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What is justice? (#1)

John Rawls wrote a book, entitled, A Theory of Justice. This is actually quite an amazing phenomenon for Rawls clearly had no clue about even the most fundamental conception of justice. The book missed the concept of justice by a mile, and ended up in total confusion. But that has been typical of all socialists, from the time that Rousseau expanded his conception of liberty into positive liberty space, and created a raggle of confused thinkers across the world who have vigorously DESTROYED LIBERTY and countless millions of lives over the past two centuries.

This is a general problem across the world. Most "educated" people don't understand the basic concept of justice. But without understanding justice, we can only end up promoting evil – even as we imagine we are preaching peace and goodwill.

In particular, social liberals and socialists don't understand the concept of ATTRIBUTION. They can't seem to identify WHO did a particular thing. They can't identify WHO owns something, WHO is responsible. As a result the whole world becomes like a ball of spaghetti in their mind, and they end up with DEEPLY contradictory prescriptions.

Let's start with something that should be obvious to all but the most fanatic Hindutva folk: that destroying property is a crime.

The gang of criminals known as BJP is (or was) headed by Advani. This nautanki, attired in a bow and arrow, went about actively advocating and organising the (a) trespass of property, and (b) breaking down property (Babri Masjid). That is a CRIMINAL action without any redeeming feature. However, Advani, like his many confused socialist/collectivist colleagues, thought that he was ensuring justice!

How so? He was under the DELUSION that since someone (Babur) had destroyed a temple (not owned by Advani –  who was not even born then) 500 years ago so he somehow got the right to set things right by TRESPASSING and BREAKING someone's else's property today. A man with such a feeble mind would not normally be fit to govern a village but he became dangerously close to becoming India's prime minister! Such are the dangers of mobocracy.

But you'll say: "But I never supported BJP, I'm a Congress man." You'll argue that such communal behaviour is below your dignity and that you would never stoop this low.

However, if you are a man from Congress (or a socialist, in general), then you support caste based reservations. But reservations are PRECISELY the same thing: they are a CRIME against innocents! Both are based on the ridiculous idea of "justice of yesterday" – a greater piece of nonsense than which never existed.

Basically if you support reservations, or you support the demolition of the Babri Masjid, you support the same thing: a WRONG and DANGEROUS concept of justice.

So-called "secularist" socialists imagine  they are different to BJP because they don't support demolishing Babri Masjid. But you can't support ANY form of injustice today on the ground that someone ELSE, dead and gone, committed a crime in the past. Unfortunately, that is the typical state of most of India's educated 'elites'. Whether you are a Hindutva fanatic or Congressi socialist, you are simply confused. It is time to wake up!

Let me help you clarify basic concepts

I have explained the concept of justice in BFN, but obviously not many people have read it (or understood it, even if they have read it). So let me try to put out the basic idea of justice over the course of a few simple blog posts. I will extract both from BFN and the draft manuscript DOF. 

I hope that these posts will alleviate (if not eliminate!) the deep and fatal confusion of thought that is prevalent in the minds of socialists/social liberals/collectivists in India. Unless we understand the BASIC concept of justice, we can't possibly understand the meaning of freedom.

Justice is ALWAYS as precise as a mathematical equation.  If you miss out a key variable, or include extraneous variables, you'll fail to understand this basic concept of justice. And after that you'll lead a life of total confusion – and DEEP immorality. You'll end up advocating communalist/socialist/other collectivist ideas. Each of these ideas KILLS. Always kills. 

To begin with I'm publishing this Appendix on accountability, from BFN. Please read this to understand how simple and precise the concept of justice is. Please note the VITAL meaning of attribution for it is the source of ALL understandings of accountability, of all property rights, and of all rewards and punishment. If you can't identify WHO did a particular action, you are FINISHED. You will remain a mental cripple.

Our Accountability (an appendix to Breaking Free of Nehru)

Justice is the end of government. It is the end of society.
James Madison[i]
Freedom becomes relevant only in the presence of more than one thinking, and hence responsible, human being. Responsibility is the key to freedom. Persons or animals that exhibit purely instinctive behaviour cannot be free since they cannot careful consider and evaluate the options available to them at each step, and choose, after due deliberation and planning, a course of action that they believe is appropriate. If a person with a chemical imbalance in their brains assaults another person, that person may not be acting freely. Similarly, psychiatrically unstable or intellectually challenged people may not be legally liable for their actions and hence cannot be deemed to be free.
The challenge for two or more of such thinking and responsible people cohabiting the universe is for each of them to do what they want to do, while being mindful of the mirror need of others to do what they want to do. The only sustainable way to ensure a reasonable balance among such conflicting demands on freedom is for citizens of a free society to mutually agree to rules for joint living. These rules amount to a ‘Nash equilibrium’,[ii] under which everyone’s liberty is balanced either by arbitrary rules of thumb such as traffic rules, or by precise conditions of justice and accountability. This principle is actually very simple and very ancient: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.
As free people we are required to balance the forces of our physical and emotional energy in our interactions with others to make sure that no one else is made worse off by our actions (or inaction). Nothing requires us to go out of the way to help others. We may, of course, choose to do so, but that is not an obligation on us. All freedom calls for is that we must not ever make others worse off – for that would diminish their life, even if by a tiny amount. This accountabilityexistswhether it is enforced by a nominated third party or not. And yes, when we are called upon to rise and receive the just deserts of our actions, we cannot plead ignorance of the ‘law’ or of our mutually agreed rules as an excuse.
The exercise of our freedom thus requires us to carefully consider the consequences of our actions on others. At most times our actions are likely to be perceived differently by different observers, and therefore they will have differential impacts or consequences. We are obliged to be aware of these differential impacts, and to take steps to minimize potential misunderstandings arising from our actions. There is a natural limit or check in place, of course. Were we to hurt others, we know that a retributory cycle could be precipitated, for then these others may attempt to diminish our life similarly. So we are naturally careful not to hurt others even if there is no external government to enforce such accountability.
Accountability implicitly includes attribution,which isthe recognition or acknowledgement of the ownership of consequences. Attribution is the arrow that unerringly points to the relevant actor. For example, who is it that is responsible for a particular consequence? Who is it that has won a race? Who is it that owns this piece of land or that, or this piece of bread? We have a firm belief that the runner that runs the fastest should be declared its winner. When the deserts of our actions are not attributed precisely, and outcomes are determined by bias or by chance, we have a sense of disquiet; we object to the diminution of justice that it entails. Such simple and obvious things constitute the net import of freedom, which is, in the end, a very trivial and ordinary concept. But nothing is more important than this simple concept.
I am calling this package, namely, the combination of our free choice and its natural accountability, including its matching attribution, the loop of accountability. I have also used this phrase in a few places in this book. This concept is best illustrated in the diagram that follows. Further, the Yin-Yang symbol in the beginning of this book can also represent the same concept.
Accountability is the detailed and precise account of our actions. The word ‘accounts’ is used here in its most generic sense, including:
  • whether an action was called for and appropriate, namely, the existence and level of responsibility;
  • whether the action was duly carried out, i.e. the level of an action or inaction;
  • what were its consequences; and
  • to whom did the consequences apply, namely, the attribution and precise debiting or crediting of outcomes.
The keeping and settling of accounts is also known as justice.
Let me illustrate with a very simple example. Let’s assume that I walk into a grocery shop and ask for bread from the grocer. The grocer hands me a loaf of bread. I pay the grocer and take the bread. That marks the end of a transaction where the loop of accountability has ‘closed’. There is no outstanding ‘residue’ left.
What has happened here? We observe that, being responsible for myself and my family’s sustenance, I have freely,and of my own volition, stepped into the shop that belongs to someone else. I have then chosen to perform two further actions – first, to ask for bread, and, second, to receive the bread. Having done that, I have become instantaneously accountable for these actions. I must therefore necessarily perform the next action, namely, to settle the account and pay for the bread. I therefore pay for the bread. Note that exactly at the moment when I finish handing over the money, the ownership of the bread has changed. The bread as well as what I do with it is now attributed to me. The use of the bread is now in my sole discretion. This attribution applies even though the grocer did not write my name on the bread, nor did I register my ownership of the bread with the government.
This simple transaction illustrates the concept of freedom in its entirety. Our free actions are always accompanied by an expectation that we close the loop of accountability which is immediately and always generated. No residue should remain. This accounting is as precise as a mathematical equality. Indeed, most of our transactions in a free society are seamless, and the loop of accountability is duly closed. We note that if no one ever violated the loop of accountability, we would never need a government. That would be paradise.

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