Eclectic – capitalism, lessons on corruption, talking fish etc

I think I will do more of this, occasionally; sometimes newspapers have articles that don’t deserve (or need) a complete post, but a paragraph or two.

“Capitalism is reinventing itself” Swami writes in this week’s Swaminomics; he gives numerous examples of capitalism “rising from the dead,” going back to Karl Marx. And he says-

Why have so many intelligent, learned people been constantly wrong about capitalism? First, the word capitalism has been used by some people to mean a system with no role for governments at all, whereas modern capitalism is very much a government-business joint venture. Second, critics have constantly underestimated capitalism’s ability to re-engineer itself and evolve into new forms that get rid of some of the old defects.


Everybody agrees that financial markets need more regulation. We will doubtless see more controls on financial derivatives and stricter lending norms. Yet, recessions and financial crises occured in earlier decades when lending controls were much stricter, and financial derivatives did not exist.

One – while “modern capitalism” truly is a deal with the devil, the first group of people – those who believe that capitalism is “a system with no role for governments at all” – are right. Two – not everybody agrees that the “financial markets need more regulation.” Government regulation is the problem – it short circuits the market process and emasculates the real watchdog – the market. Three – there is only one kind of capitalism – the “free market” kind. No doubt we will see a “reinvention” again. But someday, the entrepreneurs will realize that the same mob frenzy which led to the Salem witch hunt will one day gut them too. They will see that the process just isn’t worth it. And they will leave in droves. Then the politicians and the mob will have their victory – a Pyrrhic one.

The Times has a story on how Indonesia is introducing “anti-corruption classes in the school
curriculum” – “Taking lessons in honesty to fight corruption”. It wants India to do the same. It will never occur to the paper that the State is the problem, and that it should get out of education. Bodies like the UGC and AICTE are corrupt; the government indulges in communist propaganda through its textbooks, brainwashing kids in the process; the teachers are dishonest – corrupt; they take salaries but don’t show up; they oversee the election process; they are a big vote bank.

Would you take lessons on honesty from Fagin? If no, the answer to such a proposal is STFU.

Stupidity masquerading as profundity, I wrote once about the columns on “spirituality” that the Times and ET carry. And “Mind set: Seeing isn’t believing” is a perfect example of the same-

One fish said to the other: “Do you believe in this ocean that they talk about?”


Our sight is limited by the light frequencies our eyes can relate to; since pit vipers can sense heat from infrared rays (like night vision goggles), they must view the same world very differently. If we had a different mechanism, we would be seeing things differently. From our knowledge of science, we know so many things are just not what they appear — earth is not flat, the ground below us is not stationery and the sun doesn’t rise in the east.

The fact is that we see and hear what we can and not what the reality is. The world out there is an unprocessed and formless data, waiting to be interpreted by us. The human nervous system takes in only the minutest proportion of the total energy vibrating in the environment. Research shows that each conscious moment is actually comprised of many much smaller and unconscious “mini” moments, each appearing and disappearing rapidly.


As we gain deeper insight, we learn that the smallest units of energy are just in free flow thought it all. We create a three-dimensional world from what is a continuum of free flowing energy, comprising of electrons and neutrons. Like the fish in the Chinese saying, when we cannot see this continuum, we notice the separate parts of the creation the trees, the animals, the objects —as disjointed from us, which in turn make us feel separate from the whole. The question is would a tree falling in a forest make any sound, if there was no one to hear it? It’s our presence and perception that gives way to the formation of reality as observed by us.


While it’s easy for us to initially get swept away by the thought patterns and not be able to observe, steadily we can begin to recognize the observer as distinct from the thinking mind and the actor. We can then discover that this awareness is like a mirror — it only reflects what the mind is going through, without any projections of its own.

Really? How do you know that your eyes are your eyes and not your nose, or that the earth is not flat? I agree that “we see and hear what we can” – human senses – hearing, sight, touch, smell etc have their limits – but surely we “know” reality? That’s how we “know” that the Earth is not flat; that frequencies exist – in light and sound – that are beyond our range; that trees do make noise, and fall, regardless of whether you are present in the forest or not. Or do you believe your car disappears if you are not driving it, and then magically appears when you need it?

Awareness as something distinct from the mind – an ode to split personality disorder. Its sad that humanity has a insatiable appetite for stupidity.

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  • you12  On February 15, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    “They will see that the process just isn’t worth it. And they will leave in droves. Then the politicians and the mob will have their victory – a Pyrrhic one.”

    Atlas Shrugged for real eh?

  • sauvik chakraverti  On February 16, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Let us not forget that Swami lives in Washington DC, where he works for the World Bank. Hence, it is impossible that he will write about “sound money.”

    Indeed, if “modern capitalism is very much a government-business joint venture,” as Swami writes, then what indeed is “cronyism”?

    Swami seems to have never asked himself the most important question: What is the role of The State in a free society?

  • Aristotle The Geek  On February 16, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    “Indeed, if “modern capitalism is very much a government-business joint venture,” as Swami writes, then what indeed is ‘cronyism’?”
    I am not sure what to think here – whether he’s being funny, describing things as they are, or as they should be.
    And yes, this is the definition of cronyism. I used to call it crony capitalism before, just like everyone else, but some one then suggested that crony statism is a better word for it – why insult capitalism?

    “Swami seems to have never asked himself the most important question: What is the role of The State in a free society?
    That is true. Never read anything like that in his columns; always Friedman-esque solutions. They are interesting no doubt, but once you question the moral right of the State to exist – irrelevant.

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