Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The future

Few would dispute that South Africa is stalled at a crossroads, watching other competing states zip by as we run the battery flat frantically trying to start our dead engine.  Even Ethiopia, the poster child for malnutrition, is purring along with an 8% growth rate.  So what does our future hold, apart from being flattened by the truck of history if we don’t get our economic engine started soon?
History has this annoying habit of repeating itself. No matter how special we may think we are, we will get the same results as last time if we repeat the same mistakes. To think otherwise, Einstein tells us, is the very definition of stupidity. And that is one thing we have in plentiful supply.
Here are three scenarios.

Greek scenario

Timescale
Description
Consequences
Late 2018
The “Incident” occurs. This might be an Eskom or SAA loan default, a natural disaster, an assassination, a major riot, an epidemic.
The fragile fiscal house of cards collapses.
The government runs out of money. Salaries, grants, creditors cannot be paid.
Financial panic, stock market tumbles, widespread rioting.
Government applies for urgent IMF loan. Agrees to virtually all terms.
Payments restored, rioting winds down, stock market 60% down.
ANC splits into verligte wing, committed to market friendly policies and economic recovery, and verkrampte wing committed to ongoing socialist policies.
Verligte wing absorbs most black members of DA, forms the DANCe party. Remains titular government under Ramaphosa.
Verkrampte wing (called the ANC Loyalists League) merges with the EFF, forms the EFFALL party.
Remainder of DA becomes a liberal party with minuscule support..
Early 2019
IMF flexes its muscles. Insists on changes to labour law. Parliament under huge pressure to pass changes, unions are apoplectic. Government unable to pay salaries and grants again.
Widespread rioting. Economy close to collapse.
State of emergency declared by Ramaphosa.
Elections delayed indefinitely. Labour law changes passed in emergency parliamentary sitting.
Riots move from dusty townships into leafy suburbs. Army deployed to curb riots, but ineffective. Death toll in riots exceeds 1,000.
Many middle class suburbs form armed militias, close off access, erect major barriers to entry.
Many union leaders, EFFALL officials, rioters taken into custody. International concern expressed at deteriorating situation and potential for civil war.
Riots begin to abate. Separatist movement in Western Cape gains strength. Tax revolt in Western Cape.
Basic services in northern provinces severely compromised.
Mid 2019
Country is effectively under lockdown. State of emergency continues. IMF imposes many further conditions before approving payments, including 30% reduction in state salary bill.
Western Cape groups begin serious secession planning.
Late 2019
As IMF conditions begin to take effect, business and investment climate slowly improves. Overseas investments improve. State of emergency dropped. Elections scheduled for 2020.
Unemployment drops for first time in 10 years. Rioting stops. Growth rate ticks up to 3%.
Serious famine conditions emerge in northern provinces.

Zimbabwe scenario

Timescale
Description
Consequences
Late 2018
The “Incident” occurs. This might be an Eskom or SAA loan default, a natural disaster, an assassination, a major riot, an epidemic.
The fragile fiscal house of cards collapses.
The government runs out of money. Salaries, grants, creditors cannot be paid.
Financial panic, stock market tumbles, widespread rioting.
Government applies for urgent IMF loan. Refuses to agree to virtually all terms. IMF withdraws.
Government announces new settlement currency, called COMRADEBONDS(CB). All available foreign currency assets seized. Bank assets placed under government management. Draconian wealth tax imposed.
SOE bail outs continue. Salaries and grants paid in CBs.
Several farms and businesses targeted for expropriation without compensation.
Currency blackmarket emerges instantly. Capital flight from SA becomes a flood. Most overseas companies freeze all further investments, begin looking for buyers at any price. Emigration applications triple.
Early 2019
Early elections announced. Ramaphosa under huge pressure from radical elements in ANC and EFF. In order to curry favour with ANC base, several businesses and farms expropriated in high profile cases.
Court cases challenging expropriation ensue.  DA is enraged. Massive inflation in value of CBs. State employees and grant recipients demand payment in dollars. Many strikes followed by riots occur.
Elections take place. ANC wins 51% majority, EFF 25%, DA 19%.
Economy continues to crumble. Growth rate is negative 3%. Zero new fixed investment. Unemployment reaches 50%.
Radical wing splits from ANC, forms new party (ANC Loyalists League).
Separatist movement in Western Cape gains strength. Tax revolt in Western Cape.
Basic services in northern provinces severely compromised.
Mid 2019
ANC no longer enjoys parliamentary majority, must enter into coalitions with EFF or DA. .
Service delivery rioting increases around country. Riots move from dusty townships into leafy suburbs. Army deployed to curb riots, but ineffective. Death toll in riots exceeds 1,000.
Many middle class suburbs in Western Cape and Gauteng become walled cities with own management, independent of state entities.
Tax collections plummet, adding to pressure on fiscus.
Late 2019
Ramaphosa declares state of emergency. SA defaults on most foreign loans. Economy in free fall.
South Africa is labelled as a failed state.  Appeals for international aid to feed starving citizens. Warlords arise in northern provinces and take control of state assets.

Ramaphosa scenario

Timescale
Description
Consequences
Late 2018
The “Incident” does not occur. Eskom or SAA do not default on their loans, there is no natural disaster,  assassination,or epidemic.
The fragile fiscal house of cards remains intact.
The government manages to borrow enough money to avoid catastrophe. Salaries, grants, creditors continue to be paid.
The rand declines, the stock market declines, service delivery protests continue.
Ramaphosa’s government continues to strengthen, prosecutes corruption, reduces size of cabinet, makes reassuring noises on EWC.
The delicate juggling act begins to pay off for Cyril.
EFF and the Zuma faction become ever more hysterical, and irrelevant.
The DA continues to flounder.
Malema’s star begins to wane. Internal dissensions in EFF mount. Court cases takes their toll on Zuma and Malema.
Early 2019
Early elections announced. Ramaphosa under huge pressure from radical elements in ANC and EFF. In order to curry favour with ANC base, several businesses and farms expropriated in high profile cases.
Court cases challenging expropriation ensue.  DA is enraged. Ratings agencies threaten further downgrades.
Elections take place. ANC wins 55% majority, EFF 15%, DA 20%.
Economy continues to crumble. Growth rate is negative 1%. Little new fixed investment. Unemployment reaches 50%.
ANC splits into verligte wing, committed to market friendly policies and economic recovery, and verkrampte wing committed to ongoing socialist policies.
Verligte wing absorbs most black members of DA, forms the DANCe party. Remains titular government under Ramaphosa, with narrow majority.
Verkrampte wing (called the ANC Loyalists League) merges with the EFF, forms the EFFALL party.
Remainder of DA becomes a liberal party.
Separatist movement in Western Cape gains strength. Tax revolt in Western Cape.
Basic services in northern provinces severely compromised.
Mid 2019
DANCe party encounters major internal strategic and philosophical differences. Majority dwindles due to desertions.
Service delivery rioting increases around country. Riots move from dusty townships into leafy suburbs.Many middle class suburbs in Western Cape and Gauteng become walled cities with own management, independent of state entities.
Tax collections plummet, adding to pressure on fiscus.
Late 2019
Ramaphosa remains president of a deeply divided country.
South Africa stumbles along with no major policy shifts and poor future prospects.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Launch of the Individualist Movement

Jeffreys Bay, 5th June 2018.

by Trevor Watkins    (You can view a video of the launch here.)

Why did we invite you here today? Well, a movement is like a rocket - pretty useless if you don’t launch it. So we wanted a specific moment in time and a specific place where history could record the start of the Individualist Movement. We wanted to test our message on a typical audience and gauge the reaction. While we would love to recruit you as a member, that is not our first priority tonight. Rather, we hope to entertain and enlighten you in a pleasant atmosphere.

Today is the 74th anniversary of D-Day, the launch of the Normandy landings in 1944, when many of our forefathers fought and died to ensure the survival of our western civilisation. They laid down their lives to preserve the ideas we take for granted today - rule of law, individual freedom, government by the consent of the governed. It is a stark reminder that ideas matter, and bad ideas have dreadful consequences. Three generations later, what sort of a job are we doing to protect the legacy they fought for?

The vast majority of people spend their lives providing a service to others. Whether you sell coffee or cars you engage in a voluntary transaction for the benefit of yourself and others. As a nurse or doctor or policeman or priest you provide Social Services in order to make a living. You volunteer to assist your family and friends and community for the spiritual rewards it provides. You are not the problem with our society.

Some people crave power over others and often disguise this as a service, most notably politicians. They are easy to spot. If you have no choice but to do their bidding, to follow their rules, to pay their taxes, then you have a power seeker, and a problem.

What you believe influences your worldview and how you act and react with others. Robert Heinlein put it well, “The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.” Either individuals are free to choose, or others, individuals and groups, make their choices for them. In my opinion, these views are mutually exclusive, there is no middle road. Either your rights as an individual are respected, or you are subject to the interests of the group. Either you ask for consent, or you use force. It is a binary choice, it is right or wrong, it is true or false.

Who here believes that the interests of their preferred group, their nation, their church, their municipality, their family, should take precedence over the rights of any one individual?

Who here believes that others should always ask for your consent before doing something that affects you?

Who answered yes to both questions?

Why is this important? Throughout history tyrants have used the greater interests of the group, any group, to justify doing stuff to individuals against their will. Kings and conquerors, mayors and councillors, always appeal to the greater interests of the group, while almost always advancing their own private interest. It is the oldest of all the myths - the commonest lie. And yet we believe it everytime. As Ronald Reagan said, the scariest words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you”.

So what is to be done? The American founding fathers took a giant step for individual liberty when they produced their Declaration of Independence. This resulted in the freest and most prosperous country in history, despite its modern difficulties. Many constitutions, South Africa’s included, pay lip service to individual rights, but always with critical exceptions that favour groups. Most western countries support democracy, which replaces the tyranny of the one with the tyranny of the many, as South Africans know only too well. Can human nature be changed? Is it worth even trying?

I have been trying for the past 33 years. And I am trying once again. Some people think this is very trying. Earlier this year I realised that the communists have had a communist manifesto since the late 1800’s, which became the basis of the communist movement, an epic disaster for humanity. What is the polar opposite of a communist? An individualist. This thought prompted me to write down the Individualist Manifesto, which merges the predominant ideas of classical liberalism and libertarianism into a single short document. When I showed this document to my friend George Werner, he suggested we start the Individualist Movement to publicise the ideas therein. And here we are today.

Although the manifesto is deliberately as short and simple as possible, I think there may be some value in explaining some of its terms.

I am a sovereign individual. I am a nation of one.

While many may think the idea of sovereign individuals is a pipe dream, we already live in a world of sovereign states which enjoy all the privileges that we seek for individuals. There is a general agreement among states, backed by treaties, to respect the independence of other states, to avoid interfering in their affairs without consent, to respect their boundaries, to treat their representatives with dignity and respect. Any attempt by one state to coerce another will quickly result in retaliation and possibly war. Likewise for any attempt to seize property unlawfully, or cross agreed boundaries. This respect for sovereign states should simply be extended to sovereign individuals, to nations of one.

Respect me, respect my independence

Most conflicts arise from a lack of respect for others. We fear people who are different to us and favour those who are the same. We don't have to love other people, we don't even have to like them. But if we don't respect them and their differences we will end up fighting them.

Request my consent

Consent is at the core of the Individualist Manifesto. Consent enables all voluntary human interactions, and forbids all involuntary or coerced interactions. No one may make decisions on my behalf without my consent, no matter how well-intentioned.
Recognise my property

The rule of law and the recognition of property rights is the fundamental basis of the free market system. It is a hot button in South Africa at the moment because the collectivists and communists know this well. Without secure property rights there can be no market, no prosperity, no future

Resolve disputes by jury

Job 5:7 says that “Man is born to trouble as surely as the sparks fly upward”. Things fall apart. Conflicts will always arise. In the past conflicts were resolved by the king. Nowadays they are resolved by courts and judges appointed by politicians in government. This critical function is now beyond the control of the individual and often beyond his reach financially. We suggest that conflicts between individuals should be judged by other individuals in the tried and trusted jury system.

Consequences

Although brief and simple, the consequences of these principles are profound.
  • No one may take your life except you.
  • No one may decide what you eat or drink or do to yourself.
  • No one may tax you without your consent. Without taxation the nation state will wither away.
  • No one may impose regulations upon you without your consent.
  • No one may decide how you use your property unless it affects them directly.
  • You may defend yourself with vigor against anyone acting against you.
  • Disputes will be resolved by juries of your fellows, with up to three appeals.
  • Providing aid and assistance to your fellows is a personal moral decision, not an obligation.

Conclusion

Respect, request, recognise and resolve; These are the 4 R’s that are the basis of the manifesto, and make up the logo of the Individualist Movement.

They describe how you wish to be treated,and how you will treat others. They place a limit on the power of groups. We invite you to become a sovereign individual.

Authenticity

By Trevor Watkins 24/5/2020 Some of what I have to say here is derived from a Wikipedia article entitled “ Authenticity ”. What is real? I...