Bringing a Turd to the Picnic

I don’t usually bring a turd to the picnic.  After all, I’m not immune to the enthusiasm surrounding the rescue of 33 Chilean miners from their entombment for 69 days. In fact, while the politicians and corporate titans take their bows and accept kudos, I’m struck by the human ingenuity and workers’ solidarity displayed for all the world.

What extraordinary feats we humans are capable of when no expense is spared. Locating trapped men thousands of feet beneath the earth, attending to their psychological, medical and emotional needs and those of their families. International solidarity extended by people who previously knew nothing of Chile, but who were touched by the drama of these 33 men who went to work one morning and found themselves buried alive. Wow!

But… I’m still not exactly clear why no expense was spared for these working men who should never have been down in that heavily fined, unsafe mine in the first place. I’m thrilled it was, I’m just not sure why in a country and a world where workers are routinely left to perish it was different this time.

I suspect that a Chilean president’s flagging reputation amidst a miserable economy and the characteristic of all rulers to save their asses and rally the country to national unity when class divisions are stark may be at play here.

As usual, award-winning filmmaker and  journalist John Pilger has already sussed out some of the background politics and economics being ignored in all the media frenzy. So, let’s go ahead and celebrate the potential society is capable of, but let’s also feed our brains with the not-so-pretty reality behind the myth of the rescue of the Chilean 33.

Once again, it’s workers’ solidarity versus bosses’ greed. But this time our side won! Read Chile’s Ghosts Are Not Being Rescued, originally posted to Truthout.

My next public talk is on Fighting the Right, Friday, Oct. 15th, Rochester Inst. of Technology, Library’s “Idea Factory,” 7PM. I’ll also be speaking the following day, Saturday, Oct. 16, on Can the Working Class Unite? at 3PM, details are here.

2 responses to “Bringing a Turd to the Picnic

  1. I am very happy that all the miners are safe. But this incident reminded me of 21st of October 1966.

    At 9.15am the children of Pantglas Junior School in the coal mining pit village of Aberfan, Wales had just left their morning assembly. They heard a terrific sound outside.
    150,000 cubic meters of slag (the waste from the pit) was coming down on their school and the village. The fast moving mass, 40 feet high engulfed the school killing 116 children and 26 adults in the village. I remember the news reports, like most other people with tears in eyes as desperate rescuers tried to get to children. The desperate rescue went on for a long time and we all kept out fingers crossed in the hope that someone would be pulled alive. But after 11:00am (not even two hours later) no one else was pulled out alive.
    The slag from the National Coal Boards (NCB) Merthyr Vale Colliery was dumped on the side of Merthyr Mountain- just above the village of Aberfan. The slag heap was put on ground known for underground springs. Local authorities had already raised concerns about the slag heap a few years before, but the national coal board area management ignored these concerns.
    All in the name of profit and production 116 children and 26 adults were buried alive in the NCB’s waste. The NCB was a nationalized company but this didn’t make things safer.
    I still get a tear in my eye as I think of that day and all those poor children. We know how dangerous mines are all around the world, but until workers have a real say in the way things are produced the bosses will continue to cut corners.
    I’ll leave it with the words of eight-year-old Gaynor Minett;

    “It was a tremendous rumbling sound and all the school went dead. You could hear a pin drop. Everyone just froze in their seats. I just managed to get up and I reached the end of my desk when the sound got louder and nearer, until I could see the black out of the window. I can’t remember any more but I woke up to find that a horrible nightmare had just begun in front of my eyes.”

    Let’s get rid of the horrible capitalist nightmare.

  2. Indeed…many in Chile are happy with the developments at San Jose…but we are also expectant on what measures will Piñera take to make sure this does not occur again. All in all, this operation was good for Chile. Piñera has set himself a standard he will have to maintain and a promise he will have to fulfil. Not only to the Chilean public, but to the world.

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