against the party system

Every class struggle is a political struggle. Marx

Don’t shoot the messenger.

I have just began reading from Qaddafi’s Green Book. I take it this was one of his intellectual contribution to accumulated knowledge and wisdom of the race. In the first chapters that I have read, he critiques parliament and party rule, arguing they are but dictatorships of the party and cannot be called democratic.

He saw the book as, and here, I will let him speak for himself

THE GREEN BOOK presents the ultimate solution to the problem of the instrument of government, and indicates for the masses the path upon which they can advance from the age of dictatorship to that of genuine democracy.(emphasis mine)

About parliaments he writes

The parliament of the winning party is indeed a parliament of the party, for the executive power formed by this parliament is the power of the party over the people. Party power, which is supposedly for the good of the whole people, is actually the arch-enemy of a fraction of the people, namely, the opposition
party or parties and their supporters. The opposition is, therefore, not a popular check on the ruling party but, rather, is itself opportunistically seeking to replace the ruling party.

take a look at our situation, where as Dr. Ndii rightly said, our politicians are morally bankrupt and if they represent anything, their stomachs must be high on the list. The majority of parliamentarians come from the ruling/ controlling party. How can they be a check on a government of which they form the majority?

According to modern democracy, the legitimate check on the ruling party is the parliament, the majority of whose members are from that ruling party. That is to say, control is in the hands of the ruling party, and power is in the hands of the controlling party.

When he writes about the party, his argument is even more pointed than he would be given credit for. This may not be true for all places, but for a Kenyan, it rings closer to home

The party system is the modern equivalent of the tribal or sectarian system. A society governed by one party is similar to one which is governed by one tribe or one sect. The party, as shown, represents the perception of a certain group of people, or the interests of one group in society, or one belief, or one region.

Look at the composition of the parties, and they are almost all of them an extension of the tribe.

Anyone who listened to Muraithe or other Jubilee honchos speak, wouldn’t find truth in what he says next

Such a party is a minority compared with the whole people, just as the tribe and the sect are. The minority has narrow, common sectarian interests and beliefs, from which a common outlook is
formed. Only the blood-relationship distinguishes a tribe from a party, and, indeed, a tribe might also be the basis for the foundation of a party. There is no difference between party struggle and tribal or sectarian struggles for power.

Up to this point, I think he makes quite valid points.


the people

Scipio, in Cicero’s Tusculian disputations, defines the people as

a community bound together by the sense of common rights and mutual benefits.

Are members of the political class bound with the other citizens in mutual benefits and common rights or do they occupy different spheres and as such when we talk about the people, we really have different groups in mind?



Is liberalism anti-culture?

Deneen argues that it is. That for the liberal, cultural constraints over the individual are obstacles to the pursuit of happiness and only those restraints imposed by the liberal( expansive state) are acceptable. He argues, legitimate limits upon liberty can arise only from the authority of the consent-based liberal state. In essence, the goal of the liberal project is to create a homogeneous populace all over the world, a world devoid of culture.

He argues further, and I agree in part, that a healthy culture is akin to healthy agriculture which industrialized agriculture is not as its aims is to overcome natural limits through short-term solutions whose consequences will be left for future generations. These solutions, he lists, petroleum based fertilizers, genetically engineered crops that encourage increased use of herbicides and pesticides whose genetic lines cannot be contained or predicted; widespread use of plant monoculture that displace local varieties and practices etc. He writes, and most would agree, that the above practices eliminate existing farming cultures.

what is a right?

In this post, the Un one, asks what is a right and posits that

Many people believe (or would like to believe) that humans are born with “inalienable rights,” which are rights which can’t be taken away. And yet, very clearly, there are no such rights in any practical and real sense.

If you believe in such rights, where do you think they come from? Who bestows the or how are they bestowed? And most importantly, who or what is ready to guarantee them?

To answer the question what is a right? I refer to Staphanie’s work, the right to have rights, where she writes

When a person holds a right, they are entitled to a specific good or experience. They have a claim to a tangible object or objective: to health care, to shelter, to an attorney, to remain silent.

In short, a right is a claim.

I think rights are inane. States can only guarantee them, but not give us rights. It is not for the state to give rights, but only to offer protection of said rights. Take for example the right to life- states don’t give this right, they only enforce it.

So I disagree somewhat with this

I’m using the word “legislated” to represent a wider concept of a commitment made by a legitimate entity empowered to create rights and with the wherewithal to enforce those rights in case they are abridged.

because these legislative bodies don’t create rights but only provide grounds for their enforcement. The Bill of Rights doesn’t create rights, only recognizes them and vests the state with the responsibility of ensuring individuals can enjoy those rights.

Chapter 4 of the constitution of Kenya, for example has this on fundamental rights and freedoms

(3) The rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights —

(a) belong to each individual and are not granted by the State;
(b) do not exclude other rights and fundamental freedoms not in the Bill of Rights, but recognised or conferred by law, except to the extent that they are inconsistent with this Chapter; and
(c) are subject only to the limitations contemplated in this Constitution.

What do you think?

on politicians

and bad governance or something.

When we in the global south complain about our politicians, the usual refrain is that we vote them in so we deserve them. This refrain, among other things, ignores electoral manipulation by the political class, use of violence by the incumbent and generally, a political class that is morally bankrupt, bankrupt on ideas and if public choice theorists are correct, are only concerned about their own individual needs and only do something for the general public if they benefit.

Looking at the USA, I can’t seem but recall the ending in George Orwell’s Animal Farm,

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say

and this must be so when they look at their representatives across the political divide. And add tRumpsky’s election to the mix, it is all interesting and so we in the global south must ask, why does it seem that to most Americans, the salvation lies with one man, Robert Mueller, whose work seems everyday to hang on the balance.

So, while I agree wholly, that systems are important, these systems have been overrun by lobbyists, special interest groups, big money and there is need therefore to rethink the whole system and find ways to address these gaps or whatever is left in democracy will be gone through the window.

Maybe I am not making sense.

The politics of food

Continuing from where we left yesterday, it is interesting to note that the settlers sought protection from the colonial government against the African peasants. In Siaya, we read

[ ]The new market position these farmers achieved in the 20s and early 1930s was feared by the European settlers in Kenya, who sought the protection provided by stiff competition and marketing regulations to maintain their domination of these markets.

Free market anyone?