Thursday, February 26, 2015



I never heard of Jhalkaribai. According to Wikipedia  "Born into a poor Koli family, she started her career as an ordinary soldier in Laxmibai's army, but rose to a position of advising the queen and participating in vital decisions.[3] During the rebellion, at the height of the battle of fort of Jhansi, she disguised herself as the queen and fought on the front to let the queen escape safely out of the fort.[3][4]"
 via roundtableindia.


Do bigha zameen via Madhukar Shukla who has several comments.
Jairam Ramesh comments



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Illargi wonders about IMF funding to Ukraine and Greece

How far is it from Kiev to Athens? I have been wondering about this myself. The article is also posted in Naked Capitalism where there may be more comments.

P.S. More about the Greek situation from Michael Hudson European Banks vs reek Labour

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Some developments associated with Walter Pitts

in The man who tried to redeem the world with logic. Apparently, one development that discouraged Pitts came at the age of 36 (he died atb the age of 46):
"[Jeorme Lettwin] Together with Pitts, McCulloch and the Chilean biologist and philosopher Humberto Maturana, he subjected the frogs to various visual experiences—brightening and dimming the lights, showing them color photographs of their natural habitat, magnetically dangling artificial flies—and recorded what the eye measured before it sent the information off to the brain. To everyone’s surprise, it didn’t merely record what it saw, but filtered and analyzed information about visual features like contrast, curvature, and movement. “The eye speaks to the brain in a language already highly organized and interpreted,” they reported in the now-seminal paper “What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain,” published in 1959.
The results shook Pitts’ worldview to its core. Instead of the brain computing information digital neuron by digital neuron using the exacting implement of mathematical logic, messy, analog processes in the eye were doing at least part of the interpretive work. “It was apparent to him after we had done the frog’s eye that even if logic played a part, it didn’t play the important or central part that one would have expected,” Lettvin said. “It disappointed him. He would never admit it, but it seemed to add to his despair at the loss of Wiener’s friendship.”"
Some of the work related to the frog's eye is described here and the break up with Norbert Weiner in this review of a book about Norbert Weiner.
Some more developments of frog vision studies and applications to education are discussed in this 2010 paper of Luis Radford The eye as a theoretician: Seeing structures in generalizing activities.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Links, February 19, 2015

Rahul Banerjee on AAP, Syriza and Pademos: Social Democracy to the fore
Marinaleda A city where everyone works... More on Marinaleda from Wikipedia
Bloomberg vs The Economst: Whence the difference of opinion by David Warsh: "One thing I took away from Planning Armageddon is that military strategists in capitals around the world can be counted on to be doing with computers and present-day financial communication systems what their Edwardian counterparts were doing a hundred years ago – laying plans to disrupt their foes’ economies as thoroughly as possible if it comes to war,.  When Russia’s Kiselev says Putin  will use nuclear weapons if the existence of the Russian state is threatened, economic Armageddon is the kind of thing he’s got in mind – an all-out attempt to starve the Russian government into submission.
The other thing I took away is that, just as market interests swamped the British plan for all-out economic war in 1914, probably they will disrupt the clamor for US proxy war with Russia in 2015.  There’s a reason that Bloomberg View takes a calmer stance towards the Russian bullying of Ukraine than does The Economist. Its subscribers have more skin in the game."

Andrew Haldane reflects on growth

Growth, Fast and Slow
 Growth is a gift. Yet contrary to popular perceptions, it has not always kept on giving. Despite centuries of experience, the raw ingredients of growth remain something of a mystery. As best we can tell historically, they have been a complex mix of the sociological and the technological, typically acting in harmony. All three of the industrial revolutions since 1750 bear these hallmarks.
 Today, the growth picture is foggier. We have fear about secular stagnation at the same time as cheer about secular innovation. The technological tailwinds to growth are strong, but so too are the sociological headwinds. Buffeted by these cross-winds, future growth risks becoming suspended between the mundane and the miraculous."
An amusing take off:  Did Shakespeare make the wrong decision going into liberal arts and not finance?

Erratic Marxist

Impressive article by Yanis Varoufakis How I became an erratic Marxist.  Though impressed by Marx, I have always had some reservations about Marx and Marxists. Yanis Varoufakis explains some of the problems:
"Marx’s first error – the error of omission was that he failed to give sufficient thought to the impact of his own theorising on the world that he was theorising about. His theory is discursively exceptionally powerful, and Marx had a sense of its power. So how come he showed no concern that his disciples, people with a better grasp of these powerful ideas than the average worker, might use the power bestowed upon them, via Marx’s own ideas, in order to abuse other comrades, to build their own power base, to gain positions of influence?
Marx’s second error, the one I ascribe to commission, was worse. It was his assumption that truth about capitalism could be discovered in the mathematics of his models. This was the worst disservice he could have delivered to his own theoretical system. The man who equipped us with human freedom as a first-order economic concept; the scholar who elevated radical indeterminacy to its rightful place within political economics; he was the same person who ended up toying around with simplistic algebraic models, in which labour units were, naturally, fully quantified, hoping against hope to evince from these equations some additional insights about capitalism. After his death, Marxist economists wasted long careers indulging a similar type of scholastic mechanism. Fully immersed in irrelevant debates on “the transformation problem” and what to do about it, they eventually became an almost extinct species, as the neoliberal juggernaut crushed all dissent in its path.
How could Marx be so deluded? Why did he not recognise that no truth about capitalism can ever spring out of any mathematical model, however brilliant the modeller may be? Did he not have the intellectual tools to realise that capitalist dynamics spring from the unquantifiable part of human labour; ie from a variable that can never be well-defined mathematically? Of course he did, since he forged these tools! No, the reason for his error is a little more sinister: just like the vulgar economists that he so brilliantly admonished (and who continue to dominate the departments of economics today), he coveted the power that mathematical “proof” afforded him."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Global Surpluis Recycling Mechanism (GSRM)

Yanis Varousfakis talks of different aspects of it in his nook 'The Global Minotaur'. One aspect from a recent article in The Guardian "In his recent book The Global Minotaur, Varoufakis claims that the notion of a surplus recycling mechanism is simple in theory and revolutionary in its implications. It was first devised by Keynes while working as an unpaid policy adviser to the British Treasury during the early 1940s. The proposal was an outgrowth of Keynes’s frustration with the limits of the gold standard during the 1920s. At that time there was an outflow of gold from Britain to the US to pay for Britain’s trade deficit. Logically the inflow of gold should have expanded the money supply in the US, increasing the competitiveness of UK exports. But the US adopted policies to offset inflationary pressures. As the economist Marie Christine Duggan has suggested, the harsh lesson for Keynes was that the gold standard was ineffective at forcing creditor nations to increase domestic prices or reinvest their surpluses. Creditor nations were free to hoard as they liked, placing the burden of action on debtor nations who had very little choice but to act in ways that tended to depress their domestic economies.Keynes’s proposal for curbing the problem was to create global rules that would place equal pressure on both creditor and debtor nations to adjust their respective trade imbalances, helping to ease the burden shouldered by debtor nations."
From a post of Michael Pettis, surpluses may not be good even for creditor countries:
" Far more interesting to me is the impact of the indemnity on Germany. From 1871 to 1873 huge amounts of capital flowed from France to Germany. .... As money poured into Germany the German economy boomed, along with German consumption, investment (a growing share of which went into projects at home and abroad that turned out in retrospect to be overly optimistic), and into the Berlin and Viennese stock markets. By early 1873 more experienced German, Austrian and British bankers were quietly warning each other of a speculative mania, and they were right. The stock market frenzy culminated in the 1873 global stock market crisis, which began in Vienna in May, shortly after the beginning of the 1873 World Fair,... "

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review of a Hilary Clinton book

We came, we saw, he died in London Review of Books by Jackson Lears. Excerpts:
"The intellectual bankruptcy of the Democratic Party is nowhere more evident than in the looming presidential candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton.....These conventional formulas stress Clinton’s exceptionalist faith in America’s unique responsibility for ‘global leadership’. There was a time when this meant leading by example, but since the Second World War, the phrase ‘global leadership’ has served as a euphemism for military intervention – multilateral if possible, unilateral if necessary. Indeed, exceptionalism has proved a durable justification for unilateralism. Presidential candidates from both parties have long felt obliged to pay homage to the exceptionalist creed, but Clinton’s attachment to it is obsessive. She says she wroteHard Choices ‘for anyone anywhere who wonders whether the US still has what it takes to lead’. She recalls Madeleine Albright’s threadbare interventionist slogan: the US, Clinton insists, remains ‘the indispensable nation’. As secretary of state, she acted on her faith by sponsoring the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya and advocating US intervention in Syria, not to mention engineering the Asia Pivot towards increased US involvement in the Far East."
"Clinton’s exceptionalism promotes an implicit double standard that separates the US from the rest of the world. Consider the Asia Pivot: according to Clinton, ‘we needed to send a message to Asia and the world that America was back’ in its ‘traditional leadership role in Asia’ – managing competition, fostering co-operation, maintaining stability. This was ‘forward-deployed diplomacy … borrowing a term from our military colleagues’. The Chinese perception, naturally enough, was that the US was determined to block its rise. Why China shouldn’t claim a ‘leadership role’ in its own part of the world, and the US should, is one of the mysteries of the exceptionalist faith."
" ‘For the West, the demonisation of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one,’ he wrote last year. ‘Putin is a serious strategist – on the premises of Russian history. Understanding US values and psychology are not his strong suits. Nor has understanding Russian history and psychology been a strong point among US policymakers.’ Clinton seems likely to continue that tradition."

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Another analysis of Euro area's problems

Syriza and the French Indemnity of 1871-73 by Michael Pettis
via Michael Pettis explains the euro crisis(and some others things, too) by Matthew Klein.

" This is literally the best analysis of the euro area’s problems we’ve ever read. You should take the time to closely read the whole thing yourself. We’ll wait. " is what FT Alphaville said. I read it once, got some glimpses but not full understanding. Planning to browse some Pettis books.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Chris Dillow on micro and macro efficiencies

In Micro efficient, macro inefficient
"All this poses a question. What sort of economic system does the idea of micro efficiency but macro inefficiency lead to?
We can discount the social democratic option. We know now - as Keynes did not - that macroeconomic policy within market capitalism is not sufficient to create full employment, perhaps for reasons identified by Kalecki or perhaps because capitalists capture the state; still less does it solve the faults alleged by Marxists. Nor am I attracted to the participatory planning of the sort advocated by Robin Hahnel; it seems like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. This leaves some form (pdf) of market socialism and economic democracy. "
The last links have freely downloadable books.

Some Perumal Murugan links

C.S. Lakshmi describes two sequels to 'One part woman' and writes "Seeing how much his novel was liked in the last four years, one has to look for other reasons for this sudden outburst by incendiary forces which were literally baying for his blood. I remember that he began writing his novel Pookkuzhi when the papers were full of the tragic death of a youth named Ilavarasan following his marriage and the caste-hatred it created in Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu. Pookkuzhi is dedicated to Ilavarasan, the Dalit boy who dared to marry an upper-caste girl. Not much was written about Pookkuzhi and the dedication did not go down well with many.
Before Pookkuzhi too, Murugan had spoken his mind on what caste meant to him. When his mother died he wrote two beautiful articles (which were translated into English by me for a SPARROW newsletter), where he wrote about how he had decided not to use the caste graveyard for his mother although he had paid the caste tax for it all these years in three different villages. He felt that he was in no mood to face the catechism of his community about his life and choices. He chose to use the electric crematorium. He says in that article that watching the smoke rise in the electric crematorium he felt it would take his mother, who had toiled all her life, to lands she had never been to. He had disregarded his community many years ago also, when he decided to marry a woman of his choice who did not belong to his community. His entire village had risen against him and had decided to excommunicate him. His progressive friends stood by him and prevented that from happening."
"The Madras High Court on Tuesday said that it will issue a notice to writer Perumal Murugan so that he could narrate the sequence of events following which he changed his stance.
The first bench comprising Chief Justice Kaul and justice Sundaresh expressed large concern in extra judicial groups wielding power in deciding what is right and what is not right and asking authors what to write and what not to write."
Though the practice has one out many years ao, one Niticentral artilce claims "If left uncontested it means their temple going womenfolk would be fair game for lewd comments and unwanted advances. " Another review favourable to the book says "evolution left men with more sexual anxieties than women. They have addressed this anxiety by seeking power over women. TheMathorubhagan episode has the flavour of insecure patriarchy gone berserk."

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Paul Mason on basic income

The thrust of this article is not clear to me.  I lived for four years in an area where many neighbours were provided essential basic income and housing. I saw the next generation not into education or work and vandalizing the neighbourhood. May be one should study such earlier practices in Australia and other places before providing hopeful scenarios. Also what Graeber called 'bullshit jobs' are different from what Paul Mason mentioned here.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Three articled related to Ocalan and anarchism

“dogmatism is nurtured by abstract truths which become habitual ways of thinking. As soon as you put such general truths into words you feel like a high priest in the service of his god. That was the mistake I made.” Ocalan quoted in The new PKK: Unleashing social revolution in Kurdistan 
Rojava, Ocalan, anarchism, and the fight for Kobane
And Happidrome-part 1 by Adam Curtis:
"But the moment you look into what the Kurds are fighting for - what you discover is absolutely fascinating. They have a vision of creating a completely new kind of society that is based on the ideas of a forgotten American revolutionary thinker.
He wanted to create a future world in which there would be no hierarchies, no systems that exercise power and control individuals. And the Kurds in Kobane are trying to build a model of that world."