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The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution (Oxford Handbooks in Law)
The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution (Oxford Handbooks in Law)
by Sujit Choudhry
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £116.69

5.0 out of 5 stars This Handbook demonstrates why demonetisation is null and void, 25 May 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
On November 8 ,2016, the Government of India announced the demonetisation, the withdrawal of legal tender status of all ?500 and ?1,000 banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi Series.

An article "Why demonetisation notification is illegal and violates the Constitution" in the December 11, 2016 Economic Times, India's Leading Business Newspaper, says that the demonetisation notification is also likely unconstitutional on three counts. First, it violates the constitutional right to property under Article 300A. In Jayantilal v RBI, in the context of the 1978 demonetisation, the Supreme Court held that demonetisation is not merely a regulation of property, as the government is presently arguing, but constitutes compulsory acquisition of a “public debt” owed to the bearer of the notes declared illegal.

The case is
Jayantilal Ratanchand Shah vs Reserve Bank Of India & Ors on 9 August, 1996
Equivalent citations: JT 1996 (7), 681 1996 SCALE (5)741

This reviewer has no knowledge of Indian (constitutional) law.

He can however read.

The reviewer then goes searching for this judgment in the Handbook which is hereby being reviewed.

The Handbook does not mention the case (judgment). This is no critique, not of the Handbook, nor of the Economic Times.

In a previous life in the Southern Low-Countries, Punjabi refugees helped this reviewer practice legal gymnastics and even legal acrobatics.

The "Table of Cases" in the Handbook refers to another Jayantilal case
Jayantilal Amrit Lal Shodhan vs F.N. Rana And Others on 5 November, 1963
Equivalent citations: 1964 AIR 648, 1964 SCR (5) 294

The references to case are on pp 318 and 455 of the Handbook, says the "Table of Cases" .

On p. 318, in Chapter 18 "Executive", of the Handbook Shubhankar Dam quotes an excerpt from the 1963 judgment which this blogger understands as teaching that the power […] to declare a financial emergency [is not a power] of the Union Government; [ but that this power is] vested in the President under the Constitution and [is] incapable for being delegated or entrusted to any other body.

Full excerpt:
"The power to promulgate Ordinances under Art. 123; to suspend the provisions of Arts. 268 to 279 during an emergency; to declare failure of the Constitutional machinery in States under Art. 356; to declare a financial emergency under Art. 360; to make rules regulating the recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to posts and services in connection with the affairs of the Union under Art. 309-to enumerate a few out of the various powers-are not powers of the Union Government; these are powers vested in the President by the Constitution and are incapable of being delegated or entrusted to any other body or authority under Art. 258(1). "

The power to order demonetisation is not a power of the Union Government; but this power is vested in the President under the Constitution and is incapable for being delegated or entrusted to any other body.

The Modi government, which does not even take the trouble to indicate the legal reasons
(as opposed to the factual reasons,
i.e, as opposed to the tackling of counterfeiting Indian banknotes, the effective nullifying of black money hoarded in cash, the curbing of the funding of terrorism with fake notes)
which allow "them" to decree the withdrawal of the Legal Tender status of certain denominations of banknotes
has thereby usurped a Presidential power which cannot be delegated.

Those two arguments, one this a power of the President which cannot be delegated and two, the decision is not motivated since it does not give its legal basis,. are linked of course. If the decision had indicated its legal basis, the reading of that basis would have made clear that this was a power reserved for the President.

Conclusion: the value of the Handbook is that it demonstrates that demonetisation is null and void.


Currency: Revised Second Edition
Currency: Revised Second Edition
by L Todd Wood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.00

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Towards the third edition, 13 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
"It is better to be feared than loved"

"[The book] deals with the national debt and its national security implications."

This is the 2011 revised second edition
(or the 2014 revised second edition of a book whose first edition was published in 2011?
the book erroneously (???) says copyright 2011.
the book does not indicate the year 2014.)
of a novel which on p.48 quotes USA Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, Governor Ben S. Bernanke saying – as he did in real life - in a 21 November 2002 speech "Deflation: Making Sure "It" Doesn't Happen Here" before the National Economists Club in Washington, D.C., that:
"The USA government has a technology, called a printing press, which allows it to produce as many dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost."

As the book was written by a USA citizen who worked for the USA military and who proudly advertises in the book that "in the USA Air Force he flew for the 20th Special Operations Squadron which started Desert Storm
[which in 1990 attacked Iraq which had threatened to stop pricing oil in USA dollar -
the USA can finance these wars with its "exorbitant privilege" of the dollar being the reserve currency which allows it (the USA) to print dollars at will by buying USA Treasury bonds from the private sector]",
this is however not a book about the collapse of the USA-dollar regime.

A book review should not reveal the plot. However, as this is a book whose title says it wants to make a point about what a currency should be, this reviewer thinks he can first draw attention to a (logical) contradiction in the reasoning of book concerning debt repudiation and the ability to return later to debt markets. Second, the book which was published in 2011 sets its story in 2017, a moment at which, says the book, the euro will have collapsed. This argument will also be attacked in this review. Finally, the book argues that a bequest by which the decedent’s property has been bequeathed to a beneficiary can be overruled, not by interpreting the wording of the instructions in the will, but because government "believes (sic) that the person who made the bequest had an ulterior (sic) motive in mind".

These three points which this review will make could be taken into account for the drafting of the third edition of this novel.

FIRST POINT - I do now outline the contradiction in the book.

The USA government borrows by selling USA Treasury bonds to the USA private sector and to foreign governments. The USA government prints money by buying these securities from the USA private sector and from foreign governments with electronic cash that did not exist before.

Connor, the hero in the book, who will in the epilogue express his satisfaction about having, he thinks, saved the USA – for the time being, he says - complains on pp. 154-155 about the fact that no foreign government is bidding to buy (new) USA Treasury bonds, thereby raising USA interest rates and reducing the values of those bonds to their intrinsic value, zero.

The book, which was published in 2011 and which sets its story in 2017, has the 2017 USA President declare on p. 257 that this refusal referred to on pp. 154-155 by the Chinese and Russians to continue financing the USA budget deficit is an "act of war".

This is what allows the author to argue on his linkedin.com page that the book deals with the national debt and its ... national security implications.

Ergo, the USA government will on p. 276 come up with the bright idea to default on (existing) USA Treasury bonds so that nobody will ever buy USA Treasury bonds again – out of fear that the USA might default again.

On p. 289, the book recognises that if France defaults on its debt, France will never again be granted a loan by China, but somehow this reasoning did not make it into p. 276 of the book.

National security implications, says the author on his linkedin.com page.

SECOND POINT - I do now turn to the 2011 projection or prediction of the collapse of the euro by 2017.

The book argues that a currency should be pegged to something of value.

The old "fixed" gold-standard could however not change human nature which dictates that no ruler can withstand the pressure to print more receipts than he has gold in reserve.

The old "fixed" gold-standard was faced with the problem of matching the amount of gold in the Treasury to the "fix". To make the money stronger, one had to bring in gold, as it took twice as many ounces to back a currency "in circulation" at USA dollar 10 as it did at USA dollar 20. The reverse is true when lowering the money value to USA dollar 40. Then, one half the gold backing had to be removed as only half was now needed to back the USA dollar.

Its chief weakness was however that it could be repealed by the politicians.

The euro was therefore the first currency which had severed the link not only to gold but also to the ... nation state, said European Central Bank President Dr. Willem F. Duisenberg in his May 2002 Acceptance speech of the Charlemagne prize for Aachen.

In Euroland, gold is a free-floating reserve which is being quarterly marked to market (-price).

The USA Treasury still alleges to have some gold stored at Fort Knox, a USA ... Army … post in Kentucky, USA, south of Louisville and north of Elizabethtown, which said Treasury marks to the model of USA dollar 42.2 (originally, i.e., at the 1944 Bretton Woods conference, USA dollar 35) an ounce.

Contrast this marking of its gold reserves to the model of USA dollar 42.2 by the USA Treasury
to the marking to market price by the European Central Bank of the gold reserves held by the European System of Central Banks.

USA President Richard Nixon defaulted on 15 August 1971 on his obligation deriving from the Bretton Woods agreement to convert every USA dollar into gold at the fixed price of USA dollar 42.2 an ounce, which led John Connally, Nixon’s Treasury Secretary, to declare to his counterparts during a Rome G-10 meeting in November 1971: "The dollar is our currency, but your problem." As to the 1971 default, the book which does not quote Connally merely says on p. 250 that through that default which the author does not qualify as a "default", the USA dollar became a fiat global reserve currency.

The European Union and the euro have collapsed in 2017, says the book.

The book’s 2011 argument that the euro will have collapsed before 2018 is based on the fact that the euro is defined by the Maastricht criteria of the Stability and Growth Pact. The argument is based on the fact the euro is not defined by its gold reserves. And the argument says that the entitlement culture created by the welfare states of Euroland will prevent the said criteria from ever being met.

The euro is however not defined by these criteria but by its gold reserves.

The book’s argument fails.

THIRD POINT - I do now turn to the book’s argument that a bequest by which the decedent’s property has been bequeathed to a beneficiary can be overruled, not by interpreting the wording of the instructions in the will, but because government "believes (sic) that the person who made the bequest had an ulterior (sic) motive in mind".

Somehow, the author seems think that when a USA citizen inherits a gold "treasure", the USA government has, p. 298, the "exorbitant privilege" (the book does nowhere use these words of former French then Finance-Minister Valéry Giscard d’Estaing) of overruling that will by invoking the ulterior motive of the person who made the bequest, privilege of attributing the "treasure" to itself (government) which badly needs it to restore the Bretton Woods agreement which USA President Nixon broke in 1971.

To which branch of the USA government should the gold be attributed?

The book argues that a currency should be pegged to gold. Wouldn’t the conclusion then be that the gold should be attributed to the USA Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, the guardian of that currency?

No, the book argues that the gold should be attributed to the USA Treasury (it’s a "treasure", isn’t it?) the branch of the USA government which still alleges to have some gold stored at Fort Knox and which marks it to the model of USA dollar 42.2 an ounce.

The book does thus not argue that the gold should be attributed to the USA Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, which could mark it to market.

It is true that after the USA decoupled from the domestic gold standard in 1933 (as we saw, Nixon would decouple from the international gold standard in 1971), the USA Gold Reserve Act of 30 January 1934 required that all gold and gold certificates held by the Federal Reserve be surrendered and vested in the sole title of the USA Treasury. But why continue with this anomaly?

If we end this anomaly, the USA Federal Reserve could perhaps come up with the pre-Bretton-Woods idea of marking these reserves to market (-price).

CONCLUSION - I now come to my conclusion.

"[The book] deals with the national debt and its national security implications", says the author on his linkedin.com page.

Hindsight is of course 20/20, but when this review was being written in mid-October 2015, Greece and the rest of European Union were faced with a massive influx of refugees from the Middle East. How come there was such a massive flight from the Middle East? We saw a massive refugee influx into the EU because the Middle East had been destabilised. How come the Middle East had been destabilised? The Middle East had been destabilised because of the bombs thrown there by the USA-dollar regime. This bomb throwing started with ... Desert Storm which ... wanted to prevent Iraq from stopping the pricing of oil in USA dollar.

To paraphrase the Machiavelli quote on the fore page of book: Does the dollar regime think it is better for it (said regime) to be feared than to be loved?

Sparknotes.com says that this Machiavelli quote which I copied at the outset of this message means that between benevolence and cruelty, the latter is the more reliable for "The Prince".

The cruel work for the author when drafting the third edition of this novel has hereby been cut out.


Mermaid: A Memoir of Resilience
Mermaid: A Memoir of Resilience
Price: £12.34

5.0 out of 5 stars legal tabloids and unwrapping tribal shame, 31 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
"Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore!"

"Denial isn't a river in Egypt!"

STRUCTURE OF THIS REVIEW

The book forces the reader to pose two questions:

One,
What is the cause of the thalidomide scandal?
This question will be addressed in the Section "Legal tabloids" of this review.

Two,
What is the cause of the fact that most thalidomide monsters can only vegetate and are unable to live a human life?
The answer to this question will be given in the Section "Unwrapping the shame of the tribe" of this review.

The argument in the Section "Legal tabloids" starts by saying that the history of the thalidomide scandal as wrapped up in legal tabloids hides two main things:
One, the primary cause of the thalidomide scandal, the fact that after the French government had banned thalidomide, other governments nevertheless did not prevent the product being brought onto "their" markets.
Two, the fact that thalidomide affects not only the sensory nerves - not the motor nerves - of the foetus, but also the sensory nerves of the mother.

The Section "Unwrapping the shame of the tribe" argues that the book demonstrates that the cause of the fact that most thalidomide monsters can - like this reviewer - only vegetate and are unable to live a human life is the shame of the family into which the thalidomide monsters were born and the shame of the western tribe into which the monsters were born. The family and the tribe suffer from a feeling of humiliation as a result of the birth of the thalidomide monsters and this results, for its part, in distress and shame for the family and tribe and in them humiliating the product by whose birth they have been humiliated and shamed. This humiliating of thalidomide monsters by the family and tribe results in the monsters being terrified of life and being in distress. As a result of that, the monsters are ashamed - of being alive.

The book demonstrates that whereas the shame of the family and tribe result from the state of distress in which they find themselves as a result of their having been humiliated by the birth of the monster, the shame of the thalidomide monster results from the state of distress in which she finds herself as a result of her humiliation by the family and tribe.

The book makes clear that the family and tribe cannot tolerate that the monster unwraps her shame,
that is,
cannot tolerate that the monster frees her energy which was until then wrapped up in shame,
- by geographically separating from the family and tribe -
because this does not unwrap the family's and tribe's shame - which has another cause.

The argument in Section "Unwrapping the shame of the tribe" will reveal two apparent contradictions in the book's reasoning. These contradictions will be addressed in the third and final Section "Unwrapping both apparent contradictions" of this review.

At this point, where the reviewer is only outlining the structure of the argument which will follow, he has already used the noun "monster" ten times or so.

Dr. Cronin writes p. 282 that she had to rub her eyes and double-check the wording when she read as a young adult that thalidomide-deformed children were being referred to as "monsters" and that thalidomide was being referred to as a "teratogen" ("terato-" +‎ "-gen", "terato-" from Ancient Greek "teras", "monster", "gen-" root of Latin "genesis", "birth", any agent or substance which can cause malformation of an embryo or birth defects.)

According to Chambers Giant Paperback Dictionary, "monster" can be defined as a deformed person, plant or animal.
Hence, anyone deformed by thalidomide, including this reviewer, is by that definition a "monster."

You are also afraid of the word "tribe", dear reader?

Don't worry, in order to demonstrate what is wrapping up the shame, this review will rebut, in the Section "Unwrapping the shame of the ... tribe", Sir Karl Popper's claim that "our" society is no longer a tribal society, but would have evolved from tribalism to humanitarianism.

This reviewer is also a thalidomide monster. If this review uses these words "monster" and "tribe", this is for the reason which makes you, dear reader, afraid of it.

LEGAL TABLOIDS

Until 1982 my only knowledge of thalidomide came from tabloid stories, writes Dr Cronin on p. 233.

The history of the thalidomide scandal, as wrapped up in legal tabloids, hides two main things:
One, the cause of the thalidomide scandal, the fact that after the French government had banned thalidomide, other governments did not prevent the product being brought onto "their" markets.
Two, the fact that thalidomide affects not only the sensory nerves - not the motor nerves - of the foetus, but also the sensory nerves of the mother.

The review now turns to the examination of these two main things which the history of the thalidomide scandal as wrapped up in legal tabloids is hiding.

The first thing the tabloids are hiding, the cause of the thalidomide scandal, the fact that after the French government had banned thalidomide, other governments did not prevent the product being brought onto "their" markets.

Legal tabloids tell us that thalidomide is an example of the development-risk defence which allows producers to escape liability if they prove that the state of scientific and technical knowledge at the time when they put the product into circulation was not such as to enable the existence of a defect to be discovered, as defined at present "a contrario" (by using an argument based on contrast) in article 15(1)(b) of the 1985 EEC Product Liability Directive, formally Council Directive 85/374/EEC of 25 July 1985 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning liability for defective products.

Dr. Herman Cousy, professor emeritus from the law department of the K.U. Leuven, reports in note 28 of his 1996 paper "The Precautionary Principle: A Status Questionis" published in the "Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice", also available on the website of the "Geneva Association", the leading international think tank of the insurance industry, that:

"One often cites the Thalidomide (Contergan) case as an example of a development risk situation, although it appears that when thalidomide was brought onto the German market, the product had been banned in France."

And Professor Cousy goes on to ask in the note:
"Can it be readily upheld, under such circumstances, that the conditions for a "development risk" situation were fulfilled?"

The Sunday Times added in an 08 February 2009 article "Thalidomide 'was created by the Nazis'" that the drug may have been developed as an antidote to nerve gas and that the manufacturer of thalidomide, Chemie Grünenthal G.m.b.H., now known as Grünenthal G.m.b.H., in Stolberg, Aachen, hereafter Grünenthal, "apparently purchased the trade name of the drug - Contergan - and therefore probably the substance itself, from a French firm, Rhȏne-Poulenc, which was under Nazi control during the war years."

Thalidomide was developed in France and banned there before it was brought onto any market, a fortiori, before it was licensed anywhere.
Got it?

This demonstrates that the governments which did not prevent thalidomide being brought onto "their" markets are the primary cause of the thalidomide scandal.

Indeed, this review submits that the quoted 15(1)(b) of the 1985 EEC Product Liability Directive can be applied "mutatis mutandis" (by changing what has to be changed) to the governments which did not prevent the product being brought onto "their" markets. It is possible that in the first country where thalidomide was marketed, West Germany, there were, at the time when the product was brought onto the West German market, no laws requiring the licensing of medicines. Like all other governments, the West German government had however a general duty to maintain public order and to maintain the physical integrity of "its" citizens and had thus to use all the required means to remove the product from "its" market. The said government, nor its competitors onto whose markets the product was brought following the West German example, did not use any of these means. Nay, some of the latter governments went on to licensing the product.

The review now comes to the second main thing the history of the thalidomide scandal as wrapped up in legal tabloids is hiding, the fact that thalidomide affects not only the sensory nerves - not the motor nerves - of the foetus, but also the sensory nerves of the mother.

Neurologist Dr Ralf Voss warned a 30 April - 1 May 1960 Düsseldorf congress of neurologists that thalidomide attacked the nervous system of the mother. (1)
In the foetus, thalidomide attacks the sensory nerves, not the motor nerves. (2)
((1) see the "Chronicle of the Thalidomide Scandal" ("Chronik des Conterganfalls; Tragödie - Katastrophe - Skandal?") on the website of Westdeutscher Rundfunk, WDR, a broadcaster
(2) Janet McCredie, "Beyond Thalidomide - Birth Defects Explained", London, The Royal Society of Medicine Press, 2007, p. 405)

Just like they didn't take the French ban into account before not preventing thalidomide being brought onto "their" markets, those governments did not order the product to be removed or withdrawn from their markets upon this May 1960 Voss warning, so that it was up to the heroes from Grünenthal to proceed to the withdrawal of the product on 27 November 1961.

This attack on the nervous system of the person swallowing thalidomide explains the mental illness from which Dr Cronin's mother started suffering when her daughter Eileen was about ten and which required several hospitalisations. (pp. 70-74 and others)

On p. 87, Dr Cronin writes, perhaps subconsciously:
"At ten I had only a vague idea of the complexity of Mom's illness and how, or if, it was affected by my being born without legs."

Until 1982 Dr Cronin's only knowledge of thalidomide came from tabloid stories. (p. 233)

UNWRAPPING THE SHAME OF THE TRIBE

Sir Karl Popper argues that "our" society can no longer be characterised as a "closed" society, but is an "open" society.
That it can no longer be characterised by tribalism but has made the step towards humanitarianism,
that is, that individuals are in "our" society no longer related, as they were in the tribe, by semi-biological ties - kinship, living together, sharing common efforts, common dangers, common joys and common ... distress, [...]
[nor by ...] by concrete physical relationships such as touch, smell and ... sight
but that individuals are in "our" society related by such abstract social relationships as division of labour and exchange of commodities.
(Karl Popper, "The Open Society and its Enemies", Vol. I, "The Spell of Plato", Princeton University Press, 1966, 5th rev. ed., pp. 171 and 173)

This review argues that the book demonstrates that Popper errs and that the shame due to the thalidomide scandal is so pervasive in the tribe that Dr Cronin's handicap is not the missing limbs. It is the shame of the (Mid-)western tribe, which thinks of itself as a "civilisation" and even a "culture", into which she was born.

Chambers Giant Paperback Dictionary defines "shame" as the humiliating feeling of having appeared unfavourably in one's own eyes, or those of others, as a result of one's own offensive or disrespectful actions, or those of an associate.

This reviewer wants to highlight three elements in this definition.
The first element, one's own offensive or disrespectful actions, or those of an associate.
This leads to the second element, the humiliating feeling of having appeared unfavourably in one's own eyes, or those of others.
The second element leads, for its part, to the third element, or rather to the whole, the shame.

It is important to notice, at the outset, that the "humiliation" about which the second element speaks is a result of the first element, that is, is the result of one's own offensive or disrespectful actions, or those of an associate.
This "humiliation" is thus not the result of offensive or disrespectful actions by third parties, that is, is thus not the result of offensive or disrespectful actions by other persons than oneself or one's associates.

Dr Cronin was born, as the seventh child, in a family where upon her birth, when her father came home from the hospital with her (her mother had not yet been released) and he handed her over to her siblings, they tore off the blanket and cried "Take it back." (p. 174) (the first element of the dictionary definition of shame - of the family)

This reviewer submits that this was a reminder of her birth two days earlier. At Dr Cronin's birth without legs, everybody acted badly
(the first element of the dictionary definition of the shame
- of the family -
and of the medical tribe).
This must have frightened her within minutes after birth. She must have concluded within those same minutes that there was something wrong either with her or with the world around her. Anyway, she could have concluded that humans always want to kill a newborn.

As a result of this hostility, that is, as a result of the offensive actions of the people present at her birth (still, the first element of the dictionary definition of the shame -
of the family -
and of the medical tribe),
the most obvious lessons have always been the hardest for her to learn.
This was the second factor which made her terrified not only of biology class, but of life (p. 169),
the first factor being the fact that since the very moment of her birth, she faced hostility for the very fact of having been born in the family - as a monster.
She didn't belong to "her" family which has been humiliated (the second element of the dictionary definition of shame, or rather of the definition of the shame of the family) by and is therefore ashamed (the third element of, or rather the whole of, the shame of the family) of having a monster among its offspring.

Dr Cronin was rejected by her siblings who, (p. 181), hate her since the very moment of her birth which birth has humiliated and shamed them. Those siblings are not Dr Cronin's associates as meant in the quoted definition of "shame".

Another factor, the third one, which made Dr Cronin terrified of life was that if she complained about how the tribe in which she was born and in which she continued living until she was twenty-one had handled her birth defects, her mother (like Dr Cronin's siblings, her mother is not her associate) would reply that she felt no guilt whatsoever for these defects (p.295) - even before she recognises, when Dr Cronin was twenty-one - at the very end of the epilogue (p. 334) - that when she was pregnant of Dr Cronin, a stewardess on an European airline owned by Scandinavian governments once gave her a tablet of thalidomide.
(Why did SAS, the airline owned by Scandinavian governments, have thalidomide on board in February 1960?
Thalidomide was the Wonder Drug - not only against Morning Sickness but also against everything, thus also against Air Sickness?)

Dr Cronin's mother has, as she (the mother) says, no guilt for Dr Cronin's birth defects?
Indeed, she has only shame and hatred for the monster.

But it was not enough that the family made Dr Cronin ashamed of being alive.

Indeed, if you, as a monster, then venture outside the family home, you realise that as confirmed by a study by Dr Robert Kleck, research professor emeritus from the department of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, USA, quoted by Dr Cronin on pp. 226-227, that in the wider world, you meet the same panic reaction you encountered at your birth. As Professor Kleck writes, in the presence of amputees, able-bodied people stand at a greater than customary distance and even manifest symptoms of panic. These behavioural differences (shorter interaction time, less variety of topics discussed, distortion of opinion) limit the interpersonal feedback and experience of the amputee - end of quote.

In her daily life, that is, in the real world, where thalidomide is given to pregnant girls by individuals intending to harm the foetus and the mother, Dr Cronin thus encountered the same panic reaction she encountered at her birth and upon her father returning home with her from the hospital and handing her over to her siblings. As she writes pp. 190-191, life in her body was too difficult, not the physical part but the almost certain disappointment involving other people, their disappointment in her, her in them.

This is the proof that, contrary to the argument of Sir Karl Popper, quoted at the outset of this Section, "our" society has not yet evolved from a "closed" society to an "open" society
and that individuals are still related, like in the tribe,
by semi-biological ties - kinship, living together, sharing common efforts, common dangers, common joys and common ... distress,
and
by concrete physical relationships such as touch, smell and ... sight.

When seeing thalidomide monsters, that is, upon the ... sight of the monsters,
the members of our western tribe are reminded of their common ... distress.

This review gave three factors which made Dr Cronin terrified of life in her family life and quoted Professor Kleck to argue that in the wider world she was also terrified.

At the end of the day, Dr Cronin was ashamed of being alive.

Note however that this is not due offensive or disrespectful actions on her part, whereas the definition of "shame" requires such actions on her part - or on the part of an associate.

The shame of the tribe for the thalidomide scandal is however so pervasive that the humiliating behaviour of the tribe vis-à-vis the thalidomide monsters makes the thalidomide monsters sick, making them want to disappear (when they are drunk - or not), jeopardising their life. Most thalidomide monsters concluded that this is all there is to life and that this is who they are and therefore they'd rather die. Not so for Dr Cronin. Oops, this reviewer went too fast. He will mention her drunken suicide-attempt at the end of this review, referring to p. 245 of the book.

The distress of the monster has another cause than the distress of the family and tribe.
For the family and tribe, the cause of the distress is the shame which results from their humiliation by the birth of the monster.
For the monster, the cause of the distress is the meeting of constant hostility of and panic by the family and the tribe who have been humiliated by the birth of the monster and who, as a result, proceed to humiliating the monster.

The causes of the shame of the family and tribe, on the one hand, and of Dr Cronin, on the other hand, are different. The humiliations from which these shames result are different.

The book thereby demonstrates that Dr Cronin's handicap is not the missing limbs. It is her shame as opposed to the shame of the family and tribe.

Dr Cronin will unwrap her shame by moving away for her studies at the age of twenty-one from Cincinnati, Ohio, in the Midwestern USA, where she grew up, to Boston, Massachusetts, on the USA East Coast. It was on her last day in Cincinnati, that is, the day before she left for Boston, that her mother had told her she had swallowed the thalidomide tablet on the SAS flight.

Once in Boston, Dr Cronin was no longer terrified of life and thus no longer ashamed of being alive. Her own shame had thereby disappeared and she could therefore "trans-form" and even "trans-substantiate" from thalidomide monster to the beautiful girl with a limp.

The family and tribe which wanted to kill the monster at birth cannot tolerate that the monster unwraps her shame because this unwrapping of the monster's shame does not bring about the unwrapping of their shame, which has, as we saw, another cause.

That's why Dr Cronin realised later in life, upon going to visit her mother for the Christmas holidays, that thalidomide had severed the umbilical cord between her and her mother and that she had done the right thing in moving away for her studies at the age of twenty-one from Cincinnati to Boston and that she realised now that when she left, she didn't know that she was making a choice between self-respect and having her family. (p. 296)

UNWRAPPING BOTH APPARENT CONTRADICTIONS

Thomas Aquinas defines logic as the science and art which directs the act of reason, by which man in the exercise of his reason is enabled to proceed without error, confusion, or unnecessary difficulty. It is acquired spontaneously when the intellect strives to know the truth
- truth being conformity between the thing and the intellect ("adaequatio rei et intellectus") -
and is at work whenever we use our reason properly.

Aristotle taught that the Principle of Non-Contradiction (PNC), which is not applicable to reality, but only to human thought, says that it is impossible to be and not to be at the same time and in the same respect.

We saw in the previous Section that, as a result of her humiliation by the birth of the monster, Dr Cronin's mother denies that she has taken thalidomide and that the birth defects of the monster have been caused by thalidomide.
This double denial results for its part in the family's and the tribe's denial that they have been humiliated by the birth of the monster and that they are ashamed of having a monster among their offspring, siblings, and co-members of the tribe.
This denial of the fact of being ashamed of having a monster among their offspring, siblings, and co-members results in their humiliating the monster and, of course, their denial that they are humiliating the monster.

As we also saw in the previous Section, Dr Cronin faced a problem.
On the one hand, she was emotionally or energetically attached to her family which (p. 181) hates her since the very moment of her birth (PROPOSITION (A))
just like she's emotionally or energetically attached to the limbs she doesn't have.
On the other hand, she didn't realise that the family hates her (same p. 181) because the family is being associated by the tribe with a monster (PROPOSITION (B)), the third factor which made Dr Cronin terrified of life.

To rephrase this: In the previous Section we encountered the contradiction between
PROPOSITION (A): Dr Cronin was emotionally or energetically attached to her family
AND
PROPOSITION (B): Her family hates her.

There seems however to be again a small contradiction in the reasoning at the end of the previous Section where this review said
that for the family and tribe, the cause of the distress is the humiliation by the birth of the monster, which distress then causes shame for the family and tribe
and
that for the monster, the cause of the distress is the meeting of constant hostility by and panic of the family and the tribe who have been humiliated by the birth of the monster and who, as a result, proceed to humiliating the monster. For the monster, it is the latter, not the former humiliation which results in her shame.

Indeed, Dr Cronin complains about others not being able to apply logical reasoning in her complaint of not having a family with more compassion and openness (p. 131), a family where at least somebody would want to hear her side of at least some story (p. 295), a family where at least the mother had an inkling what she, Dr Cronin, was up against, a mother who would be able to put herself in Dr Cronin's situation and just listen, without judgment to her rage and her sorrow (p. 162), a family where the mother would at least once agree to have a substantive talk about Eileen's legs and what that meant for her life. (p. 87)

But, on the other hand, she says that the most obvious lessons have always been the hardest for her to learn (p. 293), that is, she says that she has always experienced extreme difficulty in applying (logical) reasoning to the facts with which she was confronted.

Although she lacked the assurance that she belonged to her family (p. 249) and wondered what she was missing that her siblings had understood and accepted about her family (p. 285) and was therefore unconsciously building her ideal family from the examples around her (p. 131), she was prevented from reaching the conclusion that everybody in the family hates her - which hatred finds its origin in the fact that Dr Cronin is a monster shaming the family (p. 181).

The new apparent contradiction is between
PROPOSITION (C): Dr Cronin complains of having been brought up in a family not striving for truth, that is, not striving for "con-formity" of their intellect to the facts confronting Dr Cronin
AND
PROPOSITION (D): Dr Cronin didn't achieve the "con-formity" of her intellect to the facts confronting her.

The review now turns to the examination of both contradictions.

Hatred - for or of Dr Cronin - by the family (Proposition (B)) is the cause of Proposition (C).

The said hatred explains that Proposition (A) is "objectively" unfounded. It explains that the attraction, which Dr Cronin felt towards her family, attraction which is mentioned in Proposition (A), should not exist.
Can this reviewer conclude that Proposition (A) is false and that the first contradiction hereby disappears?
As indicated above, the Principle of Non-Contradiction (PNC) is not applicable to reality, only to human thought.

We are left with the second contradiction and Proposition (B) which is the cause of Proposition (C) which is one of the two constitutive elements of the second contradiction.

Human and animal beings are attracted to and therefore feel a natural urge to stay close to their mother. Human nature makes of this urge a bond of love for human beings. Along the way, toddlers extend this bond of love to include their father and siblings. This bond of love results in a toddler feeling united or joined together with her family. Human beings cannot possibly imagine that this attraction is not reciprocal.

Dr Cronin could not possibly imagine that her attraction was met with hatred.

This is what prevented Dr Cronin from applying logic to the facts with which she was confronted. It is this attraction, which she supposed to be reciprocal, which prevented her from reaching the obvious conclusions she had to draw, prevented her from learning the obvious lessons which she had to learn. Indeed, these conclusions and lessons contradicted her attraction, that is, they contradicted Proposition (A). But this Proposition (A) is false, said this reviewer.

Can this reviewer conclude that Dr Cronin was confused and could not proceed to exercising reason without error, but only with extreme difficulty? Indeed, her intellect was impeded in its endeavour to know the truth, because she was terrified of life, terrified of being alive. Being terrified of a human life which can only be led if it is directed by reason which, for its part, is directed by logic, would then result in being terrified of logic.

Being terrified of life results thus not only in being ashamed of being alive, as this review said in the previous Section, but also in being terrified of logic.

Or does it? Indeed, on the other hand, it could be argued that it is precisely clear thinking, Dr Cronin's intellect correctly "con-forming" itself to the facts, which led to her being terrified of life. As indicated above, the third factor which made Dr Cronin terrified of life, the fact that if she complained about how the tribe had handled her birth defects nobody in the tribe would listen to her, seems to indicate that the tribe, although not impeded like Dr Cronin, for whom the most obvious lessons have always been the hardest to learn in its endeavour to know the truth, did not want to strive to know the truth and was not interested in using its reason, properly. As indicated in the (title of the) previous Section, the shame is not only with her and with her parents. It is also in the tribe. THIS SUCKS!

As indicated at the end of last Section, Dr Cronin realised only later in life, upon going to visit her mother for the Christmas holidays, that thalidomide had severed the umbilical cord between her and her mother and that she had done the right thing in moving away for her studies at the age of twenty-one from Cincinnati to Boston and that she realised now that when she left, she didn't know that she was making a choice between self-respect and having her family. (p. 296)

As long as you are in the (Mid-)western tribe, you are not allowed to say or think that other people don't respect you because anybody to whom you tell that will reply that it is not true. It is not just Dr Cronin's mother (p. 162), but nobody in the tribe is able to put themselves in Dr Cronin's situation and understand what she's up against.

Only once you leave the family and the place where you grew up (the (Mid-)western tribe) where (p. 232) everyone was exceptionally good at keeping [thalidomide] secrets, that is, keeping secrets from the one person, you, who really needed to know them do you realise that it is the family which is restraining you, which is putting you in a straitjacket, thereby preventing you from changing from that girl who was born without legs (the shame for the family and the tribe)) into (p.1) that beautiful girl with a limp
(the shame for the family and the tribe which, as we saw in the previous Section, cannot tolerate that the monster unwraps her shame because this unwrapping of the monster's shame does not bring about the unwrapping of their shame, which has, as we saw, another cause than the shame of the mother.)

The book's main value is that it demonstrates that once the monster can no longer be - geographically - humiliated by the family and tribe,
the "per-son" sounding through (verb "per-sonare" in Latin) the mask of the monster can put her mask off and earn a living - as a practicing clinical psychologist - instead of vegetating like most thalidomide monsters.

Once the mask had been put off, Dr Cronin could no longer "con-form" to the "sub-stance" she was before her "trans-formation" and "trans-substantiation" in Boston, that is, to the "sub-stance" she was, or literally to the "sub-stance" which stood under her, before geographically separating from the family and tribe.
She could no longer "con-form" to the girl who was born without legs, but "con-formed" to the beautiful girl with a limp.

Once the tribal shame was - in Boston - no longer causing her distress through humiliation Dr Cronin could, as she saw it, never go back to the girl she'd been in Ohio. That girl tried to kill herself, says Dr Cronin. Maybe she (that girl) had been more successful in doing so than she (Dr Cronin)'d ever imagined. A new woman had replaced her. (p. 245)
Every "primary" cause infuses its effect more powerfully than does a universal second cause,
"Omnis causa primaria plus est influens super causatum suum quam causa universalis secunda",
says Proposition One of the "Liber de Causis" ("Book of Causes").

This Proposition, and more precisely its notion of the "primary" cause seems to be in opposition to Aristotle's notion of the "efficient" cause,
the being in act who brings about the change, of the physical malformations of thalidomide monsters) [the tablet of thalidomide].
(Aristotle gives the example of the ... sculptor who makes the ... statue.
Was this example devised 25 centuries ago with thalidomide monsters in mind?)

At the end of his short life and career Thomas Aquinas managed eight centuries ago however in his "Commentary" on the "Liber de Causis" to interpret the text as complementary rather than in opposition to what he had learned from Aristotle.

Thomas comments indeed that Proposition One means that when the "efficient" (in the Aristotelian sense) causes [the tablet of thalidomide] of a phenomenon stop existing or stop their effect, the real "primary" causes [government and society] continue their effect.

It may be that thalidomide is the "efficient" cause of the physical malformations of thalidomide monsters,
but that this does not make Grünenthal the "primary" cause of the thalidomide scandal.

"Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" would be a declaration stating to someone to get their head "back in the game" or out of the gutter.

"Denial isn't a river in Egypt" would mean that the Nile is the river that flows through Egypt but that denial is just refusing to face facts.

The Kansas River, said you?


How China Became Capitalist
How China Became Capitalist
by Ronald Coase
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £65.57

1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Realist Critique - Barter, Truth, and Marco Polo, 3 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For realists, our human mind has the external world as its object and the objects of the material world subsist independently of this mind. The first act of our intelligence is to grasp being, to grasp "that which is". Being is the first notion of our intelligence. The first thing which falls in the intellect is being ("primo in intellectu cadit ens"), said Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274 A.D.). The notion of being is implied in any consequent notion. It is upon this notion of being - not upon practice - that truth is founded ("veritas supra ens fundatur"). Aquinas went on to define truth as ad-equation between the thing and the intellect ("adaequatio rei et intellectus"). (Thomas Aquinas, "On the Truth", ("De Veritate"), article 1).

The book which is hereby being reviewed quotes chairman Mao Zedong, the architect and founding father of the People's Republic of China from its establishment in 1949, who held authoritarian control over the nation until his death in 1976, as saying that a return to barter would eliminate economic inequality once and for all. (p. 81)

After the death of Mao, Deng Xiaoping, the paramount leader of the People's Republic of China from 1978 to 1992, resolved the fundamental challenge of reconciling socialism with its policies of economic reform and opening up by returning to the traditional Chinese principle of "seeking truth from facts". Unimpeachable truth does not exist. Truth emerges only in an endless struggle against ignorance and bigotry and it rarely wins by a single, decisive, once-and-for-all battle. And it is only through this struggle that truth can be tested. The only truth which exists is testable truth and truth can only be tested in or through practice. The facts from which truth is sought are not given, they only "appear" or "emerge" through practice. Deng was therefore willing to change his ideas once they had been proven inconsistent with facts. For ideas to be able to be subjected to the proof of inconsistency with facts, China needs a free and open market for ideas, as China has known during its entire history. And it is possible to have a flourishing market for ideas without a government elected within a multi-party democracy. Nay, the tyranny of the majority can repress the market for ideas, says the book which is hereby being reviewed.

Confucius' (551-479 B.C.) influence in Chinese history compares with that of Socrates (c. 469 B.C. - 399 B.C.) in Europe and the philosophy of both men was compiled and written down by their followers.

Tzu Kung asked: "Is there any one word that can serve as a principle for the conduct of life?". Confucius said: "Perhaps the word is "reciprocity". Do not do to others what you would not want others to do to you".
(Lun Yu, "The Book of Lun Yu", Book 15, Chapter 23)

Many places on this planet recognise Confucius' moral imperative as the Golden Rule. In order to set up the Golden Rule as the moral imperative, you need to assume that there is such a thing as human nature.

Mencius (371 to 289 B.C.) studied with the great-grandson of Confucius and became the foremost follower and greatest developer of the orthodox teaching of Confucius just like Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274 A.D.), who wrote textual commentaries on Aristotle, was the greatest developer of Aristotle (384 to 322 B.C.), a contemporary of Mencius.

"Wherever there are things and affairs, there must be their principles", wrote Mencius.
Another translation translates Mencius as writing that:
"Every faculty and relation of mankind must have its law".
(Mencius, "Book of Mencius", Book VI, Chapter 1, point 6)

By referring to "mankind", the second translation of this teaching of Mencius clearly refers to human nature.

On p. 122, the book which is hereby being reviewed traces the principle of "seeking truth from facts" to the writings of a famous Chinese historian during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.- 220 A.D.), Ban Gu, and to the Song Dynasty's (960-1279 A.D.),
- during which China enjoyed a glorious cultural renaissance (p. 198),
during which paper money became institutionalised as a governmental policy, says silk-road.com,
paper money, which did not emerge in the west until the 17th century, and by the use of which Marco Polo was particularly intrigued in the 13th century (p. 178) -
Zhu Xi.

Did Mencius (371 to 289 B.C.) not say - before the Han Dynasty which started in 206 B.C. - that truth should be sought from facts when he said that "wherever there are things and affairs, there must be their principles", or that, in another translation, "every faculty and relation of mankind must have its law"?

The book which is hereby being reviewed argues, pp. 5-6, that the principle of "seeking truth from facts" demonstrates the pragmatic root of Confucianism.

Pragmatism is the theory which says that the truth of an idea or belief consists in its applicability or its aptitude for practical result, that that is true which succeeds, and thus that a profitable lie becomes truth.

Of course, if you start like Mao and Deng from the truth of socialism, if you maintain that the material basis of reality is constantly changing in a dialectical process
- a process of negation of negation, rather than thesis and antithesis, says Frederick Copleston, S.J., in Chapter XVI "The Transformation of Idealism (2)" of the 1963 Volume 7 of his "History of Philosophy" -,
and maintain that matter has priority over mind,
then practice may be the only way to reveal the lie of socialism,
but socialism admits no absolute truth - except socialism - because, as Friedrich Engels, the associate of Karl Marx, said, reality is permanently changing and moving, thereby following Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus (c. 535 - c. 475 B.C.), a contemporary of Confucius (551-479 B.C.).
Engels therefore viewed Heraclitus as a sort of "patron saint" of the dialectic.

In the west, pragmatism was "discovered" in Europe by René Descartes (1595-1650) and was later expanded by William James (1842 - 1910) in America.

Descartes observed that there is more truth in the reasonings of each individual with reference to the affairs in which he is personally interested,
("Discourse on Method", I, 7),
James went on to disregard the traditional notion of truth of Aquinas, "adaequatio rei et intellectus", and to replace it by a theory arguing that
"If there be any life that it is really better we should lead, and if there be any idea which, if believed in, would help us to lead that life, then it would be really better for us to believe in that idea, unless, indeed, belief in it incidentally clashed with other greater vital benefits."
(Lecture II "What Pragmatism Means" of his 1907 book "Pragmatism - A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking"),
thereby subordinating knowledge to activity - or practice.

A profitable lie - like socialism - becomes truth.

Ludwig von Mises famously said at the outset of section 2 "The Prerequisites of Human Action" of Chapter I "Acting Man" of his "opus magnum" "Human Action" that man is not only "homo sapiens", but also "homo agens" (acting man).

For the book which is hereby being reviewed, the facts from which truth is sought are not given, those facts "appear" or "emerge" only through practice. This entails that only the "homo agens" can achieve truth and that "being", the first thing which falls into the intellect of the "homo sapiens", cannot be caught by a true judgement. This entails further that the principle of non-contradiction (PNC) - "It impossible to and not to be at the same time and in the same respect" - is no longer the first principle of being, no longer one of the primary or fundamental elements in human knowledge which serve as the basis for all other truths, no longer the judgement which is naturally first and which is presupposed by all other judgements. If there is no PNC, how one prove anything - through practice?

The book which is hereby being reviewed says on p. 122 that "in rejecting class struggle and stressing practice as the only criterion for testing truth, the Chinese economic reform started on a sound epistemic foundation" - an epistemic foundation - pragmatism - which does not admit or recognise the PNC.

The book goes on to argue, p. 196, that truth emerges only in an endless struggle against ignorance and bigotry and that it rarely wins by a single, decisive, once-and-for-all battle.

What Coase and Wang - and Mises for that matter - do not understand is that free will does not intervene in every judgement. The exigencies of life do not make our thoughts true. But the truth of our thoughts is derived from the ad-equation or conformity of these thoughts to reality, being - that which is -, the first thing which falls into our intellect. And yes, this is a once-and-for-all battle, involving no decision, involving no free will, but impelling us to say "This displeases me, but it is nonetheless true", says Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., in Chapter 57 "Realism And Pragmatism", of his book "Reality" of which the 1950 translation into English was revised in 2009.

I quoted Ludwig von Mises, the godfather of the Austrian School of Economics. But Coase belongs to the Chicago School of Economics. Whereas the Austrians support either free banking or a gold standard, the Chicago monetarists advocate a controlled fiat-money policy.

The book which is hereby being reviewed therefore writes p. 184 that most economists forget that most economic phenomena are what sociologists call "social facts" distinct from physical and psychological facts and that [...], money - like contract and property rights - is a social construction.
For Coase and Wang, reality does not exist independently of the mind but is a construction of the mind.
Reality is constructed by the mind.
What was constructivism again for Friedrich A. von Hayek?

Ronald Coase achieved prominence in 1937
- the same year that Mao concluded his influential article "On Practice" by writing that the whole of the dialectical-materialist theory of knowledge is to discover the truth through practice and again through practice verify and develop the truth, says p. 121 of the book which is hereby being reviewed -
with his for seminal essay "The Nature of the Firm" which introduces the concept of transaction costs to explain the nature and limits of firms.
Coase argued that the size of a firm will expand until the costs (at the margin) of organising an extra transaction within the firm are equal to the costs involved in carrying out the transaction in the open market
[for goods and services - not the market for ideas which, as I said earlier, the book which is hereby being reviewed deems necessary for ideas to be able to be subjected to proof of inconsistency with facts],
or, to the costs of organising by another entrepreneur.

Coase's main point was that the distinguishing mark of the firm is the "supersession of the market mechanism".
Will it pay to bring an extra transaction under the organising authority of the entrepreneur?

Whereas Coase said 75 years ago that the size of the firm is determined by the answer to the question whether it will pay to bring an extra transaction under the organising authority of the entrepreneur,
the book which is hereby being reviewed argues that the answer to this question, the comparison between the prices paid for the bringing or not of an extra transaction under the organising authority of the entrepreneur, is determined by prices denominated not in something objective but in a social construction called "money".

My writings on Chinese Freegold are available elsewhere on the web.

As I said at the outset, Mao is quoted on p. 81 of the book which is hereby being reviewed as having argued that a return to barter would eliminate economic inequality once and for all. The epilogue of the book which is hereby being reviewed says, p. 206, that "an open society with a market for ideas nudges us to get into closes contact with reality in nature and our human society".

Perhaps, I should conclude by arguing that the book forgets that - as Mao seems to have realised (and thus did not forget) with his advocacy of a return to barter - before we can "get in contact with reality in nature and our human society", we should perhaps get in contact with our own human nature which we know better. But the question is, however, not what we know best, but what we know first, says Garrigou-Lagrange in his quoted Chapter "Realism And Pragmatism".

What we know first is being.

When one party gives something of value and the other party pays him with something, in this case a social construction, of no value, and when one party's wealth is created out of thin air, while the other party has to slave and earn to pay off the ill-gotten credit or loan, is the least one can say about this not that this is an example of economic inequality?

China has learnt the lessons from Marco Polo who was so intrigued in the 13th century by paper money.

In barter, direct exchange, there is ad-equation between what both parties to the exchange ... exchange.
In the (historical) process of moving from direct exchange through barter to indirect exchange through money, one cannot find a moment where money as an intermediary good should be replaced by the social construction "money",
just like "practice" has demonstrated that the European Union company-law harmonisation diktats, er, directives, - which want to protect the members and third parties of companies, i.e., shareholders, creditors and workers - have not promoted cross-border business activity
(Wyatt and Dashwood's, "European Union Law", 2011, 6th ed., p. 700),
Coasean "theory" on "The Nature of the Firm" having demonstrated that the most important creditors of the firm, the workers, are protected and not harmed by the firm - by becoming a worker, this former creditor obtains indeed not only a long-term contract, but also a privileged claim in the event of bankruptcy.

Can the reader now better ascertain the "truth" of Mao's advocacy of a return to barter as a way to eliminate economic inequality once and for all?

The book is silent about the renminbi and, a fortiori, about its gold reserves.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2015 3:06 AM GMT


The Crash of 2008 And What It Means: The New Paradigm For Financial Markets
The Crash of 2008 And What It Means: The New Paradigm For Financial Markets
by George Soros
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

11 of 45 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars thinking and reality, 6 July 2009
Thomas Aquinas defined truth as ad-equation between the thing and the intellect ("adaequatio rei et intellectus"), the ad-equation between reality and thinking. Soros uses three avenues to introduce his, Keynesian it appears now in the present second edition, intuitions between thinking and reality.

Soros wants to be part of the lively debate on how to reshape the world, how to bring about a better world order (page 231), after the crisis whose trigger was the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on 15 September 2008. In the past, the US government always intervened when the financial system was threatened (pages 157 and 161). In September 2008, however, says Soros, they let the system collapse (page 161). In the first edition of the book, published before 15 September 2008, Soros did not invoke nor present Keynesianism as a solution. The present second edition adds a Part III, which starts page 155 and ends page 223, to the text, before the (old) conclusion which now starts page 224 and in the first edition started page 153. The trigger of the crisis was the Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy. Soros says the cause of the crisis is not exogenous to the financial system. He says that the crisis was not caused by an external shock (like the 1973 oil crisis) but that it is a crisis of the system itself (page 216). He does not analyse the financial system's flaw. He does not analyse how the financial system is maladapted, or how mal the financial system is adapted to reality. Instead, he uses three avenues to introduce his, Keynesian it appears now in the present second edition, intuitions between thinking and reality:
One, his concept of reflexivity which is based inter alia on an erroneous interpretation of Sir Karl Popper's concept of "fallibility" and on a failure to grasp the purpose of quantum gravity.
Two, his denial that logic can expand the knowledge of truth. Only credit can, for Soros, be expanded.
Three, Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy is conclusive evidence that the efficient market hypothesis has been falsified. Therefore, Soros's intuitive theory of reflexivity is correct. By the same token, the intuitive policy-recommendations of which Keynes had intuitive a-priori knowledge seven decades ago are appropriate to solve the present crisis.

Pythagoras, in the sixth century BC, compared life to the Great Games, where some go to compete for the prize and others go with wares to sell, but the best as spectators; for similarly, in life, some grow up with servile natures, greedy for fame and gain, but the philosopher seeks for truth. Saint Augustine (354 - 430 AD) declared "If I am deceived, I am". "Truth" is "adaequatio rei et intellectus" would add Saint Thomas (1225 - 1274). Before René Descartes, reality was out there. Then man came along to know it. Descartes (1596 - 1650) then says, no truth is not out there and is not ad-equation between the thing and the intellect, truth is in here, truth is in my "cogito". I think ("cogito"), therefore I am ("cogito ergo sum").

Not so for the Enlightenment, says Soros. For the Enlightenment, says Soros, it is with Descartes that reality was out there. By declaring "cogito ergo sum", Descartes made science became possible, thought the Enlightenment, says Soros (page 32) who, the latter, seems nevertheless to be critical of the Enlightenment.

At the end of the day, which will include the second avenue, I will have to wonder whether if Soros were confronted with Thomas's definition of truth, he, Soros, would not say that this is the definition of truth advocated by the Enlightenment. I hope I am wrong on this but, for the moment, I see no way out of this conclusion.

Most authors, even those critical of Descartes, argue that Augustine anticipates Descartes. This reviewer disagrees.

Augustine said:
"If am deceived, I am ("Si fallor, sum"),
For he who is not, cannot be deceived; and if I am deceived, by this same token I am."
This reviewer says that if you are deceived and thus fail, it is reality which tells you that you fail. It is not your thinking, not your "cogito", which tells you that you have failed, but the real-world school of hard knocks which informs of the hard matter that you have failed.

The online etymological dictionaries confirm that the Latin verb "fallere" (from which "fallor" is the first person singular present indicative in the passive voice), "to deceive", is the etymological origin of the English noun "fallibility".

FIRST AVENUE

Whereas for, Sir Karl Popper, we are fallible because our adaptation to the natural environment is never optimal and always imperfect. (Popper, "All life is problem solving", Routledge, 1999, p. 70),
Soros says, page 16 of book which is hereby being reviewed, that he disagrees with Popper's Thesis of the Unity of Scientific Method, i.e., the thesis that the same methods and criteria apply both in the natural and social sciences. He disagrees because, for him, Soros, the social sciences deal with events that have thinking participants. These participants base their decisions on their imperfect understanding. And their "fallibility", - Soros is using this noun in another meaning than Popper (Soros does not speak about maladaptation to the natural environment) -, creates a difficulty for the understanding of social institutions which is absent in the case of natural phenomena. Therefore, says Soros page 17, the social sciences need to use "somewhat" different methods from the natural sciences. He concedes, page 222, that the distinction between those two kinds of sciences is not an easy one.

And in this way, I landed in the first avenue which Soros uses to introduce his, Keynesian it appears now in the present second edition, intuitions between thinking and reality.

Soros's main purpose in writing this book is to demonstrate the validity and importance of "reflexivity" (page 224) as the element which justifies that the social sciences should use "somewhat" different methods from the natural sciences. "Reflexivity" is a two-way connection between the participants' thinking and the situation in which they participate (page 8). For Soros, knowledge is represented by true statements. But statements and facts do not exist independently of each other (page 8). This results, on the one hand, in the participants not being able to base their decisions on knowledge alone (page 6) and, on the other hand, in misconceptions playing an important role in the shaping of human history (page 216), Sir Karl Popper having demonstrated that ultimate truth is beyond human reach (page 37).

Soros's contention is that machines need to be well formed in order to survive, that is, they must do the job for which they were designed. Social institutions are different, he says. They may not serve their purpose well, yet they may survive. Markets may be maladaptive, this reviewer would say "maladapted", indefinitely (page 220),

Soros says that reflexivity can be compared to John L. Austin's and John Searle's speech acts (page 38) and has some resemblance to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle in quantum physics (page 30 - 31).

The "theory" of speech acts says that we create social reality by engaging in speech acts, which are the vehicle through which people commit themselves to one another.
Searle himself insisted, however, on the fact that realism entails that facts exist independently of language and interpretation (George P. Fletcher, "Law", in: Barry Smith (ed.), "John Searle", Cambridge University Press, 2003, 85, p. 86).
This means that when Soros argues page 32 that reality is not something independently given that can be fully understood by making statements about it, Soros is extracting himself from any qualification as a realist which he confirms on page 34 by saying that the separation of thinking and reality is a fallacy, one of the fertile fallacies which abound in history.

Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle says that it is not possible to be exactly sure of both the position and the velocity of a particle; the more accurately one is known, the less accurately the other can be known.
For Soros, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle should thus destroy knowledge. Soros does however not say that people do not base their decisions upon knowledge because knowledge has been destroyed by the uncertainty principle.
Soros says that decisions need not to be based on knowledge to produce the desired results and that people base their decision not only on facts, but also on intentions and expectations about the future (page 4).

Instead of letting the uncertainty principle destroying knowledge, Soros lets the method of the social sciences destroy the physical sciences.

Scientists know that the uncertainty principle which explains what happens on microscopic (atomic, quantum) scales is incompatible with Eistein's 1915 general theory of relativity, an expansion of his 1905 special theory of relativity (E=MC2) which corrects and extends Newtonian gravitation, especially at the macroscopic level of stars or planets, to include the effect of gravitation on the shape of space and the flow of time. And scientists are trying to reconcile those theories whose principles lie uncomfortably with each other into a theory of "quantum gravity".

No, in accordance with his theory that the social sciences, including metaphysics I suppose, need to use "somewhat" different methods from the natural sciences, Soros stops at the apparent contradiction of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

Soros thinks one can be in the Pythagorian position of the philosopher, thus in the position of a spectator, only in exceptional circumstances. This is because we not only want to understand the world in which we live, but also want to make an impact on it to our advantage (page 3). The Pythagorian assumption of the spectator is therefore only justified, in the very exceptional circumstances where the participants make a special effort to keep the two functions apart.

SECOND AVENUE

The second avenue through which Soros wants to introduce his Keynesian intuitions between thinking and reality is that he says that he accepts the correspondence theory of the truth (page 8).

Now, the correspondence of truth is based on Thomas's definition of the truth, as ad-equation between the intellect (or thinking) and the thing (or reality).

Basic realism rests however not only on the correspondence theory of the truth, but also on respect for facts of how the world is and how it work. (Barry Smith, "John Searle: from Speech Acts to Social reality" in: Barry Smith (ed.), "John Searle", Cambridge University Press, 2003, 1, p. 2)

Once realism has been accepted as a starting point, once it has been accepted that the real can be caught by thought, one can and must trust discursive thought as a truthful representation of reality, to the extent that reason elaborates or expands its primary knowledge of the real through reasoning in accordance with its own laws. It is the task of the science of logic to describe the laws with which reason has to comply when it, reason, is reasoning in order to expand its knowledge of the truth (see my review of Friedrich August von Hayek's "Contra Keynes and Cambridge", over at Amazon.com).

Soros denies, however, that logic can expand the knowledge of truth because, page 34, we are liable to overexploit it and extend (or expand) it to areas where it no longer applies. Translate: there are no laws of logic which tell you which expansions of knowledge are valid and which expansions are not valid.

Only credit can lawfully (and legally) be expanded, i.e. only money can be created out thin air by central and non-central banks, says Soros. Instead of outlawing all money creation out of thin air, Soros wants only credit expansion by non-central banks to be regulated. Soros even adds in Part III, page 188, that creating additional money supply is the right response to the collapse of credit. He wants the economy first to be pumped full of money to make up for the collapse of credit and then he wants, when credit begins to flow again, the liquidity to be miraculously drained out of the system almost as fast as it was injected (page 192).

His argument is that credit creation is a human construct and that it is maladapted to reality. He forgets that under the gold standard, which is not a human construct, credit expansion is not possible.

He does not call for the repeal of the financial system because he refuses to accept the unity of the scientific method. It is a social construct and can thus continue in existence even if it is maladapted.

Soros says, page 31-32, that knowledge requires statements that correspond to the facts. To establish correspondence statements and facts have to be treated as separate categories.

Hence, he says, the pursuit of knowledge leads to the separation of thinking and reality. On page 34 he says however that the separation of thinking and reality is a fallacy, one of the fertile fallacies which abound in history. The reason why it is a fallacy is that reality is not independently given that can be fully understood by making statements about it (page 32).

No, Thomas said that truth, or knowledge (of ... truth) if you want, is ad-equation, not separation, between thinking (or the intellect) and reality (or the thing).

THIRD AVENUE

This separation between thinking and reality explains why after the 15 September 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, Soros felt compelled to publish a second edition of the book by adding a Part III. In that Part III, Soros now argues page 170 that, whereas the people living though the Great Depression in the 1930s did not have John Maynard Keynes's book "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" at their disposal because it was published only in 1936, we have it at our disposal from the outset.

In my review of Friedrich August von Hayek's "Contra Keynes and Cambridge" over at Amazon.com, I said that in "The General Theory", Mr Keynes, outlines his intuitive policy-recommendations of which he had a-priori intuitive knowledge and presented them then as the conclusions from premises based on, or inferred from, principles which are fundamentally contradicted by experience.

By writing the second edition of the presently reviewed book, Soros is recognising that he did not need Keynes before Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy, bankruptcy which "conclusively" "falsifies" the efficient market hypothesis, says Soros (page 165). There is indeed a flaw in the equilibrium theory (page 72). Therefore, page 74, the paradigm that financial markets tend towards equilibrium must be adjusted, we must renounce the unity of methods (page 75) and, page 76, adopt the ... intuitive theory of reflexivity.

Sir Karl Popper's not-so-intuitive criterion of "falsifiability" says that a theory is part of empirical science if and only if it [possibly] conflicts with possible experiences and is therefore in principle falsifiable by experience. (Popper, "All life is problem solving", Routledge, 1999, p. 16)

Soros, on the other hand, intuitively knows that banking system, which, as we have seen, will have been pumped full of money and from which the "liquidity" will then have been miraculously drained out, will not be allowed to collapse exactly because this caused the Great Depression. Soros does not elaborate on who or what will prevent the banking system from collapsing.

Soros intuitively knows that maladapted and ... fraudulent social institutions, such as irredeemable, at least unbacked, paper money and fractional-reserve banking, can survive forever.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 20, 2012 11:06 AM GMT


The Euro: The Politics of the New Global Currency
The Euro: The Politics of the New Global Currency
by David Marsh
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Monetary Mysticism, 24 April 2009
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A mystic is a man who surrendered his mind at its first encounter with the minds of others.

The book has a chapter, indeed Chapter One, under the title "Blood and Gold". The chapter does discuss the history of the Gold Standard and the Gold Reserves of the precursors of the European Central Bank (ECB), such as the German Bundesbank and the Banque de France.

The book does however not discuss the Gold Reserves of the ECB.

Like all his colleagues, David Marsh amalgamates the Gold Reserves of the ECB with the foreign exchange (Forex) reserves of the ECB. And he speaks (only) about "the gold and foreign exchange reserves" of the ECB.

Forex reserves consisting of worthless paper money can only possibly be used for intervention on Forex markets. Such reserves are worthless, no, useless, to determine the value of a currency.

The barbarous relic, the Gold Standard, is alive and kicking, Mr Keynes.

But since we are all clashing as to the causes of this crisis, any political plan alleging that it is going to solve the crisis is acceptable for the mystics.


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