petej + redhills   1

Nostalgia Mining | Amber A’Lee Frost
The real commonality among these films, though, is their affection for miners but not so much for workers. To put it another way, the films seem to like miners best when they’re playing a flugelhorn, marching in gay pride parades, or driving their creative children far away from the coalfields so they can dance ballet. Miners were always more than just miners, but it’s a lot harder to talk about the actual jobs they were fighting for. I don’t blame the filmmakers too much for falling short here; it’s hard to explain why preserving such difficult, dangerous, and unhealthy work was so politically strategic, but those jobs gave working-class Brits a hand on the lever of both the welfare state and the industrial policy of the United Kingdom. It’s not that there’s some overlooked romance in pickaxes and pit ponies; workers controlling mining meant that the workers who built the country might be able to run it too, and not in some symbolic, protesty, “whose streets? our streets!” kind of way. I mean really run the country. And they came so damn close.

My fixer says he worries that a recently invigorated love for the miners might have something to do with the fact that they’re no longer a threat to power, and I can’t say I don’t share his concerns. It’s true that there was plenty of vocal support for the miners during the strike, but the difference between mercy and solidarity has become ever-blurrier amid the disastrous global decline of the labor movement. Mercy is for Christians, and solidarity is for socialists. It’s not that the two categories are mutually exclusive (and a little mercy certainly makes the world more bearable), but one is hardly a substitute for the other. Mercy dictates support for the miners because they were wickedly and ruthlessly felled; solidarity dictates support for the miners because the union makes us strong.
UK  mining  miners  coal  MinersStrike  NUM  tradeUnions  history  RedHills  Durham  nostalgia  preservation  ScargillArthur  Stalin  class  film  solidarity 
october 2018 by petej

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