August 15, 2016
By Farah K. Yachouhi
Why is socio-political change so rare? Why haven’t we witnessed one in decades? Plagued by inflation and crime, what good is oil if our nation is doomed to shortages in electricity and water? This nation is yet to seek reform. What is it waiting for?
“Food is what moves people”, Carlos García Rawlins, a Reuters journalist, reported from the Venezuela crisis in 2014. Hunger, more so than poverty, have driven people of different nations into protesting against the “old regime”, but that alone does not produce a socio-political change. Going back to the French Revolution, the rise of the intelligentsia, an educated middle class, acted as the main catalyst. They welcomed the “new” ideas of Enlightenment, of challenging dogma and authority.
Members of the educated middle class were the engine of this revolution. They refused the tax exemption privilege the nobility class enjoyed. They inspired an army of commoners through their Enlightened ideas. Armies driven by hunger, dignity and the desire for better living. The constant struggle for hegemony, that was the common European ruler’s mindset at the time, thinned out the fiscal resources and the flawed taxation system could not keep up with the expenses. This eventually lead to bankrupsy.
Members of the nobility class or elites, understood that in accepting reform of the ‘old regime’ they are protecting their existence and they get to share power with the richer members of the middle class who were essentially leading the masses to a revolution. As a result, the monarch was driven out of the country and the Republic was born under the notions of Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity.
The people adopted new ideas, were open to challenging the authority and believed in the power of education. The demand for printing books was constantly growing, until this revolution brought capitalism to town. Making money by owning a business became an honorable profession. With time, it became the number one concern of the nation, making money.
What happened to making art? Writing poetry? What happened to the emotions and the imagination? Isn’t it through an overflow of emotions and an active imagination we are able to conceive new ideas?
Reason and imagination are often perceived as enemies. Are they? Don’t they go hand in hand? Like architects and engineers? One demands imagination and the other demands reason, but together they build the unimaginable!