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Posts Tagged ‘political philosophy’

I Still belong to the Centre Right

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 1, 2012

In one of my earlier posts I presented my views on what the role and responsibilities of a government should be. Then, I really looked forward to following the Presidential Election Campaigns and see if and how my views would change. Today, ninety days after scripting that post, Istill belong to the centre right. A lot of this can be attributed to the utter lack of intellect and logic in these elections. They have left me completely disappointed which is reflected in the absence of political post on my blog in recent times.

However, seeing that we are so close to elections, I publish a final political post to explain my position. Who would I vote for if I were an American citizen?

The federal response in the wake of Sandy has justified Government’s involvement in domains that ensure the safety of it citizens, both from foreign and nature’s aggressions.

A welfare state seems utopic but it might help to remember that whenever the government gives us an impression that it is giving more, rest assured it is taking more from us in good times. This strip illustrates the same. Imagine the father being the government and the son the citizens.

Entrepreneurship is the key to building a progressive state. I live in a country where the opportunities of becoming one were next to zero in the Socialist era. The country suffered and is dealing with the effects of that era even today. We are creating jobs based on funding from foreign companies looking for cheap labor. However we are not creating enough entrepreneurs. Budding entrepreneurs need ease of business and low taxation. Entrepreneurs create jobs. Government does not create jobs. It creates dependence.

In my country, the government doles out huge subsidies to the “poor”. At the time of independence, Indians were in dire need of this support. The entire system seemed like Utopia. But it was like that only for a short time. The system has been in force for over 60 years and we still have record poverty. Clearly, big government supporting those in need has not solved the problem. It has resulted in more people becoming dependent upon government’s gifts. A heterogeneous society with a sizable population might find a welfare state attractive, especially in current times. But over the long run, such economic positioning introduces lethargy into the public at large. While the short term results seem just, fair and idyllic, the fact is that slowly but surely the competitive and ambitious spirit that has ensured evolutionand survival of the human race begins to wane.

During these times of economic distress, I believe that the Government needs to support the country by increasing spending. I support the policies Obama has employed so far. In these times we need higher government spending and balancing of deficit by taxing the higher earning citizens. These are times that call for sacrifice. Obama is doing the right thing. But that is the only good news I have for my Democrat friends. I would not vote for him again.

Re-election will send the signal that people accept his leftist agenda and this will embolden him to make institutional changes that may change the character of  US forever. These institutional changes will put US on the path of Socialism that is bound to result in an undesirable outcome.

I would vote Republican. I am sure that Mitt Romney upon being elected will continue heavy government spending. In spite of his Rightist talk, he will have no choice but to continue government support for the people. He will not be able to reduce spending nor reduce taxes. However, he will not create institutions and regulations that will steer the US towards the Left. He will keep the US in the Centre and that will be a great position for the country to catapult from into economic supremacy once again. US will have a chance to bounce back. With Obama, this chance will be lost.

On social issues, I cannot agree with the conservatives. However, I feel that Romney will reveal his moderate self once he gets elected. He will have to if he wants to get reelected.

I may be way off the mark here. As always, comments welcomed. I have my armor on 🙂

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , | 26 Comments »

[Repost] Utopian Government: Plato…of Desire, Emotion and Knowledge.

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 20, 2012

” Like man, like state…governments vary as the characters of men vary…states are made out of the human natures which are in them.”- Plato

One of my favorite ideas of Plato is the one where he puts forward the drivers of human behavior. Plato categorizes these drivers as desire, emotion and knowledge and sorts the populace of a state based on varying degrees of each driver in an individual. Clearly for Plato not all men are alike and these drivers are the scales for measuring their suitability for the role they would play in the state.

Desire(appetite, instinct, impulse) is associated with the loins and is heavily influenced by sexual needs. Emotion rests in the heart while Knowledge rules the head. These drivers and qualities are present in all men but to varying degrees.

Men that are ruled by Desire are bestowed with ambition and a lust for luxuries.Such men must comprise the industry of the state. Those that are passion personified due to high levels of emotional drives that instil courage in them must make up the armies and navies. The remaining that seek delight in knowledge and understanding must guide the nation.

“Ruin comes when the trader, whose heart is lifted up by wealth, becomes ruler.” Wouldn’t be wrong to call Plato one of the earliest Communists.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Part 2- Humility Is Not A Virtue:Spinoza

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 16, 2012

“Humility is a sadness which arises from the fact that a man considers his own lack of power.Moreover, insofar a man knows himself by true reason, it is supposed that he understands his own essence,his own power. So if a man,in considering himself, perceives some lack of power of his,this is not because he understands himself but because his power of acting is restrained.

Humility is pain arising from a man’s contemplation of his own weakness of body or mind.”

-Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics

In an earlier post of mine, I used this proposition to explore the differences between western and eastern philosophy and attempt discovering the reasons behind their varied approaches. Today, I wish to delve into the reasoning behind this proposition. It is one that challenges a belief I have held on to for a long time and to encounter a theory that labels one of my traits as a “pain” and weakness can be quite disturbing. Unfortunately, Spinoza does not expand on his statement and leaves a lot of the interpretation to the readers.

From where I sit, if I look towards the East I see cultures that have forever celebrated humility and exhibit it in their daily interactions, both personal and professional. If I look towards the West, I observe behavior that exudes extravagance, outspokenness and unbridled confidence. And both are doing just fine. The more I analyze Spinoza’s words, the more I come across logical evidence that supports, as well as negates his argument. It truly is one of the few propositions of his that have been highly influenced by the environment in which he grew up. I am sure if Spinoza was in 17th century India or Cambodia, his views about “humility” would have been quite the opposite.

So at this very moment, and on this very issue, I will lean towards the East and beg to differ with one of my favorite philosophers. Maybe its the ego in me, but I would like to attribute my humility to a spiritually guided thought than to a weakness of body and mind.

Which side are you on?

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Can Iran be Won?

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 1, 2012

No.

About a month back I published a post presenting an argument for the outcomes of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In it I applied Machiavelli’s thoughts to these countries. Let’s see if we can predict the outcome of an attack on Iran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, erstwhile Persia, is for all practical purposes, ruled by the Supreme Leader and a Guardian Council that consists of twelve members nominated by the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. The official religion is Shia branch of Islam and 90-95% of the population belong to this religion.

After the Supreme Leader, the Constitution defines the President of Iran as the highest state authority.The President is elected for a term of four years. Presidential candidates must be approved by the Guardian Council prior to running in order to ensure their allegiance to the ideals of the Islamic revolution.

So why do I think Iranian authority cannot be overturned?

Firstly, Iran is one of the few Arab countries where the ruling authority belongs to the same religion as the majority of people. Iranians hold the Supreme Leader in very high regards, almost divine. His authority is absolute and justified by God. The members of the Guardian Council do not hold sway over any territory or any clan of people. So, the Supreme Leader’s authority is unquestionable and does not depend heavily on his ministers. To defeat such a system is difficult.

Secondly, people of Iran are religiously connected with the Supreme Leader. An attempt to overthrow the Iranian authority will be perceived as an attempt to overthrow the Supreme Leader. This is completely unacceptable to a big majority. The religious string that is used by the Supreme Leader to rule Iran is stronger than the heavy handedness Saddam used to rule Iraq. An attack on Iran will be perceived as an attack on Shia Islam. The Iranians will not revolt against the Supreme Leader. I repeat, the Arab Spring type revolt will not happen.

And lastly, the provision to have a democratically elected President is a “clever” ploy in the Constitution. All ills of the society including a poor economy can be blamed on the President. This ensures that people never raise their fingers towards the Supreme Leader and his Guardian Council. A lot of the Iranian anger is diverted towards the President and abated by giving Iranians and illusory hope that they possess a democratic right to change the President in the next elections.

Hence, I do not think that Iranian authority can be overturned by force.

Comments welcomed.

 

 

 

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Humility Is Not A Virtue:Spinoza

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on July 19, 2012

“Humility is a sadness which arises from the fact that a man considers his own lack of power.Moreover, insofar a man knows himself by true reason, it is supposed that he understands his own essence,his own power. So if a man,in considering himself, perceives some lack of power of his,this is not because he understands himself but because his power of acting is restrained.

-Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics

Not surprisingly, this has been a prevalent thought in Western Philosophy and a key tenet that differentiates it from Eastern thought. While the Athenians, Stoics, Epicureans and others treated man as part of a society and framed definitions inspired by man’s interaction with his external surroundings viz. the state, fellow humans et al., Eastern philosophy focused on the individuality of a man, his struggles with his inner beings, the divinity that lay within him.

So why the two different approaches? One possible explanation could be that while the Athenians were struggling to find the answer to a Utopian form of state, the East may have already figured out the best form of governance. The East was already beyond the struggles of community living and had now reached a level of spirituality where the biggest struggle for a man was against the forces within and not without.

Posted in Management Consulting, Philosophy, Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Utopian Government: Plato…of Desire, Emotion and Knowledge.

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on July 19, 2012

” Like man, like state…governments vary as the characters of men vary…states are made out of the human natures which are in them.”- Plato

One of my favorite ideas of Plato is the one where he puts forward the drivers of human behavior. Plato categorizes these drivers as desire, emotion and knowledge and sorts the populace of a state based on varying degrees of each driver in an individual. Clearly for Plato not all men are alike and these drivers are the scales for measuring their suitability for the role they would play in the state.

Desire(appetite, instinct, impulse) is associated with the loins and is heavily influenced by sexual needs. Emotion rests in the heart while Knowledge rules the head. These drivers and qualities are present in all men but to varying degrees.

Men that are ruled by Desire are bestowed with ambition and a lust for luxuries.Such men must comprise the industry of the state. Those that are passion personified due to high levels of emotional drives that instil courage in them must make up the armies and navies. The remaining that seek delight in knowledge and understanding must guide the nation.

“Ruin comes when the trader, whose heart is lifted up by wealth, becomes ruler.” Wouldn’t be wrong to call Plato one of the earliest Communists.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Benedict de Spinoza:More Transparency in Both Government and Corporations

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on July 18, 2012

“It has been one of the songs of those who thirst after absolute power that the interest of the state requires that its affairs should be conducted in secret…But the more such arguments disguise themselves under the mask of public welfare, the more oppressive is the slavery to which they will lead…Better that right counsels be know to enemies than that the evils secrets of tyrants should be concealed from the citizens.They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in the time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace.”- Benedict de Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus

One of the things that have always intrigued me is why Cabinet meetings of our ministers,that discuss important issues and Bills, are held behind closed doors and hidden from the view of the very public that those legislative actions are going to affect. Are they plotting against the citizens during time of peace?

Lets extend this argument to corporate big-wigs.Several strategy decisions are made in secret and for obvious reasons. One, to prevent sensitive data from reaching competition. Agreed. However, an arrangement should be made to video record these meetings and display them to the shareholders once the results of the decisions have been fully realized in the public domain. Shareholders, like citizens in a democracy should have the right to view the decision making process of the executives they  pay huge salaries to “protect their interests”.

After 60 years of Independence, India finally has a Right To Information Act. A bittersweet case of better late than never; generations from now it will be recognized as the one legislation that saved democracy in this country.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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