An Extended (Not Indefinite) Hiatus

It has been a long time since I last posted, that too with the promise of an article*, and I thought I should account for this prolonged absence – at least for those few who I can see check this blog regularly for updates.

I have realized that although Permanent Settlement was a loose platform for me to write weekly about things that most concerned me – rationalism, neoliberalism, and energy policy – there was no coherent thread running through the articles. Things I wanted to investigate in detail would be shelved for later so I could focus on a new interesting thing that I wanted to write about.

If there is an underlying theme to this blog, it is to unravel how the world that I hitherto took for granted (and I believe many others do too) was intentionally constructed and marketed as the most superior option available to us to exist and participate in. I have explored in some articles how its claim to bettering our lives can only sustained by a deliberate obscuring of the true costs of this system, which given its immense complexity and size, aren’t obvious to the average individual.

This is an incredibly stimulating subject for me, but I have realized that I need a deeper, more fundamental understanding of key events and topics to take up one strand and

pursue it doggedly to the very logical end or to place my misgivings in a self-generating, coherent context. It is encouraging that ad-hoc pieces such as India’s Energy Policy and To Hell with Environmental Neoliberalism were picked up by Naked Capitalism and subsequently, circulated widely – pushing my readership to more than a hundred times the average. This has made me want to learn as much as I can about specific topics like economic theory and 21st century politics so these analyses become part of an ongoing critique of ideas, both present and past, that affect us profoundly in ways we might be unaware of.

Tl;dr: This hiatus is a phase of learning and grounding myself better in political, historical, and economic context so that posts on this site are analytically richer and part of a more coherent whole.

*I have more than 2000 words written of the article in question, but as events have shifted, so have my interests (which, as I wrote above, is the problem). I intend on posting it in the future, but for now, learning is priority.

Understanding the Rationalist Failure to Predict Trump – A Precursor

Update: The follow-up to this must unfortunately be deferred to next Monday. This is a complex subject that may need to be broken up into multiple articles.

This is a precursor to an article that I will publish on Wednesday on the failure of established, rationalistic and even ‘scientific’ techniques to predict Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential election. Consider it a rough sketch of ideas that I intend to flesh out in more detail on Wednesday.

I will try to understand the failure of conventional wisdom as espoused by data journalism sites like FiveThirtyEight and the mass media in general by comparing their methods to those used by the small minority that called the election in Trump’s favor on the basis of consistent and well-founded principles. Since it is true that there will always be a minority that will successfully predict a highly unlikely outcome as long as it has some chance of happening, it is important that the members of this minority be both significantly dissimilar in their worldview and base their predictions on sound assumptions and analysis for their success to be more than an instance of chance validating ideology.

Continue reading “Understanding the Rationalist Failure to Predict Trump – A Precursor”

New Year Blues

Sorry for the absence last week – it was the product of a combination of holidaying and internet malfunction.

I will be writing again from next Monday onward and hopefully more frequently than once a week. It is fortunate that this blog began with a exasperated critique of the Establishment Left response to Brexit and the rapidly spreading repudiation of neoliberalism – this seems to be a theme that will persist well into the near future. 2017 should not leave me short of content.

The purpose of Permanent Settlement has evolved to critically explore present paradigms of thinking that are demonstrably false and ahistorical and yet continue to drive policies and decisions that are ruining our economies, environment and social relations. Escalation of geopolitical tensions and climate change are existential threats that have made this confrontation unavoidable. As much as we are, in my opinion, living in a golden age of civilization and the ecological factors that support it, we must recognize that this too will end and try our best – while we can – to avoid a free fall.

On that happy note, I wish you all a pleasant 2017.


The Sycophantic Belief in the Actions of “Great Leaders”

Length Estimate: Long (words > 1000)

As Indian parliamentary democracy approaches the seventieth year of its existence, it has come to be typified by two dominant motifs that are reflective of a deep malaise in its relationship with its constituents. The first is an enduring faith of the voting public in the actions of the mythical “Great Leaders” – defined as those at the apex of the political hierarchy either at the local or national level. The second is a vague but persistent dissatisfaction that manifests as inchoate calls for “changing” the “system”. The linking together of these two sentiments – especially by the advanced, politically conscious part of the public – is at best a misguided articulation of good intentions and at worst a sycophantic excuse for inaction.

Continue reading “The Sycophantic Belief in the Actions of “Great Leaders””

The Politics of Being a Central Banker

Length Estimate: Medium (500 < words < 1000)

When Subramaniam Swamy questioned Raghuram Rajan’s Indian-ness, I thought it was just another instance of the BJP using its curiously contradictory nationalism to attack any perceived threats to its political and economic agenda. Although to me it was a laughably cheap mode of attack, it was apparently effective enough to lead to Rajan’s resignation.

I have thought a little about this, and it turns out there is more to Swamy’s anti-national raving than I had initially realized. Not that it makes it any better.

Continue reading “The Politics of Being a Central Banker”