Reports after reports, year after year, and elections after elections we are fed data that invariably turn out to be collective miscalculations. Often these misjudgments can be quite costly.
Corporations have gone bankrupt because they miscalculated their markets, government agencies have incorrectly authorized the use of toxic chemical insecticides that poison the environment (Janis, 1968). On multiple occasions, the world has been on the brink of global conflagration because of this phenomenon.
And the general response to erroneous collective thinking? “We are humans, we are allowed to make mistakes, and we are not perfect beings.”
As members of groups, we are able to perform both excellently or to display the most despicable and animalistic behaviour to each other, while under different circumstances we would have had absolutely no reason for disagreement or conflict with each other. Those outside what we consider “our group” suffer the most violent acts of scapegoating and trauma which can only be describes as manic mental disorder.
Hence, in the modern-day politics of the Caribbean, and in St Vincent and the Grenadines in particular, warnings of disaster, economic crises and natural disasters emanating from failure to protect the environment have often been scoffed-at, simply because the warnings emanated from sources with which we disagree or despise.
Of course, in our little micro-state St Vincent and the Grenadines, we have the “best and brightest” leading us, so who would dare question the ability or judgment of the infallible individual. All the little “Indians” therefore fall in line. He sets the tone and they follow. When, therefore, he finds it convenient to curse out those whom he despises, their collective laughter can be heard far and wide.
When our environmentalists warn of the imminent dangers of slash and burn agriculture or the excessive use of pesticides, the collective laughter of Mr Know-it-all and his minions resonate through the rivers, hills and mountains. Of course, the hills, rivers and mountains later responded to that collective arrogance (ignorance).
The Minister of Everything and his disciples were the sensible people who knew better than to take seriously the nonsense about disaster warnings. They all knew it couldn’t happen in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
This sort of madness is exceptional among individuals (Nietzsche, 1888) but [sadly] the rule in groups. The frequency of mindless conformity and collective misjudgment of quite serious risks are collectively laughed off in the clubby atmosphere of relaxed conviviality.
The group that now controls St Vincent and the Grenadines has for many years had a positive effect on the quality of its performance, albeit, not in the interest of the masses of Vincentians. For many years the leader[ship] had goals that were relevant to the members of the group and so there was a greater inclination for them to cast out all nonconformists.
But things are beginning to change, as the norms of members of the leadership cadre has shown social and socializing activities that present some degree of moral hazard to the broader group members; many have expressed passive awareness, privately, fearful of repercussions. Even those in St Vincent who apparently equate him with the late Ernesto Guevara (Lynch) are beginning to question their blind loyalty. Yet there are others still blinded by the light.
The leadership of St Vincent and the Grenadines has embarked on a series of actions for which this actor’s political goals and objectives are so misdirected that very few Vincentians have a coherent understanding of what he is attempting to attain. Yet there are those who will likely give life or limb (I am sure figuratively) for his plans and schemes, without having a clear understanding or motive for some of his social and economic initiatives.
But like the blind following the half-blind, his followers are willing to dance in step in developing stereotyped images in efforts to diminish the images of those with whom they are locked into competitive struggles. They also seem to be shifting as well to riskier behaviour as a group as the ground continues to quake under their feet.
Fortunately visible cracks are beginning to show in the monolithic hold that this triumvirate has forced upon the people of St Vincent in the last four years, in particular. This once monolithic gang is showing a group contagion that is certain to create collective panic and collapse. The access to resources they thought they had to buy the next election is about to dry-freeze, scandals after scandals, excessively high crime rate, crimes against women and children that go unpunished or investigated, victimization of businesses and their owners and the poverty-state syndrome are all coming together.
Groupthink in St Vincent and the Grenadines has gradually developed a split personality. In 1987, Fidel Castro explained to a French newspaper, L’Humanite, with regard to Cuban businesses: “They didn’t try to become profitable by improving efficiency or by reducing energy or labour costs. They even earned money at the expense of other plants… We already began to see contradictions arising between the interests of certain enterprises and those of society, as well as tendencies to earn more by producing more, but of poorer quality.”
This was two years before the USSR Empire ended. In St Vincent, the government speaks of embracing a form of socio-economic existence that the leadership in Cuba considered an economic failure 27 years ago.
In St Vincent and the Grenadines, the leader and his minions have destroyed too much in human and natural resources to be allowed to continue their barbarous reign. There are still more than a few who still worship this awful character, still conflicted between Christianity and the devil; who while he attempts to pay homage to the leader of the Catholic Church at every turn, embraces everything that is national socialist, purporting it to be social democracy. Little by little, he has become Josef Stalin reincarnate. After all, Stalin’s first calling was the priesthood; before his syphilitic brain convinced him he was better suited to pursue his next best calling.
Dane A. Bowman
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Currently residing in Central Florida