On the emancipation of women

And here I will let Kropotkin speak for himself

Why has woman’s work never been of any account? Why in every family are there mother and three or four servants obliged to spend so much time at what pertains to cooking? Because those who want to emancipate mankind have not included woman in their dream of emancipation and consider it beneath their superior masculine dignity to think ” of those kitchen arrangements”, which they have put in the shoulders of that drudge- woman.

To emancipate woman is to free her from the brutalizing toil of kitchen and washhouse; it is to organise your household in such a way as to enable her to rear her children, if she is so minded, while still retaining sufficient leisure to take her share of social life.


On patents

Kropotkin argues that patents slow down human progress. He noted that inventors always relied on the accumulated knowledge of the race and as such owe it to posterity to allow access to their invention.

The question to be asked is how to pay back these individuals for their work. How do developers who share their work on open source make money? Could this be the way to go? Would we, by doing this improve on the inventions of those before us?

on the need for luxury

Continuing with the discussion we begun on this post, Kropotkin argued that once the commune had provided food for everyone, luxury goods could then be sought for, but first we must provide food for everyone. 

He also argued that if every person who could work was engaged in productive work, a workday of 4 to 5 hours was sufficient to produce all our material needs and that the rest of the time could be spent in art, music and other hobbies. Thinking about this, I don’t see why with the advance in machine technology, most people work for so many hours a day and in some places keep two or three jobs just to make ends meat.

He argued at the same time that the commune had to provide housing and clothing to everyone. The rallying call was not just a right to work but a right to well being and in this is covered dignity in work, housing and shelter. And he says this will be done by the people themselves. He rules out committees of eminent citizens or loudmouths or whatever you want to call them.

My biggest question in all this is the practicability of it all. I think they were grand ideas, especially the short workdays ( and I think some countries are experimenting with this), social housing and dignified work; things we should aspire to even today.

Nairobi traffic problem

That Nairobi as a city has a traffic congestion problem at almost any time of day and sometimes even at night on some roads is not in doubt. That the clever people, and I use clever loosely, trying to solve it are not very clever is also not in doubt.

A while back, these clever people decided they would magically solve the problem by raising parking fees while not providing alternatives to these people who drive. Raising parking fees would work where other alternatives are reliable and efficient, something Nairobi doesn’t have.

Further evidence that the city fathers are clever, they announced an imposition of two car free days that was to begin last Friday. Well, it didn’t start as I knew it wouldn’t. This is why this pilot was bound to fail from the word go.

They said

Afterwards, private motorists starting February 1, will be required to keep their private vehicles at bay on Wednesday and Saturdays and instead use public service vehicles in a historic piloting phase that is geared at de-congesting the CBD but one that has been met by opposition and equal measure of support.

and here is where the problem starts. Do they keep them at bay at home or can drive them and just don’t get into the CBD. Instead of reducing traffic as these clever people anticipate, there will be chaos. To solve traffic congestion requires several measures among them includes terminal buildings where people can park their cars. Much of the traffic in the CBD is as a result of people trying to find parking bays.

As it is, using public transport (which are actually private taxis) is inefficient and expensive. Any journey through Nairobi requires at least the use of two matatus as non loop around the city. There are areas that are not served at all by public transport forcing residents to walk long distances just to catch a bus, that one never knows what time they will come, how much fare you will pay and whether they nyongoa before they get to the terminal.

In the article I have linked to, the clever city fathers say only cyclists, police vehicles and other emergency vehicles will be allowed on specific roads. Now my friends, this is really stupid. There are no cycling lanes. The roads will not be car free, just the CBD. So does one carry their bikes and only cycle in those specific streets or how did they see this happening?

Anyway, these clever people were elected by Nairobians and as such, kila mtu apambane na hali yake.

weighty matters

So yesterday I was watching explained on Netflix and they had this segment on why diets fail but we still keep doing it. In summary, the basic argument is that diets are frauds, generally. Or pseudo scientific, to use a more science-y term,

And for those who are lazy like yours truly, there is an article on why shouldn’t exercise to lose weight. I have tried it and I know it doesn’t work. Even when I was most active, I think I lost like one or utmost 2kgs and in case you are wondering, I reduced calorie in take. This is not to say you shouldn’t exercise, it has other benefits like maintaining weight once lost, etc.

If you are here trying to lose weight by hitting the gym and not doing anything to what you eat, you are wasting your money in gym subscription.

This Time Magazine article makes for a good read too.

Maybe nature wants us fat and we are busy fighting it, as we always do, always trying to subdue nature.

Have a weighty Monday, everyone

On peasant labour

Continuing with our discussion on poverty and wealth, Kropotkin argued that it is the poverty of the peasant which is the source of the wealth to the landed proprietor. In short, the wealth of the landlord or the capitalist comes from the poverty of his/ her workers or wage employees.

He goes on to say that the secret to becoming wealthy is to find the starving and the destitute, pay them half a crown and make them produce five shillings worth in the day, amass a fortune by these means, and then increase it by some lucky speculation, made with the help of the state.

He alleges that 90% of the great fortunes made in the USA and Europe are the results of knavery on a large scale, assisted by the state.

The most important question for the revolution is bread for all, food and shelter come next.

on poverty

In a previous post where I talk about the paradoxes of our times, I did say we live in a time when the accumulated wealth of the race is unfathomable and that amidst this vast wealth, there is terrible destitution. There are those so poor, they barely get by. They are almost forgotten. And there are those so rich, I think they would need several life times to spend their money.

We can all agree, I think, that both groups, those extremely poor and those fabulously rich are a threat to democracy, the rich especially. We can also agree we need to check the rate at which we are depleting our natural resources.

In this post by Jerry Coyne, the argument is, I think, we are not poorer. We live in the best of times, looked at across various indices and so on. We have great income inequalities which someone in the comments said is like complaining your neighbour lives better than you.

He was writing in response to this post.

What do you make of the two schools of thought?