Regal times

The English word “royal” and the Sanskrit word “Raja” are derived from the same root meaning to lead. It is interesting to note that for thousands of years, humanity had chosen to live under the rule of kings.

Republics were not unheard of. In ancient India, Greece and Rome, republics ruled by bodies of citizens existed. However, two thousand years ago, these gave way to empires.

The careful cultivation of culture and traditions was a common feature of most monarchies. The evidence for these are the remaining magnificent works of architecture, literature, music, painting etc from the past centuries.

In the last century, however, the democratic form of rule has become most common all across the world. This has led to the ancient democracies suddenly going up in prestige. It appears that the emphasis on cultural flourishing has also gone down significantly in most places. It would be interesting to observe what shape society takes as we head into the future.


Culture is derived from a root indicating “to dwell” or to “to tend”. Sanskrit has the word, sanskriti , which indicates something which has been well formed or refined. These words indicate the extent to which a group of minds need to think and focus in order to bring about what eventually comes to be known as culture.

Taking for granted

One can get into taking for granted when things go well. Taking India, for example, it pays to remember the quagmire of the License Raj. The nation was in dire straits in 1991 after decades of centralized mismanagement. It had come to the brink of defaulting on its obligations. The central government had to use the nation’s gold bullion as collateral in return for a loan from the IMF. Under the able leadership of P. V. Narasimha Rao, India was able to adhere to the terms of the IMF and liberalize the economy in return for getting bailed out. In doing so, Narasimha Rao was saving the civilization from economic collapse. Today, India is seeing a return to some level of prosperity, although it is by no means out of the woods yet.

A much worse scenario was seen in other countries like Romania. As part of a government mandate, women were required to have as many children as possible. Given the overall poverty, children ended up getting abandoned and orphanages overflowed. Many lives were lost because of centralized mismanagement.

What decentralization and the great benefits property rights brings to societies cannot be underestimated. Central planning and central management bring no accountability and any mistakes made affect vast numbers of people. On the other hand, economies that are antifragile are managed locally. Any mistakes made only affect locals and such mistakes are corrected because it is much easier to enforce accountability.


Human beings, from time immemorial, have lived in societies and tribes.

There is a well known saying: “No man is an island”.

Thinking about society and how it has evolved, it’s current state and it’s future is one of the main preoccupations of many writers and thinkers over the centuries.

When viewed from the viewpoint of an individual living in a society, it appears that individuals benefit the most from a variety of factors such as family and community.

As a side note, this approach of considering the well being of the individual is a product of the Enlightenment. Previous to this, the perspective of the individual was not considered much. Humans were seen more as groups of people belonging to certain tribes or communities.

It would definitely be interesting to me to learn about the private lives of people living in the ancient, medieval and early modern eras as it would provide a great perspective.

Nature’s self organization

Nature is wonderful to humans because it is quite awe-inspiring.

Nature organizes itself and grows in fantastic ways.

When one looks at a small portion of the natural world, like the coast of Norway, for instance, the organization is intricate and complex. It is impossible to truly measure the length of such coastlines. This phenomenon is known as the coastline paradox.

Similar fractal patterns can be observed in various other phenomena, including the shapes of leaves and trees.

Other natural phenomena like earthquakes and solar flares follow the self-organized criticality pattern which is related to the above.

As the Danish physicist, Per Bak, argues in his book, How Nature Works, the self-organized criticality approach also applies to understand human organization in a social sense. He suggests (correctly, in my opinion) that fields such as economics should take into account the self-organized criticality aspects of human behavior instead of ignoring or throwing out the outliers such as the boom and bust cycles as done in “equilibrium” economics.