Category Archives: Ken Good

CounterPunch: Whose Democracy?

Whose Democracy?


Just before Papua New Guinea became independent in 1975, I had the immense good fortune to be studying Anthropology, Sociology and Politics at the country’s ten-year-old university (UPNG). It was a kind of decolonisation laboratory in which boffins from everywhere, shared their expertise in everything: tropical medicine and agriculture, public administration, development studies, Third World literature, and much more. They were agitated years of intellectual ferment, student (and teacher) activism, Marxism, feminism, opposition to the Vietnam War, small-is-beautiful, free love and parties, lots of parties. Many of us believed that Papua New Guinea would be different. It could never be just another neo-colony. Its future leaders were fellow students and friends. We were tear-gassed together at demonstrations over Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor and, side by side, fought the bureaucrats to get a students’ vegetable garden (the dining room slop was a prelude to nutritional disease). Several of those friends became politicians in this marvellous, resource-rich country and did their bit to make it one of the most corrupt in the world with extremely high levels of (mainly sexual) violence and over 50% of the population below the poverty line ($1/day). Some of those scintillating teachers went on to unexceptionable careers elsewhere. Ken Good remained outspoken and exceptional. Continue reading