All things “Brown” with the Brown Pundits – thoughts on the Carvaka Podcast

Further to Anan’s post below I thought I would share a few thoughts of my own below.

BrownCast Podcast episode 15: conversations with a Carvaka

I enjoyed doing the video cast with Kushal and Omar (Razib was unfortunately not able to join in).

I let myself “go” in this podcast since I had to get up at 4.30 in the morning to get it done so I thought I earnt a bit of a respite.

Ordinarily I’m rather reticent on the podcasts since they aren’t my guests and I also don’t want to venture too many opinions; surprisingly I’m becoming more circumspect in my old age.

At any rate it was a great discussion lots of fun and my penchant for dramatically diverging the conversation was rather welcome (Omar was very on point and it was refreshing to see that Kushal was opinionated as opposed to simply querying).

We did a fair amount of India-Pakistan but I don’t think they were the conventional perspectives. I also have to acknowledge my own biases stem from my background and life experiences.

I wrote a longer post but I decided to private blog it since I didn’t feel it was entirely relevant and I meandered (as I do).

All in I enjoyed the conversation and I found Google Hangouts a surprisingly easy interface. It’s a nice feeling to be “Live”; it was so dark that I didn’t want to switch on video but perhaps I should have and treated the audience to the dawn of a new day..

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14 Replies to “All things “Brown” with the Brown Pundits – thoughts on the Carvaka Podcast”

  1. Interesting discussion. I find Zack’s tendency to support authoritarianism amazing. Material progress doesn’t make up for lack of freedom of speech or democracy. Healthy societies should have room for vigorous debate about all things. What should not be acceptable is hate speech. Also, I take issue with the statement that “India should decide what it wants to be”. Who in India should decide this? If the majority wants to be a “Hindu Rashtra” where does that leave Muslims and other minority groups? Countries should focus on improving the lives of all their citizens and protecting fundamental social and political rights. It is not necessarily positive that Pakistani society leaves so little room for those who question the dominant viewpoint.

    On the other hand, I don’t buy this overly optimistic view that Hindu society will reject any authoritarian regime. The current Modi government is actively trying to shut down the views of anyone who disagrees with it. Even those who questioned the effectiveness of the recent military strikes were called “pro-Pakistan” and “anti-national”. Not being allowed to question the government is the very definition of authoritarianism. If Modi gets re-elected, it would seem to indicate that a large number of Indians have no problem with authoritarian strongmen. Many Pakistanis have no problem with strongmen either, as the amount of people who miss General Musharraf indicates.

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    1. Material progress doesn’t make up for lack of freedom of speech or democracy.

      It literally does.

      Liberty or Governance System(s) exists on a Spectrum. There is no such thing as Universal, Absolute, Eternal, Inalienable Liberty/System. No human construct by definition can be so.

      There is a time and place for such things.

      Maslow’s hierarchy of needs isn’t hard science but neither is it trivial. Basic needs are fundamental and outside the domain of Human construct and taps into biological paradigms.

      Meaning, Material progress here is contextual on basic needs (which itself is era defined, a bullock cart or rocky pavement might be basic 2000 years ago, they no longer are today. It isn’t just limited to good food, clothes and shelter and jobs/opportunity).

      A upper middle income population with access to modern amenities and especially safety (domestic and outside) is probably the situation where the quote taken above has relevant validity. Otherwise it doesn’t.

      Democracy and Free-speech doesn’t feed people but it does make(if dogmatically applied) BILLIONS upon successive generation more dumb and worse off because Human groups like all other organisms don’t wait for others before moving on.

      Dogma is bad even when it is supposedly applied for good things. It is inherently regressive and the human condition(in totality not singularly) itself rejects it, hence the diversity of human groups manner of existence/behavior across the world.

      There is No Absolute.

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  2. Was a good podcast, but I thought Kushal is too sanguine about India. On the other hand, I’m pessimistic by disposition.

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  3. ” Material progress doesn’t make up for lack of freedom of speech or democracy. ”

    Yeah it does. Like we literally have a country next to both our borders which has successfully demonstrated that it can be done. And even in a democracy you can calibrate this. In case of Pakistan you can see both Punjab and Sindh mostly direct criticism of each other through “their media” (Punjabi media directs towards corrupt Sindh, while Sindhi media towards Punjabi hegemony) while keeping silent on their own Govt. In India, both Tamil Nadu and Bengal(AKA the bastion of democracy ) media do the same thing.

    ” If Modi gets re-elected, it would seem to indicate that a large number of Indians have no problem with authoritarian strongmen. ”

    Agree. I have a feeling that most people like strongmen just dislike the strongmen of their opponents.

    “On the other hand, I don’t buy this overly optimistic view that Hindu society will reject any authoritarian regime. ”

    Well it has nothing to do with Hindu society but sort of subcontinental thing. Its sheer diversity which stops any “long run” for a authoritarian/dictator. But its also at the same time homogeneous enough to give an authoritarian/dictator a short run. Just like in Pakistan a dictator sooner or later loses power, in India too an authoritarian sooner than later (since compatibly more diverse than Pakistan)
    is against this wall of “diversity” . You cannot manufacture a lasting “majority” unlike let say Middle east or parts of Africa.

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    1. Democracy is always preferable to one-party authoritarian states. While China’s economic development is admirable, the lack of ability to dissent is not a model for other societies to follow.

      I find this South Asian acceptance of dictatorships as long as the trains run on time very disturbing.

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  4. Caught snatches of the podcast. Few points:

    1/ Omar made the excellent point India has always had a coherent, well thought out (and I would add successful) Pakistan policy. We just do not have a “control” situation to know what any alternative policy would have delivered. Am quite convinced if the Savarkarites were in charge, their instincts would have been closer to Pak military and India would have been in a much worse situation.

    2/ Kushal says very earnestly Gandhi is Modi’s idol : ) Ok. Because he has read the most books on him! Ok again. Quite impressive how one can think up anything and make it one’s reality. One of you made the suggestion Modi is like Jinnah- yep, Jinnah, but with a permissiveness to violence and low tactics, which I doubt Jinnah would have indulged. But Kushal considers him a high-minded secular democrat : )

    Hope BP folks will some day do a piece about this transparent and sometime comical denial that permeates Savarkarism, especially about the low politics of Sangh / BJP (they are much better in discussing the high philosophy of textual Hinduism).

    3/ Zach was surprisingly more reasonable than some his posts here.

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    1. I completely agreed with everything Kushal said in his last two podcasts.

      Gandhi “IS” Modi’s idol. Many of Modi’s close friends are Sufi masters. Modi, I think, believes in:
      Sarva Dharma Sama Bhaava Sarva Shresht
      [as do likely majority of those who follow the 10 darshanas and similar paths. Albeit all of them might not linguistically express it in Sanskrit. :LOL:]

      This is why Modi publicly eulogizes Mohammed pbuh as a great spiritual master.

      I doubt about 40% of Gujarati muslims would have voted for Modi in the last election if Modi was not pro muslim.

      The people Modi goes after are the post modernists, marxists and identitarians. Is this wrong?

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      Parallel Universe, if this is not too personal a question, what are your thoughts on “Sarva Dharma Sama Bhaava Sarva Shresht”?

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      1. Right, the butcher of Gujarat is pro-Muslim. You are in such deep denial it’s scary.

        Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindutvadi–the very people who put the current regime in power.

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      2. @AnAn:
        Will not get into Modi and Mohanlal, err, Mohandas debate : )
        Still having a hard time figuring out if you are really this endearingly idealist/naive, or just trolling us with your RSS-and-Muslims, Sangh-and-Sufis line!

        “Parallel Universe, if this is not too personal a question, what are your thoughts on “Sarva Dharma Sama Bhaava Sarva Shresht”? “

        As someone who has wavered only between atheism and agnosticism, here is my limited understanding on the issue:

        While one does not want to disagree with a well-intended and broadly unfalsifiable concept, find it meaningless in the details. For one, it has no purchase within Semitic religions, which probably nullifies the whole idea. Secondly, if such a thing as creative intelligence permeates this universe, feel *only* the highly sophisticated Hindu-Buddhist cosmology (in their broader areas of agreement) gets anywhere close to describing it, and is closest to the physics of the universe as we know it now. Sorry no offense, but have a hard time believing the simplistic origin stories / the incontinently emotional God of Semitic religions can create this Universe. Again a ding on the original idea.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GeUkRIOXaM

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      3. @AnAn:
        Will not get into Modi and Mohanlal, err, Mohandas debate : )
        Still having a hard time figuring out if you are really this endearingly idealist/naive, or just trolling us with your RSS-and-Muslims, Sangh-and-Sufis line!

        “Parallel Universe, if this is not too personal a question, what are your thoughts on “Sarva Dharma Sama Bhaava Sarva Shresht”? “

        As someone who has wavered only between atheism and agnosticism, here is my limited understanding on the issue:

        While one does not want to disagree with a well-intended and broadly unfalsifiable concept, find it meaningless in the details. For one, it has no purchase within Semitic religions, which probably nullifies the whole idea. Secondly, if such a thing as creative intelligence permeates this universe, feel *only* the highly sophisticated Hindu-Buddhist cosmology (in their broader areas of agreement) gets anywhere close to describing it, and is closest to the physics of the universe as we know it. Sorry no offense, but have a hard time believing the simplistic origin stories/ incontinently emotional God of Semitic religions can have anything to with creation of this Universe. Another ding on the original idea.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GeUkRIOXaM

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    2. “Jinnah, but with a permissiveness to violence and low tactics, ”

      You then dont know Jinnah enough to know about his “permissiveness to violence” (Direct action day anyone?). Even on the tactics part I am not sure what tactics exactly set him apart from Modi. Is there any part in the Pakistan movement which is some sort of tactful masterclass?

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