‘Voices from the suburbs’ discussion / debate: A RESPONSE

I feel that it’s necessary to raise a few points to add to what I started mentioning in the discussion / debate last night:

  • Race, racism, privilege, underprivilege, poverty, etc., are all hot topics in the corporation of the republic of South Africa at the moment. For good reasons. The points below are not intended to undermine the importance of these topics. Again, I fully acknowledge the importance of these issues.
  • However, these topics have all been hot for a very long time, and much evidence can be found to support the claim that no solution is to be found to the listed issues by continuing to discuss them within their specific parameters. I.e. discussions about problems associated with race, racism, privilege, underprivilege, poverty, etc. do not result in the ‘overcoming’ of the the problems – this is a descriptive claim, empirically arrived at from observations of the ongoing nature of the topics, issues, and problems.
  • So instead of continuing to poke directly the hornets’ nest of opinions and perspectives on race, racism, privilege, underprivilege, poverty, etc., attention first needs to be directed towards the causes of a dispensation that produces race-related issues, racism, privilege, underprivilege, poverty, etc.
  • This line of thinking holds that race-related issues, racism, privilege, underprivilege, poverty, etc., are all effects of an underlying cause. The custom in the RSA CC has been to elevate the effects to headline status in the traditional media, which then results in the social media being plastered with discussion and debate about ‘the effects’.
  • This line of thinking is also heavily pragmatic or practical in that once the causes of effects of race-related issues, racism, privilege, underprivilege, poverty, etc., have been identified, changes can be made to the system to eradicate the causes of problematic effects. It is impossible to eradicate effects by focusing on effects, and this simple point alone goes a long way to explaining why discussions and debates about race, racism, privilege, underprivilege, poverty, etc., have been continuing for several decades in RSA CC.
  • Many analyses of the structural causes of race-related issues, racism, privilege, underprivilege, poverty, etc. exist, and discussions about these analyses are very useful. However, for the sake of brevity, consider the following line of thought:
  • Human beings are products of environments. Of course some element of predisposition is always at play, but it can be successfully argued that environments trigger predispositions.
  • So if a human being is born into an environment where s/he has comfortable shelter, basic but abundant and nutritious food, clean water, feels safe, interacts with others in a meaningful way, can pursue education as s/he feels fit (etcetera – see Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), then it is very likely that s/he will feel some kind of satisfaction about her/his state of being on this planet.
  • On the other hand, if a person is born into an environment where one or several of the above points (Maslow again) is lacking, then it is very likely that s/he will not feel satisfaction about her/his state of being on this planet. Indeed, the environment in which this person is born pushes one in all sorts of directions, many of which are undesirable in terms of perpetuating race-related issues, racism, privilege, underprivilege, poverty, etc..
  • Opponents to the train of thought that has been followed so far here tend to offer the usual descriptive claim that the reality is that there has always been scarcity in human environments (an untrue claim); opponents furthermore use the pejorative (i.e. in the negative sense) word ‘utopia’ to denote a state of affairs wherein human beings are born into an environment where there is abundant access to food, water, shelter, education… i.e. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs again.
  • The descriptive claim made by those who make claims about resource scarcity fail wholeheartedly to address two very important points:
  • First, the RSA CC government ‘lost’ R62 billion rand last financial year. The recovery of even a small fraction of this amount of funds, and the channeling of it in the direction of meeting the real needs of human beings in the land that is South Africa in basic and accessible ways, would go incredibly far towards eliminating scarcity.
  • Second, the fractional reserve monetary system that is the economic base of the RSA CC can easily be changed to gradually eliminate the need to pay tax-payer money to the Reserve Bank, who for several decades has reaped outrageous profits for the act of printing money out of thin air and then loaning it to the government of RSA CC at interest. However, it is entirely possible for the monetary system to be reformed from one that is debt, interest and inflation based to one that is free of such unnecessary causes of economic scarcity. Details of how the monetary system can be reformed were provided by the late MP Mario Ambrosini, and can be accessed here: http://www.republicofgoodhope.org/reform-of-the-monetary-system-to-introduce-debt-interest-and-inflation-free-money/
  • So not only should the R62 billion that was ‘lost’ by the RSA CC government be recovered and channeled into meeting the needs of the real people that occupy the physical land of South Africa, but the monetary system should be reformed so that wealth in the country is something that the people have direct access to, as opposed to the wealth being concentrated in the realms of the banking elite, an elite that does direct business with an elite group of people in the government of the RSA CC.
  • Note the use of the word should at this stage of this line of thinking. The focus has now become normative and not descriptive. Normative claims are almost always the ones that instigate major political and social changes – think of the normative claim at the heart of the transition from the old to the new RSA CC, that the government of the RSA CC should not be racist.
  • The current atmosphere socially in South Africa is one dominated by descriptive claims regarding the effects that are race-related issues, racism, privilege, underprivilege, poverty, etc. Assuming that people actually want the state of affairs in The Land to improve, then some normative claims are going to have to come to the attention of the masses.
  • Note that the normative claims being made in this line of thinking – that the monetary system should be reformed (and can easily be done so) and that the loss of many billions of Rands by the RSA CC government should be prevented – are not ones that trudge into the muddy waters of views about capitalism. Nothing needs to be said about capitalism in this line of thinking. Instead, the focus is squarely on the two aforementioned normative claims.
  • The two aforementioned normative claims give rise to an important question that will lead to other descriptive and normative claims concerning the question, what is the role of government in the RSA? Descriptive claims will look at what has historically been the case, but only normative claims can offer solutions to the kinds of issues that now face the people living on the land of South Africa.
  • This line of thinking agrees with the view that the legitimacy of government stems from the consent of ALL the people, and that a democratically elected government means nothing if ALL the people are not in agreement that the elected government is administrating on behalf of ALL the people fairly. Clearly, the view here is that a legitimate government is an ongoing phenomenon, something where there are no leaders but rather administrators that respond to the will of the people – indeed, in the Constitution of the RSA CC it states that ‘government is based on the will of the people’.
  • Obviously there is much that needs to be considered regarding the role of government, but in light of the previous comment, a government that ‘loses’ R62 billion, and that has contracted with a private corporate entity known as the Reserve Bank that siphons off tax-payer funds for illegitimate ‘bonds’ and as interest on the ‘money’ it created from thin air and loaned to the government, is not based on the will of the people. One might wish to argue that a democratic election is enough to satisfy the criterion of ‘the will of the people’, but one would be arguing for a very limited political view in which a democratically elected authority has the ‘right’ to pursue whatever misdeeds it seems fit – as is indeed the case in many contexts globally today.
  • In terms of practical steps towards solutions to the kinds of issues that have been raised, consider the following points:
  1. The internet has made it possible to monitor all kinds of activity online – take, for example, the ability to monitor the weather, or the value of the Rand in comparison to other currencies. The internet therefore can be used as a tool by ‘the people’ to monitor the actions, decisions, and expenditures of government. The financial records of government can indeed be entered into a database and can be made available on an ongoing basis if ‘the people’ demanded it. This would be one of the easiest, yet most profound, steps towards administrative transparency in this country.
  2. The above step towards administrative transparency would immediately reduce the ‘loss’ of some of the billions of Rands mentioned above. With some of these recovered funds, independent administrative regulatory bodies can be funded, further creating an atmosphere of accountability-to-the-people in the governmental sphere.
  3. Assuming the recovery of billions of previously ‘lost’ funds, money can be transparently channelled towards projects to that create basic abundance of food, water, shelter, education, and skills – this can easily and cheaply be done by way of permaculture practices, a topic for another discussion. For now, suffice it to say that a lot can be done with very little using permaculture practices – initial focus is on making soil, then growing food, then creating sustainable homes powered by renewable energy, then branching outwards to create sustainable economies that are not debt-based. The three umbrella principles of permaculture are: earth care, people care, fair share.
  4. As the atmosphere of administrative accountability is spread throughout The Land, it will make increasing sense to use government-backed money instead of debt-based money – see the link to Ambrosini’s letter above.
  5. Gradually steps 1-4 will allow for the transformation from scarcity to abundance, radically altering the environments that now cause race-related issues, racism, underprivilege, poverty, etc. Discussions about race, racism, privilege, underprivilege, poverty, etc. will accordingly become less pertinent, eventually giving way to questions regarding what interests one should pursue.
  • Note a benefit that cannot be overstated enough: in trying to achieve the above steps, a country’s people would also be making major progress towards dealing with many issues of ecology – the ecological crisis is unarguably one of humankind’s major threats. This is another topic for a different discussion.
  • What are the first steps towards actualising such a vision? Three come to mind, and they are in the form of internet and social memes:
  1. The first could be the meme ‘#vote-stop-the-loss‘ – the idea here is to get the people to demand of their administrators that ALL of the country’s funds are accounted for. How people would voice this demand is open to discussion, a discussion that the people need to be having – indeed, having the discussion is the first step towards solving the issue.
  2. The second is the meme ‘#vote-for-regulation‘ – the idea is much the same as the above meme, with the specific focus on re-instituting independent regulators in administrative realms to hold accountable elected adminstrators.
  3. The third is the meme ‘#transparency‘ – the idea is again similar to the above two memes, with the focus now being on online transparency of all administrative decisions and expenditures.
  • The spread of the above memes requires the work of all who have read this and agree with its convictions. We would all have to ‘get them out there’ onto the internet and into our conversations with others.
  • Until such a time as when government takes up its role as administrators, I for one do not consent nor contract with the corporate entity that is the RSA CC as far as it is in my power to do so – it is unarguably a corporation, and it answers to a corporation called the Reserve Bank. Any corporate deals require consent by virtue of contract law, and of course, consent can also be withdrawn. I see such action as a political obligation, because the realm of administrative government has blurred into a corporate one, something that is beyond despicable considering the inequality that is inherent to the corporate world, versus the equality that governments are supposed to generate.

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