The Devolution Fallacy Explicated

Disclaimer: the following argument may not be what you expected, but approaching it with an open mind will benefit you. It does not subscribe to any political view or harbour any prejudice whatsoever. Philosophers and any other high-mined individuals are highly welcome to experience an unconventional, high-voltage but highly plausible thinking. I am talking about deconstruction. Here we go.

Devolution, the most current ‘system’ of government here in Kenya, simply does not ‘work’, in at least two ways. These two ways (at least), as we shall soon see, are downright fallacious ways of talking about the concept that is devolution.

We begin the endeavor by demonstrating that to say that devolution (and devolution alone) is directly responsible for the many changes (if there are any) is to commit two common fallacies: the first is reification—claiming that an abstract entity works (or does not work). For instance, when one reasons that “the economy has failed to perform”, the invalid assumption is that the economy is an agent/agency. Therefore devolution, also an abstract entity cannot properly be said to be ‘working’.

The other flaw involved in such kind of thinking is false cause. Hence to argue that devolution is the cause of development (under-development) is of course to go off course. Once more devolution is not an agent (like you and me) to cause anything to happen.

Hence—in another way—the reasoning that devolution is doing such and such, since we have successfully established that it cannot cause anything (strictly speaking) the emerging fallacy is the non sequitur (simply put, it means “it does not follow”). Indeed it does not follow to claim that since we have devolution, we have development (there might be; in fact, there are other factors responsible for the development in question, or even deterioration).

Again, the illicit assumption in thinking that our devolution is delivering the promise is that ,”had it not been for devolution, we wouldn’t be seeing such radical changes”. That is the classic case of a hypothesis contrary to fact: it is to reason that there couldn’t be any other way we could have achieved something (which in our case is positive or even negative change). Much more clearly, if one is to reason that “if Marie Curie had not discovered radium from pitchblende (or if Michael Faraday had not discovered benzene from lighting gas) nobody else could, the person would have committed the fallacy of hypothesis contrary to fact.

All the above is at least one way what we call devolution does not work. Way number two is not as complicated as such. The clear picture emerges once we apply just common sense. And so ‘devolution’, as I see it, has not taken yet place (and there’s no need to ensure that it does because nobody can make it take place, happen for that matter). What I seriously mean is that it is humanly impossible to effect devolution.

What has or could be said to have happened is the relocation of certain individuals (especially politicians) to work in certain places they call counties. Is that devolution anymore? Is that act strictly the same as devolution? That is a dubitable, debatable scenario I have just pointed out.

‘Power’ has not been devolved yet either (it cannot even be devolved for the same reasons I have used to refute other entities). The power (if we were to give it the attributes of an agent) has always been where it is. Namely, the President is still the head of State. Those under (him) have always and will always be under (him). There is always a senior person and their juniors. What has changed—in terms of power structure—since the advent of ‘devolution’? Has power really been devolved?

Devolution has not taken place ; what has is the increase (the proliferation even) of government departments and employees, not devolution.

But those saying that devolution is ‘working’, as I said at the initial stages of my polemic ,basically mean that a politician—an agent— has handed them a favor. Those contending that devolution doesn’t work merely mean that a politician —an agent once again—has failed to ‘behave’.

Yet devolution, as we have just seen, cannot be be said to work, or not work. Devolution is ‘unspeakable’: of what we cannot speak, we must be silent (Ludwig Wittgenstein). It is even unimplementable— in itself.

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