Tribute to Malcolm McIntosh

  • Duncan McGibbon

I first knew Malcolm, as a student at Strawberry Hill. I had just stood down as President of the Union and had two years of study ahead of me. I befriended two First Year women, both from Rock Ferry Convent, Tricia and Clare. I married Clare and Tricia married Angus, Malcolm’s brother. Because we formed somewhat of a group of friends, Malcolm was always an enlivening part of the scene. I remember once we had all gone to Sussex, or was it Surrey and I fell into conversation with him. He was reacting to the Downlands in radiant sunshine. Normally Malcolm was quite shy and did not express his deepest feelings, even though he could be challenging.

He had a gently undermining and quirky sense of humour. He talked about his family and some personal difficulties, but what made an extraordinary impression on me was how his idealism always overcame his sadness. He felt downcast about the social divisions of humanity, injustices towards women, irresponsible capitalism as we came to know it and the sectarian conflicts all around us in the world in the Sixties. The world was a family threatened by greed and short-term interests. Yet if those who had responsibility for it could only stand back and look at the environment in the way we were looking at the Downs, wouldn’t they want to come together just to keep it beautiful?

I remember his visits to Japan when he came back determined to rally the world to the problem of security and to Sweden and the hope of a classless society. I lost track of Malcolm as he went abroad to study. Like the poet, Catullus in Sermio, I found him again only to say farewell in this city we shared unknowingly. Yet it was also a chance to come across his work and I was struck how he was one of only a few entrepreneurs who stood for the full dimensions of sustainability. The moral, humanist and spiritual aspects in the ecology were just as important to him as the economic. Malcolm was a trained and professional expert in his field and is held in great respect. I am a poet, mindful that Malcolm worked hard to translate the vision he shared with me on that day in the Downs into a concrete practical synthesis. He wanted to earth the current of metaphor’s electricity into daily life.

For Malcolm the task of stabilising such conflicted forces as knowledge and wonder, peace and enterprise depended on transforming a culture of domination into a more feminised dimension. This meant thinking strategically; in co-operation, through balanced progression, with timely adjustment and by means of an education opened to equal opportunity. Few in our generation have left so generous and positive a legacy of action and thought.

Malcolm McIntosh was a Senior Visiting Fellow at the School of Management, who died on 7th June 2017 after a long battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

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Tags: Duncan McGibbon, Malcolm McIntosh

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