Desirable Possibilities and

Undesirable Impossibilities

Arun Bose



Unlike pre-modern theorems which proclaim possibilities, impossibilities, desirabilities, undesirabilities, modern possibility and impossibility theorems (sometimes more guardedly called formulas)ą convey the messages that anyone anywhere, individually or jointly with others (who are coaxed, cajoled, bought over or brain-washed or deceived) can by


(a)        suppressing and/or distorting or ignoring evidence of various kinds.


(b)        prove or establish irrefutably that some things, and courses of actions about such things, are possible, and

therefore desirable, of impossible, and for that reason undersirable.


(c)        so that disputes about them never end, or are created where there are none - even if the intentions of the disputants are to avoid or resolve them. (It is argued later, that the scope of these modern theorems cannot also be stretched to cover desirable impossibilities (including utopias) and undesirable (sometimes labelled perverse) possibilities (including lost utopias or soured utopias).

Some examples of disputed issues, actual or potential, falling within the purview of the above-mentioned modern theorens are :


(a)        street-vendors’ (or hawkers’) stalls on pavements and roads,


(b)        dams and complexes of several dams, barrages, dykes,


(c)        democracies, dictatorships, authoritarian non-military or military regimes, civil societies,


(d)        religious or secular (in the sense of non-religious, multi-religious or agnostic or anti-religious) ethno-communalism,


(e)        communism, anarchism, fascism,


(f)         revolution,


(g)        war.


Now every one of these disputed issues can be considered in the abstract, or in their multifarious diversity, and each of them in turn in their non-unique variery.


Thus, the issues may be (a) to (g) as listed above in the abstract, e.g. democracy or dictatorship as such, dams as such communalism, communism, anarchism, fascism as such, so also war, revolution without reference to them in the concrete, e.g. parliamentary, extra-parliamentary, non-parliamentary, anti-parlimentary democracies or a hotch-potch of all three ; where and how dams (made of stone or ferro-concrete or earth, for flood-control, irrigation or drought-relief or electric-power generation, drinking water supply, road and or rail transport) are to be built, busted, relocated or re-designed as regards height, width, speed, extent and guarantee of rehabilitation of those ousted during and after construction ; what kinds of communism, anarchism, fascism, or blends of all three ; nuclear wars on earth, inner and outer-space, wars with missiles, on land and sea ; bloody or bloodness, violent or non-violent



revolutions, synchronised in all or some countries, or in one country (big or small) ; recial, caste and class wars.


Indeed, even with these few groups of issues (a) to (g) as listed above, the issues considered in the abstract together with issues considered in their concrete variety run into hundreds and thousands. With others already under public consideration, their number would run into tens and hundreds of thousands, all of which fall within the scope of these modern possibility and impossibility theorems (and related desirability and undesirability theorems).

What has been stated about these modern theorems about possibilities/impossibilities, desira-bilities/undesirabilities fully take into account various attempts made by its proponents and adherents and admirers to imterpret and explain them esoterically, as well as their attempts to spread their messages to wider audiences.


They also take into account attempts made by some proponents (with or without the support of all adherents) to interpret these theorems as being more about possibilities and disirabilities than about impossibilities and undesirabilities. More about consent, convergence and conciliation, than about dissent, disagreement, dissonance, dichotomy, diversities, clash and conflict.


But such interpretations are completely untenable and utterly incompatible with the very comprehensive and nuanced presentations of the themes of these theorems. These presentations prove irrefutably, incontrovertibly, that they connot mutilated and truncated to advertise possibilities without impossibilities, desirabilities without undesirabilities. Even pre-modern theorems still adhered to by many do not do so. They underscore impossibilities and undesirabilities as much as possibilities and desirabilities.


No matter how hard architects of both modern and pre-modern theorems try to apply the medicine of tampering with evidence of all versions of their possibility/impossibility, desirability/desirability theorems, to argue only for possibilities/desirabilities and against


impossibilities/undesirabilities—they simply cannot have the one without the other.


Nor can they supress, fabricate or distort the evidence to validate perversely desirable impossibilities (including utopias) and undesirable possibilities (including lost and soured utopias). For these perversities have nothing to do with evidence, so that tampering with evidence cannot validate them. They are perversities because nothing that is impossible can be desirable ; to be desirable it must first exist, be possible. If someting is impossible, its desirability or undesirability cannot even be considered.


However, modern possibility/impossibility theorems can preach unlimited hope to those who hope against hope, unlimited despair to those who prefer despair in all contexts and circumstances. Thus securing some support from the votaries of hope and of despair, as well from those who swing from high hopes to abject despair, and back to hope with changes of mood˛. This is a considerable achievement for these theorems which have otherwise sucured esoteric, token ritualistic recognition.


Notes :


1.         my earlier contributions in Frontier give several examples from the physical and social sciences as conventionally identified.


2.         as depicted in Rabindranath and Sarat Chandra’s and Ionesco ot Kundera’s work.