ON 11 November 1947, in the British House of Commons, Winston Churchill famously observed that: “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe.
“No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”
Researchers from Princeton University recently concluded that the USA is no longer a democracy.
They base this assertion on data which follows the decline of the political power of ordinary Americans since the 1980s and the rise of powerful wealthy elites. These elites, they say, now control government policy and use it to benefit themselves.
I imagine that similar research in Australia would come up with the same result.
This became apparent during 2014, when it was obvious that the government is blatantly and blithely following a blueprint designed by powerful right-wing think tanks.
This is why the Australian prime minister can announce that “coal is good” and why he abolished the carbon tax, which has been shown to have begun reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the biggest threat the planet has ever known.
It is why the less wealthy and low income people are expected to bear the brunt of fixing a fabricated budget emergency.
In Papua New Guinea, it is clear even to the most casual observer that big business, especially foreign big business, is influencing the government in a major way.
Based on these observations, it is possible to conclude that Papua New Guinea is no longer a democracy either.
In fact, it is possible to argue, if you take the literal meaning of democracy to mean something akin to the Melanesian Way, that Papua New Guinea ceased to be a democracy in 1975.
It is an uncomfortable irony that Australia went out of its way to speed up the creation of an educated elite prior to independence. This was seen as a necessary precursor to successful government.
That this elite, with some notable and heartening exceptions, is now fabulously wealthy and, as such, has contributed to the demise of democracy is at the heart of this irony.
Australia’s good intentions were, in fact, antithetical because ultimately they set up the conditions for the destruction of the very thing they wanted to create in Papua New Guinea.
What the demise of democracy means in practical terms is that the electoral process is now obsolete, redundant and a farce.
Taken a step further it means that the system of governance in Papua New Guinea, as it is in the USA and Australia, is now largely dysfunctional for the majority of the population.
At best the wealthy elite now only toss down a few crumbs to the general population to create the false impression of democracy and to prevent a popular revolution occurring.
Apart from revolution the only sane way to fix this situation is to legislate to rein in the influence of the wealthy elite and their lobbyists.
But this won’t happen because they are now in power and intend to stay there. Added to this is the well-known fact that the motive of most candidates who stand for election in Papua New Guinea is to join the wealthy elite, not reform them.
It also won’t happen, In Papua New Guinea as well as Australia and the USA, because the average voter is willfully uninformed and politically ignorant.