It was ever thus.
The point of this blog is to illustrate this, using parallels with the way the working classes of the mining communities in south Wales were treated by those who governed over them and employed them, and the way the various underclasses of today are treated throughout the world by the elite. The historical information is taken from an excellent website about the mining industry in Wales, www.welshcoalmines.co.uk , but my reason for alluding to it is simply this: It’s easy to see what’s wrong with what was going on a hundred years ago, because our senses have sharpened. It’s not quite so simple to make sense of what’s going on now. So my theme is, look at what’s analogous. I might just as readily chosen the history of soldiering or the navy, or the shipping industry. But I’m related to coal-hewers, and grew up in their care and with their political understanding, therefore I relate to them best.
Little about human nature has changed in 100 years, but much progress has been made.
I appeal for everyone alive to investigate the idea that we all need to find more compassion for the less fortunate, not necessarily for their sake but for everyone’s, rich or poor, as well as our own.
The greed of the ruling classes and mine owners, and the pompous nature of their justifications for the way things were, the way the law supported them in maintaining their position, all these things are a disease of society that is still with us today.
It is a disease that is slow to eradicate, because the ruling classes will always seek to maintain the status quo, and they hold the vast majority of the power and influence in society.
But cast back to the events of a darker age and feel how they resonate with the events of today. The same tricks are in play. They are the tricks of the trade of the conjourer -deceit, distraction, obfuscation. They are the stock in trade of the career politician – hooray words and dire warnings stirred in with a little charm to keep things they way they like them, with them in power with the concomitant prestige they enjoy so much. Politics now is riven with professional politicians, few of whom seek real change, all of whom seek after power via backing through corporate interests.
Few people are to be found advancing the idea that a more equal society is a happier one for rich and poor alike. Few people recognise the dangers of allowing vast companies to be the most powerful entities the world has ever known.
It has been said that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. The lesson of the history of mining is that anyone you gift the status of being the ruling classes has the capacity to be endlessly greedy, and only one thing motivates them to the affectation of a more enlightened frame of mind – the fear that they might lose all they have in a violent uprising.
Greed and fear.
The prime movers of human ambition.
They fuel the ridiculous canards of our various religions.
Greed – you’ll live forever and go to paradise!
Fear – you’ll be punished forever in ways more ghastly than you can imagine, unless you do as you’re told.
Slowly, human-kind is growing up. But we have a good long way to go. It’s within our grasp to end war and discard religion. What sunlit uplands then? Our imagination can hardly encompass them. The best we can do is to smile, have hope, and take all the steps we can toward them.
Should we condemn the rich? Not any more than we condemn the poor. They are only human, after all. What we should seek is a society that has in place checks and balances to the dark forces we have access to via the human condition.
There is a war raging between those who celebrate and aggrandise greed and fear and those who see greed and fear as dark forces.
I side with those who seek to condemn greed and fear as base and low.
Rich or poor, whenever you find yourself motivated by either, you will also find your well-being in decay, your humanity diminished, and your capacity to enjoy your life hobbled.