India’s Illiberal Democracy


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A critical piece.

It is also true that, no matter how horrifying the news from India is, the country remains for many commentators in the West a mostly cuddly democracy and “rising” economic power. A recent article in the New York Review of Books was not untypical in this regard. “In Narendra Modi, India now has dynamic leadership for the first time in many years,” wrote Jessica T. Mathews, the former president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. After nodding briefly to criticism of Modi for restricting civil liberties, Mathews added, offering no evidence whatsoever, that “Modi may be consolidating enough political strength to force through long-needed reforms in New Delhi.”

The complete article

Pankaj Mishra — Bloomberg

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Citizen Zuckerberg


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Another interesting piece speculating Zuckerberg as a 2020 presidential candidate. Trump election has done one thing for sure – Anyone is game for becoming the POTUS. 4 years of campaign is more than enough. But, how will it be like to have the CEO as the POTUS.

Lest this sound like hyperbolic alarmism, consider how far CEOs have already come. For the CEO of Exxon Mobil to become Secretary of State was once unthinkable. Not anymore. And let’s be honest: being the CEO of Exxon Mobil gives one superb experience at negotiating U.S. interests (at least the Realpolitik ones) with foreign governments. Being CEO at a top investment bank, hedge fund, or private equity firm is now the primary pipeline to become treasury secretary. Is this perhaps because the two jobs are rather similar? As much as commerce secretary, the modern cabinet position reliably staffed by a CEO, is a joke, it has come to the point where every White House cabinet position, even the presidency itself, is directly staffable by a CEO. Let the cabinet and the presidency itself be filled by commerce secretaries; after all, the business of America is business.

The complete article

David V. Johnson — The Baffler

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It’s Time For The Right To Openly Embrace Classically Liberal Muslims


Undeniably, the politicization of Islam is harmful to its followers. What blame to the left and right share in this?

The Right and Left are both playing opposite sides of the same game, and happily so. The Left gets to use its identity politics wedge to create yet another special interest group, and the Right, masochistically, gets a new boogeyman to justify spending more money on police and the military.

The Federalist 

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

The Sunni-Shia Divide


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With what is going on in the Middle East, it is important to understand the conflict better. Today’s needull explains the Qatar issue in detail starting from origin of Islam to the present socio-political and religious factors.

Islam’s schism, simmering for fourteen centuries, doesn’t explain all the political, economic, and geostrategic factors involved in these conflicts, but it has become one prism through which to understand the underlying tensions. Two countries that compete for the leadership of Islam, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, have used the sectarian divide to further their ambitions. How their rivalry is settled will likely shape the political balance between Sunnis and Shias and the future of the region, especially in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Yemen.

The complete article

Council on Foreign Relations

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Waking From the Dream


How well do our brains perceive inequality? Are skewed perceptions to blame for American inequality?

Keith Payne, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina, is intent on showing how the problem of inequality operates within the human mind. He does not claim to have studied the historical causes of the American class system, nor does he aim to explore the political or cultural ideologies that have been used to rationalize differences between the haves and the have-nots. His singular focus is on how the brain is evolutionarily wired for ambition and justice alike. When societies such as ours deviate from the primitive sense of fair play, he asserts, everyone suffers.

American Scholar

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

Obituary – Chandraswami, spiritual political fixer


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Chandraswami in his heydays had influence over the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Former Indian Primer Minister PV Narsimha Rao, the Sultan of Brunei etc. But, then came his fall from grace and his final years were spent in obscurity.

As recounted by Mr Singh in his 2012 memoir, Chandraswami, who at the time spoke no English and relied on the diplomat to translate, asked Thatcher to scribble five questions on five separate pieces of paper, then scrunch each into a ball. She grudgingly complied. He then asked her to unfold each chit. As she did, the guru told her the question written there. Her irritation gave way to amazement, and Thatcher peppered him with follow-up questions. She asked for a second meeting, at which, Mr Singh wrote, the two discussed her prime ministerial prospects.

The complete article

Amy Kazmim — FT

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Statism Is Killing Creativity


What are governments’ relation to the technology, creative and other “innovative” sectors? Oppositional? Supportive? Clueless?

In this piece, the author claims the focus on preserving existing political institutions harms creativity.

Constraining the federal government’s purview to a limited number of specifically enumerated powers rectifies this bias against originality. Politics and its myriad dangers are insulated from broader society. The state can pursue its own ends with the ruthless efficiency which is required of an eye to dominance in the long-term. But it does not have the strength to do injury to ingenuity—the lifeblood of the productive powers of man—in those creative projects he undertakes for his own benefit, whether to feed his body or his soul.

The Politics of Discretion

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper