Photo: Greek protesters hold a banner in front of the Parthenon
Last week we posted an article which raised questions over whether electoral politics in its current form constitutes democracy, that is does it enhance the capacity of each individual to participate in the economic and political decision making processes that condition their life. We suggested decision making takes place at hermetically sealed levels, which ordinary people are excluded from.
In Greece at present people are taking to the streets to express their anger over decisions taken by the political elites and bankers, which ordinary working Greeks are now being told to pay for by the European parliament, the IMF and indeed their own government. The question in Greece, the question in Spain, the question in the United Kingdom, the question in Egypt, the question in Papua New Guinea, is whether people can not simply express rage, but can covert this growing revolutionary spirit inspired by decision making from above, into creation.
With the father of Papua New Guinea stepping down from power, fears are arising over a constitutional crisis. The mining companies, loggers, banks and agrofirms do not fear popular participation, the people are too divided by poverty, by clan affiliation, by geography for that, what they fear is that the Waigani elite will become fractured, consumed by in-fighting, which will lead to political stagnation.
Like with the Arab world, there is a belief that Papua New Guineans are incompatible with revolutionary change. Papua New Guineans are too parochial to seriously challenge the status quote, too mired in the world of patronage, localism, clan politics, kinship networks. The question is can these emblems of 'fragmentation', become a strength that unites people, under a national bloc that seeks to protect culture, land and environment from the coercive forces of capital and political domination.
The Greeks search for their answers, the Egyptians, Syrians, Libyans, Tunisians, Yeminis etc, search for theirs, each answer will be specific to the national situation, but the question is whether a general theme can run through all movements, to depose market determinism and enact a new world of social exchange for social people that takes as its guide human beings, land, environment, sustainability, future generations.
We will continue to challenge the big companies like Exxon Mobil through a peaceful campaign of protest and critique, as will others, but unless the life force of the powerful are challenged on a mass scale, any victory will be temporal and sporadic. Only a united, mass movement will create the environment for true participation in economic and social change in Papua New Guinea.