Optimism, pessimism and in-between (Open letter on Open University founder Michael Young's legacy - part 1)

Intelek Int'l By Intelek Int'l, 13th Nov 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Politics

I recently attended the #MY100 Conference marking the centenary of the birth of Open University founder Michael Young.

I am a long time admirer of Young's, whose pioneering work "predicted" Intelek's in many ways.

Here I follow-up a discussion started at the Conference about what I call Young's "organizational paradox", a kind of ruthlessness or "closed-mindedness" that limited his renowned liberalism.

The enigmatic Michael Young: an open and shut case?

Dear all

It was a pleasure meeting and interacting with those of you who attended the Young Foundation centenary celebration of Michael Young's extraordinary life and contribution, #MY100.

I'm using this open letter to share what I am taking away from that celebration with you and others – especially those in the UK, US, Canada, Barbados, India, Israel, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and other parts of the international community who work with me to promote human rights, press freedom and related, vital ingredients of a vibrant, open democratic society.

First on my list of takeaways from #MY100 is optimism.

I'm sure that this will come as a great relief to Sarah Veale, OBE, a Commissioner with the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Sarah, Rushanara Ali and Danny Kruger spoke at the final meeting of the Conference, chaired by the Guardian newspaper's social affairs editor Randeep Ramesh.

I will return to Randeep’s prospective role in the opening of the Guardian and other mainstream ‘press prison’ doors that currently confine me (relatively speaking) in due course.

I begin with Sarah because it is an exchange I had with her that allows me to clarify my position on the challenge Young, and all "door-openers" face in our work of setting captives free.

Sarah responded to my suggestion that the current state of British politics inspires pessimism.

As I recall, she briefly outlined her own causes for optimism, contrasting her view of the "state of play" with mine matter-of-factly (and if you can briefly recap what you said in an email to me Sarah, I will be very grateful).

I spoke to Sarah briefly after the meeting, seeking to relieve any anxiety I may have caused her about my state of mind by explaining that my pessimism is measured and relative, based largely on aspects of my engagement so far with my local MP, Labour's Clive Lewis, and some Liberal Democrat and Conservative Party politicians.

I've been engaging with them and other politicians, religious clerics, educators, visual, artists, journalists, business-people and other persons in an effort to sustain the coherent, cohesive and essentially optimistic, creative response that I have been constructing in the face of a more than 25 years-long Barbados-sown, internationally-grown campaign of character assassination and commercial sabotage that is undermining my and others' human rights and limiting my and their productivity.

Extraordinary as it may seem, given Barbados’ truth-loving, freedom-fighting reputation and standing with former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and others in the international community, for over a quarter of a century, I have been the target of various "dirty tricks" tactics deployed by the Reverend Holmes Williams (now deceased), academics professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Margaret Gill, Edward "Kamau" Brathwaite and Esther Phillips, politicians David Comissiong and Donville Inniss and other influential Barbadian power-brokers.

But their "door-closing", human rights-depriving and productivity limiting influence is not restricted to Barbados only.

They have been aided at critical points and in various ways by their Jamaican, Trinidadian, British, American, Canadian, Indian, Russian, South African, Brazilian and other collaborators.

Like their Barbadian "co-conspirators", some of these international collaborators may well have been “unconscious” actors.

Like the vaginally violated, core-belief compromised Bettina Aptheker, who was sexually abused as a child, they may have had their moral compass seismically 'tilted'.

They may therefore have been (and continue to be) unaware of how their own ostensibly “optimistic outlooks” and good intentions were being exploited by Barbadians like Phillips, who have conspired to alienate me from the fruit of my various labours, particularly my work as a holistic communications and education consultant, with a key focus on inter-religious dialogue and dynamics and the intersection of religious and ostensibly secular political activity.

The on-going subversive, soul sapping exploits of Inniss, Barbados' current Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development have been particularly taxing on my optimism.

He is (or was) the owner of the internet domain name intelek.com, "created" a few months after I created the domain name intelek.net in 1999 to promote my business Intelek International (then registered in Barbados as a charity).

Inniss, who is (or was) a peddler of pornography, linked his intelek.com to his pornography website orgasm.com, thus creating the impression that my Intelek was involved in that dodgy business activity!

Through his links to prominent Barbadian insurance and other financial business executives, including Henry Inniss, he is also implicated in the questionable closure of my first UK-based Intelek business account by Lloyds Bank in 2013. (Intelek now banks with Barclays and I’m at an advanced stage of preparing legal proceedings against Lloyds.)

Gayle Newland's dark, duplicitous 'Vagina Dialogue'

Henry Inniss is the brother of Phillips, a former secondary school English teacher of mine, who with fundamentalist feminist activist Margaret Gill (a former girlfriend) and other radical feminists (apparently including lawyer Mia Motley, current leader of the opposition Barbados Labour Party) has been leading a subtle, CIA-rivalling, doubly diabolical “Vagina Dialogue” against me.

The collaboration between the seemingly atheistic Gill and the seemingly pious Phillips underscores the complexity of the challenges that tax my sanity daily.

Phillip’s betrayal of my openness and trust (her violation of my "vagina", metaphorically speaking) has left a particularly deep wound, because like the anonymous victim of sexual-orientation-cloaking 'rapist' Gayle Newland, I trusted her implicitly.

Even when faced with evidence to the contrary, I refused to believe that her view of me could be coloured by Vagina-Monologue-approximating partiality.

I was aware that Phillips had been through an apparently painful, humiliating divorce, but I did not think she had become jaded by it.

I never thought she had been made bitter by it.

I thought she shared my balanced, open-minded view of gender interdependence and corresponding, essentially Christian values and beliefs.

I expect that a #MY100 delegate I met, who is with the seemingly atheist organization Sunday Assembly (which is apparently trying to provide a space for secular and religious views to interact harmoniously) will have some sense of the confusion that Phillips' and Gill's "coincidence of purpose" causes me.

If I am at times pessimistic about the prospects of such harmonization or "coincidences", about Britain’s political prospects or anything else, it's due to the difficulties I’ve faced on my journey.

But fortunately, I have not been alone. And it’s not been all uphill.

I have had key support from a number of family members, friends and business associates.

I've also had help from one or two politicians (that I know of), like former Norwich South MP Simon Wright, who Labour's Lewis has replaced.

And Wright’s support could not have happened if I were not open to working with politicians, however pessimistic about politics I may be.

It could not have happened if I, like Young, presumably, was not willing to forgive politicians, academics, religious clerics and journalists their failings, even as I seek forgiveness for my own foibles and frailties.

None of us is perfect: no one of us is wholly self-sufficient.

The Intelek motto "For All We Know", speaks to this existential premise.

The notion of the "self-made" man or woman is something of a misnomer.

This brings me back to what for me is a sign of what we might call Young’s "organizing paradox": the ruthlessness and “closed-mindedness” that was the exception to his renowned optimism and liberality (openness).

I had an interesting exchange with Young Foundation Chief Executive Baroness Glenys Thornton about this during the workshop looking at Young's consumer rights advocacy.

I believe it was work shop panellist Matthew Hilton, Professor of Social History at the University of Birmingham who drew attention to the "ruthlessness" that characterized Young's efforts to make the Consumer's Association and in turn ?Which magazine, an unchallenged or unchallengeable voice of consumer authority.

Glenys, who worked closely with Young, affirmed this "door-closing" illiberal posturing, adding an explanation that, as I recall, referenced the pragmatics of what it means to win and hold consumers’ trust and loyalty.

However, her explanation reminded me of paternalistic and patronizing Pentecostal Christian and other institutional religious justifications of their roles as representatives of 'the one true God' - as I explained during a brief intervention from my seat.

From the floor, I also suggested that application of the parenting principle of giving our children both roots and wings may also aid understanding of Young's door closing and opening.

I hope to keep the conversation with Glenys and all of you who attended #MY100 going.

I hope that whatever our differences of outlook, we can find ways to support each other’s aims and activities.

On that note, I would ask you all to consider signing a petition I have created asking the Guardian newspaper to rein in its reporting on the contentious, deeply divisive issue of reparations for trans-Atlantic slavery.

At #MY100 I spoke to Randeep about this matter and I am looking forward to him and I finding a way to engage on the issue openly.









Baroness Glenys Thornton, Danny Kruger, Kofi Anan, Matthew Hilton, Michael Young, Randeep Ramesh, Rushanara Ali

Meet the author

author avatar Intelek Int'l
"I think therefore I jam"
I'm a holistic communication and education specialist, trading as Intelek International (www.intelek.net).
I write about spirituality, science, philosophy, politics, love.

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