ADELAIDE - I think that the article, ‘UBS loan to PNG government may have breached 15 laws’ attracted no comment from PNG Attitude readers, speaks volumes for the state of mind of ordinary Papua New Guineans.
They are now so used to hearing about the skulduggery, corruption and malfeasance of their political leaders that they no longer react to evidence of even the most egregious bad faith, self-interest or outright criminality.
I have recently read Nigel Tranter's lively book, ‘The Story of Scotland’, in which he relates in a non-academic and accessible way the centuries of chicanery, deviousness, vengeance seeking, theft and murder that are a feature of that country's historic heritage.
The Scottish ruling class devoted their time and energy to an endless real life version of The Game of Thrones, where they schemed and manoeuvred to seize the throne or, at least, achieve great influence over its current, usually hapless or despicable occupant.
All this was done, not for the public good, but in their interests and those of their fellow clansmen.
The ordinary Scots were helpless bystanders in this incessant struggle for power. Their interests were ignored and their role restricted to that of humble supplicants to the supposedly great and good.
They were, of course, expected to serve as soldiers in the endless succession of violent and bloody battles that were a feature of Scottish politics. Naturally, they bore the brunt of such battles, being cut down in droves.
Scotland's long and dreadful centuries of anguish only really shuddered to a halt when the country was, very unwillingly, brought into union with England. The internecine fighting died away if for no other reason that the Scots were united in their suspicion of the Sassenach southerners.
It is a great puzzle to me that the current crop of Scottish nationalists know so little of their own history that they seem to discount utterly the possibility that with independence may come the resumption of such struggles, although perhaps without the high casualties of the past.
The relevance of this to PNG is that it seems to me to have the same potential for sectarian, ethnic and tribal anarchy that beset Scotland for so long and which is stirring once more in places like Spain and Eastern Europe.
Even the powerful Chinese government is sufficiently concerned about signs of internal dissension amongst ethnic Uyghurs that it is busily incarcerating them is so-called re-education facilities. This latter name is merely a euphemism for prison camps.
I suppose that I may be rightly criticised for drawing too long a bow with my Scottish analogy.
After all, who can sensibly imagine the world reverting to the state of anarchy that existed for only a very short time ago in those places that now count themselves bastions of humanity's highest levels of civilisation?
Well, I can for one. History is replete with examples of high civilisations falling suddenly and catastrophically into the abyss of social fragmentation and anarchy and there is no particular reason to think that we current lot of humans cannot repeat this process.
All we have to do to start the process is to ignore or set aside what we have hitherto regarded as the norm for our democratic governments. That is, that they will generally act honestly, conscientiously and mostly competently in the greater public interest.
It seems to me that the public expectation that governments will do this is the glue that holds our societies together.
As soon as we know or suspect that this is not the case, then what reason is there to support, however grudgingly, the whole notion that democratic political outcomes must be honoured?
The now long gone USSR ultimately failed, not because its government lacked power or even resources, but because it irretrievably lost its legitimacy as being genuinely interested in promoting the greater good of its population.
The USSR was eventually seen to be merely a vehicle for personal ambition, self interest and greed. The great hypocrisy that underlay Marxist Leninism finally became unsustainable and it collapsed, unloved and unmourned even by most of those who had once believed in it.
In a similar way, the Chinese finally understood the folly and even madness that underpinned Mao Zedong's notion of communism and jettisoned it for what they call socialism with Chinese characteristics and I prefer to call authoritarian capitalism.
Thus there is no reason for anyone to suppose that western neo-liberal capitalism cannot or will not collapse under the weight of its inherent contradictions.
PNG is especially vulnerable to such a collapse because it leadership has so spectacularly failed to create and sustain a state in which ordinary Papua New Guineans can plausibly believe that their needs and aspirations are truly front of mind for their leaders.
Of course, all this is mere speculation on my part and those who predict the future are invariably wrong. However, it is not fanciful to suppose that what I am pointing towards can actually happen if our collective stars align in unexpectedly malignant ways.
Whether such an alignment occurs is another matter but I would humbly submit that many of the prerequisites for such an event are already in place, as the Australian Financial Review article all too graphically reveals.