at times like this when I can’t brain

I think about some of the paradoxes in life. Recently someone went to court here and the court ruled in his/their (i am not sure if it was one or many persons) favour that it is to ask for too much to expect that the MCA (member county assembly) should have a degree. But then it occurred to me that it is only in politics that we really don’t care whether our representatives are educated or have anything to offer as long as they can convince us to Q in the sun and cast votes in their favour.

Politics also looks to me to be the best job if you want to live long. There is no mandatory retirement age. The only way to not be in office is to be voted out by a guy more charismatic than yourself, or rich ( can get funding), or can rig the elections in their favour if you live in some of the countries I know where Lenin or was it Stalin who said the most important person is not the person who votes but the person who counts the votes.

But maybe in making laws or in determining how resources are shared, we don’t need the best brains, just anyone can do. And this being the case, we should not complain about bad governance. As Carlin used to say and Brian reminds me all the time, we get the politicians we deserve except where the CIA installs stooges or where the army takes charge like in Mali and Sudan recently claiming the civilian government has failed in their mandates.

In another post on this blog, I did write in agreement with an author (I can’t be bothered to check) that Plato’s Republic with the philosopher king is not democratic. It is elitist and based on the whims of the philosopher. There is no way to check the powers of the king. It does not encourage free inquiry, and unlike the land of the free (The Uneducated States of A) has barriers to progress. One is almost always destined to remain in the state they were born.

But maybe I have got all this politics wrong.

Pandora papers and a media that is asleep

The case of Kenya.

Now, unless you are Ark, you probably have heard about the recent leak dubbed by the ICIJ as the Pandora Papers concerning money kept in offshore accounts by some elites from different countries.

Of interest to me in this matter is that the family that has been at the centre of looting this country for a combined duration of more than 50 years has been named as in the leak as having some dosh stashed in an offshore account. This could not by itself be illegal but raises a lot of many questions such as source of funds, was tax paid on them, how much more is the first family and other families hiding in a country impoverished by mismanagement of public goods.

The two bodies that would be asking questions about this matter are asleep. The main stream media feeds us political gossip. Parliament is useless. I can understand why parliament is unable to function. Half of them or more, if the questions raised during the presidential election petition are computer chicks- vifaranga vya kompyuta- as we say here. They owe allegiance to computer algorithm not the constituency of humans they represent.

The media is owned by these oligarchs and do not want to lose advertising money from the government of the day by appearing to be independent. Or critical. The only recourse is to read what independent journalists write but these do not have a wide reach and so such serious matter dies without raising eyebrows in a country people plagued by poverty,unemployment and unequal access to resources.

Maybe some day we will get to the bottom of the systematic rapine of the country by successive regimes and recover stolen loots even if it takes 100 years to do it. It will have to be done.

Until then, we wait.

who died and made you king

Yes, I know there is a song and even the meeting of the sentence but i just think it is an appropriate heading for what is to come next. Yesterday i was reading this post where I think the suggestions made were way reasonable. That America should focus on peaceful means and all until our resident defender of western values showed up to inform us that is idle talk, dreams of 12 year olds, so to speak. The military industrial complex and the emperor must all be appeased and pursuing peaceful coexistence through trade and cultural exchange and limiting the military to national defence and maybe international peacekeeping missions with other nations.

Maybe I am missing something since I live so far removed from the military or its workings that maybe it is important to have military outposts in every other country, occasionally have your spy agency overthrow democratically elected presidents and have drone assassinations miles away from home where children caught in the crossfire are collateral damage (what were they doing there, playing? Don’t know there are drones overhead?).

Tell me what you all think? William Astore or Tildeb?

Could this be the reason

Trump wanted NATO members to increase their military spending?

As far as most of Nato’s European members who contributed troops to Afghanistan were concerned, this was a theatrical exercise designed to keep the US committed to the defence of Europe. In the case of the Poles and the people of the Baltics, the great spur here was fear of Russia. In the case of the French, it was largely because they can only maintain their sphere of influence in Africa with American help. In the case of others like the Germans, it was because they knew that they were not capable of summoning up the fighting spirit or the military spending to maintain peace in the Balkans and deter Serbian or Turkish aggression there. The memory of Europe’s 1990s failure in Bosnia runs deep. 

This makes for quite interesting reading but it is long-ish.

Writing about history

Karl Marx in the 18th Brumaire of Napoleon said history repeats itself first as farce then as tragedy. Seeing the events of Kabul and of Afghanistan in general one wonders if the end whenever it came would be different. And I am here asking myself whether in another 10 years we will not see the same scenes playing out in semi occupied Iraq?

But in all the madness, there is still room for laughs. It seems everyone who joins the Afghanistan WhatsApp group always left; the soviets lefted, the brits, the French and now the Muricans. Maybe next we will see Afghanistan left the group too. One can hope.

I am no expert in Asia politics; geo or otherwise but one hopes these fellows can determine how their future will be. Seeing people falling off planes trying to flee is sad to say the least.

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.