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09 March 2017


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This sounds suspiciously like what started the civil war in the first place.

What short memories people have.

I, too would like to congratulate you, Leonard, on this report. To me, it indicates that the words of high profile Bougainvillean leaders of yesteryear, Dove et al (that Bougainvilleans left to their own resources could resolve conflicts themselves), has not yet eventuated.

My take on this and similar issues is that inept government will always breed a disaffected society which will eventually show how disaffected it is by resorting to various forms of anti-social behaviour; no matter how much the practitioners of inept, that is, non accountable, non transparent government, try to link their authoritarianism to "traditional values".

From what Leonard is saying, it seems that for many Bougainvilleans the equality of poverty is to be preferred over the inequality of wealth.

This is going to be a huge problem for Bougainville to manage, as it is every where else in the world.

Basically, it is the same old human story: the have nots resent the haves and, eventually, when the distribution of wealth gets far enough out of balance, trouble begins to brew up.

Virtually all revolutions in history have included promises by one or both sides to correct imbalances in the distribution of wealth and power.

Naturally, this almost never happens or, if it does, it does not persist for long. A new elite always emerges because humans have an instinctive desire to accumulate wealth and power to their and their family's enduring advantage.

The economic theory underlying capitalism is an attempt to explain and justify this process. In order to avoid producing huge social divisions and revolutionary responses to capitalism's inherent inequities, successive governments have attempted to "civilise" it by introducing such things as free or heavily subsidised medical care and various forms of social welfare.

Right now, of course, the current version of "civilised" capitalism is under tremendous strain once more, as both wealth and people are moving in ways that are increasingly causing problems across the world.

In the western world, our politicians are evidently still not able to fully understand the existential threat that lies beneath all these tectonic shifts. They prefer to believe that revolution and large scale warfare over resources can't happen again. But it can and will if, to paraphrase Lenin, something is not done.

For Leonard and those who think like him, a huge task in an independent Bougainville will be the management of expectations about how the new state will share whatever wealth it generates.

Leonard's vision of an essentially agrarian, communalist future will not be shared by many. They will want to acquire wealth and power and a few will do whatever it takes to achieve this ambition.

I have somewhat belatedly come to understand that what is sometimes called the politics of resentment is always prevalent amongst humans as soon large imbalances in wealth appear.

Traditional Melanesian societies were, mostly, too poor to be much affected by this insidious tendency, so their systems of managing social tensions kept things more or less in equilibrium.

However, recent history has revealed all too clearly that PNG is no more or less susceptible to the siren call of money and all the ills that ensure from its relentless pursuit.

So, Bougainville has the same task ahead of it as everyone one else and those of us who wish Bougainvilleans well can only hope that they can manage this better than we have.

Thank you for this story. It is good to know what is going on in Bougainville at the grassroots level. It is very sad but there is an important lesson in it. Helps me to know how to pray for the people of Bougainville.

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