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.

MLK

In Act of State, Pepper presents a compelling narrative on the state and federal government’s involvement in the assassination of King.

From his work, it appears it was simply a matter of time before King was eliminated. His, King’s, work had threatened economic interests of the military establishment which at the time was executing a war in Vietnam and at the same time, domestic economic interests at home by threatening to make visible the wretched, from all races, of the American population by organising a match to the nation’s capital.

And in the afterward, he makes a compelling case against the imperialism of the US made possible by the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organisation. He also includes in his criticism, capitalism & the multinationals that have become great threats to democracy worldwide.

Finally he comments on the various legislation that have been passed by Congress since 9/11 or slightly before that have the effect of reducing civil liberties or shrinking the space for dissent.

He argues, I think, successfully, the United states government has followed Goebbels philosophy of a lie repeated long enough will be believed as a truth ( I paraphrase).

Maybe America would be different for her poor had the match of the poor taken place.

Someday the truth of why, and who was involved in the killing of King will be eventually known.

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.

paradoxes of our times

that we live at a time when the accumulated wealth of the species is unfathomable and we have people who are desperately poor.

Kropotkin writing in the 19th century opined then that had everyone been engaged in producing useful stuff, we would address world poverty. he also said an economic system that was a trifle reasonable would not permit a few people, who by limiting production, increase prices of goods and services.

In his own words

[..]But over and above this, we must take into account all the labour that goes to sheer waste- here, in keeping up the stables, the kennels, and the retinue of the rich, there in pandering to the caprices of society and the depraved tastes of the fashionable mob; there again, in forcing the consumer to buy what he does not need, or foisting an inferior article upon him by means of puffery, and in producing on the other hand wares which are absolutely injurious, but profitable to the manufacturer. What is squandered in this manner would be enough to double the production of useful things. (The Conquest of Bread by Kropotkin)

Man Vs the men or just breasts

No, I am not talking about Mencken’s letters to La Monte by the same title. I am writing about man as he is in the African setting, or rather in traditional African setting.

John Mbiti writes

Only in terms of other people does the individual become conscious of his own being, his own duties, his privileges and responsibilities towards himself and towards other people.

[…] Whatever happens to the individual, happens to the whole group, and whatever happens to the whole group happens to the individual. The individual can only say; I am because we are and since we are, therefore I am.

Elsewhere, commenting not about relationship between men and others, but on breasts and breastfeeding moms, he writes

African women, as a rule, suckle their children anywhere taking out their breasts  openly and without any feeling of embarrassment or shame. Breasts are the symbols of life, and the bigger they are, the more people appreciate them; they are a sign that the woman has an amply supply of milk for the child. There is nothing naked or sexy about nursing mothers exposing their breasts to suckle their children in market places etc; those who judge such mothers as being indecent must revise their understanding of African concept of what constitutes nakedness.

greetings from Nairobi

I am still alive and there maybe no elections on 26th October.

I have questions,

would the world economy be harmed if we gave everyone basic income, reduced work hours and abolished private property?

does abolishing jail houses portend a rise in criminal activity?

is such a society desirable?

what place does education play in forming better citizens?

would abolishing the entire war enterprise be beneficial to all the residents of the globe?