All posts by Mahesh Sreekandath

Classic Liberalism, Systems Engineering and Heavy metal

Ghost Rider

“Parking my motorcycle in front of a motel at the end of a long day on the road could certainly be sweet, like finally exhaling after holding my breath all day, but best of all was setting out in the morning. Whatever torments the night had brought; whatever weather the new day threw at me, when I loaded up the bike and swung my leg over the saddle, my whole perspective changed. Focus tightened into the mechanics and mentality of operating the machine, and awareness contracted to that demanding paradigm. As I let in the clutch and turned the throttle, my world-view expanded as i moved into a  whole new paradigm of landscapes, highways and wildlife. Infinite possibilities” p42, Ghost Rider

Not just the perspective, Neil Peart manages to express the very exact thoughts, emotions and even words any long distance motorcyclist would have endured. Brought back very distinct memories, even though my own experiences are from a totally different part of the globe.

Album from the archives — circa 2008-2010.

Welcome to Wayand

Harmony in Discord

“Rising from the concrete to the abstract, Greek geometry disengaged the intelligible essence from the particular observable details, or accidents, as such particulars were later to be called. In this it exercised the proper function of intelligence: the faculty of abstracting, of grasping the unity of a concept in a number of particular cases, the constancy of relationships and permanence of structures amid the diversity of sensible patterns; in a word, finding unity in multiplicity and harmony in discord. With the Greek language was born the language of abstraction.”

p6, The Genius of the West

What makes us all civilized is that ability to move from specifics to the abstract, in all spheres.

Why Are We Still in Afghanistan? –

Cultural interventionism v/s Guns

“There is ‘more power in blue jeans and rock and roll than the entire Red Army’ said French philosopher Régis Debray”

Soviet Denim Smuggling – The History of Jeans Behind the Iron Curtain

Spirit of Cecilia

Our options have fallen into two categories: bad and worse.
— Read on

View original post

History and Turning Points

“The history of mankind is the history of ideas. For it is ideas, theories and doctrines that guide human action, determine the ultimate ends men aim at, and the choice of the means employed for the attainment of these ends. The sensational events which stir the emotions and catch the interest of superficial observers are merely the consummation of ideological changes. There are no such things as abrupt sweeping transformations of human affairs. What is called, in rather misleading terms, a “turning point in history” is the coming on the scene of forces which were already for a long time at work behind the scene. New ideologies, which had already long since superseded the old ones, throw off their last veil and even the dullest people become aware of the changes which they did not notice before.” – Ludwig von Mises

Learned Ignoramus

It’s normal for political debates to quickly take an *interdisciplinary* turn; topics spanning from climate science, net-neutrality to macro-economics will be seamlessly engaged. And it’s also normal to express very specific and forceful policy positions on all these massive problems. We conveniently forget these are actual areas of specialization. Just imagine a set of cafe intellectuals expressing specific solutions to problems in microbiology, nanotechnology etc! But, when it comes to public policy, any such diffidence is rare, instead curiously strong opinions on complex topics is the norm.

Political opinions are also a lot about voicing our ideology. We enthusiastically state our position to signal who we are, not to debate or reconcile. In that sense, opinions are like badges. Quite like how a savage might use face paint to signal his tribe, we use policy prescriptions to signal our political leanings. Actually, many pick their tribe, and then adopt all the interdisciplinary policy positions wholesale. The surprising aspect is, college educated individuals are equally, or sometimes relatively more tribal in their opinions.

José Ortega y Gasset thought this was a relatively novel phenomenon, and closely related to the age of specialization.

“For, previously, men could be divided simply into the learned and the ignorant, those more or less the one, and those more or less the other. But your specialist cannot be brought in under either of these two categories. He is not learned, for he is formally ignorant of all that does not enter into his speciality; but neither is he ignorant, because he is “a scientist,” and “knows” very well his own tiny portion of the universe. We shall have to say that he is a learned ignoramus, which is a very serious matter, as it implies that he is a person who is ignorant, not in the fashion of the ignorant man, but with all the petulance of one who is learned in his own special line.

And such in fact is the behavior of the specialist. In politics, in art, in social usages, in the other sciences, he will adopt the attitude of primitive, ignorant man; but he will adopt them forcefully and with self-sufficiency, and will not admit of — this is the paradox — specialists in those matters. By specializing him, civilization has made him hermetic and self-satisfied within his limitations; but this very inner feeling of dominance and worth will induce him to wish to predominate outside his speciality.” — José Ortega y Gasset

Ortega y Gasset’s Revolt of the Masses (excerpt)

Sort of ironic that civilization might have made us more tribal, at least in certain ways.

Law and Purpose

Effort required to *enforce* a law is a reasonable indicator of its validity. If we need to go out of the way to enforce something, then it might just not be compatible with English conception of law.  Hayek says, law simply helps us coexist. Its function is not to achieve specific goals set by some authority.

“In the usual sense of purpose, namely the anticipation of a particular, foreseeable event, the law indeed does not serve any purpose but countless different purposes of different individuals. It provides only the means for a large number of different purposes that as a whole are not known to anybody. In the ordinary sense of purpose law is therefore not a means to any purpose, but merely a condition for successful pursuit of most purposes. Of all multi-purpose instruments it is probably the one after language which assists the greatest variety of human purposes. It certainly has not been made for any one known purpose but rather has developed because it made people who operated under it more effective in the pursuit of their purposes”
— Friedrich Hayek

Law is indeed a lot like language, its function is to help us transact. And when it’s not structured to help us achieve our goals optimally, then alternatives tends to emerge. Black market norms are a good example. In that sense, one of the differences between a failed and a stable nation is also the nature of laws. More the law deviates from individual needs, more the corruption, disorder etc. In other words, lawlessness might indicate a problem with the law, not the law breakers.

Culture, High and Low

Spirit of Cecilia twitter account says — “We love culture, high and low” — that does sort of mirror my interests. Reading and writing about classic Liberals, British and American — reading and writing about extreme metal, Scandinavian and American, tend to be my hobbies. Sort of occupying the two margins of culture — ancient and high, and then what some would term as low and loud I guess.

Thanks to Prof. Birzer for inviting me, and providing another platform to convey ideas.