Page 10, 24th August 1935

24th August 1935
Page 10
Page 10, 24th August 1935 — FIRST THOUGHTS by Michael
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FIRST THOUGHTS by Michael

Beginning In Papua

It was when we were still innocent of any association with the press that we heard the story of the reporter and the

revival meeting. The Salvation Army lassie was going round the back of the hall gathering in the lost. To each one she put the same question: "Are you saved?" Presently she addressed one standing a little aloof.

" Are you saved?" she said.

" Press, Miss," was the reply.

* * In so doing she paid unconscious tribute to the eminence upon which the representatives of the press now stand. For Napoleon, and for the aristocracy of imperial Rome, religion was something with which they had no concern except in so far as it might be prudently encouraged in others. For the pressman it is news.

For years the advocates of subsistencefarming have pointed out to an unbeliee e world that it is profitable to both soul a. body. It gives the farmer and his fam. a chance to live their own lives with t4.7 minimum of dependence, in disposing of their products, upon economic and spiritual conditions elsewhere over which they have no control, and with the minimum of subjection, as consumers, to the economic and spiritual standards of other producers. And now The Times, of all papers, comes out with a leading article on a self-contained community of subsistence-farmers, containing the following paragraph.

"They now live happily, each family

on its own farm, producing all they use for themselves. They may be taught fresh wants, shown how to grow a surplus for export, and to buy in exchange ploughs and machine-made tools and factory clothing and tinned food and gramophones and wireless sets. and in the end to become standardised to the drab modern pattern, which has spread all over the earth, submerging everything distinctive."

So far from welcoming this prospect, The Times goes on to deplore it in language which every advocate of subsistence-farming would make his own.

Lest, however, we be held to be libelling The Times by making an isolated and misleading quotation, we hasten to make a second, also from a leading article. Indeed, it appeared in the same column of the same 'issue as the first: " To a large extent the basic design of British-built wireless receivers may be said to have been standardised, and in consequence the introduction of massproduction methods has made possible an all-round reduction in prices. Better and cheaper listening is within the reach of most, for the new sets have relatively few valves and are most economical to run from the electric mains, and many people who have managed with old receivers now for some years might well consider whether they should not scrap their old-fashioned model and buy an up-to-date one."

Here The Times is having a heart-to heart talk with its readers about their own interests. In the other paragraph it was speaking of some inhabitants of the island of New Guinea.

The part of New Guinea, known as Papua, where the newly-discovered race of subsistence-farmers lives, is a dependency

of Australia. It is administered by a lieutenant-governer whom The Times de' scribes as " a man of wisdom and understanding, interested in the peoples under his care for their own sakes, not merely ' as potential suppliers of raw materials and purchasers of manufactured goods."

It is certainly a recommendation that his policy in this respect has frequently been criticised by business men. The Tinier, therefore, has hopes that, if he cannot avert, he will at least delay. the moment when the newly-discovered race will become producers for export ..nd purchasers of up-to-date wireless receivers at prices made possible by mass-production methods, But how unfair we are being to The Times! Which of us all can claim that he is never guilty of promoting in Papua what he is not prepared to begin at home and in his own person? Setting recriminations aside, we will suggest that all who have at heart the cause of sane living should join forces and ask for the same protection to be given to their own settlements as to this Papuan tribe---a protection extending, as in New Guinea, to religious as well as to economic customs.

After all, there are already scheduled under a commissioner the so-called Special Areas. They may stand as warnings of what may happen to an area when it becomes completely dependent on production for sale and on one specialised kind of production to which all other local industries are sacrificed. Now that their markets have disappeared they are as helpless as a twentieth-century girl who leaves her office or factory to marry and keep house. Why should not an area developed on the opposite principle have a chance, with the Lieutenant-Governor of Papua as its commissioner?




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