Today I wrote a comment at the following thread on Atanu Dey’s blog: [^]. Actually, it was not a comment to his write up as such, but a clarification to some discussion in the comments following it. I have no idea why, but this comment didn’t appear immediately after it was submitted. Probably, Atanu has changed the settings and now the comments at his blog are moderated. It was not an error in transmission because when I resent it—I had saved the contents in a .txt file sheer out of habit because power and connection can easily go out anytime—the Web server did say something like duplicate comment. So, I know that it did reach the server both the times. It’s been hours since then and other people’s comments have appeared but not mine.
In any case, I was planning to post it as a separate entry here too. So, here we go (and by the way, I will keep it as is for a day or so, and later on, if I feel like, I will also add to it, edit, streamline, etc.
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This refers to Shantanu’s comment above [i.e. in Atanu’s blog] re. Ayn Rand, and then, also to Atanu’s reply to it.
I do appreciate Atanu’s remarks concerning the greatness of Ayn Rand. Nevertheless, I would like to clarify a bit and also add a bit more.
Ayn Rand was a lady of principles, a “sui generis” philosopher. As such, if she hated communism, it was fundamentally because her philosophy was diametrically opposite to the entirety of the mystic-altruistic-collectivist axis, communism being only a part of it.
Actually, it would be apt to say that she didn’t hate Russia; she hated the communist Russia.
From what I know, even after immigrating to the USA, Rand communicated extensively for years with her family and friends back in Russia, trying to get them out of that totalitarian dictatorship and into the freer world. She stopped writing letters only with the consideration that the Russian authorities would regularly keep an eye over international correspondences, and so directly keeping a touch would have only served to jeopardise them.
Apparently, throughout her life, she kept a soft feeling for Russia in a corner of her heart—Russia itself, as in contrast to the totalitarian regime ruling it. She spoke in glowing terms about whatever the better elements of culture that she had seen during her early years in Russia. These even included a certain comic strip, apart from the better texts in her university studies. Rachmaninoff remained her most favorite music composer. Overall, to get a glimpse of how she saw people in Russia, note the tone that her words acquire in writing that extraordinary article: “The Inexplicable Personal Alchemy.”
The abovementioned article might also tell you that Rand’s relation with the Soviet Russia does not form a good analogy for that of an NRI, with India. And, certainly not of Sonia with Italy. … But let me focus on India here…
India still is not a totalitarian dictatorship, neither formally nor in actual practice. It’s a mixed economy—with the element of statism ever increasing in scope esp. after Indira Gandhi’s regime. But a totalitarian dictatorship, it is not. Why, today, you and me can not only get away writing against Sonia, we don’t even expect to get harassed to any more extent than what would have happened under Vajpayee, barely six/seven years ago, or what sometimes does happen even in the USA (though to a greatly lesser extent). Come to think of it, in India, we have no state-operated concentration camps nor Syberia. Millions have not yet been politically killed in India as under Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, etc.
So, I do think those who wish to see a freer and better India do have a lot going for them.
To end this comment on a better note, I would like to cite two examples from recent history, even though I emphasie right at the beginning that comparisons with these two examples really are not apt in every sense either.
On an historical scale, Germany has seen a lot of change since Hitler. Even though Germany’s internals were not strong enough that it could on its own throw out Hitler, once he was, despite the ravages of the two wars, the Western part of Germany could once again become a considerably free nation in a short time span—i.e., as soon as the systemic things were changed by ending Hitler’s totalitarian statism, and a better system (including a better constitution) was put in its place. The change was good enough that a few decades later, it could even absorb the shocks of accomodating the communism-induced ravages of the Eastern Germany, once the Berlin wall fell.
The second example is the post-second world war Japan. Once the Americans under General McArthur gave Japan a better constitution respecting Individual Rights, and a better system of governance, the nation—an Asian nation, a tiny nation, and a nation ravaged worst of all during the war—still could rise. Today its economy is important world-wide. … It’s a modern intellectual fashion (whether in USA or elswhere) to downplay the role that the better, freer constitution together with a better governing system has played in Japan’s rise. The modern intellectuals are all statists, mostly socialists, and therefore we are told that the Japanese rose because they “worked hard.” Yeah, right. Even the mule works very hard. The point is the better system of governance.
Both the examples show that better systems produce better results.
In India, we have a lot of advantages. What we ought to focus on are better systems—not just of governence but also of constitution. The precondition for these is: a better culture that promotes liberty (i.e. individual rights) and free markets. Rand’s writings are pertinent here.
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A Song I Like:
(Hindi) “dooriyaan, nazdikiyaan ban gayi…”
Singers: Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosale
Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri