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11 May 2015


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Your readers may be interested in this. Pretty sure it’s a repeat, but well worth watching, if I remember correctly. Better than the Budget speech anyway.

NITV (Channel 34) tonight 7.30 - 8.30 Bougainville: An Evergreen Island
An inspiring account of how Bougainvilleans survived during the eight-year war against the PNG army by building their own schools reverting to bush medicine making guns from water pipes and powering cars with coconut oil.

Downer's fears about the potential balkanisation (fragmentation) of PNG were not misplaced and I have little doubt that the current Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, will be just as concerned today.

It seems to me that, if you look across the world, there is marked potential for fragmentation of hitherto stable nation states, being variously based upon linguistic, ethnic and cultural grounds.

Thus the Scottish Nationalists are seemingly rampant in the United Kingdom, with almost every Scottish seat in Westminster being held by them.

In the Ukraine, we see ethnic Russians fighting a bitter civil war (sponsored by the Kremlin) to separate themselves from the Ukraine.

In Spain, the centuries old grievances of the Basques and Catalans are being revived once again, as ultra-nationalists trade upon the country's awful economic circumstances as a reason to secede and resume their historic status as independent countries.

The Middle East, which is normally a goat fest of warring ethnic, tribal and religious groups, is even more beset with warring zealots than is usual.

Sub-Saharan Africa can now add cruel and pointless warfare by miscellaneous groups of zealots, many of whom are simply bandits, to the desperate poverty and period starvation that is their usual lot.

It seems that the entire world order based upon the central idea of the nation state in under serious challenge.

In some respects the world, especially the developing world, is now beginning to look more like it did in the 17th century: a patchwork of largely impoverished petty kingdoms, constantly engaged in internecine warfare.

There is, I believe, a clear warning from history here for all those of a strong nationalist and separatist persuasion: be careful what you wish for!

As Bougainville edges ever closer to its moment of decision, it needs to be certain that the romanticism, idealising of the past and refusal to deal with objective reality that are a feature of ultra nationalistic rhetoric, do not lead it to make the grievous error of going it alone in a very uncertain world.

Better by far to negotiate a Federal arrangement within PNG than take the plunge to become yet another largely powerless and impoverished state, easy prey for the great and not so good in this world.

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