This is a confession of my beliefs on a variety of subjects, some fundamental and some derivative. It partly answers the question “who am I?” and goes some way in demonstrating that the matters I profess have coherence, consistency and structural integrity. I will first introduce them as a list and then expand on each item as needed. I will keep this preamble brief as I expect that I will learn much about myself in the writing of this personal piece. This is a personal confession; expect liberal use of the first person pronoun.
- I believe in Liberty. All that I hold sacred is encapsulated in one word, “Freedom.”
- I believe in non-aggression.
- My creed is, “I will not coerce others and I will not initiate force against others. I will use force solely to protect myself and others from aggression and coercion.”
- I will only engage in voluntary exchange with others.
- Voluntary exchange involves only two parties. All interference by third parties is immoral and unethical.
- The set of all voluntary exchange processes in a defined region of space and time is called the “Free Market.” I believe in free markets.
- I profess individualism.
- I believe in individual autonomy.
- I practice methodological individualism.
- I am not a nationalist. Nationalism is an infantile attitude not suitable for anyone who believes in freedom and individuality.
- I believe that the State is the enemy of the people
- The State glorifies war to divert the attention of the people away from the real enemy (the State) and toward imagined enemies (people under the control of other States.).
- The State decorates its soldiers to brainwash the people to die on its behalf.
- I believe that the government must be based on the consent of the people.
- In the tradition of James Buchanan (the economist, not the POTUS), I am a contractarian constitutionalist.
- Only the unanimity rule provides legitimacy to any democratically elected government. All other forms of majoritarian democracy are essentially tyranny of some over others.
- Therefore, all nations necessarily have to be small.
- The idea of a “World Government” is not just silly, it is the most dangerous idea ever — even worse than the milder forms of collectivization such as communism and socialism.
- I believe that inequality is a feature of the universe, not a bug.
- Although equality of opportunity is hard to achieve, it is a worthy goal to aspire towards.
- Equality of outcome is an impossibility, and attempting it is fatally misguided.
- I believe in diversity among people along many dimensions.
- I don’t believe in mono-culture — neither in biology nor in human society.
- I believe that segregation of people from mutually incompatible cultures is the first step towards peace.
- Socialism and communism are the 2nd and 3rd Most Evil Ideologies ever invented by stupid humans.
- Good thing is that those diseases are self-limiting as they kills the infected very quickly.
- Monotheism is the 1st Most Evil Ideology ever invented by stupid humans.
- The 2nd &3rd Most Evil Ideologies (and the rest of the bunch of evil ideologies such as fascism and Nazism) are elaborations of the basic theme of monotheism.
- I don’t believe in God and Religion.
- I “believe” in Bhagawan, Ishwar, Paramatma, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, et al.
- I respect Dharma — mine own and that of others.
- I believe God and Religion are evil concepts used by the morally bankrupt to exploit the ethically challenged.
- Genetically modified foods is good for the world. It always has been.
- Actually, nearly all the food we eat have been genetically modified.
- Difference is that now we can do the GM bit more effectively and efficiently.
- I don’t believe in anthropogenic climate change.
- Worrying about “the Phenomenon Formerly Known as Global Warming” is stupid and silly.
- Attempting to mitigate, halt and/or retard climate change is anti-human and dangerous.
- I believe the Western world has been successful thanks to Jesus. (See image at the top of this post.)
- The existence of Dashboard Bobblehead Jesus explains why the West does better than the Rest.
Well, that’s it for now. I will add/modify as I review this sometime in the future.
This is an edition of “Ask Me Anything.” So go ahead and knock yourself out.
21 thoughts on “AMA: the “What I Profess” edition”
Have you read Fountainhead and Atlas-Shrugged? If yes, can you please list and explain (as much as possible) the points on which you do NOT agree with Ayn Rand?
I have a passing familiarity with Ayn Rand. I have not read the novels Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I think she was a remarkable thinker and a very competent philosopher. I agree with the idea of “selfishness”. To me it means that one should look out for one’s self first, and then help those that are “non-self”.
Is selfishness good for the self? Yes. Is it good for the “non-selves”? Depends. Long answer, no time now.
But the most critical matter here is how one defines the “self.” Long answer there too but the short bit is that the more enlightened the person, the more inclusive the definition of the self. A loving spouse’s definition would include the other spouse; to a mother, the child is self; to members of very closely knit family, all members are contained in the self. To a bodhisattva, all sentient beings are contained in the self.
So I am for selfishness. I am for not being a slave to any other. I believe that we each have to be selfish so that we can take responsibility for our actions and don’t demand anything from others.
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What are you doing to counter the 1st Most Evil Ideology?
I try to inform and educate people about why monotheism is the Most Evil Idea™. People are waking up to the evil of MEI v.3 (also known as “The Religion of Peace”). The people who used to traditionally follow MEI v.2 (also known as “The Religion of Love”) figured out that love does not really enter into it, and are deserting it in droves. These are the people who are responsible for much of the modern world. It is the world that makes Dashboard Bobblehead Jesus possible.
Judaism, the original version of MEI is followed by only a few and those few are really the least dangerous. They are smart as hell and are responsible for great scientific & technological advances. Of course, that is because they treat their religion as a cultural matter and not a matter of deep scientific truth unlike the faithfuls of the ROP and ROL.
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This dashboard-bobblehead-Jesus(DBJ) thingy is new to me. It seems there is more interesting backstory to DBJ. Any clue or pointers?
I am going to write a post on the Dashboard Bobblehead Jesus and what it means. I am a big fan of what DBJ represents.
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What makes you happy?
I admit that I did not anticipate the “what makes you happy?” question — although this is a ask me anything post. Thanks for the question. I could easily write a few dozen pages on the general topic of happiness.
Happiness is the most important terminal value. It is after all the ultimate goal. All other things we do are subgoals or intermediate steps to the goal of happiness. In other words, whatever we do are merely means to the end that is our happiness.
What makes me happy? On the positive side, knowing stuff makes me happy. When I think something that makes me go “wow”. When I learn that things are getting better for people. I feel happy for anticipated pleasure and also in the moment when having a pleasant experience.
I feel sad (absence of happiness) when I realize that there are many sentient beings that are suffering.
Related to this subject are two posts that may be of interest — the prologue to Bertrant Russell’s autobiography. and what is success.
Hi Atanu, your thoughts on ‘nature of consciousness’.
I find lot of your thought clear enough to be put in words (which in itself is not a mean feat)… along with the fact that you are ready to adopt new thought if someone is able to argue / explain it to you. That’s why an posing such an abstract query.
Alok, that’s a very deep question. Thoughts on consciousness! Consciousness is what allows us to have thoughts in the first place. I think that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon associated with any sufficiently complex organization of matter. Our minds and consciousness is clearly biologically based on our brains. But I believe (cannot prove) that non-biological “brains” can also display consciousness. A very large network of somewhat dumb components (computers) can someday be conscious although we may not have access to that consciousness (but then we don’t have direct access to consciousness other than our own.)
Brief handwaving answer. I am about to leave for a visit to Gir National forest.
A question on charity.
First my current position on charity: Charity is harmful. If charity is done without proper humility, it is trampling on somebody’s dignity. If charity is done with proper humility, it distorts the sacred force of the market. So either way, charity is harmful.
HOWEVER, lots of smart folks are spending tremendous amounts on charity. What is your position on charity?
I consider all non-coercive mutually beneficial voluntary exchanges to be Pareto improvements. The giving and receiving of charity falls into that category. I like what Kahlil Gibran had to say about giving in his book The Prophet. “All you have shall some day be given: Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors.” The extended quote on giving is on this page.
In short, I don’t think charity is harmful. On the contrary, charity is essential for humanity to prosper. More later.
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I am waiting for your ‘more later’.
There is a free cancer palliative care centre near my place. I cannot help thinking that this charity based palliative care is distorting the market and creating a barrier for any profit-seeking-palliative-care-unit.
Day by day my conviction about charity’s capability to do anything good is on the decline.
Waiting for a blog on this, Atanu. No pressure.
This is a classic! So beautifully written… especially 2 and 7. They helped clarify my own muddled thinking on those ideas. Your stance on 13 surprises me. Lots of carefully gathered data is building evidence for anthropomorphic climate change… although whether it is conclusive is debatable. I believe there are several benefits to a warming climate and those are not being given enough attention.
The religion of climate change is enormously useful for some, as is the case for all organized religions. And like them all, the RoCC is false and has pernicious effects on human well-being. As promised, I will elaborate on my position in a separate piece.
Interesting and well written post. In your last point: do you mean the ability of western society to (largely) take religion with a big bucket of salt?
By the way – I remember a very old post you wrote about the Right to Education in India, the havoc created by which is now playing out, and people refuse to identify it. I posted and quoted from that post and the kind of brickbats I received were surprising (the usual accusations: promoting a libertarian, anti-poor, elitist, feudal agenda by criticizing something meant to benefit the poor, which it clearly isn’t doing). At that point I started to realize the thing you consistently said about Indians not being free people.
I have done a ton of data mining related to Indian schools, and my idea is, that by liberalizing information about school-performance, to give parents and students the ability to make better informed decisions about the schools they pick for their kids. Instead of having a government regulator using coercion driven techniques.
sorry for a seemingly irrelevant comment: the points about freedom vs coercion resonated with my personal experience trying to run an agenda of why edu sector in India needs to be liberalized (for institutes which can’t duck under a minority cover). My realization is that Indians are not interested in being free people.
By any chance if you’re interested in Indian education, would like to share my work, if interested.
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Your comment was marked as spam. Fortunately I happened to check the spam folder and retrieved it. Which explains the delay in your comment showing up.
The phenomenon of Bobble Head Jesus illustrates something akin to what you pointed to. I will elaborate.
Coming to the substantive bit of your comment. I am convinced that freedom is an acquired taste, somewhat like dietary preferences. People brought up in a vegetarian households are likely to prefer vegetarian food. People brought up free tend to prefer freedom and those brought up under command structures, prefer that. Muslims apparently prefer the stifling, humanity-denying strictures of Islam that non-Muslims generally find horrifying. Indians are quite comfortable being bullied, bossed, commanded, spoken down to, controlled, etc, and in turn they bully, boss, command, speak rudely, control, etc others.
Good news is that the love of freedom can be inculcated in people. People who love freedom also want others to be free and therefore they are not interested in being in the commanding business. Nehru is a typical example of a person who disliked the idea of freedom. He wanted to be the master. And that made his slavery to the British acceptable to him. A quote from Abraham Lincoln is apt here: “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.”
I continue to be very interested in education. Please feel free to talk about it.
That’s a great idea for a startup, no?
Wow – Atanu, I too would love to hear you elaborate on “ROCC” and #13, “I don’t believe in anthropogenic climate change”.
From this letter in 2009 http://www.aaas.org/sites/default/files/migrate/uploads/1021climate_letter1.pdf bearing the signatures of 18 presidents of the most relevant scientific associations under the lead American Association for the Advancement of Science:
“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver. These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence, and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science.”
If your belief is true, this has got to be, at worst, the biggest fraud perpetrated by, and at best, the biggest delusion of the international scientific community in our lifetime.
Secondary question, since you are an economist. Is there any widely and universally accepted major conclusion in the field of economics today that you reject?
I have been meaning to write about the ROCC. I will write a post and then put a link here for your convenience. Thanks for the questions.
1) Are you working on any new initiatives along with Rajesh on transforming India?
2) Why are you not writing much on India in recent times. Got disillusioned?
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