It’s a very simple choice. On one hand you may, if circumstances permit, follow a simple, subsistence-farming life (provided that enough of the population also wants this and all individuals bury any ambition to increase personal standing and influence in the community).
But then, any community must inevitably acquire some sort of leadership and follow some sort of code.
Greenie-type subsistence-economy ideals are at best an illusion - even deepest-green hippie communities call the state-funded ambulance and hospital when they overdose on maryjane or choke on a free-range chicken-bone.
Such a Melanesian state/society would have to cultivate some sort of organised defence system allied with transport and communications and foreign affairs facilities to connect with the rest of the world.
This, among other necessities, would cost money. It is not possible to exist in social and cultural and technological isolation in today’s world.
Melanesia must, ipso facto, join and be part of the rest of the modern world. As it is trying hard to do, right now.
It needs help, not sentimental mush in the guise of theories of appropriate social management and development. Goodbye to the faddists’ view of the Melanesian way and the Evils of Capitalism/Globalisation.
Thus, to be frank, it behoves all who want Papua New Guineans to live more fair, more healthy and more secure lives in a fast-changing world, to forget all sentiment and false idealism people tend to talk on this blog and get on with establishing a political regime based upon the Ten Commandments and the rule of established national law.
The old ways condoned, even promoted, much which is inimical to modern society, even though there are good elements which must still prevail in the absence of modern services within most of the nation.
The leadership must give control of their country back to the mass of the people by using the Local Level Government system as the basic common-denominator for the choice of Parliamentary representatives.
They must above all throw out the largely crooked and selfish party-system for good and all. PNG society is a unitary one in levels of wealth and in basic beliefs, aims and ideals.
It is only now, in the era of the emergence of the self-empowered political class, that it has become a class-ridden hegemony. Why? Because no-one predicted this or laid down a suitable course for the formation of electoral representation in the fifties and sixties.
The old system of Legislative Council and the District Advisory Councils - which readers such as Charles Abel, Bob Cleland and Tony Flynn all remember - was far more appropriate in its representation of the broad constituency, although it was not democratic at that stage, than the party-based system which of itself evolved after 1964 and the first House of Assembly.
The people, acting through the agency of their familiar and communally-chosen councillors as first-base in the control and policy-formation equation, will in this way be well-served in this classless, almost uniquely egalitarian nation of many tribes.
Candidates must campaign upon their reputation among the members of the LLG, being the electorate, on the basis that they will act in support of the LLG/electorate, faithfully and responsibly and accountably.
Currently there is a ceiling separating the ordinary people from the high-living political class and the parties; completely opaque, it denies the voters their rights and promotes bad and dishonest behaviour on the part of those elected because they are for the most part invisible and never brought to account in the electorate.
MPs should be tied to attend LLG meetings, to act upon reasonable budgeted proposals by LLGs and to bring their DSIP or “slush-fund” allocations back for incorporation in the LLG’s operating budget according to planning for the year ahead as approved by the electorate via the Councillors.
Roads need to be re-opened so that police may patrol to stop opportunistic holdups, thus enabling Education Department and Health Department and PWD officials to visit, in company with councillors, so that control and improvements to services and infrastructure are effected.
Magistrates should tour village courts with councillors for inspections of decisions and convictions every three months. None of this happens; and it hasn’t happened for many years.
Unfortunately this means modern, disciplined and responsible management according to proper plans and budgets. These involve elements of corporate practice and capitalist concepts as well as idealism and hard work.
Without a quiet revolution along these lines people will still be exchanging ideas rather than acclaiming progress, thirty-five years hence. Papua New Guineans are intelligent, increasingly worldly-wise, and endowed with a commonwealth of riches.
Everything is there except a united voice and sustained action. Here’s the basis for a plan. Its time! Long live PNG.