Controversy over who really coined 4IR

READERS may be reminded of one Terry Bell, a columnist for News24 and his hokey reference to the ‘Second Industrial Revolution” (2IR). Medialternatives took Bell to task for suggesting we were all about to enter, wait for it, the ‘Second Industrial Revolution’, this sometime in 2015. And that’s from a company which attempted to gag and silence me, and when they could’t achieve that, they corruptly bought a decision in the labour court of South Africa effectively trashing the TRC Act and Preamble to our Constitution.

Well, this morning I read another equally galling piece by Sarah Gravitt published by the Mail & Guardian, blithely suggesting alongside so many google addicted learners, that none other than Davos founder, the German economist Klaus Schwab was the brains behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Readers may therefore be interested to gain some insight into the controversy between Jeremy Rifkin and Schwab. Rifkin is an erudite futurist whose various books  on economics, and labour have painted a picture of essentially a ‘third industrialisation’ only to have Schwab rebrand most of the central thesis touted by Rikfin in his books, as a “Fourth Industrialisation’.

A shout out to visionaries such as Alvin Toffler whose prescient writing on the ‘Third Wave’ predate both Rifkin and Schwab.

For all its pitfalls, I agree with those who suggest the term 4IR is a convenient way of talking about where we are now, especially when it comes to the impact of technologies such as AI, augmented and blended reality, and most obviously when their capacity for exponential improvement in human progress is concerned. The distinction between third and fourth industrialisations is of little significance when the overall pattern of industrialisation is considered, but will no doubt make for much academic tinkering. In fact one can pretty much guarantee that some pundit will propose a fifth industrial revolution in five years time, in the same way web 2.0 begat web 3.0 ad infinitum.

And it won’t matter which conferences you attend, or which degree you have, so long as somebody is making money out of selling you on the idea.

Rifkin writes: “Professor Schwab introduced the theme in a lengthy essay published in Foreign Affairs in December 2015. He argues that we are on the cusp of a Fourth Industrial Revolution that will fundamentally change the way we work and live in the coming decades. Much of the essay’s text eloquently describes the vast technological changes brought on by the digitalization of economic and social life and its disruptive impact on conventional business practices and social norms. I don’t disagree. Where I take exception is with Professor Schwab’s suggestion that these initiatives represent a Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

For my part, I tend to believe that we are approaching a singularity in which the term ‘industrial revolution’ will cease to have any significance so far as economics is concerned. The post-human epoch, predicated as it is on technological prowess on the one hand, and species extinction on the other, will most certainly lead to the demise of humans in their current form, but this is a debate for another time.

Readers may therefore wish to review my 2018 piece on the End of the Anthropocene.

And caveat emptor to all those wising to steal the singularity.

Rugby World Cup: Non-Racialism vs Multi-Racialism

BEFORE a global audience of millions, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi thanked the nation following his side’s historic Rugby World Cup win on Saturday. So far as Kolisi was concerned, this was yet another miracle, a wonderful example of ‘the different races working together‘ he said, to bring an historic victory that recaptured the spirit of the 1995 rugby world cup.

The interview was soon followed up by news reports with headings such as ‘Boks thrive on racial unity‘.

If it all seemed a little contrived, former adversaries segregated under apartheid making good on the promise of reconciliation by bringing victory, not simply in green and gold, but black and white, under the first black captain to do so, then you’re probably in the same boat.

Government officials, including the president, had made no bones about the opportunity for nation-building presented by a third victory in Yokohama.

And yet little more than two weeks ago, former President Thabo Mbeki had put pen to paper, to write an opinion-piece, berating the opposition DA, and fedex chair Helen Zille for deploying the exact same multi-racial ‘race-speak’ as the springbok captain. The DA’s twisted explanations of the controversial events surrounding the resignation of several prominent black members from the party, including Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane are public record.

It appears Mbeki wished “to emphasise that, consistent with our Constitution, all our registered political formations have an absolute obligation practically to contribute to the national effort to make ours a non-racial country.

It was thus Zille’s badly thought out statement:  “There are racists of all races in South Africa” which jarred when it came to the outspoken non-racialism articulated by the ruling party, and for which Mbeki was now going so far as to remind other political formations, that there was also in effect, a constitutional imperative to reject multi-racialism.

If what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, why wasn’t Kolisi’s aftermatch statement equally jarring as Zille’s, despite a winning game? Why was it okay for a black man to refer to separate and distinct races, but the same didn’t apply to a white woman?

And please forgive me, why is race and racism here, starting to sound like a definition of straight marriage, right out of the period of gay prohibition? In other words, racism can only be experienced by a person defined as black by apartheid race classification, circular logic if ever there was one?

It should be remembered, that history also records the epic journey from the ‘multi-racialism’ of the Freedom Charter to the ‘non-racialism’ of our Bill of Rights. Indeed, the ANC were not the first to articulate such a progressive vision, the late Robert Sobukwe founder of the PAC, went so far as to assert before Mandela adopted this type of language during the period of reconciliation, “ there is only one race to which we all belong, and that is the human race”, and similarly,”multiracialism is racism multiplied”.

That the then multiracial ANC of the 1950s found itself in power as avowed non-racialists in the 1990s, while the much larger, at the time, PAC is in danger of withering away in the ranks of the opposition is no small lesson of history.

Which brings one to the point invariably raised here, that of semantics, is this all just nitpicking about words, and was Kolisi not entitled to make his remarks, as was Zille?

Not if one believes in South African exceptionalism — that we have somehow overcome the race question as a nation of non-racialists, at least on paper.

Not if one wishes to adopt a scientific approach to the problem of race, since, correctly there is no race when it comes to Humans, (as the recent National Geographic Race Issue, suggested, the matter has been laid to rest for quite some time). Bare in mind that the multi-regionalist theory of human evolution has been resoundingly shot down by mainstream scientists along with much South African paleontological research on the basis of race, conducted prior to the 1980s.

And certainly not if one wishes to remain consistent as a patriot with the non-racial principles governing our constitution instead of practising double standards. (It is still a mystery why our jingoistic media and captured legal system continues to operate on the assumption of race and despite the law).

Thus what Kolisi might have said differently, if he didn’t have a coach like “Rassie Erasmus” whose name itself is a strange cipher for race, and if we were not so obsessed with categorising differences and separating people into ‘race’ groups?  Surely a project doomed to failure? And yet one quixotically given sanction despite our constitution, by certain racist legal authorities who deserve to be outed.

Kolisi could have said: ‘We all came together in our differences’, or ‘our people as a nation have differences but we are essentially all the same’, instead he chose to walk the same path as Helen Zille in articulating race as a conceptual framework through which we view our world. So much for the game of rugby.

And ditto the great South African experiment in non-racialism, i.e the absence of race-based thinking.

For all the springboks prowess on the field, one cannot help wondering why there was no coaching on the tricky subject of anti-racism especially when it came to a captain delivering a message to the entire world? And a team which just a brief few hours prior to winning the world cup, had received a pep talk from none other than President Ramaphosa himself?

And surely if we believe Mbeki, that ours is a country based upon the premise and promise of a non-racial future?

Which leaves us with another Sobukwe gem also taken from the 1959 Opening Address at the Africanist Inaugural Convention: “In Afrika the myth of race has been propounded and propagated by the imperialists and colonialists from Europe, in order to facilitate and justify their inhuman exploitation of the indigenous people of the land. It is from this myth of race with its attendant claims of cultural superiority that the doctrine of white supremacy stems”.

A myth indeed.

 

 

Workers at Multichoice blow the whistle

MEDIALTERNATIVES covered the creation of a cartel affecting thousands of media workers, the attempted gagging of journalists and the ongoing campaign against the TRC at the behest of holding company Naspers. It was only a matter of time before journalists began to take notice, this time, the retrenchments at Multichoice have rung alarm bells. Opinion-makers are beginning to join the dots and there are lot of angry and affected people on the ground. Yes we told you so and it is not at all surprising that there is a new press emerging upon the ashes of the struggle.

New Frame, a not-for-profit, social justice media publication based in Johannesburg, carries the full story:

“An ex-manager in the customer care department at MultiChoice, who asked to speak on condition of anonymity, exclusively reveals how the media giant’s managers allegedly “bullied and unjustifiably force-retrenched” support staff to make way for a cheaper call centre service provider already accused of paying its workers “slavery wages”.

“We created a hostile working environment for the staff by giving them [an] unreasonable workload, frustrating and emotionally abusing them to the point [that they] no longer wished to work for the company. We were given instructions to dig [up dirt and then] dismiss staff … Our primary focus was to get rid of staff. It’s easier to fire them than to pay them. I acknowledge my role in this, from a moral perspective. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was basically fighting to save my job,” says the former manager.”

Read more here 

Mogoeng is misinformed, disingenuous and unhelpful

IN A LENGTHY statement to the press early this month, South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng warned those ‘making allegations against judges and the judiciary to stop hiding behind fictional identities or names’

He claimed further that he never received any formal complaints against his colleagues.

“Only a sworn enemy of our constitutional democracy would make allegations so grave against the judiciary without the evidence to back them up.”

He said he never received any formal complaints against his colleagues.

“Make your true identity and contact details known to us and the South African public. Tell us which judge has been captured, corrupted and by whom.”

The chief justice said for the sake of a South Africa that deserves a corruption-free judiciary, those making allegations should be willing to give evidence even in a court of law.

He said he never received any formal complaints against his colleagues.

That the Chief Justice was being disingenuous and more than unhelpful can be demonstrated by the fact that Independent Media have published criticism of the judiciary as a prominent OP-ED piece under my own byline, not a nom de guerre , in which I proceed to refer to a sworn affidavit and supporting documents regarding the capture of a well-known member of the legal profession performing judicial duties.

Medialternatives can reveal that the individual, who presided over a 2010 discrimination case involving his own client and business partners is none other than Halton Cheadle, and that my affidavit details the lengths to which I have gone in informing inter alia, SAPS, NPA, JSC and the Cape Law Society.

My Op-Ed also makes note of the manner in which South Africa’s justice system has turned into a mere business system, and one should add, a system that is not evidence based per se, but rather an opinion-based system inherited from the past period of colonialism and apartheid.

Until the evidence in my affidavit  is heard before an impartial court of law, in a fair hearing in which I possess an attorney, there is  absolutely no likelihood that the Chief Justice’s advice will be adhered to, and any averments in this regard should be rejected by free-thinking citizens.

Other statements attributed to the Chief Justice claim that he has requested SAPS to investigate allegations against the judiciary, but fail to record that the NPA appears to have a policy of doing nothing about the problem, when it comes to corporate and party-political capture of judicial officers.

 

Discipline and Punish: the troubling end of spanking.

WITH LITTLE or no debate on the issue in the public sphere, (no Imbizos, lekgotlas nor indabas ) South Africa’s constitutional court delivered yet another major decision. This time making the country the 57th nation in the world to ban child spanking.

That we appear to be moving away from the casual resort to violence towards a regime seemingly based upon peaceful dialogue, openness and problem-solving is obviously to be welcomed (see below). If only discipline and punishment were as simple as sending ones dear child a memo, or informing a potential brat, your own offspring or an abusive parent about the new law.

That the ruling was equally couched within the tinsel baubles and holy sheen of an ongoing debate between those who resort to religious texts to defend their actions and those like me, who do not, is equally bound to be controversial. The decision stems from a case involving the beatings received by a 13-year-old inflicted by his father.

More worrying and irksome, is the manner in which a well-established common law defence of ‘justifiable chastisement’ has been replaced, or so it seems, by the noble rhetoric of ‘positive parenting’ — an effete legalistic notion that will needlessly bring an end to family life — now with the merest domestic squabble under judicial and state scrutiny and child discipline in effect, under the exclusive aegis of the state?

Pundits were moved to play down the implications of a sudden growth in new categories of felony and misdemeanours, for which both parent and child could pay an enormous price, if only to weed out those parents who really do engage in acts of petty assault, and hang-on, didn’t the list of activities which may be construed as common assault just get a lot longer?

Much is being made by a vocal minority, of a ruling which apparently overturns various biblical psalms, who could have guessed?

Think nothing of destroying what little remains of parental privacy and civilian-based discipline — thanks to the religious nutters,  that sacred bond between parent and child is, well, no longer so sacrosanct.

The impact of the ruling on privacy in the home, remains unexamined by the media — will private acts regarding child discipline now fall under the purview of the state?

Let’s be open and frank here, as a parent and child-rearer — my daughter Vumani Nina Lewis was born without being spanked by a doctor, in the privacy of our own home. Instead of being assaulted by a medic, she was revived by a midwife, granted air by the judicious use of a simple hand pump.  Thus she arrived smiling instead of yelling.

So where is the bar in this matter?

Just about nobody accuses rugby players of assault when they tackle per the rules of rugby, but I fear, doctors will have a harder time persuading patients and the state that they didn’t commit a crime when they applied the Heimlich Manoeuvre, and likewise, parents when they give a slap on the wrist, or a clip to the ear.

Yes, the ruling is a major victory for those wanting freedom from the religious condonation of private violence in the form of beatings, circumcision and the like,  and a major setback for those who have always relied upon secular arguments to justify spanking.

Like many South Africans I was brought up with corporal punishment in school, and the threat of beatings with a belt, applied by my own mother.

Canadian guidelines for instance allow spanking under a number of conditions including corrective force (or physical punishment) that is minor or “transitory and trifling” in nature; no physical punishment on children younger than two or older than 12 …

Corporal punishment, i.e physical punishment inflicted by the state in the form of caning,  went the way of the Dodo after 1994, but justifiable chastisement lived on. In an effort to appear trendy and with-it, the common-law defence of ‘reasonable and moderate parental chastisement’ has been ‘rendered constitutionally indefensible’ by the nation’s moral guardians. One would have thought that the defence would have been restricted to certain categories of chastisement, but no.

Henceforth, all children will be free to accuse their parents of assault for the merest reprimand, while parents will suffer needlessly the consequences of vexatious and trivial allegations of unlawful aggression.

What can be done to rectify the overreach of South Africa’s juristocracy? The law-lords who appear want to invade our living rooms at the same time they move for privacy in drug use and the onward march of progress in every arena, except when it comes to equality before the law for TRC victims?

How to limit the effect of every case before the ConCourt turning into a day vs night, Roe v Wade moment?

At first one should add that the state itself is an unfit parent. The republic and its judges have not disavowed themselves of the need to discipline and punish. Instead they have reserved this power for themselves. You may read my published criticism here.

The case appears to have revolved around religious justifications for chastisement, not secular and civil arguments, and it does not immediately follow that each and every justification is henceforth, null and void.

Citizens, including children will still be subject to a system of justice which is anything but modern, extremely expensive, time-consuming, wasteful and whose penal codes inevitably result in obscure interpretations of law on the one hand, and overcrowded prisons on the other.

Household discipline, parental authority, the right to chastise, call it what you want, necessarily keeps children away from the criminal justice system.

As Michel Foucault the author of Discipline and Punishment, would have put it: “Where there is power, there is resistance.”

In this arena, expect resistance.

Let’s face it, South Africa’s judiciary leaves a lot to be desired.

SOUTH AFRICANS may be suffering under a collective delusion, the rule of law. If one reads the latest round of media commentary, we are either stricken with a hopelessly corrupt judicial system, or driven by ulterior motives to question an infallible judiciary. In this binary view judges are either devils in black robes, or angels and saints in silk who can do no wrong.

The reality is that for the most part, we have an imperfect system inherited from a period of apartheid and colonialism. A time when citizens were not accorded equal rights and status before the law.

Attend judges chambers at the High Court of South Africa in Cape Town, and you will be greeted by the portraiture of past judge presidents on floor one, going all the way back to the Cape Colony and Apartheid. Obscene pictures of Centlivres et al, still hang from the walls in an eerie twilight reminiscent of that macabre republic. Our institutions however, are rather proud of their racist lineage, and the tainted display is headed up by a current photograph of a grinning judge president Hlophe, still under investigation by the JSC for misconduct.

Under the present system, the process of impeachment of sitting judges who possess tenure, requires a supermajority in Parliament. The process for the removal of acting judges on the other hand, those drawn from the profession on an ad hoc basis is less clear. The manner in which such persons gain authority, often in conflict with their standing as directors of various law firms and businesses, is an awkward one.

For Raymond Edward Chalom, who has been in the legal profession for almost 50 years, the judiciary is a hotbed of corruption. He says “judges are appointed on the basis of friendship, trade-offs between lobby groups in the sector and affiliation to legal bodies rather than history, legal minds and experience.” I can only concur with this observation and possess an as yet  unserved affidavit alongside supporting documents,  demonstrating the resulting corruption of influence and manifest bias by a well-known member of the profession.

The process of judicial reform has not been easy. The South African system is really just an elegant compromise, for the most part, a sorry colonial edifice to which several innovations such as Family Court, Equality Court and the apex Constitutional Court have been bolted.

And therein lies the rub, since our constitution, a visionary, civil rights document if ever there was one, requires that all citizens gain untrammeled access to rights yet is seemingly oblivious to the reality of a legal process that is overly circuitous and expensive at best. The justice system in our country has unfortunately turned into a mere business system, one designed for millionaires and their cohorts in management and the professions, but where access to justice for ordinary citizens is a practical and tragic impossibility.

Witness Steven Friedman’s recent column in Business Day. According to the newspaper’s resident lefty in the debate among middle-class people which shapes politics, hardly anyone undermines courts and judges. In stating the obvious, (qui bono, who benefits?) Friedman avoids the uncomfortable fact that the majority of the country’s citizens are neither middle-class, nor possessed of sufficient financial clout required to be considered readers of his own column. The working class is drawn from the ranks of the dispossessed, the downtrodden and unemployed, for want of a better phrase.

The reality for most of us, living in the aftermath of a crime against humanity, and several decades of misrule by the ANC, is that nearly every legal issue these days, ends up turning into an expensive constitutional drama, one which only the apex court is able to rectify, resulting in the juniorisation of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal.

For instance it took nearly three decades to end cannabis prohibition via the courts while effecting a delay on the promise of rights gained in 1994.

Sadly the lower courts with one or two exceptions, (cannabis is an exception) have shown themselves either powerless or reticent to enforce new freedoms, preferring to solicit business for the entangled profession. Our Bill of Rights for such individuals is little more than a ‘carrot on a stick’, bread and butter for an academy that has seen fit to create exclusion after exclusion to our rights.

Witness my own troubles with gaining access to legal aid in a matter affecting the life of the TRC and its final report (Lewis v Legal Aid SA). Application dismissed by AJ Martin without so much as leave, in the process creating a racist and unacceptable exclusion to the Preamble to our Constitution. Racism on the bench here has simply grown in leaps and bounds.

The Constitution, for all intents and purposes, adopted in a piecemeal fashion in 1996, has meant that the status quo for the most of us, still resembles the old order, while the new order which was meant to be, including our rights and freedoms, has vanished like a chimera.

Take a problem inherent to any system overly reliant upon the settling of disputes by intermediaries known as attorneys. In this jury-less world, professional jurists, comprising entirely of members of the self-same profession of law, adjudicate and interpret law, and then deem themselves fit to determine the facts.

The result is a system that is not evidence-based as such but rather scholastic, obscurantist, medieval. The Earth circles the Sun, well that’s just an opinion so far as these hucksters are concerned.

When it comes to facts about apartheid, the profession has not been exactly the cradle of rocket scientists. Witness PW Botha’s successful defense of his racist position in the face of a subpoena by the TRC. Or Wouter Basson, a darling of the courts.

South Africa is certainly stricken by an over-reliance on interpretation and opinion. Not evidence-based terrain so much as thick, fat, obscenely bureaucratic, opinion-based largess writ large. Access to a jury option in capital crimes and defamation cases would put such quibbles to rest.

Spare a thought for the victims of rape, in case after case, often dropped by the justice system, or reduced in value by the lack of mandatory sentencing for offenders, making rape no longer a capital crime in South Africa so far as the law is concerned.

On the whole South Africa’s legal system is too caught up with kowtowing to prevailing authority from the old days, to notice when it gets science spectacularly wrong. Instead of deriving truth from facts, as a nation, we tend to derive truth from ideology, in this respect our legal system is no different. Ditto the debate on legal positivism, and a position that is increasingly absent in our supposed secular world.

Attorney’s writing up judgements, well, that’s just par for the course.

Acting judges advertising their services and experience on the bench to clients when they’re not moonlighting as articled clerks — just another modern innovation in letters.

Apartheid happened, separate development, the Land Act — all facts not speculative conjecture, as our courts have deemed fit under the Cheadle Doctrine, while slipping into a void of  fantasy and fable. Apartheid denial is the very essence of a decision handed down by the labour court in 2010, in which I myself am the complainant.

Where jokes have abounded that ‘the rule of law so frequently turns into the law of rules’, I merely have to cite my own sad experience with a rotten system to observe that the law has failed us all miserably.

published in part, in Star & Daily News 12/9/2019

Rethinking the Courtroom

Justice for Neil Aggett

TIMES LIVE reports that justice minister Ronald Lamola apparently wants the deaths of anti-apartheid activists Neil Aggett and Hoosen Haffejee to be re-investigated. Only time can tell if he is serious this time.

Lamola announced on Friday, according to the online daily, that he had requested the judges president of the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal divisions of the high court to each designate a judge to reopen the inquests in relation to the deaths in detention of the activists.

The justice department is reported to have said Lamola’s decision was in terms of Section 17(A) of the Inquest Act of 1959 and follows an application by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for the reopening of the inquests.

Readers may remember that Aggett was a doctor who died in detention in Johannesburg in 1982, aged 28. The inquest into his death held that no one was to blame. Yet another reason not to trust the apartheid-era justice system.

READ MORE HERE