Labour and Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. Queries.

Stepping out briefly of nomenclature excesses that the DMIC funding mechanisms deliberated upon, I briefly bring to attention the labour issues that deserve a discussion, albeit in much lower profile. Considering the gigantic proportions of the project and similar corridors on their way, the very definition, constitution and framework of labour is challenging, be it under the rubric of organized, unorganized, skilled, unskilled, semi-skilled, migrant and/or contractual and within manufacturing, service or knowledge economy. Laws and Acts are applicable to labour more due to a lack of this particular enframing of labour, since the former are twisted to be more accommodating for the law-makers and law-interpreters. So the preliminary question is, where to fit in multifarious conceptions of labour in equally multifarious lines of projects? How to envisage Laws and Acts in existence with the ones-to-come?

On a more downside and at first seemingly unrelated note, assuming (and I mean assuming) that such corridors (I prefer calling them verandahs, since it could help me to jump off the corridor!!!) become the engines of growth, where the labour somehow transforms from brute labour into consumers themselves, transforming the economy from investment/manufacturing-led to services/knowldege-led, from export orientation to import consumer-based orientation, then what can rule out the point of labour scarcity getting realized. I see three consequences of such a transformation:


1) Attaining a “Lewis Turning Point”, an inevitable developmental phase when wages surge sharply, squeezing industrial profits along the way and consequently resulting in a dip of investment.

2) A workerist struggle demands higher wages and broader social reforms implying a further shortage of labour output with a correspondingly higher cost of maintaining labour in production and meeting its social costs leading to further shrinking of profits.

3) Capital innovates and reterritorializes itself for a better profitable ground, thus deepening the crisis of accumulation in the real economy.

Such a position is serious because bringing in foreign technology and (cheap labour + capital) eventually risks running short on cheap labour, and the focus shifts to adding more capital without paying any heed to simultaneous diminishing returns. Growth engine starts losing its steam. The reason for this part of the post is to locate the importance of labour (cheap labour is a very derogatorily used here and apologies for the same. But, unless used this way, gravity would refuse to sink in) in forcing capital to take flight on the one hand, and become more socially-democratically aware on the other.

Bataille and Solar Anus Economy/Capitalism: Note Quote

Focusing on Bataille as a pivotal point, his take on Solar Economy is a bit weird to begin with, but, then I do see its relevance to accelerationism. The take on political economy is driven by excess, rather than scarcity, a plethora of energy (like that from the sun) that would not just facilitate growth, but would be vulnerable to expenditure in a purely apathetic manner as well. That is how he differentiates the general from the restricted economy. I am keen to note how accelerationism, if guarded by the normative (I understand the term to carry a baggage of strictures) dromos (dromocracy), would shift the balance of the economic towards the general rather than the restricted. I think, if capitalism gets overridden by the belief in this economic, a probable fracture within it could be affected. Bataille, then would make his presence felt even more crucially for the ultimate eschatology of capitalism.


Bataille provides a premonitory text relating the energy of the sun, the sexual movements and excitements of the cosmos and of terrestrial life, and the anus of an eighteen-year-old girl. Operating at the intersection between his sexually explicit literary works – think here especially of Madame Edwarda, whose eponymous hero demonstrates that her labia are the copula of God: “Madame Edwarda’s old rag and ruin leered at me, hairy and pink, just as full of life as some loathsome squid. […] “You can see for yourself,” she said, “I am GOD.” – and his later development of a theory of a general economy of expenditure in La part maudite, “The Solar Anus” provides a rich but conceptually underdeveloped reading of the cosmic and terrestrial with regard to their potency, fertility, and fundamental antagonism.  Bataille writes,

Disasters, revolutions, and volcanoes do not make love with the stars. The erotic revolutionary and volcanic deflagrations antagonize the heavens. As in the case of violent love, they take place beyond fecundity. In opposition to celestial fertility there are terrestrial disasters, the image of terrestrial love without condition, erection without escape and without rule, scandal, and terror. […] The Sun exclusively loves the Night and directs its luminous violence, its ignoble shaft, toward the earth, but it finds itself incapable of reaching the gaze or the night, even though the nocturnal terrestrial expanses head continuously toward the indecency of the solar ray.

In La part maudite, Bataille goes on to develop his argument against scarcity, which contends that, from the point of view of a general economy, the key problem on the tellurian surface is not the conservation of energy, but its expenditure [depenser].  Bataille offers the following reversal of the political economy of scarcity:

I will begin with a basic fact: The living organism, in a situation determined by the play of energy on the surface of the globe, ordinarily receives more energy than is necessary for maintaining life; the excess energy (wealth) can be used for the growth of a system (e.g., an organism); if the system can no longer grow, or if the excess cannot be lost without profit; it must be spent, willingly or not, gloriously or catastrophically. (The Accursed Share)

The “curse” of the accursed share is disturbingly simple: the earth is bombarded with so much energy from the sun that it simply cannot spend it all without disaster. Over the course of millions of years of solar bombardment, the creatures enslaved to this “celestial fertility” by way of photosynthetic-reliant metabolic systems are forced to become increasingly burdensome forms of life. By the end of the Ediacaran period, we find the emergence of animals with bones, teeth, and claws, and eventually even more flamboyant expenditures like tigers and peacocks, and later still, tall buildings. Or, as Bataille suggests in his short text “Architecture,” for the surrealist Critical Dictionary: “Man would seem to represent merely an intermediate stage within the morphological development between monkey and building.” With this morphology of expenditure in mind, let us now return to the anal image of thought.


What the theory of expenditure calls into question in its most precise philosophical reading is the division between useful and wasteful (flamboyant) practices; this is because in order for any theory of use value to be coherent, it must first restrict the economy, or field of operations, within which it is operating. The restriction of this field of energy exchange is a moral action inasmuch as it sets up the conditions for any action in the field to be read as either productive or wasteful. For Bataille, the general economy permits us to evaluate the terms of restriction as a means to call into question the cultural values and forms of social organization they engender. Because of this, the “anus of her body at eighteen years old” must be intact: as a potential for pure loss, pure expenditure of energy without reserve and without reproduction, Bataille is transfixed by the analogy of glorious or catastrophic expenditure in relation to the energy of the sun and the potential for escaping this curse as much as the curse of the intact anus.


Simulations of Representations: Rational Calculus versus Empirical Weights

While modeling a complex system, it should never be taken for granted that these models somehow simplify the systems, for that would only strip the models of the capability to account for encoding, decoding, and retaining information that are sine qua non for the environment they plan to model, and the environment that these models find themselves embedded in. Now, that the traditional problems of representation are fraught with loopholes, there needs to be a way to jump out of this quandary, if modeling complex systems are not to be impacted by the traces of these very traditional notions of representation. The employment of post-structuralist theories are sure indicative of getting rid of the symptoms, since they score over the analytical tradition, where, representation is only an analogue of the thing represented, whereas, simulation with its affinity to French theory is conducive to a distributed and a holistic analogy. Any argument against representation is not to be taken as meaning anti-scientific, since it is merely an argument against a particular scientific methodology and/or strategy that assumes complexity to be reducible, and therefore implementable or representable in a machine. The argument takes force only as an appreciation for the nature of complexity, something that could perhaps be repeated in a machine, should the machine itself be complex enough to cope with the distributed character of complexity. Representation is a state that stands-in for some other state, and hence is nothing short of “essentially” about meaning. The language, thought that is incorporated in understanding the world we are embedded in is efficacious only if representation relates to the world, and therefore “relationship” is another pillar of representation. Unless a relationship relates the two, one gets only an abstracted version of the so-called identities in themselves with no explanatory discourse. In the world of complexity, such identity based abstractions lose their essence, for modeling takes over the onus of explanations, and therefore, it is without doubt, the establishment of these relations that bring together states of representations as taking high priority. Representation holds a central value in both formal systems and in neural networks or connectionism, where the former is characterized by a rational calculus, and the latter by patterns that operate over the network lending it a more empirical weight.


Let logic programming be the starting point for deliberations here. The idea behind this is using mathematical logic to successfully apply to computer programming. When logic is used as such, it is used as a declarative representational language; declarative because, logic of computation is expressed without accounting for the flow of control. In other words, within this language, the question is centered around what-ness, rather than how-ness. Declarative representation has a counterpart in procedural representation, where the onus is on procedures, functions, routines and methods. Procedural representation is more algorithmic in nature, as it depends upon following steps to carry out computation. In other words, the question is centered around how-ness. But logic programming as it is commonly understood cannot do without both of them becoming a part of programming language at the same time. Since both of them are required, propositional logic that deals primarily with declarative representational languages would not suffice all alone, and hence, what is required is a logic that would touch upon predicates as well. This is made possible by first-order predicate logic that distinguishes itself from propositional logic by its use of quantifiers(1). The predicate logic thus finds its applications suited for deductive apparatus of formal systems, where axioms and rules of inferences are instrumental in deriving theorems that guide these systems. This setup is too formal in character and thus calls for a connectionist approach, since the latter is simply not keen to have predicate logic operate over deductive apparatus of a formal system at its party.

If brain and language (natural language and not computer languages, which are more rule-based and hence strict) as complex systems could be shown to have circumvented representationism via modeling techniques, the classical issues inherent in representation would be gotten rid of in the sense of a problematic. Functionalism as the prevalent theory in philosophy of mind that parallels computational model is the target here. In the words of Putnam,

I may have been the first philosopher to advance the thesis that the computer is the right model for mind. I gave my form of this doctrine the name ‘functionalism’, and under this name, it has become the dominant view – some say the orthodoxy – in contemporary philosophy of mind.

The computer metaphor with mind is clearly visible here, with the former having an hardware apparatus that is operated upon by the software programs, while the latter shares the same relation with brain (hardware) and mind (software). So far, so good, but there is a hitch. Like the computer side of metaphor, which can have a software loaded on to different hardwares, provided there is enough computational capability possessed by the hardware, the mind-brain relationship should meet the same criteria as well. If one goes by what Sterelny has hinted for functionalism as a certain physical state of the machine realizing a certain functional state, then a couple of descriptions, mutually exclusive of one another result, viz, a description on the physical level, and a description on the mental level. The consequences of such descriptions are bizarre to the extent that mind as a software can also find its implementation on any other hardware, provided the conditions for hardware’s capability to run the software are met successfully. One could hardly argue against these consequences that follow logically enough from the premisses, but a couple of blocks are not to be ignored at the same time, viz, the adequacy of the physical systems to implement the functional states, and what defines the relationships between these two mutually exclusive descriptions under the context of the same physical system. Sterelny comes up with a couple of criteria for adequate physical systems, designed, and teleological. Rather than provide any support for what he means by the systems as designed, he comes up with evolutionary tendencies, thus vouching for an external designer. The second one gets disturbing, if there is no description made, and this is precisely what Sterelny never offers. His citation of a bucket of water not having a telos in the sense of brain having one, only makes matters slide into metaphysics. Even otherwise, functionalism as a nature of mental states is metaphysical and ontological in import. This claim gets all the more highlighted, if one believes following Brentano that intentionality is the mark of the mental, then any theory of intentionality can be converted into a theory of of the ontological nature of psychological states. Getting back to the second description of Sterelny, functional states attain meaning, if they stand for something else, hence functionalism gets representational. And as Paul Cilliers says it cogently, grammatical structure of the language represents semantical content, and the neurological states of the brain represent certain mental states, thus proving without doubt, the responsibility on representation on establishing a link between the states of the system and conceptual meaning. This is again echoed in Sterelny,

There can be no informational sensitivity without representation. There can be no flexible and adaptive response to the world without representation. To learn about the world, and to use what we learn to act in new ways, we must be able to represent the world, our goals and options. Furthermore we must make appropriate inferences from these representations.

As representation is essentially about meaning, two levels are to be related with one another for any meaning to be possible. In the formal systems, or the rule-based approach, these relations are provided by creating a nexus between “symbol” and what it “symbolizes”. This fundamental linkage is offered by Fodor in his 1975 book, The Language of Thought. The main thesis of the book is about cognition and cognitive processes as remotely plausible, when computationally expressed in terms of representational systems. The language in possession of its own syntactic and semantic structures, and also independent of any medium, exhibits a causal effect on mental representations. Such a language is termed by him “mentalese”, which is implemented in the neural structure (a case in point for internal representation(2)), and following permutations allows for complex thoughts getting built up through simpler versions. The underlying hypothesis states that such a language applies to thoughts having propositional content, implying thoughts as having syntaxes. In order for complex thoughts to be generated, simple concepts are attached with the most basic linguistic token that combine following rules of logic (combinatorial rules). The language thus enriched is not only productive, with regard to length of the sentence getting longer (potentially so) without altering the meaning (concatenation), but also structured, in that rules of grammar that allow us to make inferences about linguistic elements previously unrelated. Once this task is accomplished, the representational theory of thought steps in to explicate on the essence of tokens and how they behave and relate. The representational theory of thought validates mental representations, that stand in uniquely for a subject of representation having a specific content to itself, to allow for causally generated complex thought. Sterelny echoes this when he says,

Internal representation helps us visualize our movements in the world and our embeddedness in the world. Internal representation takes it for granted that organisms inherently have such an attribute to have any cognition whatsoever. The plus point as in the work of Fodor is the absence of any other theory that successfully negotiates or challenges the very inherent-ness of internal representation.

For this model, and based on it, require an agent to represent the world as it is and as it might be, and to draw appropriate inferences from that representation. Fodor argues that the agent must have a language-like symbol system, for she can represent indefinitely many and indefinitely complex actual and possible states of her environment. She could not have this capacity without an appropriate means of representation, a language of thought. Mentalese thus is too rationalist in its approach, and hence in opposition to neural networks or connectionism. As there can be no possible cognitive processes without mental representations, the theory has many takers(3). One line of thought that supports this approach is the plausibility of psychological models that represent cognitive processes as representational thereby inviting computational thought to compute.

(1) Quantifier is an operator that binds a variable over a domain of discourse. The domain of discourse in turn specifies the range of these relevant variables.

(2) Internal representation helps us visualize our movements in the world and our embeddedness in the world. Internal representation takes it for granted that organisms inherently have such an attribute to have any cognition whatsoever. The plus point as in the work of Fodor is the absence of any other theory that successfully negotiates or challenges the very inherent-ness of internal representation.

(3) Tim Crane is a notable figure here. Crane explains Fodor’s Mentalese Hypothesis as desiring one thing and something else. Crane returns to the question of why we should believe the vehicle of mental representation is a language. Crane states that while he agrees with Fodor, his method of reaching it is very different. Crane goes on to say that reason: our ability as humans to decide a rational decision from the information giving is his argument for this question. Association of ideas lead to other ideas which only have a connection for the thinker. Fodor agrees that free association goes on but he says that is in a systemic, rational way that can be shown to work with the Language of Thought theory. Fodor states you must look at in a computational manner and that this allows it to be seen in a different light than normally and that free association follows a certain manner that can be broken down and explained with Language of Thought. Language of Thought.