evolution and therefore this is at most uninformed conjecture. Of course one can wax poetry about entwined bodies and what not, but I am afraid it is just lots of nonsense.
9) Now resuming from 4) If someone declares that his criteria (or 'func') to be 'personal freedom' and attribute a certain attribute (that is 'being right') to certain action ('kissing in public') , I can ask what will be the judgements for other actions ('copulation in public', 'incest','bestiality', 'Necrophilia'), it is immaterial what percentage of population will indulge in such activities. The question is value system based on deductive logic and not empirical data.
Continuing on this, whether considering how incest is a even bigger taboo than kissing in public place, it may be even cooler to have incest-a-thon (or bang-a-goat-thon) for "freedom lovers".
Also how many will participate in it.
11) That's it. It's 7:15 in the morning and I am feeling very very sleepy.And yes, can we have a little less of grandstanding and more of understanding. May be, too much of self indulgence and disdain for others is not a good thing. Generation 'Me', what a pathetic joke.
Update. Ok forgot to add
** And others are free to boycott the owner or even the participants
Friday, May 04, 2007
I am against kissing in public places (in India).
I do not care what one does in US or France
I also do not care what one does in a private place.
Update: Since venerable Sharanji has commanded, here is my explanation (or rather attempt to explain).
What is public morality ? I don't know, I do believe it is out there, but I can not define it, I tried to do that in the past, and I failed.
I can not define former, what about personal freedom as a criteria? Since kissing between two (or more) individuals in public place is a matter of personal freedom, hence it can not be restricted, so goes the libertarian wisdom.
To proceed on that logic, that any voluntary transaction between participating individuals which doesn't harm can not be restricted in public place, the inevitable conclusion is to allow even the actual act of intercourse (in any of the positions (NSFW) described by Vatsyayana) in public space. Now I do have problem with this situation, logic or no logic (even thought I suspect most libertarians will support this conclusion).
So what to do, first I realize American society is permissive, French even more so. Many people will argue there is nothing wrong without, however I find the notion of "anything goes" troubling. It indicates, to me, a sort of unravelling of social ethos which can only result in enervating society. Now, this is my biased view, owing to the fact that I grew up in a mostly traditional society (which most of us did), and I do believe that society has played a beneficial role in my growth (which most of liberals don't believe, because you know "tradition ain't cool").
The only course left for me then is to adopt a rule of thumb. This rule is to permit only those acts which are acceptable social norms for public places, in India kissing is not a social norm for public display of affection (as opposed to west) and considered to be of intimate (and private nature). Now the social norm is a very relative term, social norm in Saudi Arabia is very different from that of India which is again very different from France. But since the specific case for India doesn't discriminate on the basis of gender, there is nothing else for me.
Another Update: If I were to state the rule in one sentence, "Don't do anything in public,that you wouldn't do in front of your parents". How is this ?
Thursday, May 03, 2007
One of the many pundits (or pondit same difference) of blogosphere* has called me anti-libertarian. Now this is totally false.I am not just anti-libertarian, I am also anti-liberty, anti-freedom and a misanthrope to boot. The very idea that there is liberty in this world, that people are free, infuriates me. However when I am the unchallenged ruler, I will work actively to suppress freedom, and anyone who feels that he needs to express himself will be supplied opinions by myself.
In my benevolent dictatorship** everybody and that means everybody will be my monkey and will do tricks, except for this guy, who will be a dead monkey.
* I would have said that bongopondit is a very lame handle (not to mention it indicates the possibility of being sired by instapundit), but for the fact that "doubtinggaurav" is lame to a much higher order. In fact the only handle which is lamer than "doubtinggaurav" is "confused", which for a blogger has same connotation as "thakela pappu" for a gigolo.For the last time a blogger is omnipresent,omniscient and omnipotent, he is never ever confused.
**Now you might ask where exactly benevolence comes into this? As a concession, I will permit each minion of mine to imagine and attribute evil laughter of his preference to me.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Now I think it is perfectly correct to state without preamble that Indian Marxist (of various hues) are the biggest pain in unmentionables as far as reforms are concerned.
Dedicated to the cause of creating a classless society by eliminating private property and establishing dictatorship of proletariat, our comrades have assiduously resisted any attempt to deregulate the Indian economy. I believe they have made a big mistake, if they want to achieve the goal.
I like to think there is a reason for this. The underpinning principle behind Marxism was class struggle, where Marx understood class in a economic context instead of social of hereditary.
Capitalism, as analyzed by Marx, is characterized by a class struggle between proletariat (those who work for wages) and bourgeoisie (owner of capital and employer of former class). Marx proposed that the only scientific evolution of this struggle was establishment of communism through intermediate step of socialism.
However there was a catch for such kind of struggle to ensure, it was necessary that society had these two well defined classes formed, conscious of self and the conflict, which meant that other contexts or identities were subsumed in the identity of economic class.
It was Marx's opinion that presence of other identities will distract from the class struggle which would lead to establishment of class society, this Marx concluded could not be realized unless capitalist society was established and had time to merge all past identities in the now well defined "economic classes".
This was the reason he regarded capitalism as necessary step for a communist revolution.
This was also the reason he supported colonial exploitation of India by British.
1853, when Marx wrote his articles on India for the New York Daily Tribune, he hailed the British rule in India as an "unconscious tool of history." He believed it was bringing about "a fundamental revolution in the social state of Asia," which would rid that continent of the muck of all ages, however painful to its people the process might be. He hoped that English steam and free trade would, by pouring into India cheap products of the British factory industry, especially Lancashire textiles, tear apart the village communities with their "stagnating" and "passive sort of existence" which formed the solid foundation of Oriental despotism, shatter the union between agriculture and industry and their self-sufficiency and isolation, and thus blow up "their economical basis." He formulated British capital's "double mission" theory--a mission destructive as well as regenerating. According to him, it was pulling down the fabric of "old Asiatic society" and laying "the material foundations of Western society in Asia." Hope then told a flattering tale, and Marx believed that the ruin and devastation caused by British colonial rule was a terrible but necessary price for "the only social revolution ever heard of in Asia."
Now one limitation of Marx was his study was based on Industrialized western Europe, where already capitalist society had matured. However application of his theory presented difficulties in non industrialized societies such as Russia, or China, the result of which was various schools which intended to modify Marxism for the specific cases, such as Stalinism, Trotskyism or Maoism. Similar developments took place in India.
However all these advancements suffered from a serious fallacy. While Marx relied on transformation of society through altering dynamics of social interaction which was result of advancement in means of production (brought about by technological developments), the latter theories, in order to expedite the changes, appointed state as primary agent responsible transformation of society. In this they were acting contrary to Marx's assertion that "state was agent of suppression", the result was dictatorship, instead of "dictatorship of proletariat", and subsequent collapse of communism.
Hence as a political group they should be the biggest supporter of economic reforms.
PS (OK, I am not really serious here, I just want to see whether I can play Devil's advocate)