Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Bad practice, good theory

I've had several posts about Ram Guha before. Two of them are here and here.

In a recent article criticising the Indian left, Guha has the following paragraph:

    [I]f the history of the 20th century teaches us anything, it is this — that parliamentary democracy is, despite all its faults, superior to totalitarianisms of left and right; and that the market is, despite all its faults, a more efficient and cheaper allocator of economic resources than the state. This history also teaches us a third lesson, one specific to this country — that, despite all their faults, Tagore, Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar are thinkers more relevant to the practice of politics in India than are Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin.
Guha makes three powerful statements, and he says all these follow from the 20th century history. Mind you these are not just some of the things -- these are the things -- that the history of the last century teaches. I'm not going to argue with Guha's beliefs; they are more or less my beliefs too! But that said I don't see the logic behind Guha's derivation. Sounds more like a proof by assertion to me.

On an unrelated (!) note, this month marks the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima-Nagasaki.

[Link via Prayatna.]


At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Vishnu said...

Anand, a general comment, not related to this post. Your post footer does not read well.."posted by Anand at Tuesday..."!

At 9:26 PM, Blogger Anand said...

I've changed it. Thanks.

At 6:19 AM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said...

A very interesting context to remember the nuke attack.

I basically agree with Guha's first judgement on parliamentary democracy and with some qualifications, with his third (comparing Gandhi et al on one side with Marx and others on the other; of course, I have reservations on any judgement that clubs Marx with Stalin and against Gandhi and Ambedkar!).

What I am not at all sure about is the market being a better allocator of resources. I guess a benevolent state is anyday better than a totally free (dog-eat-dog) market.

At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Anand said...

When I said they are more or less my beliefs too, I had what you wrote in my mind. Well, more or less!

Read your post on Nagasaki this morning. Wanted to leave a comment actually. You write: a nuclear attack could have done the trick and quickly ended the war; Hiroshima probably HAD TO BE put to fire. But the war was already won by May-June 1945. Thus the point of Hiroshima too was not winning the world war.

At 8:23 PM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said...

I guess I phrased the Hiroshima remark inappropriately.

What I intended was to say: "even if for argument's sake, we assume Hiroshima had to be destroyed, the case of Nagasaki remains problematic. The latter ought to be viewed as an independent act".

Shall edit my post, taking this as your comment.

At 1:10 AM, Blogger Ramadoss Magesh said...

Hi Anand,

On the discussion about the anniversary of the bombing..thought u guys might be interested to listen to the talk show at NPR last evening..Here is the link


It was quite interesting to listen to the men on board of that bombing airplane..nd his reaction/response about his outlook on the mission nd thinking back now how he looks at the whole thing..was quite in contra to the Arundanthi Royian notion(If u know what i mean!!) of men really at the warfront..

And the book Countdown to Hiroshima and the authors conversation in the talk show adresses few of the questions discussed here in the blog as well..

Hope the link is of interest to u..

Best regards,

At 1:15 AM, Blogger Ramadoss Magesh said...

Am sorry..am newbie to Blogs..so dont know how to edit the comment(i only see the option to delete)..i just want to edit this line in the earlier post to be politically correct..

"was quite in contra to the Arundanthi Royian notion(If u know what i mean!!) of men really at the"

to be read as
was quite in contra to the Arundanthi Royian notion(If u know what i mean!!) of men/women really at the

At 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anand said...

Thanks Magesh. I don't have an audio system but others might benefit from that link. I too could skim through that excerpt from Stephen Walker's book.

Yeah I think editing a comment is impossible. Or I do not know how to do it. One option is to cut and paste the entire comment with relevant changes incorporated to a new comment and delete the old one.

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Poons said...

A thumb of a man on an aircraft, well and safely hidden behind clouds
pressed on a button that opened a door to drop destruction; like never seen before.

In an instant
that was just 43 seconds,
a city was gone, totally destroyed; and our world had been changed.
The gates of hell had been opened on earth for us, for the rest of our living history.

That aircraft had dropped a bomb, mere 5 tons of weight,
but packing the devastating power of 15 thousand tons of TNT.
It had been intentionally, brutally set to detonate before hitting ground
for maximum effect, so that no one and nothing could escape in hollows or trenches.
It exploded 580 meters
above the dome of the Industrial Promotion Hall of Hiroshima, Japan.

Raising a mushroom cloud, 8 miles high,
visible to the tailgunner of Enola Gay, the fleeing aircraft from 350 miles away.
Read more: Today, 62 years ago in Hiroshima


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