Dipak Basu has been taken to task before by readers other than myself for playing fast and loose with the facts. In his Sept. 18 letter, “Western work ethic is wanting,” he’s at it again with his mischaracterization of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill as philosophers of selfish, greedy capitalism.

Bentham’s philosophy was in fact based on a desire to promote “the greatest happiness of the greatest number,” and influenced the progress in 19th-century Britain of proper sanitation, disease control (elimination of smallpox, cholera, typhus and dysentery), shorter working hours, better housing and clean drinking water. As 21st-century India has yet to catch up in this respect, maybe India’s rulers (and Basu) should study their Bentham.

Mill similarly stressed the importance of the rights of the individual — basically the right to pursue any vocation or business without falling afoul of lemming-like collectivist ideology and ending up in some God-forsaken “re-education center” in Inner Mongolia shoveling pig manure.

Also, when Basu talks of the “Western” work ethic, etc., does he mean Western Europe or the United States? There are major differences between them that Basu seems unaware of.

He is, of course, free to continue with his sycophantic adulation of the glorious Japanese system, as I am likewise free to thank God I was not born into it.

barry ward

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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