Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Foundational Myths

[Orders and Organizations (by Don Boudreaux) from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux
opposition by free-market liberals to government action does not mean that we free-market liberals oppose all of the goals of the well-meaning proponents of government action.... There is a libertarian intellectual movement, of course. And I admit that I feel deep gratification whenever I reflect that in some small way I work within a tradition enriched, and more or less consciously embraced, by people such as Adam Smith, Frederic Bastiat, Mencken, Hayek, Milton Friedman, Jim Buchanan, and Vernon [Smith].
There is also a libertarian political movement, but it is notoriously undisciplined. (I've gone to a total of two Libertarian-party gatherings. The first was in 1979 in New Orleans -- dull. The second was in 1980 in NYC. At this latter event, the Libertarians decided very ostentatiously to support the Man-Boy Love Association. I thought this a bit much.)
I suppose that it is somewhat ironic that the classical-liberal and libertarian movement (perhaps a better word is "tradition") does prominently deny the myth that there's salvation in the political collective. More specifically, this tradition denies three myths that many people still doggedly believe: (1) that useful social and economic orders only result from of a conscious plan and effort -- or can invariably be improved by such conscious planning and effort; (2) that the nation is economically and morally special - that each of us has a special connection (and should have a special connection) with each and every one of our fellow citizens that we don't have with citizens of other countries; and (3) that personal pursuit of material gain is suspect or, at least, contemptible -- that it's always better to aim for "higher" purposes -- to sacrifice ourselves for others or for some cause that is "larger" than the individual.
About your point regarding private firms: it's true that nearly all private, productive economic activity takes place in organizations consisting of some, often very many, people. It's true also that people often feel loyalty to the organizations they work for or or are otherwise closely associated with. But the motivating force of such organizations in a market economy isn't chiefly these small-scale collective purposes (any one of which is often at odds with the collective purpose of some other organization). The motivating force is individual profit. And, importantly, people are usually aware of this fact, and so they're not duped into sacrificing themselves for others. Gains from trade, rather than commitment to a nebulous higher cause, is the chief motive.
One of the important influences on my thinking about this broad topic is a 1962 essay by Hayek called "Two Kinds of Order." If you ever run across this essay, I do recommend it.]

Three “myths” have ably been outlined by Don Boudreaux. His objections to them are perhaps practical, but in no way, fundamental. Boudreaux is not under any obligation to explain his thesis within a compatible ontology, but if he cares to do so, only then can their validity be ascertained. Otherwise, these are just opinions, and offer us enough leeway to continue to believe in the “myths.” [TNM]

Aiyar's ambivalence

[Home Views Editorials Big Idea Daniel H Rosen February 20, 2008 Unskilled labour was so abundant in the past that many manufacturers chose archaic modes of making stuff rather than invest in technology and innovation. That choice has brought its own problems, as many manufacturers are finding it hard to compete in the face of even moderate wage inflation. But moreover, by directing the bulk of investment into heavy industry instead of labour-intensive light industry and services, China is not growing according to its best advantages. The five biggest energy users in China — steel, cement, aluminum, glass and chemicals — employ fewer people today than they did ten years ago, and fewer people than the service sector in Guangdong province alone. China’s labour advantage simply doesn’t accrue to most of the best known Chinese firms.
Lax intellectual property rights protection has created an economy with a questionable ability to deliver real hi-tech innovation close to the frontier. Much of what passes for hi-tech in China is actually a modest adaptation of existing technology, often involving piracy. Where more significant innovation is taking place, it is usually owned and operated by foreign enterprises. This is good for China, no doubt. But it is not the same thing as booming indigenous innovation. The lack of a regulatory culture produces weak quality controls, which has made building Chinese brands difficult. Concerns about lax products standards have lately tarnished Brand China itself. Corporate governance remains merely an aspiration.]

[The high cost of delayed reform ET 26 Feb, 2008, 0018 hrs IST, Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, TNN For a short but incisive economic history of India since Independence, you should read the first hundred pages of Arvind Panagariya’s new book (India: The Emerging Giant, OUP)... The first phase, 1951-65, is widely called Nehruvian socialism. But Panagariya describes this as “Take-off under a liberal regime”. Many other academics have come to the same conclusion — that what is derided as Nehruvian socialism actually applies mainly to the Garibi Hatao policies of Indira Gandhi. Yet in fairness to Indira Gandhi, she was widely believed to be implementing a socialist agenda that Nehru launched but could not implement because of vested interests. Nehru’s socialist rhetoric was at odds with his pragmatic handling of the economy. His rhetoric called for the government to control the commanding heights of the economy. He was fascinated with Soviet-style planning. Yet in practice he presided over an era of low tariff and non-tariff barriers, and easy entry of foreign direct investment. Shell, Exxon and Caltex entered with 100% equity and no conditions. So did dozens of MNCs in pharma and other sectors. This era had price and distribution controls, many dating from World War II, but these (and industrial licensing) became serious impediments only in the 1960s. Phase 1 witnessed GDP growth acceleration to 4% per year from just 1% during the British Raj. Public investment in infrastructure, industry, agriculture and social sectors increased hugely in the first three Five Year Plans. Panagariya might have made more mention of institution building in this era, which was a source of immense strength in subsequent dark days, and continues to serve us well 60 years later. Nehru’s main fault was that he ignored the vital role of exports, and focused instead on import substitution. This approach was facilitated initially by running down the huge sterling balances India inherited from World War II, and later by foreign aid. But such financing was unsustainable. Phase 1 ended in economic ruin in 1965, when two droughts, war with Pakistan, and a suspension of foreign aid converted Nehru’s once-proud India into a beggar dependent on American food aid to prevent mass starvation...I am less gung-ho than Panagariya on how far the private sector can replace dysfunctional public services. Indeed, I worry about the sustainability of 8.5% growth in Phase V. Panagariya thinks that the reforms have been sufficiently wide and deep to explain 8.5% growth. But India ranks only 104th, far behind many African countries, in the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. The World Bank’s latest Doing Business report ranks India at just 120th out of 180 countries. India holds 126th position in the Human Development Index, and 72nd in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International. Such a country looks vulnerable in the coming global downturn.]

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar's reservation about the private sector sends shivers down our spine. [TNM]

In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo has firmly established the possibility of the divine body

[How Long Do We Have Before The Rise of the Cybermen? from Vox Nova by Henry Karlson]

[Is there any reason why he should not also liberate the bodily existence from the present law of death, division and mutual devouring and use individualisation of body as merely a useful subordinate term of the one divine Conscious-Existence made serviceable for the joy of the Infinite in the finite? or why this spirit should not be free in a sovereign occupation of form, consciously immortal even in the changing of his robe of Matter, possessed of his self-delight in a world subjected to the law of unity and love and beauty? And if man be the inhabitant of terrestrial existence through whom that transformation of the mental into the supramental can at last be operated, is it not possible that he may develop, as well as a divine mind and a divine life, also a divine body?...There are, quite certainly, other states even of Matter itself; there is undoubtedly an ascending series of the divine gradations of substance; there is the possibility of the material being transfiguring itself through the acceptation of a higher law than its own which is yet its own because it is always there latent and potential in its own secrecies. -- Location: Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > English > The Life Divine Volume-18 > The Knot Of Matter]

In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo has firmly established the possibility of the divine body materializing. Scientific or technological peregrinations, however, merely magnify the tension that the present chasm signifies. [TNM]

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Why to waste the vote?

Just a day or two before the voting day, people start asking each other in a serious and whispering tone, "Who is winning?" A strange emotion seizes them -- to be on the winning side. "Why to waste the vote? And regret after the announcement of the results," -- that's the sentiment. It is a personal sense of achievement that one had the prevision, just like buying a share, whose price soars. "Bow before the rising Sun" -- that's the slogan. So, people just look for hints, clues, and scan various sources, ready to go with the wave. And thus the politician wins a landslide victory. Voters rejoice; crackers and all. Posted by: Tusar N. Mohapatra at Feb 26, 2008 1:46:46 AM Tim Harford's chapter eight, a contribution from Sahar Akhtar

Monday, February 25, 2008

Symbiotic readings of Marx and Hegel integrating kernel and shell

[Just as Marx’s “science” is not an instrumental or positivist exercise, but an exercise in reconstructing a network of relationally-determined concepts, his notion of “determination” is intended to situate his categories within the network of relationships within which they acquire their present-day meaning: the concept of “determination” operative in his work is not a causal concept in an applied social science sense of the term...Essence and appearance are intrinsically related, for Hegel: they are mutually interpenetrating, mutually generative, sharing the same substance, but also distinct from one another. Marx takes this sort of argument over into Capital, with value presented as a kind of “social essence” generated in and through the flux and apparent lawlessness of the appearance of exchange (the argument is a bit more complex than this, as exchange isn’t the only site of “flux” - I’ll leave this point aside for now). In Marx’s argument, this social “essence” does not exist as some separate substance that sits outside exchange, determining the movement of “appearances” in the form of prices. Instead, value is something that emerges in and through that flux - a pattern or regularity that the flux itself generates, in and through its apparent random walk. Within this framework, it doesn’t make sense to talk about “value” as if it exerts a casual force on exchange as the dependent variable. Value is rather itself an “effect”, a “result”, intrinsically bound together with the flux through which it becomes manifest as a non-random pattern emergent over time. This pattern “determines” the flux, not in a casual sense, but as a description of the qualitative attributes of one of the aspects of, in this case, an overarching process in which both the “law” of value and the “flux” of exchange are moments.... I like the way that Elson emphasises how Marx’s method makes it possible to transform our understanding of categories...Elson uses this point to argue that world cannot be appropriated fully in thought; she suggests, however, that it could perhaps be fully appropriated in practice (143) - a position I’m not sure Marx would share, as practice also has its situatedness, its form: I’m not sure that appropriation of the world can be “completed”, whether in thought or in practice… She then moves to a criticism specifically of capital logic approaches for confusing capital - which she takes to be a category of analysis - with an entity, existent in the world in some form. -- Reflections on Elson’s “Value Theory of Labour”, part 1 from by N Pepperell]

Such symbiotic readings of Marx and Hegel, hopefully, would generate more fruitful (integrating kernel and shell) ontological consequences than the jejune sociological (standing on its head) discourse permits. [TNM]

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Orissa has 500 schools in the voluntary sector under the rubric, "Integral Education"

['Education alone can help India become a superpower' 6 Jan, 2008, 0910 hrs IST > It's time to motivate both non-profit and profit-making institutions to set up educational institutions Education sector new learning curve for investors 6 Jan, 2008, 0910 hrs IST, Aman Dhall & Dheeraj Tiwari > If analysts are to believed, it looks that education is one sector where you can bet your money safely. Reason: the industry is standing on solid fundamentals and appears ready for big action this year Business of education catches on with India Inc 6 Jan, 2008, 0240 hrs IST, Shreya Biswas > The education space is buzzing with activity, with various private players venturing out to get a slice of the hugely untapped market. economic times]

Around 500 schools in the voluntary sector under the rubric, "Integral Education" are playing a significant role in the field of education across the state of Orissa. Dependent solely, as they are, on local resources, their business models need outside support as well as capital infusion. [TNM]

"Be SELFish" is the slogan

[The apology and the moral significance of guilt from Faith and Theology
A guest-post by
Scott Stephens > Like many Australians, I watched today’s carefully staged media drama unfold... – the whole ordeal reeked of kitsch, empty ceremony and pretence. Quite frankly, I thought it was an overblown PR exercise for the new Federal Government, and that it verged on pandering to latent racist feeling in this nation... Because, in the immortal words of The Princess Bride, I don’t think this apology means what they think it means..., this apology (like so much of the moral tokenism we perform today, superficial acts of charity designed to make us feel better about ourselves) seems to me to have been internally corrupted by wanton self-interest and political expedience. In this instance, it is particularly important to remember Immanuel Kant’s assertion that the moral worth of an act lies not in its commission but in its intention. So, what was the motivation behind the apology? Or, to put this question another way: for whom was this apology intended? ... The true recipients of the apology were those white Australians who watched and wanted to be made to feel as if they had taken part in something good. Rather than being left to listen and grieve and celebrate in private, these indigenous Australians were made to take part in a kind of emotional pornography for the benefit of thousands of white Australian viewers who wanted to feel, as Noel Pearson rightly put it, “the warm inner glow that will come from having said sorry.”]

[Agression in the Air
Around and About by shantanu dutta > Certain kinds of aggression can be liberating in that they set you free to pursue the goals of Citius, Altius, Fortius." "Swifter, Higher, Stronger which are of course the motto of the Olympic movement but can be used else where to pursue any noble goal in life. But the bottom pinching , high speeding, vulgar speech driven aggression visible in North India and even more so in Delhi where I live and read some of these things in the morning paper, experience a few in the course of the day, and then come back to watch some more in the news channels on television is no customized meritocracy to move society to upward levels. this leering, domineering aggression is all about getting ahead not by raising the bar for myself but by lowering the bar in general by brutally crushing self esteem, and then crossing over the lowered bar in a crude wild westfashion. It is easy to cross the finish line by lowering the bar and then crippling the opposition, so that there is no legitimate opposition left in the race but there is little pride of achievement in such a victory, only the shallow gloat of the winner of the rigged race.
So deeply embedded is aggression, that it has been appropriated by the State even, and often no symbol of authority is so disgusting than the sound of the police lathi banging menacingly on the street, bazaar or the railway platform as the constable signals his presence and authority by dashing his stick on the ground as he moves clearing space for himself. The lathi of the police man is not even a semblance of safety and security as much a tool of undisguised aggression and dominance. Desicritics - Feb 22, 2008]

[Feb 23, 2008 Politics and the Law from The India Uncut Blog by Amit Varma
Raj Thackeray is priceless. Writing
an open letter to Sudheendra Kulkarni in the Indian Express, he says:
"[D]o political movements need to obey the law? Political history learnt by me tells me that breaking the law, getting arrested, braving lathis and getting jailed are symbols of a principled agitation.
In recent times, the rulers and opposition parties indulged in movements of political compromise, in which morchas are taken out, the share of benefits of the government and opposition parties are decided. Then the protesters and their companions go home and sleep peacefully! This is called todbazi (compromise). The word political movement is an equivalent word for breaking the law!"
Most Indian politicians would surely agree with Thackeray that politics in India has become all about “the share of benefits of the government and opposition parties”—though few would state it so openly. Our politicians treat this country as government property, theirs to use as they please when they come to power, and theirs to bargain for when they are in opposition, using the threat of violence. For them, the law is a tool to oppress the common man, and not something that their activities need to be subject to. No wonder they ask, do political movements need to obey the law?
And really, what’s the difference between them and the British Empire we fought to overthrow. That was just timepass, or did we really want freedom?
Also read:
Nitin Pai’s astute take on the subject, and my earlier essay, The Republic of Apathy.]

It’s all question of ethics but expecting superior conduct in the political and economic arena is a chimera. Only the Savitri Era spiritual approach can convince people to become gentlemen in order to guard their self-interest. "Be SELFish" is the slogan. [TNM]

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Consolations apropos secular citizens' disquieting additional obligation

[Religion in the public sphere: Inclusion and accountability in the public sphere
posted by
Cristina Lafont SSRC Home SSRC Blogs Blog Home
In his essay “Religion in the Public Sphere,” Habermas joins the debate between liberals and critics of liberalism on the proper role of religion in the public sphere.... According to Habermas, allowing religious reasons in public deliberation only makes sense if all citizens take those reasons seriously and do not deny their possible truth from the outset. It follows that secular citizens should not make public use of their sincere beliefs if they happen to be of a secularist type that contradicts the possible truth of religious claims. However, if disallowing democratic citizens to publicly adopt their own cognitive stance is unacceptable, it seems that this would be so whether those citizens happen to take a religious or secularist stance. This problem is aggravated by what is likely to strike secular citizens as a disquieting additional obligation, namely, the obligation to open their minds to the possible truth of religious reasons as a precondition for finding out whether they can be translated into secular ones. Beyond its doubtful feasibility, this obligation seems to deprive secular citizens of the very same right to publicly adopt their own cognitive stance that the proposal aims to grant to religious citizens. But is it possible to organize public deliberation in such a way that the right of democratic citizens to adopt their own cognitive stances is recognized without giving up on the democratic obligation to secure that only public reasons count in support of coercive policies with which all citizens must comply?
[Stay tuned for the next installment] This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 7:04 am and is filed under
Religion in the public sphere. 7:04 PM ]

[Religion in the public sphere: Religious citizens & public reasons posted by Cristina Lafont Since religious citizens, as much as any other citizens, are only obligated to address counterarguments based on reasons generally acceptable to everyone, they are perfectly capable of understanding them without being cognitively dishonest. But since the challenge is driven by those who offer the counterarguments, religious citizens do not have to artificially generate a foreign or insincere way of thinking in support of the policies they favor. This task is fulfilled by those who oppose such policies on the basis of their sincere beliefs. All that religious (as well as nonreligious) citizens have to do is to come up with convincing reasons to show why these counterarguments are wrong, if they think they are. Only the outcome of such a debate would allow citizens to know what their considered political convictions should be. Democratic citizens cannot determine in advance of actual public deliberation the reasons upon which their political decisions ought to be based. In order to be legitimate, their decisions ought to be based on those reasons that have survived the scrutiny of political deliberation in the public sphere. SSRC Home SSRC Blogs Blog Home This entry was posted on Friday, February 8th, 2008 at 5:40 am and is filed under Religion in the public sphere. Michael Perry: February 8th, 2008 at 12:35 pm ... Christopher Eberle, Religious Conviction in Liberal Politics (Cambridge University Press 2002). To engage these issues without first engaging Eberle’s book is, well, misguided.]

Imposing additional obligation "to open their minds to the possible truth of religious reasons" upon the secular citizens, as Professor Lafont captures it, appears to be definitely unjustified. But the intractable problem arises out of

  1. an artificial (as though, racial) dichotomy erected between religious citizens and secular citizens, and
  2. supposing that they posses (as though, genetically) different orders of cognitive stance.

The democratic domain is a consistently fermenting zone, where either the conspiracy of silence operates, or opinions are espoused/jettisoned as per convenience. The so-called secular cognitive stance is an arrogant and dishonest handle of hegemony in disregard of deeper sensitivities divined. [TNM]

Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Sri Aurobindo

[Rousseau versus Locke from The Daily Goose by Matthew
Boiled down, their debate animates the progressive versus conservative debate, and the debate within every human heart. Or
so says Jonah Goldberg:
"Rousseau says … that our rights come from the government, that come from the collective. Locke says our rights come from God, and that we only create a government to protect our interests. The Rousseauian says you can make a religion out of society and politics, and the Lockean says no, religion is a separate sphere from politics. And that is the defining distinction between the two, and I think that distinction also runs through the human heart, that we all have a Rousseauian temptation in us. And it’s the job of conservatives to remind people that the Lockean in us needs to win."
Analysis like this (and how he further elaborates the analysis and detects it within a vast array of American history) is why Goldberg’s
Liberal Fascism is, in my view, a minor classic for the ages.]

[The Stillborn God: Two books, oddly yoked together posted by Charles Taylor
Mark Lilla’s The Stillborn God feels like two books, oddly yoked together. One is a fascinating study, which traces a post-Enlightenment tradition of theorizing about religion starting from an anthropocentric focus. Religion is to be understood from the human desire or craving or need for religion. The originator of this way of thinking is Rousseau, but he rapidly acquires followers in Germany: Kant, the German Romantics, Schleiermacher....But then this monograph is woven into a much broader narrative of modernity...The motive for the Great Separation was the religiously inspired violence of the confessional wars of the early modern period. Its great architect for Lilla was Hobbes. The threatened return of political theology today may also weaken our defenses against the eruption of violence, hence the importance of our understanding what is at stake.
SSRC Home SSRC Blogs Blog Home 7:07 PM]

[Sri Aurobindo said it as “Unity without uniformity” which is better described as India’s tolerance to all sorts of culture, nationalities, and communities and how they are united together without loosing their own identity. Due to this, India was prosperous earlier, and it will be the world’s most powerful nation, within a decade . It is destined to be so. So, welcome back again to India … the land of prosperity and peace. Spirituality and materiality. For all the Indians, who have shifted abroad in search of prosperity. In addition, to all the others, who wants to come to India, for search of prosperity. Posted by Joydip Chakladar at 12:29 PM Friday, February 22, 2008]

Savitri Erans, thankfully, have the Sri Aurobindian vision honed in the conflicting and confrontational discourse of the 20th century to guide them into the future, where art, poetry, politics, and philosophy all blend to build an integral and harmonious highway. [TNM]

Friday, February 22, 2008

Calicut has a hand in designing of cannons

[Does studying boat design show us that culture is subject to natural selection?
from by Kambiz Kamrani. The paper, “Natural selection and cultural rates of change,” is open access...The authors rationalize boats are being selected naturally through a quote from the French philosopher Alain,
“Every boat is copied from another boat… Let’s reason as follows in the manner of Darwin. It is clear that a very badly made boat will end up at the bottom after one or two voyages and thus never be copied… One could then say, with complete rigor, that it is the sea herself who fashions the boats, choosing those which function and destroying the others.”]

[It isn't the man who drinks the tea, it's the tea which drinks the man.
It isn't you who smoke the pipe, it's the pipe which smokes you.
It is the book which reads me.
It's the TV which watches you.
It's the object which thinks us.
It's the lens which focuses on us.
It's the effect which cause us.
It's language which speaks us.
It's time which wastes us.
It's money which earns us.
It's death which lies in wait for us. --

[After waiting some days, and finding no friendly steps taken by the governors of Calicut towards a peace; and being likewise without hope of recovering the captives, Suarez resolved to take revenge by cannonading the city of Calicut, which he did for a whole day and a night, during which time he did prodigious damage, destroying the palace of the zamorin, several of their pagodas or idol temples, and many of the houses, and slew a great number of the inhabitants. For this service, he brought seven of his smallest ships as near the shore as possible, and advanced all the boats of the fleet, likewise carrying ordnance, close almost to the beach. A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol. II - Robert Kerr]

If "the sea herself fashions the boats," and "it's the tea which drinks the man," then it may be surmised that Calicut has a hand in designing of cannons. [TNM]

Shorts vs. headscarf

[A headscarf affair, a women’s affair? from The Immanent Frame by Nilufer Gole
Women who are proponents of the headscarf distance themselves from secular models of feminist emancipation, but also seek autonomy from male interpretations of Islamic precepts. They represent a rupture of the frame both of secular female self-definitions and religious male prescriptions. They want to have access to secular education, follow new life trajectories that are not in conformity with traditional gender roles, and yet fashion and assert a new pious self. They are searching for ways to become Muslim and modern at the same time, transforming both.
7:21 AM] [Rethinking secularism: A headscarf affair, a women’s affair? posted by Nilüfer Göle
In Turkey, the recent parliamentary vote put an end to the headscarf ban, but not to the public controversy that has severely divided and deeply polarized Turkish society since the post-1980 period. The battle in the public sphere continues among groups with different interpretations of secularism, but also among women themselves. As the most visible symbol of Islamization for the last three decades, the headscarf has been considered a threat to secularism and gender equality, two values that are cherished by those who are devoted to the heritage of Ataturk’s republican modernity.]

[She came to break the conventions and superstitions
ELIMINATING SEX-CONSCIOUSNESS: A dress to fit and be comfortable with
Deccan Herald Sunday, April 25, 2004. The Mother introduced white shorts and shirts with kitty caps way back in 1944, for the girl students who took part in games and athletics. Not merely for convenience, the most potent point was to eliminate sex-consciousness among the young people. To her critic she said that she came to break the conventions and superstitions. But she respected all cultures. She herself learnt wearing kimono in Japan, veil in Algeria and sari in India. One takes from others when the wind of fashion blows, but it is better not to give up one's own cultural treasure altogether. In diversity remains the unity, not necessarily in uniformity.
Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 9:24 AM]

[I find Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s teachings on gender to be far more radical
My soul has rebelled against gender stereotypes since as long as I can remember, even when I was a Hijab-wearing Muslim girl. I often tell people that I find Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s teachings on gender to be far more radical (and certainly more liberating) than even the most radical feminists.
5:43 AM] [Frankly even the term "feminism" seems divisive to me
Re: Simplification and Divine Rights within Gender Roles? ned Thu, June 21, 2007 - 4:02 PM I myself am a student of the Indian philosopher-sage Sri Aurobindo Ghose and the French occultist-mystic Mirra Alfassa -- read their writings for some common sense teachings on gender, i.e. that instead of trying to be a "real man" or a "real woman", we should just focus on being individuals and unique instruments of the Divine. As a woman, I am amazed at times when I see women buying into this "men are from Mars, women are from Venus" nonsense. 5:51 PM]

The Mother's Turkish lineage is an interesting dimension of the headscarf controversy that is raging in that country. Just an instance of how futuristic the appeal of Savitri Era Religion is. [TNM]

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ceramics, cappuccino, and Social Capital

[The Challenge is to Create, Not Jobs, but Wealth from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux
Today I sent this letter to the Washington Times:
Like economic alchemists, Senators Clinton and Obama peddle plans to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on various government projects that will create millions of jobs ("
Obama's economic plan," February 20).
Creating jobs - creating demand for workers - is no challenge. Vandals and arsonists do so routinely. What is a challenge is to create opportunities for workers to earn good incomes while producing real value for others, where value is confidently measured by the amounts that buyers voluntarily pay for what is produced. As far as I know, Sens. Clinton and Obama (and, for that matter, McCain) have never created a business whose success relied upon producing outputs efficiently and then selling these outputs at prices attractive to consumers.
So why suppose that any of their "plans" to create innovative industries and jobs are anything more than the cheap-to-dream-up fantasies of self-important politicians accustomed to spending other people's money?
Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux]
8:14 AM 7:59 AM

[Boudreaux makes what might seem difficult sound easy, and it begins with his definition of globalization: the advance of human cooperation across national boundaries. Boudreaux could have stopped right there, but goes on to explain that every “man-made thing you see is something no one person could possibly make alone.” That being the case, the shirts we wear and the food we eat are the happy result of millions of people around the world engaging in their narrow economic specialties such that we’re clothed and fed.
The above helps the reader to understand the unimaginable poverty that would result from a life of economic isolation. -- A Review of Don Boudreaux's Globalization By John Tamny February 21, 2008 11:23 AM ]

[The division of labor is utterly fundamental to the wealth we enjoy in modern economies. Complicated products, such as the computer on which I am typing this paragraph, are unimaginable without the combined and cumulated efforts of the countless specialists who worked out how to manufacture integrated circuits or how to control a computer using a mouse and a pointer on the screen. Most of those specialists couldn't boil an egg, let alone survive alone on a desert island. They are dependent on other people's expertise, if only the expertise of the cooks at the local Chinese take-out, and computer users the world over are dependent on theirs. Even simple products like the short cappuccino I have beside me would be impossible without the division of labor. Is there anyone in the world who has mastered ceramics, dairy farming and the art of the perfect espresso roast? -- excerpts from Tim Harford's new book, The Logic of Life]

Don Boudreaux, for once, is caught off-guard. Creating a business is the prerogative of a Vaishya temperament, which those run a Kshatriya or Brahmin preponderance may legitimately choose to avoid. They “produce” Social Capital, nevertheless. [TNM] 9:33 AM

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

When the lights outside are switched off, may our inner light shine

[We too want a festival, not only for prayer and meditation but also for merrymaking. There is no better date than 29th March, the day when The Mother met Sri Aurobindo. What she wrote on March 30, 1914 constitutes the greatest hope for man:
"Gradually the horizon becomes distinct, the path grows clear, and we move towards a greater and greater certitude. It matters little that there are thousands of beings plunged in the densest ignorance, He whom we saw yesterday is on earth; his presence is enough to prove that a day will come when darkness shall be transformed into light, and Thy reign shall be indeed established upon earth. O Lord, Divine Builder of this marvel, my heart overflows with joy and gratitude when I think of it, and my hope has no bounds. My adoration is beyond all words, my reverence is silent." Page - 124 So, from next year onwards let's celebrate March 29 as the Day of Joy and Hope. [TNM] 8:35 AM Tuesday, December 25, 2007]

[Home » National » Breaking News » World cities embrace Earth Hour February 19, 2008 - 11:45PM On Saturday March 29, at 8pm local time, the lights will go out for one hour in all these cities, as well as Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg, Odense, Manila, Suva, Chicago, Tel Aviv, Toronto and Christchurch...Dublin Lord Mayor Paddy Bourke said in a statement issued by Earth Hour: "This campaign is important and everyone from citizens up to government has a duty to do what they can against global warming.
"It is up to us all to do what we can to reduce our CO2 emissions. Through one simple action, turning off our lights for an hour, we can deliver a powerful message about the need for action."
Earth Hour is an initiative of the global conservation organisation WWF.
"Turning the lights off for Earth Hour is a great first step, but if you really want to see a difference, then make Earth Hour part of your everyday life," the Earth Hour website ( says.
"Simple things like turning off appliances while not in use and switching your light globes to energy efficient bulbs, will all help us reach our goal of reducing our annual emissions by five per cent. "Even something as simple as turning out lights when you're not in a room and switching to cleaner sources of electricity, like green power, make a big difference."]

When the lights outside are switched off, may our inner light shine at the altar of the "Divine Builder." [TNM]

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Savitri Era of Unity, Beauty, and Harmony

"One naturally does not expect to find the doctrine of the Upanishads,” claimed Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan in his Concept of Man. However, Sri Aurobindo had derived his whole thesis of evolution, as expounded in The Life Divine, from the same Upanishads.

Literary Titans of the Millennium by Achala Moulik includes "the heroes of reawakening India, Gandhi and Tagore," but not Sri Aurobindo. Mukul Kesavan once adorned Sri Aurobindo with the "worst poet" epithet. Now, Prabhu Guptara has blogged that Sri Aurobindo's "turgid Greek classical metre is overpoweringly soporific." [10:19 PM]

The manner our intellectuals pass uncharitable remarks on the versatile genius of Sri Aurobindo is, of course, a matter of disquiet. Sri Aurobindo's Writings, despite the current indifference that it suffers, will ever illumine the path of humanity's quest for Unity, Beauty, and Harmony. [TNM]

Monday, February 18, 2008

Rare the vessel that can hold God's birth

[Too far from the Divine, Love seeks his truth
And Life is blind and the instruments deceive
And Powers are there that labour to debase.
Still can the vision come, the joy arrive.
Rare is the cup fit for love's nectar wine,
As rare the vessel that can hold God's birth;
A soul made ready through a thousand years
Is the living mould of a supreme Descent.

Sri Aurobindo, SAVITRI Book V: The Book of Love Canto II: Satyavan, Page 399]

Deepk Mishra, the eminent Oriya poet who passed away recently, once expressed his anguish over the fact that the sympathy and compassion contained in the creations of his fellow poets hardly gets reflected in their personal actions and behaviour.

This is aptly the test where an anchoring in spirituality scores over ephemeral ethics or romantic empathy. [TNM]

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Vendryès, Saussure, Sri Aurobindo, Heidegger, and Einstein

RYD's riddle, random market versus efficient market [7:49 AM] can also apply to the language conundrum. While Vendryès maintains that "By establishing a harmony between a thing and its name, we conform to a psychic habit as old as humanity" [7:27 PM], Saussure "argues that the relation between a sound pattern and a concept is arbitrary."
Interestingly, Sri Aurobindo would support the former view lending a tacit echo to Einstein’s "god doesn't play dice" doctrine. Even, technical analysis of the stock prices, like Chaos or Game, looks for patterns and predictability. And such conjunction is not at all unusual given Heidegger's "the house of the Being" hypothesis. [TNM]

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Unholy cartels are the worst enemies of the free market system

[Corruption in the RTO is not a matter between individual applicants and officials. Rather, it is an organised racket where dozens of agents have long-term relation with several officials, with a complete understanding on payments for passing various papers without due scrutiny. -- Regulating the regulators: Regulations and regulators are an inescapable part of any liberal democracy. But regulatory failure is as common as market failure, says Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, ET Wednesday, 13 February, 2008]

[Subprime impact: Who will rate the rating companies? Rating Cos’ Role In The Crisis Has Prompted Calls For A Total Revamp Of Existing System -- Joe Mysak NEW YORK THE cry has gone up again to fix the companies that grade securities… The pundits say the raters helped produce the current crisis because they assigned high grades to the crazy collateralised-debt obligations stuffed with subprime mortgages that are at the centre of this mess... Bloomberg, ET Wednesday, 13 February, 2008]

Raj Thackeray has been arrested and outsiders are to be strictly monitored in Chennai. New grouses are emerging in the age of Globalization which cannot be simply brushed aside by saying chauvinism bares its ugly face. The issues need to be discussed threadbare.

Raj is complaining against cartels that the outsiders forge to keep the locals out. Unholy cartels are the worst enemies of the free market system. Unholy coalitions among the political parties also vitiate the body politic. Unholy initiatives like Christian subsidy crop up as a result. [TNM]

Saturday, February 09, 2008

In Savitri Era Religion, the packaging, and the message are both genuine

[More Nice Moments in the Classroom from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects
STUDENT: Professor Sinthome, when you were discussing rhetoric and the distinction between expression, content, and structure in language today you made me think about my shirt.
ME: Oh? (Confused)
STUDENT: (student turns around) Well if you read what it says– Peace, Love, and Happiness –it expresses one thing. Yet where did it come from? Where was it made? This shirt was made in x, not exactly the nicest place in the world. It’s like, it’s like, the packaging says one thing and that’s what you endorse, yet when you look into what’s behind the packaging, the message all falls apart. Like with all those organic foods I buy.
ME: So what is it you’re really
consuming when you consume these things?]
In Savitri Era Religion, the packaging, and the message are both genuine and form one organic whole satisfactory to the consumer. [TNM]

Culture, technology, and the future body

[Sri Aurobindo and Evolution: A Critical Perspective : 2008 (occult slippages and cultural considerations) by Rich on Fri 08 Feb 2008 12:04 PM PST Permanent Link
Sri Aurobindo and Evolution (occult slippages and cultural considerations) by Richard Carlson
In this paper I begin by interrogating Sri Aurobindo's ideas of progressive evolution and the future body he envisages emerging from it. In so doing, I examine the occult mechanism he argues to be the main driver behind the evolution of consciousness and the body. I then suggest that what we now know indicates that the primary impetus behind the evolution of human consciousness is culture. I also argue that complexity science through its framing of autocatalytic processes and cybernetic principles may now provide satisfactory explanations of what was previous thought of as occult. But, this is not to discount Sri Aurobindo view of the future body nor his larger message for humanity...
On matters of evolution Sri Aurobindo can not avoid being in dialog with certain prominent Western scientist and philosophers, most notably Darwin (1), and Nietzsche, (2). To some extent he is also in an extended conversation with historical theorist such as Georg Hegel, social thinkers such as Herbert Spencer, and intuitive philosophers like Henri Bergson, all whose view of evolution was progressive (3)...
To be fair to Sri Aurobindo when describing metaphysical realities he is not merely engaging in rational argument but is relating his vision and experience of these realms. The path he is following is defined not by its similarity to western scientific inquiry, but by its radical alterity from it. The verification of the authenticity of his experience can not be discerned through logical argument but rather by undertaking the processes of yoga which will open the individual to these same mystical experiences. Therefore, one can not simply subject Sri Aurobindo’s descriptions of reality to western practices of empirical verification that is on third person descriptions of reality...
Such a science is in its first stages but a promising beginnings have been elucidated in the works of Bateson, Varela, Maturana, Bohm, Zajonc, Wallace; often in dialog with the Dalai Lama. On evolution however, because he is in dialog with such thinkers as Hegel, Nietzsche, Darwin, Bergson, we are on more solid ground in interrogating the future (at least in the near term) Sri Aurobindo envisages. That said, I find it heartening that Sri Aurobindo presents us with an alternative account of future evolution in which embodiment is the central narrative even if it appears to be science and culture which is driving the creation of an evolutionary body. Because the manner the body is evolving through scientific facilitation maybe disappearing into technology or at least speaks to a future in which the body will become inextricably mediated by technology...
Notes: 1) A fresh reading of Sri Aurobindo’s writing on evolution shows that it holds up rather well in the light of what we have come to know of the phenomena through science. In his chapters entitled Evolution (p 225 Vol 16) in the Supramental Manifestation he demonstrates a remarkable sensibility and understanding of issues which have only come to light recently in our scientific understanding of evolution. For example, in the following passage he seems to largely accept the genetic theory (hereditary) as a solution to the question of physical evolution. In doing so he does not seem to envisage this as necessarily reductive and refers instead to a cryptic psychical potentiality in matter, which we would now probably call genetic mutation. Moreover, he is astute enough to also comment on the demise of Lamarckian theory of acquired traits which contrasts genetic inheritance.]
If Richard Carlson’s emphasis is on the body, then it is difficult to understand why The Mother’s Yoga of the Cells was not brought into the picture. It is also important to remember the context in which Supramental Manifestation - from which Carlson cites a passage - was written by Sri Aurobindo, and the interesting correspondence that ensued with Dilip. [11:09 AM]

A profoundly atheistic interpretation of the natural world is in fact more useful for theological reflection [10:02 AM] and God, or the Body without Organs by Steven Shaviro [11:58 AM] elucidating Whitehead is a very helpful attempt. Dialogue between Larval Subjects and Wildly Parenthetical involving Lacan, Deleuze, and Merleau-Ponty [11:05 AM], likewise, carries forward the discourse. [TNM]

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Savitri Era Religion is all freshness

(Addended) As one (early) commentator notes below, the simple fact of diminishing marginal utility.
Might some of these mechanisms also help explain why a) history of thought is "ghettoized" as a field, and b) there is such a high premium to working in hot, new fields?
The general point is that there are increasing returns to scale for high quality discussions; furthermore those quality discussions are quite fragile and require cultivation and subsidization through norms. Freshness matters, so stale topics will indeed encounter discrimination.]
The Mother and Sri Aurobindo have been unsparing of the past religions. Savitri Era Religion is all freshness while the stale ones suffer from diminishing marginal utility. [TNM]

Imagined Discontents

[A global silence from Faith and Theology by Ben Myers
“As we now go about Americanizing the globe – excuse me – as we now go about extending the benefits of universal human rights that have been discovered by a universally valid procedure of rational communication, perhaps we ought to be aware of which differences we silently obliterate, and perhaps we ought to remember that the universality of a cosmopolitan language is necessarily also accompanied by the universality of a global silence.”
— William Rasch, Sovereignty and Its Discontents: On the Primacy of Conflict and the Structure of the Political (London: Birkbeck Law Press, 2004), p. 129.]
Setting up well demarcated domains of universal and individual where there exists none is the most overlooked methodological error of such analyses. To ignore the transcendental is another. The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, therefore, have alerted us not to see the socio-political in isolation, and always keep the Individual-Universal-Transcendent continuum in mind. [TNM]

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Huntington-Khanna vs. Savitri Era

[The Big Three are the ultimate “Frenemies.” Twenty-first-century geopolitics will resemble nothing more than Orwell’s 1984, but instead of three world powers (Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia), we have three hemispheric pan-regions, longitudinal zones dominated by America, Europe and China. As the early 20th-century European scholars of geopolitics realized, because a vertically organized region contains all climatic zones year-round, each pan-region can be self-sufficient and build a power base from which to intrude in others’ terrain. But in a globalized and shrinking world, no geography is sacrosanct. So in various ways, both overtly and under the radar, China and Europe will meddle in America’s backyard, America and China will compete for African resources in Europe’s southern periphery and America and Europe will seek to profit from the rapid economic growth of countries within China’s growing sphere of influence. Globalization is the weapon of choice. The main battlefield is what I call “the second world.” -- Waving Goodbye to Hegemony By PARAG KHANNA NYT: January 27, 2008 9:48 AM]
[Comparable in scope and boldness to Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man and Samuel P. Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Parag Khanna’s The Second World will be the definitive guide to world politics for years to come. - ABOUT THIS BOOK]
Parag Khanna, Director of the Global Governance Initiative and Senior Research Fellow in the American Strategy Program at the New American Foundation, in his forthcoming book, The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order (Random House, 2008) proposes a variation of Samuel P. Huntington’s prediction of a trifurcated world. We, on the contrary, believe firmly in the World Union thesis of Sri Aurobindo and hope that the whole humanity will unite by embracing the Savitri Era Religion. [TNM]


"The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis argues that we are completely at the mercy of the language we use" [4:37 PM] even as Sovereign Wealth Funds threaten the sovereignty of nations. [8:20 AM] [TNM]

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sri Aurobindian Trialectic

[Mistakes in Class, or Herrschaft und Knechtschaft from The Joyful Knowing by Mike
A very wise professor today asked the class to define what Hegel means by the master and slave dialectic. I started to respond (with little attention to my words) that it is about two "subjectivities" that confront each other in a relationship where what is at stake is their self-sufficiency. She stopped me there and said, "the master-slave dialectic is not about two subjectivities. It is about the dialectic."
And she's right, and not just because--as I too quickly concluded--that she is of the school that reads the section on mastery and slavery in a Derridian way and not in a Kojevian way. I was stupid for saying "subjectivity," right off the bat. That is where she was correcting me, and this is where the Derridian way of reading it (along with Heidegger and Hyppolite, though Heidegger may take this too far in this direction) is really useful.
"Subjectivity" is a really misused word in general. I meant something like "self," but even that is not what is at stake in the master-slave dialectic. Nothing like it even appears or presents itself there throughout the whole passage. What presents itself is, as she said, the dialectic, but also and more specifically, self-consciousness. And what gets staked--that is, either lost by the master-slave relationship or relieved/superseded by it-- is life.]
[TRIALECTICS - LOGIC FOR NEW MILLENNIUM The existence of problems is one of the main reasons why people think life on this planet is difficult. What makes it difficult are the events and processes that seem unavoidable, but cause disharmony, dissatisfaction, resistance or a feeling of helplessness. The situation where we are not able to instantaneously find a simple and easy solution can cause us to create negative thoughts and emotions. They can create a negative attitude and unnatural forms of behavior which eventually always results in mental disbalance or physical illness. However, spiritual science has developed so much in this century that there are systems of thought and practical technical means that enable people to solve most of their problems.
One thing that surely cannot solve problems and makes them even more difficult is rejecting and denying their existence. This is usually the result of not understanding the basic natural principles of human existence and what its purposes are based on. We are, for that reason, going to deal with some of the most characteristic and important principles ruling the manifested universe. The model I am going to use while explaining these principles is a type of contemporary logical thought very suitable for Westerners. The creator of this model, called trialectics, is Oscar Ichazo - a spiritual teacher from Arica, Chile.
Trialectics is a synthesis of basically the same systems of thought that appeared in the 20th century under different names, such as "ecology of mind", "unitary thought", "general systems thinking", "cybernetics" or "synergetics". Trialectics is the third essential current of the logical thinking that evolved from Aristotle's formal logic and Hegel's dialectics. Therefore, we are first going to explore the basic axioms of formal logic and dialectics and then compare them with trialectics. ©Tomislav Budak (1995)]
Sri Aurobindo brings in the triads: Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, and Individual-Universal-Transcendent that explains the subjectivities and the dialectic both without any exclusivity. [TNM]

Palestinian and Israeli sides will come together under The Mother's banner

[The Cold War as Ancient History By ROGER COHEN Op-Ed Columnist NYT: February 4, 2008 BERLIN It’s now 18 years, a generation, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, so I thought I’d ask some post-wall German high school kids about communism. The subject seemed about as riveting and relevant to them as, say, the Holy Roman Empire.
“Communism? What’s that?” said Ricardo Westendorf, 17, a student at the Carl-von-Linné school in what was East Berlin. “I think we talked about it in a history lesson, but I was ill.”]
[Will Germany ever escape from shame of its past? Scotsman, United Kingdom - 30 Jan 2008" Where in the world has one ever seen a nation that erects memorials to immortalise its own shame?" asked Avi Primor, the former Israeli ambassador to ...
German railway displays its Holocaust shame, United Kingdom - 23 Jan 2008By Harry de Quetteville in Berlin Germany's state railway yesterday caved in to pressure to document its role in deporting Jews to Nazi concentration camps, ...
STEPHANIE SALTER: After denial and excuses, it’s time to take ...Terre Haute Tribune Star, IN - 2 Feb 2008... a former Israeli ambassador to Germany, as saying, “Where in the world has one ever seen a nation that erects memorials to immortalize its own shame? ...
As Kulish wrote: “Why Germany seems unendingly obsessed with Nazism is itself a subject of perpetual debate here, ranging from the nation’s philosophical temperament, to simple awe at the unprecedented combination of organization and brutality, to the sense that the crime was so great that it spread like a blot over an entire culture.
“Whatever the reasons, as the events become more remote, less personal, this society is forced to confront the question of how it should enshrine its crimes and transgressions over the longer term.”In other words, if a nation’s people truly mean “never again,” they must accept that it can be achieved only through owning the sins anew, generation after generation. If there is a statute of limitations on Germany’s responsibility for the Holocaust, its leaders and general populace seem to be saying, it lies far, far in the future.]
Nazism and Communism are inextricably linked to the birth and growth of the Savitri Era Religion, although the whole mythology is yet to be collated. The epic saga of why and how The Mother and Sri Aurobindo came together to fight them commands a slender reception at present, but will be too evident when both the Palestinian and Israeli sides readily agree to come together under The Mother's banner. That will be the end of another wall. Let's hope and pray that it happens soon. [TNM]