Of Yogis, Grihastis and Institutions

If people were self-sacrificing, self-effacing, other-directed, rational, visionary, benevolent beings — “yogis” — then it would not matter very much what kind of institutional arrangements they lived under: the resulting social welfare of their collective actions would be fairly even regardless of whether they lived in a market-oriented capitalist order or a collectivist socialist order. But unfortunately for all of us, people are self-interested, myopic, irrational, imperfect beings — “grihastis”. Given the reality of living in this material world, the institutional arrangement does matter.
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Karl Popper on the Limits of Tolerance

“Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”

– Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945), Vol. 1, Notes to the Chapters: Ch. 7, Note 4.

“I have insisted that we must be tolerant. But I also believe that this tolerance has its limits. We must not trust those anti-humanitarian religions which not only preach destruction but act accordingly. For if we tolerate them, then we become ourselves responsible for their deeds.”

— Karl Popper. After the Open Society.

The Internet Archive Wayback Machine

One of the best ways to “capture a web page as it appears now for use as a trusted citation in the future” is the Internet Archive Wayback machine. It’s an awesome handy tool. You’ll be glad you know how to use it.

Publications sometimes change their minds and “unpublish” pieces. It is often under government pressure and sometimes under public pressure from special interest groups. When a publication retracts an article or an opinion piece, it is usually because the management (editors and owners) realize that they have published something that on second thoughts they should not have — the equivalent of “oops, did I say that aloud?” The way to do a hurried retraction is to delete the piece from the website. This happens quite frequently in the twitter world. But the incriminating evidence remains if some people do a screen-capture of the relevant tweet.
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