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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Scientifically tested: power makes hypocrites


I always suspected that it was the other way around, that hypocrites were just good at climbing to power positions because they were deceitful and particularly ambitious (power-hungry). But seems that even the most ethical of persons when placed in a position of power will tend to become a hypocrite, hardening their stand on the ethics of others and loosening it on themselves.

Inversely powerless people and those who think their own power is undeserved tend to be hypercritical with themselves.

Read more at Science Daily.

34 comments:

manju said...

It doesn't have statistics about what percentage of people with power are hypocrites or hypercrites. I wonder whether the original study includes it.

those who think their own power is undeserved tend to be hypercritical with themselves.

Humble and modest people still around. Good news.

Maju said...

True. I haven't looked for the original paper. Sometimes the articles have a link but often they are based on (or even copied literally from) academic press releases. Sometimes the papers are not yet published. In this case I was too lazy to bother googling for the original paper - just a quick note.

manju said...

I have come across opinions like in European society top people were always corrupt but middle class due to it Protestant work ethics was strongly ethical. Are Protestant countries more ethical than Catholic ones in Europe? Or are Catholic countries generally more hypocrite than Protestant countries?

Maju said...

That's a classic: Max Weber, I think. The argument is basically that Catholicism was more aristocratic and hierarchic, while protestantism was more bourgeois and egalitarian (like in the sense that every person could read the Bible and interpret it on his own criteria, also favoring national languages over Latin).

It was probably the case to some extent, though let's not forget Luther's decision to support the aristocrats against the revolting peasants, preaching that these had to be slayed "like rabid dogs" or the decision of Calvinist Geneva to burn on the stake the medicine/anatomy pioneer Miquel Servet, who had sought refuge there. Nowadays religion doesn't matter much anymore (most are atheist or agnostic or have their own personal religious attitude) and anyhow there was always some ambiguity in these differences.

But to some extent, yes, it can be said that originally Protestantism worked as a proto-bourgeois force of sorts, anticipating somewhat what would happen three centuries later with the true bourgeois revolutions.

Nordic countries do have some reputation of being more civic and progessive, while some Mediterranean Catholic areas have more fame of corruption, but this varies from country to country and even through regions within each country, ad also depending of the time you measure such factors. It's complicated. For example I would not dare say that this applies to "protestant" England in comparison with "catholic" France or Belgium or some other "catholic" regions like the Basque Country, Catalonia, etc. I don't see Britain as a particularly socially advanced country, unlike it may be the case of the Netherlands of the Scandinavian states. Each country and region ha its own social structures and traditions and there are maybe more differences between the Basque Country and Andalusia than between the Basque Country and the Netherlands (but well, free Basques went Protestant for a while too, with our legitimate King Henry III leading the French Huguenot faction and eventually becoming King of France but having to convert).

Some have argued that the oldest heresy leading to Protestantism were the Bogomiles or Albigensians, who were extremely influential in Medieval Occitania (Southern France), where also the Huguenot faction would be dominant later on and that is the part of modern France that was historically less French, if at all.

It's complex. The principle of "the King's religion is the people's religion" forced people to adopt either sect after the 30 Years' War, regardless of their heart preferences.

manju said...

Never heard of Max Weber. Thanks for pointing me that out. France is not a good example for a Catholic country. In fact, the French revolution was against the unethical ruling class. After French Revolution we can't consider it as a Catholic country.

"the King's religion is the people's religion"

Something that never happened in India. Many kings were the followers of mainly Jainism and Buddhism not really the caste system. However, rulers were not the top of the society but the priests.

Maju said...

Never heard of Max Weber.

He's considered the "father of Sociology" and, for what I recall, a very interesting read.

After French Revolution we can't consider it as a Catholic country.

Uh?! France is (or rather has been until few decades ago) a Catholic country. Is like saying that England is not anymore Anglican since Cromwell's Commonwealth or Russia is not anymore an Orthodox country since Lenin or Turkey is not any more Muslim since Attaturk. Go ask Sarko, Betty, Vlad or Abdul about that...

The French Revolution ended up in Napoleon's regime (that restored religion in nearly all aspects) and followed by the Restoration (and then by another revolution and so on). Eventually secularism succeeded (more or less) all around, not just in France, but it was no simple process.

"the King's religion is the people's religion"

Something that never happened in India
.

Here it happened all the time but was "officialized" after the Wars of Religion as a way to prevent further wars, causing nevertheless huge waves of religious refugees, some of whom were to populate America. It had precedents in the expulsion of Muslims and Jews from several other countries, the crusades against the Bogomiles and Hussittes and the now almost forgotten persecutions of religious dissidents in the late Roman Empire, after the Christian coup. Christianity, tightly associated with ideas such as Empire and a single jealous God, is very intolerant. Only secularization could overcome this matter (and I dare say that it was religious schism and wars what eventually lead to secularization, at least partly).

However some states like Poland-Lithuania were more tolerant.

However, rulers were not the top of the society but the priests.

Reminds of Judaism somewhat... or the supposed top status that the Pope (but not other priests) had in Medieval society. However the Pope's role was more of a figurehead most of the time, with monarchs really sunning the show and even the local branch of the church (before counter-reform). Here priestly supposed celibacy was a mean to guarantee that the priestly pseudo-caste was tightly connected to the military/landowner aristocracy.

manju said...

Probably, early reformation explains social backwardness of Britain in comparison to France. The unethical aristocracy was made to change in Britain hence they didn't generate as much hatred as that in France. As I see it the French Revolution strongly put forward arguments for ethical society and that after some fighting with existing ideologies finally won. This is to be expected. One can't expect instant success of ethical life.

I think I need to read before, saying something :-). I just bought Max Weber's "Protestant Work Ethic ..."

I'm sometimes get confused by European history, it's so much unlike us.
- First it was bourgeoisie revolt against aristocracy against their unethical religion. Here they introduced ethical religion and capitalism.
- Second proletarian revolt against bourgeoisie against the latter's unethical economic activities. Here they tried to establish ethical economics and secularism.

I wonder how our Communists reconciled our entirely differnt social system with European society.

The so-called Bourgeoisie in South Indian society (merchants and artisans) were low in the caste system and their Varna position was equal to workers they employed. Especially in the case of artisans, artisan merchants, the master artisans and proletarians all belonged to the same caste.

In North Indian society merchants were supposedly higher though that probably happened in the last two centuries with British education and opportunity to trade with outside world.

Maju said...

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. For instance:

"First it was bourgeoisie revolt against aristocracy against their unethical religion. Here they introduced ethical religion and capitalism".

Who introduced that? Aristocracy or bourgeoises? Anyhow bourgeoises were most often religious people but rather anti-clerical (against the social dominance of the Church). Also bourgeois revolutions were manned by workers largely. What Marx and others proposed was to use that worker power for the interest of the workers and not that of yet another parasitic class.

I wonder how our Communists reconciled our entirely differnt social system with European society.

They are not that different in my opinion. Anyhow, from the Marxist point of view, bourgeois revolutions and reforms (and modern India is clearly a bourgeois state) are part of the process (dialectics): highly imperfect in their achievements but also strongly decodifying of the values of the old regime (aristocracy, religion, castes, etc.)

Ask an Indian Marxist anyhow. There are many for what I know.

The so-called Bourgeoisie in South Indian society (merchants and artisans) were low in the caste system and their Varna position was equal to workers they employed.

This was pretty much the case in 18th/19th century Europe too: the revolutionary caste in France was the so-called "3rd state", i.e. those who were not aristocrats nor priests, including of course all or most bourgeoises but also all workers and peasants. These were those who paid all taxes but had only a symbolic representation in the parliament. They demanded "one person: one vote", though in practice most early bourgeois systems required property and/or education to have the right to vote. Truly universal suffrage is mostly an achievement of the 20th century, largely because of the pressure of the workers' movement and the antithesis of the Soviet revolution.

In many aspects it was this pressure towards greater democracy what really caused the decolonization process, because, as someone put it, the French (for example) had come to a point at which they either granted full citizenship to all colonial subjects, which would end with France being ruled from Africa and Vietnam, or abandoned the colonies. They chose the latter, rather logically.

Only the totalitarian regime of Portugal (and Spain but its remainder colonies were minor) attempted to keep the colonies for longer, integrating them as nominally equal parts of the state) but they got independent anyhow upon the restoration of democracy in the metropolis (not without several decades of guerrilla wars and the subsequent socialist regimes). France also attempted to do that with Algeria (and some other smaller colonies like Guadaloupe and Martinique) but also got lots of trouble and ended in retreat.

But it's important to understand that full democracy only happened in most cases because of strong pressure from the worker party, not because burgeoises were strongly in favor of it.

You cannot ignore the "thin red line" that crosses through the middle of the whole 20th century. Before and after too but quite specially in the time of the USSR, which was a true alternative in many aspects, forcing the capitalist system to push reforms (social, political and economical) further and faster than would have happened otherwise.

manju said...

Who introduced that? Aristocracy or bourgeoises?

Bourgeoisie.

Maybe Iranian Shia revolution was similar to Cromwell's revolt but overthrowing the aristocracy. I have read that Islamic revolution was strongly supported by 'bazaris' (merchants). So, the actual ruling class is Bourgeoisie now in Iran.

It appears there is no opposing ideology for opposition. Something that brings proletarians to their side.

manju said...

I think Marxism was certain type intellectual ideology for the Indian educated people who mostly came from privileged castes. However, it is tough to measure its success in India. It too has foot soldiers in Dalits, tribals and workers from other artisan, farmer castes. However, Dalit intellectuals shunned it considering it reinforced the caste hierarchy.

I think Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu(though initial ideology was developed by Malayalis) was mostly a Bourgeoisie movement. However, considering that they were against the caste system it was officially atheist.

Maju said...

Maybe Iranian Shia revolution was similar to Cromwell's revolt but overthrowing the aristocracy.

You may draw some parallels indeed.

Events and alignments may vary a lot depending on local circumstances: Basque society was rather bourgeois but enjoyed close-to-modern institutions under the ancien regime, so Basques generally aligned with the counter-revolutionaries/counter-reformists because such reforms were bad for the Basque quasi-bourgeois autonomous system. We had our "taliban" period, so to say (see Carlist Wars for further details).

I think Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu(though initial ideology was developed by Malayalis) was mostly a Bourgeoisie movement. However, considering that they were against the caste system it was officially atheist.

Interesting. Being "officially atheist" is just a radical form of secularism, I guess.

manju said...

Was European society structure was something like this?

Feudal aristocracy -> Employed peasants in their lands

Bourgeoisie -> Employed workers in their industries or other enterprises

I think in Russia peasants were mostly serfs hence they joined workers.

I am guessing in other parts of Europe peasants were independent and didn't support workers. Hence the movement wasn't successful.

Sorry, I'm not fully aware of the events and don't have patience to read all.

Maju said...

Feudalism was complex with many variants. But essentially implied that aristocrats had semi-slave labor in form of land-bound peasants (serfs), who rented small plots but were also obligued to work for the lord as custom established.

However in many cases, and increasingly towards the end of the feudal period, there were also free peasants who owned their own land. This was more common in some fringe areas like the Basque Country (a country of "peasant gentry" basically), Britain (yeomen), etc.

However, while feudalism decayed in the West, it expanded to Eastern Europe, first Prussia, then Poland and finally Russia, that became the granaries of the continent. In the Mediterranean the situation was generally more static.

Similarly the implementation of the new bourgeois system had many variants: in Britain an alliance of bourgeois and aristocrats evolved (resulting in the expropiation of peasants), while in France it was open war instead (resulting in a radical agrarian reform, among its long lasting successes). Most countries evolved more in the line of Britain than that of France, but the Napoleonic conquests also expanded the French model and prestige a lot. Britain as hegemon wanted to keep the old regime in the mainland, while France and others wanted to destroy it (and that's pretty much the European 19th century, culminating in the proletarian revolution of 1917-21 that shaked Eastern Europe and changed the scenery).

Russian peasants were serfs (in the worst sense of the term, practically slaves) mostly, as you say, but there were large areas where free peasants dominated too (specially the Baltic). However the Bolsheviks didn't trust them too much and tried to build a true urban working class almost from scratch. Russia, like China and others later on, had the "problem" that it did not have a middle (bourgeois) class but almost neither a true (urban) worker class, so the forces were a belated and decadent old regime versus the peasant masses. Only the aristocrats or the socialist intellectuals could articulate the peasant power in such situation. The latter succeeded and I think it was mostly for good.

But that kind of revolution was not what Marx and the other socialists had imagined. They had forecasted revolutions in the industrial powers by urban worker masses but these urban workers were to some extent "bribed" with the resources taken from the colonies and semicolonies (a situation that Marx did contemplate already happened in some areas of England and France in his time but that whose implications he may not have fully understood maybe). It was needed another genius of his size, Lenin, to realize what was happening and articulate that force.

Similarly Mao also acted on his own, against the party and Third International leaders, who considered that a socialist revolution in China was impossible.

I am guessing in other parts of Europe peasants were independent and didn't support workers. Hence the movement wasn't successful.

Actually it was more a matter of urban workers themselves being "bribed" into a reformed bourgeois system that was not "that bad", as the colonies/semicolonies paid for it. In fact that's what NATO or the "Western Empire" of today is but the neocolonies are everyday more unruly, so it should not last.

But you are partly right in that free peasants who owned their own land were rather a bourgeois force (and even pro-aristocratic at times). However in many cases such kind of privileged peasants were not dominant either. Peasants just were not anymore that important where the capitalist industrial model had succeeded: there most had become urban workers.

manju said...

I think economically hierarchical but socially equal Western European society(independent peasants) did not require much from Marx's theories. It appears though Communism was applied at the wrong places(aristocracy and serf system or social inequality) it did good. Probably, in India too it's mostly against feudalism than against bourgeoisie. In fact, we never had proper industries and the rise of Communism before the establishment of real Bourgeois society killed economic development in states like Kerala and West Bengal which are strong holds of Communism.

Considering that China too didn't have proper Bourgeois class, and the struggle was between aristocracy and peasants, Communism's real influence was in creation of egalitarian social system. May be that's more important than socialist economy. I suppose all that smart Bourgeoisie had to do was properly remunerating their workers. And the problem is solved.

Maju said...

I'd talk of Socialism rather than Communism, not just because in Marxist and Anarchist theory, communism implies the abolition of the state, as well as that of capital, but because they way you use "communism" refers to the Leninist model and that is only part of the many different socialist (class) struggles, which are the true "red thread" that I mentioned before and that had many different manifestations, of which Leninism is only one.

I think economically hierarchical but socially equal Western European society(independent peasants) did not require much from Marx's theories.

Well, Marx is still, IMO, the only classical economist who really has a decent theory of Capital and Value and not just of an idealized and mostly fictitious "free market". I believe that Marxist economic theory should be taught in universities, but it's ideologically censored, along with virtually everything that is not "market-friendly", pimping what should be a scientific discipline into a mere pseudo-religion or technical teaching of high accountancy for brokers.

While the Capitalist system certainly pre-dates Marx, it's surely also true that class struggle also does and does even pre-date capitalism and industrial workers. However prior to that period it did not have neither an organization of its own nor goals of its own, being mostly at the end of the day, cannon fodder for the political ambitions of elitist others or, in the best cases, like Spartacus' revolt, doomed since the beginning.

It is precisely the organization of workers by capitalists what makes them a new type of unprecedented force, when they shake that often inconvenient leadership and take power on their own. At least it is that way in Marxist theory.

It is not so much that Marx' theories have caused anything. Marx himself would be outraged at such an idealist suggestion! It is rather that class struggles, largely in the way that Marx described, have forced the bourgeois system to make more and more concessions and more and more democratic reforms. However it won't be enough until the economical power is itself democratized.

However many things have happened since Marx' age and not all exactly as Marx would have expected. He was a visionary thinker and political activist but obviously today we have to think and create beyond him and also beyond Lenin. Marx himself protested sometimes that he was not himself a Marxist. :)

Maju said...

I suppose all that smart Bourgeoisie had to do was properly remunerating their workers. And the problem is solved.

That is very naive on your side. Capitalist objective interest is improved competence and benefits and that generally implies reduction of costs, of which salaries and related liabilities such as social security costs (where such thing exists) are generally a large fraction. Wherever working class organization and struggle is weak, real salaries tend to fall, either by means of inflation or whatever else.

Working conditions in general also tend to worsen and damage to the environment to increase (this ecology factor was not noticed by Marx though even if it's clearly quite central to Capitalism dialectics as another way of deferring costs is charging Mother Earth with them).

Anyhow, if salaries grow and everything remains equal inflation happens (and/or other regions become increasingly competitive), so it's never as simple as that.

manju said...

That is very naive on your side.

I won't contest that :-). Anyway, I don't have direct experience.

other regions become increasingly competitive

Don't you think it is kind of leveller? As jobs spread, consumerism also grows, so win-win situation for everyone.

Maju said...

Consumerism is not any win-win situation but a lose-lose one. Greater consume, means greater production and hence greater costs for Earth. Productivism is a fallacy because nothing is really produced, just taken from a "cheap" source, transformed and eventually dumped. Energy is not created nor destroyed, just transformed: there are always hidden costs that are simply not accounted for but are as real as the others.

In order to survive as species (and also to enjoy life properly) we have to reign on productivism/consumerism. It is demonstrated that greater GDP only increases happiness significatively at low production levels, the cap is reached very soon and further consume only increases happiness very slightly, if at all.

While in some parts of the Developing World, some production/consume increase is clearly needed, in most of the World, and specially affluent countries, a very radical drop in production and consume is required instead. Most importantly a more egalitarian distribution is needed everywhere.

Ecosocialism or extinction my friend.

manju said...

It must be tough living for a European without a true cause. As human pain has been overcome you want to assuage nature's pain.

Maju said...

Human pain overcome? Are you kidding? Just go around any city and count the beggars, the drug-addicts, the people who can't almost pay the rent...

Maybe it's not as bad as in Calcutta but is not as different anyhow. GDP grows but its distribution is not significantly more even. Most of the extra riches go to the already rich, the rest get just a few crumbs so they don't uprise.

And it's not "nature's pain" as in some sort of Buddhist idealism. It's that we are causing such extreme destruction to our planet that our mere survival as species is at risk in the very short run (less than a century, probably just a few decades).

It is the survival of the human species and then also the life (as in joy and fulfillment) of our kin what I am deeply concerned about.

manju said...

But the fact is the new ideology has nothing to do with man's pain directly. All the ideologies dealing with various kinds of injustices have been put forth and fought for.

If consumerism grows in a country like India, by and large it won't be overspending. Here people are underfed. Hence there would be more consumption. People had few facilities and hence there would be more buying. We have a long way to go before we reach the stage where at least 90% of population is able to have enough protein and one laptop(I heard in developed regions like Scandinavia around 95% of the population has comfortable life).

To achieve this we need jobs and flow of money. If we are able to do it with win-win situation for everyone but at a great burden to ecology, so be it. Until minimum aspiration of people like us is fulfilled ecology should take back seat.

The fact is awareness of problems on ecology is very strong in country like India probably due to some kind of idealistic view of living with nature. But illogical pressure on countries like ours by overlooking the facts that I have mentioned about is simply unacceptable. It's not fight for ecology but fight against minimum aspiration of poor. I'm sure he would rather die happily getting rich when rising sea levels drown his house than live forever in his perpetual backwardness.

Maju said...

But the fact is the new ideology has nothing to do with man's pain directly.

It has to do. Think Bhopal for example. But it's just one of many possible examples. We would not care about the environment if the environment's quality would not directly affect our lives.

I heard in developed regions like Scandinavia around 95% of the population has comfortable life.

They are really small countries and those figures surely ignore immigrants, who nowadays do all menial works, often in bad conditions.

And of course they don't dig deep in how the resources for such comfort are raised through neocolonialism. Even all the Western World (NATO-plus) has less of the population of India. I have sometimes argued that, unless there would be a total displacement of global hegemony (and everything else equal, i.e. no ecological disaster) large countries like China and India can only raise their economy by practicing internal colonialism. In fact that's what they do: China by limiting internal mobility, creating two Chinas: an advanced urban one and a colonial rural one, and India by more flexible methods that allow wealth and misery to live side by side.

None could reach Western living standards for all without subduing the rest of the planet, which is not a realistic option, nor can the West continue to maintain the supposed high living standards without keeping the rest of the world subdued (which is also not realistic anymore, even if the US is trying, hence the current crisis).

This is because production is like the rabbit the magician takes from his hat: an illusion that in fact relies on a real source. The source of Western high living standards is in neocolonial exploitation (of people and ecological resources) and, we like it or not, the model can't be effectively copied, much less expanded, without further colonies (that exist nowhere).

The system has reached its limits and we will have to face that fact not "soon" but now.

Maju said...

The fact is awareness of problems on ecology is very strong in country like India probably due to some kind of idealistic view of living with nature. But illogical pressure on countries like ours by overlooking the facts that I have mentioned about is simply unacceptable. It's not fight for ecology but fight against minimum aspiration of poor. I'm sure he would rather die happily getting rich when rising sea levels drown his house than live forever in his perpetual backwardness.

I perfectly understand this. It is very far from my intent (though may well be the intent of some Western governments) to put the weight of saving the planet on the South. That just won't work and is, as you say, unjust.

But the capitalist system has reached its limits: Earth is only that big and productive. And that is a fact that we all have to acknowledge.

Said that, I understand that it is primarily the West which has the responsability of lowering its consumption and developing more efficient (greener) technologies (that should share in an "open source" style, so other countries can improve their lives with as minimal additional impact as possible). This kind of change is just impossible under capitalism: it requires another set of values and another type of economy, not yet developed anywhere.

Anyhow, not sure in India, but some of the worse effects of ecological destruction are affecting countries of the south: Africa for example. And Africans are not mostly responsible for this (though indeed some growth control would help them and everybody, as would increased literacy and more sustainable local practices).

Whatever the case, even if the culprit is basically the West, the problem affects all and nobody can afford to ignore it.

manju said...

Bhopal is a good example for incompetency. Nothing more. It's a tragedy that could have been avoided with proper safety precautions. We're ready suffer for our incompetency. That shouldn't be held against us.

Indeed in the past, colonialism helped the economy. However, it's at present only a speculation that there would be no other paths. You may be indeed correct. I don't know much about Economics. However, if I take your words, then none of Economists have come up with a viable option for developing nations without getting into 'colonization'. If that's the ultimate truth then countries like us have to face dark eventualities. But that has nothing to do with Ecology but only with people. That's just man's limitation of knowledge.

And as you have mentioned, technical innovations which allow consumer to go for 'green products' is always welcome. But again at the end of the day even green technology should be driven by consumers. So, I believe instead of Eco-sociology it should be "Ethical Consumption" that should be promoted.

Maju said...

I mentioned Bhopal just as an easy to visualize example of the general trend to damage the environment (and hence the lives of peoples) by profit-driven companies. Damage to the environment and damage to the people are normally tightly tied.

After all we are not detached from the environment: we breath it, we drink it, we eat it, we live in it.

Indeed in the past, colonialism helped the economy. However, it's at present only a speculation that there would be no other paths.

I am sure that there are other paths but not within capitalism. The USSR raised from nothingness without colonialism but could never bribe some "chosen" sectors of the working class as the Western powers have done. Why? Because what Western powers have always done is to deflect the costs of such extra tipping into the colonies or, lately, neocolonies.

The socialist model is more balanced: it does not promise huge profits but guarantees enough for all. It's serious economy and not the casino of Wall Street: less glamour and more realism. Of course it needs serious criticism too but constructive criticism: the general lines of Socialist Economics are
correct.

However, if I take your words, then none of Economists have come up with a viable option for developing nations without getting into 'colonization'. If that's the ultimate truth then countries like us have to face dark eventualities.

You are already facing them in fact: the poverty gap has not been tackled in India (or other countries like, say, Brazil), has it? The country develops but most of the population barely benefits, if at all.

But that has nothing to do with Ecology but only with people.

It has to do with both: they are tightly connected factors. Marx also did not see the ecological issue, he was very smart detecting the economical limits of Capitalist expansion, and so was Lenin, who expanded Marx' thought to encompass the issue of imperialism and inter-capitalist conflict. But both were immersed in a paradigm of "infinite resources", as are Capitalist thinkers. They could not yet understand that Earth is finite and so are its resources.

This finitude of Earth is at least as central to capitalist dialectics as is the law decreasing costs (and hence decreasing salaries and hence decreasing demand). I'd dare say it's even more central because, as you point out, people's problems can be managed in one way or another: repression for instance, but ecological limits are very much absolute.

Everything that we produce means natural resources: materials, combustibles, dumping sites... and all these have limits, even if they are not properly accounted for in the flamboyant result sheets of the system's economists. For instance: nowhere there is any accounting of the destruction of the fishing stocks, only of the captured fish and their market value, what implies absolute impossibility of managing fisheries... and absolute certainty that they will collapse, as it's happening right as we speak.

More and more resources that were considered overaboundant and gratis are now being depleted. Profits may even increase for some time but sustainability is destroyed. Of course you have to think of the children, not just yourself to realize of the implications of this.

Maju said...

And as you have mentioned, technical innovations which allow consumer to go for 'green products' is always welcome.

What technical innovation can supplant depleted stocks of fish? Magic sardines? What technical innovation can supplant polluted water sources? Hyper-costly and ineffective desalinization plants?

While technical innovations can help, they are powerless without political will, without serious planning.

But again at the end of the day even green technology should be driven by consumers.

That's a fallacy. It must be driven by the law: by political decisions at all levels, from the manufacture to the UN, passing by local and regional levels. They must be democratic, yes, but not market-o-cratic.

manju said...

Damage to the environment and damage to the people are normally tightly tied.

But it's an irrelevant example. It can happen in any type of economy because of sheer incompetency and corruption.

the general lines of Socialist Economics are correct.

May be with a better criticism or better economists even Socialist Economics could have succeeded in India. But the fact is India turned from predominantly socialist economy to guarded capitalism because our financial system was a total mess and it needed a new direction. It was not a conscious decision(like China) but a forced change because of nearing collapse. We are a guarded capitalists who are trying one economic model to another.

The socialist model is more balanced: it does not promise huge profits but guarantees enough for all.

That is just a way to keep poor happy in their poverty. I mean whatever they ask is greed.

as you point out, people's problems can be managed in one way or another: repression for instance,

By dark eventuality I don't mean repression. I don't think you can repress educated people anymore. Now, most of the castes are well organized and have tasted political power(including Dalits). There could be chaos. Violence. It would be impossible to say, who would win an what would be the face of new realism. But that will be good for India. It always has been a stagnant country.

What technical innovation can supplant depleted stocks of fish?

The ecology you think is completely opposite to what I imagine. I think green cars. Green energy. Of course, we need to take measure to prevent fishes going to extinction so that our children can eat them. I think India has some restrictions on catching fish (or is it caste restraints, no idea) during breeding period etc...

But any protection should be promoted form consumption angle. May be people once they become saturated in wealth and knowledge start the fadism like vegetarianism. But for a practical mind it should be ethical consumption.

manju said...

You are already facing them in fact: the poverty gap has not been tackled in India (or other countries like, say, Brazil), has it?

I'll keep my fingers crossed on this. Frankly, I don't think the gap between rich and poor is an unwelcome development. The problem arises if the poor can't express their aspirations clearly. In a democracy like ours I hope they can and that would force the people in power to bridge the gap. If you know the facts, some of the fast developing states like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in South had very reform minded and investor friendly governments. These two governments were popular with middle class and with the media. But both these governments lost in the subsequent elections. The poor didn't see any benefits to them.

This, of course, brings populist governments in power. These populist governments are good for none. And anyway India will move slowly ahead and won't be rapid success story like China.

But of course, it is impossible to see whether the gap is because poor getting poorer or rich getting richer. In my opinion, it's poor remaining in the same conditions but rich getting richer. Of course, wealth distribution can happen only when rich are given to consumerism.

Maju said...

But it's an irrelevant example. It can happen in any type of economy because of sheer incompetency and corruption.

Of course. It was just an example: I chose an Indian example because you might see it as something closer, just that.

That is just a way to keep poor happy in their poverty.

Happiness is what matters, wealth is, if anything, a means to happiness. What else may make any sense?

But that will be good for India. It always has been a stagnant country.

Maybe. Social revolutions can bring many benefits in the mid-run but bloodshed is always painful (though sometimes, I guess, unavoidable).

The ecology you think is completely opposite to what I imagine. I think green cars. Green energy.

That can only be part of the answer. Perfectly "green" cars would still need roads, which have an impact in the environment and peoples lives (both good and bad). Ecology must be more comprehensive: a true economy in the etymological sense of "management of environment" (ecology actually means "science of environment", both from Greek).

I think India has some restrictions on catching fish (or is it caste restraints, no idea) during breeding period etc...

I insist I'm not criticizing India. If anything I'd be criticizing EU, which allows for extremely destructive practices such as bottom trawling - in European waters and elsewhere.

But I'm actually thinking in general: globally. Most serious ecological problems need of global approaches (as well as of local ones). And there is a great failure in achieving them (like recently at Copenhagen).

But for a practical mind it should be ethical consumption.

It's very difficult to rely only on consumers. If the government doesn't regulate for instance package or agricultural practices, most consumers will at the end of the day just go to the supermarket and buy whatever is there. Governments in fact suppor concealing critical information such as the presence of GM foods, etc. I can't really select the most ecological product unless I'm a true expert.

Also financial/tax policies should be directed at promoting the most sustainable products and penalizing the destructive ones, so who damages the environment pays for it and who protects it get some clear benefits. However such policies are only very shy if they exist at all (and again I'm talking from the viewpoint of Europe, even if it may be a more general case too).

Corporations rule and that normally means the law of quick profits.

manju said...

They are really small countries and those figures surely ignore immigrants, who nowadays do all menial works, often in bad conditions.

I think the countries that lifted all its population from the state of doing menial jobs, should have better visionary idea. Countries that top in human prosperity index must also be advanced in technology. I don't consider Scandinavian countries as developed and advanced if they still need humans to do menial jobs. Only Japan is in the direction of being a developed country. As far as I know, Japan is investing heavily in alternate methods to do menial jobs.

Maju said...

Humans will always be more efficient than machines, except for repetitive jobs. Japan also has immigrants (and locals) who do menial jobs, just that they are more xenophobic than Swedes, so they want them replaced by robots.

Anyhow just imagine how much energy they would take, beans are a much more efficient source of power in many cases.

What we should do is pay well such menial jobs and make sure the workers in such areas get good working conditions. I don't really understand why an engineer should be paid more than a cleaner: both jobs are similarly important and the cleaner's journey may be harder in most aspects. Who says cleaner, says cook's assistant, construction worker, nurse, miner, farmer, crane operator, electrician, plumber... all those works are truly important but often hard and ill-paid (and most often can't be done by machines). That's why educated and welfare assisted Swedes (example) will normally try to get some other job, or at least some guarantees in work conditions, leaving the unregulated sector (private) for immigrants who protest little and accept very low wages.

Japan dreams of robots but they won't surely materialize that dream.

Maju said...

See also the similarly titled post: Scientifically proven: big earners are nothing more than parasites, that deals of the greater importance of menial jobs and the blood-sucking nature of so many "qualified" but useless (or rather harmful) jobs.

manju said...

Scientifically proven: big earners are nothing more than parasites,

Frankly, they have selected high paid professions that are basically con-jobs.

But that is not the point of my arguments here. When I say menial jobs I don't mean low paid jobs. I define menial jobs as something that doesn't require any education. So for me, teacher, nurse, electrician(maybe) are not menial workers. In my opinion, any job if that doesn't require specialized education (not just literacy) is a menial job and humans should transcend that state.

Maju said...

Everything requires some kind of education nowadays. When I said "nurses" I was thinking also in those people, often ill-prepared who take care of the elderly or of pre-school children. Cleaning requires abilities too, and we will always require cleaners or work as cleaners ourselves as some sort of communitary work.

Here machines do the job largely (but not totally) but they need to be operated. In any case cleaners are a much needed job and all them are literate enough (some even intellectuals, I'd say).

Here there's absolutely nobody who is illiterate. But society still needs cleaners and home assistants and construction workers. And most of them are locals (except maybe in the home assistance sector, that is quite "slave" and very poorly paid) and some prefer such kind of jobs anyhow, because you are not sitting all day round on a chair before a computer.

I'd be glad to work as farmer (rather than with cement) and have tried to put up for it in the past working in the gardening sector. But it's so badly paid and competed that you don't even pay for the expenses. So, you know: take welfare and let the Moors do it. working as farmer is nearly unthinkable today: land is so expensive, qualifications required so high and prices so extremely low that even traditional farmers who already know the job and have the farm from inheritance sometimes just give up.

Or plant pines, which is a very special type of "agriculture" that requires little effort and gives decent money. But you don't eat wood, do you?

There are no menial jobs, just ill-paid ones.