Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hazare’s “Solution” does Not Solve Anything

The basic problem with Indian activist Anna Hazare’s “solution” to the problem of corruption is that it only adds to the bureaucracy. If passed in any form, the so called Jan Lokpal or Citizens' Ombudsman Bill would subordinate the judicial- as well as some portions of executive-branch of the government to arbitrary and uncontrolled power, while adding another layer of bureaucrats, who will be less accountable and more powerful than the elected ones.

Hazare’s evil lies in his advocacy of statism, his version of which is an expanded and more arbitrary form of government in India. His “solution” to corruption does nothing to address its root cause: the arbitrary power of the democratically elected looters to redistribute wealth (some of which they unsurprisingly keep in their pockets). Instead, the only difference under Jan Lokpal would be that the loot and bribes would be divided among a larger number of bureaucrats. Even worse, the consequent increase in legal and judicial complexity would make the redistribution of loot even more non-objective and difficult to track—all in the name of “transparency”.

No matter how the deck chairs are rearranged, the corrupt will remain attracted to politics as long as the winner gets to distribute Rs. 2,00,00,00,00,000 in non-defense activities (hint: look up "2G scam"). The Hazare “solution” is a recipe for attracting even more corrupt power-mongers to politics.

An alternative political method to prevent corruption does exist. It consists of eradicating the disease, and not merely treating the symptoms. Begin by scraping the power of the bureaucrats to implement “welfare” programs. Scrap their coercive monopolization of electricity distribution, roadways, dams etc. Cut their hold on corporate mergers, bond markets, polio vaccines, and 2G licenses. In principle, separate the government from economics. Strip the government to its only legitimate functions: the police, the army, and the judiciary. The economic liberalization of India in the 1990s was a step in the right direction. It is time to advocate for a consistent and non-contradictory implementation of the free-market.

Not only does Hazare hold fascist political ends (meaning tyrannical in spirit, but freedom-enhancing in pretense), his means are consistent as well. Hunger strike is not an argument—it is a knee-jerk crybaby reaction. Consequently, some have criticized Hazare for not being truly Gandhian, who was arguably much more intellectually versed than Hazare. True, but I would argue that even though Hazare’s interest in ideas might be weaker than Gandhi’s, his tactics are Gandhian to the core (where, by “Gandhian” I mean marked by an appeal to emotion as opposed to reason.) His choice of hunger-strike rather than a political treatise is insulting, non-intellectual, and non-mindful of individual judgment.

There is an irony in Anna Hazare supporters singing “Ek dokha kha chuke hain aur kha sakte nahin” (translated: “Having been deceived once [by the British], we cannot be deceived again”). Who really needs to sing this line is the Indians who have so far resisted the brainwash, and they need to start singing it soon.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why I like Daphnis and Chloe

I wrote a guest post at One Objectivist's Art Object of the Day on why Daphnis and Chloe by Louis Hersent is one of my favorite paintings.
I like the painting for its depiction of a passionate couple engaged in a life-affirming moment. Let me define that moment by briefly describing the painting as we see it (i.e. without any reference to the story that it's based upon).

A beautiful young couple is sitting in the countryside. The girl is holding a double-flute close to her mouth, while her face and eyes are rotated just enough to glance at the guy. The guy's slightly open mouth and the same positioning of their fingers suggest that he is teaching her how to play a melody. [...]
Go read the whole thing, here. And, please leave a comment!

Thanks to One Objectivist's Art Object of the Day for letting me guest-blog.