THERE IS A PERENNIAL DEBATE in Australia about privatising the Australian Broadcasting Commission and allowing it to raise revenue by introducing paid advertising.
The proponents of this idea invariably come from the conservative side of politics, especially the Liberal Party, which represents the interests of big business.
The idea is fiercely opposed by the left, which purports to back the interests of the common people and the workers. Academia mostly comes in behind the lefties.
The ABC provides a range of broadcasting services but the focus of the debate is firmly on its television service.
This is because TV is the media drug of choice of the masses.
Television is a great medium and has enormous potential to do great things. Television brought down the Iron Curtain and has turned communist strongholds like China into burgeoning capitalist states.
It did this not by beaming information about political freedom and democracy into these places but by offering a vision of the unparalleled joys of conspicuous consumerism. It sold the basic premise of greed and selfish individualism to the communist masses and they swallowed it hook, line and sinker.
The irony is that the great grandparents of these people became communists in the first place as a reaction to unbridled capitalism.
Television is ubiquitous. When I was a little tacker you could walk through the streets at night and see the orange glow of your neighbour’s hearth in their window. Nowadays all you see is the blue flicker from their television screens.
The conservative’s problem with that blue flicker, especially when it is tuned to the ABC, is that it is promoting intelligent thought rather than dumbing down viewers into mindless spending units.
In many ways the difference between the political and social elite and the common people in Papua New Guinea is analogous to the difference between the viewers of private enterprise television and public television, or no television at all.
The elite have been sold the world view promulgated by capitalism and the common people are still entrenched in what are largely communist societies.
The elite, for all their smart-arse banter and conspicuous trappings, have been brainwashed and dumbed down and turned into the pawns of their rabid capitalist overlords, most of which come from overseas.
The common people of Papua New Guinea, like their counterparts in other third world countries, represent the last bastions against the noxious spread of capitalism and globalisation.
They represent the last isolated pockets of humanity in a world that is gradually and inevitably being populated by stupid, veracious, selfish, consuming automatons.
In Papua New Guinea, if they don’t want to be eventually overwhelmed, they will need to do something about it.
If they want to keep those intrinsic human values lauded in the Melanesian Way they need to make a stand.
They need to draw a line in the sand and say to their politicians, “Enough is enough; if you don’t change your ways we will do it for you!”
They need to recognise that the greatest threat to the Melanesian Way is their own politicians.