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India! I dare you to be rich

Category Archive: Philosophy

Two self theory (a mammalian primate with a lizard hiding inside) – and the secret of self-mastery and control

Each of us is not just one of us, but two of us, a human (primate) with a reptile (lizard?) inside us. Not a very pleasant thought, perhaps, but we all know about the tussle between our "angel" and "devil", our two 'natures'.

We have this push-pull between our lazy self and the other which drives us to our future goals. All this is easy to understand using the simplistic model of the Triune brain (which I've also discussed in DOF in detail).

Recent literature on will power suggests that ordinary "will power" has a "quota" and if one exhausts it early during a day, it can reduce by the end of the day (e.g. see this PDF report for the layman from the American Psychological Association). But I believe this only partly fits with my experience. There have been times when I've driven myself to extreme self-defined goals, without ANY respite. And at others, I've allowed my body/mind to slacken and lose control. There is not just a 'fixed' amount of will power, nor anything 'fixed' at all about anything in our lives.

We are just TWO OF US. Once the primate within us decides to do something, the primate can quickly overpower and control the lowly reptile that lives within us, regardless of whether our "quota" of will power has been used during the day. 

This piece of research suggests that our INSTINCT (which is always most powerful) is our "animal" self, our "reptile" self, and will drive us into the ditch, if allowed to take control.

The way out is simple: to imagine that our body is a PET DOG, to be tightly controlled. Treat the body well, but realise it is merely an animal. Imagine you are a human perched atop an animal.

And at that point, once the animal is brought under control, the HUMAN within us can start functioning for his/her goals.

Btw, this makes far more sense to me than Advaita, which merely refers to ONE self. I disagree with that approach (for practical purposes). I've seen even the great proponents of Advaita slip up and get into trouble. That's because while they thought they were a great "spiritual" self, their ANIMAL body overpowered them and drove them into a ditch.

INSTINCT IS ALWAYS MORE POWERFUL. It is up to us to treat our instinctive response as an ANIMAL response, and to aggressively tame it under all circumstances, like we tame our pet dog and keep it on the leash.

INSTINCT IS IMPORTANT

I do not mean to suggest that instinct is irrelevant. 95 per cent of our body runs on instinct (breathing, heart beat, etc. etc. ). Our 'gut' reactions are also mostly accurate (Thinking Fast and Slow, Kahneman).

Our instinct kicks in when we are walking in a dark night on a lonely street and we perk up on hearing footsteps. Our instinct kicks in when we withdraw our hand from hot water. These are all critically important. But our instinct fails us when we are faced with abundance of food. It over-eats, like a lizard gorging on insects hovering near a light bulb.

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The naive irrelevance of the “non-aggression” principle as the foundation of modern free society

Continuing my notes on why I detest "libertarian anarchy" and such versions of libertarianism, there is a popular version that goes like this:

This version is used by some people to "demonstrate" that a free society CAN be created voluntarily, so let governments go away.Thousands of mindless tomes have been written showing how this can work.

These fools forget that this is EXACTLY the same as religious preaching. This approach is hardly different to the 10 commandments in many ways, which asks "Thou shall not kill" and such inane preachings.

There is not the SLIGHTEST evidence that religious preachings have changed human nature ONE bit. For thousands of years, religious preachers have been saying such things.

Most of these preachers THEMSELVES are criminals, having committed devious "sins", too many to list.

But even if there are some good ones, they CAN'T make the slightest dent on human nature. 5000 years were not enough to make the SLIGHTEST change.

In fact, the most criminal people in the world tend to be religious (not that all religious people are criminal).

So DON'T PREACH if you want to have a successful society. DON'T expect others to follow the "non-aggression principle". By all means do not attack others, but DEFEND YOURSELF FIRST.

The case for a modern free society does not arise from such naive wishful preaching/thinking.

It arises from a STRONG state that is committed to liberty. The strong state is not aggressive but defensive. It is, however, something that can become aggressive unless it is tightly controlled. Therefore we need strong democratic institutions to control the strong state.

Only when the strong state exists, with its strong defence and strong police/justice against criminals and aggressors, can the very concept of liberty exist.

Liberty is innate, but it is constantly threatened from all sides. The strong classical liberal state provides liberty strong shelter and therefore allows it to blossom.

Not the non-aggression principle but the strong classical liberal state is the practical way to allow the flower of liberty to bloom.

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The uncivilised irrelevance of 40,000 years of Aboriginal libertarian anarchy

A few pesky childish and irrelevant “anarchist libertarians” have taken it upon themselves to sit on judgement over my work and to waste my time, demanding that defence, police and justice be left to individuals to figure out and provide in their private capacity and that I should demand the dissolution of India and all nation states.

I have noticed that man’s evolutionary reality or actual human history doesn't make any sense to them, given their deluded belief that we are not animals, or that we are not the most social animals (let them learn why our prefrontal lobes are SO HUGE – because we are the most intensely social). 

Let me show them once again the UNCIVILISED IRRELEVANCE of their ideas.

They presumably know this much at least (hopefully) – that Australian Aborigines, being one of the oldest branch of humans to have left Africa, have lived in Australia for over 40,000 years.

There was a “dream” libertarian anarchic situation here for 40,000 years. An entire continent with an area nearly three times of India, and TOTAL FREEDOM from any nation state. No force governed them, only individual optimisation decisions. They could do WHATEVER they wanted. They could bargain with each other (and they did trade, to an extent) and get whatever they needed through individual work and effort. 

But for 40,000 years all they managed to do was to invent a few trivial “inventions”, and had NO capacity to defend themselves from any foreign assault.  Primitive weaponry meant they were entirely vulnerable to British guns.

There was no pressure to innovate, no desire to learn about the world, no interest in anything long-lived.

They reason? They failed the most fundamental requirement of civilisation: to organise themselves into kingdoms or nation states. 

During the same period, India, which had mastered the art of organisation into large states, became hugely civilised and spread its wisdom across the Asia and Europe. India’s failure came in the middle ages because of its inability to hold on to large nation states. Because it broke up into bits it became a take-over target, which meant it went into decline. Even then it remained the RICHEST or second richest nation in the world for 1800 out of the last 2000 years.

We don’t want a weak state or anarchy.

Civilisation needs a VERY STRONG STATE, which is capable of solidly defending its borders. Within that state, there should be total defence of individual property rights and freedom of individual enterprise and speech, allowing the society to innovate and flourish.

This worldview known as classical liberalism – being ENTIRELY different to libertarianism. This worldview understands that without strong defence NOTHING can be achieved, not even basic innovation, like the wheel (Aborigines didn't even have the wheel for 40,000 years).

The anarchist libertarians are as IRRELEVANT to human progress as the Aborigines were for 40,000 of their history. No disrespect meant to the Aborigines, but had the human species relied on their libertarian anarchist approach, we would have been living a most primitive and brutish life even today.

Civilisation BEGINS with a strong state. Ensuring that such a strong state doesn’t become tyrannical is the key political problem before us, not whether we should have such a strong state in the first place.

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Man’s animal nature is fundamentally violent. Christopher Hitchens speaks out this truth.

This video, below, is a nice short summary of reasons why the world is the way it is. No amount of pretending otherwise will help us in ANY way.

Brutality is a regular ritual in human life.

Obama kills thousands of innocents with drones and is rewarded with a Nobel PEACE prize. So is Yasser Arafat. Modi supervises the killing of a thousand innocents and is likely to become PM of the world's largest "democracy". The followers of the "religion of peace" brutally kill hundreds of thousands and yet we are told God is Great.

And so on.

I find it truly amusing that "anarcho-capitalists" are as blind as the believers in religion, about the brutality of human nature. Voluntarism can presumably fix anything. Preaching can presumably fix anything that's left. Some of these are mere fools. Others, who knowingly promote such false ideas, are knaves.

Sorry, folks. I come from a STRONG empirical background. I believe ONLY what I see and understand. That man is brutal. If you wish to look for evidence, type "genocide" in google images.

Therefore the need of a strong state. A necessary evil. And despite all its weaknesses, a third rate "democratic" state like India is still preferable to anarchy or a theocratic state.

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Level 5 leadership – as defined by Kautilya. All about mastery over self.

I cite from Prof. Sihag's article.

Kautilya explained the role of education as: “The sole aim of all branches of knowledge is to inculcate restraint over the senses.”

He labeled the following emotions as obstacles:

  • passion,
  • anger,
  • timidity,
  • compassion leading to aversion to fighting [Sanjeev: the key msg of the Gita
  • recoiling from awarding deserved punishment [Sanjeev: this is where deserved death penalty comes in],
  • baseness,
  • haughtiness,
  • a forgiving nature [Sanjeev: I think he means not forgetting harm]
  • thinking of the next world [Sanjeev: this is brilliant: focus on the here and now],
  • being too pious
  • meanness,
  • abjectness,
  • jealousy,
  • contempt for what one has,
  • wickedness,
  • distrust,
  • fear,
  • negligence,
  • inability to withstand harsh climate (cold, heat or rain) and
  • faith in the auspiciousness of stars and days

FURTHER

The great man is, in fact, the great organizer. He creates the very conditions that make the hero obsolete, for he imposes an order that limits the unpredictable contingencies against which the hero struggles. The hero was made by his age; the organizer is the maker of his age. Men can now do things that earlier could be accomplished only by the gods. [from Drekmeier]

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Kautilya worked out the PRECISE horrendous cost of anarchy. The strong state is the foundation of civilisation.

Prof. Sihag sent me one of his further articles on Kautilya. This one is entitled "Kautilya's Arthashastra: The Origin of Statistical Economics During -4CE"

It is an absolutely brilliant article, bringing to our notice Kautilya's insights on a range of issues. The one that I'm going to discuss here is the cost of disorder (anarchy).

EXTRACT FROM THE ARTICLE:

Kautilya separated the value-creating activities from bearing risk. The second important issue was the determination of the magnitude of the risk-premium and Kautilya somehow figured that out too.

He (p 426) suggested, “The lawful rates of interest (on money lent) for different purposes shall be:

Normal transactions               15% per annum

Commercial transactions:

Normal                        60%

Risky travel:

Through forests           120%

By sea                          240%

No one shall charge or cause to be charged a rate higher than the above, except in regions where the King is unable to guarantee security; in such a case, the judges shall take into account the customary practices among debtors and creditors (3.11).” 

Travel as such was risky and as Kautilya pointed out, travel by sea was riskier than travel on land. He (p 623) explained, “Some teachers say that a trade-route by water is preferable to one on land because water routes can be used to transport a large quantity of goods at less expense and exertion. Kautilya disagrees. A water route is not usable at all times, accessible at only a few places, full of dangers and indefensible in contrast to land routes. Among water routes, a coastal route is better than one on the high sea because there are a large number of ports along any coast. A river route is also good because it poses less serious dangers and is more constantly in use (7.12).”

It is obvious that Kautilya recommended a higher risk premium for undertaking the extra risk. In today’s notations: r = rn + p. Where r= rate of interest on a risky loan, rn = normal (prime) rate (which was suggested to be 60%), p =risk premium. Apparently, most of the risk was borne by the financier (more like today’s venture capitalists) of the loans and not by the merchant. Since the financier was capable of bearing the risk but the borrower must pay the risk premium. Also the suggestion that the interest rate could be higher ‘where the King is unable to guarantee security’ is quite significant, implying the importance of law and order in reducing risk and promoting economic activity.

COMMENT

Now this is really interesting. We talk of missing markets and the rest. But here is a real-life demonstration of something that economists often talk about but don't actually evaluate – the precise cost of disorder (or the value of order).

It is clear from this illustration that Chanakya was able to quantify the value of order. In general, safe travel in forests of the kingdom was extremely valuable. On the other hand, you had to be significantly compensated for travel through an insecure area. You could expect to get more than double your money back from a trader who transported goods through a risky forest. Of course, if the goods were stolen, you got nothing.

Note also that while primitive peoples like the early Christians and Muslims were totally confused about interest, and wrote a lot against "usury", Chanakya was not similarly confused. Extremely precise in his understanding of the importance of insurance and the risk-return equation, he allowed for a VERY high rate of interest in the face of extreme risk.

The risk created by lack of governance/security translates into two things:

a) significantly higher price of goods in the final market (the mark-up had to be well above the interest rate) which meant reduced demand, hence reduced production plans, i.e. lower growth for the economy; and

b) significant deadweight loss, as goods are stolen/destroyed on the way.

Overall, anarchy was VERY EXPENSIVE and security by the king extremely worthwhile for the purpose of protecting economic activity (the marginal benefit of security at low levels of overall security was huge, through significantly higher economic activity).

You can think of the fort (the well-protected territory) as the greenhouse in which plants (human productive activities) flourish.

There is a fundamental need for group security and law and order without which property rights mean nothing. Forget property rights protection, even life in anarchy is poor, nasty, brutish and short.

To the STRONG STATE we owe the beginning of modern civilisation.

Of course, only states that promoted liberty and enterprise (and Chanakya's state did), did well. A strong state is a necessary but not sufficient condition for prosperity.

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