Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 14 Oct 2014 20:53

symontk wrote:You are slipping, what it has to do with sex ratios or individualism? How are you going to replace ownership and rights of an individual with collectivism? Will it work? If yes how? What are the risk areas? What prevented societies to go in that route? Anything which Hitler, Stalin or Tojo did which precipitated that?

Please symontk. The comment that I am slipping indicates that you seem to view this as some sort of competition where someone slips or stays ahead. Is that how you view this? Are you so upset by some views that it has now become a race? I am expressing opinions - not trying to score one up one you.

It has nothing to do with sex rations because your question which I was answering had nothing to do with sex ratios. Please revisit the question you asked and my answer.

"Individualism" is about "Individual rights". In the western eye an individual has full rights over something he owns - say a piece of land. But again, the western individual - even if he is not a practising Christian, typically comes from a society that used to be Christian. If you ask me to point out one big fault in Christianity it is the idea that man is modeled after god and man is supreme and higher than all animals.

If we go back to the man who owns land, we are looking at a man who will not tolerate wildlife because his background tells him that he is higher than all animals. Man is not one among the life forms of earth. Man is greater and higher. These concepts have been taken to great lengths by the development of good science - and it has all been to the detriment of the environment. In fact racism came from the concept that the white Christian God and his followers were supreme.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 14 Oct 2014 20:55

shiv wrote:
symontk wrote:
War never affects everyone equally. Neither do famine or genocide

In war, men are killed disproportionately. In genocide - it is often mainly men. The fact that people wanted boys for these reasons has already been mentioned by RajeshA in his post above. Even today Islam asks for sons.


After the men are killed, number of females should increase in that case. Are we seeing that?

shiv wrote:But this is not a function of Hinduism and any linking of this as something Hindus do needs to be called out as the lie that it is. Call me paranoid but even you instantly jumped to the conclusion that I was peddling Hindu stuff.


In fact I didn't mention Hinduism in context of sex ratio decline. I only commented on North West India's declining sex ratio

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 14 Oct 2014 20:58

shiv wrote:
symontk wrote:You are slipping, what it has to do with sex ratios or individualism? How are you going to replace ownership and rights of an individual with collectivism? Will it work? If yes how? What are the risk areas? What prevented societies to go in that route? Anything which Hitler, Stalin or Tojo did which precipitated that?

Please symontk. The comment that I am slipping indicates that you seem to view this as some sort of competition where someone slips or stays ahead. Is that how you view this? Are you so upset by some views that it has now become a race? I am expressing opinions - not trying to score one up one you.

It has nothing to do with sex rations because your question which I was answering had nothing to do with sex ratios. Please revisit the question you asked and my answer.

"Individualism" is about "Individual rights". In the western eye an individual has full rights over something he owns - say a piece of land. But again, the western individual - even if he is not a practising Christian, typically comes from a society that used to be Christian. If you ask me to point out one big fault in Christianity it is the idea that man is modeled after god and man is supreme and higher than all animals.

If we go back to the man who owns land, we are looking at a man who will not tolerate wildlife because his background tells him that he is higher than all animals. Man is not one among the life forms of earth. Man is greater and higher. These concepts have been taken to great lengths by the development of good science - and it has all been to the detriment of the environment. In fact racism came from the concept that the white Christian God and his followers were supreme.


I mentioned slipping since you were going off topic from sex ratios, since you clarified it is fine. Now you want to discuss racisim, good grief. I didn't know a simple thing like sex ratio has that much background

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 14 Oct 2014 20:58

symontk wrote:What does it (philosophy derived from Charvaka) say about individualism? or does it even discuss that?
Its roots are firmly in the ideas of "individualism" rejecting all higher life and hence obligations to society. Its primacy rests in the satisfaction of the human body. It rejected all Karma Kaands - who's roots again are vested in the idea of Yagnya and hence thereby seeks to reject duties and obligations owed to our living environment human and non. Its primacy on perceptory knowledge to ascertain truths has an uncanny resemblance to the primacy of "science" only world based on which today's moral codes are based upon.

A starting link on the subject.

http://www.carvaka4india.com/2011/08/ma ... -view.html

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 14 Oct 2014 20:59

symontk wrote:
shiv wrote: He has to sacrifice his individualism for society.


How is the "individual sacrifice" handled when it impacts society, family? But if it only individual that is sacrificing, then it is individualism. Isn't that so? The correct way would be society sacrificing for an individual, right?

Getting confused?


Every married individual is required to stay faithful to his wife and curb his lust for neighbours wife. Every individual is supposed to sacrifice a large part of his time and money to educate his children and look after his parents. If this means no iPad and no vacation, that is part of the sacrifice. When the individual is not free to do what his "individual freedom" wants him to do (bonk neighbour's wife, buy iPad and forget school fees) he is making a sacrifice. His freedom is restricted. Individualism is about freedom of the individual. Those freedoms are restricted in favour family in this example.

Old societies - be they Christian, Islamic or Hindu - all promote these family values. All are being discarded by western individualism.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 14 Oct 2014 21:02

symontk wrote:I mentioned slipping since you were going off topic from sex ratios, since you clarified it is fine. Now you want to discuss racisim, good grief. I didn't know a simple thing like sex ratio has that much background

The topic of what is being promoted by the west as "universalism", how it is being done and for what reason is vast. That is why this thread lives on.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 14 Oct 2014 21:07

Every married individual is required to stay faithful to his wife and curb his lust for neighbours wife. Every individual is supposed to sacrifice a large part of his time and money to educate his children and look after his parents. If this means no iPad and no vacation, that is part of the sacrifice. When the individual is not free to do what his "individual freedom" wants him to do (bonk neighbour's wife, buy iPad and forget school fees) he is making a sacrifice. His freedom is restricted. Individualism is about freedom of the individual. Those freedoms are restricted in favour family in this example


what you described is still a individual function. I think you are confusing Individualism and freedom of individual. Both may not be the same. also how the "freedom of individual" conflicts with other freedom? Is that something newly acquired?

and Shiv, these ((bonk neighbour's wife, buy iPad and forget school fees)) are not sacrifies. Bonking another's wife is criminal, buy ipad is a transaction, and not forgetting school fees is a duty

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 14 Oct 2014 21:08

ShauryaT wrote:
symontk wrote:What does it (philosophy derived from Charvaka) say about individualism? or does it even discuss that?
Its roots are firmly in the ideas of "individualism" rejecting all higher life and hence obligations to society. Its primacy rests in the satisfaction of the human body. It rejected all Karma Kaands - who's roots again are vested in the idea of Yagnya and hence thereby seeks to reject duties and obligations owed to our living environment human and non. Its primacy on perceptory knowledge to ascertain truths has an uncanny resemblance to the primacy of "science" only world based on which today's moral codes are based upon.

A starting link on the subject.

http://www.carvaka4india.com/2011/08/ma ... -view.html


Now I got confused, I thought Carvaka was against individualism, it seems he is for. Great

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 14 Oct 2014 21:12

shiv wrote:
symontk wrote:I mentioned slipping since you were going off topic from sex ratios, since you clarified it is fine. Now you want to discuss racisim, good grief. I didn't know a simple thing like sex ratio has that much background

The topic of what is being promoted by the west as "universalism", how it is being done and for what reason is vast. That is why this thread lives on.


We are discussing individualism, do you see any other ills from Western Universalism? or is it like since there is something like Western Universalism and there are issues in India, you are blaming it without a reason?

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 14 Oct 2014 21:13

symontk wrote:what you described is still a individual function. I think you are confusing Individualism and freedom of individual. Both may not be the same. also how the "freedom of individual" conflicts with other freedom? Is that something newly acquired?


In what way do you differentiate individualism from freedom of the individual?

symontk wrote:and Shiv, these ((bonk neighbour's wife, buy iPad and forget school fees)) are not sacrifies. Bonking another's wife is criminal, buy ipad is a transaction, and not forgetting school fees is a duty


I have already told you that dharma and morality call for behaviour that prevents these things. Spending on oneself while not doing one's duty to family is immoral, not criminal. Bonking another's wife is not criminal. it is immoral. But even if it was criminal - it is exactly as I said in an earlier post - a criminal act calls for punishment AFTER the act. Morality and Dhrama seek to prevent the immoral or criminal act. There is a huge difference

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 14 Oct 2014 21:14

symontk wrote:We are discussing individualism, do you see any other ills from Western Universalism? or is it like since there is something like Western Universalism and there are issues in India, you are blaming it without a reason?

Please read through the thread if you are really interested.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 14 Oct 2014 21:18

shiv wrote: Bonking another's wife is not criminal. it is immoral. But even if it was criminal - it is exactly as I said in an earlier post - a criminal act calls for punishment AFTER the act. Morality and Dhrama seek to prevent the immoral or criminal act. There is a huge difference


Did it prevent Sita getting abducted? What about disrobing Draupadi?

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 14 Oct 2014 21:24

shiv wrote:
symontk wrote:what you described is still a individual function. I think you are confusing Individualism and freedom of individual. Both may not be the same. also how the "freedom of individual" conflicts with other freedom? Is that something newly acquired?


In what way do you differentiate individualism from freedom of the individual?


Freedom of Individual as in granted by secular constitutions. I am yet to understand how individualism would merge with freedom of individual. Freedom of individual differs from freedom of country which is a collective one but there are clear points on what takes precedence in any case of conflicts between two. There are clear points also if freedom of an individual conflicts with freedom of another individual

Please explain how Individualism and freedom of individual are the same

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 14 Oct 2014 21:26

symontk wrote:
shiv wrote: Bonking another's wife is not criminal. it is immoral. But even if it was criminal - it is exactly as I said in an earlier post - a criminal act calls for punishment AFTER the act. Morality and Dhrama seek to prevent the immoral or criminal act. There is a huge difference


Did it prevent Sita getting abducted? What about disrobing Draupadi?


No. Morality and Dharma are recommendations for what things should be. Not guarantees that anything in particular will happen. I have already said that a few posts ago.

Laws in society are usually designed to punish criminal acts that are not prevented by traditions of morality or dharma. Laws and morality are both needed in society. if one discards morality and says laws are enough - that is a formula that permits people to be immoral first and worry about punishment later. And then if the laws don't even protect morality - you have a society that is heading towards degeneracy. I see American society heading that way.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 14 Oct 2014 21:30

shiv wrote:No. Morality and Dharma are recommendations for what things should be. Not guarantees that anything in particular will happen. I have already said that a few posts ago.

Laws in society are usually designed to punish criminal acts that are not prevented by traditions of morality or dharma. Laws and morality are both needed in society. if one discards morality and says laws are enough - that is a formula that permits people to be immoral first and worry about punishment later. And then if the laws don't even protect morality - you have a society that is heading towards degeneracy. I see American society heading that way.


For me from your explanations, both look same. Everything happens AFTER the act

Also is that only American society moving towards degeneracy. Are we Indians lilly white in that regard? Oh white, its racisim

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 14 Oct 2014 21:36

symontk wrote:
symontk wrote:what you described is still a individual function. I think you are confusing Individualism and freedom of individual. Both may not be the same. also how the "freedom of individual" conflicts with other freedom? Is that something newly acquired?

Freedom of Individual as in granted by secular constitutions. I am yet to understand how individualism would merge with freedom of individual. Freedom of individual differs from freedom of country which is a collective one but there are clear points on what takes precedence in any case of conflicts between two. There are clear points also if freedom of an individual conflicts with freedom of another individual

Please explain how Individualism and freedom of individual are the same


They are in fact not exactly the same but cover a broadly similar area. I go by the strict dictionary meaning of individualism - which is a theory or concept that is never allowed full expression by states
a social theory favouring freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control.

Unfortunately "states" that loudly claim to promote "individualism" (and self expression) and boast of the freedoms that individuals have because of state or constitutional promotion of individualism also set limits on the extent that individualism can be expressed by means of laws. As someone said 'Liberty is the wiggle room that the law allows you". So individualism as a concept is promoted as far as the state can accept it and beyond a point it is restricted by law and what the individual gets is called "Freedom of the individual". Unfortunately this "freedom of the individual" in the west completely ignores and flouts morality and rules by which societies and families are held together.
Last edited by shiv on 14 Oct 2014 21:44, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby A_Gupta » 14 Oct 2014 21:37

Just received this, haven't read it, but looks very promising.
http://www.indiafacts.co.in/imagining-j ... n-history/

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 14 Oct 2014 21:43

symontk wrote:
For me from your explanations, both look same. Everything happens AFTER the act

Also is that only American society moving towards degeneracy. Are we Indians lilly white in that regard? Oh white, its racisim

They are not the same and do not become the same because you do not understand.

If you want to reach conclusions about my motivations based on a misreading of what i have said it is your prerogative.

Note that
1. I never said Indians are lily white
2. I did not say that universalism is racism. I am only saying that it is wrong in some aspects and is defintely not universal

It seems to me that you are getting angry with what I am saying and painting meanings that I have never stated and insinuating that I have said things that you have mentioned, which I never said.

Sorry, you are just one more person who has become angry discussing this with me. I have my views. I am not asking you to accept them i am only pointing out that you now seem to be irritated enough to claim that I have said things that I have not said. There is absolutely no need for that. I seem to be pissing off a lot of people in this discussion - more than usual. That amuses me.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby csaurabh » 14 Oct 2014 22:15

One thing that's been bothering me..

I hear a lot about corruption in Medical Industry. Patients get recommended for unnecessary tests and medications. One hospital charges Rs 6000 and another charges Rs 70,000 for the same thing. And so on. Not having a medical background I can't quite put my finger on it.

Can't help thinking that is might be a consequence of oh so great western 'universalism' that screwed their countries medical system so badly that they are coming to India for treatment. And we seem to be importing this behaviour wholesale.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 14 Oct 2014 22:24

symontk wrote:
shiv wrote: Bonking another's wife is not criminal. it is immoral. But even if it was criminal - it is exactly as I said in an earlier post - a criminal act calls for punishment AFTER the act. Morality and Dhrama seek to prevent the immoral or criminal act. There is a huge difference


Did it prevent Sita getting abducted? What about disrobing Draupadi?
Symontk: This is a logical fallacy either borne of ignorance or ill will. The purpose of these works is to show the consequences for those who do not adhere to Dharma. These many works demonstrate Dharma in action to the masses and is the REASON why Indian society is largely moral, just and kind despite the lack of governance and a deficiency in the implementation of laws. You are also entirely free to reject some stories such as the Washerman story as depicted in some Ramayans but not the original! Valmiki's Ramayan ends at Yuddha Kaand!

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby member_22733 » 15 Oct 2014 00:22

Without stepping into the argument on what Dharma is or what indexes given by political entites mean, let me analyze this from a purely "ownership of society" point of view.

"Ownership of society" is like Swachha Bharath, it creates meaning in mundane stuff and a large audacious goal to strive towards, it is also unique in the sense that it cuts across the society, from the DIE to the beggar who lives in a tent. This ownership of society was not present in colonial times, nor was it present in the 60 year CONgi rot that infested India.

Now many western folks, and many BRF folks here would argue that "Swaccha Bharath" is nothing but a western idea, and they would be completely wrong. It was a goal setup from beginning to the end entirely within India. If we had gone the western way, we would have imported large scale road cleaning machines and mechanized a large part of it. That works for the west, but it wont work for us. "Swaccha Bharath" made people inspired to figure OUR solution to OUR problems. Not THEIR solutions to our problems. If we imported western ideas and western standards directly into India for keeping it clean, the elites would totally get it (since they are groomed to be brown-western people), but the poor/lower middle class wont get it and social participation will be zero. Thus any idea imported from the west cannot be applied effectively in India.

In other words, there is an "ownership of society" and "social movement" when a meaningful goal is generated entirely within India and gets a large social buy in.

The flaws of following a western Index is the same thing. The poor on the street wont understand what "inequality index" means, he has no time for it. Neither would he care two bits about HDI, or "multidimensional poverty index" Whatever the eff that means.

A goal or a target that is originated within India with social consensus will mean a large part of the society from the top to bottom have brought into that idea. So instead of complaining about infant mortality index, sex ratio, HDI, multidimensional poverty etc we should see what is REALLY needed on the ground and what can get the buy in from all parts of Indian society. Those can then be made into meaningful goals.

If we fail to achieve those meaningful goals, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 15 Oct 2014 05:47

csaurabh wrote:One thing that's been bothering me..

I hear a lot about corruption in Medical Industry. Patients get recommended for unnecessary tests and medications. One hospital charges Rs 6000 and another charges Rs 70,000 for the same thing. And so on. Not having a medical background I can't quite put my finger on it.

Can't help thinking that is might be a consequence of oh so great western 'universalism' that screwed their countries medical system so badly that they are coming to India for treatment. And we seem to be importing this behaviour wholesale.


Technically this is off topic. I will state my view which sometimes angers my own medical colleagues. The western model of healthcare adopted by India is definitely the most effective over a specific range of medical conditions. (My opinions is that there is a role for Ayurveda in some areas but that is even further OT)

Unfortunately western medicine at its best cannot be offered to every human being in any country - not even the richest. There is a definite "filtration process" to save costs. On the other hand India has built hundreds of medical colleges that train people who come out of college ready to fit in perfectly into a western style modern hospital and are clueless and helpless when it comes to rural medicine or medical care with few resources (or medical care with local resources like Ayurveda). To top this medicine has become a business where drug companies, equipment manufacturers, hospitals and insurance companies are in it for profits. Over and above this doctors have such a huge reputation in India that wealthy people are paying unimaginable crores to obtain postgraduate seats in dubious colleges - and these graduates are going to want "paisa vasool" at a later date.

In the unregulated environment in India the richest are offered the best medical care for money. It is possible for the wealthy to access the most expensive and often needless tests far more quickly and easily than in any western country because media and advertising tell people that they need these tests because doctors cannot do without them. Patients can simply have the tests done on demand without asking a doctor and the often turn up with a bundle of useless test reports which ethical doctors would not have asked for. As if all this was not enough, doctors in some places get paid 20% of the test cost for some investigations - for example a Rs 14,000 MRI scan - done unnecessarily can bring Rs 2800 to the doctor who asks for the test to be done (It does happen). That is not all, "corporate hospitals" who are in it for the money ask doctors to ensure that a minimum number of tests or operations are done to keep the cash flow going. So unnecessary tests and operations are definitely being recommended, if not actually being done.

And last, but not least is the same problem in healthcare that affects the Indian Air Force. Import dependence. There are certain critical items that are not made cheaply in India despite the fact that they have been around for over 35 to 40 years. So a hospital or doctor who invests in such equipment is paying in dollars but recouping his investment in Rupees. This is a strong incentive to perform as many unnecessary procedures as possible, or alternatively cut corners (assisted by the equipment importing company representative) so that safety standards are not fully met. And worst of all Indian hospital managers are trying to copy US standards under Indian conditions leading to utter GIGO at best and plain lies otherwise.

It is a right mess, but the west is not the cause. It is the slavish copying of the west and vested business that contribute to the mess. Medicine is the only profession (outside the armed forces) that calls for ethics - but no one in the ancillary medical care business (drugs, equipment, hospitals, hospital managers) has any ethics. They are all in it for the money - only the doctor is expected to be ethical. At some point the doctor says fuk you to the system if he used to be ethical. Indian culture does not think about how a doctor might survive and make ends meet. No one inquires after poor but ethical doctors. The western example pays doctors well. Naturally the western system is going to trump Indian tradition.

There is some "recommended reading material" for the lay person on some of these troubling subjects.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Pulikeshi » 15 Oct 2014 08:29

symontk wrote:Also is that only American society moving towards degeneracy. Are we Indians lilly white in that regard? Oh white, its racisim


What is this kujlee? Is America the onlee proponent of WU? Whyfour are you her blind-faith defender?
I'd suggest you read though the whole thread before arguing from a false sense of victimhood!

Indian and US are great democracies, their citizens have the right to argue ideas - WU is an idea, so its merits and demerits will be argued, some of what is acceptable may be digested and others excreted? whose father what goes :evil: This is not an Ornob show of tu-tu mai-mai - argue ur idea if you have one.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Pulikeshi » 15 Oct 2014 09:16

How Pakistan Fails Its Children

While Ms. Yousafzai’s ordeal has brought global attention to the crisis of girls’ education in Pakistan, her admirable efforts are unlikely to succeed in improving the quality of schools across the country. That’s because the barriers to quality education in Pakistan are far greater than a few chauvinist Taliban extremists.


This is the correct diagnosis, and reflects the sad state of affairs... The WKK fckups would never ask how many girl toilets are in paki-satan.
Or what the curriculum taught young impressionable minds. However, they would all probably praise nobull for its wisdom.
Is this WU or Islamism failing?

I simblee nominate nobull for Bilawal and Raga - that way the equal equal is complete!
Nobull se NoBall kar dikayenge! :mrgreen:

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 15 Oct 2014 21:20

ShauryaT wrote:I said: "Bonking another's wife is not criminal. it is immoral. But even if it was criminal - it is exactly as I said in an earlier post - a criminal act calls for punishment AFTER the act. Morality and Dhrama seek to prevent the immoral or criminal act. There is a huge difference"
symontk wrote:Did it prevent Sita getting abducted? What about disrobing Draupadi?
Symontk: This is a logical fallacy either borne of ignorance or ill will. The purpose of these works is to show the consequences for those who do not adhere to Dharma. These many works demonstrate Dharma in action to the masses and is the REASON why Indian society is largely moral, just and kind despite the lack of governance and a deficiency in the implementation of laws. You are also entirely free to reject some stories such as the Washerman story as depicted in some Ramayans but not the original! Valmiki's Ramayan ends at Yuddha Kaand!


It is amazing how educated people are not taught and do not understand the difference between morality and rule of law.

It can be explained simply by an example:

Every child is taught not to put his hand into a flame (candle/stove). He is taught because damage needs to be prevented before it occurs.

It is another matter that the child may still make a mistake and burn his fingers after which he will need treatment to help heal his burnt fingers.

Morality and dharma are teachings that seek to prevent immoral or socially destructive acts (like stealing or murder) from being done. By teaching people not to do that - at least a few of them will not do it, just like a few children will not put their hands in a flame after being taught.

But some people will commit the mistake of stealing or murder. They will then need to be "treated" for that - usually punishment by law.

Both morality and laws are necessary in society. The first layer of social order is established by having a moral code. The next layer is by punitive laws.

If you have a moral code alone and no laws, then people who break the moral code will at best find that there is no punishment. Alternatively they may be punished by an aggrieved party - leading to social infighting. That is why a government and laws are needed.

If you have laws alone but no moral code then immorality becomes possible within the law. To employ my favorite example - you can seduce your neighbour's wife. There is no punishment for that. But her husband cannot kill you or harm you because that is a criminal act. If he kills you anyway - you have a mess that could have been prevented if morality offered a disincentive to the seduction in the first place. The other problem about all laws is that they are dumb, by themselves and a good justice system (operated by humans) is necessary to implement those laws fairly. An immoral society (a society that does not follow morality in the first place) is less likely to have people who are able to implement laws justly, because justice involves concepts of morality like truth and integrity in the first place. Immoral judges cannot implement laws fairly. Morality is a fundamental requirement that cannot be fulfilled by laws alone.

So morality as an overlay is desirable for all society. Discarding morality along with religion is a mistake made in western societies. Universalism is all about rights and laws which do not necessarily take morality into account. Individual rights for example involve laws that do not even look at the question of family integrity.

Since the state (in western nations) is making the laws and implementing them, the state becomes the father and the mother and claims that it knows how to look after children and that it has the means to look after the elderly. None of these claims have validity but they are made legal by a process of democracy in which power is invested in a few people and those people use that power to make laws that purport to give the individual a lot of freedom, but erode social values in exchange. State laws promote and encourage individual wealth and leisure and disincentivize individual responsibility to society by grabbing the burden of educating and feeding children. Break up of family also leaves more elderly people who need to be cared for by the state, or by insurance if they can afford that. If neither are available no one really cares.

This is social suicide.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby member_20317 » 15 Oct 2014 22:16

Shiv ji you have been focusing on 'family' for sometime and your write up is normally acceptable on those grounds. Specifically, the idea that law is not morality makes clear sense. Law beside not being Morality is also not a Logic. It is merely codified convention.

As you go along describing your own ideas further, this probably may help you.

Loosening up the hold of law on our interactions is the first step towards developing some sense of investment in the relationship itself. The poverty of law in achieving control was perhaps realized by the west early on so they came up with elaborate rules for understanding law. Checkout the fun over here [url]en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rule_(law)[/url]. Law merely yields seriously upset people (commenting about mood only, not the intellect) eg. our RM ji and also a lot of funny trivia or stories to be shared with friends.

Why I am saying this:
Having gone through some of this journey myself, I came round to the understanding that Morality and Law are a dualistic idea. The ideas if dual nature-ed help control the masses by the mechanism of opinion management. Kind of like Soap opera justice where people can argue about things with a lot of emotions but completely hesitant about doing something for the most favoured 'cause'. Morality and Law is perhaps the foremost of these Kaleshpurn ideas. Dharm OTOH has to stop Antarkalah/Self suspicion and Ahamkaar/Self deception, it has to strike a practical usable balance between abilities and requirements. I was reading some stories from puranas and this need for practical utility comes out beautifully in almost all stories. The requirement for balance will ensure that it ultimately works differently from the essentially mind-splitting ideas of Morality and Law.

A legalistic mindset instead will yield to a dualistic norm in order to achieve an idealized state or justice, like the fun going on here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule. BRF does not respect wiki much but it is important to read what the rest of the world is reading.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 15 Oct 2014 22:39

ravi_g wrote:A legalistic mindset instead will yield to a dualistic norm in order to achieve an idealized state or justice, like the fun going on here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule. BRF does not respect wiki much but it is important to read what the rest of the world is reading.
What is legal or not is determined by authority. When one breaks down ALL other social structures, including the family, you are left with the individual and the state as the only two authorities that matter in the picture. Welcome to WU.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 16 Oct 2014 06:13

Here is an interesting paper from Harvard on morality and law - which goes far beyond my summary above. However the paper does not reach any conclusions - it just examines theoretical scenarios. Still, a useful reference point for those who are interested
http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/shav ... ev_227.pdf
It is evident that both law and morality serve to channel our behavior. Law accom-
plishes this primarily through the threat of sanctions if we disobey legal rules. Moral-
ity too involves incentives: bad acts may result in guilt and disapprobation, and good
acts may result in virtuous feelings and praise. These two very different avenues of
effect on our actions are examined in this article from an instrumental perspective.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 16 Oct 2014 07:10

ravi_g wrote:Shiv ji you have been focusing on 'family' for sometime and your write up is normally acceptable on those grounds.

A large number of things get classified under morality (like "do not litter"), which is more general than laws, which are written to be more specific. The confusion we have seen with regard to dharma on this thread is based on the fact that people recognize that the moral tenets of dharma cannot be precise laws and must be contextual. In the absence of a state/sultan/dictatorship laying down laws, morality is what preserves society. Dharma is one step beyond that in which it is accepted up front that morality alone cannot always work, but need to be implemented intelligently depending on context. Dharma is a more comprehensive set of guidelines to guide society than moral rules alone, but moral rules have tended to come bundled with religion (Christianity and Islam) or with laws (Code of Hammurabi) in an attempt to cover the shortcomings of a moral code alone.

But, like the Wiki link you provided, moral laws have existed and have come from every society. Every society has had several thousand years of goodness, plenitude, disease, famine, war and depravity at different times over the last tens of thousands of years but they have still come up with moral rules that are broadly similar. I say this with particular emphasis on family relationships, duties and responsibilities of parents to children and vice versa. Every society has outlasted governments and political systems and even famine and war, but the moral guidelines from every society call for subsuming individualism and individual freedom to support family and society in a strikingly similar set of guidelines.

Western Universalism is exactly as Shaurya defined it:
ShauryaT wrote:When one breaks down ALL other social structures, including the family, you are left with the individual and the state as the only two authorities that matter in the picture. Welcome to WU.


WU is wrong and has no business setting laws that encourage breakdown of morality and family. Even if we were to look at it from the science or sociological viewpoint there is no support for this very flawed system.

When you break down society into a toss up between "free individual" (who must follow the state laws) and state (that makes the laws) you are setting up a system that perpetuates an oligarchy in the form of the state. If that oligarchy are immoral Western Universalism can be as bad as the Pol Pot regime or USSR under Stalin. The propaganda that the system of democracy_plus_individual_freedom "is the best" is actually nonsense if you scratch beneath the shiny veneer.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby csaurabh » 16 Oct 2014 09:46

shiv wrote:
csaurabh wrote:One thing that's been bothering me..

I hear a lot about corruption in Medical Industry. Patients get recommended for unnecessary tests and medications. One hospital charges Rs 6000 and another charges Rs 70,000 for the same thing. And so on. Not having a medical background I can't quite put my finger on it.

Can't help thinking that is might be a consequence of oh so great western 'universalism' that screwed their countries medical system so badly that they are coming to India for treatment. And we seem to be importing this behaviour wholesale.


Technically this is off topic. I will state my view which sometimes angers my own medical colleagues. The western model of healthcare adopted by India is definitely the most effective over a specific range of medical conditions. (My opinions is that there is a role for Ayurveda in some areas but that is even further OT)

Unfortunately western medicine at its best cannot be offered to every human being in any country - not even the richest. There is a definite "filtration process" to save costs. On the other hand India has built hundreds of medical colleges that train people who come out of college ready to fit in perfectly into a western style modern hospital and are clueless and helpless when it comes to rural medicine or medical care with few resources (or medical care with local resources like Ayurveda). To top this medicine has become a business where drug companies, equipment manufacturers, hospitals and insurance companies are in it for profits. Over and above this doctors have such a huge reputation in India that wealthy people are paying unimaginable crores to obtain postgraduate seats in dubious colleges - and these graduates are going to want "paisa vasool" at a later date.

In the unregulated environment in India the richest are offered the best medical care for money. It is possible for the wealthy to access the most expensive and often needless tests far more quickly and easily than in any western country because media and advertising tell people that they need these tests because doctors cannot do without them. Patients can simply have the tests done on demand without asking a doctor and the often turn up with a bundle of useless test reports which ethical doctors would not have asked for. As if all this was not enough, doctors in some places get paid 20% of the test cost for some investigations - for example a Rs 14,000 MRI scan - done unnecessarily can bring Rs 2800 to the doctor who asks for the test to be done (It does happen). That is not all, "corporate hospitals" who are in it for the money ask doctors to ensure that a minimum number of tests or operations are done to keep the cash flow going. So unnecessary tests and operations are definitely being recommended, if not actually being done.

And last, but not least is the same problem in healthcare that affects the Indian Air Force. Import dependence. There are certain critical items that are not made cheaply in India despite the fact that they have been around for over 35 to 40 years. So a hospital or doctor who invests in such equipment is paying in dollars but recouping his investment in Rupees. This is a strong incentive to perform as many unnecessary procedures as possible, or alternatively cut corners (assisted by the equipment importing company representative) so that safety standards are not fully met. And worst of all Indian hospital managers are trying to copy US standards under Indian conditions leading to utter GIGO at best and plain lies otherwise.

It is a right mess, but the west is not the cause. It is the slavish copying of the west and vested business that contribute to the mess. Medicine is the only profession (outside the armed forces) that calls for ethics - but no one in the ancillary medical care business (drugs, equipment, hospitals, hospital managers) has any ethics. They are all in it for the money - only the doctor is expected to be ethical. At some point the doctor says fuk you to the system if he used to be ethical. Indian culture does not think about how a doctor might survive and make ends meet. No one inquires after poor but ethical doctors. The western example pays doctors well. Naturally the western system is going to trump Indian tradition.

There is some "recommended reading material" for the lay person on some of these troubling subjects.


Thanks shiv. I certainly agree, doctors should not be held to be more or less ethical than anyone else.
And certainly, the ancillary medical industry - instrument manufacturers, hospital management, pharma, etc. - need to be held to some standard of ethics. For example, recently in a nursing home in Kolkata, a bunch of people got pus and eye infection because the water used for cataract surgery was contaminated. The water was supplied by some company. General people will think that the doctor is responsible while he is actually not. This is not only for doctors, engineers need to ensure bridges that don't collapse, aeroplanes that don't fall, bank software security that can't be hacked and so on.

I think problems like this can be traced to bad management that exists in every company. When people at the top are bad, it is very hard for grunts to remain ethical and the system perpetuates itself. I don't know if this is necessarily a consequence of WU but one thing really problematic they have done is to create a system of 'management' that cannot understand what employees are doing. One thing I have found practically everywhere is that most of the bad/unethical managers are non technical managers- MBA types or 'project management' wannabes. In software companies it seems like half of the project managers have sold their soul to the devil. They lie to customers, lie to the technical team, lie to higher management and to each other. Some of it can be 'justified' ( if you ask them ) like 'well we have to run a business and make money' but honestly in most of the cases it isn't because of that. They are so used to pursuing office politics at the cost of everything else that they can no longer tell the ethical difference between lies and truth. ( Edit: there are great managers too. But they are RARE )

WU doesn't seem to offer a way out of this. I think the best way out of this is cross disciplinary training and promotion of technical people to management ( note that basic technical knowledge to some extent is necessary but not sufficient - a manager needs to have good people qualities as well ). I had a friend in IITB who joined Biotechnology masters after completing MBBS. At that time I was mindboggled that someone would join an engineering stream rather than become a practicing doctor but looking back on it he made the absolute correct choice. Today he works in prosthetics.

We need to investigate some Indian way of doing business that is not all about the bottom line. Jamshedji Tata provides a great example for us- he was greatly influenced by Swami Vivekananda. Perhaps I'll elaborate on this another post.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Philip » 16 Oct 2014 12:17

RIP Pax Anglo-Saxon Americana

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/o ... kaj-mishra
The western model is broken

The west has lost the power to shape the world in its own image – as recent events, from Ukraine to Iraq, make all too clear. So why does it still preach the pernicious myth that every society must evolve along western lines?

“So far, the 21st century has been a rotten one for the western model,” according to a new book, The Fourth Revolution, by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. This seems an extraordinary admission from two editors of the Economist, the flag-bearer of English liberalism, which has long insisted that the non-west could only achieve prosperity and stability through western prescriptions. It almost obscures the fact that the 20th century was blighted by the same pathologies that today make the western model seem unworkable, and render its fervent advocates a bit lost. The most violent century in human history, it was hardly the best advertisement for the “bland fanatics of western civilisation”, as the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr called them at the height of the cold war, “who regard the highly contingent achievements of our culture as the final form and norm of human existence”.

Niebuhr was critiquing a fundamentalist creed that has coloured our view of the world for more than a century: that western institutions of the nation-state and liberal democracy will be gradually generalised around the world, and that the aspiring middle classes created by industrial capitalism will bring about accountable, representative and stable governments – that every society, in short, is destined to evolve just as the west did. Critics of this teleological view, which defines “progress” exclusively as development along western lines, have long perceived its absolutist nature. Secular liberalism, the Russian thinker Alexander Herzen cautioned as early as 1862, “is the final religion, though its church is not of the other world but of this”. But it has had many presumptive popes and encyclicals: from the 19th-century dream of a westernised world long championed by the Economist, in which capital, goods, jobs and people freely circulate, to Henry Luce’s proclamation of an “American century” of free trade, and “modernisation theory” – the attempt by American cold warriors to seduce the postcolonial world away from communist-style revolution and into the gradualist alternative of consumer capitalism and democracy.
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The collapse of communist regimes in 1989 further emboldened Niebuhr’s bland fanatics. The old Marxist teleology was retrofitted rather than discarded in Francis Fukuyama’s influential end-of-history thesis, and cruder theories about the inevitable march to worldwide prosperity and stability were vended by such Panglosses of globalisation as Thomas Friedman. Arguing that people privileged enough to consume McDonald’s burgers don’t go to war with each other, the New York Times columnist was not alone in mixing old-fangled Eurocentrism with American can-doism, a doctrine that grew from America’s uninterrupted good fortune and unchallenged power in the century before September 2001.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 briefly disrupted celebrations of a world globalised by capital and consumption. But the shock to naive minds only further entrenched in them the intellectual habits of the cold war – thinking through binary oppositions of “free” and “unfree” worlds – and redoubled an old delusion: liberal democracy, conceived by modernisation theorists as the inevitable preference of the beneficiaries of capitalism, could now be implanted by force in recalcitrant societies. Invocations of a new “long struggle” against “Islamofascism” aroused many superannuated cold warriors who missed the ideological certainties of battling communism. Intellectual narcissism survived, and was often deepened by, the realisation that economic power had begun to shift from the west. The Chinese, who had “got capitalism”, were, after all, now “downloading western apps”, according to Niall Ferguson. As late as 2008, Fareed Zakaria declared in his much-cited book, The Post-American World, that “the rise of the rest is a consequence of American ideas and actions” and that “the world is going America’s way”, with countries “becoming more open, market-friendly and democratic”.
A world in flames

One event after another in recent months has cruelly exposed such facile narratives. China, though market-friendly, looks further from democracy than before. The experiment with free-market capitalism in Russia has entrenched a kleptocratic regime with a messianic belief in Russian supremacism. Authoritarian leaders, anti-democratic backlashes and rightwing extremism define the politics of even such ostensibly democratic countries as India, Israel, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Turkey.


The atrocities of this summer in particular have plunged political and media elites in the west into stunned bewilderment and some truly desperate cliches. The extraordinary hegemonic power of their ideas had helped them escape radical examination when the world could still be presented as going America’s way. But their preferred image of the west – the idealised one in which they sought to remake the rest of the world – has been consistently challenged by many critics, left or right, in the west as well as the east.

Herzen was already warning in the 19th century that “our classic ignorance of the western European will be productive of a great deal of harm; racial hatred and bloody collisions will develop from it.” Herzen was sceptical of those liberal “westernisers” who believed that Russia could progress only by diligently emulating western institutions and ideologies. Intimate experience and knowledge of Europe during his long exile there had convinced him that European dominance, arrived at after much fratricidal violence and underpinned by much intellectual deception and self-deception, did not amount to “progress”. Herzen, a believer in cultural pluralism, asked a question that rarely occurs to today’s westernisers: “Why should a nation that has developed in its own way, under completely different conditions from those of the west European states, with different elements in its life, live through the European past, and that, too, when it knows perfectly well what that past leads to?”
An empty billboard site in São Paolo, Brazil.
An empty billboard site in São Paolo, Brazil. Billboard advertising has been banned there since 2007. Photograph: Tony de Marco

The brutality that Herzen saw as underpinning Europe’s progress turned out, in the next century, to be a mere prelude to the biggest bloodbath in history: two world wars, and ferocious ethnic cleansing that claimed tens of millions of victims. The imperative to emulate Europe’s progress was nevertheless embraced by the ruling elites of dozens of new nation-states that emerged from the ruins of European empires in the mid-20th century, and embarked on a fantastic quest for western-style wealth and power. Today, racial hatred and bloody collisions ravage the world where liberal democracy and capitalism were expected to jointly reign.

This moment demands a fresh interrogation of what Neibuhr euphemistically called “the highly contingent achievements of the west”, and closer attention to the varied histories of the non-west. Instead, the most common response to the present crisis has been despair over western “weakness” – and much acrimony over what Barack Obama, president of the “sole superpower” and the “indispensable nation” should have done to fix it. “Will the West Win?” Prospect asks on the cover of its latest issue, underlining the forlornness of the question with a picture of Henry Kissinger, whose complicity in various murderous fiascos from Vietnam to Iraq has not prevented his re-incarnation among the perplexed as a sage of hardheaded realism.

Robert Kagan, writing in the Wall Street Journal at the start of September, articulated a defiant neoconservative faith that America is condemned to use “hard power” against the enemies of liberal modernity who understand no other language, such as Japan and Germany in the early 20th century, and Putin’s Russia today. Kagan doesn’t say which manifestation of hard power – firebombing Germany, nuking Japan, napalming Vietnam – the United States should aim against Russia, or if the shock-and-awe campaign that he cheerled in Iraq is a better template. Roger Cohen of the New York Times provides a milder variation on the clash of civilisations discourse when he laments that “European nations with populations from former colonies often seem unable to celebrate their values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law”.

Such diehard believers in the west’s capacity to shape global events and congratulate itself eternally were afflicted with an obsolete assumption even in 1989: that the 20th century was defined by the battles between liberal democracy and totalitarian ideologies, such as fascism and communism. Their obsession with a largely intra-western dispute obscured the fact that the most significant event of the 20th century was decolonisation, and the emergence of new nation-states across Asia and Africa. They barely registered the fact that liberal democracies were experienced as ruthlessly imperialist by their colonial subjects.

For people luxuriating at a high level of abstraction, and accustomed to dealing during the cold war with nation-states organised simply into blocs and superblocs, it was always too inconvenient to examine whether the freshly imagined communities of Asia and Africa were innately strong and cohesive enough to withhold the strains and divisions of state-building and economic growth. If they had indeed risked engaging with complexity and contradiction, they would have found that the urge to be a wealthy and powerful nation-state along western lines initially ordered and then disordered first Russia, Germany and Japan, and then, in our own time, plunged a vast swath of the postcolonial world into bloody conflict.
History’s long-term losers

The temptation to imitate the evidently triumphant western model, as Herzen feared, was always greater than the urge to reject it. For many in the old and sophisticated societies of Asia and Africa, chafing under the domination of western Europe’s very small countries, it seemed clear that human beings could muster up an unprecedented collective power through new European forms of organisation like the nation-state and the industrialised economy. Much of Europe had first learned this harsh lesson in political and military innovation from Napoleon’s all-conquering army. In the century after the Napoleonic wars, European societies gradually learned how to deploy effectively a modern military, technology, railways, roads, judicial and educational systems and create a feeling of belonging and solidarity, most often by identifying dangerous enemies within and without.

As Eugen Weber showed in his classic book Peasants into Frenchmen (1976), this was a uniformly brutal process in France itself. Much of Europe then went on to suffer widespread dispossession, the destruction of regional languages and cultures, and the institutionalisation of hoary prejudices like antisemitism. The 19th century’s most sensitive minds, from Kierkegaard to Ruskin, recoiled from such modernisation, though they did not always know the darker side of it: rapacious European colonialism in Asia and Africa. By the 1940s, competitive nationalisms in Europe stood implicated in the most vicious wars and crimes against religious and ethnic minorities witnessed in human history. After the second world war, European countries – under American auspices and the pressures of the cold war – were forced to imagine less antagonistic political and economic relations, which eventually resulted in the European Union.
A lorry with no logo in São Paulo, Brazil. A lorry with no logo in São Paulo, Brazil. Photograph: Tony de Marco

But the new nation-states in Asia and Africa had already started on their own fraught journey to modernity, riding roughshod over ethnic and religious diversity and older ways of life. Asians and Africans educated in western-style institutions despaired of their traditionalist elites as much as they resented European dominance over their societies. They sought true power and sovereignty in a world of powerful nation-states – what alone seemed to guarantee them and their peoples a fair chance at strength, equality and dignity in the white man’s world. In this quest China’s Mao Zedong and Turkey’s Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as much as Iran’s democratically-elected prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh followed the western model of mass-mobilisation and state-building.

By then European and American dominance over “the world’s economies and peoples” had, as the Cambridge historian Christopher Bayly writes in The Birth of the Modern World, turned a large part of humanity “into long-term losers in the scramble for resources and dignity”. Nevertheless, the explicitly defined aim of Asia and Africa’s first nationalist icons, who tended to be socialist and secular (Atatürk, Nehru, Nasser, Nkrumah, Mao, and Sukarno), was “catch-up” with the west. Recent ruling classes of the non-west have looked to McKinsey rather than Marx to help define their socioeconomic future; but they have not dared to alter the founding basis of their legitimacy as “modernisers” leading their countries to convergence with the west and attainment of European and American living standards. As it turns out, the latecomers to modernity, dumping protectionist socialism for global capitalism, have got their timing wrong again.

In the 21st century that old spell of universal progress through western ideologies – socialism and capitalism – has been decisively broken. If we are appalled and dumbfounded by a world in flames it is because we have been living – in the east and south as well as west and north – with vanities and illusions: that Asian and African societies would become, like Europe, more secular and instrumentally rational as economic growth accelerated; that with socialism dead and buried, free markets would guarantee rapid economic growth and worldwide prosperity. What these fantasies of inverted Hegelianism always disguised was a sobering fact: that the dynamics and specific features of western “progress” were not and could not be replicated or correctly sequenced in the non-west.

The enabling conditions of Europe’s 19th-century success – small, relatively homogenous populations, or the ability to send surplus populations abroad as soldiers, merchants and missionaries – were missing in the large and populous countries of Asia and Africa. Furthermore, imperialism had deprived them, as Basil Davidson argued in The Black Man’s Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State, of the resources to pursue western-style economic development; it had also imposed ruinous ideologies and institutions upon societies that had developed, over centuries, their own viable political units and social structures.

Recklessly exported worldwide even today, the west’s successful formulas have continued to cause much invisible suffering. What may have been the right fit for 19th-century colonialists in countries with endless resources cannot secure a stable future for India, China, and other late arrivals to the modern world, which can only colonise their own territories and uproot their own indigenous peoples in the search for valuable commodities and resources.
São Paulo São Paulo. Photograph: Tony de Marco

The result is endless insurgencies and counter-insurgencies, wars and massacres, the rise of such bizarre anachronisms and novelties as Maoist guerrillas in India and self-immolating monks in Tibet, the increased attraction of unemployed and unemployable youth to extremist organisations, and the endless misery that provokes thousands of desperate Asians and Africans to make the risky journey to what they see as the centre of successful modernity.

It should be no surprise that religion in the non-western world has failed to disappear under the juggernaut of industrial capitalism, or that liberal democracy finds its most dedicated saboteurs among the new middle classes. The political and economic institutions and ideologies of western Europe and the United States had been forged by specific events – revolts against clerical authority, industrial innovations, capitalist consolidation through colonial conquest – that did not occur elsewhere. So formal religion – not only Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and the Russian Orthodox Church, but also such quietist religions as Buddhism – is actually now increasingly allied with rather than detached from state power. The middle classes, whether in India, Thailand, Turkey or Egypt, betray a greater liking for authoritarian leaders and even uniformed despots than for the rule of law and social justice.

The atrocities of this summer have plunged political and media elites in the west into stunned bewilderment


But then western ideologues during the cold war absurdly prettified the rise of the “democratic” west. The long struggle against communism, which claimed superior moral virtue, required many expedient feints. And so the centuries of civil war, imperial conquest, brutal exploitation, and genocide were suppressed in accounts that showed how westerners made the modern world, and became with their liberal democracies the superior people everyone else ought to catch up with. “All of the western nations,” James Baldwin warned during the cold war in 1963, are “caught in a lie, the lie of their pretended humanism; this means that their history has no moral justification, and the west has no moral authority.” The deception that an African-American easily divined has continued, nevertheless, to enjoy political support and intellectual respectability long after the end of the cold war.

Thus the editors of the Economist elide in The Fourth Revolution the history of mass slaughter in the west itself that led to the modern nation-state: the religious wars of the 17th century, the terror of French revolutions, the Napoleonic wars, the Franco-Prussian war and the wars of Italian unification, among others. Mainstream Anglo-American writers who vend popular explanations of how the west made the modern world veer between intellectual equivocation and insouciance about the west’s comparative advantage of colonialism, slavery and indentured labour. “We cannot pretend,” Ferguson avers, that the “mobilisation of cheap and probably underemployed Asian labour to grow rubber and dig gold had no economic value.” A recent review in the Economist of a history explaining the compact between capitalism and slavery protests that “almost all the blacks” in the book are “victims”, and “almost all the whites villains”.

Understandably, history has to be “balanced” for Davos Men, who cannot bear too much reality in their effervescent prognoses of “convergence” between the west and the rest. But obscuring the monstrous costs of the west’s own “progress” destroys any possibility of explaining the proliferation of large-scale violence in the world today, let along finding a way to contain it. Evasions, suppressions and downright falsehoods have resulted, over time, in a massive store of defective knowledge – an ignorance that Herzen correctly feared to be pernicious – about the west and the non-west alike. Simple-minded and misleading ideas and assumptions, drawn from this blinkered history, today shape the speeches of western statesmen, thinktank reports and newspaper editorials, while supplying fuel to countless log-rolling columnists, TV pundits and terrorism experts.
The price of progress

A faith in the west’s superiority has not always been an obstacle to understanding the tormented process of modernisation in the rest of the world, as the French anti-communist Raymond Aron demonstrated in books like Progress and Disillusion (1968) and The Opium of the Intellectuals (1955). Aron believed the west made the modern world with its political and economic innovations and material goals, but did not flinch from examining what this fact really augured about the modern world. As he saw it, the conflicts and contradictions thrown up by the pursuit of modernity had been hard enough to manage for western societies for much of the last century. Industrial societies alone had seemed able to improve material conditions, and bring about a measure of social and economic equality; but the promise of equality, which staved off social unrest, was increasingly difficult to fulfill because specialisation kept producing fresh hierarchies.

Some parts of the west had achieved some reduction in material inequalities, due to a market economy which produced both desirable goods and the means to acquire them; organised labour, which made it possible for workers to demand higher wages; and political liberty, which made the rulers accountable to the ruled. And some western countries had also, however brutally, got the sequencing broadly right: they had managed to build resilient states before trying to turn peasants into citizens. (“We have made Italy; now we must make the Italians,” the Italian nationalist Massimo d’Azeglio famously proclaimed in 1860.) The most successful European states had also accomplished a measure of economic growth before gradually extending democratic rights to a majority of the population. “No European country,” Aron pointed out, “ever went through the phase of economic development which India and China are now experiencing, under a regime that was representative and democratic.” Nowhere in Europe, he wrote in The Opium of Intellectuals, “during the long years when industrial populations were growing rapidly, factory chimneys looming up over the suburbs and railways and bridges being constructed, were personal liberties, universal suffrage and the parliamentary system combined”.
São Paulo
São Paulo Photograph: Tony de Marco

Countries outside the west, however, faced simultaneously the arduous tasks of establishing strong nation-states and viable economies, and satisfying the demands for dignity and equality of freshly politicised peoples. This made the importation of western measures and techniques of success in places that “have not yet emerged from feudal poverty” an unprecedented and perilous experiment. Travelling through Asia and Africa in the 1950s, Aron discerned the potential for authoritarianism as well as dark chaos.

There were not many political choices before societies that had lost their old traditional sources of authority while embarking on the adventure of building new nation-states and industrial economies in a secular and materialist ethos. These rationalised societies, constituted by “individuals and their desires”, had to either build a social and political consensus themselves or have it imposed on them by a strongman. Failure would plunge them into violent anarchy.

Aron was no vulgar can-doist. American individualism, the product of a short history of unrepeatable national success, in his view, “spreads unlimited optimism, denigrates the past, and encourages the adoption of institutions which are in themselves destructive of the collective unity”. Nor was he a partisan of the blood-splattered French revolutionary tradition, which requires “people to submit to the strictest discipline in the name of the ultimate freedom” – whose latest incarnation is Isis and its attempt to construct an utopian “Islamic State” through a reign of terror.
The state under siege

Applied to the many nation-states that emerged in the mid-20th century, Aron’s sombre analysis can only embarrass those who have been daydreaming since 1989 about a worldwide upsurge of liberal democracy in tandem with capitalism. Indeed, long before the rise of European totalitarianisms, urgent state-building and the search for rapid and high economic growth had doomed individual liberties to a precarious existence in Japan. Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and South Korea went on to show, after 1945, that a flourishing capitalist economy always was compatible with the denial of democratic rights.

China has more recently achieved a form of capitalist modernity without embracing liberal democracy. Turkey now enjoys economic growth as well as regular elections; but these have not made the country break with long decades of authoritarian rule. The arrival of Anatolian masses in politics has actually enabled a demagogue like Erdoğan to imagine himself as a second Atatürk.

Turkey, however, may have been relatively fortunate in being able to build a modern state out of the ruins of the Ottoman empire. Disorder was the fate of many new nations that had been insufficiently or too fervidly imagined, such as Myanmar and Pakistan; their weak state structures and fragmented civil society have condemned them to oscillate perennially between civilian and military despots while warding off challenges from disaffected minorities and religious fanatics. Until the Arab spring, ruthless despots kept a lid on sectarian animosities in the nation-states carved out of the Ottoman empire. Today, as the shattering of Iraq, Libya and Syria reveals, despotism, far from being a bulwark against militant disaffection, is an effective furnace for it.

Countries that managed to rebuild commanding state structures after popular nationalist revolutions – such as China, Vietnam, and Iran – look stable and cohesive when compared with a traditional monarchy such as Thailand or wholly artificial nation-states like Iraq and Syria. The bloody regimes inaugurated by Khomeini and Mao survived some terrible internal and external conflicts – the Korean and Iran-Iraq wars, the Cultural Revolution and much fratricidal bloodletting – partly because their core nationalist ideologies secured consent from many of their subjects.

Since 1989, however, this strenuously achieved national consensus in many countries has been under siege from a fresh quarter: an ideology of endless economic expansion and private wealth-creation that had been tamed in the mid-20th century. After its most severe global crisis in the 1930s, capitalism had suffered a decline in legitimacy, and in much of the non-western world, planned and protected economic growth had become the chosen means to such ends as social justice and gender equality. In our own age, feral forms of capitalism, which after the Depression were defanged by social-welfarism in the west and protectionist economies elsewhere, have turned into an elemental force. Thus, nation-states already struggling against secessionist movements by ethnic and religious minorities have seen their internal unity further undermined by capitalism’s dominant ethic of primitive accumulation and individual gratification.

All of the western nations are caught in the lie of their pretended humanism; this means the west has no moral authority

China, once the world’s most egalitarian society, is now even more unequal than the United States – 1% of its population owns one-third of the national wealth – and prone to defuse its increasing social contradictions through a hardline nationalism directed at its neighbours, particularly Japan. Many formally democratic nation-states, such as India, Indonesia, and South Africa, have struggled to maintain their national consensus in the face of the imperative to privatise basic services such as water, health and education (and also, for many countries, to de-industrialise, and surrender their sovereignty to markets). Mobile and transnational capital, which de-territorialises wealth and poverty, has made state-building and its original goals of broad social and economic uplift nearly impossible to achieve within national boundaries.

The elites primarily benefitting from global capitalism have had to devise new ideologies to make their dominance seem natural. Thus, India and Israel, which started out as nation-states committed to social justice, have seen their foundational ideals radically reconfigured by a nexus of neoliberal politicians and majoritarian nationalists, who now try to bludgeon their disaffected subjects into loyalty to a “Jewish state” and a “Hindu nation”. Demagogues in Thailand, Myanmar, and Pakistan have emerged at the head of populations angry and fearful about being deprived of the endlessly postponed fruits of modernity.

Identified with elite or sectarian interests, the unrepresentative central state in many countries struggles to compete with offers of stability and order from non-state actors. Not surprisingly, even the vicious Isis claims to offer better governance to Sunnis angry with the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad. So do Maoist insurgents who control large territories in Central India, and even drug-traffickers in Myanmar and Mexico.
A shattered mirror

Fukuyama, asserting that the “power of the democratic ideal” remains immense, claimed earlier this year that “we should have no doubt as to what kind of society lies at the end of History”. But the time for grand Hegelian theories about the rational spirit of history incarnated in the nation-state, socialism, capitalism, or liberal democracy is now over. Looking at our own complex disorder we can no longer accept that it manifests an a priori moral and rational order, visible only to an elite thus far, that will ultimately be revealed to all.

How then do we interpret it? Reflecting on the world’s “pervasive raggedness” in the last essay he wrote before his death in 2006, the American anthropologist Clifford Geertz spoke of how “the shattering of larger coherences … has made relating local realities with overarching ones … extremely difficult.” “If the general is to be grasped at all,” Geertz wrote, “and new unities uncovered, it must, it seems, be grasped not directly, all at once, but via instances, differences, variations, particulars – piecemeal, case by case. In a splintered world, we must address the splinters.”
São Paulo São Paulo Photograph: Tony de Marco

Such an approach would necessarily demand greater attention to historical specificity and detail, the presence of contingency, and the ever-deepening contradictions of nation-states amid the crises of capitalism. It would require asking why nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq failed catastrophically while decentralisation helped stabilise Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, after a long spell of despotic rule supported by the middle class. It would require an admission that Iraq can achieve a modicum of stability not by reviving the doomed project of nation-state but through a return to Ottoman-style confederal institutions that devolve power and guarantee minority rights. Addressing the splinters leaves no scope for vacuous moralising against “Islamic extremism”: in their puritanical and utopian zeal, the Islamic revolutionaries brutally advancing across Syria and Iraq resemble the fanatically secular Khmer Rouge more than anything in the long history of Islam.

A fresh grasp of the general also necessitates understanding the precise ways in which western ideologues, and their non-western epigones, continue to “make” the modern world. “Shock-therapy” administered to a hapless Russian population in the 1990s and the horrific suffering afterwards set the stage for Putin’s messianic Eurasianism. But, following Geertz’s insistence on differences and variations, the ressentiment of the west articulated by nationalists in Russia, China, and India cannot be conflated with the resistance to a predatory form of modernisation – ruthless dispossession by a profit-driven nexus of the state and business – mounted by indigenous peoples in Tibet, India, Peru and Bolivia.

In any case, the doubters of western-style progress today include more than just marginal communities and some angry environmental activists. No less than the World Bank admitted last month that emerging economies – or the “large part of humanity” that Bayly called the “long-term losers” of history – might have to wait for three centuries in order to catch up with the west. In the Economist’s assessment, which pitilessly annuls the upbeat projections beloved of consultants and investors, the last decade of rapid growth was an “aberration” and “billions of people will be poorer for a lot longer than they might have expected just a few years ago”.

The implications are sobering: the non-west not only finds itself replicating the west’s violence and trauma on an infinitely larger scale. While helping inflict the profoundest damage yet on the environment – manifest today in rising sea levels, erratic rainfall, drought, declining harvests, and devastating floods – the non-west also has no real prospect of catching up with the west.

How do we chart our way out of this impasse? His own discovery of the tragically insuperable contradictions of westernisation led Aron into the odd company of the many thinkers in the east and the west who questioned the exalting of economic growth as an end in itself. Of course, other ways of conceiving of the good life have existed long before a crudely utilitarian calculus – which institutionalises greed, credits slavery with economic value and confuses individual freedom with consumer choice – replaced thinking in our most prominent minds.

Such re-examinations of liberal capitalist ideas of “development”, and exploration of suppressed intellectual traditions, are not nearly as rousing or self-flattering as the rhetorical binaries that make laptop bombers pound the keyboard with the caps lock glowing green. Barack Obama, who struggled to adhere to a wise policy of not doing stupid stuff, has launched another open-ended war after he was assailed for being weak by assorted can-doists. Plainly, Anglo-American elites who are handsomely compensated to live forever in the early 20th century, when the liberal-democratic west crushed its most vicious enemies, will never cease to find more brutes to exterminate. The rest of us, however, have to live in the 21st century, and prevent it from turning into yet another rotten one for the western model. •

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 16 Oct 2014 19:23

csaurabh wrote:I think problems like this can be traced to bad management that exists in every company. When people at the top are bad, it is very hard for grunts to remain ethical and the system perpetuates itself. I don't know if this is necessarily a consequence of WU but one thing really problematic they have done is to create a system of 'management' that cannot understand what employees are doing.

<snip>

WU doesn't seem to offer a way out of this.


WU is neither the immediate cause nor the solution. But WU is a complicating factor. I will try and explain.

One thing that is promoted as universalism is something that no one can argue about, and that is "health for all". When I look at this as an insider in medicine - it strikes me that this slogan "health for all" is a fantastic business opportunity to push certain things that will ensure that people will spend forever and never get anywhere near the goal of health for all. And people will make money on the sidelines - insurance companies, drug companies, appliance companies and doctors. This is because the model that is assumed to be needed for "health for all" is the model of the modern hospital. No one is talking about the Ayurvedic vaid in an affordable set up. We are talking multicrore glass fronted, fully AC, blue skirted receptionists, piped music, fully marble floored facilities with heart, liver, kidney transplants and knee, hip and shoulder replacements. With the latter a lot of people make money and everyone is impressed even if 90% of people don't need these facilities.

Most people don't think about the fact that the only people who really need hospitals are the very young and the very old, and certainly pregnant women for monitored, safe delivery. Between the ages of 15 and 50 most people remain so fit that they need to have an accident to go to hospital.

Imagine a third tier town small time businessman (owns roadside shop), or a small farmer, or a city construction labourer whose wife has a premature delivery of an underweight child. This newborn is a great risk of dying - but can be saved by treatment with facilities that will typically cost 1 to 2 lakhs for a month of special care in hospital. Such a hospitals exist only in big cities - so in practice, both in terms of money and accessibility the care needed to save such a child is unavailable to 80% of Indians. The wealthy city firm employee whose wife has such a child can, however have his child saved. So also the 89 year old man who is nearing the end. Modern medical care can extend his life for a week or two at a cost of several lakhs. No government can pay for all this. Insurance will not cover this sort of expense after a point. ultimately the money has to come out of one's pocket.

What this means is that there has to be an open ended debate about what "health for all" means in India. India will have to do the unthinkable in terms of western universalism, but something that has been done for thousands of years in India - that is learn to accept where death is preferable or inevitable. When you think of a young family living on a marginal income and two children who have to work to augment the family income - or maybe there is just enough money to pay school fees, spending 2 lakhs as hospital fees in a hospital 100 km away from home to save the life of a premature underweight child with no guarantee that the child will live may not be the best way to promote health for all.

Does this mean that the wealthy city dweller gets a better deal than the poor town/village dweller and that there is a sort of "caste system/discrimination" between the two? Of course there is. But that is not because of the Hindu caste system. It is deliberate "induced poverty". Technology provides the equipment to save one premature baby's life at very high cost. The investment needs to be made up. Every supplier of such equipment makes good money as long as hospital facilities offering such treatment keep expanding forever. That is what drives their business. They don't give a damn that the larger the number of hospitals, the greater the number of empty beds and wasted investment on niche problems. It is ironic that in India, hospitals are trying to offer the best facilities to foreign patients while those facilities are unavailable or unaffordable for 80% of Indians. We are carried away by the "Global village" rhetoric and heading in the wrong direction by doing a copy paste of the west for things that even the west cannot afford.

Of course we must save premature babies, but unless we can make it affordable for all, we are buying into a system that does not give a damn as long as we keep importing equipment. Apply this to a thousand other medical problems and you see how a western ideal, which is unaffordable to many even in the west is being pushed in India to keep western businesses going while the drive to keep us importing and keep on expanding unaffordable facilities is augmented by indices like "maternal mortality", "Child mortality" etc . The media (obviously paid) bombard the public with imagined wonders and people spend loads of money on useless tests because they are promoted as essential. Drug companies provide doctors with fake reports from paid off western hospitals and doctors that make sure doctors are prescribing crores of Rupees worth of pills of worthless stuff that is not needed. The public is "informed" that some things are needed and the doctor simply does what the public wants and prescribes X, Y and Z when only X may be needed.

Sorry. I could write a book. I have only scratched the surface. We need a major healthcare overhaul and a way of viewing our people and their problems and applying our solutions rather than what we are doing now. Even in medical care we are doing the equivalent of buying T-72s without a/c to fight in the heat of the desert. The west is not heading in the right direction either - but we surely should not go as far as they have gone before we figure out reality.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby A_Gupta » 16 Oct 2014 21:51

Relevant, but from Pankaj Misra of all people!
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/o ... kaj-mishra

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 16 Oct 2014 21:55

shiv wrote:
It is amazing how educated people are not taught and do not understand the difference between morality and rule of law.

It can be explained simply by an example:

Every child is taught not to put his hand into a flame (candle/stove). He is taught because damage needs to be prevented before it occurs.

It is another matter that the child may still make a mistake and burn his fingers after which he will need treatment to help heal his burnt fingers.


Wrong example, not approaching a candle / stove is a precaution / safety instruction, not law or morality. please do provide a better one

shiv wrote:Morality and dharma are teachings that seek to prevent immoral or socially destructive acts (like stealing or murder) from being done. By teaching people not to do that - at least a few of them will not do it, just like a few children will not put their hands in a flame after being taught.

But some people will commit the mistake of stealing or murder. They will then need to be "treated" for that - usually punishment by law.



But if you require laws to enforce morality (I don't know much about Dharma, so I use morality), then how is morality preventing crimes. Your sentence should be reworded to give it a meaning. I would say, If morality is followed, it helps to prevent immoral or socially destructive acts. One more interesting thing is that morality is individualistic like a law

shiv wrote:Both morality and laws are necessary in society. The first layer of social order is established by having a moral code. The next layer is by punitive laws.

If you have a moral code alone and no laws, then people who break the moral code will at best find that there is no punishment. Alternatively they may be punished by an aggrieved party - leading to social infighting. That is why a government and laws are needed.

If you have laws alone but no moral code then immorality becomes possible within the law. To employ my favorite example - you can seduce your neighbour's wife. There is no punishment for that.



Wrong, at least in India it is considered r@pe and you will be punished

shiv wrote:Discarding morality along with religion is a mistake made in western societies. Universalism is all about rights and laws which do not necessarily take morality into account.


It is a serious allegation, do you have examples to show?


shiv wrote:Individual rights for example involve laws that do not even look at the question of family integrity.

Since the state (in western nations) is making the laws and implementing them, the state becomes the father and the mother and claims that it knows how to look after children and that it has the means to look after the elderly. None of these claims have validity but they are made legal by a process of democracy in which power is invested in a few people and those people use that power to make laws that purport to give the individual a lot of freedom, but erode social values in exchange. State laws promote and encourage individual wealth and leisure and disincentivize individual responsibility to society by grabbing the burden of educating and feeding children. Break up of family also leaves more elderly people who need to be cared for by the state, or by insurance if they can afford that. If neither are available no one really cares.

This is social suicide.


Family breakups in West are due to those individuals disorder. But in all the circumstances, even if that family was forced to stay together, do you really think they will stay united? 100% wont. So what is the point in continuing the farce called family. Having said that, there are several families in West, where parents, children and grand parents stay together. can you deny that?

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 16 Oct 2014 21:58

Pulikeshi wrote:
symontk wrote:Also is that only American society moving towards degeneracy. Are we Indians lilly white in that regard? Oh white, its racisim


What is this kujlee? Is America the onlee proponent of WU? Whyfour are you her blind-faith defender?
I'd suggest you read though the whole thread before arguing from a false sense of victimhood!

Indian and US are great democracies, their citizens have the right to argue ideas - WU is an idea, so its merits and demerits will be argued, some of what is acceptable may be digested and others excreted? whose father what goes :evil: This is not an Ornob show of tu-tu mai-mai - argue ur idea if you have one.


I did not defend US or West. I commented upon that because of thread title

Since you have asked, what is your stand on the thread. I have put mine through out the thread

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 16 Oct 2014 22:03

ShauryaT wrote:
Did it prevent Sita getting abducted? What about disrobing Draupadi?
Symontk: This is a logical fallacy either borne of ignorance or ill will. The purpose of these works is to show the consequences for those who do not adhere to Dharma. These many works demonstrate Dharma in action to the masses and is the REASON why Indian society is largely moral, just and kind despite the lack of governance and a deficiency in the implementation of laws. You are also entirely free to reject some stories such as the Washerman story as depicted in some Ramayans but not the original! Valmiki's Ramayan ends at Yuddha Kaand![/quote]

Thanks for the explanation, its anyway OT for the thread

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 16 Oct 2014 22:05

shiv wrote:
symontk wrote:
For me from your explanations, both look same. Everything happens AFTER the act

Also is that only American society moving towards degeneracy. Are we Indians lilly white in that regard? Oh white, its racisim

They are not the same and do not become the same because you do not understand.

If you want to reach conclusions about my motivations based on a misreading of what i have said it is your prerogative.

Note that
1. I never said Indians are lily white
2. I did not say that universalism is racism. I am only saying that it is wrong in some aspects and is defintely not universal

It seems to me that you are getting angry with what I am saying and painting meanings that I have never stated and insinuating that I have said things that you have mentioned, which I never said.

Sorry, you are just one more person who has become angry discussing this with me. I have my views. I am not asking you to accept them i am only pointing out that you now seem to be irritated enough to claim that I have said things that I have not said. There is absolutely no need for that. I seem to be pissing off a lot of people in this discussion - more than usual. That amuses me.


I am not angry or pissed off with you in any sense. I had few things to take care and so couldn't respond that time

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 16 Oct 2014 22:08

When you say universalism is not universal, do you have any examples to ponder on?

And then if the laws don't even protect morality - you have a society that is heading towards degeneracy


Do you have any examples of morals not covered under law? If not how do you say this?

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby symontk » 16 Oct 2014 22:18

A_Gupta wrote:Relevant, but from Pankaj Misra of all people!
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/o ... kaj-mishra


And you are agreeing with the below as in the link

The elites primarily benefitting from global capitalism have had to devise new ideologies to make their dominance seem natural. Thus, India and Israel, which started out as nation-states committed to social justice, have seen their foundational ideals radically reconfigured by a nexus of neoliberal politicians and majoritarian nationalists, who now try to bludgeon their disaffected subjects into loyalty to a “Jewish state” and a “Hindu nation”. Demagogues in Thailand, Myanmar, and Pakistan have emerged at the head of populations angry and fearful about being deprived of the endlessly postponed fruits of modernity.

Identified with elite or sectarian interests, the unrepresentative central state in many countries struggles to compete with offers of stability and order from non-state actors. Not surprisingly, even the vicious Isis claims to offer better governance to Sunnis angry with the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad. So do Maoist insurgents who control large territories in Central India, and even drug-traffickers in Myanmar and Mexico.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby A_Gupta » 17 Oct 2014 04:16

^^^^ Just because I post a link doesn't mean I agree with it. I post it because I think it is relevant to the thread. So far about the only thing I agree with Pankaj Misra is his brilliant takedown of Niall Ferguson (the latter is an even bigger idiot than Pankaj Misra).


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