You are sighted; I am blind!
Post-independence PNG – snake oil & the benefits of chaos

Nurturing a literate, inquisitive & questioning intellectual culture

Questioning ( OVERLAND

THOSE people who read my forays in PNG Attitude may have realised that I am a keen amateur historian.

One of the lessons of history is that human advancement depends very critically upon the existence of a cultured, educated and motivated leadership group who, whether for selfish or altruistic reasons, change their society for the better.

This is frequently a pretty fraught process, with many failures and false starts and, sometimes, it ends in total catastrophe. Change is neither easy nor painless.

However, it seems to me that the more educated, literate and articulate the population of a given society is, the more likely it is to create paths to a better future without resort to either warfare with others or a great deal of civil disorder.

Basically, ignorance is the friend of political demagogues and charlatans, while knowledge exposes them and their lies for all too see.

For this reason alone, but for many others besides, Papua New Guinea needs to develop and nurture a literate, inquisitive and questioning intellectual culture, which never hesitates to challenge the "great and the good" who, all too frequently, are neither of these things.

Historically, the written word has always served as the prime medium for doing this, whether through open critiques or slyly subversive fiction.

The Crocodile Prize is one means by which this important process can be cultivated and, indeed, some interesting material has already appeared that both highlights areas where dramatic social change is both wanted and needed, as well as proposing what that change might be.

As Keith Jackson has rightly pointed out, Papua New Guineans need to claim and "own" this process, not rely upon him and others to make it happen.

Rashmii Bell has thrown down the challenge to those who might be a part of an emergent intelligentsia in PNG.

The question is; who will take it up?


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