The Consequences of Coronavirus

A couple years back, I spent my down time playing a video game called Plague Inc. The game starts off with you playing as a bacteria, parasite, fungus, or of course as a virus. Your objective is to spread yourself across the globe infecting as many humans as possible, eventually leading to the culling of all of humanity. To win, you must silently evolve and spread, careful to not alert too many humans nor remain too isolated. On the way, you cause travel bans, mass hysteria, political clashes, etc… Sound familiar?

Screenshot of Plague Inc – A Popular Disease Simulator Game

Now, we are seeing an eerily recognizable reality to the fantasy of that game. Coronavirus-19 has become the modern plague of our times. And while it is no where near the level of Plague Inc’s apocalyptic end game, COVID-19 threatens to upend many of our society’s given structures and force the world down a new path.

Continue reading “The Consequences of Coronavirus”

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US Stock market, plus Boeing

I thought it would be a War in the mid-east that would get the dominoes falling. Turned out a real black swan. However much many think that the US stock market was on solid foundation, false premise. The underlying instabilities that caused 2008 crash never went away.

Injection of trillions, low Fed Interest rates almost free (now zero rates, i.e free)  helped the stock market soar and insiders to take their money of the table. Middle class Tax payers, Pension funds, the small retail stock buyers are left holding the bag.

I expected a probable drop to 20K and a somewhat probable to 15K. The collapse and drop even surprises me, and other skeptics. Now even 15K seems highly probable. Thats why I say read alternative media, like ZeroHedge, RT and Unz (aka Fake news) to see the other side of the spin.

Boeing:
When Boeing management said it was the fault of foreign pilots (in other words non white) spelt their own doom.  I said Boeing should drop below 100, I did not expect this fast.  Hedge fund operated Boeing, cutting corners to maximize profits. Stock buybacks, were the norm to push up stock price. Investment in safety measures, research and development, was not part of management decisions.

Maybe Trump will inject money into Boeing to get the stock price up. The insiders will sell. Retail idiots who believe Boeing is a great American Company will buy, not knowing Hedge Funds, Bezos and the like are not real Americans, i.e. those who care about the deplorables and others.

Now Trump, like the Boeing guys wants to deflect his responsibility, saying racist Chinese Virus. I think going to end much like the Boeing management.

Unhappily for the US, the alternatives in leadership are equally horrible. Biden another Trump probably worse, in the stages of Dementia and will be a puppet. If Sanders is able to get the nomination (anyone opposing Trump will win), he will be blocked by his own party the Democrats.

Update:  Article by

When Raghuram G. Rajan or Satyajit Das write I sit up and read and re-read carefully.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/covid19-economic-weaknesses-by-raghuram-rajan-2020-03

Dow Jones (DJI)
No photo description available.

No photo description available.

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Brown privilege in the American executive suite

Why East Asians but not South Asians are underrepresented in leadership positions in the United States:

Whereas extensive research has examined the “glass ceiling” faced by women, little research has examined the “bamboo ceiling,” whereby Asians appear disproportionately underrepresented in leadership positions in the United States. To investigate the mechanisms and scope of this problem, we compared the two largest Asian subgroups: East Asians and South Asians. Across nine studies (n = 11,030), East Asians were less likely than South Asians and whites to attain leadership positions, whereas South Asians outperformed whites. The leadership attainment gap between East Asians and South Asians was consistently explained by cultural differences in assertiveness, but not by prejudice or motivation. To leverage diverse leadership talent, organizations should understand the differences among different cultural groups and diversify the prototype of leadership.

I’ll put some stuff from the discussions of each of the analyses:

– “Our analysis of the population of S&P CEOs revealed notable leadership attainment gaps among EAs, SAs, and whites. Whereas EAs had a lower CEO-to-population ratio than whites, SAs actually had a higher CEO-to-population ratio than whites. These results indicate that at the highest level of US corporate leadership, EAs are less likely than SAs and whites to attain leadership positions, whereas SAs actually outperform whites.”

– “By analyzing a large-scale field survey distributed to a set of S&P 500-level companies, study 2 provided evidence that the leadership attainment gap between EAs and SAs exists not only at the CEO level (study 1) but also in broader senior leadership across large US companies. Importantly, this effect could not be explained by control variables such as birth country, education level, or the economic prosperity of EA vs. SA countries.”

– “By analyzing another large-scale field survey, study 3a provided evidence that EAs were less likely than SAs to attain senior leadership positions partly because EAs were lower in assertiveness, but not because they were lower in motivation. Again, these effects could not be explained by control variables such as English fluency, birth country, education level, or the economic prosperity of EA vs. SA countries.”

– “By analyzing another large-scale field survey, study 3b provided further evidence that EAs were lower than SAs in both current and prospective leadership attainment, partly as a function of EAs’ lower assertiveness.”

– “Complementing the field studies involving large US companies (studies 2, 3a, and 3b), study 4 analyzed a large MBA dataset that mitigated self-selection and self-report biases. Replicating the prior studies, EAs were less likely to be nominated as leaders than SAs; this effect was again mediated by assertiveness. Consistent with study 1’s finding about CEO representation, SAs were more likely to be nominated as leaders than whites. Importantly, these effects could not be explained by control variables such as personality, SES, and birth country.”

– “By analyzing the objective leadership attainment of a large dataset of MBA students, study 5 provided further evidence that EAs were less likely to attain leadership positions than SAs; this effect was again mediated by assertiveness. Consistent with the prior studies, SAs were more likely to attain leadership positions than whites. In addition, EAs and SAs did not differ significantly in leadership motivation or aptitude, suggesting that these two factors were unlikely to be the main reasons for the leadership attainment gap between EAs and SAs.”

– “Dovetailing with study 6a, study 6b found that non-Asian Americans exhibited greater prejudice toward SAs than EAs. These results suggest that prejudice is unlikely to be the main reason for the observed leadership attainment gap between EAs and SAs. As a robustness check, we replicated these results in another preregistered study that employed a group comparative design (for details, see SI Appendix).”

– “Study 7 provided experimental evidence that non-Asian Americans rated EAs lower on leadership potential than SAs. Consistent with our prior studies, this effect was significantly mediated by perceived assertiveness, but not by prejudice or perceived motivation. Together, these results suggest that, despite facing less prejudice than SAs and being equally motivated, EAs are less likely to attain leadership positions.”

The authors cite Amartya Sen’s The Argumentative India, but anyone who has spent time around subcontinentals and East Asians is aware of the difference. To be frank, we brown people can kind be annoying dicks, lacking in grace and civility. This is evident in comments on this weblog. But these antisocial tendencies happen to be good for selecting CEOs of major American companies.

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Predictable, enormously surprising

[ cross-posted from Zenpundit — read these in sequence, and tremble ]
.

Here:

  • New Yorker, Citing climate change, BlackRock will start moving away from fossil fuels
  • New Yorker, Will Big Business Finally reckon with the Climate Crisis?
  • World Economic Forum, The Global Risks Report 2020
  • BlackRock, A Fundamental Reshaping of Finance
  • Guardian, European Investment Bank to phase out fossil fuel financing
  • IEEFA, The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for oil and gas
    .
    **

    Climate scientists caught on first, then the US military, and now financial risk analysts. Things are shifting: if BlackRock ‘s C-suite officers (they control a dime out of every dollar in the world) were the jurors, the current US administration might not like their verdict.

    And money doesn’t just talk, it votes.

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  • The Problem With the Global Left

    As the United Kingdom’s Labour Party swallowed a staggering loss, it’s clear that we see a pattern across the world. Election after election, Left parties collapse against either centrist or frequently right wing parties. Does this imply a victory for the “Global Right?”

    No – as Manu Joseph has beautifully explained, there can never be a Global Right.

    The Localist

    The crux of Joseph’s argument lies in the fact that Leftists have become constantly concerned with grand humanitarian conflicts and cosmopolitan problems while Right Wingers are more concerned with “skin in the game” local issues. The Leftist leader shouts in a city square about human rights abuses in Israel, America, India, the UK, etc… (all while conveniently ignoring much, much worse abuses in less pluralistic and less democratic countries). The Right Wing leader is on the hinterland battleground listening to disaffected and ignored voters about their latest economic or communal ailment. The Left has become caught up in the noise in the air while the Right have their ears to the ground.

    Of course, you may notice that lately there has been some hobnobbing amongst many “nationalist” or Right Wing leaders. Yet this exercise will only go so far.

    Consider this – put an American Evangelical Christian and an Indian Hindu Hardliner in a room together. While they may both agree on their disdain of radical Islam, they will reach an impasse when the Evangelical explains to the Hindu Hardliner that they will burn in hell for eternity for not believing in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Hindu Hardliner will then tell the Evangelical to stop sending missionaries who destroy indigenous Indian culture with their conversion agenda. This clash will overwhelm any commonalities in the long run.

    Bring a group of Leftists from disparate places such as London, New York, and New Delhi and you will have free flowing conversations about the liberation of Palestine, proper pronoun use, and how one needs to read more Marxist theory for communism to work.

    Even on economics, Right Wingers from different nations will have vehement disagreements. The British Tories are distinctly to the left of American Democrats. Narendra Modi (who many times is described as “Far Right”) has enacted more “Socialist” policies in 5 years than Bernie Sanders will probably ever do in his lifetime. Modi has achieved the wildest economic initiatives of American Democrats yet is labeled as India’s doom and gloom; which is in direct contrast to his staggering electoral victories.

    International Media Spent 5 Years Relaying Apocalyptic Missives Regarding Modi, Only to See Him Gain an Even Greater Majority – Something Almost Unheard of in India

    Finally, we have to acknowledge the grand chasm between international media’s narratives and ground realities. The raucous and slanted theater over the 2016 US, 2019 UK, and 2019 Indian elections show how massively wrong reporting was. This was a validation of localist siege mentalities regarding the media as well as the growing distrust people have in it.

    The Other

    What is a nation?

    Is it its citizens? Its borders? Its values? Its history? Its present? Its future?

    Of course, a reasonable take is that it is all of the above. The Left’s problem is that it has disconnected from its old base (the working class) partly because it has more or less forsaken the first 3 (notions of citizenship, borders, and local values).

    The rural proletariat backbone of Left parties across the world have now been labeled as bigots, uncouth, and “deplorables;” simply because they refuse to digest runaway academic politicking, sneering towards their local tradition, and denigrating of their skin color or religion.

    Anti-CAA Protestors in India Display a Morphed Om, the Sacred Hindu Symbol, in Nazi Swastika (A Symbol Stolen by Nazis) Style. Displays Such as These Inflame Majorities and Harm Protest Goals.

    The Left’s relentless attack on their countries’ respective “majorities” has manifested into electoral backlashes. Even in loss, we’ve seen their ideologues double down on this suicidal oration.

    On top of this is the perception of the Left engaging in vote banking with minorities. With the Left capitulating to certain antisocial elements in minority groups, majorities have become even more infuriated. Whether its the Labour Party massaging the antisemitism of Islamists in the UK, Indian opposition parties lionizing protestors who canonize terrorists, or American Democrats sticking their head in the sand over the spillover of drug and gang violence from Mexico – Left parties across the world have been made bare over their apathy towards their vote banks’ faults.

    Does this mean all minorities should be shamed and hounded for their misdeeds? Absolutely and unequivocally no. All communities in a nation, whether in majority or minority should move to remove their faults and prosper forward. However, the reality is that localist parties have now been given enough ammo from the Left to consolidate majorities in their countries. The Left’s vote bank vetos have lost their old potency and must face the mirror or face the music.

    From Revolution to Rosé

    Soviet Bolshevik Era Propaganda Poster – Emphasis on Workers

    The march of muddied boots under red flags used to send shivers up the spine of capitalists. Now capitalists rally around the latest “woke” trend and other inane culture wars that are ripe for the investment into perpetual outrage. Old Left leaders came from factory floors, while the current crop comes from Ivy Leagues and ivory towers. The formally faithful worker base asks for policy changes regarding welfare, wages, and trade; while the bourgeoise urban elite donors and leadership demand new articles highlighting “X-phobia” and identity politics.

    And when the Left does decide to finally wade into economic issues, the results have been lackluster.

    The topic of the Left’s economic evolution is worthy of a book in and of itself. Every country’s economic situation and externalities are very unique; so it is futile to paint their economic portrait either free market green or a socialist red. However, a common theme across the world has been Left parties holding the torch of economic reform only to run either half measures or trip up over useless communal quarrels.

    America is a prime arena as the economic tug of war is in full force here.

    While markets have recovered and wildly prospered post-2008, many Americans feel like they missed the ship. These same Americans would propel Trump into power as they saw the Democrats’ half hearted economic agenda failing them. The Democrats would face a wave of economic populism to finish what Obama started, but this would drown under toxic identity politics introduced by the mainstream Clinton camp to nullify Sanders’ swell. The problem came about when Clinton lost and now a new wave of Democrats combined both Clinton’s social agenda with Sanders’ economic direction. As various elections across the world have shown, this is not a reliable concoction.

    While older Left parties were seen as champions of the working class, they have increasingly championed policies that hurt them. Open borders and mass immigration rhetoric would be devastating to lower income people with depressed wages and increased job competition. Scathing criticism of the “billionaire class” by multi-millionaire politicians not only looks like ridiculous rhetoric but is absolutely ineffective policy. Billionaires and the mega rich are indeed the global citizens that many Leftists wish they were. As Europe’s failed wealth tax experiment showed, the rich will simply move abroad or tell their accountant to move their money.

    A Path Forward

    A light in these dark times for the (Western) Left is demography. The youth overwhelmingly favor Left parties in places like the US and Europe (India is the opposite where youth are placing faith in the BJP). American youth even have a positive tilt towards socialism. I can imagine a recession in the near future will shatter the walls to universal healthcare, major subsidies in education, and maybe even UBI.

    However, what the Left must work on is ushering in renewed faith amongst the majorities of their nations. A ceasing of incessant attacks on majority culture, customs, and values is a must. It is all right to call out the problems of slavery, imperialism, etc… of the past, but the crimes of the past should not rest on the shoulders of those in the present. Likewise, current issues regarding discrimination shouldn’t be blanketed over whole populations.

    Concerning immigration, it is a topic for individual nations dependent on context and demographics. An open or loose border ideal won’t work for most nations if any due to either economic constrains or demographic antagonism.

    Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard at the Democratic Debates

    In America at least, I see glimpses of a future winning ticket in politicians such as Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard (though both will most likely not win the primaries) who shun the vociferous social histrionics of much of their party while presenting decidedly Left articulations of economics without wading into full blown socialist visions. They stand their ground all while standing up for minorities as equal citizens instead of coddled vote banks or vilified communities. All this, while tackling the impending massive changes to the economy as the information age veers into full swing.

    It is more than clear that Left parties have their work cut out for them. Introspection is the best prescription I can offer them as their current path will only lead to ruin. The world needs their kind for ideological balance, sensible opposition, and checks to an increasingly dominant right wing across the world.

    Time will tell when sense returns to the Left. Till then, localism will reign.

    This is a repost from The Emissary. Please visit the blog for more content and thanks to Brown Pundits!

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    American Caste (b)

    America has a national crisis in math capacity, competence and merit. American students sharply underperform students in many countries all over the world. Including Vietnam, which is a poorer country than India per capita. We will heavily refer to the 2018 OECD PISA report in below paragraphs, but the below chart graphic is from the 2015 OECD PISA scores report because math scores are reported for more countries in the 2015 report. Perhaps the 2018 report will be revised to add more countries in the future:

    In my view  a level 5 PISA score is the minimum requirement for a person to be considered a high school graduate who is literate in math, able to function in the modern global economy, or be qualified to attend college. The PISA report defines a level 5 PISA score or better as a fifteen year old that “can model complex situations mathematically, and can select, compare and evaluate appropriate problem-solving strategies for dealing with them.” How does America perform in the 2018 PISA report?:

    • United States: 8% of students scored at Level 5 or higher in mathematics
    • OECD average: 11%
    • Six Asian countries and economies had the largest shares of students who did so:
      • Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (China): 44%
      • Singapore: 37%
      • Hong Kong (China): 29%
      • Macao (China): 28%
      • Chinese Taipei: 23%
      • Korea: 21%

    Note that these six countries were among the poorest countries in the world in the 1950s, far poorer than poor Americans or poor Europeans or poor Chileans can even imagine. In 1979 China was unbelievably poor. Much of the population of China–perhaps as many as 100 million–had starved to death because of extreme poverty in the 1970s. Poor children around the world are outperforming American children in mathematics despite extremely low education spending per student and very low socio-economic level of their legal guardians, where socio-economic level is defined as:

    • income
    • wealth
    • formal education of parents

    Do any American high school student subgroups perform well in Mathematics? Yes, “people of color” or “minority” Americans perform well in Mathematics. America’s “people of color” or “minority” students are orders of magnitude more likely to get an 800 on the mathematics SAT than European Americans. If we assume this is an extreme tail end distribution issue related to European Americans having a lower standard deviation and non standard distribution in mathematics performance relative to “people of color” or “minority” Americans, we can explore the breakdown of Americans who score between 750 and 800 on the Mathematics SAT. Here European Americans perform far better relative to “people of color” or “minority” Americans.  In 2015 16,000 European Americans scored 750 or higher. 33,000 “people of color” and “minority” Americans scored 750 or higher. We further know that 51% of SAT test takers were European Americans and 49% were “people of color” or “minority” Americans.  “People of color” or “minority” Americans are [33,000/16,000]*[51%/49%] or 2.15 times as likely to score 750 or higher on the mathematics SAT compared to European Americans.  If we examine the 107,900 test takers who got SAT math scores of 700 or higher; 59,900 are “people of color” or “minority” Americans, versus 48,000 European Americans. “People of color” or “minority” Americans are [59,900/48,000]*[51%/49%] or 1.30 times as likely to score 700 or higher on the mathematics SAT compared to European Americans. For data junkie geeks like me there is a lot more data on SAT math score distributions here and here. The Greta Anderson article’s comment section in particular has some very intelligent commentators who have studied the American SAT score distribution. This is likely to be the subject of many future blog posts and Brown Pundits Podcasts.

    What about this is worrying?:

    1. European Americans in particular are sharply under-performing both very poor children around the world and “people of color” and “minority” Americans in mathematics.
    2. American mathematics SAT scores have fallen between 1972 and 2016. 1972 is the earliest year for which I could find comparable SAT mathematics scores. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 the SAT mathematics exam was completely restructured to make scores no longer comparable to SAT mathematics scores between 1972 and 2016.
    3. 90% or more of current jobs and businesses are likely to be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI), brain electro-therapy (meditation . . . practiced by civilizations around the world for over 5,000 years), brain sound therapy (naad or mantra yoga and their equivalents in Native American, Egyptian, Sumerian, Taoist and other civilizations around the world for over 5,000 years), bio-engineering tissue, genetic editing, and fused AI-brain interface synthesis intelligence. Almost all of these future disciplines are complementary to mathematics.

    Future articles and podcasts are planned all six of these future disciplines. If you are curious about fused AI-brain interface synthesis intelligence, please watch my main man Elon Musk:

    Some say that the tension and relationship challenges between America’s four big castes–European Americans, European “Latino” Americans, Black Americans and Asian American–are driving low math scores for European Americans “AND” other Americans. One example is where thought leader Mark J Perry explores the possibility that tension between the European American caste and the Asian American caste are lowering American  mathematics performance. Excerpts of his article are reproduced below:

    Continue reading “American Caste (b)”

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    Post Modernism (d)

    Five thousand years ago the greater Egyptian, Sumerian, Eastern (defined as pan Arya plus China) civilizations were very mathematically oriented.  Many caucasians appear to believe that these ancient civilizations were racist. Possibly because of this many caucasians believe that math is racist.

     

    Another possible reason many caucasians appear to believe that math is racist is because they fear it might unfairly advantages “brown” people (Asians, Arabs, Latinos) and “brown” cultures (eastern philosophy including Toaism and Confucianism, native american religion) at the expense of caucasians in the new global artificial intelligence, neuroscience, genetics economy.

     

    Could part of the anger against math come from fear that mathematics, science, technology, seeking the truth through thought, seeking the truth without thought might be haram or blasphemous? (Obviously most Abrahamics do not believe this and this is not a critique of Abrahamism.)

     

    I believe that mathematics is part of art; and that it derives from beyond normal gross thought. From what in Sanskrit is called Buddhi, Vijnayamaya Kosha, Ananda Maya Kosha, Sukshma Sharira, Kaarana Sharira, the subtle heavens.

     

    Perhaps the anger against mathematics is part of a deeper anger against the subtle heavens? If so, one possible way to look at this is that to transcend the subtle heavens (including mathematics) it might be helpful to love them and love our way through them. Or to love and respect the racist (subtle heavens–including mathematics) until we transcend the various subtleties of thought and feeling.

    What are everyone’s thoughts?

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    Post Modernism (c)

    Post Modernism (b)

    Post Modernism (a)

    Intellectual Dark Web (a)

    Intellectual Dark Web

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    A tale of two Pakistans

    Bangladesh to clock highest growth in Asia this year.

    Pakistan’s growth to be lowest in South Asia in current fiscal.

    8% vs. 3%. From a geopolitical perspective at current rates of relative stagnation India’s Pakistani problem will “solve” itself as the Islamic Republic is turning into a macroeconomic midget. All of the geopolitical posturing will be irrelevant if the Pakistani polity doesn’t get its structural house in order (e.g., shift away from the oligarchy).

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    Is it time for Asian Americans and Latino Americans to ask to be considered “white”? (c)

    This is the next article in the series “Is it time for Asian Americans and Latino Americans to ask to be considered “white”, “Is it time for Asian Americans and Latino Americans to ask to be considered “white” (a)”,  Razib’s  “Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act on Affirmative Action“, and “Is it time for Asian Americans and Latino Americans to ask to be considered “white” (b)”.

    A growing part of the global caucasian intelligentsia are attacking Hong Kong protesters as far right fascists. This is part of a growing trend among xenophobic caucasians attacking Asians for “white supremacy”, “nazism”, “racism”, “oppression”, “patriarchy”, “imperialism”, “colonialism”, “hegemony”, “exploitation.”

    Why is this happening? Is it just jealousy? Is it that many caucasians fear that “darkies” own a growing percentage of global wealth, earn a growing percentage of global income? Is it fear that “darkies” have growing competence, capacity, merit, mental health, intelligence? Is it fear about improving “darkie” academic outcomes?

    I am not sure. Can everyone share their thoughts?

    How should us “darkies” react?

    I believe in loving and respecting our enemy with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds and all our might. This includes everyone who is disrespectful, not loving, racist, bigoted, prejudiced, white supremacist, Nazi, facist, oppressive, hegemonic, exploitative, patriarchal towards us. And everyone who accuses us of being disrespectful, not loving, racist, bigoted, prejudiced, white supremicist, Nazi, facist, oppressive, hegemonic, exploitative, patriarchal. And everyone who labels and mislabels us. And everyone who falsely accuses us.

    Everyone has the right to freedom of art and thought. If we truly love and respect others, then how can we not respect their right to disrespect and not love us?

    The sweetness of love will gradually melt their hearts.

    Some might say that this works for most people who are mean to others, but is insufficient for dangerous people. For particularly dangerous people, we can combine the deepest of love and respect with dialogue. And for the most dangerous people, we can combine love, respect, and dialogue with other things.

    Can there be any other way?

    This topic is one of the reasons The Brown Pundits Podcast would like to interview Irshad Manji:

    Irshad Manji has touched the sweetness of the heart, the silence that is always with us. And while I agree with her that we should respect and love others, and not label others. I don’t think we have the right to limit the freedom of art and thought of others by asking them not to label and mislabel us.

    One example that inspires me is how Krishna dealt with harsh bigotry, criticism, false allegations, others mislabeling him, disrespect, bigotry, prejudice, white supremacy, Nazism, fascism, oppression, hegemony, exploitation, patriarchy. Krishna insisted that others be allowed to criticize Krishna.

    I would be curious to listen to Irshad Manji’s thoughts about this.

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    The ubiquity of the rentier state

    Angus Maddison’s Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD: Essays in Macro-Economic History is one of my favorite books (though if you are looking for economic history, Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium is underrated/underread).

    Maddison’s work is cited in this piece,
    No, Mughals didn’t loot India. They made us rich: They remained as Indians, not colonists
    . Overall, I found it to be specious and sophistic in the details.

    The specious part is the attempt to assert that India was rich during the Mughal period. The sophistic part was the interleaving of anecdata and observation to buttress the quantitative point, made with an appeal Maddison’s data set.

    The reality is that it is likely that Maddison was wrong, and more importantly, the Mughal state was highly extractive:


    There is more here. It is not my place to judge economic history, it’s not my specialty (though on the whole, I don’t dissent from the judgment of “Pseudoerasmus” on most things in his wheelhouse). And I still value Maddison’s magisterial work. And so should you.

    The reason is simple: contrary to what Rana Safvi would have you believe, the vast majority of pre-modern people and societies were poor, with very marginal differences in per capita wealth in a modern sense. I am convinced by various arguments that large polities, such as the Roman Empire, can obtain some gains in efficiency through economies of scale, as well as reducing costs of production through imposing peace. But these differences were marginal compared to anything we moderns might believe to be worth notice.

    To see what I mean, I’ve plotted some of Maddison’s data below:

    According to Maddison, there was a decline in per capita wealth from the Mughal period to the early British period: from 550 to 533 dollars. First, this is hardly much at all. Second, it is clear that Maddison’s estimate here is very coarse, and we shouldn’t put that much stock in it.

    But the bigger picture that I’m alluding too is clear when you look at all of Maddison’s data. 2,000 years ago Italy was the richest region of the world on a per capita basis (though since Madison is comparing a province of the Roman Empire to all of China, I think this is somewhat misleading). But Italy seems to have been only about twice as rich on a per capita basis as the poorest areas of the world. By 1500 the British Isles was already wealthier than India on a per capita basis, but it was only 1.3 times as wealthy.

    When pre-modern observers, as quoted in the piece above, mention the wealth and riches of a polity, what they truly mean are the goods of the people of power. In 1500 France and the British Isles were at the same per capita wealth level. But the monarchy of France was much wealthier and more powerful than the monarchy of England. There were two reasons:

    • The French monarch had a larger population from which they could extract taxes.
    • The French monarchy engaged in a higher base rate of extraction from its subjects than the English monarchy.

    According to economic historians, one way that the British closed the gap in later centuries was much better management of and recourse to public debt. The British “punched above their weight” in terms of mobilization of resources for this reason (eventually Britain surpassed France in population and per capita wealth).

    But that’s neither here nor there. Observations of the wealth of the Mughals by European observers is mostly a function of the reality that the domains under Mughal control were extensive, and the Mughal  Empire had a much larger population than any European state. Its wealth was not due to intensive production of economic vitality, as much as extensive exploitation of productivity. Similarly, the domains of the Chinese Emperors of the contemporary period allowed for lavish wealth, but that was due to the massive population increase in their territories in the centuries of peace.(part of this was due to the introduction of maize into lands where it was more suitable than rice or wheat).

    Of course, there are differences between various political arrangements. Even before seeing the data on extraction levels above, I suspected that the Mughals were not necessarily encouraging economic flourishing in an atypical manner. The reason here is historical and ideological. Though the average per capita wealth of China across history did not vary a great deal, there were ideological variations which resulted in different levels of poverty and uncertainty. The orthodox Confucian Chinese view was rather libertarian and physiocratic. It emphasized low taxes on the farmers so as to encourage freeholding and rural prosperity. Though this was not always executed, it was the ideal. The pre-modern Chinese state as actually relatively “light.”

    One can think of a major exception here: the Yuan dynasty. That of the Mongols. Unlike the Manchus, the Mongols did not assimilate to Chinese norms. They engaged in massive extraction, pure rent-seeking, and brought in “middle-men minorities” (Central Asian Muslims often) to do much of the dirty work.

    On the whole, I believe that the Mongol influence on economic growth was predominantly negative in Eurasia during their period of dominance, because the steppe nomad ethos was extractive and predatory toward the ancient agrarian civilizations of Eurasia. The Pax Mongolica likely introduced some efficiencies through trade and the spread of ideas, but the local impact of Mongol rule in China, Persia, and Russia seems to have been one of predation and consumption, rather than fostering production.

    The Mughals were in part descended from Mongols. And as Timurids they were patrons of culture but also adhered to the steppe ethos of extraction and predation. Rana Safvi emphasizes that the Mughals became more Indian genealogically over time. This is true. And the Mughals also relied on Rajputs to administer their domain. But anyone who has read about the Mughal state apparatus knows that like the Mongols in Yuan China they relied extensively on West and Central Asian first-generation immigrants (the preference for non-natives even within these ethnicities is a clear tell that it was important they not be too attached to India, and mirrors “Mameluke” regimes further west). While Turks and Afghans were the military elite, the civilian class was saturated with Persians.

    The ethno-religious distance between the ruled and rulers to me would set a prior expectation that there would be an emphasis on extraction and extensive rent-seeking. Muslims, like Ibn Battuta, had long seen India as a land of riches and a place where young adventurers could make a fortune. In the pre-modern world, unfortunately, this often involved some sort of rent-seeking activity, rather than productive entrepreneurship.

    And yet were the Mughals qualitatively different from what came before an what has come after? To be honest, I don’t think so. One of the major problems with South Asia is that it is a world of “communities,” and communities look after their own. Han Chinese bureaucrats culturally identified with the peasants that they ruled. Even the connotation of “peasant” in Chinese is far less pejorative than in Europe, which had a blood nobility. In South Asia, the ruling elite has often by logical necessity been different from those the ruled because no one group identity has been a majority. This is often true even locally, while Hindu zamindars ruling in eastern Bengal over Muslim peasants, or Muslim potentates in the Deccan over Hindu peasants.

    Note: Chill on the bullshit comments. I’ll be deleting them if you manifest stupidity or ignorance.

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