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Intellectual climate change Pt:1

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by Oscar Allen 11.JAN.08

I have begun to feel it, a definite shift in the pattern of peoples’ opinion. Different groups are beginning to take up their own causes, make up their own minds, produce their own actions and tell us what they think.

The manufacture and maintenance of opinion is still in the hands of an intellectual boss class, but new intelligence units are stirring and sprouting, and they are changing the climate and shifting the market of ideas.{{more}} The ozone layer of social, “Yes Sirism” is getting thin.

Perhaps, I should tell you more plainly what stirrings I am feeling and where they are coming from. Have you watched the humble farmers’ movement over the past 10 to 20 years? As the NFU, it began by asking the state’s Banana Association for bargaining rights – to speak for banana farmers, then as WINFA, it asked for companionship relationships, to be part of discussions on the way to go in banana; then it suggested that Fairtrade was a project that could work; then it began a small Fairtrade export effort with help from (NGO’S) overseas. The movement went through all of this without the support of the big association. In fact, the Banana Association and later WIBDECO, said ‘No!’ all the way for more than 15 years. But this subaltern, invisible, persistent interest group decided to “take up their own causes, make up their own minds, produce their own actions and tell us what they think”.

Today, rightly or wrongly, WINFA-Fairtrade is crafting a social economic organization that is asking the big association to ‘move over and make space for me.’ That is a sign of intellectual climate change.

In a less plodding way, other groups are beginning to grasp and assert their own identities, not the identities that the boss class passes out to them, but their own. I feel it in the difficult backwarding and forwarding of the SVG Teachers’ Union as they steady their vision, stand on their feet and produce their own conception of a profession positioned to co-construct a new people. The intellectual climate change is also slowly stirring in the private sector organization, as a collective. Segments of the media and sporting bodies, too, evidence thinking up. No less consistent are the sexual closets and the sexual insurgency of the youth. They, too, put new intellectual products on the opinion market that raise questions for the old boss class to respond to.

As I see it, this climate change is not intended to challenge the state of itself. It is not to be seen as anti-government climate change either. Rather, it is asking us to conceive alternative governance and renewed moral – social spirituality. Church, Party and Power are becoming intellectually baseless, or at least untransparent in their priority commitment to persons, society and nation. As they lose their mission, they damage the moral climate, and lesser groups stir themselves to speak and to act and to lead.

This idea of an intellectual climate change is not my own. Others, too, are making the point. Here is what one colleague has observed about our intellectual history:

“Time there was when a leader could be the chief, cook, and bottle washer, a he-man as it were, a jack of all trades; in those days followers were for the most part passive except in providing emotional support for the leader. Now is not that time…”

Yes, the past and present intellectual climate places a boss man/woman in charge of our minds and tongues, in all our chief institutions. That time and that climate is changing. A number of stifled and oppressed intellects are rising and calling for space. They want to disconnect their minds from the benign monologues of the chiefs, cooks and bottle washers. A quiet choir, wanting to grow and expand to a large enough mass has new lyrics and harmonies to present.

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