The Kenyan Political System in Relation to Thomas Hobbes, Karl Marx and John Locke’s Philosophy

Category: Politics

A political system refers to a combination of various laws, principles and rules of governance used in the running of a government in a particular country. For example, the Kenyan political system is founded on the principle of democracy. By democracy, I mean a system of governance where the people participate directly or indirectly towards the running of their government. It is a kind of self-governance. A political system chosen by any country runs on certain philosophies advanced by the most renowned philosophers. Some of the philosophers who have contributed significantly towards the development of political systems around the globe, include Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Carl Marx. The paper will, therefore, look at the philosophies of these great scholars and philosophers in analyzing the Kenyan political system.

The Impact of John Locke’s Ideas on the Kenyan Political System

John Locke was an American philosopher born in 1632 and died in 1704. His ideas, however, still have a very high impact on the political systems of various countries including Kenya. According to him, all powers belong to the citizen’s .individually but exercised collectively through the government. In the preamble to the Kenyan constitution, all the sovereign powers are vested in the people but exercised at the national and devolved levels. The people of Kenya exercise the powers granted unto them either directly or indirectly through their elected representatives. Indeed, these provisions are a reflection of John Locke’s political idea that the power belongs to the people, and exercised collectively. He says that at the beginning of time we all had natural rights arising from the state nature. There was, however, need to surrender the natural rights to a central place for the protection of their property. The central depository of rights is what later came to gain reference as the national government in Kenya. Locke insists that the power vested in the government must apply in the public interest for the benefit of all the people who have surrendered their rights to the government.

John Locke further emphasized on the separation of the church and the state. The opposition of religion formed an attempt to let the societal values form the basis for the running of the government rather than religious views. To this extent, the legal system becomes of great essence towards enforcing of the societal values. In Kenya, the government only recognizes the freedom of worship but that does not mean that Kenya has a state religion. To avoid conflict of religions, Kenya rides on societal values that are enumerated in Article 10 of the 2010 Constitution. He argues that religion and the government operate on two different ideologies. He says the church involves an inward persuasion of an individual while the government involves an outward persuasion. He, therefore, concludes that inward persuasion occasioned by religion cannot take pride over the external persuasion associated with the government. According to Locke, the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms are vital to public morality. The state should, therefore, concentrate on ensuring that public policies for the protection of human rights take precedence over public morality.

The Idea of the democratic government in Kenya derives their roots from Locke. John Locke insists that no man should coerce another into doing something because all men are equal. Under Article 27 of the Constitution of Kenya, the government recognizes that, all people are equal before the law and that there should be no discrimination towards one another. The idea of punishment to those who violate other people’s rights also manifests in the government by the people. Locke insists that the government must use some coercive power to those who disobey the law and violate other people’s rights. In Kenya, the government has enacted several penal laws with the key being the penal code to deal with these who break the law. He further argues that all human beings have a reason and power and as such, property should only fall into the hands of those who use their force and reason to acquire. The government should, therefore, protect property rights. The idea reflects in the Constitution of Kenya under article 40.

Locke further says that the government exists to protect the rights of the people, and if it fails, the people have the power to use all the peaceful means to remove the government from power. If the peaceful means however fail, a revolution is inevitable. Several ways have found their route in the constitution on how to peacefully remove the government officials from office. The most particular ones in Kenya is through a court order or an impeachment motion. All governmental seats from the county governor to the president are liable to impeachment upon a gross violation of the Constitution. Locke also says that even though the government has powers to limit other people’s rights for the public interest, some rights are inalienable. In Kenya, article 25 of the constitution states that the rights to life, freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and the freedom from slavery and servitude are inalienable rights. It means that there can be no justification for the limitation of these rights.

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Implication of Hobbes Political Philosophy to Kenya’s Political System

The American philosopher existed between 1588 and 1679. He published the book called as the Leviathan which contained his political theories. Hobbes political views inspired John Locke’s Philosophies, He bears the title of the father of the “social contract theory." According to Hobbes, every person is entitled to self-preservation that is a natural right to everyone. It is the act of every human being protecting themselves from harm. He states that the state of nature was quite brutal, but since human beings possessed same rights, they could enter into a social contract in the formation of a government. The main reason for the formation of the government is therefore for security purposes. In Kenya, A general election is conducted after every five years for the election of new leaders and a new government. The idea has a basis from the social contract theory. People surrender their rights to the Kenyan government to exercise on their behalf through a secret ballot. Eventually, the person with the majority votes wins. The winner must look into the protection of the rights of all people as it is deemed the whole society has accepted to enter into that contract.

Hobbes argued that only through self-preservation can man acquire peace and security. The importance of the preservation of security in Kenya as the core function of the government reflects in Kenya. In Kenya, the powers to preserve security are only vested in the national government and not the county governments. A hefty budgetary allocation also goes to the defense forces as opposed to other activities.Government commitment to security, therefore, forms part of the ideas of Thomas Hobbes.

Hobbes always referred to the state of nature as being very harsh and brutal. It was a man eat man society. A man became an enemy of himself. He, therefore, thought that peace could only result from a social contract. The government, however, must respect people’s property. Hobbes warns that the government should not deal with the people’s property arbitrarily. Recognition of ownership of property, however, begins after entering the social contract theory. The situation is true of Kenya, since before they were colonized and eventually getting independence. There were no title deeds. Title deeds that show a lawful ownership of property, however, is now recognized by the government after independence. Just like Locke, Hobbes also detested the intertwining of religion and the state and declared that a state should run on secular rather than religious values. The same is true of Kenya.

Karl Marx Political Philosophy Implications on Kenyan Political System

Karl Marx existed in the seventeenth century, and his political theories elucidated upon communism. According to Karl Marx, just like Hobbes and Locke, religion is deemed to unnecessary in the running of a government. As such, the government should thrive on secular values. Kenya does not have any state religion, and all matters are dealt either according to the law and not religious views because the law is a reflection of the society.

Karl Marx believes in economics and not politics. He introduces what he calls the “Bourgeoisie” and the “Proletariat." The former refers to the high and mighty in the society, those who own the modes of production while the latter refers to the weak and exploited members of the community. He says politics is a way in which the rich use to exploit the poor. The situation is true of Kenya as corruption is the order of the day in politics rather than service delivery. He believed in a state of equality where the workers could govern themselves to avoid exploitation. He says politics is a tool in which the majority use to protect their wealth. In Kenya today almost ninety-eight percent of those who run and win the general elections, come from the wealthy class. The inequality according to Marx originates from the capitalistic nature of the society which Marx aimed at eradicating. In Kenya’s political system, the minority are ever complaining of the majority taking over the government. Marx wanted to provide a solution to the poor, through the introduction of Communism. Unfortunately, Kenya remains to be a capitalist state rather than a Communist.

Conclusion

From the discussion above, it is plausible to conclude that, the Kenyan political system rests on the political theories of Hobbes, Locke, and Marx. The Democratic nature of the Kenyan government is formed from the Social contract theory as espoused by Hobbes and Locke. The three philosophers have also managed to impact the secular rather than religious values in the Kenyan government. The three scholars also advocate for public interest in the running of the government. Kenya, however, remains a capitalist state with the rich controlling the political system.

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