Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Today's Quote

Oga Chidi,

Context, context, context! 

When one reads a statement like this, you are forced to first scratch your head and wonder what you mean and to where you refer. Yes, within the oligarchic nature of even democratic government, laws could be anti-poor. I have been reading Colleen McCullough's delightful novel about Julius Caesar, in The October Horse. She depicted Caesar as being locked in a life-threatening battle with the First Class, the class of the wealthy, over the rehabilitation of the laws in a way that favours the poor. Hhe eventually lost his life to the brutal knives of what McCullough calls the "Kill Caesar Club." 

But then, we also mus not generalize over states where there are significant effort to diminish the ranks of the poor. Consider those countries at the top level of the Human Development Index. What should we say about those? 

But there is a deeper philosophical issue that your statement raises for me. And that has to do with the supposed democratic capacity of the demos to influence the law made on their behalf. Thus, when you adduce the reason that it was because they are not lawmakers that the people had to bear the brunt of anti-poor legislation, you essentially render them utterly powerless. I seem to agree with you. I have actually been nonplussed about the extent of the capacity we arrogate to the people, when in actual fact there seems to be an inherent conceptual weakness in "the people". Let me corrected, but there have been a few revolutions and successful rebellions in history as a testament to their ability, compared to the harms that the oligarchs have done and are doing...beginning from Genghis Khan to Donald Trump and the Republicans. 

Yet, i have referred to those countries whose HDI is envious. What's the explanation for their development progress? The people? An enlightened and even democratic oligarchic elites?

A genuine democratic space ought to ensure the coincidence of the demos as the lawgivers to themselves. The fact that some countries churn out anti-poor laws tells us that we have a long long way to go. 

Adeshina Afolayan, PhD
Department of Philosophy
University of Ibadan


On Tuesday, July 18, 2017 9:52 AM, Chidi Anthony Opara <chidi.opara@gmail.com> wrote:

Most laws are anti-poor because the poor do not become law makers.



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