I THINK that everyone would agree that 2017 is going to be an interesting year. Hopefully it will not be too disastrous.
There will be elections in France, Netherlands, Germany, Papua New Guinea and possibly Italy and Australia if Turnbull implodes.
Donald Trump will rearrange the deckchairs on the good ship USA and both Australia and PNG will have to reconsider their relationships with a faltering great power, particularly in terms of defence, security and trade.
But as minor powers neither Australia nor PNG seems to have the clout or the leadership capable of doing much more than reconsidering.
For our mutual benefit in uncertain times, PNG and Australia should be drawing together and perhaps taking a lead from New Zealand, which has long eschewed dependence on the USA.
This lack of leadership is a curious problem.
Veteran Australian social commentator Hugh Mackay observes in his latest book, Beyond Belief: How We Find Meaning, With or Without Religion, that all organisations eventually become corrupt and I think this is the core of the problem.
He includes organised religion, political parties and corporations in this sweeping statement, explaining that once these organisations start to rot from the inside there isn’t much that can be done. The only real solution is to scrap them and start over.
There are some clear indications that many people in the world are beginning to think this way. There are even suggestions that democracy, and capitalism, have been corrupted and have run their course.
The symptoms of this growing train of thought are the popularity of minor parties and political movements, which are evolving in two distinct ways.
The first is the rise of reactionary groups, like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party. I think these are only short term aberrations that will flower, wilt and die quickly as people realise how hypocritical, hollow, divisive and ineffective they are.
The second symptom is more interesting and epitomised by Bernie Sanders, the independent socialist from Vermont who gave Hillary Clinton, the Wall Street insider, a good run for her money and would probably have beaten the great fraud Donald Trump in the US presidential race.
Bernie’s support comes from a re-energised young demographic that includes whites, blacks, Hispanics and other minorities, many of whom hadn’t voted before until he came along. Being an old hippie, he also has support from a significant section of educated baby boomers – now in their sixties and seventies.
Bernie probably won’t run for president again, although he hasn’t ruled out the idea, but someone in his movement just might, perhaps his son Levi.
We haven’t got anyone like Bernie in Australia but PNG has got Gary Juffa.
In Australia neither the Labor Party nor the Greens, both supposedly socialist leaning, represent this new wave of change.
A lot of what Gary has been talking about resonates with what Bernie has been espousing. This is very clear when you read Bernie’s book, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In.
Bernie started off in local government in the small state of Vermont and was mayor of Burlington for some years. He observed then how councils inevitably drift from supporting ordinary people to supporting business. Gary has been making this point about PNG politics.
PNG probably has a better chance than Australia in creating a progressive political party simply because things are so bad there and its political parties are such ephemeral bodies.
A lot of people realise this, particularly PNG women, and the time is ripe for the emergence of something new.
PNG politicians seem to come and go – enticed by the rewards of office - and government is thoroughly corrupted.
Medieval thinking, like the bigman and wantok systems, are still too pervasive and are no longer helpful to an honest society.
These are the influences that will have to be defeated by the relatively small group of intellectuals and activists forming around Governor Juffa.
Such a crusade is a big ask but no one expected Bernie Sanders to do as well as he did in this year’s United States elections.
Perhaps when Gary Juffa has finished in PNG he can come to Australia to give us a hand.