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.

On the Futility of going Beyond Good and Evil


Kenya is fast becoming a rather mature democracy. Why, for some time now, we as a nation have been deeply engaging in what I would call first class discourse, first rate for that matter. By it I mean abortion, test-tube babies, Vision 2030, techno-cities, homosexuality, contraceptives, GMOs, name it. And, had it not been for other factors, we could have joined the ‘first’ world, but maybe we won’t. Nevertheless the truth is, our national discourse is very high oder.

However still, one thing to note is that no matter how complex or simple our national issues have been, they have always and maybe will always be between good and evil’; right and wrong, moral and immoral. In fact, most world discourse happens to turn on questions of absolute right or wrong. Rarely has it been about the middle ground of things. Possibly it will never be.

Incidentally, as usual, no matter how disparate(different) good and evil are, there have been (in)famous attempts the world over by some to integrate the two or even blur the always apparent distinction. History is replete with such characters: just for instance, Friedrich Nietzsche, a renown German Philosopher was and is famous among many for going ‘beyond good and evil’ both in his thinking and lifestyle. But he went mad as a result of committing what the Holy Bible calls sin. That is, he procured a prostitute who infected him with the then yet incurable syphilis.

Michel Foucault, an eminent French thinker also went beyond good and evil, only to his detriment: he was the first philosopher ever to die of Aids. That is in 1984.

Bertrand Russel, once an accomplished Bristish Philosopher also obliterated the distinction between good and evil. Guess what? He succumbed to the very aberrant ideologies he was advocating. He suffered bans to teach at universities for his excesses. In one notable instance, Russell was barred from teaching in New York Universities for his books, in the judgment of the court, are “lecherous, salacious, libidinous, lustful, venerous, erotomaniac, aphrodisiac, atheistic, irreverent, narrow-minded, untruthful, and bereft of moral fiber”.

What each of those examples serves to show is that it is futile to blur or integrate good and evil. Whenever one ignores the boundary or stretches it, the two forces(good and evil) always act accordingly. That is, they somewhat, if not set the person on the ‘right’ track, conspire to annihilate the person concerned. But apparently, it is usually evil that swings back to slay its promoter : Nietzsche was killed both intellectually and literally by a disease(evil); Foucault was literally killed by AIDS(evil); Russell survived intellectual demise almost brought about by several court bans(evil also).

Hence no one has ever and will never benefit from being an advocate of the devil so to speak. Hence Kenya should be an epitome of Christian conservative morality—as it has always been.

Though we must never suppress intellectual discourse and dialogue around even those issues we might consider clearly ‘un-African’. Perhaps there might be someone somewhere who might be tempted to incline on such unpalatable, immoral or retrogressive practices, but in the process of constructive give-and-take, one such may be helped to see the light.

Yet before I quit, it is worthwhile to pay attention to this interesting development: homosexuals are coming out of their closets to be heard; let the Alshabaab and their sympathizers follow suit. Kenyans are particularly interested in knowing why they do what they do. Let every other deviant and ‘sinner’ in this country come out of their closets. Let us reason together, if only for good to prevail over evil. And to consummate the process, those found to have ‘sinned’ will have to repent before a holy God and mend their ways.

Then we will always have a better country; as it has always been, so should it be.

The Insipid Insipid ‘#ChildrenOfALesserGod’


The NTV programme properly hash-tagged ‘Children of a Lesser God ‘ and incidentally aired on Sunday at 9 in the evening must have been that station’s ‘big story’. This I came to know by how it was highlighted for viewers: other than it being mentioned severally in previous briefs, the gist of the story was first given to us before it was carried forward while other stories were being broadcast, meanwhile.

Later on, after managing to secure most of the viewers’ curiosity and attention, #ChildrenOfALesserGod was re-aired, but this time fully. Claiming to be an exposé of security entities prior to the Garissa University terrorist attack, the documentary featured some families of the departed students explaining what they went through since they experienced the the irreplaceable terrible loss of their loved ones.

Also, at some points int the programme, some security personnel were speaking majorly on some key security breaches and blindspots that apparently facilitated the terror disaster to strike. When all was said and done, the news segment concluded, but of course not immediately and entirely before viewers’ views were sought and sampled for the rest to know the general mood.

Nevertheless, regardless of what anyone thinks or knows, in my my supportable view, the programme was highly unpalatable. A careful analysis will reveal this. In other words, taken apart or de-constructed, the journalistic piece falls apart. It becomes nothing short of sloppy, shoddy work. It is a sham.

To begin with, the title ‘Children of a Lesser God is evidently repugnant, claims a lot, and is out of line. Biased even. The story line, in simple terms doesn’t warrant the apparently blasphemous name. Yet by the way, if I may ask, who or what might be the lesser God? Who is a greater one in reverse? Did the Almighty God suddenly become weak because some people fell victim to terrorist destruction? And before going too far, that is an atheistic title at its best.

Other issues that were apparent and not quite so apparent in the ‘text’ included the wild assumption that the students were attacked because they were poor. The most apt refutation is that calamity knows no bounds, or much more aptly, catastrophé is no respecter of persons.

It is also unacceptable to grossly imply that it is only the less privileged that genuinely feel loss and grief. The rebuttal is, once more, pain is no respecter of persons.

Other warranted claims: nothing was exposed by the ‘investigative story’. The ‘facts’ and even rumours are well in the public domain. What happened or didn’t happen is now common knowledge. Therefore the story is dead. I ‘killed’ it once I ascertained facts and information controverting the assumption that the programme was an exposé (a revelation) of some sort.

Moreover, #ChildrenOfALesserGod reeks of insensitivity to the bereaved. Interviewing them every now and then in the name of ‘follow-ups’ only serves to trigger and fester the memories of the worst that ever befell them. The story obviously did more harm than good. Yet an ethically journalistic practice is to “minimize harm”. Did they? I mean take caution? Apparently, the producers did throw caution to the wind on what would serve quite negligible public good.

In connection with the immediately above contention, I would say that the prime time story did not achieve the ‘greatest happiness’, an ethical journalistic principle. In full, the Greatest Happiness Principle(GHP) calls on journalists to produce works that promote only “the greatest happiness of the greatest number of those affected.” This true for all it is worth.

Eventually, it becomes much more worthwhile to venture that keen Kenyans must have discovered— sooner or later—that there were stories in the bulletin that were more important than #ChildrenOfALesserGod. More ‘newsworthy’ to be exact. Hence it was an unapologetic insult to their intelligence to depict, so to speak, what was not there.

The story in question —in a word—wasted my precious time, ‘wasted’ my attention, and gravely misled me. The producers should have known better than to make such an esteem-wrecking (though lucrative for them) story.

DECONSTRUCTING XENOPHOBIA


South African Miners during a demonstration some time last year (courtesy rt.com)

South African Miners during a demonstration some time last year (courtesy rt.com)

Going by what has been happening in South Africa in most current times, many may be led to believe that xenophobia, popularly known as “the fear of foreigners”, is the root of all evils meted out by some South Africans against outsiders especially of African origin.

In fact most at the moment are feeling that xenophobia is a really deplorable attitude. Whether I agree or disagree is a matter left for you to determine in the analysis that follows.

I will begin by asking the following critical questions: At what point or when is xenophobia a despicable attitude? When it involves and African ‘hating on’/ intensely fearing another African? Or when it involves an African hating on another race? Or when it involves a person hating on another person from another country? Or when it involves a person hating on another person from another community, village, clan, family? Incidentally for no apparent reason or with a reason?

The answer is, whether one is xenophobic with or without a reason, that attitude in human terms is forgivable. But to follow through that fear or hate with violence, interestingly, is what is evil about xenophobia. But fearing alone is not.

Hence from the above example, there are, apparently, ‘good’ xenophobes and bad ones; ‘hard’ and soft ones; high(er) and low degree, and so on.

But a xenophobe is but a xenophobe and violence is not xenophobia. Eventually Xenophobia does not ’cause’ violence. Before I proceed to prove that claim,we need to deconstruct another term often used as an excuse to mistreat others. It is the term ‘foreigner’.

Who is a foreigner? A kenyan versus an unfamiliar Ugandan? A zimbawean Vs a South African? A person Vs another person they are not quite familiar with? Yet if that is true, are you therefore warranted to ‘attack’? No. But most, unfortunately, do that.

In clear terms, being foreign is not the issue. Mistreating a foreigner is. In addition, any reason for misbehaving towards foreigners is questionable.

Hence my refutation of violence in the name of xenophobia properly begins here: First we need to remember that xenophobia is but an active fear of foreigners in their various categories(as we have seen above), whether in low or high degree,

Consequently, I disassociate xenophobia with violence, with murder- evil, because to reason thus is downright fallacious:

“He/she is a foreigner. Therefore, I must hurt him or her.”

“He/she is a foreigner. Therefore I just don’t like him/her.”

Also, “I don’t like him/her because he/she is better than me” strictly does not follow.

Also, “I hate him just because I hate him” is extremely pathetic thinking.

However, to reason that “I hate him/her because they have offended me” is somewhat acceptable. But even then, where is self-control?

Eventually, why some South Africans are committing acts of aggression against those they consider foreigners, the conclusion reached from my analysis is, I know not what. We may recourse to theology next time since pure reason has failed us.

WHEN THE KENYA-SOMALIA WALL IS DE-CONSTRUCTED…


Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta and the first Lady Madam Margaret at the Great Wall of China. Courtesy www.nomad.sleepout.com

Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta and the first Lady Madam Margaret at the Great Wall of China. Courtesy http://www.nomad.sleepout.com

In constructing a wall between Kenya and Somalia, the Government meant well: to keep all Alshabaab outside Kenya. This, the majority of Kenyans seem to welcome.

However, as I will soon demonstrate, the wall may and maybe will not serve the purpose. We will therefore come to see why we may need no wall in any area of our lives.

Yet before I proceed, with the polemic against walls of whatever kind, we need to know what a ‘wall’ essentially is. A wall is a fortified barrier, put up either for good or bad purpose(s).

In the case of the Kenya Government, the wall is arguably put up for the good of all Kenyans—security. And it appears the wall is one of the most ‘tangible'(solid) security measures ever implemented by a human being.

But, as we have already seen, whether the wall will ‘work’ is another matter altogether. To find out whether the wall between Kenya and Somalia is a worthwhile measure against the touchy issue of insecurity, we will recourse to ‘deconstruction’. That is a radical analysis of the wall and its purposes.

Hence when keenly examined, the wall in question or whatever other ‘wall’ we bring into consideration, defeats the purpose, and it undermines itself to the point of being useless; meaningless in other words.

But I am not saying, that the project has to stall. No. The project has to continue in so far as the people have put their faith in it. Yet whether we have a wall or not, the world, especially Kenya will never be safe(r) in the strict sense of the term.

We must always remember that ‘man’ is ‘his’ own enemy. This means that a person can be his\or her own source of destruction. Also, a person can and is always destroyed by another person. That is true no matter how negligible the damage, the impact, the destruction. Hence no wall between ‘man’ and ‘man’ will ever work. Yet if ever it works, it is mostly to our own detriment. Illustratively, the people on either side of the wall may not survive the alienation, physical or mental or intellectual.

Incidentally, for our own good, we must realize that no war has ever been physical. The fact that we may see people engaged in a physical fight will not falsify my claim at whatever level . In fact the exchange of the fists(for example) is only a demonstration of the real fight—the fight between minds, ideologies, viewpoints , biases, and so on. Hence the only real war that ever takes place is the war of minds. Might doesn’t make right. Alternatively put, two wrongs do not make a right.

And if we have to continue with our argument against wall, it will go like this: the wall will never and has never been known to lock out an enemy since the beginning of humanity. Consult the (in)famous Berlin Wall and many others. When many such barriers were destroyed, and some rendered useless, they served to show all that when a person gets tired of the wall, they must find a way to get around it, or even demolish it, since they were the ones who erected it; in the first place.

Yet again, we may think we have locked out our mortal enemies when in reality we have locked them in. What will happen?

Meanwhile, what is an ‘Alshabaab’? For our own good once more, it could be anyone with a malicious intention. Let us not forget that and not put total faith in a wall— in fact a physical one, no matter how well it may be guarded.

.By Moses Omusolo

DEVOLUTION RADICALLY APPRAISED: THE SCORECARD IS LAMENTABLE


#DevConKE

#DevConKE

On Tuesday morning, incidentally the same day the Second Devolution Conference was planned to start, an article was published in a certain paper featuring a prominent politician praising devolution for all it is worth. But I take exception to the idea that devolution has changed lives because, among the things the assertion implies is that a politician has changed lives, especially only in a better way. What about it(devolution) having worsened life? This is to say that devolution cannot and has not been purely good or purely bad. If anything, devolution is and had been good for those who have been favored by it especially because they had something to gain by supporting or implementing it. It is and had been bad for all those who had a lot to lose either by not supporting or implementing the system of governance. Otherwise, what is or might be making people’s lives better has never ceased and will never cease to be people’s volition- the will to work to meet their needs and wants .

To put it in much the same words, people are working and will be working purely out of necessity.

Also, considering that some counties are doing comparatively poorly, it is unacceptable to claim that devolution is wholly good but only partly so. Because the ever-limited resources can never be divided in any proper way. Yet if we are to ask ourselves what has, if it can, been devolved? Both good and evil is the apt answer. Because there are people who saw or see devolution as an opportunity to perpetuate evil such as corruption and embezzlement . There also those who saw and see the system as an avenue to perpetuate good, for example justice and equality. Still there are those who can be said to be neither here nor there in the spectrum. Hence allowing evil and good to continue and thrive indefinitely in the system.

Therefore this is what we must do: to never be committed to careless and useless talk while neglecting action that yields wholly positive results. Governors and other leaders must come out of the conference loaded with solutions to what any Mwananchi will consider as essentially important and necessary. Else there will be no valid reason to claim that devolution is bettering the populace.

THE DEVOLUTION CONFERENCE DE-CONSTRUCTED: UNECESSARY BECAUSE FRUITLESS


From Left: Hon.Isaac Ruto, Hon. Raila Odinga, Hon Kidero( Nairobi Governor).

From Left: Hon.Isaac Ruto, Hon. Raila Odinga, Hon Kidero( Nairobi Governor).

For all intents and purposes, the Second Devolution Conference kicked off today at Tom Mboya Labour college in Kisumu County, with countless expecting the best from it. The best of our Governors to be exact.

Indeed, it is good to expect the best from any endeavor. But the best doesn’t always materialize from any of our undertakings. True or false?

But I have irrefutable confidence that the Devolution Conference or conferences for that matter are not among the best platforms to discuss matters to do with governance and effective devolution. Therefore, as I will show shortly, the conference, without fear of censure, is a meaningless undertaking.

This I will show through radical analysis of the event and its intentions. In other words, I am going to deconstruct this over-emphasized Devolution Conference over literal servant leadership.

First and foremost, who are the organizers of the pocket-denting conference? Are they the Wananchi (nowadays ‘Wenyenchi’)? No. Government? Yes. Governors? Yes. The High and Mighty? Yes. The Poor? No.

Hence the follow-up question: Who are going to really benefit? All? No. The select few? Definitely yes.

Who will be attending in large numbers to discuss the most important issues? As usual, the ones we have elected and the other elites. So the common Mwananchi will still be left behind somehow, no matter what else is done to make up for the oversight.

I am also not so sure whether all representatives of the people in government will be attending such a crucial event.This makes the whole exercise almost pointless-of course it will become pointless with time.

Another palatable observation is that the leaders we have sent to that conference will not all be going back to the grassroots to implement the radical resolutions, failing society once more.

The representatives, I am sure, are just going to be enjoying themselves in the strictest sense rather than merely employing themselves in productive discussions—the kind that will yield noble solutions to the problems at hand. Failing the electorate once more.

While we are talking about balancing Devolution, the Conference is set to toughen one of the most common hard nuts to crack in this country: regional imbalance. As “all roads” will be leading to Kisumu, essential resources will also be moving to Kisumu. Hence Kisumu will soon, if not in the distant future, be better than most Counties.

To avoid these accusations, the Governors and the elite must just behave themselves in and out of the conference and come and give us back value for our money. Otherwise, they will have squandered public resources, one of the main reasons they should no continue serving us.

That is the Devolution Conference for you— radically analyzed for the benefit of the Mwananchi and all those who care.