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Do we require a museum of political stupidity

PNG National Museum and Art Gallery
PNG National Museum and Art Gallery


TUMBY BAY - Ali Kasokason has suggested that one of the Maseratis bought for the APEC summit and now rusting away in a field somewhere should be put in the PNG National Museum to remind future generations of how “stupid we were to vote in stupid politicians who made stupid decisions for this nation!”

Oka Kutahas suggested that the 300 years old King James V Bible should be put on display next to it to remind future generations of how hypocritical “those thieves” really were.

The museum presumably still has custody of another wacky political outrage involving the chain-sawed carvings from the lintel of Parliament House. The court ordered their replacement but I’m not sure that has happened yet.

Papua New Guinea is littered with the products of political stupidity. Buildings half finished, roads leading to nowhere and unfinished bridges spanning rivers.

These are solid and visible reminders but they pale into insignificance when compared to the piles of broken promises littering the aisles and steps of the Haus Tambaran.

If one added up the cost, the result would be billions of kina.

To put them all on display in the National Museum would be physically impossible. You would need a building a thousand times bigger to cater for them all.

That said, the idea of a Museum of Political Stupidity has a lot of merit.

It would, of course, have to include all of the catastrophic blunders that occurred during the colonial period before independence.

The idea of such an institution is not new in the world. Songs have been sung about it and books have been written but as far as I know no one has actually built one.

One of my favourite books is Walter Pitkin’s 1932 ‘A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity’.  His ‘short’ history actually runs to nearly 600 pages and he has still left a lot unsaid.

“Here we are, in this year of grace 1932, master of earth and air, fire and water. We fly faster than birds. We dive the deeps. We disembowel mountains and chew forests to chaff. Over nature we exercise powers vaster than our forefathers credited to the gods.

“But are we gods? Hardly! Demons perhaps. And of earth we have made Pandemonium.

“For every billion in coin value that ingenious men have added to our store, other men have destroyed a billion, sometimes in coin value, sometimes in human worth by wars, tricks, speculations, gaming, fraud, chicaneries, plagues, lies, outrages, and – above all – mortal dullness.

“For every cunning fashion-work which some thinker has derived for making cheap the good usables, others who cannot think have profiteered and defrauded and mismanaged colossally, so that as fast as wealth piles up somewhere, decay and misery abound elsewhere in harmonious equations.”

It’s not hard to imagine that he wrote this yesterday rather than 87 years ago.

While a Maserati might make a perfect exhibit of political stupidity much of what counts as idiocy cannot be tangibly displayed in physical form.

The horrific tribal carnage recently perpetrated by warlords in Hela Province is both political and stupid but how can you conscientiously represent something so horrible and offensive in a museum?

Perhaps it would suffice just to have a collection of Madame Tussaud like wax replicas of the dumbest and most venal bigmen on display. Not too many of course, maybe just a hundred or so.


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Lindsay F Bond

Please, first let PNG, as a gathering of cultural traditions and manifestations, evidence and embrace humour as a curatorial basis of the perplexity that will arouse emotions.

In this age, reflections of lunar landing fifty years ago and now the lead from Large Hadron Collider, successes tend obscure flares of flaws in societies/nations other than PNG.

Chris Overland

Human stupidity knows no bounds Phil.

As you have observed, right now it is accumulating at an unprecedented rate.

Across the world, we are passively allowing ourselves to be led to perdition by men (mostly) whose sometimes grandiose visions are mainly based upon hubris and delusion, together with an irrational faith that nothing can or will go wrong.

They refuse to recognise that they are heirs to the serial stupidity of many, perhaps most, of their predecessors.

It is rare indeed that genuine political genius somehow rises to the top, flares briefly yet brilliantly, only to be extinguished and replaced by unworthy heirs whose highest aspiration can only be ineptitude masquerading as competence.

The museum of which you speak will need to be very, very large indeed to accommodate even the most egregious examples of political stupidity.

For what it is worth, I suggest that the first exhibit to be featured should be devoted to the statesmen who brought us World War 1.

It is still a struggle to find examples of more outright stupidity than inflicting industrial scale war upon much of the world for the sake of a mostly unloved Austrian aristocrat assassinated by a delusion teenage Serbian fanatic.

Apart from 20 million or so killed and a similar number wounded, the end result was the collapse of European imperialism as a force in the world.

It was an impressive own gaol from the moronic Imperialists who started the whole damn thing seeking to further enhance their overweening ambition and pride.

Of course, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and others are showing promise at being able to exceed even that debacle, so perhaps my recommendation is premature.

PNG will only fill a small corner of a vast edifice.

Francis Nii

Whichever way all the PNG stupidity are represented, the idea is not only amusing but profound that it got me into deep contemplation.

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