WHY THE “BIG MEN” IN NEW GUINEA OPPOSE FREE MARKETS.

WHY THE “BIG MEN” IN NEW GUINEA OPPOSE FREE MARKETS. The anthropologist Keir Martin explains why the Papua New Guinea society discourages the less well off from taking actions to help themselves. He calls attention to the importance of giant ceremonial gift exchanges. The “big men” engaged in these exchanges do not try to maximize their own wealth in terms of money or pigs or trucks. Martin explains this by saying that: “Their aim was to increase the number of those dependent upon them, and so, like a Mafia godfather, their aim was to create debts that would never be repaid.” The big men behave rationally if their goal is to build up an army of followers.

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One Response to WHY THE “BIG MEN” IN NEW GUINEA OPPOSE FREE MARKETS.

  1. Nick says:

    It is staggering to me how frequently societies depend upon the Patron-Client relationship. The Byzantines and Romans certainly used it, and apparently to great success for large periods of time.

    I never understood how it didn’t break down more quickly.

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