Post Lockdown: The SMART Economy

Wild Olive Tree

I always look forward to hearing President Cyril Ramaphosa address our nation during lockdown. Despite his exhaustion he continues to inspire confidence by his concern for our lives. Saving lives has become his priority and I imagine he must agonize about the economy. He is an ambitious man. As president he certainly wants to leave a legacy of bold and creative innovation that prospers the nation.

Yet Marikana haunts him. He wants no repeat of that experience. This came through very clearly on the first day he let us know that the army would be supporting SAPS in ensuring that lockdown rules are kept. There will be ‘no skiet, skop and donder’. Listening to him I consistently see ubuntu-consciousness on display. My prayer is that he maintain this level of awareness post-lockdown, we might become the luckiest nation on the planet.

However, I have no idea what else is happening in the background. I remember that his vision is firmly rooted in the World Economic Forum’s Fourth Industrial Revolution. And that he loves the SMART concept: Smart technology. Smart cities. Smart agriculture…

That all this comes with increased mining, increased metal waste in landfills, increased intrusive air waves, increased digitalization, increased population control…increased disparity between the super wealthy and the under-skilled is left unsaid. That, in South Africa, the drivers and primary beneficiaries of this new wealth are members of his family is known. This is unsettling.

As is knowing how far this vision has been fast tracked:

The SMART Vision and 5G

In past weeks I have spoken of various economies being punted as ‘green’ economies when they are not. The SMART economy is no exception. Listening to the president you would imagine that his SMART vision and mine are similar. Yet they are exact opposites. Which is one reason why, until now, I have disliked him. Quite intensely. I thought that if the Zuptas had sold us out to one wily family then Ramaphosa and his extended family could very well sell us out to a superpower…

Yet coronavirus has changed everything. Certainly, I have changed. I sense that he has too. I have thus revisited his vision and his plans again. With a more accommodating heart. With attention to what he wants to achieve. Like Thabo Mbeki, he is tired of the view the ‘civilized world’ has of Africa. He wants African pride to rise. He wants South Africa to take its place on the world stage, and, if possible, Africa along with us. The elites, that is. For despite the rhetoric, it is a vision not unlike that of Cecil John Rhodes. The means: The Fourth Industrial Revolution. The infrastructure driver: 5G.

While I reluctantly made the transition to 4G, I was recently caught in the horns of a dilemma: Recently I agreed to transition from ADSL to fibre. This was to save the copper from the black market. And to exercise flexibility as part of being a good neighbour. I have done so knowing that without this fibre infrastructure 5G is currently impossible. Yet if 4G was a difficult step to take, 5G is an impossible one for me to turn a blind eye to. So much so that I am considering becoming a 5G refugee. For I am invested in a healthy planet for myself and for future generations. Therefore, a technology that is as intrusive and perhaps more deadly in the longer term than COVID-19 is not one I can endorse.

The arrogance of Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams brought my reservations into the foreground. Will the currently suspended Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services head up the portfolio that will see the transition from the old postal and telecommunications services to the new global communications system that Patrice Motsepe is setting up. (Even during lockdown? Or is that just in Britain?) If she survives her defiance of the lockdown regulations, she will then morph into the Minister of Communication and Digital Technologies. Is this perhaps what her dear friend, Mduduzi Manana, is hoping for?

Is the President perhaps an excellent actor? Is everything he is saying and doing simply a masterful manipulation to save his extremely elitist vision? After all, he is highly sophisticated. And an excellent orator.

Nonetheless, that beautiful African inclusive spirit for which South Africans are famous, is shining through him during this challenging period of our history. Seeing this, is it possible for me to put all thoughts of becoming a 5G refugee aside and work on something that accommodates the president’s vision? In business speak, can I leverage off his vision in such a way that our natural forests and our manmade urban forest canopies are saved?

Could he be persuaded to divorce Smart agriculture from Monsanto-Bauer, in favour of African heritage seed and eco-agricultures? Could he make room for a local economy (at least 50% of the total) that is completely independent of the global economy? And of 5G? 

The Mars Economy as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

In other words, can I sell the biodiversity economy to him by suggesting he take a look at a possible Mars economy? I was going to create a link here to my other website. It has disappeared though…such is life. My thoughts on this thus follows the last ethical point I make in this blog. More important though are the ethical elements I would like to propose to everyone currently imagining how they might re-enter the economy on their own terms, while simultaneously renewing their relationship with the earth. Given that I am committed to promote just transitions to inclusive communities i.e. flat-lining the poverty curve, (which requires a transition to the biodiversity economy?), my ancestors suggested the following ground rules:

Ø ‘Othering’ people is never an option. For those for whom the Holocaust did not teach them this, we have coronavirus. (Not that I know with any sense of certainty that the mutating coronavirus is a natural jump to humans. Is it animals protesting the encroachment on their wild spaces and their decimation? Or is it a form of biotechnology? A nanotechnology? Accidently released? Or purposefully, as a form of competition between alpha males?)

Ø On earth there is only one human family. To say that someone is a ‘Martian’ is just a metaphor. It’s a tool to assist me in discerning the boundaries of what forms of innovation I may participate in and which ones I must withdraw from. It is also a way of distinguishing between two visions, both of which have positive and negative aspects. The Martian economy is best articulated by Elon Musk. He believes that it is possible to green Mars. If the human race succeeds in doing so, it creates more space for our expanding numbers… and possibly additional mineral resources…

Ø In addition to the Human Family there are all the other earth beings, animate and inanimate, who/which have a stake in the diverse human economies. I was unaware until now that viruses are kingdoms that have a will of their own. (I know that what I consume influences the bacteria in my gut and thus my health, including my mental health. Yet viruses have remained in the dark until now. I have never paid them much attention…Am intrigued that they may have just made a leap in consciousness. They too might serve the Light. This is assuming that coronavirus is a natural virus. I hope it is. If it is, I have been told by people familiar with both science and the esoteric, that it will abate once its purpose is achieved. There are scientific explanations for this phenomena, which I have no way of deciphering, let alone articulate. As there are for the Mars economy. And for 5G technology. That both seem like sorcery to me; a form of magic that I want locked down beyond lockdown might simply be a matter of my ignorance… A form of knowledge that is inaccessible to me…Which I am chilled with, for we each have been given the tools we need to achieve our unique purpose in the world. And mine are clearly not ‘scientific’ in the narrow western sense.)

Ø The solution lies in creating physical boundaries between the two basic post-lockdown economies. This is the primary lesson I have learnt from the coronavirus pandemic. The Wild Places must be protected from undue human interference. Treated as sacred places that no human being may enter. This has best been explained to me by the Traditional Knowledge Holders of Venda. Mupo Knowledge is how I think of it. (I know this is difficult for people who have become accustomed to thinking that freedom is a license to do as they please. Yet all this ultimately leads to is abuse of economic, judicial and political power. Patriarchy on the prowl…In truth, freedom is only possible if one has a sense of the transcendent, a Source of sources. A Master of the Universe. A Creator who co-creates with us, if we open up to It. Yet this is a whole other ‘discipline’ that I introduce here reluctantly, for I want to grow my audience…And just as your science and marketing sometimes look like sorcery to me, so my shamanic knowledge might seem like that to you…)

Ø Ubuntu-Consciousness suggests that we build bridges between the two basic post-lockdown economies. I am assuming that the contraband, the criminal, may be eased out of both…If so, there are two basic trading fields: local and international. Strong local, self-sustaining economies can weather storms more easily than weak ones. Self-reliance begins to equal resilience. Yet we are also part of the wider world and must be active participants in that. Without this we will be dismissed as non-entities and we do want to hold our own in a changing global environment…Following is the peace offering I mentioned earlier:

Earth: 5G and the Mars Economy

In this Jewish month of Redemption,
Nissan,
I dreamt of a Mars economy in the Kalahari Desert
Powered by 5G;

All I have to offer it are palms grown close by
And perhaps some olive trees

With desalinated water
For green houses
To grow other food
as on Mars they would

I am not sure how 5G works;
Have learnt that the increased dependence on internet goods
Has rocketed

Making current infrastructure
Inadequate to meet the demand for added traffic
And speed;

By a neighbour I have been informed
That fibre adds speed to 4G
While omitting reliance on copper

Information-armed I chose to join my neighbours
In requesting that our street be added to the fibre-driven internet

I remain concerned
For I have read that 5G
Will ride on the back of fibre optics;

In my dissatisfaction with this
I saw the 5G Mars economy
Run by nuclear power from Koeberg
The ideal Preparing to live on Mars hub?

A day later I came to realise
That not every Martian on earth will be happy with that;
Used to Sandton high-living
They’ll want to stick around their pads
Bring Mars closer to home

So that what I saw as a possible alternative
Or an add-on
Was 5G blipping
Along the tarred freeways

With 5G hubs around those petrol stations I use
When travelling between provinces;

And around airports?
Train stations too?

Easier commutes from homes luxurious
And modest

Martians developing
And feeding off
The greening-Mars economy

From an Earthling perspective
Those spaces are like Mars already
Corridors of freedom of movement

Doubling as carbon dioxide dense tunnels

Of clean air depleted
With travelling speeds that decimates butterflies,
Natural life merely wanting to cross over
In order to get to the green pastures on the other side…

For butterflies
And kudus
And pedestrians
Mars-economy ignorant

Behaving like Earth is our only home
These sometimes get caught
In the Martian rush to bridge distances

A huge shift this is for me
For I have no personal interest in Mars colonizing;
I have a huge interest in a green earth protecting
For I am to earth life committed

Yet somewhere between sleep
And wakefulness
I remembered being told by an acquaintance
That uBaba Credo Mutwa
Once saw Mars come into the earth’s orbit

Did he paint a mural of it?
On that farm outside Harties?
The one with the stream running beside it?

So, perhaps this Mars dream has some substance?

Perhaps there is a link between it
And the Fourth Industrial Revolution
And instead of fighting it
We Earth-people can create a space to allow it to happen

Cede a portion of our land
For living on Mars practicing;
If we could do it for Orania
Why can’t we do it for 5G and the Mars economy?

Yet I did so with a heavy heart,
With a touch of cynicism
I had no idea I had
Until that moment

For greening Mars
Is not something I have been personally made aware of
As a good to participate in

Yet for the sake of a green earth
For the sake of a blue, blue earth
Which the Owner of Earth bequeathed
To those who Earth stewards would be

For the sake of pure air
Of potable water
Of nutritious-soil food production
In 4G places

Perhaps it is wise to let go of a portion of the land
That resembles Mars already

Why not invite Elon’s Tesla
To expand southwards
To come home to Melkbosstrand?

Set up solar powered lamps
250m apart
Running down the middle of the road
To reduce the disruption of natural wild life

And string those 5G cells upon those

With solar powered electrical cars
Or a nuclear power-driven Gautrain-like public transport system
Linking 5G Mars-tuin

To the edge of Cape Town
When parliament is in session;
Or move Parliament to the desert,
If 5G Parliament desires?

As for myself
I decided that 4G is as far as I will go
In supporting the Fourth Industrial Economy;

If push comes to shove
I’ll simply opt out of the formal sector

On the lookout I shall be
Over the next few months

For countries
For provinces
For islands

For Edens
That their portion of earth
5G-free wish to keep

For I remember Auschwitz still
See signs that remind me of Hitler
Am aware that what we as a collective haven’t healed from
Comes back for clearing

Again, and again

For safe release
To Source
Who alone has the power to transmute
The trauma we have inflicted on the weak

On the earth

Projecting outwards
The traumas within us;
Punishing mothers
For the sins of the fathers

While the children are traumatized

To the sidelines shifted
As though human life a means is
To deserts spread

For the few
The elites
The red men from Mars

Capitalists
Communists
It makes no difference what label you use

When the shadow patriarch is on the loose;

Yesterday I read three books:
Joshua
Judges
And the Song of Songs;

Joshua and Judges
I had not read before
Terrified of these texts I was

For who wants to read family history
Where our ancestral barbarity is on display
For all to see?

And point fingers at me
For the Benjaminites took the cake
When it came to dark passions unleashing

On women
And men
Physically weaker than themselves

Greed
Lust
Both passions which can never be satisfied

The peaceful chowed up

Until, in fury,
The brother tribes
Most of the Benjaminites wiped out

All that slaughter
That from this historical distance
Makes my ancestors look like barbaric butchers;

Which they were in those instances…

Yet is this revealed history
Proof that your ancestors were refined
When mine were not?

Who devised death camps in modern times?
Who has gone to war on the innocent?
Against own populations?
Against ‘foreigners’?

Who is doing so right now?
And how?
More importantly,
How might we deflect it?

The answer to this I know:

Connect with the earth as Mother
In any way that is respectful of life
(Thankfully, Canada, bestiality has banned)

Choose life for Gaia
Choose life for our blue pearl

To do so
Is to choose life
For yourself
And all earth’s children:

Human
Animal
Plant

Ocean
Mountain
River…

Once I thought it meant planting forests only

Yet living where I do
In a polluted urban setting
I now know there are many ways to reverse the trajectory we were on
Before COVID 19 came to assist Earthlings
Keep the Martians in check;

Even building 5G City near Koeberg,
As launching pad to green Mars,
Might be a way to do so

After all, Musk says he is for both planets greening
And he is South African born…

During this lockdown
While my people celebrate Pesach
My biological children and extended family celebrate Easter

And my nearest neighbours enter the fast of Ramadan
I’ll do my best to share with you
Ways in which to heal your relationship with earth

Individually

For each person has a role to play
In what the economy will look like
Post lockdown…

To Jewish people of all beliefs
Who are observing Pesach to the best of their ability
I wish you Chag Pesach Sameach;

To those celebrating Easter as I write
I wish you a joyful celebration
As you remember Jesus of Nazareth
And his Isiah-inspired vision of peace on earth;

To those preparing for the month long fast
At the end of April
I wish you a seamless extension of this enforced global reflection time
To make the world a kinder place for the hungry
And the homeless amongst us.

To those of all other faiths,
Including faith in Self,
I wish you joy
In all the ways you connect to life

May we collectively,
Regardless of our belief systems,
Find the light within

To be Productive
Creative
Innovative
Humane

May the end we seek
Preserve life on earth
And if it be the will of the Master of the Universe
Of Lovingkindness

May Earth life extend to Mars
While keeping Mars landscapes
Far away from us.

Sources and Resources