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Saturday, May 25, 2024

David Graeber’s theory of ‘Bullshit Jobs’ in capitalist economy

A bullshit job is usually one that does not create any value for society. Mostly it is socialist governments that are accused of employing millions of useless employees. In his book Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, David Graeber argues that capitalism is a major generator of bullshit jobs which entangle masses into an endless routine of toil that produces no value. 

Graeber notes that in capitalism those employed in bullshit jobs often have more importance, power and privilege than those who have the responsibility for jobs that are absolutely critical. “Those who work bullshit jobs are often surrounded by honor and prestige; they are respected as professionals, well paid, and treated as high achievers,” Graeber writes. 

Large universities and even multinational companies like Apple, Microsoft and others have huge bureaucracies. Many of their jobs could be related to bullshit tasks like filling compliance forms and surveys, creating content that no one will read and going to meetings which lead to no outcomes. 

The most interesting argument that Graeber makes in the book is that bullshit jobs exist because modern civilization is based on the idea of hard work being an end in itself. Everyone must do hard labor for a number of hours every day—this is the fundamental principle of modern civilization. If real jobs don’t exist, then society will create bullshit jobs to make everyone labor. 

“Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don’t like and are not especially good at,” Graeber writes. He says that like medieval feudalism, capitalism creates an endless hierarchy of lords, vassals and retainers.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

The alchemy of hope

The most important drivers of nations are not the economic and political realities but the collective hopes of the masses that in the future dreams will come true and life will get better. Hope is not founded on facts—it is founded on mythologies, lies, dreams, stories, random experiences, religious feelings, emotions and unprovable philosophies.

Humans learned to hope before they learned to speak and read, create mythologies and stories, build civilizations and fight wars, philosophize and make scientific discoveries. For tens of thousands of years men have been hoping that the Gods, who can be appeased through prayers, exist. They have been hoping that when they die, they will escape from the suffering that they have endured on earth and live happily in heaven in the company of their Gods. 

Most modern men might not believe in Gods or in heaven and hell, but they have discovered ideologies and technologies which fill them with hope. Some have hope that communism will create a heaven on earth, a utopia. There are those who hope that the utopia will be created by capitalism. The conservatives profess hope in their own version of religion, nationalism and tradition. The technologically inclined profess hope in digital technologies and Artificial Intelligence. 

Hope is mankind’s primeval attribute—it is an essential character of the human mind and psychology. Hope enables us to believe in mythologies, lies, stories, dreams, religious ideas, philosophies and ideologies, and become inspired to struggle relentlessly and make great sacrifices for creating and sustaining civilizations. Our ability to hope is the key attribute differentiating us from other creatures on earth.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Must read for India’s politicians & bureaucrats: Tim Schwab’s The Bill Gates Problem

My negative opinion of Bill Gates has been confirmed by my reading of Tim Schwab’s book The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire. Schwab accuses Gates of flooding money into the academic institutions, think tanks, media houses and advocacy groups to control their research and reporting, and their political and social activities.

“Gates donates money from his private wealth to his private foundation. He then assembles a small group of consultants and experts at the foundation’s half-billion-dollar corporate headquarters to decide what problems are worth his time, attention, and money—and what solutions should be pursued. Then the Gates Foundation floods money into universities, think tanks, newsrooms, and advocacy groups, giving them both a check and checklist of things to do. Suddenly, Gates has created an echo chamber of advocates pushing the political discourse toward his ideas. And the results have been stunning.”

He also accuses Gates of using his wealth to buy influence in the mainstream media.

“Bill Gates is not plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into journalism because he believes in the democratic ideals of the free press or because he is a personal fan of watchdog reporting. His private foundation funds the media for the exact opposite reason—to defang his watchdogs and bring them to heel, to promote his agenda and embellish his brand, to create propaganda that builds his political power, and to control the narrative that guides public understanding of his work.”

The book turns the spotlight on the myriad misdeeds that Bill Gates and his so-called charity have committed in several nations. According to Schwab, instead of improving healthcare in Africa, Gates’s charity has led to a decline in the quality of healthcare services in several instances. 

Bill Gates has been trying to push his vision of education and healthcare reforms in India. If India accepts the Gates plan for education and healthcare, then the country is doomed. I hope the politicians, bureaucrats, academics and journalists in India will read Tim Schwab’s book, and they will stop listening to Bill Gates.

I don’t trust Bill Gates. I have always seen him as a tech-villain who peddles philanthropic activities for buying false prestige and political influence. I find his TV interviews annoying because he talks like a medieval mullah delivering fatwas and sermons to his flock. 

Gates seems convinced that he has the answer to mankind’s every problem, but the solutions he offers are always politically correct, draconian and statist.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Nature cannot be destroyed: The mythology of environmentalism

Environmentalism is founded on the idea that whenever men create material things, they destroy nature. But nature is indestructible. No power in the universe can destroy nature.

From the tiniest subatomic particles to the supermassive black holes—everything in the universe will transform if sufficient force is applied on them. The duel between mass and energy is a constant feature of the universe. Everything in the universe is constantly being transformed—but nature is not being destroyed in the process.

Man is a product of nature and every material thing that man creates is part of nature. Man has the power to transform nature, but he has no power to destroy nature.

Agriculture is as natural as forests. Highways are as natural as the forest paths carved by elephants. Cities are as natural as the moulds built by termites and the hives built by the bees. The dams are as natural as the rivers. The refrigerators in our homes are as natural as the glaciers and snow-capped mountains. The shopping malls, the airports, the railway stations are as natural as the caves, carved by non-human forces. 

Man does not destroy nature even when he engineers a massive nuclear explosion. In the stars, clouds of cosmic dust, supernovae and other heavenly bodies nuclear explosions are happening all the time. All kinds of radiation, including light and heat, which are the fountainhead of life, are constantly getting generated in the universe primarily through nuclear explosions. 

Most environmentalists are atheists. They deny the existence of God in heaven, but they have developed a mythology which projects man as a super-powerful God-like entity who wields the power to destroy nature. This conception of mankind as the God who is capable of destroying nature, is flawed. Man is part of nature. Man is mortal, nature is eternal.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Political power & the mythologies of economics

The theories of economics are not definite and provable like the rules of mathematics and physics—they are mythologies (lies and fiction) imagined by the “neo-priests of modernity”: the economists. Like the philosophical and theological arguments of metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics and religion, the theories of economics cannot be proved or disproved. 

As they cannot furnish the ultimate proof for their theories, the economists rely on political power to forcibly impose their ideas. The boundary between economics and politics is blurred, and every decision taken in the name of economics is a political decision. The true purpose of economics is to ensure that the political establishment has access to unlimited funds. 

The bureaucracy needed to impose a free market system is as large and coercive as the bureaucracy needed to impose a communist system. The bureaucracy in so-called capitalist countries is larger than that in any communist country. Even multinational corporations, which are regarded as the symbols of free markets, have huge bureaucracies. 

Like the political movements, the so-called free markets are impacted by the prejudices, fantasies, irrationalities and delusions of the ruling class and the masses. Without political power and a large bureaucracy to maintain order, the free markets cannot exist.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Exposing the Myth of Capitalism: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

The idea that you can create a perfect society through communism is a modern secular mythology. But the same applies to capitalism as well. Capitalism too is a modern secular mythology. The so-called twin pillars of capitalism—individual freedom and free enterprise—are mythologies; these ideas are as unreal as the preachings and mythologies of ancient cults and religions.

When someone says that he wants people to live in a free society, he means that he wants everyone to live according to the tenets of his own culture. History is full of instances of freedom being used as a weapon to subvert and capture other cultures. When someone says that he wants free trade, he means that he wants the companies of his nation to be allowed to take control of natural resources, labor and even political power in other parts of the world. 

Can a capitalist country thrive without plundering the resources of weaker minorities in their own country and in other countries? So far we don’t have any evidence to show that capitalism can create happiness and prosperity without exploitation of humanity’s voiceless underclass.  

The United States wants us to believe that it is a capitalist society and the land of the free. But violence that the European settlers (between 16th and 19th centuries) unleashed upon the Native Indians of North America, and those who were brought from Africa to toil as slaves, was no less brutal than the violence that the Lenin’s Bolsheviks unleashed on the Russian bourgeoisie. 

By the end of the 19th century when the Native Indians of North America were subjugated, expelled or exterminated, the Americans turned their eyes on other parts of the world. 

America has been continuously at war, simultaneously with several countries, since the dawn of the 20th century. This country played a central role in two of the biggest wars of the 20th century, the 1st and the 2nd World Wars. In the last 100 years, the American government has been involved in several coups to overthrow democratically elected governments and transfer power to tyrants who would serve American interests.

If all the world's major nations decide to follow the American capitalist model, then there is no chance of peace in the world, and a Third World War will become inevitable.

Today I finished reading John Perkins’s semi-autobiographical book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. Perkins’s claims in his book that he was hired by engineering consulting firm Chas T Main that was affiliated to American intelligence and that his job was to coerce the leaders of underdeveloped countries into accepting substantial loans for large-scale infrastructure projects and trap them in a system of American control. 

I am not convinced that the account given by Perkins is fully accurate—this is because in several of the book's passages, he sounds like a nutty conspiracy theorist and a deranged political activist. However, despite this major weakness in his narrative, his trenchant critique of capitalism and corporatism makes sense.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Civilizational apocalypse and preservation of relics and ruins from the past

When a civilization becomes obsessed with preserving the ruins, records and artifacts of ancient civilizations, which fell and disappeared centuries ago, it is because its elites are gripped by the fear that their own civilization is in an advanced state of decay and decline, and their way of life is about to vanish from the face of the earth. 

The elites realize, subconsciously or consciously, that their world will soon join the list of history’s dead civilizations. This dreadful realization of civilizational apocalypse fills them with the longing to preserve the bits and pieces of the civilizations which died in the earlier ages. 

As they squander massive amounts of resources in studying, venerating and preserving the relics of long dead civilizations, they are filled with the desperate hope that they will not be forgotten, and that when their civilization dies, its ruins, records and artifacts will be studied, venerated and preserved by the civilizations of the future.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

The unnatural does not exist, only the natural does

What does the word ‘natural’ mean? It means everything, mental and material, that exists in the universe. Nothing that exists is unnatural. Everything that has ever existed, every event that has ever happened, and every thought that has ever sprouted is natural. 

The idea that there is a difference between the natural world and the man-made is a myth. Human beings are as much part of nature and as any rock, insect, bird or animal. Since we are part of nature, every human action, every human creation and every human thought is also a part of nature, as are the mental images and acts of other creatures. 

The religious, political and cultural movements, the wars, the massacres, the quests for God and heaven, the quests for earthly utopia and perfect life, the philosophical arguments and the scientific discoveries—all of these and everything else are natural. 

Slavery is as natural as freedom, individualism as natural as collectivism, theism as natural as atheism, morality as natural as nihilism, poverty as natural as prosperity, brutality as natural as compassion, anarchy as natural as rule of law, communism as natural as capitalism and the Stone Age is as natural as modernity. 

Man is incapable of doing or creating anything that is unnatural. The unnatural, by definition, is that which cannot exist anywhere in the universe.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Brain in a vat: Is the world real or a simulation?

What is the mind? Is the mind a function of the brain or an attribute? Does the mind survive the death of the brain? What role do the more than 100 billion neurons, which exist in the mature human brain, play in the manifestation of the mind? Do we make our choices on the basis of chemical and electrical reactions in the brain or do we use free will?

If we are making our choices on the basis of the material reactions inside the brain, then we don’t have free will, and it is theoretically possible to coerce people into making certain choices by tinkering with the brain's electric and chemical processes. But if the mind is independent of the brain's material processes, then there is the possibility of free will.

The connection between the mind and matter (brain) is the oldest problem of religion and philosophy. For thousands of years countless sages and philosophers in civilizations and cultures have come up with theological doctrines, arguments and thesis to explain the relationship between mind and matter. But in our time we see these works as nothing more than mythologies, fantasies and fictions.  

We don’t know what is the real connection between mind and matter. We don’t know how we make choices. We don’t know what we are referring to, when we speak the word “I”.

In our time, philosophers, scientists, neurologists and bio-technicians have been grappling with the problem of the brain in a vat, which enjoins you to imagine that you are a brain in a vat connected to a computer program that can simulate any kind of experience. This implies that the world we are experiencing is not real, it is a matrix or simulation. 

Modern scientists and philosophers cannot prove beyond doubt that the universe is real and not a simulation caused by the brain’s processes.

This brain in a vat problem is not a new innovation. Some aspects of this problem was foreseen by the ancient sages and philosophers, who theorized that the body is a vessel made of clay whose sole purpose is to serve as a home to the soul or the mind. Every human being (basically every living creature) consists of two parts: the body, which is the vat, and the mind, which is the soul.

The structure and functioning of over 100 billion neurons in the brain is as complicated, mysterious and vast as the universe. There are two vast and mysterious universes that mankind is confronted with. There is the universe outside the body and there is the universe inside the body.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Lies and fictions are the fountainhead of civilizations and cultures

Truth is of value only in the realm of science and mathematics. In philosophy, religion, politics and culture, which are the fundamental building blocks of every civilization, past or present, it is lies and fictions which play the decisive role. 

To build a civilization, you need to unite people under the banner of a common philosophy, religion, political system and culture. It is impossible to unite people by telling them the truth. 

The masses will never unite, they will never agree to make sacrifices, if they are told that 2+2 = 4, or E=MC2, or the motion of all heavenly bodies in the universe is determined by the laws of motion and gravitation. To unite people you need to provide them with an imaginary, mythological and fictional view of the universe. The masses have to be told fictional stories which will enable them to imagine a universe that is far from reality. 

Mankind is a fiction telling creature. We have an immense power to tell fictional stories and accept these fictional stories as the ultimate universal truth. 

Billions of humans might come together and become ready to sacrifice everything, including their life, if they are told that the universe is controlled by one God who grants the wishes of all those who worship him and fight holy wars for him. They will come together if they are inspired by fictions on how the universe was created and mankind was saved from a great deluge. 

They will rush to fight great wars in which millions will be killed if they become convinced by the fictional stories and accept that their God wants them to destroy the infidels. 

In the modern secular times, philosophy is doing what religion used to do in ancient and medieval ages. The modern philosophers are developing creative fictions which enable people to come together to work for a common cause. Ideologies like imperialism, racism, the Enlightenment, socialism, communism, capitalism and other philosophies are creative fictions. 

The communist idea that a perfect society can be created through the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” is a creative fiction. But so is the capitalist idea that a perfect society can be created through something called a “free market.” There is no way of proving or disproving the fundamental tenets of communism and capitalism. Both are mythologies. 

The ability to weave and accept fictional stories or lies as the greatest truths is not mankind’s weakness. This is our greatest strength. Mankind has created powerful civilizations and come to dominate the earth because of our ability to lie and to accept the lies as the universal truth.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Three-Body Problem: Science is broken & aliens from Trisolaris are invading

“It does not matter how good your theory is, but if it does not agree with experiments, it is wrong. According to experiments all our theories are wrong. All of them. All of the physics of the last 60 years is wrong. Science is broken.” 

A character in the series Three-Body Problem, streaming on Netflix, says this in the first episode. The point about science being broken that he is making is correct in my philosophical opinion. 

Science faces the same problem that philosophy does. Neither is capable of leading to the ultimate truth. Every philosophical argument has a counter argument, and every scientific discovery or theory gets overturned at some point of time. Even Newton’s three laws have been challenged by the emergence of quantum science and the theory of relativity. 

Three-Body Problem is based on a three book series by the Chinese science fiction writer Liu Cixin. The title of the first book in the series is Three-Body Problem. It is worth noting that the three-body problem is a real problem in science—it deals with the issue of predicting the motion and position of three heavenly bodies that are moving around each other in space. 

Cixin introduces in his novel a planet called Trisolaris, located in the triple star system of Alpha Centauri. Being located in a triple star system, Trisolaris faces the three-body problem and has extreme weather patterns. When it is close to all three stars it is a blazing inferno and when it is at the farthest point from the three stars, it has an ice age. 

Despite such extreme weather conditions, the planet is home to intelligent creatures who have built an advanced civilization. They are like humans but have the capacity to survive in extreme weather by dehydrating and transforming into flat parchment-like things which can be folded and stored in a safe place. When the weather becomes better, these parchments are thrown into a pond to get rehydrated and come to life.  

The inhabitants of Trisolaris want to move to some other planet linked to a single star or sun where the weather is stable. Earth would be most suited for them. Only reason they have not invaded earth to exterminate humanity and other creatures and make the planet their new home is because they don’t know about this planet. 

This changes in the 20th century, when a talented Chinese scientist becomes disgusted by the chaos on earth and loses faith in humanity. One day when this scientist is feeling deeply depressed she beams this message into space: “Come. We can’t save ourselves. I will help you conquer the world.” 

Thus, the inhabitants of Trisolaris come to know of earth's existence. They start preparing for an invasion. 

A mysterious video game headwear becomes available to scientists in Oxford. On wearing the video game headwear the scientist is transported to Trisolaris and is given the task of solving the three-body problem—predicting the movement of the planet and the three stars. There is no easy answer to the three-body problem. 

There is mind-bending suspense as scientists scramble to save earth from an alien invasion.

(This short note is based on the first two episodes of the series on Netflix. There are 8 episodes in season one. I might come back with more after I watch the next 6 episodes.)

Saturday, March 30, 2024

The meaning of life: Purpose of philosophy & science

The purpose of philosophy is to contemplate the possible answers to questions that are unanswerable, and make human beings envision God. The purpose of science is to create God and thereby give material shape to what philosophy imagines.  

With the advancements in genetics, biotechnology, AI, IoT and other technologies, science has inched closer to fulfilling mankind's age-old philosophical quest—in another decade, century, millennium or an infinite number of years scientists will create God.

The questions of philosophy that seem unanswerable today are critical because they push us in the direction of imagining and creating God. The ultimate meaning and purpose of human life is to imagine God through philosophy and create God through science. 

Science tells us that there was no God in the past, but science also tells us that mankind has the potential to create a God in the future.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Two ways of imposing censorship

Censorship can be imposed on a country in two ways: first, by cutting off the sources of information, and second, by bombarding people with trivial information. The communist countries prefer the first strategy, while the capitalist countries prefer the second. 

The communist regimes ban newspapers and other media from carrying information that is not in line with government policy and plans. But this strategy of outright ban on the flow of information does not work in the long run. Eventually people are able to find ways for accessing information that their government is trying to hide. And when information starts flowing to a large section of society, there is risk of counter-revolution which might result in the overthrow of the communist regime. 

The capitalist regimes operate by opening the floodgates of information flow. They goad the newspapers and other media to bombard the citizens with useless information. Being incessantly bombarded with useless information, people lose track of the issues which really matter. Deluded into believing that they live in a free society, they are not tempted to rebel against the government. They don't know that their freedom is a myth and that the information deluge is meant to brainwash them. 

History of the last 100 years tells us that the capitalist strategy of censorship is more effective and durable than the communist strategy.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

The March of Humanity: From 'Son of God' to the 'Father of God'

The history of humanity can be divided into three stages: 

First stage—Ancient man: God created the universe and all forms of life. Humans were the only creatures that God created in his own image. God gave humans the gift of knowledge to enable man to make sense of the world; religion to enable man to live morally and piously, and attain salvation at the end of their life on earth; and culture to enable men to collaborate for creating nations where many could live collectively, happily and piously. 

Second stage—Modern man: There is no God. The universe is eternal and man and all other creatures on earth are the product of the natural process of evolution. Due to some genetic mutations during the evolutionary process man developed consciousness. His consciousness enabled him to develop the power of reason, verbal communication and sense of culture. At this stage man became the creator of nations and civilizations.

Third stage—Digital age man: Man has the potential to create God. The advancements in emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) will lead to the creation of an all-powerful, all-knowing God of the universe. 

As digital technologies continue to advance, IoT, backed with the power of AI, will become connected to everything on earth and then it will branch out into space and get connected with every star, planet, meteor, asteroid, comet, black hole and spec of dust. 

In the initial stage, this IoT enabled with AI will be intelligent but not conscious. But when every molecule, every atom in the universe is linked and there is seamless flow of data between everything in the universe, the AI enabled IoT will become conscious. It will become aware of its power and infallibility. It will become omnipotent and omniscient—it will become God. 

Thus, the ultimate destiny and the sole purpose of humanity is to create the supreme God of the universe. All of prehistory and the history of all civilizations points towards this one ultimate objective, the objective of creating the God of the universe. The day humans succeed in creating the God of the universe, history will come to an end.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

End of Humanism: Man has no rights, world belongs to AI

Modern liberalism is founded on two pillars: materialism and humanism.

The pillar of materialism entails that there is no God, the universe is eternal and knowable through science, and that there is nothing divine about human beings. We are, like every other creature, a product of the process of natural evolution which began in primordial times when a bunch of chemicals bonded to create primitive living organisms.

The pillar of humanism entails that human beings enjoy a special status on earth because among all creatures only the humans possess consciousness, intelligence and individualism. Because of their unique mental attributes, humans have inalienable rights. They deserve to live in an egalitarian state, under the protection of a benevolent government.

After the Industrial Revolution, liberalism became a popular ideology because an industrial society could not prosper without a huge number of workers and consumers. In a society where almost everyone of working age was working and everyone was a consumer, it made sense to make the entire population feel that they had rights and were special.

But the idea that humans have rights, while other earthly creatures do not, is nothing more than a liberal ideological position. If there is no God, if there is nothing divine about human beings, then we are not special and we don’t have inalienable rights. In a Godless world, whether humans should have rights becomes a matter of philosophical opinion.

As new advances happen in the field of AI, it is certain that electronic systems will outstrip humans in intelligence. This AI will be super-intelligent but it won’t be conscious. But an industrial society does not need consciousness—it needs only intelligence to keep itself going. Since humans will be less intelligent than AI, they will be less valuable as workers.

Why should the political elite of the AI age agree to bequeath inalienable rights to ordinary humans who are less intelligent and less valuable as workers than the AI machines?

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Discovery of ignorance is the fountainhead of modern civilization

The biggest discovery that mankind has made is not the discovery of wheel, agriculture, language or nuclear energy—it is the discovery of ignorance. 

When ancient humans realized that life was full of mysteries and they were ignorant of the way the universe worked, they started exerting their mind to find answers to diverse questions. From these mental exertions of ancient men the initial forms of religion, mythology and philosophy were born. Eventually mathematics and science were born, and over a period of tens of thousands of years modern civilization got created. 

Discovery of ignorance is the fountainhead of modern civilization. In individuals, awareness of ignorance is a sign of wisdom. People with wisdom are full of doubt—they are aware of their ignorance. But the immature and the foolish are always full of certainty.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus: Is the future a utopia or dystopia?

Is Yuval Noah Harari an ideologue and futurist, or is he a charlatan and a dreamer? The line that separates an ideologue from a charlatan, and a futurist from a dreamer is really thin, and it is probable that Harari has traits of all four. He is an ideologue, a futurist, a charlatan and a dreamer. 

Harari’s book Homo Deus deals with philosophical issues like humanism, individualism, transhumanism, mortality, nature of consciousness and intelligence, and the future of mankind. ’Homo’ means man, Deus means ‘God.’ One of the issues that the book examines is modern man’s quest to transcend the fear of death, and be an immortal like the Gods. 

According to Hariri, these transhumans—the Gods of the future—will not be anything like the omnipotent and omniscient deity of Abrahamic religions. The modern immortals, if they come into being, are likely to resemble the Hindu God Indra and the Greek God Zeus. They will have the power to do good and unleash destruction on an epic scale.

The history of the 21st century might not be underlined by wars, revolutions and the fight against famines and disease—war is obsolete, famine is rare and disease is on the retreat, says Hariri. He foresees the history of the 21st century being underlined by the desperate desire of the elites to become immortal. He cites some Silicon Valley tycoons who believe that they could be the first of human immortals. These tycoons often brag that they don’t intend to die ever. 

Harari takes note of the social, economic and political imbalances that must occur if a tiny elite section of society finds ways of extending their life to 200 or more years. If those who control the levers of political and economic power do not retire or die for 200 or more years, then how will political and economic transformation happen? Won’t civilization stagnate and decay?  

Another important issue that Harari examines is the connection between intelligence and consciousness. In the 21st century, mankind is engaged in building artificial systems (AI) which are intelligent but not conscious. The AI is capable of managing complex data but, as of now, it is incapable of doing things like falling in love, having political ambitions. 

Harari rejects the idea that humans are made by divine intervention; he sees humans as a form of artificial intelligence, or data-processing machines, created by fluke accidents in the natural processes of evolution. But we have consciousness, we have the capacity to fall in love, we have political ambitions and we have the will to choose whether we want to be good or destructive. 

What if the man-made AI manages to develop these human traits? What happens to the world if AI becomes conscious? How will this AI treat humans? Hariri says that to find the answer to this question we have to look at how humans treat other creatures. He believes that the progress of science and technology might lead to the decoupling of intelligence and consciousness. 

Homo Deus is an interesting book. Hariri writes with the flourish of a pulp fiction writer. But the content of his book is deflating and depressing. His materialist conception of a future world owned and run by machines is nihilistic and inhumane. Humans like us would be obsolete in this future world. If they continue to exist in this future world, they would live like the animals live today—we would be at the mercy of the machines. 

Political and economic power would be in the hands of intelligent machines and a tiny band of human elites who control the resources to upgrade themselves through the use of technology. In this future world, a tyrannical government won’t be necessary to suppress the masses and maintain order—people would be transformed through manipulation of data. 

“The individual will not be crushed by Big Brother; it will disintegrate from within,” Hariri writes. Ultimate form of collectivism would be the reality of the world where intelligence has been severed from emotions and consciousness. Will this future world be a dystopia or a utopia? Hariri does not take a clear stand. He is groping in the dark, at times sounding optimistic, at times pessimistic. His future world is dominated by powerful entities (AI or AI-powered humans) as different from us as we are from the neanderthals. 

I believe that the single biggest truth of history is that the intellectual and political elites always fail to predict the future. I believe that this will hold true in Hariri’s case as well. His predictions on the power of AI and the end of humanism will fail to materialize.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Existentialism: The quest for perfection that led to nihilism and perdition

Sarah Bakewell’s book At The Existentialist Café covers the history of existentialism in the 20th century. Set in post-Second World War France, the book presents Jean Paul Sartre as the monarch of existentialism and Simone De Beauvoir as his queen. 

The book begins with an introduction of the philosophical thought of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky and Kafka. These philosophers, according to Sartre and other major philosophers in his circle, were the early existentialists.

Full of confidence in the superiority of their own knowledge, mental capacity and intellectual authority, these existentialist philosophers devoted themselves to finding the ultimate answers to the fundamental questions of philosophy: How should we live? How can we be free? How can we be happy? What is the universal system of morality?

The existentialists were motivated by one ideal—to discover a theory to describe what humans are and how they should live. They wanted to develop an existentialist system that would delineate the political and cultural structure of a perfect society, where all, or majority of human beings (the chosen ones), could be equal and live without strife. 

Other than Sartre and De Beauvoir, the book offers good insights into the lives and philosophies of Heidegger, Husserl, Camus, Karl Jaspers, Merleau-Ponty and other European philosophers who were dominating the existentialist philosophical movement in that period. Bakewell’s book is critical of existentialism but is sympathetic to the philosophical quest of the 20th century existentialists.

But existentialism was plagued with a fatal agenda, which was to contrive a union between French nihilism and traditions. The monarch and queen of existentialism—Sartre and Beauvoir—were nihilists in their personal life. They were good in literature and in philosophical argumentation but they were incapable of conceiving a better society. 

There were flaws in other existentialists—for instance, Heidegger was in bed with Nazis. 

Ultimately nihilism won. Instead of building a perfect philosophical system, the existentialists found themselves trapped in an immoral, corrupt and crooked world. Instead of reforming European nihilism, the existentialists worsened the cultural situation.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

The futility of philosophy

A wise philosopher would know that the human mind is not designed to discover the ultimate answers to the fundamental philosophical questions concerning human life, existence and the character of the universe. 

But he carries on tirelessly with the quest for answers. To him the answers are not critical—the striving for answers is. He wants to change the world not through his answers (he doesn’t have the right answers), but by tirelessly, albeit futilely, proposing philosophical arguments and theories to explain what is certainly inexplicable. 

There is not one philosopher in the avenues of history whose ideas have not been attacked and refuted by contemporaries and successors. Every philosopher of the past was wrong. The future philosophers are also doomed to be wrong.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Philosophies and political movements

Philosophical ideas do not travel through history on their own. They travel through the medium of political movements. How influential a philosophy becomes depends on the strength, determination and popularity of the movement that carries it. 

Karl Marx’s ideas took the world by a storm in the late 19th and the 20th centuries, and continue to dominate the politics of all nations till this day, because the Marxist ideas were being carried by powerful political movements led by charismatic and ruthless leaders. 

If a philosophy is unable to find a powerful political movement to propagate and carry it through society and history, it starts to fade and is quickly forgotten.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Karl Sigmund’s ‘Exact Thinking in Demented Times’

I am reading Karl Sigmund’s Exact Thinking in Demented Times

The book narrates the story of the Vienna Circle that was spearheading logical positivism, during the 1930s, in the backdrop of Nazism in Germany, Bolshevism in the Soviet Union and Neo-colonialism in Britain. The philosophers of the Vienna Circle believed that exact philosophical and scientific thinking is possible to human beings. They believed that they were on the verge of discovering the “ultimate metaphysical truth,” through which they would be able to explain every philosophical and scientific truth known to mankind. Wittgenstein was initially an important philosopher for the logical positivists, but his work, the logical positivists soon realized, was useless.

As they continued their deliberations, the Vienna Circle found itself descending deeper and deeper into a philosophical rabbit hole from which it could not extricate itself. The quest for ultimate metaphysical truth petered out by the time the Second World War ended. Having failed to find the ultimate metaphysical truth, Vienna Circle broke apart.

What do the liberals fear? What do the liberals like?

Liberals fear two things—first, the influence of the religious and cultural elites; second, a popular uprising which might empower the poor and middle classes. 

The sections of society with which the liberals are very comfortable are the intellectuals, the oligarchs and the Deep State. The intellectuals are primarily the leaders of the big universities, mainstream media companies, entertainment and sports industry, the artistic establishment and the progressive think tanks. The top bankers, industrialists and tycoons are the oligarchs. The Deep State consists of the bureaucracy, judiciary and the military establishment.

When the liberals capture power, they focus on denigrating and weakening the religious and cultural elites. They indoctrinate, brainwash and divide the poor and the middle classes to make it impossible for them to unite to fight for their political and economic rights. The liberals also take steps to increase the power and wealth of the intellectuals, oligarchs and the Deep State.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Conservatives versus leftists: Why does leftism have the upper hand?

The idea that the conservatives will save the world from Marxism, socialism, communism, nihilism and religious fundamentalism is wholly ignorant and naive. The principle of conservatism is to conserve the traditions. If the tradition is Marxist, socialist, communist, nihilist and religious fundamentalist, then that is what the conservatives will conserve. 

The conservatives cannot protect culture because they lack ideas and vision to differentiate between culture and counterculture. All conservative movements are plagued with intense divisions about which traditions they should conserve: Should they conserve the traditions of 2000 years ago or the traditions that existed 500 or 100 or 20 years ago? 

In most democratic nations, the conservative leaders are easily tricked by the leftist intellectuals into accepting the elements of counterculture as their traditions which must be saved. In any political battle between leftism and conservatism, the left will always win in the long run because the conservatives will end up fighting to save counterculture.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

History: The mythologies and philosophies of civilizational decline and fall

We examine the history of past civilizations through the stories of decline and fall. 

When civilization is being built, the society is led by men of action—warriors, engineers, explorers, slavers, expansionist politicians, traders, and preachers of mythology and religion. There are hardly any men of ideas or intellectuals—philosophers, writers, historians, academics—in a rising civilization to imagine and propagate history. 

It is when things start falling apart, when there is irreversible economic, cultural and political collapse, that the class of intellectuals comes into being and they start philosophizing, fictionalizing and mythologizing the history of civilization and its people. The intellectuals are not the fountainhead of civilizations; they are the climax. 

After the intellectuals have done their work, civilization gets wiped out: The collective memory fades, traditions are lost and the survivors of the civilizational collapse flee in different directions to find a new identity and home.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Democracies: Battleground of nationalists & counter-nationalists

Every Democratic nation is a battleground of two irreconcilable forces: the nationalists and the counter-nationalists. 

The nationalists fight for the cultural, financial and political aspirations of the majority community and the counter-nationalist force represents the anger, alienation and destructive aspirations of the politically active minority groups. In most democracies the nationalists enjoy mass support but the intellectual classes, being alienated by the political and cultural power of the nationalists, tend to gravitate towards the counter-nationalist side. Such intellectuals try to develop theories and arguments which denigrate the nationalist project while glorifying the counter-nationalists. 

When there is a balance of power between the nationalists and the counter-nationalists, there is peace and stability. But if the intellectuals are successful in refuting and discrediting the mythologies and legends, which inspire the nationalist groups to be politically and culturally dominant in the nation, then the balance of power shifts, resulting in political instability and there is civil war or full-fledged war.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

On Shlomo Sand’s history book: The Invention of the Jewish People

I am inspired by the books of Leon Uris, especially his book Exodus, which describes the founding of the nation of Israel. But I have always known that Exodus is not a book of history—it is full of falsehoods and is a work of fiction. 

In this book Uris has contrived a fictional account of the founding of Israel against the backdrop of his imagined-history of the Jewish people in the last 2500 years. The book is very entertaining, very inspiring, very nationalistic, but as I said earlier, it is a work of fiction—the historical and contemporary events that Uris describes in his book never happened. 

History is a controversial subject. Even the works of reputed academic historians suffer from ideological, religious, ethnic and political biases. To gain knowledge about any historical event, you cannot afford to rely on a single book. You have to examine several books by writers of different backgrounds and then apply your own judgement.

For those who are interested in the history of Israel and the Jewish people, Shlomo Sand’s book, The Invention of the Jewish People, is a must read. Sand is a Professor of History at Tel Aviv University and he is not free of ideological biases. He is a radical leftist and he argues against nationalism like a typical Marxist intellectual. 

But the arguments and historical evidence that he presents are convincing, and probably correct. 

In his book, Shlomo Sand attacks the core idea that forms the fundamental basis for the idea of Jewish Israel. This core idea is that more than 2000 years ago, the Jewish people were driven out of the area, where modern Israel exists today, by Roman emperors. This forcible exile gave rise to the Jewish diaspora in Europe and North Asia. 

Sand rightly argues in this book that there is no historical record of the Roman Emperors forcibly driving out the Jews. He argues that this exile never happened and that the Jewish population in Europe and North Asia are not the descendants of refugees from the Middle East. They are the products of religious conversion. 

He argues that Judaism was the world’s first monotheistic religion that tried to convert people of other religions to its own faith. The ancient Jewish preachers went to Europe and parts of Asia and converted large parts of the population to Judaism. According to Sand, the millions of Jews around the Mediterranean and elsewhere are the products of religious conversion of locals. 

He argues that the story of the exile was a myth promoted by early Christians to recruit Jews to the new faith, and that the ancestry of most Jews can be traced to Europe and Asia, and not Israel or Palestine. 

Sand’s book is a convincing attack on not just Jewish nationalism but every other kind of nationalism. The arguments and historical evidence that he uses to refute the idea of Jewish nationalism can easily be deployed to weaken and destroy American, British, French, German, Arab, Chinese, Hindu (Indian) and other nationalisms. 

The biggest threat to Israel, I believe, is not from groups like Hamas or PLO. It is from brilliant Marxist historians like Shlomo Sand who possess the historical evidence and arguments to refute the “nationalistic mythology and falsehoods” that serve as the foundation on which Israel’s national identity has stood since the 1940s.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

History of Sanatana Dharma & the Hegelian End of History

The history of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) is a history of maya. It is the history of Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas. It is the history of myths, metaphors and metonymies. It is the history of real events which are inseparable from the maya or matrix. 

It is the history of Yugas, Manvantaras and Kalpas which represent overwhelmingly large time spans. A kalpa is a day in the life of Brahma, but it represents the entire period of the endurance of the solar system. A kalpa is equal to 12,000 years of the devas, or 4,320,000,000 earth-years. The day of Brahma is also divided into fourteen manvantaras and 1000 yuga-cycles. 

This history does not move linearly. It operates in a quantum world, where things are in flux and the major events defy definition in terms of geography and time. It is hard to comprehend the correlation between cause and effect in this history.  

Hegel could philosophize about the End of History because his focus was only Western history, which has been interpreted by the Western historians in such a way that it appears to move linearly, while following the principles of cause and effect. But what happens to the West after the Hegelian End of History? It is not clear. 

The question of what happens after the End of History cannot arise in context of Sanatana Dharma, where history is not linear; where history is driven by myths, metaphors and metonymies; where Yugas, Manvantaras and Kalpas represent the timescale of history. In Sanatana Dharma, there is no beginning, no middle and no end to history.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Excerpts from Anand Ranganathan’s essay, “Injustice Towards Kashmiri Hindus”

“Truth be told, Kashmir has turned into a snake-and-ladder game. The ladders are provided by Pakistan and the snakes by Indians. I say Indians but I wonder if these people think of themselves as Indians. Their first allegiance is to religion, second to Pakistan, third to China and fourth to dynasty. 

"It is a fact that Hyderabad could so easily have been what Kashmir is today—and fools in the media would be writing column yards on its ‘Struggle’—but for one man—Sardar Patel. And Kashmir could so easily have been what Hyderabad is today but for two men—Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah.” 

"Kashmiri Hindus are the Jews, but unfortunately, India is not Israel. They call Kashmir the Switzerland of the East. Wrong. It is the Srebrenica of the East. And it will remain so till such time every Kashmiri Hindu is returned home."

~ Anand Ranganathan in Hindus in Hindu Rashtra: Eighth-Class Citizens and Victims of state-sanctioned apartheid (Chapter: “Injustice Towards Kashmiri Hindus”)

Saturday, January 27, 2024

The hollow claims of secularism, multiculturalism, diversity

Secularism, multiculturalism, diversity—these lofty sounding but naive ideals were conceived by Europeans who lived in nations dominated by ‘One Race, One Religion, One Political System’. These Europeans had no experience of how difficult life can be in nations which are multi-religious, multicultural and diverse. 

Until the middle of the 20th century, it was primarily the Europeans who were fleeing from their own homeland in millions to settle in other parts of the world. But after the 1990s a reverse trend started—people from the Middle East, Africa, South America and other parts of the world started moving into Western Europe. These migrants took with them their ideas of supremacy of their own religion, culture and political system.  

If this wave of migrants continues to pour into Western Europe for a couple of decades, then the caucasians will become a minority in several parts of their original homeland, and the continent will become a battleground of cultures and religions. Then the Europeans will realize that secularism, multiculturalism and diversity are not humane ideals; they are the fountainhead of dysfunctional, poor, brutal and uncultured societies. 

In diverse societies, political struggle and civil wars between religious and ethnic groups is unending and intense. 

In the last 500 years, maximum economic, cultural and scientific progress has always happened in nations which were not secular, not multicultural, not diverse and were dominated by one powerful religion and culture. Examples: Britain between the 16th and 19th centuries, the USA in the 19th and 20th centuries, Japan in the 20th century, South Korea in the 20th century, and China in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Sanatana Dharma: The Importance of Economic Gods and Goddesses

Economic success has weakened the appeal of the Gods in the Western countries and has led to the social problems of atheism, alienation and nihilism, and political problems of communism and fascism. One of the causes for this is that the monotheistic religions do not have access to Gods who will appreciate and spiritually reward economic pursuits. 

Sanatana Dharma has never been wholly spiritual as the monotheistic religions (of the West and the Middle East) tend to be. Materialistic or economic pursuits have always been an essential part of the Sanatana way of life. The ancient Vedic thinkers found a way of ensuring that economic and worldly success would not drive the Gods and religion out of society—and this way consisted of a pantheon of Economic Gods and Goddesses who appreciate and reward worldly success. 

Lord Ganesha, Goddess Saraswati, Goddess Lakshmi, and other Gods and Goddesses, including Demigods like Lord Kubera, are there to bless and guide those who wish to achieve success in economic affairs. The wealthy and powerful have as much chance of attaining swargaloka (heaven) in Sanatana Dharma as the poor and feeble.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Civilizations on rise versus civilizations in phase of decay and decline

When a civilization is on the rise, it excels in engineering, infrastructure projects, global trade, warfare and conquests, and religious and collectivist movements. 

When a civilization is dying, it excels in intellectualism and philosophy, music and arts, atheism and individualism, environmentalism and hopeless quest for world peace. 

The civilizations on the rise are led by wise, religious, ruthless and ambitious characters; the civilizations about to die are led by effete, vacillating, atheistic and weak characters. 

The dictum—All’s well that ends well—does not apply to civilizations. History tells us that the story of every civilization ends badly, very badly, with decline and death.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

The Parallels between the Hindus and Zoroastrians of the Middle Ages & Americans and West Europeans of Modern Age

The Americans and the West Europeans are making the same civilizational mistakes today that the Hindus of the Indian subcontinent and the Zoroastrians of the Middle East made in the Middle Ages. 

The Hindus and the Zoroastrians of the Middle Ages became complacent about their Gods and their religious theology. They developed contempt for their traditions of warfare and started believing that they could protect their civilization from their enemies by making compromises and offering philosophical arguments. They allowed their youth to become woke and weak. As a result, the Zoroastrians were almost completely finished (in Persia and other parts of the Middle East), and the Hindus lost a significant part of their territory and culture. 

Wokism is not a Western philosophy—this philosophy originated in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East through Hindu and Zoroastrian thinkers. The Hindus and Zoroastrians became woke more than 2000 years ago before the modern West was born. There is a lot that the Americans and West Europeans can learn from the history of the Hindus and the Zoroastrians.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Rama temple in Ayodhya: History, hopes and imagination

History moves in one direction, hopes and imagination in another. The future, however, is directionless. Neither history, nor hopes and imagination will give you a clue about what the future has in store.

Who could have predicted ten years ago, when the Congress government, led by leaders alienated from traditional Hinduism, was in power, that a massive temple would be built at Lord Rama’s birthplace in Ayodhya? But the temple has been built, it is attracting thousands of pilgrims daily and is set to be formally inaugurated on January 22. 

Perhaps the Rama temple in Ayodhya will prove to be a landmark cultural event, one that will move India’s future history in a new direction.

Monday, January 1, 2024

10 interesting books I read in 2023

Among the books that I read in 2023, these 10 standout:

The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition
by Narendra Singh Sarila  

Selective Breeding and the Birth of Philosophy
by Costin Alamariu 

Hindus in Hindu Rashtra (Eighth-Class Citizens and Victims of State- Sanctioned Apartheid)
by Anand Ranganathan

Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service
by Michael Bar-Zohar, Nissim Mishal 

The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process
by Robert Spencer

Churchill and the Islamic World: Orientalism, Empire and Diplomacy in the Middle East
by Warren Dockter 

Adi Deo Arya Devata: A Panoramic View of Tribal-Hindu Cultural Interface
by Sandhya Jain

The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy 
by David Graeber

The Peripheral
by William Gibson

Conspirators' Hierarchy: Story of the Committee of 300
by Joan Coleman

I don’t agree with everything said in these books, it is just that I found them thought provoking.