Contemporary Melanesian communities face difficulties both because of the withdrawal of government services and the continued influence of clientelism within the politics of the distributive state. A notable reaction to both these problems is the organisation of a broad class of groups that may be termed 'parastatal': informal organisations, often evanescent, which form around the state and its absence. These may often appear as 'mimetic' of recognisable state forms. Characteristically, the analysis of such 'mimesis' in Melanesia is framed by doubt that the emulation of state forms extends to the alleged rationality or 'interiority' of the state. Here, a case in which villagers in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville undertook to prosecute themselves for non-payment of school fees is discussed in order to expose the substantial difficulties with understanding parastatal organisation in terms of 'copying'. The case suggests integration of the villagers into the actually existing state system is much deeper than is often assumed.