u Notes from the Underground: Quote for the day

Quote for the day

Monday, May 01, 2006

"A true liberal is one who is fearful of concentrated power."

That's from Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom, which is my first online purchase, from FirstAndSecond.com.

What happens when you take decentralisation of power to its logical extreme? Individuals have power over themselves only and over no one else - a.k.a. libertarianism.

[I'll have more to say about the book, hopefully. And sorry for not blogging all this time, it has always been a fits-and-starts thing for me.]

1 Comments:

At 1:52 PM, May 05, 2006, Blogger kuffir said...

venu,
why take logic to its 'extreme'? :))(or how can logic have an extreme?) if such a thing can be done, assuming that it's possible, wouldn't politics be dead (and politicians)..
can you think of a roadmap to a libertarian world, from here and now? this is not a rhetorical/ideological question, i'm interested in the pure logistics of it:who gives up/are is unburdened of power first, in what stages etc:the state, communities? imagine this process happening in india: how much power have the central/state governments given up over the last fifteen years (if we consider 'reforms' a part of this process)? very little, in my view. and there isn't a single area of activity, in which they were engaged before reforms began, from which they have totally withdrawn.
i see two reasons behind this: a)nobody gives up power voluntarily(it's a very precious possession ,very useful) b)the powerless aren't strong enough to take it away.
in practical terms, it means that the state wouldn't give up power as long as it doesn't face a crisis of the 1991 kind. conversely, those seeking 'de-concentration' of power should realize that it's a longdrawn process, and it can happen only in jumps and starts and in painfully slow stages. helped by the occasional fiscal/other kind of crisis. individuals can only coax,nudge and cajole the state to run along a certain course that would lead to more, and more devolution of power. and individuals would have to, paradoxically, work in groups to achieve this. the state can only be persuaded to give up certain powers first and then some more. and so on. in this process, the state can also be guided in a certain direction: it can be shown the wisdom of concentrating more on certain select areas..(which would naturally mean that it would have to stop meddling in certain other areas).
what's the point of all this convoluted prose? it's this.. when i said i want the state to concentrate more on education in my last post, it conversely meant that it would have to give up/or withdraw from certain other areas because it would have neither the resources nor the attention after making the huge investment it is already committed to. this is the practical roadmap i envision for a more liberal india: it takes into account the nature of progress of 'reforms' until now in the country, evolution of the politics surrounding it and the possible routes it could take in the future.. one sign of the future is that the powers-that-be have realized investment in education needs to be raised to around six percent of the gdp: it would be a good 'liberal' idea to prod the state in that direction.
and continuing my defense of what i had said in my post: poverty can't be defined independently of illiteracy.. you can't hope illiteracy will perhaps be reduced after poverty gets reduced a little (because you can't say poverty has come down.. because illiteracy hasn't).
i think i attempted to answer( above) why the state has to be the primary agent for raising literacy: other practical reason -because only the state (right now)has the resources of the scale required to achieve this task.
sorry, for mixing my response to your post with my reply to your comment on my post ..whew!
glad to have you back.
p.s. i think there can only be a liberal way.. and perhaps no libertarian world.

 

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