ParaphrasingJohn Lennon about life being what happens while we make plans, the digital revolution and the environmental challenge are transforming everything whileMexicans are told that we are in our own “fourth transformation”, simply because the winners of the last elections declared so.
The problem is that rather than discussing progress and transformation, the new sand social media are saturated with political debates, issues of the past and opinions, “bright ideas”, presidential affinities and phobias, such as demanding the King of Spain to apologize for the Conquest.
Worse still, it would seem that there is no national project for the future but that, precisely when the technological race and the dilemmas it brings about are intensifying. This even affects the concept of economic value itself, with increasingly immaterial, immediate and borderless goods, services and markets, or the differences between ownership and access or use and provision of service, which are becoming current with the sharing economy and business models likeAirbnb or Uber.
It is not gratuitous that policymakers want to establish a global minimum tax on technological multinationals such as Facebook or Netflix, and central banks try to keep up in the development of decentralized finance and the potential of blockchain. Payment systems are going to change profoundly with open banking and banking as a service (BaaS), which will allow banks and fintechs to share data and customers through APIs, and with any business, which in turn will be able to offer financial products directly, such as credits and insurance.
Add cryptocurrencies to this and the traditional banking intermediation model is inconsiderable trouble, as much as the monopoly that central banks and nationalStates have on issuing and controlling currency, with implications that can only be speculated, including government systems and geopolitics.
Trade in times of Amazon and MercadoLibre, marketplaces like Etsy Artisan or those built for large companies by firms like Mirakl, sales on social networks such as TikTok, marketing on Google, any small business with an e-store costing less than MXN 250per month with solutions such as Shopify or Tienda nube, all providing the capacity to take products or services to the whole world… These are issues o four time, of profound transformation, in astonishing contrast with the themes of the so-called “fourth transformation”.
Tycoons like Larry Ellison, Peter Thiel and Jeff Bezos are pouring millions into projects to extend human life, and the new space race is heating up between Bezos and Elon Musk. Meanwhile, our tycoons show up on the front pages due to a dinner of tamales and atole in the National Palace, not because of the announcement of plans for 5G connectivity, energy transition or industrial policy to strategically make the most of the tensions between our neighbors and China. Rather, the news header is the purchase of lottery tickets for a raffle of the presidential plane, landed for years for the sake of “republican austerity”, and which cannot be sold or at least leased to pay its maintenance and the credit for its purchase.
Faced with the prospects of the fourth industrial revolution, the marvelous realism of the so-called fourth transformation accuses scientists of being dangerous criminals of “neoliberal science”, while our president pontificates on “the authentic popular economy” promoted by his government, in front of a sugar mill driven by a horse that produces “exquisite” sugar cane juice for MXN 10 a glass.
Nonetheless,Mexico has several billion dollar tech unicorns that would be worth putting in those kinds of motivational videos as well. Such as Kavak, which revolutionized the used car market and is worth USD 8.7 billion five years after its founding; Bitso, the leading cryptocurrency trader in Latin America; Konfío, the digital business bank that gives loans to SMEs unable to secure one in traditional banks;GBM and its investment model, or Clip and its point-of-sale terminals for any corner store. Plus the new ones coming, such as Merama, whose brand acceleration model in e-commerce has just secured USD 225 million in funding.
Meanwhile, in the times of cryptocurrencies, e-wallets, and banking correspondents at any convenience store, our government wants to build 2,700 branches of the Banco del Bienestar, with the Army as a contractor for the museum of white elephants that is our sui generis version of transformation, like the Dos Bocas refinery and the energy counter-reform.
Prior to COP26 and in the midst of the climate crisis, the initiative came from the government: among other things, fuel oil (with a cost multiplied by five) would take precedence over wind and solar energy. And still, the wisecrack that we would still comply with the Paris Agreement, thanks to more hydroelectric power… even though 50% of our territory suffers chronic drought or increasing irregularity of hydrographic flows due to severe ecological devastation. Neither water nor money, but promising does not impoverish (the politicians).
These contrasts would seem like our country is about to miss the train of future with an accelerated depreciation of its assets: standing on the platform of obsolescence, squandering resources, time, energy and genius of a great nation on anachronisms and political skirmishes.
Returning to the Platonic metaphor of the shadows of reality in the cave, we must leave this cave of alienation, but not with politics, or at least this politics.We are busted if we expect on 2024 (or someday) will come the great leader that“finally” will transform us. Rather than warlords and redeemers, we need more citizens, entrepreneurs, and unicorns in all areas.