Two questions long struggled with

Sweet potato farming in the Southern Highlands – communal sharing for mutual benefit is the Melanesian Way

By MICHAEL DOM – posted on PNG Attitude blog

LAE – Power, power, power. Yeah, sure.

In Papua New Guinea subsistence agriculture is a basic mode of living, resources are communally shared and political power is gained and maintained by the assurance of mutual benefit for all.

It can be challenging to understand that the infant national character (that which emerged through parliamentary democracy) doesn’t know what to do about the vast wealth made available to it.

It has been that way since Somare.

The wealthy know what to do with wealth. The poor know only poverty.

Where does Papua New Guinea sit in reference to these two poles?

Only Bougainvilleans reverted to their true character when they realised that the power structures created by Western imperialists and adopted by PNG elites were leading to the destruction of their homeland.

That is why Bougainville wants independence and why their people bled for it.

They have learned a better way and their national character is born of harsh reality.

Bougainville is already independent.

The PNG government and the rest of the naysayers just haven’t realised it yet because they cannot.

They have a different character.

It may be suggested that according to Melanesian society’s rules of cooperation, PNG should allow Bougainville independence, since no one is coerced to join with others if they don’t want to do so.

Power forces its own way. Mutually assured destruction is its natural outcome.

Observe PNG’s resource use – from Somare, the other guys, to O’Neill and now Marape – but still no sovereign wealth fund.

Power in the hands of the people should not be power for its own sake, it should be the power of cooperation for mutually assured benefit.

I think that is called the Melanesian way.

Two central questions for exploring new governing structures should be: how do we facilitate a return to cooperation and what means do we adopt to keep power responsible?

And I think we’ve been struggling with these questions all along.

Published by Ples Singsing

Ples Singsing is envisioned to be a new platform for Papua Niuginian expressions of creativity, ingenuity and originality in art and culture. We deliberately highlight these two very broad themes as they can encompass the diverse subjects, from technology, medicine and architecture to linguistics, music, fishing, gardening et cetera. Papua Niuginian ways of thinking, living, believing, communicating, dying and so on can cover the gamut of academic, journalistic or opinionated writing and we believe that unless we give ourselves a platform to talk about and discuss these things in an open, free and non-exclusively academic space that they may remain the fodder for academics, journalists and other types of writers alone. New social media platforms have given every individual a personal space to share their feelings and ideas openly, sometimes without immediate censure. The Ples Singsing writer’s blog would like to provide another more structured platform for Papua Niuginian expressions in written, visual and audio formats while also providing some regulation of the type and content of materials to be shared publicly.

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