Victimhood Is The New Cool

Left-liberals remind me of a conversation between a man and a servant in a movie I no longer recall very well. The man tells his servant that he doesn’t know why “dog” is a cuss word. The man says he loves dogs, that dogs are the most lovable animals he’s ever known—and that he’d be honored if someone calls him a “dog”. The servant calls him just that, and gets slapped hard across his face. Left-liberals are like this man. Left-liberals don’t know elementary social science. But this is not the only reason why they don’t see themselves as cheap, little rascals. They are not introspective enough. So they are not able to see how their conscious beliefs clash with their assumptions.

Now how do their beliefs clash with their assumptions?

A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court upheld death penalty for the four convicts in the Delhi rape case. Liberals condescendingly call this girl “Nirbhaya”. Even her mother thinks there is something wrong with this. It’s a damning indictment of Indian journalism that even today, virtually all Indian journalists believe rape is not about sex. Every self-aware man knows this is nonsense. Every decent researcher who professionally handles literature on gender knows this is nonsense. Feminist dogma is not science. Activists, politicians and journalists are not scholars. It is entirely besides the point that many unhappy single women well past their prime think rape is about power. Facts lie flatly against this. All credible scholars think this is nonsense. But lame Indian journalists are convinced that rape is about power and abuse. Why does this happen? The really smart kids don’t become journalists. So, it’s not surprising you see all the shabbiness of third world self-styled intellectuals in its fully glory in Indian journalists. But why are they so bent on believing that rape is about power? There are many reasons, but this is one reason: They assume if rape has roots in male sexual desire, rape is excusable. Continue reading “Victimhood Is The New Cool”

Happy Women’s Day, People

Oh, Happy Women’s Day. But, sorry. It is not true that women are more oppressed in any society—or that they were, at any point in time. It is just that women’s suffering is taken more seriously. These two books are good places to begin:

“I think one unfortunate legacy of feminism has been the idea that men and women are basically enemies. I shall suggest, instead, that most often men and women have been partners, supporting each other rather than exploiting or manipulating each other. Nor is this about trying to argue that men should be regarded as victims. I detest the whole idea of competing to be victims. And I’m certainly not denying that culture has exploited women. But rather than seeing culture as patriarchy, which is to say a conspiracy by men to exploit women, I think it’s more accurate to understand culture (e.g., a country, a religion) as an abstract system that competes against rival systems — and that uses both men and women, often in different ways, to advance its cause.”

Roy F Baumeister, Is There Anything Good About Men?

“Sexism negatively affects not only women and girls, but also men and boys. While the former manifestation of sexism is widely acknowledged, few people recognize or take seriously the fact that males are the primary victims of many and quite serious forms of sex discrimination. Male disadvantages include the absence of immunity, typically enjoyed by females, from conscription into military service. Men, unlike women, are not only conscripted but also sent into combat, where they risk injury, both physical and psychological, and death. Men are also disproportionately the victims of violence in most (but not all) non-combat contexts. For example, most victims of violent crime are male, and men are often (but again not always) specially targeted for mass killing. Males are more likely than females to be subject to corporal punishment. Indeed, sometimes such punishment of females is prohibited, while it is permitted, if not encouraged, for males. Although males are less often victims of sexual assault than are females, the sexual assault of males is typically taken less? ?seriously and is thus even more? ?significantly under-reported. Fathers are less likely than mothers to win custody of their children in the event of divorce.?”?

David Benatar, The Second Sexism

 

The Better Angels Of Our Nature

People are wolves. I think this is the most under-appreciated fact about human nature. I find this obvious. I have no idea how anyone who has lived on earth long enough can deny this. How do I know this? Everyone I have worked until now was a cheapo who was willing to take what is for his grabbing before fleeing. This is true of almost everyone I have known otherwise too.

People often tell me that I live in the wrong bubble, or that I am generalizing too much. But, I have lived on the earth long enough to know better. I cannot be wrong. I never understood why people do many things that they do, even if they are bad people. It serves no purpose. Little people might say that there is no point in saying all this, even if this is true. But, if this is true, social scientists and intellectuals of all sorts are making a huge mistake, though not an innocent one. But, why are people convinced that this is wrong? If only people with a particular sensibility can appreciate the truth, they might as well be wrong.

If cruelty and violence does not outrage people, probably nothing will. Do people notice violence and cruelty? Now, it is very fashionable to support the cause of women. I think there is nothing unusual about the cruelty against women, but people have not always found the cause of women hip. This is a scene from an Indian city more than two decades ago: Continue reading “The Better Angels Of Our Nature”

What Pains You?

Meanie.

Income inequality is considered a social evil. But, it need not be true that income inequality is unjustifiable. It is perhaps true that some people are brilliant, and work harder. But, there are some clear-cut cases where this simply does not apply. Many workers can raise their income twenty folds by moving from a third world country to a western capitalistic democracy. A large majority of the people on the earth earns far less then they deserve because income is “locally determined”.  This is obvious, but few intellectuals take this seriously enough. Therefore, what pains them is not inequality.

Humility is considered a virtue. But, it is not clear that someone who has a modest opinion of himself accurately perceives reality. It is still possible that they are overestimating themselves. Hitler might claim that he had his flaws. It is not clear that someone who has a high opinion of herself is overestimating herself. Ayn Rand had once said that she wanted “The Fountainhead” to sell at least a hundred thousand copies. But, there are situations where it is perfectly safe to not rate yourself very highly. I think the world would be a better place if people were willing to trust the experts. Experts have spent decades studying subjects of which people know nothing about. They know more than the common public. But, when a common person disagrees with Milton Friedman, he is not likely to think that Friedman could be right. People do not value such humility. Therefore, what pains them is not lack of humility. Continue reading “What Pains You?”

My Facebook Updates

But, why am I not impressed?

Given my kindness and compassion, the last thing I want is to hurt another person’s sentiments. Sometimes I feel that I should have laughed at their faces or at least slapped, but it all goes unrewarded. Does truth hurt as much?

With age, comes wisdom-and humility! Hopefully, I won’t be an exception. Certainly one reason I prefer a dowdy old hag who understands my insults to a pretty young girl who can’t tell Satire from Sartre, to make a general categorical statement not intended at anyone in particular. More than common honesty and common decency, I prefer common sense. One should at least cringe in shame. Continue reading “My Facebook Updates”

Ayn Rand On War

Like many other issues, on war, Ayn Rand was right more often than not. Rand rightly points out that though most of the mankind is opposed to war and never wanted it, they live in fear, as they haven’t rejected the philosophy which leads to war: statism. Her article on war is full of brilliant insights. Yet, there are a few inconsistencies and incomplete arguments which I would like to point out. Rand was of the opinion that a free country has every right to start a war against a controlled economy. It might be true that a free country has the right to free the citizens of a totalitarian nation, but in these times of modern weapons it is extremely difficult to avoid civilian casualties. Not surprisingly, several libertarians have noted that the position of many Randians on the issue of Iraq war was equally inconsistent. Is it right to kill innocent victims in the name of punishing evil? Obviously not! Yet, their position amounted to that. Rand was right when she said that it makes no difference to a man whether he is killed by a nuclear bomb or a dynamite bomb or an old-fashioned club. But, is that all? Isn’t it difficult to pin-point criminals when nuclear weapons (or even ordinary bombs) are employed? An old fashioned club could be used only against the person who has initiated violence. She was partly right when she said the number of other victims or the scale of destruction might not make any difference to that man. (In some cases, it does make a difference.) The problem arises when she stretches the argument and claims that there is something obscene in the attitude of people who regard horror as a matter of numbers. We often hear that it is no worse to kill millions than it is to kill one man. The error in this mode of reasoning was pointed out by Murray Rothbard. He wrote: “Surely it makes a huge difference how many people he kills. We may see this by phrasing the problem thus: after a man has already killed one person, does it make any difference whether he stops killing now or goes on a further rampage and kills many dozen more people? Obviously, it does.”

Ayn Rand’s Troubled Economics?

Mark Skousen is an economist I respect a lot. He is inclined towards Capitalism, and is a consistent critic of Keynesian economics. However, in his article “THE TROUBLED ECONOMICS OF AYN RAND” he proves that he has grossly misunderstood Ayn Rand’s philosophy and the concept of consumer sovereignty. Howard Roark, Skousen writes, denies a basic tenet of sound economics–the principle of consumer sovereignty, when he says. “I don’t intend to build in order to serve or help anyone. I don’t intend to build in order to have clients. I intend to have clients in order to build.”

The principle of consumer sovereignty was (and is) espoused by many sound economists, including Ludwig Von Mises and W H Hutt. They are right in saying that in a free market, people are urged to produce goods which are demanded by the consumers. But, this is far from proving that the consumer is “sovereign”. It was one of the greatest achievements of Ayn Rand to prove the fallacy of consumer sovereignty, a notion which has misled even great economists. As she put it, “There are the economists who proclaim that the essence and the moral justification of capitalism is “service to others—to the consumers,” that the consumers’ wishes are the absolute edicts ruling the free market, etc. What all such theorists fail to mention is the fact that capitalism grants economic recognition to only one kind of consumer: the producer.” Even Ludwig Von Mises would have agreed that people pursue their monetary interest “only to the extent that other things are equal.” The consumer is not sovereign. He hasn’t’ (and shouldn’t have) the right to compel producers to produce goods he desire.

Sovereignty is in fact, a political concept, as expressed in statements such as “The King is sovereign”. It doesn’t apply to economics. As an economist wrote, “Sovereignty” is the quality of ultimate political power; it is the power resting on the use of violence. In a purely free society, each individual is sovereign over his own person and property, and it is therefore this self-sovereignty which obtains on the free market. No one is “sovereign” over anyone else’s actions or exchanges. Since the consumers do not have the power to coerce producers into various occupations and work, the former are not “sovereign” over the latter.”

Mark Skousen is off the mark when he says “Randian selfishness ignores the interest of others.” I wonder whether he has carefully studied Ayn rand’s philosophy. There is no clash between legitimate interests of people. One doesn’t ignore the interests of others when pursuing ones selfish interests. One, in fact, aids it.