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At the clinic

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Every week, or every month, we are accustomed to hear the head of our government announce something new that he has done, or had done to move St Vincent and the Grenadines forward. We hardly think twice about these initiatives, or ask ourselves about the details of these different projects. For us, if the Prime Minister says so, well, is so. He knows best.

Today, I want to check up on this matter of the lecture series that our Prime Ministers deliver to tell us about what they have done to our nation, among other things. I want to take this abuse to the clinic and have it examined, because it is beginning to feel funny.{{more}} You may remember that we had an enquiry into the ‘Ottley Hall’ affair, in which Prime Minister Mitchell fell short of the standards we expected from him when it came to researching the credentials of our overseas partners in the marina project. We were not up to scratch in doing due diligence as part of our project preparation. Dr Gonsalves, our present Prime Minister, helped to rescue some of our respect in this matter and limited the abuse we suffered. Yet today, I feel more abused than ever before. Are there lessons that we are not learning, or are we just doormats for our leaders to walk over? I want help from the clinic to see the way ahead.

THE CLINICAL FINDINGS

1. Substitionism: Prime ministers at times, very unwisely and clumsily, substitute themselves for the collective competence of the nation. They see themselves, especially in the case of Dr Gonsalves, as international Know-alls and ranked among the Philosopher Kings. These are mythical rulers whose judgements need no backup, or background support when it comes to diplomacy. Substitutionism, in this case, means that the global and international experience and status of the prime minister makes him by himself able to do a better job than all the skill of the nation put together, when it comes to making international partnerships. He is not our representative, he is our substitute.

Prognosis and Treatment: Some agreements already made, and others on the drawing board are sure to suffer from inadequate or sloppy background checks and due diligence. A low profile, high intensity business and forensic intelligence commission will be a considerable asset and means of control against abuse of the nation.

2. Information Deficit: The practice of delivering critical national and international development information as part of a generally argumentative media presentation, short of acceptable levels of material data is disrespectful of the need for an informed citizenry. It might even be seen as obfuscation, a dishonest blast of hot air devoid of enlightenment. This practice disrespects the media, but even more, it places and keeps the citizens in a darkened cave, where they become accustomed to hear noise, but observe nor expect nothing more. The people, alienated and on the outside of political economic development education, become easy to manipulate with mere rhythm and words, ‘sound and fury’.

Prognosis and Treatment: Where sound information is lacking and ignorance is cultivated, democracy has a hard time to come to birth and grow, in spite of constitutional and cultural provisions. In a context of economic challenge, and partisan welfare distribution, non-constitutional modes of livelihood, including lives of violence and disorder are likely outcomes. Development ‘diseducation’ may seem a tactic of political convenience, but in the medium term, it is a recipe for chaos and national betrayal and decay. It is treasonable.

A programme of citizen education, supported by the Government, but executed and monitored by a civil society association, is one proposal that requires urgent action.

After the clinic: Going home after the clinical consultation, I felt a relaxed ease. I know it is a temporary fix, and that I have to really study how to handle this weekly violation and brutality. We need to discuss this matter further.

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