Marshall Plan #2 for terrorism 2001

Will we Learn?

The efforts of the world at this moment are understandably concentrated on tracking down and punishing.

The big stick, yes, but where is the carrot?

Where is the thought and energy going into long term solutions?

Terrorism is not an accident.  It has deep roots and causes.  If the causes are not dealt with, and if the roots are not dug up, the big stick will simply reinforce the nurturing of other terrorist plants.

It is extremely disturbing that no public thought has yet been announced on this aspect of the struggle. Here are some thoughts…………………  Dear leaders, think about them and do something please.

What happened on September 11th is the latest in anti-Western and anti-establishment terrorism which has been with us since the Second World War, and before.  Those acts which have occurred in Europe or the Middle East have been well documented,  but they occur in all parts of the world. However much we understand and remove the causes, they will still occur until there is a global reform of youth upbringing, and until those youths become adults, which I will not deal with here — see here.

For the sake of brevity and time I will not catalogue factual sources, but only generalize. Those sources are available in any library and on the internet. They are established by analysts from many cultures and from many political perspectives.

 We must be brutally candid with ourselves and at the same time not be sent into a tizzy by historical guilt. We must think of this as a possibility for a fresh and cleansing start.

The balloon of hubris and complacency in the United States was exploded by one blunted and three sharp pins.  Voices have been raised to say things like “it was coming to them”. Such a phrase carries undertones of misunderstanding.  Yes, it was inevitable that something like that would happen. But why? What in particular about the U.S.A? And the U.S.A. alone? Hardly.

The peaceful nature of the U.S.A. tends to hide its internal divisions.  The numerous scholars and travellers who learn about the world outside the continent are hugely outnumbered  by citizens, who, even when they travel, do so without learning. When I asked an elderly American couple, studying a map of Vancouver, “Could I help you?” they turned on me with a “Go away” and pretended not to speak English, as if I were a tout in a souk. (That by the way is by no means typical, although Japanese, Chinese, European and others are much more open to such a gesture.)

In other words for most of its life, the major part of U.S. citizenry ignores the world or treats it at best as a barbaric and untrustworthy nuisance.

The U.S. approaches to social services are primitive when compared to those of Europe. There was even one statement to the effect that the $40B emergency fund would be taken partly from social services – we hope that this is not true.

One hundred thousand individuals gathered before Parliament in Ottawa for a memorial service. Apart from the services in London, similar measures of support took place throughout the world. Very few did CNN mention.  Certainly President Bush and his officials take care to say always “The United States and it’s allies but the powerful visuals of the Moscow public laying flowers with tears before the United States Embassy, or the spontaneous horn blowing and streamer displaying by Polish taxi drivers, tears in France, Germany, Japan, Australia and so many other countries, the arrival of Canadian helpers and material – these count minimally for CNN.  Yet CNN is a fairly accurate barometer of mainstream America.

Yes, United States policy is strong, effective when aroused. Normally, it is strong and mis-effective day to day.  Illustration.  At the very moment of Canada’s support, generously welcomed by the U.S. ambassador, with today’s headline quoting our Foreign Minister “Canada is at War”, the Bush administration institutes an anti-free trade measure imposing, on the basis of wrong arithmetic, a unilateral and selfish  20% duty on Canadian softwood – an act which has nothing to do with a strategic alliance, is a simple reflex in support of certain lumber companies in the U.S. and ignoring the consequent rise in house construction prices throughout the country, to say nothing of the throwing out of work in Canada of at least as many individuals as those killed on September 11th.

This kind of short term focussed policy, ignoring the deeper and wider, holistic, consequences, is typical, not only of the U.S., but of all Western governments.

It is one of the many factors which explains wide foreign and some U.S. distrust and cynicism about U.S. policies, even when other governments are similar in outlook. What’s good for the U.S. is good for the world.  We will refuse to sign international treaties which may make us modify our policies, even though the rest of the world wants them.  We sneer at and starve the United Nations, because deep down we know that we should strengthen it as a true world government, standing above the United States or other individual countries.  When Hitler attacks and the democracies have their backs to the Channel, we will not intervene, because this is not U.S. soil – until the wake up call of Pearl Harbour.  Cynics will argue that if the current death toll had been on European soil, the U.S. would have taken a great deal of time before joining the alliance. Let us hope that such thoughts are an injustice. Let’s hope their implications are never put to the test.

Hubris and isolation (except through the domination of popular culture and the capitalist side of globalisation)  seem to have been justified by results.  Peace and superficial harmony. The ability, not to police the world, but choose the time and place, in U.S. interests, of any exertion of influence.

And there’s the rub.  What are U.S. interests?  It is time we and others stood up and said – “U.S.  Read the rest

On Leaving England 1949

On Leaving England


How easy it is for the visitor to England to record general impressions. And how false those impressions are liable to be. For perhaps the one thing that is true of England is that Gorer-like generalisations cannot be applied with truth to England as a whole. Yet despite this the temptation to make notes cannot be resisted.

 I come from a new culture that maintains a strong English tradition. Though not as much as in generations, most of us still call England “Home”. Our newspapers devote half a page or more to English news. Our interest in politics is almost as much in English politics as it is in the outcome of the local election. The history taught in our schools is primarily that of England, secondarily that of Europe and the Commonwealth, and hardly at all that of our own land. Our literature is almost exclusively that of England, the United States and France —- our own writers, those self—conscious few, are almost completely neglected.

This however does not mean that we are English.

 Indeed, the first impression of England is entirely that of a strange, bewildering, foreign mass. The houses, buses, taxis, trains, the mists and deciduous trees, the uniform 0f the City and the speech of the Cockney ——  all these have been known to us in picture or through description since we were children. But intellectual knowledge is no substitute for  direct experience, and all these different things impinging at once is exciting, refreshing, and almost always unexpected.  It takes us at least six weeks to adopt the outward demeanour of  habitués.

 It takes us much longer to feel that we are English. By this I mean to feel that we could pass in most circumstances as English, without challenge; that we know what the English are talking about, even if we do not always understand the nuances of idiom; that we can judge correctly the response of English people in given circumstances; that we can take part in the same amusements and pursuits as English people without deliberate affectation; and yet that we retain those of our own values and habits that do not seem incongruous. I would say that the period is roughly three years. If I had left this country six months ago I would not have claimed to know even those few sectors of English life that I think I do know.

 It is often said that this difficulty of “getting to know” the English is somehow a fault of the English themselves. How falsely trite is that is. There are few friendlier and no more helpful people in the world. My wife and I have lived in a working class and a middle class district in London: in both cases we have depended totally and successfully upon our immediate neighbours for security in times of trouble -—   those neighbours so often characterised as being frigidly reserved.  I doubt if any other country in the world possesses a junior civil service ——   those clerks behind the desk in the Food Office ——   of such integrity and genuine friendliness. The much maligned bus conductor is in reality almost as indispensable for his assistance as the policeman. True, there are frigid elements in English society -—   some of the gentlemen from the public schools seem to have been coached in coldness of attitude which becomes reprehensible in the higher civil service and funny in the City.  But if we don’t know the English, it is entirely our own fault. For we tend to forget that there are fifty million people in the United Kingdom, that the variety of life is such that the individual Englishman is already living in the midst of an intellectual plenty, and that therefore he has no need to turn to us for amusement. The stranger who wishes to know the English must be prepared to contribute to English life in an interesting way. He will not succeed if he is only a nosey-parker.

It is a common—place that English culture consists of a number of sub—cultures. It is indeed amazing that there is such a thing as a British nation at all, so diverse is it even within the confines of England, let alone the Commonwealth. What is it that holds the Lancashire man to a common destiny with the Cockney, and the Battersea trader to that of the Chelsea type?   Is it that each of these sub—cultures is now so definitely established that it is of a conservative character?

Is it that the members have common ground in regarding the State as the instrument for maintaining the position of the sub­culture in relation to the others —   a vested interest as it were in the aspects of civilisation?

 How else can one explain the interesting anomalies that confront the observer of the English scene? The myth of flexibility, adaptation, and compromise as essentials of the island character contrasts with the fixed habits, immobility, and sometimes lack of enterprise of most sections of the community. The approved eccentric, that justification of English freedom, lives in harmony and understanding with the prosaic shop-keeper. Shortage of manpower cannot remove the artist from the pavement, the commissionaire from the entrance to the emporium,  the flunkey from the front right—hand seat of the Rolls—Royce ——   and few if any demand that this should be so. From all middle class lips come loud complaints of loss of privilege, and difficulties of maintaining a standard of living. In some fields, such as education, this seems to be obvious, though even here the approaching tragedy seems to be nation—wide, not that of a class. For in its national aspect it has remained hidden for generations, and is now gaining publicity, one would think, because for the first time it is affecting the vocal section of the community. In other fields the proposition is only relatively true —— compared with the situation before the war. The observer who cannot make this comparison is left a  little bewildered by such complaints —— for it is still apparently the case that money can buy the best of anything, and it is certainly the case that differences in net income are fantastically greater than anything known in my own home town across the sea.  Read the rest


WAGAWAGA is a village of two hundred and seventy people on the south shore of Milne Bay, in the Australian Territory of Papua. I make no apology for writing about an Australian rather than a British village in a Colonial Service journal. For here something is happening that is significant for all Oceanic communities.

In Wagawaga and the surrounding area of Milne Bay tradition is being broken. For generations the people have tilled the soil by methods of shifting cultivation: for to them preservation of timber resources and top soil was unnecessary. The staple food crop, taro, was supplemented with other garden crops, wild fruits, coconut, pig and fish. The great gardens were directed not only to household food supply but to the provision of wedding and mortuary feasts, and the leaders of the community were men of wealth and knowledge. As in most other parts of Melanesia,  and some parts of Africa, there was no closely-knit tribal organisation with chiefs and paramount chiefs. Even to-day Wagawaga speaks its own language, rather mixed with other dialects, but nevertheless quite distinct; and this linguistic separation is paralleled by a political separation which makes it difficult to secure a loyalty to a group wider than the village.

For about seventy years Wagawaga has been subject to intensive missionary influence. The great feasts and the warfare which stimulated activity have disappeared. The three matrilineal clans still exist, but not in an organised way. Clan sentiment still influences in a subtle manner the inheritance of land, the choice of wives, the internal politics of the village, the distribution of income, but the clans do not now maintain club-houses nor hold ceremonies. Domestic houses, no longer of thatch, are of weatherboard roofed with corrugated iron—a typically Antipodean touch. The men still leave most of the garden work to the women, and earn such private cash as they need by casual labour.

This, in its essentials, is a situation that is common in Melanesia—old ways gone, nothing left but the hollowness of a semi-civilized living, no practical hopes that provide a spur to constructive activity. Indeed, as the women said at a meeting a few months ago, “Why should we have children ? Our work is hard and dull our children will be unhappy as we are. There is nothing for them, so we are not keen to have any more.”

These people have not been without help. They have seen comparatively little of government, but have been in continual contact with the missionaries of the Kwato Extension Association. Education in the three “r”s has been provided to a high standard, a dispensary with two Papuan nurses is nearby, and the missionaries have helped with all kinds of spiritual and general advice. Indeed, the Association has gone further than any other body I know of in this area in holding to two important ideals, the creation of a sense of equality between Papuan and European, and the provision of an outlet for activity in industrial work. The latter has been particularly marked and the advances made in training for boat-building, metalwork, sawmilling, house-building, furniture-making, and domestic crafts at the Mission headquarters, are an achievement of Melanesian development. The measure of this achievement may be gauged by the statement that there is, so far as I know, no Melanesian in the British Solomon Islands or the New Hebrides who has reached the standard of training of these people except in medical and clerical work and boat navigation—though they are people of the same race, character, abilities and social structure.

During the war the Japanese landed on the north shores of Milne Bay and were driven back in bitter fighting. Wagawaga was evacuated and used as an Allied naval base. When the people returned to their homes they were listless and apathetic. It seemed that the shock had been too much. The people were ripe for those psychological maladjustments which have appeared all over Melanesia, such as the “cargo cults” of New Guinea. They were filled with a sense of frustration, of inability to solve their problems or to achieve a level of activity comparable with that of Europeans. Some of the missionaries, too, had a sense of failure, and realised that their industrial education and their encourage­ment of equality had not been sufficiently related to village needs. It had remained, as it were, locked up at Headquarters and had made no deep penetration elsewhere except in religious practice and social etiquette.

Fortunately, the chance to remedy matters came and was recognised. A Papuan with some technical training, who had been away from Wagawaga for many years, returned to his people during the war. He was impressed with the activity of his military neighbours, and after lengthy discussions with the villagers, determined to ask a missionary whether it was possible to find a means of attaining similar standards of efficiency and industrial output. The idea of industrial efficiency in village life is so novel for Melanesia that the missionary would have been pardoned had he replied with the stock answer: “Industry is impossible. We have no local materials. It is too hard to train village people. Your society is not sufficiently acquisitive. You have no capital. There are no markets for inferior Melanesian work.” Instead, he determined to take up the challenge.

The scheme that is now being developed is one that could be applied, in its essentials, anywhere in the Western Pacific, except perhaps on atolls. A glance at import figures is enough to show that these colonies are completely dependent on outside sources for many significant items—all European consumption goods, furniture, foods including the native wants of rice, tinned meat, tinned fish, sugar, tea, flour and dried or tinned milk, and industrial materials such as machinery and jute bags. Except in Papua and New Guinea, where the immensity of the country permits the development of several crops, the only important export crop is copra.

The first task has been to experiment with the production of some of these commodities to see if they are suited to village manufacture, and to find other lines suitable for export.

  Read the rest

Economic Development in South East Papua

Permission has been obtained from Dr. Belshaw to include this unpublished survey of village enterprise in the Commission Social Development Committee Circular series since, though related to a single area in Papua, it deals with post-war problems of native production common to most of the South Pacific territories. It is hoped, therefore, that it will prove of interest and practical value to many engaged in furthering the commercial and industrial advancement of island communities.

  1. The author is a New Zealander, formerly a District Officer in the British Colonial Service and. now a Fellow of the Australian National University engaged in field resarch in New Guinea. Possessing the double qualifications of an anthropologist and economist, Dr. Belshaw has published several articles on topics connected with the economic life of the Melanesian peoples. His first book, “Island Administration in the South West Pacific: Government and Reconstruction in New Caledonia, the New Hebrides and the British Solomon Islands”, was published jointly by the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Institute of Pacific Relations early this year,
  2.  It should be emphasized that the views expressed in the paper are those of the author and. are not necessarily endorsed by the South Pacific Commission or the Australian Government.

A Summary

Dr. Cyril S. Belshaw

With the object of observing modern economic activity among the Papuans and the effects of modern activity on Papuan life, I have recently had the good fortune to visit a number of villages in the area adjacent to Samarai. I have gained the very strong impression that the Papuan of this area is intensely interested in commercial development and the mastery of industrial techniques, and that, given encouragement and advice, he is well on the way to achieve a society and economy quite new to Papuasia. It is the object of this paper to summarise the situation here, and to suggest ways in which the area can be integrated commercially. This is of course no “blue print” for development. There are so many unknowns in such a subject that a “blue print” would be too rigid and lead to disappointment. This is only a suggestion, pointing up possibilities and opportunities.

The people have been under more or less intensive missionary influence for the past 70 to 80 years. The indigenous culture has, in most places, given place to something new. In the main it is the exotic custom that has given way —— warfare, cannibalism, ritual food abstentions, old—time feasting and dancing in some places, pre-marital sexual intercourse, magical exhortation, the practice of sorcery, and the like. On the other hand the deeper features of culture have remained, with varying degrees of modification. Most of the ancient customs are remembered and regretted: some of the old people still practice magic in their gardens, and young people point with envy to their success as gardeners; in times of misfortune there are immediate accusations of sorcery, and perhaps some poor unfortunate and unpopular person will be seized upon as a scapegoat and hauled off to court. More important, clan and family organisation is still strong, and all economic organisatlon is based on an indigenous social structure. The District Officer who wrote that social structure and religion parallel the social structure and religion of the European was wide of the mark.

The people are matrilineal, not matriarchal. That is, descent and clan—membership is traced through the mother, though women are in other respects no more important than men. Land inheritance is fundamentally matrilineal (from the mother’s brother, not the mother), though in many areas sons customarily give a feast to the father’s relatives, in return for which they may inherit from their father. This link between feasting and inheritance is one of the reasons why successful European attacks on feasting would have serious social and economic repercussions.

Marriage exchanges, where they continue, are very modest and not at all onerous in this area, besides having a stabilizing influence on the family, Over most of the area (except for instance Wagawaga) native valuables such as greenstone adzes, ceremonial lime spatulae, armshells, and bagi, are very much in evidence. The ancient ceremonial exchanges still continue, especially in the islands, linking a wide range of communities in friendship, and providing opportunities for trade and. cultural spread. The desire to move about for these reasons seems to village constables and other people to conflict with the patrol officers’ desire, natural during census-taking, for them to remain quietly in one village.

Some villages are large, of nearly three hundred people, but nearly all the Papuans of this area are scattered in small hamlets, sometimes of one house, sometimes of four or five, all containing relations who own the hamlet land and nearby gardens. There is a prevalent belief that this is a modern and undesirable state of affairs. As regards its modernity, there is I think no justification for this belief. The hamlets are consistent with an age—old social structure, and are common to many Melanesian societies.

Desirability is a different question and seems to have been answered in the negative by patrol officers. Putting aside the crude argument that centralisation makes administration easier, there is much to be said for this view. Scattered hamlets remove labour from development areas, and make problems of distribution and transport almost impossible to solve, especially in inland areas. Eventually there must be found some way to linking scattered family groups to a common centre.

The method employed in at least one case that has been brought to my notice has been for the patrol officer to order hamlets to be abandoned and the inhabitants to move to specific sites. One cannot but agree that the Circular Instruction which forbids this practice is correct, and it is a pity it has not been observed. The patrol officer concerned was obviously too rushed to enquire into details of land ownership, distance from gardens, and. other factors involved. The people do not appear to understand the reasons for the move, and have contented themselves with building houses on the new sites and living on the old ones.  Read the rest