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29 October 2017


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May 2018 commemorates 50 years since the student demonstrations in Paris, which saw Charles de Gaulle flea his own country and head for Baden Baden

The following link provides access to a wonderful piece of reflective journalism and features the work and thoughts of Jean-Paul Sartre:

When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die - Sartre

Inevitable, inescapable, even inexpungible as process of humanity’s societal fundament, especially of hitherto cultures in PNG, and will prevail, is the ‘sit and talk’ stated by Michael, no matter the title, the descriptor and the precedents elsewhere nominally anarchic.

Of quality and particularity, variance accompanies, e.g. actually sitting.
Of reach and efficacy, limits constrain, e.g. volume, receptivity, attentiveness.
In essence, the lands of PNG hitherto heard converse significantly constrained.

Where Phil postures a prospective of converse contained not by contour of terrain but by commercial contortion (and odiously according to Raymond Sigimet *), abrogation of both electoral participation and fidelity would rob the State as surely as the avoidance of a truth intended in the noble word ‘equity’.

* see:

Come back Emma Goldman rise up old Joe Hill
The barricades are going up they cannot break our will
Come back to us Malcolm X and Martin Luther King
We're marching into Selma as the bells of freedom ring

Steve Earle - Christmas Time in Washington

I think that sooner or later any political system becomes corrupted and I don't doubt that anarchy would be the same. George Orwell neatly demonstrates this in his novel 'Animal Farm'.

I'm not so sure that traditional PNG societies were so riven with superstition and violence as to fit Hobbes' famous description.

And, of course, modern PNG society is still very superstitious and violent, despite democracy (or maybe because of it).

As we seek a post-capitalist alternative the two single things we will have to guard against are the human tendencies to greed and power.

I'm pretty sure we won't be able to do that.

I agree, we have been duped. Clan leadership was always a fluid dynamic for contribution, reciprocation and negotiation for net benefit.

Capitalism relies on democracy to keep it fed, after which it becomes a self perpetuating cycle relying on individual avarice.

Anarchy may be in some ways a more negotiable option if it leads to the individual being less of a proponent, along the lines of communism, but not quite.

Nevertheless, anarchy would also rely on 'leaders' or 'clan elders' what-have-you, willing to work for the best outcomes of their various groups and to be willing to not only sit and talk about how they can do what benefits each group and all collectively, but also to actually commit to do it.

It appears that when the situation becomes more dire, the need for anarchy becomes more apparent and its practicality more workable.

Capitalism may have gained its standing in socio-political organisation by providing the notion that the best benefit for all was economic.

We are learning that the economy and economic growth is not everything we need if it means sacrificing important environmental and social goods and services to our own detriment as functioning societies.

The central idea of anarchism in its various forms is that there should be no state which imposes its authority upon individuals. Instead, anarchists believe that people can govern themselves through voluntary associations of various forms.

To some degree, pre-colonial PNG would fit within the anarchist philosophy: there was no state to oppress the people and they typically lived within small, communalist, self governing societies.

Unhappily, this did not result in some sort of Arcadian idyll for the people. In practice, they were governed primarily by superstition, a not irrational fear of others and a good deal of systemic violence.

It was a natural state that, as Thomas Hobbes famously opined, resulted in a life that was all too frequently poor, nasty, brutish and short.

The sad fact is that human beings typically do not handle unfettered freedom very well at all. There is a horrible tendency to conclude that one's own best interests are best served by subjugating others. Put more crudely, the powerful soon come to dominate the weak.

History contains a depressing litany of examples where a combination of religious manipulation, coercion and brute force have been used by ruthless, power hungry and violent men to create societies which they could control to their advantage.

In many respects, the modern nation state is a reaction to such forces. It is usually sufficiently large and robust enough to resist the violent imposition of control by a small minority of opportunists, ideologues and adventurers.

Nevertheless, there are many examples where even quite large and well established nation states can be suborned and brought under the control of authoritarian regimes.

Venezuela is a prime example, as is Zimbabwe and, to some extent at least, Russia.

The Peoples Republic of China is perhaps the foremost example of the modern era, with its current President now emerging as the dominant and controlling figure of an ostensibly communist regime.

So, the romantic notion that anarchy offers a viable way forward in our troubled world is, in my judgement, not really supported by any reasonable examination of the facts.

PNG's democracy may be a bit of a mess but the alternatives available look much less attractive once their true nature is understood.

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