Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Echoes of Germinal, How Green Was My Valley

I cannot read stories about trapped miners without thinking of Emile Zola's Germinal and the movie How Green Was My Valley. It always shocks me that miners and mining accidents of this magnitude continue to exist in the Western world, since in my mind such deaths are indelibly associated with the Industrial Revolution and primitive technologies. I understand that the pay is good, and that the number of such accidents is small - I assume it is much safer to be a miner in the United States than to be a soldier these days. Still, shouldn't we be using robot technology at this point?

I can only imagine the anguish that the families went through as they waited, knowing that carbon monoxide was taking up what little oxygen was in the shafts, hoping against all hope that their loved ones were still alive - getting that hope handed to them and then suddenly yanked away leading to an outburst of raw anger. I also find myself trying to imagine what it was like for those miners - and the thought of the Kursk disaster comes to mind. The feeling of being trapped. Light running out. Air running out.

These stories profoundly bother me. They belong to a bygone era. And if faced with the choice of being a miner or a soldier in Iraq, I'd rather take my chances and die in the open.

4 Comments:

Blogger kei said...

such deaths are indelibly associated with the Industrial Revolution and primitive technologies. I understand that the pay is good, and that the number of such accidents is small

Actually, no, this accident was sort of a climax of a phenomenon of deregulation and Bushevik cronyism in which frantic federal investigators decried the massive mining company for various ractices, and then their superiors, friends of Bush and thus qualified appointees, told them not to worry about it. Which was what happened in IX/XI, Iraq, with global warming and certain other samaller problems and Katrina as well...
See here and here, and here, and here and here.
To be this well informed you might want to check out the invaluable Cursor, updating on weekdays at 1:30.
And speaking of 19th century nostalgia of the worst type, would you believe one of the things looked at as an oil alternative is coal?

8:51 PM  
Blogger kei said...

Also, the Democratic Leadership Council, the neoliberal nucleus that moved the party rightward on policy (on the premise that money was more important than votes; rightists always get more), was a good friend to the head of the mine according to Wayne Madsen (who does not allow direct links so tomorrow it'll probably be shoved down somewhat). The Clintons were DLC charter members; Dean's unhappinesses were generally traced to DLC unhappiness with him.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahm....the DLC was the only reason the Dems had the white house from 1992-2000. YOu may disagree iwth them all you want, but in the modern economy the left wing democrats of yestayear have zero chance. and frankly, wouldn't we want a dem like Clinton then Bush

4:31 PM  
Blogger kei said...

the DLC was the only reason the Dems had the white house from 1992-2000.

It is possible that a person willing to say that was not alive at the time to see how absolutely horrible Bill Clinton's opponents were. This is a statement too ignorant to fully savage here (actually, the DLC are responsible for an unprecedented losing streak and party hemhorraging!), but to give those with understanding a sense of how silly it truly is, here is just one of the non-DLC reasons Democrats won one of those elections:

Senator Bob Dole.

"I'd like to have an agenda for America, sort of my vision for America...something that's real, something to make a difference in the lives of children, workers, whatever!"
"My wife...does an excellent job. And when I'm elected, she will not be in charge of health care. Don't worry about it. Or in charge of anything else. I didn't say that. It did sort of go through my mind. But she may have a little blood bank in the White House. But that's all right. We need it. It doesn't cost you anything. These days, it's not all you give at the White House -- your blood. You have to give your file. I keep wondering if mine's down there. Or my dog."

The Republicans (a category that includes the GOP and the DLC) imagine that their extremist, hate-filled agenda is "real politics" and that any agenda that does not involve neoliberal gutting for profit is idealism concealing Stalinism. They attribute Bill Clinton's success to the DLC since they are ideologically cognate with it and, in one of those strange cult-like characteristics of Rethugs, not allowed to acknowledge that Bill Clinton could charm the clotrhes of an Inuit in January. They must attribute his success to something else, you see, like his connections to the Chinese who killed Vince Foster.
The DLC represents a plot sneaky to all: those neoliberal, pro-business policies of the Republicans are held by Democrats, but without the usual hatred, religiosity and stangeness the GOP always feels compelled to mix in.
Instead of thinking up new policies the RNC got nastier in their Rovian tricks and scooted further to the right.
The DLC has failed in every case where it could not benefit from some extraordinary other factor, such as the born salesmanship of a Clinton. It is a testament to the elitist, disconnected and undemocratic nature of the present parties.

6:18 PM  

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