I don’t think we get the politicians we deserve

But if we do, my fellow citizens really did choose from the bottom of the barrel.

First is the circus that is Nairobi County. The governor was impeached but he is still calling shots from out of office. Before that he made a joke of the constitution by failing to nominate a deputy following the resignation of one Polycarp less than a year(?) into the office.

Still on the same Nairobi County, the electoral body gazetted Waititu who was impeached as governor in a different county for among others abuse of office! This despite the constitution having a chapter dedicated to conduct of public officers.

While still on the constitution, the powers that be who have failed in implementing the constitution we fought so hard for have convinced themselves and are now trying to convince the rest of us that it is the constitution that ought to be changed and not that politicians should change.

And while on politicians. I don’t know who they represent. In April or May last year, the government announced a raft of tax holidays or reliefs to put money into people’s pockets following the disruption occasioned by Covid. These reliefs expired on 31st Dec and then parliament convened in an emergency session and passed legislation to do away with the reliefs and holidays like the economy was now full throttle. I can’t believe Kenyans queue for hours to elect these fellows.

And finally the ministry of education is an example of how incompetent this government is. Schools were closed last year before the end of term one because of covid. One would think because of the requirements for keeping people apart, more classrooms would be built or more teachers employed but lo and behold, we are busy campaigning on whether we should alter the constitution that is not even an adolescent yet.

I am convinced that politicians serve their interests. That the state exist for the benefit of the few. And the rest of us must find ways to get along in the process.

on national boundaries

In his book, The open sore of a continent, Wole Soyinka asks a question that I think will remain relevant as long as nation states exist.

when is a state?

Hopefully, by the time I finish with this book, we can answer the question when is a state?

At present, I am only interested in sharing a quote or rather a passage questioning the inviolability principle of national borders.

The inviolability principle of national boundaries is therefore a fictitious concept, born out of nothing more substantial than faith, and therefore every bit as questionable for those of the rational world. And even those whose existence is bound by faith, especially of the religious kind, are cautious to deny
specific boundaries to the provinces of heaven, hell, or purgatory. These are left severely to the imagination, free to be adjusted according to population proportions in the hereafter.

When Satan launched his takeover bid against the forces of God, it was, after all, an attempt to unify the celestial provinces, if Milton’s account in Paradise Lost is to be believed. This, however, proved one instance when the unity principle did not prove popular; the cultures, mores, and ethics of heaven and hell were simply incompatible, and a war of separate identities was won by the supposedly good side, while evil, on the side of unity, lost out ignominiously. Clearly the notion of unification for its own sake
and at any price has been faulted even in the metaphysical realms, so where, then, in this entire universe are we to find the philosophy of wholes and parts that endows one, rather than the other, with immutable authority?

The answer is Nowhere. Nowhere at all. It is we, the occupants of the whole or the part who must decide whether it serves our collective interest to stay together or pull apart. And we can only commence by a
recourse to history, the quality of life in the present and the tangible advantages, as well as the projection that we can make into the future, stemming from today’s realities in all fields of our human activity.

What do you think of this position? Does it make sense and what, if taken to its logical conclusion, would it lead to in regards to national boundaries.

is it ever justified to overthrow the government?

Fidel Castro, in the Havana Declarations makes the case that it is lawful and even a duty to overthrow a regime that is tyrannical

There is a lot of written material that support this position from the US declaration of independence to writings by Locke, Greeks and Roman philosophers, and even from Africa and Asia where it was the practice in some places to send to the maker a tyrant.

Why, then, do we have few insurrections when obviously we can count many countries living under a despot?

Don’t lend your support to crooks

In this Stoic meditation Massimo Pigliucci offers caution not to support leaders who drag their offices to the mud. I think he needs a session with out government. I am not sure whether there is any low they can go beyond where they have reached. But I am reminded that incompetent people are never short of surprises. When you think they can’t surprise you further, they outdo their last incompetence with something even worse.

And maybe Carl Sagan was right about politicians.

The words of Castro in History will Absolve me, can be used to refer to the present regime in Kenya. He said, in part

The previous regime was guilty of petty politics, theft, pillage and disrespect for human life; but the present regime increased political skulduggery fivefold, pillage tenfold, and has increased a hundredfold the lack of respect for human life.

The graft is mind boggling. The incompetence is beyond speech. Extrajudicial killings, demolitions and evictions the less said the better. And I am just beginning. And the same fellows are lined up to be in the next regime. How can a whole country be so collectively duped to elect thieves, idiots but I repeat myself.

In the same essay/ defense, he notes, of the Batista regime but which seems to be a mirror copy of the Uhuru/ Ruto regime

His regime brought merely a change of hands and a redistribution of the loot among a new collection of friends, relatives, accomplices and parasitical dregs that constitute the political retinue of a dictator.

Have you a warm day, will you.

how to end war

My good friend Brian persuaded me to read Butler’s War is a Racket and this is one book I would recommend highly especially to believers in “good” wars but that’s not what this post is about.

Butler had 3 suggestions to end war.

1. Remove profit from war- on this point, he added the businessmen, presidents, members of congress who profit from war should be paid the same amount the rank and file are paid for risking their lives. He builds on this in a speech where he talks of these profits as blood money and that generations of Americans (this book was addressed to the American public) will keep paying for the deficit caused by war.

2. Require a limited plebiscite of those who are going to do the dying in war if war should be declared

3. Limit military forces to home defense purposes

He writes in the same book

when our boys were sent off to war they were told it was a “war to make the world safe for democracy” and a “war to end all wars”.

Well, 18yrs after, the world has less of a democracy than it had then. Besides, what business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France or Austria live under democracies or monarchies?[..] Our problem is to preserve our own democracy.

they hate our freedoms and democracy

that’s what Americans have been convinced to say of the countries their government rains bombs on.

Maybe Lyndon Johnson was right about how the US government thinks about democracy in other nations when in ’64 he told the Greek ambassador

“Fuck your Parliament and your Constitution. America is an elephant, Cyprus is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephant’s trunk, whacked good. We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your prime minister gives me talk about democracy, Parliament and Constitution, he, his Parliament and his Constitution may not last very long.”

It was  not long before Greece were shown what the elephant could do and for that they had a military junta till 74 as punishment I guess.

But maybe democracy is just easy to shout about not living it.

Quotes about war

The man from Mars who saw how men suffered in the last war and how frantically they are preparing for the next war, which they know will be worse, would come to the conclusion that he was looking at the denizens of a lunatic asylum.

Norman Thomas, 1935

And I think he would be forgiven if he came from his grave today and saw how countries are building their armies in the name of self defence. The next war, when it happens( it’s a question of when not if), will be a great war and I don’t know who will be left to write about it.

In the soul of man under socialism

Oscar Wilde argues that humanity would do better under socialism than the way society is currently organised. We should abolish government because, in government, whether a monarchy, oligarchy, theocracy or even democracy, the individual is always under the authority of someone- the prince, the rich, the pope or the mob.

In his view, machines should do mundane work like mining, cleaning our streets and all, that man should aspire to being, not having. In writing about machines, he thinks they should benefit the common weal unlike now when one person owns a machine that does the work of hundreds living them unemployed and starving.

I am tempted to agree with his thoughts on journalism. Most of the journalistic work is horrible. It is meant for the mob and the mob as a group is not intelligent.

Whether his proposals are workable is a different matter altogether.

Why has Africa been relatively unable to grow food?

I saw this question on quora and I didn’t read the answers given but I know a thing or two.

1. Colonial legacy- many African countries produce cash crops for export formerly to their former colonial masters. This means 60 years after independence we are still here convinced that we shall earn foreign exchange if we grow tea for export instead of maize and or other food products. I mean it makes dollar sense to plant what the monied need.

2. Trade agreements- if Burkina Faso were to produce enough food, the US would stop buying their cotton. montesato will not find a market to sell us their seeds that would destroy farms and all.

3. Intellectual property rights- I don’t need to say much here.

4. Cost of equipment- tied to the 1st point

Here and here are a few pointers to what I mean by the colonial legacy.