The world is ours, let’s act that way
15 August 2021
GOVERNOR GARY JUFFA
ORO - I say this often, but it cannot be said enough, although I’m confident that eventually many people will understand, and act upon their understanding, in due time.
I pity those who do not wish to understand and cannot see this reality, so let us focus on helping them understand.
Yes, even the most putrid haters and critics and experts on everything.
Contributing to make the village, the province and the world better places.
This is our home.
Not just the home of elected officials and public servants and those who engage in business.
If everyone did all they could to create the future that we feel our children deserve, the changes we want will surely happen.
Not overnight, not instantaneously but surely.
I entirely agree with your reasoning Phil.
It seems that affluence and education are not, in themselves, sufficient to ensure that the poor and the indigent will be properly considered and looked after.
Instead, the concerns of the new middle class revolve around things like identity politics, mortgage costs, capital gains taxes, negative gearing and so forth.
These are not hot button issues for the poor in Australia let alone for the huge majority of Papua New Guineans.
These days, the raison d'etre of the left is the same as that of the right, being the acquisition and retention of power for its own sake.
There is no reform agenda to benefit the poor and helpless.
The changes that are being pursued strongly tend to reinforce advantage and further concentrate power and influence, thus creating the store of resentment and alienation upon which Trump, Hanson and other populists can draw.
It is a desperately sad situation and, as a long time 'social democratic', I am greatly dismayed by what I see.
Posted by: Chris Overland | 16 August 2021 at 12:48 PM
“This situation has arisen because, across the democratic world, political parties are now no longer representative of the broader population in any meaningful sense.”
Papua New Guineans are used to having political parties that lean neither to the right or left and only represent the interests of a limited coterie within their own membership.
They are not alone however. Abandoned bodies of usually poor and unrepresented voters have been emerging in western democracies for several decades.
In the 1950s and 60s, the vote for left wing parties in western democracies was class-based and strongly associated with those on lower incomes who were less educated.
Since then however, left wing parties have gradually been taken over by more highly educated voters.
People with high incomes continue to vote for the right, while people with higher levels of education have shifted to the left.
This divergence is visible in nearly all western democracies, despite their historical, political and institutional differences.
The old working class trade union operatives who were dominant in left wing parties have now been largely replaced by professional apparatchiks who come straight from university rather than industry.
These people tend to work their way up through the party hierarchy and have no real world working experience.
As a result they have difficulty relating to ordinary working class people and working class people have difficulty relating to them.
This has effectively broken the nexus between working class people and the political parties that once purported to represent them.
With this core of educated members has come a shift in the politics within the party structures.
Questions largely of interest to those with a higher education, such as environmentalism, gender equality; the rights of minorities and so on have grown in importance in left wing parties.
The concerns of working class people, such as access to a liveable wage, have been sidelined in this shift of interests.
Left wing parties, which were once seen as promoting greater equality of access to education, are increasingly being viewed as parties now simply dedicated to representing those who already have an education.
This has contributed to growing resentment among those who have not achieved those higher levels of education and are not benefitting from them.
The consequence of this transformation is that political systems have effectively come to represent only two kinds of voter, the well-educated and the rich.
They have largely left working class voters without a representative voice. Although many left wing parties still purport to represent them this is more rhetoric than fact.
There are now few, if any, political movements anywhere that honestly represent the interests of the poor and uneducated.
Unscrupulous politicians like Donald Trump in the USA and Pauline Hanson in Australia have recognised these disaffected voters as an opportunity and have capitalised on it.
The rhetoric they direct at them is less designed to play to their legitimate concerns than to their prejudices. In either case no tangible solutions are ever offered, just rhetoric and meaningless slogans.
The rhetoric is nakedly opportunistic, cynical and overly emotional and takes advantage of sentiments like opposition to immigration, acceptance of racism and jingoistic forms of nationalism.
Working class people are not dumb, they know when someone is taking advantage of them. Unfortunately they now have no viable recourse to a party that truly represents their interests.
However, what they do have recourse to is social media and this is why politicians like Donald Trump have tapped into it.
Trump’s ‘base’ now exists on social media as a de facto political party.
This may well be where unrepresentative politics is heading the world over. Where that leads is anyone’s guess.
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 16 August 2021 at 10:26 AM
While I endorse Gary's sentiments, I am afraid that 'ordinary people' will not retake possession of their particular worlds anytime soon.
In places like China or theocratic Iran or soon to be Taliban controlled Afghanistan, the world will belong to armed minorities who will impose their world view upon the great majority. As Mao Zedong famously noted, 'political power comes from the barrel of a gun'.
In due course, these regimes will turn their gaze upon others whom they will decide need to enjoy the dubious benefits of their particular form of governance.
Meanwhile, in what now passes as the democratic world, the political and business elites will continue to dominate every aspect of life.
Like their authoritarian counterparts, the apostles of neo-liberalism are blind and deaf to the impending financial and environmental disaster which their particular brand of capitalism will inflict upon the world.
Rampant consumerism and exploitation of the world's resources are the hallmarks of neo-liberalism. Economic growth must continue regardless of the ultimate costs which, if course, will not be borne by the 'winners' in what is merely a gargantuan Ponzi scheme.
In this system, people who were once citizens are now assigned the role of consumer, only valued as servants of the economy. The notion that the economy is, in fact, meant to serve the people is now regarded as risible or even dangerous.
This situation has arisen because, across the democratic world, political parties are now no longer representative of the broader population in any meaningful sense.
Rather, they reflect an amalgam of interest groups, constantly jockeying for power and influence within the party, always pushing their special interests to the fore often without regard to the actual wishes or needs of the populace.
Dependent upon donations to survive, these parties are easy prey to large and powerful corporations and individuals.
There are many examples of the results of this degradation of democracy across the world, with the election of Donald Trump as President of the USA perhaps representing the most egregious example of just how easily the electoral process can be manipulated by powerful interest groups.
So, Gary, if the people of PNG are to reclaim their birth right something very significant is going to have to change.
Basically, nothing short of revolutionary change is going to make any real difference. You can be sure that those who benefit from the current situation will not readily relinquish their grip upon power and influence.
As I have written before, the options for creating the required change boil down to two: either the democratic process can be harnessed to do the job or, if this fails, other means will have to be found.
In the end, history's lesson is that the people have the choice of being the effective slaves of unelected elites or deciding to seize back control themselves. Just how this is done is their choice too.
Posted by: Chris Overland | 15 August 2021 at 06:41 PM
Gary, you are too kind. Not the home of elected officials and public servants and those who engage in business. There, fixed it for you.
Posted by: Stephen Charteris | 15 August 2021 at 11:23 AM