Exploring the Eclipse of Equality

Posts Tagged ‘Class Struggle’

Lust for the Lure of the Mine: The drama of true cost accounting

In Class and Social Stratification on April 9, 2010 at 10:24 am

Where danger is double  and the pleasures are few. Where the rain never falls,  the sun never shines, it’s dark as a dungeon way down in the mines. There’s many a man  I’ve seen in my day who lives just to labor  his whole life away. Like a fiend with his dope  And a drunkard his wine, a man will have lust  for the lure of the mine.

Dark as a Dungeon by Merle Robert Travis

One can’t consume news today without confronting the tragedy of the coal miners in West Virginia, who are still trapped in a coal mine so dangerous that rescuers can’t hazard a rescue without retreat. We have a sister story that has something of a happy ending in China that received almost no coverage here, but which highlights a problem we have as a species–our need for what some scientists call “energy servants,” brings costs that we only face when we can no longer look away. Today, the nation mourns the loss of twenty five miners and fears the loss of four more, but how many of us are thinking about this in global strategic terms? Is there a conflict here that we are missing?

Of course there is reason to blame and to criticize the coal mine’s owner. We have seen quite a few reports on how the coal mine had over a thousand safety warnings in just the past few years. In fact, just prior to the explosion, there were methane warnings and, as Read the rest of this entry »

Farm (R)aid: The collective memory of the Boer

In Africa, Media and Politics on March 31, 2010 at 9:51 am

You take my pride and throw it up against the wall…You take my name and you scandalize it on the street. Oh anything you want to do, I say its alright by me.

John Cougar Mellencamp

There are few better examples of conflict resolution than South Africa. When I was young this was the last remaining symbol of old school racist colonization, and the struggle for freedom, symbolized by Nelson Mandela’s long incarceration, was among the most celebrated of progressive causes. I remember watching Mandela’s release from prison as many from earlier generations remember Kennedy’s assassination. I was sick in bed with the flu and stuck watching TV all day. The euphoria attending the event was well justified because Mandela seems to have been one of those incomparable leaders who can forgive in pursuit of their vision. That is the transformative potential of conflict resolution. The inspiring part of this story is that it happened and could happen again. The worrying part is that it may depend integrally on the quality and character of the leadership of particular individuals. There is a fear that Nixon was right: politics is not a science.

Here we are, just over twenty years from Mandela’s release and the signs from South Africa are positive with clear signs of strain. You see, the core of the claims in recognition struggles, like those against racism, is usually not recognition itself but something more foundational to liberalism like formal liberty or the equalization of life chances–i.e. class. What is troubling about most successful resolutions is that they move forward in baby steps by moving toward equalization of life chances, but not by achieving it outright. As Read the rest of this entry »