Dec 25, 2010

Is libertarianism suitable for Nepal?

Couple of weeks back, I received an email from a gentleman who showed concern regarding the suitability of libertarianism for Nepal. Reading the email, I was grateful to him for his time and effort to show his concern and I also realized that if one wants to promote ideas of liberty in a society like ours, she has to take in account the collective nature of our society and culture. And hence, the ideas need to be adapted into actions that make sense to the members of our society. Recently , I also participated in a colloquium on Indian Liberal Tradition and during the discussion I learned that one of the pivotal work Indian liberal leaders of first generation did was adapt the ideas of liberalism into Indian context so that they became very relevant to the society they were being discussed in.

Here, I present you the email I received and my reply.

The email:
 Mr. Giri,
Although I am not a libertarian and in fact I do not agree with some of its core beliefs, I must commend you for your attempts to put your views forward. Individualism cannot work in Nepal for the time being because of the rigidly collective nature of Nepali society (and not so much because of the Nepali state, which barely exists).
‘Libertarianism’, or any other ‘ism’ has to be tailored to each society’s needs and aspirations. The failure to do so will only bring more confusion than previously existed. A country like Nepal—for the most part still living in the 15th century is not likely to accept the tenets of a new and rather radical system. People have been culturally programmed here not to accept responsibility for their actions.
Anyway, these are just preliminary thoughts. If you want to debate them you can always email me.

My reply:
Thank you Mr. Gyawali for the email and your concern and sorry for my late reply. You are right in saying that Nepali society is rigidly collective in nature. However I differ with you when you say Nepali state is weak or barely exists, It barely exists when it comes to its basic functions such as law and order, administration of justice, handling of foreign diplomacy but in other aspects of life I find it pretty much strong and interfering. Just look at our history to date...first the ranas, then the panchayat, then the monarch, don't you think the state had been strong in those times although it may seem a bit weak at the current transition phase. The economic sphere and social spehere of the citizens of this country has always been controlled by the state. The exorbitant tariff rates , restriction of foreign direct investment, inflationary monetary policy, cumbersome license permit raj and the massive corruption, state backed cartels and syndicates, highly politicized trade unions that are major impediment to  our industrial growth, massive corruption and inefficiency through public enterprises and so on...what do you think about that?
Regarding relevancy of libertarianism, I take it more as a philosophy of life as compared to an ideology. I agree that it is a philosophy developed from the western thought but i also believe that its principles are more of universal nature (such as that humans are rational beings, free markets bring prosperity, private ownership brings better handling of any resources, spontaneous order emerging through markets is better form of organizing a society rather than an iron fist). For me it's primarily a way of living life and viewing the world and then secondarily a way of organizing our society and taking nation forward. I find it hard to believe that a long defunct-ridiculous and proven wrong world-wide philosophy like communism can flourish in our country even though we Nepalese have fought for our freedom time and again. I believe the collectivist thought of Nepali society has been accentuated by the leftist political parties and leaders even though i agree our society and mostly Hinduism is somewhat collective in nature. However, there is also this fact that even Hinduism has liberal aspects to it in the Charvak school of thought.

I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say any 'ism' has to be tailored to meet a society's need and aspirations and sincerely believe libertarianism in its purest sense won't be applicable here. Various dimensions of our society like diversity, caste systems, culture should be taken into consideration. I might believe in an individual's right to bear arms but i would not necessarily advocate it in the context of Nepal, I might believe education isn't a basic human right and state has no business in providing education and yet i would support state's minimal involvement although i would advocate some private components in it such as the education voucher system. However, i also believe that the so called "perfect time' for liberty never comes. I find it rather foolish when people say Nepal is not ready. what the heck...if it's not ready for freedom and prosperity then it can't be ready for anything else at all. There are examples of countries like Poland and Estonia who jumped from totally communist structure to free market structure. People there had hardly any sense what price of a good or service meant at all but still they did it. And they happen to be the most prosperous and vibrant societies among the nations that separated from USSR.

By the way, i was wondering what were the tenets of libertarianism that you disagreed with. It would be interesting to discuss, I believe.
So what do YOU think about the suitability of libertarianism in Nepal. Please share your thoughts, agreements and disagreements in the comment box below! 

Dec 22, 2010

पूँजीवादलाई पूँजिपतीहरुबाट बचाऊ

हिजो प्रकाशीत डा. भोला चालिसेको "सार्वजनिक निजी साझेदारी र समाजवाद" नामक लेख साह्रै नै सान्दर्भिक  र तथ्यपरक छ । लेखकले भनेझै नेपालमा पूँजीवादलाई पूँजीपतीहरू  बाट नै ठुलो खतरा छ । अधिकान्श विश्वले बढ्दो ब्यक्तिगत र आर्थिक स्वतन्त्रता तर्फ पाइला चाली रहेको र सम्मुन्नत हुँदै गैरहेको अवस्थामा नेपालमा भने पूँजीवाद भन्ने शब्द उच्चारण गर्नै डराउनुपर्ने हुनु दुर्भाग्यपुर्ण कुरा हो।   आजको विश्व को एक आम नागरिकलाई बुझ्न हम्मे हम्मे पर्ने बिषय हो -सारा विश्वले अन्तरस्थमै खराब सिध्दान्त हो भनेर स्वीकारेको ,जस्को प्रादुर्भाव भएको समयलाई डर , त्रास र अन्धकारको युग भनेर विश्वले स्वीकरिसकेको र जस्का गलत नितिका कारण करोडौ मानिसले ब्यर्थमा ज्यान दिनु परेको , देशहरुको अर्थतन्त्र ध्वस्त भएको साम्यवाद, समाजवाद जस्तो निति नेपालमा चै किन यस्तो हाबी भएको होला । तर जब हामी हाम्रो नीजी क्षेत्र र पुजिपतीहरुको क्रियकलाप हेर्छौ , त्यो हाम्रा लागि आस्चर्य को बिषय रहदैन । प्रतिस्पर्धा र जोखिम उथाएर ब्यापार गर्नुको साटो राज्यको खर्चमा आफ्नो ढुकुटी भर्न लागि परेकाहरुले अर्थतन्त्रमा राज्यको भूमिका बढाउनु पर्‍यो भन्नु नौलो कुरा नै भएन । राज्यका मार्फत प्रत्यक्ष वा अप्रत्क्ष्य रूपमा एक्लौटी अधिकार र जनताले तिरेको करको पैसा ब्यक्तिगत रुपमा प्रयोग गर्न पाइने भएपछि सार्वजनिक-निझी साझेदारीका लागि उनिहरु कस्सियेरै लाग्ने त भए नै । राज्यको अहिले सम्मको प्रदर्शननै, अर्थतन्त्रमा राज्यको भूमिका न्युनिकरणका लागि जोडदार तर्क हो । नीजी क्षेत्रको यस्तो अनैतिक व्यबहारले नीजी क्षेत्र झनै बद्नाम हुने र अर्थतन्त्रमा आघात पुग्ने भएकाले आजको एउटा आवश्यक्ता पूँजीवादलाई पुजिपतीहरुबाट बचाउनु पनि हो ।

Dec 17, 2010

Global financial Crisis-Blame the populist policies not free markets!

Just read this view-point entitled “Smooth functioning free market; conditions are attached” on The Himalayan Times of Dec 15. The leftist economist and critics who are riding the bandwagon of state intervention after the global financial crisis declaring it a failure of markets comfortably choose to forget the fact that economic depressions are part of a democratic process of the market to transform resources stuck in unproductive sectors towards more productive sectors and the financial recession emerged from the misguided policy of the US government that encouraged dirt cheap credits for home-ownership. Misguided by the bad policies, banks and other financial institutions invested majority of their resources in the home mortgages which increased the investment in housing sector tremendously. When the market couldn’t take the expansion anymore it busted dragging down major financial institutions as well as other industries. So, the financial crisis instead of being a failure of market is in fact the failure of state intervention in the mortgage markets. Had it not been for the unnecessary intervention of the state in the markets, the recession would never have occurred in first place. For the past 10-12 years, the U.S. economy invested in housing at a rate above that suggested by historical trends. This boom coincided with a substantial increase in homeownership. These facts suggest that the U.S. over invested in housing during this period.  It’s sad that a respected economist like Dr. Dhungel chooses to ignore the facts and give a biased viewpoint to further state intervention.

Dec 9, 2010

My journey of 1000 movies and 100 movies you shouldn't miss!

I recently watched the French movie "Persepolis" and with it completed my journey of watching 1000 movies. My obsession with movies started a couple of years back when I rented the movie "House of Wax" and watched it. Though I was able to get a fair sense of the storyline and what's happening, I was surprised at my inability to understand the dialogues. It was a disgrace to my knowledge of English language that I couldn't understand it being spoken in a movie properly. The indignant me then embarked on a movie watching spree. I watched one movie after another until I could hardly find a movie in the store that I hadn't watched already.

One year and more than 300 movies later, I was still pretty bad at understanding the dialogues and subtitles were my savior but it didn't matter anymore as a whole new exciting world of  art had opened up before me.Movies now were rarely just a 2-3 hour enjoyment but more than that they were a form of art that drew upon a lot of factors including social trends, values and norms of the society they reflected, the viewers they addressed and the philosophy,vision, techniques and idiosyncrasies of their makers. Any they were immensely informative. I realized movies if watched with discretion would be much more than just an idle time pass.

I went on to watch IMDB's Top 250 movies ever made and American Film Institute's Top 100 movies of the last century (97 out of 100 yet.) and Time's Top 100 movies (78 out of 100 yet). I sought after earliest of the movies (earliest one I have watched is "The Great Train Robbery") and movies from various countries (USA, UK, France, South Korea, Italy, Iran, India, China, Nepal, Mexico, Sweden, Israel to name a few) and watched as many as I could find.I realized along the way that the more movies you watch the more you wean away from commercial main stream movies and towards art and independent movies. Well, after watching 1000 movies all I can say is I am ever more eager to watch more movies.
By the way, you can read the whole list of movies I have watched to date here and below are the 100 (there are more though) of my most favorite movies (in alphabetical order) I have watched to date and think you shouldn't miss them if you are into the business of watching movies. Not all the movies in the list are great movies in the "great movie" sense but all of them are my favorite. Enoy!
  1. 12 Angry Men (1957)
  2. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
  3. A River Runs Through It (1992)
  4. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  5. Aguirre, The wrath of God (1972)
  6. Alien (1979)
  7. All About Eve (1950) 
  8. Amadeus (1984)
  9. American History X (1998)
  10. Apocalypse Now (1979) 
  11. Big Fish (2003)
  12. Braveheart (1995)
  13. Brief Encounter (1945)
  14. Brotherhood (2004)
  15. Casablanca (1942)
  16. Casino (1995)
  17. Children of Heaven (1997)
  18. Crash (2004/I)
  19. Departures (2008)
  20. Downfall (2004)
  21. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  22. Fight Club (1999)
  23. For a Few Dollars More (1965)
  24. Forrest Gump (1994)
  25. Gandhi (1982)
  26. Gattaca (1997)
  27. Glory (1989)
  28. Gone with the Wind (1939)
  29. Goodbye Lenin! (2003)
  30. Goodfellas (1990)
  31. Gran Torino (2008)
  32. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
  33. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
  34. Ice Age (2002)
  35. In the Mood for Love (2000)
  36. Inception (2010) 
  37. Innocent Voices (2004)
  38. Into the Wild (2007)
  39. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
  40. Jurassic Park (1993)
  41. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
  42. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001)
  43. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  44. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
  45. Life Is Beautiful (1997) 
  46. Little Manhattan (2005)
  47. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
  48. Malèna (2000)
  49. Mary and Max (2009)
  50. Memento (2000)
  51. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
  52. Mulholland Dr. (2001)
  53. Nights of Cabiria (1957)
  54. North by Northwest (1959)
  55. Oldboy (2003)
  56. Paths of Glory (1957)
  57. Planet of the Apes (1968)
  58. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  59. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
  60. Schindler's List (1993)
  61. Se7en (1995) 
  62. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
  63. Some Like It Hot (1959)
  64. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003)
  65. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
  66. Superbad (2007)
  67. Swades: We, the People (2004)
  68. Taxi Driver (1976)
  69. The 400 Blows (1959)
  70. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
  71. The Conversation (1974)
  72. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
  73. The Departed (2006)
  74. The Dark Knight (2008)
  75. The English Patient (1996)
  76. The General (1926)
  77. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
  78. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
  79. The Hustler (1961)
  80. The Last Emperor (1987)
  81. The Last Samurai (2003)
  82. The Lives of Others (2006) 
  83. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
  84. The Machinist (2004)
  85. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
  86. The Pianist (2002)
  87.  The Prestige (2006)
  88. The Sea Inside (2004/I)
  89. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
  90. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  91. The Sixth Sense (1999)
  92. The Social Network (2010)
  93. The Usual Suspects (1995)
  94. The Wages of Fear (1953)
  95. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)
  96. Toy Story Trilogy (1995-2010)
  97. Up in the Air (2009/I)
  98. V for Vendetta (2006)
  99. Walk the Line (2005)
  100. Valkyrie (2008)
So what do you think of my list? What movies did I miss? Share about your favorite movies in the comment box below.