Our (eco) system is broken

There are stark correlations between biology and politics. They are both systems with components and layers that effect and influence one another. I understand that the wellness of a system depends on the health of the individual cells. Whether or not a system and its constituent parts will thrive depends on how the smaller units fulfill their responsibilities and functions.


The Biology

A natural ecosystem only maintains and supports life due to the fact that there are checks and balances in place that govern the behaviour of the organisms in the ecosystem. It is a fine interplay between forces of nature that Influence life in a sustainable way.

Every organism has a role, responsibility and function to fulfill. There are rewards for behaviour that promote the survival of the organism and in turn the system. In the same fashion, within the organism there are organ systems, made up of organs and on a smaller scale there are cellular systems made up of individual cells. Each type of cell has a function that it is required to fulfill to ensure the survival of the cellular system, then the organ, the organ system, the organism and in that way the cell’s very own survival.

In a healthy organism, should the cell not contribute its function or responsibility; there are other cellular processes and components that will digest and recycle the “lazy” or “sick” cell. This process is called autophagy and ensures the internal health of the system by getting rid of defective cells. This is in order to make space for a new cell that can fulfill that cell’s role and responsibility to ensure the proper functioning of the cellular system and the organism.  

The cell is never more important than the organism. The cell cannot survive without the organism. The organism can survive without the cell. It simply replaces the cell and moves on. However if we interfere and go against this simple rule of biology and we place a higher importance on retaining and rewarding an inefficient, lazy cell the whole organism will suffer.

The Entitled

In the South African ecosystem (politics), the “entitled” cell gets preferential treatment. It has developed a clever way of fooling the other cells by playing the “entitlement card” therefore it doesn’t comply with the rules of biology like the other cells. The entitled cell has learned that policies allow for entitled behaviour to get rewarded. It is not rewarded for merit, competence or work output. It simply gets its way based on entitlement. A position that wasn’t earned. The biological equivalent is a senescent or zombie cell. A senescent cell no longer fulfills its responsibilities and it stops dividing and multiplying. This causes the cell to age much quicker, but it doesn’t die, it just gets sick. It affects the cells around it by causing more senescence. It’s infectious. Not only that, but it also plays a major role in the development of cancer and other disease.

Entitled cells or people don’t understand the fundamental relationship between rights and responsibility. They want the “rights” or the benefits but they don’t want the responsibility that goes with it. They want the money but not the work. Work and responsibility brings meaning and purpose. Entitled cells have no purpose. Think of the entitled like a spoiled child who thinks he is owed whatever he wants. The entitled demands something by virtue of position:

I am entitled because my father is X

I am entitled because what happened 100 years ago

I am entitled because of my ancestors, race, tribe, culture, sex etc.

There are no requirements for them to meet, no responsibility to be taken, no work to be done. The world is just obligated to give them what they want.

The entitled feels the world owes them. Which relieves them of their responsibilities and purpose and in effect dis-empowers them.


The Politics

By giving people stuff (money, rights, benefits) without work, responsibility and purpose that goes with it, you are doing them a severe injustice. You are not empowering them or growing them. You are forcing them to stay spoiled children who become a burden to others.

Some political parties capitalize on the sense of entitlement of people. They know the more people feel entitled, the more they can make promises and ensure they have a carrot dangling that keeps them (the political parties) in power. What the people often don’t know is that the carrot didn’t just fall from the sky. Land had to be cultivated, seeds had to be planted, ground had to be watered and the harvesting, transport and packaging needed to be done. There was a lot of responsibility and requirements that needed to be met for the carrot to be. The carrots will eventually run out if no one takes responsibility for growing them.

By giving people stuff, you are cursing them with the sense of entitlement and the bondage of expectation and dependence. At the same time depriving them of meaning, purpose and dignity they would receive when working for that same stuff.

This is not Economic Empowerment, this is Economic Dis-empowerment.


The order of things

What happens when you put the interest of a few cells above the interest of the organism and the ecosystem? If you foster the growth of entitled cells and you create a culture where senescent cells flourish?

Well, you get the South African government and civil service. They are entitled to all the rights and benefits but take no responsibility whatsoever.

How do you build a successful, sustainable business, industry, economy, government or country based on a model where there is no clear link between competence (merit, effort, hard work and accountability) on the one hand and reward on the other hand?

You don’t.

In any functional ecosystem, organisms are rewarded for behaviour that promotes their survival. The reward system is in place to reward behaviour that ensures survival for the organism and the ecosystem as a whole.

The entitlement model short-circuits the reward system. Effort, merit, hard work and accountability should; in a positive feedback loop be rewarded via the system. To thrive there should be a clear link between competence and reward.

Good behaviour should be rewarded and re-enforced, this ensures future positive behaviour and the survival of the species. As well as the success of the ecosystem.

If there is no clear link between effort and reward you are tampering with the reward circuits, short-circuiting the system and jeopardizing the survival of the organism and severely affecting the ecosystem.

Without rewarding the right behaviour, how do you ensure the organism keeps on behaving in a way that will allow it to survive?

You can’t.

The reward system is put in place so that the organism behaves in a way that will make it survive.

By rewarding the wrong or toxic behaviour you are causing the organism to breed senescence, cancer etc. and self-destruct. How will this model empower all cells and help the survival of the ecosystem?

It won’t.



Hierarchy of competence

Our policy makers and leaders are undermining the value of hierarchies of competence in South Africa. We want a hierarchy of competence not only to know who’s the best in their field but so that we can keep rewarding them for being the best, so that they can keep on being the best. We want the best people in their roles in all areas of life. Or else the system suffers.

We want smart (intelligent), conscientious (hard working) people to occupy positions of complexity and power. We want a hierarchy of competence in place that rewards competence. Not connected cadres.

In any ecosystem you need to punish negative behaviour and reward positive behaviour. This is to maintain equilibrium and an environment that is conducive to life.

With the current balance of power in South Africa we see the rewarding of negative behaviour like entitlement, cadre deployment, corruption, cronyism, nepotism, connectedness (to the political elite) and the complete lack of responsibility, accountability or appropriate punishment of offenders.

With these absurd motivators in place we have created a dysfunctional system.

If you live in a society that rewards political connectedness and not competence, that trait which ensures (temporary) survival in the system will be perpetuated and the trait that is not rewarded, competence, will die off (or emigrate…).

Connections (cadres) will flourish. But only for a limited time. Until the organisms and then the ecosystem dies a slow death.

The system (employment, empowerment, welfare etc.) is broken.


The enemy is our tolerance towards and the capacity for evil in each one of us.


The solution is the intolerance of evil and the capacity for righteousness in each of us.





About the author: Reinhard Korb is a thought leader in the application of psychoneuro-endocrinology, neuro-semantics and epi-genetics. He optimizes health, wellness and performance while preventing disease and disability. As the founder of Thrive, he has facilitated and helped organisations and individuals actualize their potential. He is a certified Fitness & Nutrition Coach, Meta Coach, Neuro Coach, Stress Management Coach and Wellness Coach.