Sunday, August 22, 2010

RSS has to make its stand public on the activities of Tarun Vijay

Dear Radha Rajan Ji I an understand your concern over my assessment about RSS. But what I have written is a fact. The very fact that no action has been taken against Tarun Vijay, who has been carrying on activities particularly since January 2009, which according to you also, are not conducive to the unity and integrity of India, does indicate that he not only enjoys the support of some to BJP leaders, but he also enjoys support of certain elements in the RSS. ## RSS has to make its stand public on the activities of Tarun Vijay failing which it shall presumed that both the RSS and BJP are working unison and that they have asked Tarun prepare the ground for Kashmir's autonomy/independence. 
I am not a supporter of the Congess policies towards the state. In fact, I am a bitter critic. You know it. But it is fact that it was Congress, which had earlier bungled in 1949 by incorporating separatist and communal Article 370 in the Indian Constitution, that between 1953 and 1990 extended hundreds of Central laws to the state. It extended 260 out of 395 Articles of the Indian Constitution. It extended 94 out of the 97 entries in the Union List. It applied 26 out of 47 entries in the concurrent list. Besides, it applied 7 out of the 12 Schedules of the Indian Constitution. Not just this, the Congress in 1965 replaced the nomenclatures of Sadar-e-Riyasat and Wazir-e-Azam with the nomenclatures of Governor and Chief Minister, respectively, to bring the state at par with other states of the Union. It also abolished the permit system. As for the BJP, which ruled India between 1998 and May 2004, it did not extend even a single Central law. On the contrary, it dropped the demand for the abrogation of Article 370. Just look at the 2008 election manifesto under which the party contested the Assembly elections in J&K. 
The BJP is the political organ of the RSS. Whatever BJP does, it does in consultation with RSS. That RSS has lost its moorings could be seen from the manner in which L K Advani became the Prime Ministerial candidate, the manner in which the supporter of Afzal Guru, acccused in the Parliament terror attack case, entered the Rajya Sabha on the BJP ticket, and the manner in which Jaswant Singh was taken back by the party, notwithstanding his public statement that he stood by what he wrote in his book on Jinnah, leave alone Tarun Vijay. I do hope Ms Radha Rajan will consider all these facts. Everyone would be pleased with her if she could make the RSS leadership not to tread the dangerous path through Tarun Vijay. Hari Om 22 Aug 2010 The author is Chair Professor, Gulab Singh Chair, Jammu UniversityJammu 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Swadeshi anticipation of many of the Gandhian techniques of protest

Swadeshi Movement in Bengal 1903-1908 Sumit Sarkar (Hardcover - Jun 1, 2010)

with a new preface by the author and critical essays by Neeladri Bhattacharya and Dipesh Chakrabarty

‘From the moment of its first printing about thirty-five years ago, The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal has always held a special place in the historiography of modern India. Very few monographs, if any, have ever rivalled the meticulous research and the thick description that characterized this book, or the lucidity of its exposition and the persuasive power of its overall argument … Sarkar’s research improved on existing historiography in a major way by bringing out many unknown or hitherto neglected aspects of the history of the Swadeshi movement: the complex divisions that marked its different trends, the labour movement and mass mobilization of the period that few knew about in our time, Swadeshi anticipation of many of the Gandhian techniques of protest … this book, which should have enjoyed a steady and buoyant market over the years, has strangely remained “out of print” for about fifteen successive years. Its republication by Permanent Black is truly a cause for celebration.’—Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago

‘Sumit Sarkar’s story of Swadeshi brings out in fascinating detail, with a wealth of sources, all that he sees as heroic and tragic, sublime and quixotic, in those dramatic and eventful years in Bengal. We have here no simple story of success or failure, no celebratory account of great deeds and noble figures, no linear unfolding of events that lead step by step to a final climax. What we have instead is a picture painted in shades of grey in which black and white merge and separate in that in-between zone where the blackness of black comes under question as much as the whiteness of white.’—Neeladri Bhattacharya, Jawaharlal Nehru University

SUMIT SARKAR is arguably the most influential and widely admired historian of modern India. His several books include Modern India 1885–1947Writing Social History, and Beyond Nationalist Frames. Following a distinguished teaching career, he retired as Professor of History at Delhi University. He lives in New Delhi and is working on his next book.

Hardback / 520pp / Rs 695 / ISBN 81-7824-272-9 / World rights / March 2010 

Money & Harmony

Gagdad Bob has written an excellent review of Matt Ridley's book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. […]

The free market is simply not capable of screwing up the entire economy without the devoted and unethical assistance from unrestrained and malignant politicians colluding with unethical and malignant businessmen, both of whom are insulated (for a while, at least) from the rule of law and from reality.

And, as Thomas Sowell explains,
America is in decline because we've abandoned our fundamental values....

There is no doubt in my mind that the key "boundary conditions" that have enabled the incredible advances in human progress around the world which have decreased both human misery and poverty everywhere is due to the adherence to a rational ethical system that allowed individuals to interact in a socially productive and mutually beneficial manner--"between brains" so to speak; without the use of brute force and government coercion.

Those boundary conditions are being systematically and deliberately dismantled and replaced by a medieval, irrational and unethical system, that depends primarily on force, involuntary servitude, and the submission of the individual to the will of the State.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Need for growth of International spirit and outlook

It was perhaps apt that India should have attained Independence on the birthday of a luminary like Sri Aurobindo. He delivered a message on the eve of independence from All India Radio Thiruchirappali, touching various facets of revolution, liberation, spirituality and evolution. One of his perceptions relevant to present day times is about “world union forming the outer basics of a fairer, brighter and nobler life for all mankind”. He mentioned (very relevant to us Kiwi Indians) the need for growth of International spirit and outlook, forums and development of “dual or multilateral citizenship”. How foresighted indeed!

The Pioneer: Swadeshi's intellectual ground Priyadarsi Dutta  Thursday, August 12, 2010 The movement for national pride has become mired in reverse racism and has lost the cerebral moorings that gave it direction and made it an invincible force in the British era
It is a tragedy that today's Swadeshi movement has no leader of calibre like Sri Aurobindo, Bipin Chandra Pal, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Veer Savarkar. They were all products of the British period, who received modern education. They were nationalists to the core, but not by berating the British racially. Rather it was acknowledged that although India is an ancient civilisation, British principles of democracy, modern education, equality before law, had helped in its revitalisation. 
English education, far from being resisted, was welcomed by the Hindus in the 19th century. We had a series of Hindu colleges and schools in India providing modern education being set up in India. The Tamils of Sri Lanka established chains of ‘Hindu colleges’ (actually schools) where high quality English education was given in a Hindu environment. 
British archaeologists like Alexander Cunningham and John Marshall excavated priceless treasures of Hindu and Buddhist archaeology unsealing to us the past that we had forgotten. All modern Indian languages developed exemplarily in the 19th century after coming into contact with the English language. The first Indian language dictionaries and Indian language fonts were developed by the British. Journalism and public speaking grew in India during British rule. Railways actually narrowed psychological distances.
But to many Hindu nationalists today, the British rule was nothing but an ‘evangelical enterprise’. Interestingly, many of them see the West as a career option (many having settled in the US) but not as the civilisation that deserves to be studied for the growth of its public institutions, political and scientific development.

Govind, Your views are a timely reminder to not put all people into categories so rashly.
Leaving aside this Heehs affair, Dr. Deshpande, could I request that you initiate a series of postings to understand the foundations of modern Western culture. This could be a counterpart of sorts to the Sanatana Dharma series that is posted. This is of course quite an audacious undertaking and requires much breath and mastery over the subject. But if a start could be made, it could be great.
I was thinking perhaps to start  with reviews and summaries on the great books of Western civilization starting with Homer's Odyssey and Iliad etc. and possibly Sri Aurobindo's commentaries wherever applicable.
The "West" has come to mean in my mind this amorphous entity which seems opposed to all the high endeavours of our (Indian) culture, and surely this is not true. 

School of Management Sciences Is Organizing National Conference on Spirituality and Ethics in Management on 30-31 October 2010. Varanasi, U.P -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/12/2010 Relevance of Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Mahatama Gandhi, Aristotle, Confucius, Kautilya, Immanuel Kant, and Stuart Mill for Management
A theme emerging in the management literature is that of spirituality and ethics in management to overcome the deficiencies of modern management theories and practices. Interest in spirituality and ethics has grown among management scholars, practitioners, and professionals and has become a subject of serious discussion. This conference aims at providing a common platform for management practitioners, professionals, academicians, and students to exchange, discuss, and present their ideas, thoughts, and research work on the theme of the conference which is “Spirituality and Ethics in Management”.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

United States was a prototype for the Auroville experiment

Adams and Jefferson Revisited - Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother by Michael Miovic September, 2001. Today Adams is remembered only in passing as the second President of the United States, and vaguely as having gotten in a long argument about something or other with Jefferson. The more sentimental of patriots will also recall that in the end he and Jefferson renewed their friendship and both died in ripe old age on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. They were the last of their generation to go, and even their contemporaries intuited a providential meaning to their simultaneous departure, a view with which an Aurobindonian historian would have to concur. […]

Adams was brutally frank and honest, with himself as with others, a quality that did not endear him to a young nation that was trying to build an optimistic and idealistic image of itself as an unspoiled utopia far removed from the corrupting influences of Europe.

So what then does
Adams have to do with an Aurobindonian analysis of history? Although Adams never managed to write a clear essay on his political philosophy, Ellis has done a remarkable job of distilling the essential elements of his approach from letters, diatribes published in newspapers, and notes he jotted for himself in the margins of the countless books in his library. What emerges from this chaotic mass of data is a probing grasp of the problems of social life founded on a prescient insight: Adams believed that the fundamental problems of human life were a product of human nature, not of social construction. Although he was against monarchy, he repeatedly argued—much to the dislike of Jefferson and other American thinkers—that no social system, however democratic and endowed with liberty, would erase the ills of human life, because it is in human nature to foment inequality.

Adams saw social movements and processes as a playing out of individual psychology in a collective sphere, and when he looked into himself and others, what he saw in addition to the higher motives and impulses, was the irreducible push of what Sri Aurobindo would call the vital ego—ambition, competition, power, most of all the desire to be esteemed by others. It was because of this that
Adams championed the notion of checks and balances in the construction of government, as a means of containing and mitigating the inevitable abuses of power toward which the human vital would strive. Indeed, Adams was the key thinker behind the system of checks and balances instituted in the U.S. Constitution. He also predicted, based on this understanding of human nature, that the French Revolution would end in a horrific blood bath, and that banning nobility and landed aristocracy in the United States would only lead to the rise of a new type of elite class based on the quest for wealth. His first prediction swiftly came true, and the latter one has been amply born out in the last century as we have witnessed the dramatic rise of the economic motive (capitalism and commercialism) as the driving force in American society.

There are evident and fascinating points of rapprochement between the socio-psychological thought of John Adams and that of Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo begins the Ideal of Human Unity essentially rephrasing
Adams’s core insight in his own words, that is, that the only and final solution to the problems of collective existence is to change human nature. Sri Aurobindo then goes on to explain in detail how and why all of the ideologies – tribalism, monarchy, democracy, capitalism, communism, fascism, and all other isms -- have and are bound to fail in the end because they are not founded on the soul and spirit as the motive powers of social evolution. (Incidentally, according to Ellis it was Adams who coined the term ideology and used it liberally when attacking the covert political agendas imbedded in philosophical belief systems). Along the way, Sri Aurobindo applies repeatedly a key topos of Adamsian thinking, namely, interpreting social processes as collective manifestations of the same forces seen in individual psychology. For instance, when Sri Aurobindo describes the vital power flowing through all the economic and political processes of various societies past and present, one realizes with a flash of insight that he is referring to the same vital power he has written so much about with respect to the problems of individual sadhana. It is this bridging of the internal and external, the psychological and the social, which makes Sri Aurobindo’s analysis of collective life so synthetic.

Of course where Sri Aurobindo differs from
Adams is in his proposition that human nature can, in fact, be transformed into divine nature through individual and collective yoga. This is the radical solution that Sri Aurobindo proposes, and which he and the Mother began to work out in painstaking detail in the life of the Ashram and later Auroville. Indeed, it is intriguing to review the Adams-Jefferson dynamic in light of the current experiment in social evolution that is under way in Auroville. I have often had the impression that the formation of the United States was a prototype for the Auroville experiment, albeit initiated on a lower rung of the evolutionary ladder and developed with a more diffuse aim. Still, there are some remarkable points of similarity: America began with a group of Europeans leaving behind the accumulated social weight of the past to seek religious and political freedom in a new land. Upon arrival they were confronted with the cultural challenge of coexisting with Native Americans—people whom they called “Indians,” because Columbus initially thought he had landed in India—and subsequently they established a new form of government aimed at maximizing the potential of the individual to grow in a social context.

In Auroville today we see the same threads of evolution taken up again, but guided of course by a much higher spiritual force than presided over the birth of the
United States. Again a group of Westerners informed by a spiritual ideal have wound up cohabiting with an indigenous culture less technologically developed than their own. This time the locals are real Indians in India, and genocide and slavery have been avoided, though racial and cultural conflict have not. The Mother’s charter for Auroville is more explicit about the spiritual aim of humanity than the Declaration of Independence, and hardly concerned about the details of history, but She emphatically declares independence from the past. Also, instead of calling on the ideals of the higher mind to set a course for the future, she brings down the full supramental force and vision. Finally, although she did not write a formal Constitution to structure government, she did on several occasions enunciate some clear guidelines for containing the human vital and pursuing collective yoga. Thus, at the moment a very young multicultural, multiracial society is being born in Auroville, full of an even greater hope than that of realizing democracy—and equally full of all the problems of human nature calling out to be transformed.

It is in this light that the Adams-Jefferson debate is so interesting. Friends during the American Revolution, they went on to disagree profoundly during their political careers and eventually reached a fragile reconciliation in their later years. The essential substance of their split was over
Jefferson’s push to view the democratic will of “the people” as an inherently benign and corrective force that would naturally evolve a perfect society once liberated from the shackles of monarchy. Jefferson basically subscribed to the notion of the French philosophes that human nature is inherently just and good until and unless corrupted by society. Adams, of course, thought this was naïve idealization at the best, and more likely a dangerous ideology that could be used as a lethal emollient to mask the most corrupting and abusive quests for power.

In Ellis’s book,
Adams’ point of view is more persuasively presented, such that one comes away with a greater respect for Adams the cantankerous realist, than for Jefferson the naïve and hypocritical idealist. However, as Ellis hints at in the end—and this I think strikes closer to the yogic truth of the situation—Adams and Jefferson incarnated two opposing and yet complementary poles of knowledge, both of which were needed to work out the dynamic movements of shakti supporting the American experiment. 

Friday, August 06, 2010

Indian middle class believes in nothing and stands for nothing.

I have thought about this question and now I see a new paper (ungated here) on the topic:
“Genes and culture are often thought of as opposite ends of the nature–nurture spectrum, but here we examine possible interactions. Genetic association studies suggest that variation within the genes of central neurotransmitter systems, particularly the serotonin (5-HTTLPR, MAOA-uVNTR) and opioid (OPRM1 A118G), are associated with individual differences in social sensitivity, which reflects the degree of emotional responsivity to social events and experiences. Here, we review recent work that has demonstrated a robust cross-national correlation between the relative frequency of variants in these genes and the relative degree of individualism–collectivism in each population, suggesting that collectivism may have developed and persisted in populations with a high proportion of putative social sensitivity alleles because it was more compatible with such groups. Consistent with this notion, there was a correlation between the relative proportion of these alleles and lifetime prevalence of major depression across nations. The relationship between allele frequency and depression was partially mediated by individualism–collectivism, suggesting that reduced levels of depression in populations with a high proportion of social sensitivity alleles is due to greater collectivism. These results indicate that genetic variation may interact with ecological and social factors to influence psychocultural differences.”

Jaithirth Rao in The Indian Express:
“I think it is a mistake to categorise India as a soft state. It is certainly not a hard one. It is a flexible one with a deep survival instinct. Our science teacher in school would tell us that grass blows with the breeze but never gets uprooted however strong the winds. A big tree which does not bend or blow can and sometimes does fall down in a severe storm.
“The Republic of India and our political leaders (who, despite all their faults, need to be admired) are like grass. They have figured out that a good-cop bad-cop approach works. Sometimes we do have to use the army against some alienated groups. But even as one set of leaders are behind that effort, another set is offering an olive branch to that same group.
“Our greatest contemporary intellectual refers to Indians as an argumentative people. I think we can refer to our country as a “talking republic”. And that central fact is of great importance. Binary either-or solutions, while attractive on the surface, could easily destroy our country.
“We need both efficient toughies and talking softies. We never need to make fundamental concessions that we find unpalatable. Holding our own while talking and talking about talking is what this big fat democratic Indian republican party is about. The combination has kept us together, and hopefully it will continue to do so.”

Professor JyotirmayaSharma of the University of Hyderabadauthor of “Terrifying Vision”: M.S. Golwalkar, the RSS and India— writes in Mail Today:
“The Indian middle class loves someone who takes on imaginary and real villains. It cannot do much to make buses and trains run on time, it cannot wish away pollution that is caused largely due to its fondness for cars, and it cannot effectively ensure regular supply of drinking water and electricity.
“It is impotent in the face of corruption and helps feed the corruption spiral by its sheer impatience. It loves words like efficiency and development, but gets worried when the same development leads to the naxal problem. It believes in nothing and stands for nothing.
“It lives with the contradiction that there is no safe drinking water in large parts of the country but there is mobile phone connectivity almost everywhere. It celebrates shopping malls and American fast-food joints but knows that there is a fair chance of one never emerging the same as before after being inside an Indian hospital, be it public or private.
“It speaks of merit and excellence but pays donations to get into colleges and universities. It hates the noise and the bustle of India but remains glued to reality shows as the only form of reality it can take in.
“It swears by Indian traditions but is ready to flee to the United States and Europe at the slightest provocation. It calls Hinduism as a way of life but is oblivious as to whose way of life it is or who determines Hinduism. It celebrates India as the largest democracy in the world but envies countries like Malaysia, Singapore, China and Israel.
“Narendra Modi is the embodiment of this class: he too stands for nothing and believes in nothing but himself. That is why Modi and sections of the Indian middle class never suffer from any form, whatsoever, of contrition and think of honest self- reflection as a form of liberal indulgence.”

India can teach you many lessons about how to conduct a coalition, though I am not sure you want to be too good a learner.
Coalitions in India are larger —many more parties than just two as in your case (though I know that your party as well as Nick Clegg’s have each a Right and Left wing plus a large middle.) But you don’t need to worry about the class position of your ministers —aristos or middle-class, nor their regional affiliation — Scottish, Welsh etc. The UPA, your host government, has to worry about the caste and regional identity of all their ministers and of the ministers of their partner parties. Indeed, regional affiliations are so strong that competence in the job is not at all necessary. 

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Without a morality of rational self-interest capitalism cannot be defended

Ayn Rand and the world she made, Anne C. Heller, Tranquebar Press, Chennai, 2010,567 pages, Rs 495, ISBN 978 93 80658 01 8.

Howard Roark in The Fountainhead became Ayn Rand’s first full-fledged individualist hero: a gifted architect who yearns to create bold new building, but is stopped endlessly by frightened conformists and envious schemers. With this novel, Rand became a cult hero. Atlas Shrugged followed, and together the two books have sold more than 13 million copies, and continue to sell 300,000 per year after three generations.
A good biography makes us look within, and Ms Heller’s book has made me reflect, especially on why I became a libertarian and a vigorous supporter of free enterprise. This book also served as a mirror, making me conscious of the flaws that I share with Ayn Rand, in particular an excessive and unhappy self-regard, and an insatiable desire to be ‘somebody’ and not ‘anybody’.
Like many, I read Rand’s The Fountainhead as a teenager, and could not help but be moved by Howard Roark, who is as American as Huckleberry Finn or Holden Caulfield. He is determined, defies authority, hates mediocrity, and does not seek the world’s praise. He is ‘inner directed’ in an ‘outer-directed’ world, (a distinction I learned from the Harvard sociologist, David Reisman, who had used it to describe the conforming, salaried, American white collar office goer of the 1950s).

I quickly forgot Ayn Rand when I went to college and read serious philosophy. When her name came up in undergraduate conversations, I dismissed her as a writer of potboilers and propaganda. Like everyone around me in the mid-1960s, I passionately believed in Nehru's dream of a modern and just
India. But as the years went by, I discovered that Nehru's economic path was taking us to a dead-end. Having set out to create socialism, he had created statism. Later when I was working as a manager I found myself caught in the thick jungle of Kafkaesque bureaucratic controls, a story that I have told in India Unbound.
Thus, I came to admire free enterprise after decades of living under the inefficiency of Nehru’s ‘mixed economy’ or License Raj, as many call it. Whereas I turned against state control from economic compulsions, Rand came to free enterprise from her collectivist Russian experience. I rebelled against the inefficiency of socialism; she revolted against its lack of human freedom and individuality. My embrace of markets was a pragmatic decision; she sought in capitalism a moral foundation. Both of us ended in a suspicion of state power but our paths were different. For me political liberty was not an issue because India had uniquely embraced democracy before capitalism. Democracy came to India soon after 1947 but our love affair with capitalism only began seriously after the 1991 Reforms when we began to dismantle the socialist institutions of the License Raj.
Ayn Rand understood that free markets brought phenomenal productivity and prosperity, but to her it was a side effect. The real deal was that capitalism gave a person’s ‘natural, healthy egoism’ the freedom to enrich himself and others. ‘Selfishness is a magnificent force’, she declared. ‘I decided to become a writer – not in order to save the world, nor to serve my fellow men—but out of the simple, personal, selfish, egoistical happiness of creating the kind of men and events I could like, respect, and admire’, she wrote in 1945.

I must confess that I was not able to go as far as Ayn Rand in embracing individualism as a creed; nor did I become a votary of unbridled, laissez faire capitalism. I also think that her use of the word ‘selfishness’ was unfortunate (perhaps, because she learned English late in life after coming to
America). She would have been more effective if she had distinguished between ‘self-interest’ and ‘selfishness’. One would not wake up in the morning if one is not self-interested; but selfishness in ordinary English usage suggests the pursuit of one’s ambition at the expense of others. I suspect she meant the former sense of ‘self-interest’, which is a natural, rational instinct and which leads to healthy ambition without trampling on others (implied in more negative ‘selfishness’).
Unlike Rand, I set great store by enlightened regulation in the free market—regulation that brings transparency in transactions, ensures competition, catches crooks, but does not kill the animal spirits of entrepreneurs (as we did during the License Raj). Like ancient Greeks, Ayn Rand looked to human reason to distinguish the moral from the immoral to guide and protect human beings in this uncertain world. I look to the ancient Indian idea of dharma. My thinking on capitalism has been tempered by my encounter with the epic, The Mahabharata, which I read between 2004 and 2008.

Capitalism is still trying to find a comfortable home in
India and I believe players in the marketplace have a great responsibility to act with restraint, unlike Wall Street bankers in the recent global financial crisis. ‘Restraint’ is one of the meanings of dharma; so as is ‘balance’; both meanings of dharma appear in the Mahabharata. If human beings act with ‘balance’ there is harmony in society and the cosmos. India is still a half-reformed economy--huge sectors like real estate and infrastructure are still unreformed--and we need to keep reforming it, reducing the discretionary power of officials and politicians.
Successes of capitalism produce over time enervating influences when a generation committed to saving is replaced by one devoted to spending. Ferocious competition is a feature of the free market and it can be corrosive. But competition is also an economic stimulant that promotes human welfare. The choice is not between the free market and central planning but in getting the right mix of regulation. No one wants state ownership of production where the absence of competition corrodes the character even more, as Ayn Rand pointed out repeatedly. The answer is not to seek moral perfection which inevitably leads to theocracy and dictatorship. Since it is in man’s nature to want more, the notion of dharma teaches us to learn to live with human imperfection, and seek regulation that not only tames crooks in the market but also reward good behaviour. […]

I agree with Rand’s conclusion. Without a morality of rational self-interest capitalism cannot be defended. The problem of capitalism is the inability and the lack of courage of its defenders to defend it. It is difficult to defend the capitalist idea of the ‘invisible hand’ (made famous by Adam Smith) because the hand is, in fact, ‘invisible’. In contrast, equality and sacrifice for the masses are visible ideals.
As a libertarian, I have always admired the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises. I agree with him that political liberty is founded on private property, free markets, and limited government. A Jewish refugee from Nazi occupied Austria, he had been a great social and economic theorist in pre-war Europe but was unknown in America. […] In her copy of Mises’ famous book, Human Action, Rand wrote ‘bastard’ in the margin because Mises preferred a practical, economic argument for capitalism rather than a moral one. [The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma Gurcharan Das (Paperback - Oct 4, 2010)]