Whoever Fights Monsters — Revisited

My blog post of Jan 26th (Whoever Fights Monsters …) was republished by The Quint and subsequently ended up on Yahoo also.

At the Yahoo site, a few hundred comments (and replies to comments) were posted. Most of the comments were critical of my opinion, and many simply declared that I was a paid Congress agent, and anti-Hindu and anti-India to boot. I had stirred a hornet’s nest.

Which was sad because it showed that those people have reading comprehension problems. In my piece I severely criticized Nehru and Indira, and the Congress. And I faulted Modi for not keeping his “Congress-mukt Bharat” promise. The Congress is corrupt, not stupid. It would have been stupid for them to pay someone who is implacably opposed to them.

Modi bhakts read my criticism of Modi as an endorsement of his opponents. That’s stupid. My limited point in my opinion piece was that Modi has not been good for India. That is not meant as an endorsement of the opposition. It is possible to be the best (which is a relative term) and also be quite terrible (which is an absolute term.)

Some even doubted whether I had ever supported Modi. Here’s a piece I wrote in May 2014 — a few days after the 2014 election results: Narendra Modi will Transform India.

I was so wrong.

Democracy is Bloodier than Monarchy or Aristocracy

John Adams (1735 -1826) was an American Founding Father, and the second president of the United States (1797 -1801). Read the wiki page on Adams.

One marvels at all the natural wealth that the US has — immense land area, minerals, rivers, forests. You name it, the US has it all. But all that natural wealth pales in comparison to the wealth it had in the character of its founders. They were extraordinarily learned, wise, thoughtful and prudent. Given this sort of advantage, it is not at all surprising that the US became the richest and the most successful nation in the world.

The leaders that a nation gets is ultimately a random draw. The US was extraordinarily lucky. It would have drawn a Stalin, or a Lenin, or a Mao, or a Gandhi, or a Nehru. Had the US been unlucky like Russia, China or India, no amount of natural wealth would have saved the US from perdition. The US was born lucky. Continue reading “Democracy is Bloodier than Monarchy or Aristocracy”

Whoever Fights Monsters …

I was one of Narendra Modi’s biggest fans.

I supported his candidature as the prime minister of India years before he became the phenomenon during the 2014 general elections in India. I can honestly claim that to the extent that I could I even worked indirectly for the Modi campaign.

Sadly, I am no longer a supporter. My support was based on the promises that Modi had made about the policy changes he would make if he were to become the PM. Professionally as a development economist — right from the very inception of the discipline of economics my tribe seeks to understand the nature and causes of the wealth of nations — I am interested in India’s economic development. Not just professionally, personally I am moved by the pity I feel for the poor and impoverished of the world and naturally India, my native land. My support for Modi was contingent and instrumental. I believed Modi would do what was needed to transform India into a developed nation. I wrote a damn book on “Transforming India” in 2011.

The fact is that Modi had made many promises, most of which were pleasing to classical liberals like me. We believed those promises because they were consistent with our beliefs and ideologies — limited government, prohibiting the  government from running commercial enterprises, non-discrimination, secularism, etc. Continue reading “Whoever Fights Monsters …”

What Social Classes Owe to Each Other

It would be wonderful if our schools exposed students to those great ideas that are the foundation upon which our modern civilization is built. These ideas are primarily from the social sciences. Social sciences, such as economics, explore and explain how society functions, and the pathology of failed societies. Among great ideas, I think the idea that the individual matters is paramount.

The institution of slavery has been abolished. At least that’s what we’d like to believe. But in truth, the individual is ruled by the collective, even in the best of societies. Even in the “civilized world”, the individual is de facto partially enslaved although de jure he is free. That’s a truth that very few people recognize. That’s a truth that every student should be exposed to because it matters immensely. That truth matters because only when one realizes that one is not free that the struggle for freedom begins. Continue reading “What Social Classes Owe to Each Other”

Drones Sighted at Heathrow Airport

Is my flight from IAD to LHR (scheduled departure 7 PM) going to take off or not?

In Praise of Idleness

It makes good sense for the slave master to persuade his slaves that idleness is a sin and he’s doing god’s work when he flogs the slaves to work harder. The harder the slaves work, the more the master can take for himself. But of course the real motive has to be concealed and clothed in moral raiment.

“Work hard, you b*tches, and stop complaining.” That’s what Mohandas Gandhi meant but put it so very piously by saying, “Purity of mind and idleness are incompatible.” See what I mean? Continue reading “In Praise of Idleness”

Government as the Overlord

Even though I know precious little about the formation of mass psychology, I am certain that how the citizens of a nation collectively view the world must have a causal relationship with the fortunes of a nation.

As individuals we are singularly powerless to alter the environment we grow up in. We have to take that as a given, outside our control, exogenous. How we view the world is not of our choosing. Our mental models are formed largely unconsciously, and shaped contingently. It is an enormous intellectual challenge for us to critically examine our conditioning — and in most cases plain old-fashioned brainwashing by state institutions  — and change our perception of the world.

Most critically, how people perceive government and governance matters. The what, why, and how of government differs from nation to nation, and those differences are consequential. To change how the collective’s conception of government and governance is to change its destiny.

This line of thinking is motivated by an email that my colleague Rajesh Jain received, and forwarded to me. I include the full text of the email and my response, for the record. Continue reading “Government as the Overlord”

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