Aditya Kannan

My view on the viability of anarcho-capitalism and communism. — June 13, 2020

My view on the viability of anarcho-capitalism and communism.

This is an excerpt from a discussion I had on the topic.

I think that anarcho-capitalism, in practice, is pretty stupid. The idea that privately controlled, profit-driven entities can be trusted to operate ethically, devoid of environmental and anti-trust regulation is plainly preposterous. It’s hysterical to imagine a reality where an anarcho-capitalist “state” is able to function stably without public affairs being compromised by private interests; it’s exceedingly clear from history that those who control the resources control the people – and when the said group of people aren’t democratically elected representatives, we’ve got a big problem in our hands. There isn’t much more to say about it, honestly – just take a look at how the Banana republics and the oligopolies of the world turned out.

However, I digress. Among the very few things I happen to agree with conservatives on, one of them is that the average human is incapable of appreciating “good” beyond the limits of their personal own life. The prospect of a society sacrificing the urges of individual greed for the sake of mutual benefit is disappointingly unrealistic. While there are a number of things I appreciate about anarchist-communism, I think the likes of it are simply unviable to implement peacefully. Spontaneous and radical ideological change is quite difficult to create among people without a central driving factor – and in the case of anarcho-communism, I think it would likely have to be an authoritarian governing (and indoctrinating) entity – a prospect I’m not particularly allured by. All the same, regardless, I’m quite interested to explore the possibility of such a society existing in the form of smaller, self-motivated and autarkic communes functioning under a bigger administrative entity to manage issues that may concern the health of the larger republic, like national diplomacy, defense or trade.

$0.02 on the topic of Chinese reparations for Coronavirus — April 23, 2020

$0.02 on the topic of Chinese reparations for Coronavirus

The fact that the Chinese taxpayer is somehow responsible for something they had completely no control over is preposterous – expecting the Chinese people to feel responsible for the toll this pandemic has taken on the world is no less hilarious than expecting current generation white Americans to pay reparations for the genocide of the natives.

It’s quite (sadly) interesting how one of the biggest reasons why such a huge percentage of native Americans died off early on during the Spanish & British settlements was because they had no immunity against the diseases brought in by them and their animals – I’m sure as hell nobody’s ever been unilaterally held responsible for that.

So, who’s really responsible for this crisis? The Chinese people or the CPC? Because expecting the “Chinese” to pay reparations is essentially the same as asking the taxpayer to do so – whom, which I’m sure many will agree with, should have no responsibility for what has come to happen. How does one plan to punish a country (or, specifically, the country’s government) without punishing its innocent citizenry?

Shower thought #2 – on economic imperialism — January 29, 2020

Shower thought #2 – on economic imperialism

The Bengal famine of 1943 was an event that reflected the true decay of the Indian state under British colonizer. In one of the most fertile regions of the Indian subcontinent, over three million people starved to death that year due to a series of ill conceived decisions made by the British war cabinet (headed by Winston Churchill) and government. The life expectancy of Indians, at the time, was thirty-one.

Churchill’s war cabinet scapegoated the ongoing conflict in Europe to justify levying extremely high taxes on Indians, forcing them to sell crops to the state for token prices. There was, of course, no regard for the fact that many regions in India at the time, including Bengal, were in desperate need of food. The sums of money the farmers received from their produce was essentially meaningless in a time where demand for goods was extremely high and supply was nearly non-existent.

Reading about this crisis urged me to consider the political state of our citizenry at the time. Leon Trotsky once appropriately said, “Revolution is impossible until it’s inevitable.” — but what could have made such an uprising viable in a country where foreign colonialist ideals penetrated the very deepest facet of its soul – the allegiance of its own people?

I don’t know what could have helped alter the predicament of my countrymen at the time. Was there a viable solution in hand?

It’s easily understood that the British occupancy of India highly depended on the revenue it collected from the people. To a large extent, their war effort during the World War 2 was supported both by Indian resources and labour. So in a time where even an organized armed revolution was deemed to be unviable by most, what could the people of India have done to undermine its imperialist overlords?

Well, I have — no, I had no idea.

The survival of tax dependent regimes like the British Raj deeply depended on the extraction and manipulation of money gathered from the colonies — exemplified by the fact that they charged taxes even on the very act of extracting salt. The workers and peasants paid taxes for the money they earned in the British Indian denomination. Essentially, they were supporting the very economic system that oppressed them by simply participating in it, and the widespread usage of the rupee, in essence, legitimized it.

(Fun fact: the salt tax — quite amazingly — still survives in a decidedly more Indian form: Salt Cess Act)

Could a concentrated effort have been created to upturn the very legitimacy and value of British rupee? What if an alternate, decentralized and standardized form of currency (think gold standard or something of the sort) was created to facilitate local trade and payments? What would happen if people… just simply stopped using the rupee?

Applying the solution to the scenario we considered earlier, a purely Indian currency could have – albeit not without extreme trouble – clandestinely enabled trade between goods suppliers and commoners to help them circumvent the financial hegemony possessed by the government with the British-Indian rupee.

The viability of an idea like such is certainly open for discussion. Here’s a few downsides I almost immediately arrived at:

  • A currency like this would obviously be subject to heavy crackdowns
  • How will conversion rates be decided? Will the prices of goods have to be defined from the get-go, or will a reserve bank of sorts have to be established to control prices?
  • This new type of money would have to confront the same problems as any other ordinary currency: forgery, duplication, and inflation. How will a currency like this be standardized?

Of course, it’s not too difficult to see a few upsides

  • As mentioned earlier, trade can proceed without the regulation of the government.
  • If the usage of this currency becomes widespread, it can induce a deficit in the government.
  • Symbols – both cultural and ideological ones – are extremely important to resistance movements. They can unite people and signify their defiance and self-sufficiency in the face of adversity – and I think a symbol in the form of currency, something subject to daily use, would be a perfect candidate.

I’m under no illusion that a concept of this nature should be, to an extent, quite unworkable in reality. It’s almost needless to say that I’m very interested in hearing counterarguments regardless, so do care to comment or contact me. I’m sure we’ll have a great discussion.

Time travel and our reality — December 1, 2019

Time travel and our reality

If time travel is going to exist in the future, we’re likely living in the best possible reality.

Our history has been shaped by events that ensure the best outcomes in the future. It’s likely that after time travel is invented, people from the future would go back in time to try and experiment with the outcomes of various incidents that have changed the history of mankind — regardless of whether they were negative or positive — and set forth the most ideal set of events that in turn benefit the future they are coming from.

Interestingly, I think Stephen Hawking was thinking along the lines of this theory when he did this

Does this mean that we, as a civilization, have the right to play with fate however we want? Are future time travelers a sort of insurance that stop us from destroying ourselves?

Or maybe, time travelers will never decide to come back and alter reality

Changing the events of the past may risk destroying the future. Time travelers could decide to lock themselves to their reality because any change they make in the past might set forth a butterfly effect detrimental to their existence. Maybe we actually don’t live in a perfect reality; time travelers are simply too scared to come back here because they fear unpredictability.

Maybe, time travelers could have computers powerful enough to calculate every possible outcome of an event that could happen in the future.

It’s quite logical that in the future, humans could have invented a computer so powerful that it can model the complexities of fate and human decision. The reason why we often feel like we’re living in a terrible reality is probably due to the fact that we’ve not even come close to seeing the worst. Maybe the things we consider tragedies, like the World Wars, could have been orchestrated simply to drive the industrial and technological revolution we know that ensued. The idea of the people from the future altering our reality is something to think about.

#1 — November 25, 2019
Is it prudent to discuss Indian politics publicly nowadays? — October 21, 2019

Is it prudent to discuss Indian politics publicly nowadays?

2019 has been — to say the very least — an interesting year for India. The current administration, unlike most others before, has been on a constant roll of implementing policies that were formerly considered pipe dreams, including GST, demonetization, the reunification of the JnK region and, of course, the NRC and CAA bills. Not all of them were necessarily successful, but a government that actively creates change is considered a sign of a healthy democracy for some.

Notwithstanding all the achievements of the administration, there’s a record they set that is very worrying. The internet has been shut down 95 times in India this year.

The government must not have the autocratic right to deny access to information and communication.

The most common defense given by officials is that the shutdowns are “required” to maintain decorum in the region. In reality, however, this is increasingly being used as a tool to aggressively control dissent. This ranges anywhere from the propagation of anti-national views in Kashmir to paltry incidents like conducting religious processions or the spreading of anti-Islamic views on Whatsapp. Certainly, some of these shutdowns were warranted by palpable threats, but it seems like the usage of this power is moving further and further from its central rationale.

Are these swift, and heavy-handed tactics becoming something of a punishment for protesting in order to discourage political discourse? The expression of political views; nonconforming to a precedent or not, is an integral factor of the functioning of a democracy. In my opinion, the biggest failing of this democracy is the fact that the archaic law against sedition still exists and is actively being invoked by the government. Considering that there has been no effort from them to set the limits of what is defined as sedition in the last 70 years, this word is, has been, and will be subject to indiscriminate misappropriation.

I’m not in favor of letting a small group of 800-odd people decide what a billion-and-a-half other people can say or think. A government has been elected to govern its people, not dictate what is considered acceptable or inappropriate. I’ll take this chance to remind you that the average age of the parliamentary lower house is 57.5 years, while the average Indian is only about 28 years old.

Of the many things I envy about the USA, the 1st Amendment is certainly one of them. While there are many inevitable issues with unhindered political discourse, a country needs the freedom of expression to function as a democracy. One where the rules of governance are set by the people, not an arbitrary group of disconnected elites. The fundamental difference between the American and Indian constitutions is the tone; the freedom of expression in America isn’t something the government gives, it’s something American citizens — as humans — have the right to. In India, however, this whole deal is decidedly complex.

I’ve spoken to many well-intentioned people who support government-sanctioned “control” of speech. On the face value, the idea of regulating speech does make sense because the propagation of some ideas can potentially — and unnecessarily — destabilize peace.

However, I think there’s a factor that isn’t considered well enough. For all its merits, India is still a young and undeveloped democracy because well-defined lines of political ideology haven’t developed in this country yet. Some parties have indeed declared their political leanings (namely, the INC favoring the left and the BJP the right), most bank on religious and cultural sectarianism to attract votes instead of actual political ideology. This, in my opinion, is primarily due to the fact that the society here is extremely heterogenous and is evidenced by the fact that regional parties hold tremendous power in India, quite unlike the US, UK and other countries in the West. What I’m coming to, conversely, is that the failure to recognize the threat of giving the government the power to control speech in a country that is heavily divided by communalist partisanship can be extremely unwise. To preserve and improve the current status quo of stability between the majoirty and minorities in this country, powers that give partisan control over thought and ideology must be done away with.

I admit to unconciously putting some effort into making my words appear more admissible and politically correct with regard to the sentiments of the government and the general population. I think the fact that I was unconfident about publishing this article is quite shameful; my internal inhibitions reflect the political climate in this country. I was constantly reminded of the stories of people getting arrested for posting “objectionable” content and journalists getting attacked for disseminating unconventional and alternative views.

All the same, it’s really quite funny how in the process of answering “Is it prudent to discuss Indian politics publicly nowadays?”, I ended up sharing my views on the state of Indian politics myself. Ultimately, while I remain forced to be a bystander to matters concerning politics (the minimum age of candidacy in India is 21-25), I can’t do much but keep my chin up and hope for the best.