When speech is violence

Jonathan Haidt has a great interview with WSJ on April 1, 2017. But, the matter was anything but a matter of ‘Fool’s Day’.’

Some extracts from his interview:

People older than 30 think that ‘violence’ generally involves some sort of physical threat or harm. But as students are using the word today, ‘violence’ is words that have a negative effect on members of the sacred victim groups. And so even silence can be violence.” It follows that if offensive speech is “violence,” then actual violence can be a form of self-defense.

What are the causes for this shift. He names political polarisation as one of the causes. Campuses in the United States have become overwhelmingly left-leaning. There is no room for Right/Conservative professors on campus except, perhaps in Economics?

The second cause, he mentions, is that justice means equal outcomes now. That is very dangerous. Many developing societies have made that mistake and are now trying, with great difficulty and little success, to move away from equal outcomes to equal opportunity. But, if America is now moving towards or has moved towards equal outcomes, then that is one irreversible downhill slippery road to mediocrity and oblivion, if unchecked.

Jonathan Haidt points to that in his own, understated way:

Mr. Haidt argues, what happens on campus affects the “health of our nation.” Ideological and political homogeneity endangers the quality of social science research, which informs public policy. “Understanding the impacts of immigration, understanding the causes of poverty—these are all absolutely vital,” he says. “If there’s an atmosphere of intimidation around politicized issues, it clearly influences the research.”

Then, there are other causes – not necessarily minor. He points to ‘hyper-parenting’ although he does not use that phrase. Second is the attitude of Universities and colleges that treat students as customers and that customers are always right, in that great language of commerce. I am not sure if centres of leaning and knowledge should treat students as customers or just as students – with a mixture of compassion, understanding, justice and, importantly, discipline.

That is a great finish to the interview:

“People are sick and tired of being called racist for innocent things they’ve said or done,” Mr. Haidt observes. “The response to being called a racist unfairly is never to say, ‘Gee, what did I do that led to me being called this? I should be more careful.’ The response is almost always, ‘[Expletive] you!’ ”

He offers this real world example: “I think that the ‘deplorables’ comment could well have changed the course of human history.”

Well, after the last one week of President Trump’s audacious, unprecedented and dramatic somersaults, we do not know if history is merely continuing or is changing. That is an aside.

Back to Haidt and his ‘Heterodox Academy’. How big his challenge and how long the road ahead is, is underscored by these two stories. In case you had not watched this video, please do so (ht Harikiran). It is downright scary. It is from Australia. The disease is prevalent in all affluent societies. Perhaps, this is how the wheels of societies turn.

In the final analysis, one has to wish Haidt well. He is performing a very important task here with his Heterodox Academy. It is impossible to exaggerate its necessity in these times.

Disclined to discuss and hence, disinvite

The media outlets that are relentlessly pursuing Donald Trump should pause and do a story on the data that the Heterodox Academy had presented. See here and here.

Second part is more interesting. The Left proposed more disinvitations and disrupted events more!

It shines another spotlight an aspect of the ‘Regressive Left’ behaviour that needs to be highlighted. This is not ‘Left-Liberal’ but ‘Left-intolerance’. Really, we should come up something far more accurate than ‘Left-Liberal’. There is really nothing ‘Liberal’ at all about this behaviour.

Refusing to discuss problems will not solve them or make them disappear but make positions harden and rigid. In fact, discussion of a problem is, in itself, a step towards the solution.

The media’s non-coverage of the problems faced by European nations with respect to immigrants (primarily Sweden, Belgium and Greece) is objectionable not because it is unfair, immoral but because it is so stupid. It does not even help them advance their goals, regardless of my agreement or disagreement with them. It is so counter-productive,
self-defeating and hence, so stupid.

Avoiding hard questions is neither progressivism nor enlightenment. It is escapism. Escapism has never solved problems nor made the world a better place.

Since when ostriches with heads buried deep in the sand produced problem-solving leadership?

Further, from Prof. Jonathan Haidt’ Twitter handle: The Student Assembly in Cornell U. votes down a resolution to increase ideological diversity. We should worry for America, but not for the reasons many think.

Notwithstanding Haidt

Jonathan Haidt might conclude that conservatives are on to something. He might urge dialogue. He might start the ‘Heterodox Academy’. He might feature videos and put up lists of heterodox universities. He might encourage a dialogue between two Professors, one of whom is a ‘conservative’ and the other is a ‘liberal’. I put the labels in quotes because they are misleading and/or useless, for the most part.

Yet, the so-called ‘Liberals’ come across as the most intolerant and dogmatic. Anyone who is full of certitude cannot be a Liberal.

The Democratic Party in the United States is playing with fire. As before the elections, the media is playing along. What they are doing is very dangerous and might cause the polarisation in the American society to be almost irretrievable.

When Trump said, during one of his Presidential debates, that he would not comment on accepting the election result right, he was taken to task for being anti-democratic and as confirmation of the worst fears of the media and his opponent about his inherently intolerant, authoritarian personality.

Now, the outgoing President/administration, the Democratic Party and the media are playing the same game. It is good to see some Wall Street Journal editorial writers calling them out on this. See here and here.

This paragraph is important:

This effort is all the more pernicious because it poisons with partisanship the serious issue of foreign intelligence hacking, not least by the Russians. Foreign cyber-attacks have proliferated during the Obama years, but the President has never held any national government accountable. Even when officials fingered the Russians this summer for the hacks on the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Obama did nothing but wag a finger. [Link]

This piece in WSJ correctly points out that the Democrats and their media cheerleaders are doing exactly what they accuse the Russians of wanting to do: poison the result:

But why wait? U.S. intelligence services already know most of what they’re likely to learn. Release the evidence now. Let’s see if the Kremlin really did steal RNC emails, and let’s also hear from those who don’t share CIA Director John Brennan’s “high confidence.” The last thing Americans need is for an outgoing Administration that is still sore over losing an election to assist Vladimir Putin in poisoning the result. [Link]

The Administration too has embarked on a witch-hunt for alternative media that they and the Democratic Party wrongly believe contributed to the loss of their preferred candidate. They call it fake news outlets. This is undemocratic and almost Orwellian. That is also anti-competitive and anti-market economics. One must applaud the Wall Street Journal editorial writer for calling them out on ‘fake news’ too here:

Then the press reports as major news the non-story that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has endorsed an intelligence probe that has long been underway. Talk about fake news. [Link]

To read more about this nonsensical and dangerous crusade against ‘fake news’, see here and here.

James Taranto who curates an utterly interesting and delightful (it is my loss that I discovered it only recently) daily ‘Best of the Web’ for Wall Street Journal calls out many media outlets by name for their inconsistency (read, ‘hypocrisy’) here.

A Republican Elector refuses to be swayed by false and toxic propaganda to vote according to her ‘conscience’. Her last paragraph is a classic:

I noticed another theme in the thousands of missives I’ve received. They don’t seek to understand or persuade—only to insist. Most of these people want it their way and they want it now. As a mother of two small children, I know how to handle that. [Link]

It is not happening not just in the United States but almost everywhere. Reuters also reports, citing Sunday Times, that some in Britain are trying to argue that the British government should invoke another article (Article 127 of the European Economic Area Agreement) to leave the European single market. This is hair splitting. If Britain left the EU, EU would automatically ensure that Britain left the single market.

It is clear that a verdict that had a clear lead in Britain (outside of London and Scotland) is being thwarted by elites who refuse to accept a proper democratic verdict.

Perhaps, their logic works differently. Modern liberals do not discriminate between themselves and the rest. If they went down, they would ensure that the country (and even the world) went down with them.

Jonathan Haidt took pains to show that liberals swear only by fairness and equality. Nothing else matters to them and that it was not the most appropriate thing. He argued correctly that equality was not the only dimension of fairness but that proportionality between effort and reward was also a dimension of fairness.

BTW, does any of the above strike you as being fair? If so, you are a true Liberal!

Trump may just lose an election; what about America?

(As you would notice below, this was first written on October 7, 2016, before revelations of Donald J. Trump (DJT)’s remarks on women, his apology, his press conference with some of the women Bill Clinton has had relationship with, the second Presidential debate and the so-called distancing of Paul Ryan from DJT. None of the analysis below and the conclusions are altered by them.)

As I write this on October 7, 2016, at some level, the momentum that Ms. Clinton (HRC) wrested from DJT after the first Presidential debate seems to be staying with her. This is notwithstanding the supposedly better performance of his VP running mate over hers. From here on, it appears that it is her election to lose.

(1) The tax returns of DJT are not the real issue. Most of the serious corporate backers of HRC – Google and Apple, etc., – have their own tax issues to deal with. Tax avoidance within the scope provided by the law is staple practice for many individuals and institutions.

(2) Peggy Noonan writes:

The first was Mr. Trump’s 3 a.m. tweet on Alicia Machado. Actually, that happened a week and a half ago, but this week the thought really settled in: He’s going to do that as president. Once he tweeted crazy things a lot and then he sort of slowed and then he was sort of winning and then the mad 3 a.m. tweet told you: No, it will happen as president, only it will be more serious then. This is the week his friends, staff and supporters realized it will never stop.

We do seem to have a clownish and loutish candidate with little self-discipline. Never mind that the other candidate is too disciplined in her own undisciplined ways.

(3) This article mentions how the FBI handled HRC and all her witnesses (immunising all of them) in contrast to how it handled Bob McDonnell.

(4) Check out this piece in ‘Washington Times’ here on the treatment she had meted out to the ‘Clinton ladies’ and, more importantly, the coverage of the media of her.

In addition to the other issues raised in the article, these statements stand out for me:

People cut a lot of corners when covering the Clintons, eh Carl?

I guess having a porn queen representing Hillary’s campaign is just one more sign of the Clintons’ debasement of America. Apparently, the MSM does not mind being part of this debasement.

(5) Read what Peggy Noonan wrote on the Bill Clinton critique of Obamacare:

The second was Bill Clinton’s admission that ObamaCare is a mess, “the craziest thing in the world.” At a rally in Michigan he said “you’ve got this crazy system” in which millions more people have insurance, but “the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half.” Later he tried to walk it back but you can never walk back an obvious truth….

… In another world, what he said would be front-page news every day.

 (6) Dorothy Rabinowitz, a member of the WSJ Editorial Board, wrote on Sept. 29 that only HRC stood between the American nation and the reign of the most unstable, proudly uninformed, psychologically unfit President ever to enter the White House.

(7) 17 of the top 100 newspapers in the United States have publicly endorsed HRC. None for Trump yet.

(8) Jack Hellner wrote in ‘The American Thinker’ on October 8, the day after Trump tapes were revealed:

I have never seen a media so in the tank.  The media show every day their bias by what they report, how they report, and especially what they choose not to report.  Our freedoms are in danger, and since they have no actual accomplishments to tout for their chosen candidate, they have to destroy the other.

Under normal circumstances, there is scope and room for discussion on the good (few) and bad traits (surfeit) of both the candidates and their bearing on governance in the country in the world. On policy issues, it could be easily divided into domestic – security, social, economic and foreign – trade, diplomacy and geopolitics – categories and their positions analysed threadbare. If choices were made consequently, then they would be understandable even if not agreeable.

I am not naïve enough to think that all commentators, all outlets and journalists would engage in such an exercise. Some revel in polemics, trivia and some like personality weaknesses. Some like them all. But, never has there been an overwhelming outpouring of commentary on the weakness of the other than on the strengths of the favoured. In that sense, both the objects of and the analyses reflect the decay in America.

(9) New York University development expert William Easterly had analysed coverage in The New York Times between 1960 and 2008 and found that the paper ran some 63,000 stories on autocratic governments, a staggering 40,000 on their successes, and just 6,000 on their failures. Ruchir Sharma has recorded this in his book, ‘Rise and fall of Nations’

Now, think of the above from the systemic risk perspective:

If DJT won the election, almost all of the so-called intelligentsia and the media would be ranged against him and not just in the United States of America. Media in most of the rest of the advanced economies and in the English language press in the developing world would also be against him. That is a natural check-and-balance.

On the other hand, if HRC won the election, what would be the ‘check-and-balance’ on her? After all, they have painted her the saviour of the world from the menace of DJT.

The extraordinary Presidential impunity that she would wield because of the immunity that large sections of the intelligentsia and almost all of the media have pre-emptively granted her bode ill for the Republic.

The staff at Daily Bell summarised the situation well:

This is part of a larger destruction of Western culture and values and it is ongoing. What’s taking place is not happenstance, not in Europe, nor in the US. Freedom is being destroyed, but in a deliberate manner, to send a message and increase polarization. Many currents are swirling beneath the surface that make this presidential campaign an epochal one. [Link]

The world is chugging along somewhat thoughtlessly into deep waters or unchartered territory, depending on one’s preference for metaphors.

Whoever wins, the law of unintended consequences will play out. To reiterate, it appears that it is Hillary Clinton’s election to lose. But, the manner in which she is ascending the throne would haunt the world and America for a long time to come. The elites who are engineering this outcome will ensure that all of us are extinguished by their egregious conduct.

It is in this world that my children would be growing up into full-blown adulthood. God bless them!

(This was published in Swarajya)

A response to ‘Trumpism: a new era in world politics’

I visited Andrew Batson’s blog after a long time and was browsing through his posts of several months. Read this one fully.

I read the original article in ‘Project Syndicate’ he is citing approvingly. It is not quite, ‘It is not the economy, stupid’, as Andrew Batson notes. In fact, it is very much ‘It is the economy, stupid’.

Seems like a summary of various thoughts that would help the author and the reader, eventually, to arrive at a sensible and cogent narrative of events. Perhaps. That is the optimistic conclusion. It is not a criticism.

It appears that the author leans towards the explanation offered by Joschka Fischer that it is the ‘white man’s angst’. A recent article in Wall Street Journal, part of its series on the ‘Great Unravelling’ (of the American economy and society) seems to agree with Fischer. It is an important read.

If it is the ‘white man’s rage’, then the author seems to think that the causes are socioeconomic and that simply defeating Trump or Le Pen would not suffice. See his sentence here:

“if the social and economic forces that led to their rise persist, an increasingly angry populace will simply look for a new tribune.”

Also, he seems to be sceptical of Bradford de Long’s optimism. He is not confident that the political systems would implement desirable socio-economic policies in the future since it has failed to do so in the past (last thirty years?).

So, if one wants to fix accountability for the rise of Le Pen, Trump and Geert Wilders, what would the author recommend?

He does not go there.

His conclusion seems to be one of resignation. I am inclined to agree with that. It would have to play out just as the indifference of the political, policy and educated elites to the ‘insecurities and inequalities of our hyper-globalised age’ played out for thirty-five years or so. There was mere lip service to the concerns of the losers even as politically correct pursuit of ‘gender parity, and the legal and social emancipation of sexual minorities’ searched for and reached new heights and methods. The pursuit shows no signs of abating. The pronouns at Vanderbilt University may not be its most recent nor the most egregious illustration but it qualifies as a good exhibit.

The author concludes that liberal democracy is at peril. May be, he is right and may be he is not. But, assuming that he is right, one reason it could be at peril is that, like many others he has cited in his article, he is in no hurry nor does he show any inclination to name and shame the real culprits responsible for imperilling liberal democracy.

Where there is no accountability, there will only be disenchantment, cynicism and bitterness of the mobs with their own brand of justice that would be dispensed.

Since the crime has been committed and no one seems inclined to affix or accept responsibility, the process of retribution will follow its own logic and momentum now.

There is not much purpose served in wringing hands nor blaming Trump, Le Pen and Geert Wilders. They are mere cogs in the wheel of evolution whose law is that where there is cause, there will be effect. Now, it is the turn of ‘effect’.

Just sit back and watch and survive, with luck and prayer.

Pre-suasion

Read an interesting article by Lucy Kellaway in FT on Professor Robert Cialdini’s forthcoming book, pre-suasion. Some of the things he describes defy imagination but they are real:

Another brilliant piece of pre-suasion was in a recent letter in which he addressed the ticklish matter of succession. Mr Buffett introduced the subject by saying: “I will tell you what I would say to my family today if they asked me about Berkshire’s future.” By gratuitously dragging his family into it, he ensures that every reader would take what followed as gospel.

Mr Cialdini’s favourite study was conducted on 18-month old infants who were variously shown images of a single person and pairs of people. After looking at the pictures, the infants were asked to pick up things that had been dropped on the floor. The babies who had been shown pictures of a single person were three times less likely to cooperate than those who had been shown pictures of groups. “I’m glad I was sitting down when I read that,” he says. “It proved that if we drew background attention to an idea it is more important to us.”

It is an open secret that he is helping the campaign of Ms. Clinton. The fact that the campaign team has hired him is proof itself that these things exist and work. Scott Adams of Dilbert cartoons fame calls him the ‘Godzilla’ and credits him with the idea of ‘dark’ being used as an epithet associated with Donald Trump. Scott Adams’ latest blog post on ‘Why Trump does not scare me?’. Those who want to follow the U.S. Presidential campaign using the frame of psychology and persuasion can do worse than follow his blog.

The funny thing about Lucy Kellaway’s article is the following:

People read these stuff, nod their heads and later, in a different setting, if we suggest that such tactics are adopted, their reactions are a combination of the following:

(1) They are dismissive
(2) They think they are exempt from it (how much more stupid can one get?)
(3) They think these are conspiracy theories
(4) They think that people do not deploy them.

This strange combination of ego and naivety is astounding!

Clash of civilisation and clash of classes

This piece on Islamic terrorism had been in my in-box for nearly two months. Finally, I got around to reading it.

For some reason, the piece by Ms. Giovanna Jacob made me think about my own position on a couple of current issues, to clarify and re-confirm them. After the exercise, I felt more reassured about my own positions. So, here is a ‘Question & Answer’ that I conducted with my own conscience.

(1) The root-cause theory

(a) The case of Donald Trump

I examined the root-cause theory advanced by apologists for Marxism and/or Islamic terrorism. I wondered if I too had not advocated a variant of the ‘root cause’ theory for the Trump phenomenon.

My answer to my own question: Yes and no. The causes of any phenomenon are many and complex. Financial globalisation, asset bubbles and economic inequality are, undoubtedly, few of the causes behind the rise of Donald Trump. There are other factors too. Disgust with political correctness and hypocrisy. Mistakes made by Republicans and neo-cons among them in shutting down government, shutting down dialogue on things like gun-control, on deficits, on undermining Social Security, on reforms to Wall Street, etc.

Second, the resort to a ‘root cause’ argument can never be an excuse to avoid action in the here and present. That is the message of the quote from the article: “If someone is trying to kill you, you do not start listing up your sins in thought, word, deed and omission from your childhood to the present day: you just try to stop the assassin.” In the case of Donald Trump, there is nothing illegal about what he is doing or saying. Hence, there is no need to contemplate taking action against him even while addressing the root cause.

Indeed, if we have to take action in the present and address root causes of a problem at the same time, one has to remember two things:

(i) The action itself should not exacerbate or enhance the complexity of the problem. For instance, in the case of Donald Trump, if the Republican Party were to thwart his nomination through questionable and unfair means, will the backlash it produces be worse than or better than a Trump candidacy and eventual victory?

(ii) That we had correctly identified the root causes of the problem and not just the one that is convenient to us and one that shoves the blame on the ‘other side’. For example, Western oppression and exploitation are routinely cited as justifications (not explanations) for Islamic terrorism now. Even if one were to accept that argument for the sake of advancing the discussion, it is important to think about other root causes. Muslims have to introspect and reflect on those.

The author alludes to the weak and often silent responses of the moderates among Muslims. There are others too. Historian Bernard Lewis refers to many of them in his book ‘What went wrong?’ written immediately after 9/11. So, a discussion of root causes – even if it is not at the exclusion of immediate actions – has to be comprehensive and not shy away from turning the gaze and the spotlight on oneself and one’s groups and other affiliations.

(b) War reparations, hyperinflation and the Great Depression and the Nazis and Hitler:

Then, there was the discussion on German, Nazis and the emergence of Hitler. Ms. Giovanna Jacob points to the fact that many countries suffered from hyperinflation and the Great Depression. But, not all of them saw an emergence of a ‘Hitler’ in their countries. This is similar to the argument that is advanced against Islamic terrorism. Not all poor and exploited countries take to terrorism to settle scores and, second, those among Muslims who have taken up violence have not necessarily come impoverished families.

This argument too is linked in some respect to the ‘root cause’ issue. That made me think of whether my argument that economic (income and wealth) inequality and diminishing economic opportunities are one of the causes behind the Trump phenomenon was correct.

After my own reflection, I came away satisfied that it was not wrong, for the following reasons:

(i) There are necessary and there are sufficient conditions. I did not and do not think that economic causes are the sole factors. Causal factors in complex phenomenon are usually not simple. Simple and single explanations might be too simplistic.

(ii) There may be other factors too at work. But, sometimes, a spark is needed to light the fire. Hitler got that spark from the economic misery of Germany. So, one cannot rule out a role for German’s economic misery in the rise of Hitler nor can one rely on it for explanation to the exclusion of other factors.

This response might disappoint those who look for neat and black or white explanations. But, the world is not neat nor do simple explanations suffice at all times.

[Parenthetically, I must add here that Jared Bernstein, former Chief Economist to American VP Joe Biden thinks that stagnation in real wages is the reason behind the real anger among American voters that are propelling them towards Donald Trump or, for that matter, Bernie Sanders, I must add.]

(2) Two wrongs not making it right

We know that and often use it with our own children that one mistake does not justify another and that two wrongs do not make a right. There too, it is not clear that we apply the principle at all times evenly.

Trump, again

For example, the question can be raised on the Donald Trump phenomenon too:

“Yes, we agree with you, Nageswaran, that financialisation, financial globalisation, central bank hubris and consequent asset bubbles are all deeply wrong and need to be addressed. But, is Donald Trump the answer? You cannot solve one wrong or mistake with another.”

My response:

(i) We do not know if Donald Trump will be the answer. He may not be elected as US President in November 2016. Second, he has not been foisted or thrust by anyone unfairly. The democratic process that we commit to, has thrown him up. Do we want to complicate the situation by abandoning our core principle of democracy by sabotaging his nomination? Second, what guarantee can we give that the situation would not become worse if one unfairly and undemocratically ejected him? As a tactic too, it might backfire making many consider him an underdog and more sinned against than sinned and rallying around him.

(ii) There is also a need for humility on our part. We do not know if Donald Trump is the answer to the problem. That lies in the future. For now, that he would be a disaster is a view. We should be humble about our certitudes because we did not know or anticipate many things. There are counter-arguments at the practical level too:

(a) Campaign utterances usually do not form the basis for governance. In mature and stable democracies, governance happens at the middle, for better or worse. Campaigns in democracies are often extreme these days but governance, more often than not, is not so, fortunately.

(b)  In the past, the same was said of Ronald Reagan. But, he remains one of the most popular President in many polls in America. Further, although there are debates on the long-term consequences of some of his actions (in Afghanistan, his support for Pakistan, his deficit spending, etc.), for the US, he restored its primacy, dominance and cemented its status by destroying Soviet Union. Importantly, he restored the faith of American people in their own country and in themselves. These too are undeniable.

(c) Finally, shall we also pause and think about the responsible and sober people that brought the world to the brink of collapse in 2008 and have again done so, with their post-2008 policies? Robbing the savers and pensioners and engineering transfer of wealth from them to debtors, through negative interest rates, is an extreme form of redistribution. What yardstick allows us to look benignly upon such actions? Can Trump really do worse than them?

Babri Masjid 1992

Another issue that came to my mind is the issue of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 in India.

The question/argument can run as follows: “Yes, the demolition of Hindu temples was wrong. But, did the demolition of the Masjid there help to solve or complicate the situation in India? Was one wrong the right way to correct another wrong?”

My response:

(i) It is a convention that has evolved through usage that one wrong is not the answer to another wrong.

(ii) But, it is an eternal principle or Dharma of nature that all actions have consequences. That overrides (i) above because that is more powerful. Hence, actions will always have consequences. Unfortunately, we cannot determine the form and the timing of the consequences occurring. There is no expiration date for the consequences. Nature determines that. It is, indeed, inevitable.

(iii) Further, the nature and severity of the original action, as perceived by the victims, make reactions and responses of an equally violent magnitude, inevitable. It can and will have to be tackled as a ‘Law and Order’ matter at the specific instance but it cannot be judged unfair or unreasonable, from other planes.

(3) The dharma of ‘Actions have consequences’

This dharma caused another question to pop up in my head. If actions have consequences and if one cannot determine the nature, the form and the timing of those consequences, perhaps, Western nations are simply reaping the consequences of their sins against natives, colonies and others over the years or centuries. Can that be a basis for understanding Islamic terrorism, philosophically?

My response: It is true that the West is indeed reaping its own consequences. However, it can only be a philosophical explanation but it becomes problematic as a practical explanation for several reasons:

(i) The natives or the blacks or slaves or citizens of former colonies are not retaliating or rebelling against the West or Christian Whites. Do Islamists have really a grievance against the West?

Question: Didn’t you say that one couldn’t predict or dictate the form that consequences would take?

My response: Yes, true but that brings me to the second part of my response which has three parts, in turn!

(ii(a)) Islamic nations and citizens have received assistance from the West economically and militarily. They have been squandered by their own rulers and further, their religious heads have kept the societies chained to dogmas. Hence, they have battles to wage internally with their rulers and with their religious dogmas first.

Indeed, that leads us to another important dharma that is hard to practice: we cleanse ourselves before we point out the dirt in others.

(ii(b)) If you are still not convinced that you should condemn Islamic terrorism, here is my final answer: please remember that all actions have consequences. Just as the West is experiencing the consequences for its actions, the ‘consequent’ action of Islamic terrorists is the first link in the next chain of ‘action-consequence’ cycle. Islamists too will face the consequences of their actions now. Indeed, just as the Western societies face the consequences for the mistakes their governments have committed in their name, Muslims too would face the consequences for the acts of terrorism committed in their name. That is why it is a cycle of retribution.  It is permanent.

(ii(c)) Finally, you have no idea whether Islamic terrorism is about securing justice or about dominance and re-fashioning of the world.

(4) Conclusions form the ‘interview’

Balance and fairness is hard work

I realise that how complex and difficult these questions are. It is possible to conflate and confuse people who have no time (not as jobless as I am) nor inclination to delve deeper into these issues. Achieving consistency with dharmic principles, balance in thoughts, fairness in arguments, improving one’s situation and achieving dominance over the other are not only difficult but also incompatible.

Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that most of them are taken in by the proximate, most insistent and most persistently repeated explanations no matter it is mostly misleading and incorrect. Cognitive biases that we are born with, virtually guarantee such an outcome. That too is in the nature of things.

These situations easily lend themselves to selective interpretation and selective application of logic and principles. It is easy to be seduced by the certitude of one’s own logic without realising that one is merely applying it selectively and conveniently. Reasoned and reasonable thinking is just a lot of hard work. That is why achieving the right balance in our thoughts and actions consistently is not easy at all.

That is why, much as we can and do debate the action-reaction cycles, the fairness and unfairness of them all, most of the cycles are inevitable and indeed, Nature ordains them. There is no getting away from it.

Nature restores balance from imbalance

If individually, all of us, are balanced, fair and truthful in our own judgements, there is a greater chance of the collective will being balanced, fair and truthful. Otherwise, nature will find its own way of imposing that balance. That won’t be pleasant. Indeed, the longer the imbalance continues in our thinking and the more pervasive it is, the bigger will be the shock that Nature would administer to remove the imbalance and restore balance.

Currently, there are so many imbalances within societies, nations and in the wider world that have accumulated over the last two to four decades, that a great upheaval awaits us. Three decades of debt-driven economic growth has created a class of rich and a class of indebted poor. The middle class is either hollowed out or thinning in several Western countries. Then, there is the scourge of Islamic terrorism. The backlash from Europe towards refugees is only its most recent manifestation. Therefore, there is a simultaneous clash of classes and clash of civilisations. Worse, the warring parties in each clash collide and collude with the parties in the other clash resulting in a clash between the clashes too!