The Absent Dingies of Fitzwilliam and the too few of Frickley

Colliery's still pristine  Spoil Heap


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       Penetrating deeper into West Yorkshire we come upon the former Kinsley Drift mine at Fitzwilliam, a little station between Doncaster and Wakefield on the main London  to Leeds line. It was the scene of one of the most notorious incidents during the miners' strike of 1984/85 when the Metropolitan police rode into town manacling grannies to lampposts. This was followed by a splendid four day uprising as the whole community rose up. When the pit closed in late 1980s it was turned into a country park, as was the site of Rothwell colliery, a few miles further north on the Leeds boundary.

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      It was run initially by the Fitzwilliam Country Park Group in Pontefract, their stated aim being to 'transform the former colliery site into a country park developed and managed by the local community'. In comparison to the vast sums spent on the post millennium brutal spoil heap makeovers, it is pitiful to see the group proudly announce that it had received a £5,325. 37 pence award, quantified, note well, down to the very last penny and not half a million pounds. This paltry sum was used to fund the following:

1) 'the creation of pond dipping platforms to allow safe access to the waters edge'

2) 'the improving of existing wild life habitat through the planting of a range of native wildflower species as part of the site'

3) 'the practise of training to help volunteers better look after and participate in future environmental projects and activities in the park'

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      After the former drift mine's bits and pieces had been removed and a coal chute dismantled, the original topography, apart from the addition of a few ballast paths, was left as it was. The old shale base still grins through the sparse soil, which has been seeded with clover, cranesbill and birds foot trefoil most of which had probably taken root there prior to the pit's closure. The only real eyesore is a pointless aesthetic one, a  re-creation of a neolithic circle made from carved tree trunks echoing a similar structure in the nearby Rothwell Country Park that inanely mimics the fascinating neolithic cup and ring carvings to be found at Ilkley and Baildon Moor a little to the west of the former colliery site. Pandering to a hugely harmful corporate fashion for sculpture in public places, this runaway convention that continually pushes back the limits of the  gargantuan, merely spoils the view and is now very regrettably part of formulaic conservationist orthodoxy which can't leave well alone. Although we objected to this faking it at the time, little did we realise far worse was to come. However, despite the sensitive seeding, and perfect though the terrain is, there are no Dingy Skippers at Fitzwilliam. Every year since 2003 we scour the place but so far none have arrived, which only goes to show what a painfully slow coloniser the butterfly is and why its piecemeal destruction is so irreversible and tragic.

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      We wondered also if the Dingy Skipper had made it to the ground around the former Ferrymoor Riddings Colliery, a former huge, concrete and Stalinoid-looking structure similar to the one at Gascoyne Wood, which stood midway between Frickley Colliery and Fitzwilliam and also just to the side of the main railway line. The area has now been 'ecologically' landscaped (i.e. swept clean of nature), and a modern executive estate now occupies part of the site but we recall there was formerly enough bare ground here, and possibly trefoil, to have supported a small colony of Dingy Skippers.

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     (The following is a read-out behind particular camcorder clips) But then we move onto the former Frickley Colliery. All that is now left to mark its end is this awesome spoil heap that could pass as a geological feature. Though generally regarded as an eyesore, it rears above South Elmsall, also on the main line, like an industrial Ilkley Moor. However older locals still feel passionately about the pit and the spoil heap and a still living symbol of a way of life that has been destroyed. One of the largest pits in the country, Frickley used to employ 2000 people before closing in 1993, and almost 10 years previously, 400 police were employed to escort two miners back to work during the legendary miners' strike.

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               Yet the pit is more than just alive in some unwanted peoples' imagination, for the spoil heap had begun to regenerate itself and find a new life. On these magnificent shale slopes, birch, oaks and other trees had started to take root and if left would have eventually conquered this primordial industrial wilderness of 300 million year old rock.The tree cover is still sparse but interspersed among it are occasional very small Dingy Skipper colonies. It was on May 22nd 2004 that we first found a tiny colony numbering around 15 in an area half a mile from Frickley Hall and right next to the railway line running from Sheffield to Moorthorpe. Of course we had hoped to find many more in the immediate vicinity but in this we were disappointed. Before us there stretched a vast blanket of trefoil practically as far as the eye could see. However it was treeless and devoid of wind breaks, though on a hot day the butterflies may well be tempted to roam far from their sheltered corner in which there was a sizeable copse of maturing sycamore and birch trees. It was at once obvious to us that this colony would rapidly expand if suitable tree cover was provided.

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       Continuing on around the base of this sublime industrial mountain, we eventually found another miniscule colony. To photograph a lone specimen we had to climb over the fence that skirted the concreted industrial roadway still used by utility vehicles, dumper trucks and so forth. The two colonies were maybe a mile apart, which may provide an indication as to how long the butterfly has been at Frickley, seeing it is so averse to travelling. But it was by no means an exhaustive search and time was pressing and there could easily be other small colonies hidden away in some fold or gully sheltered from the wind.

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        We speculated on how the butterfly might have got here and its curious absence generally from West Yorks, despite the existence of large areas of trefoil and bare earth that suits the butterfly. Sightings of the butterfly in West Yorks over the last decade have been few and far between - singletons at Kippax, a couple at Weldale and Castleford etc. Though it takes some believing, it is not found on the hectares of trefoil that cover large parts of the approaches to the RSPB reserve at Fairburn Ings and a prime example of how abandoned mine workings, in fact going back to Roman times, can, with minimal effort, be converted into a successful wildlife reserve. And why isn't the butterfly at Upton or along the trefoil rich railway verges between Featherstone and Streethouses? The same can be said about the unofficial 'nature reserve' around the Skelton Grange Power Station at Stourton in Leeds or the close by, and far more formal country park, at Rothwell. Is it only a matter of time? In which case it will be instructive to record how quickly the Dingy Skipper spreads if it does finally succeed in colonizing these suitable areas, or what appear to be suitable areas. Once there it also would provide valuable information on rates of colonization that cannot be had in the south of England where the butterfly's range is drastically contracting.

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      We took a distant view of this strange, compelling landscape from across the Sheffield to Moorthorpe railway line that separates the centuries' old spoil heap from the vast rolling hills and plains where Frickley's recent pit shaft stood. This Mayan-like feature artlessly evolved out of the practise of tipping buckets of spoil from a mechanical conveyor that ran back to the pit head. Many pits had them and most unusual features they were too and as children we watched fascinated as the contents of the buckets that glided silently over our heads were tipped far out into the sea off the Co. Durham coastline, to there form miniature reefs.  Note how the sunlight and shade play on the contours of this earth work that easily puts to shame the self conscious, pretentious efforts of money grubbing land artists who may well find employment on the forthcoming Frickley makeover, scheduled for the spring of 2007. At Kiveton a similar feature had been destroyed by the brutally insensitive makeover.

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        (Place clips here) In this speeded-up version of mating Common Blue butterflies on Frickley spoil heap observe the play of light, rather like on the Mayan feature!

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       Rounding a bluff we came face to face with yet another anodyne housing estate with the obligatory banqueting suite decked out in flags, sealing, we even then suspected in the spring of 2004, the fate of  Frickley's Pennine-like spoil heap. Eye candy for prospective home owners this new Barratts estate is sold as a total consumer dream to be pitted against the supposed nightmare dereliction and eyesore of the former Frickley spoil heap.

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      Twenty years ago South Elmsall  railway station had been covered in graffiti, some of it still quite imaginative. A clock face, its hands long gone, had been flo-penned with arrows indicating several different times of the day. And on the platform South Elmsall had been crossed out and re-named New York.

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        Only a short while way back, the road leading from the station through the Westfield lane precinct to Frickley Colliery would locally be referred to as 'The Bronx' as the once vibrant friendly mining community gave way to Class A drug dealing, burglary and mugging, following the pit closure programme of the early 1990s.

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      The present landowners are Wakefield District Council and the former Frickley colliery is to be transformed into 'an attractive high quality landscape' when compared with the present unattractive low quality landscape that is so appealing to nature and us humans that still have some sensibility left. It is going to cost £9. 9 million the same amount as was spent on the Kiveton spoil heap makeover, the money coming from English Partnerships through its national coalfield programme. To what extent Yorkshire Forward (or Backward) will be involved is not clear though the task of reclaiming the derelict land and making it into a, 'creatively landscaped countryside park' is to be contracted to - who else? - but Renaissance South Yorkshire because of its growing expertise in ruining landscapes and destroying wild life. 84 hectares of brownfield land is to be regenerated - or rather, degenerated - to create - 80 hectares of public open space delivering up to 157 new homes and attract 20 million in investment". Amazing, isn't it, how its always £20 million that will be attracted for this has now become redevelopment by rote.

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        The words used to describe this phoenix set to rise from the ashes of the Frickley spoil heap are equally mechanical. Neil Mortimer, Head of Coalfields for English Partnerships, has gone on record as saying 'this project will bring previously developed and derelict land back into use as a valuable amenity asset for the benefit of the local community, support housing market renewal in Westfield Lane development area and deliver homes to an advanced environmental standard. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."

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        The emphasis upon sport is new, for the Westfield Lane area currently contains playing fields, a football club and a cricket club. There are also, 'some underused allotments', which in terms of the built environment, are definitely amongst the most interesting, inventive structures in South Elmsall as allotments in former mining areas often are. They will have to go for that very reason, to be replaced by glistening new sports facilities no one needs, what's already there being quite good enough. However that is not the point because what's  important about sport today - and the 2012 Olympics proves it - is that it hooks people on sport logos, designer wear, brands and other assorted images of modern day living, including high speed transit and vast urban redevelopment projects, all of which ultimately power the credit mechanism essential to the survival of capitalism.

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        There are other, almost imperceptible, shifts of emphasis. Councillor Phil Dobson of the Wakefield Metropolitan District Council parrots the 'creative landscaping option', this new inflection overlaying the secondary consideration of the bio-remediation of contaminated spoil essential to the selling of the Kiveton and Dinnington makeovers. He says 'the immediate environment in the area is very poor' which could be interpreted as an aesthetic judgement rather that one concerning health and safety, particularly when he adds  'enacting significant environmental enhancement' will improve 'the housing market renewal effort'. The language could be fresh out of a Labour party post modernist think tank with talk of 'added value' and concern for 'image' coming before 'health and housing renewal improvement'.   

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       Looking down from the summit of Frickley spoil heap we noticed a lone, half-demolished house in the Westfield Lane area, the line of the missing staircase still visible on the exposed interior wall. We both immediately thought of Rachel Whiteread, her cast of the interior space of a house at 193, Grove Rd, in Bow in East London winning her the 1993 Turner Prize.

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         There was far more to this instantaneous recognition than mere random association based on a visual similarity.'Sculptor' Whiteread's 'House' had became a focus for debate about contemporary art in the UK drawing millions of ordinary people into an avant-gardist bamboozlement based on a betrayal of a revolutionary project that called for the abolition of capitalism and the suppression and realisation of art. No expense had to be spared in its killing off and only the growing wall of money could afford the fees the hit men and women of the contemporary avant-garde counter revolution were demanding. This process had already been set in motion by the likes of Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin though they were just too stupid to know that, their idiocies selling for increasingly huge sums of money. They were also very gallery orientated but Whiteread's House marked a deceptive transition to the world outside. House gained her an international reputation and from then on the commissions have never ceased to flow in, or the offers of exhibitions.

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       However House was a defining moment in the construction of New Labour and for politics in general. The Labour party dominated Bow Council and its old labour councillors were made to look culturally illiterate fools when they rejected an appeal to keep House in place. The council leader, Eric Flounder, had described House as 'utter rubbish' the concrete cast being demolished just as Rachel Whiteread was receiving the £20,000 Turner prize from Channel 4 TV. This laudable instance of municipal vandalism was unfortunately a defence of defunct traditional values and done in ignorance of the real revolution of modern art but, which Whiteread is equally guilty of in fact.

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        One of the gurus of New Labour, the Guardian journalist, Hugo Young described House as 'a modern masterpiece' probably taking his cue from the sculptor, Sir Anthony Caro who thought the same. To New Labour, a Knight of the Realm cannot possibly be wrong. When the fame of House went international it took in the likes of the Arabic TV station, Al Jazeera who closely followed the debate surrounding the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square, Rachel Whiteread producing an upside down fibre glass replica of the plinth to stand on top, which later sold for £300, 000. Osama Bin Laden may yet find a use for her 'talents'. The recent installations in the West Bank by artists like Banksy are edifying solely as a measure of the depth to which artists can sink, who also stepped, though just a little, outside the traditional gallery arena and like Whiteread, to grotesquely dishonour the good name of contestation and intervention, the better to line his pockets.

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        House was described as an 'intervention.' It was, though not a revolutionary one as the term once implied over thirty years ago. It attracted visitors in their thousands and led to a widespread debate in the national press. In the House of Commons a motion was tabled to stop its impending demolition. However the debate over House was irrelevant in its entirety, and, search as far and as wide as you may, not one relevant word was ever spoken or written on the subject.

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        We  have drifted far from the moment we first espied the forlorn looking, partially wrecked house, in Westfield Lane at the foot of  Frickley spoil heap. However there is a deep connection between it and the house that sparked Whiteread's  intervention in the housing market. Like Greenwich Village in the post Second World War years, the East End of London had, a few years later from the mid 1960s onwards, attracted many artists who had temporarily occupied condemned properties like the one Rachel Whiteread, furnished with a £50, 000 grant from Artangel and Beck's Beer, was to convert into a pointless piece of sculpture.

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       Paradoxically they and others like them were the shock troops of gentrification and of the so-called urban renaissance now sweeping East London clean of the last remnants of industry and an industrial proletariat. In its place we now have an East End increasingly given over to finance and a boom in property prices, a Square Mile that has grown into many more square miles intent on now sweeping down the Thames Gateway and into the sea, trampling everything under foot as it goes, like the astonishingly varied and rare insect life.

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       In retrospect there is no more appropriate symbol of this process than House which anticipated an economy that functions on asset appreciation, especially housing, this particular housing artefact offering a cultural rebranding of the  seedy vulgarities of an astronomically rising property market.

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       Frickley and the neighbouring South Elmsall are at least a couple of hundred miles north of the City of London, a place that has long been regarded as an off-shore island and now an Island State. However the same criteria apply  and the difference between the two is one of degree not kind, London also experiencing a rapid deindustrialization in the last two decades of the 20th century, just as well over half the mortgages in the UK are lent within a five mile radius of Leeds.

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       Whiteread's House gave rise to an unbelievable amount of pretentious commentary that is good for a laugh though nothing else. 'Houses are loaded' is one such comment. Another goes 'nothing is more real than nothing' which refers to the fact that she casts not the objects themselves but the space in between. Whiteread could have been the author of the inane comment 'Housing is a form of vulnerability' but that unflattering honour goes to Anthony Gormley. For a really profound commentary on housing there is little to equal Ibsen's in 'The Master Builder'  in which he comes to the conclusion people are no longer able to live in houses.

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       Neither this level of realism nor the unrestrained silliness of the former can as yet be heard coming from the mouths of council officials, though it has to happen seeing that local councils are increasingly covering themselves in the mantle of art as an inducement to developers. In January 2007, the Middlesbrough Institute of modern art - MIMA for short - was opened, the town's mayor, Ray Mallon, claiming 'it is not going to be profitable but what it can do is make the town profitable'.  The possibility of Middlesbrough becoming a 'designer-label town' may not be as unlikely as it seems, for in the same month, the council signed a deal with Bio-Regional Quintain, a development firm, to spend £200 million on a housing, shops, offices, restaurant and leisure facilities project on disused docks close to where the Grayling butterfly has colonised a derelict siding.

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       This mixing of art and nature into a single commodity by councils, regional bodies and development firms chosen like a washing powder because of the thoroughness of their bio-action, is likely to be the combination chosen for the Frickley spoil heap. Instead of Rachel Whiteread a Jeremy Deller type, also a Turner Prize winner, will be judged more appropriate considering a week rarely goes by without some alarming headline predicting destruction and then idiotically demanding action now from world leaders rather than egg people on to take matters into their own hands.

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        Deller, it will be remembered, won the 2004 Turner Prize with a video of millions of bats leaving a cave in Mexico that challenged the orthodoxies of natural history filmmaking: for minutes on end  the camera angle never varied nor the focus altered. He also restaged for television, the epic Battle of Orgreave that took place during the miners' strike without ever letting us know who's side he was really on, his standpoint remaining that of a chronicler. He is now at work on a bathouse for the Barnes Wetland Centre on the Thames embankment.              

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       And thereby hangs a tale. Delving into the origins of the Barnes Wetlands Centre it soon came to light it was largely the creation of one of the UK's biggest property developers, the Berkeley Group plc. working in partnership with Thames Water and the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust. The Berkeley Group has chosen for its logo an heraldic shield giving the impression it is as old as England's monarchy though the group was in fact established in 1976. It initially focussed on the construction of single houses and executive developments. These nauseating examples of home counties, stockbroker tudor were a sort of architectural finger wagging directed at an insurgent, still largely, industrial working class. As the company grew it was broken up into several divisions which were 'granted a high degree of autonomy to ensure the entrepreneurial spirit was not lost' reflecting  the growing neoliberalism that was beginning to take possession of UK plc. Come the 1990s, the Berkeley Group woke up to the fact fortunes could be made from developing brownfield sites setting up what it called a 'high quality landbank' meaning it was in the business of purchasing prime location, derelict brownfield sites. These included the Woolwich Royal Arsenal, Imperial Wharf in Battersea and the Chelsea Bridge Wharf. In 1850 the latter was a railway freight terminus, the Berkeley Group purchasing the derelict site in 1999.

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        What happens next is like reading from a script prepared by Yorkshire Forward/ Renaissance South Yorkshire or any other of the supposedly nature conscious, bio-remediation firms involved in the makeovers of the pit spoil heaps several years later. First of all the Berkeley group claims 'an extensive ground investigation was carried out and unsurprisingly the site was heavily contaminated and extensive remediation works were undertaken'. Where have we heard this before? And where have we heard the following: 'The site benefits from a carefully designed mix of  public landscaped areas comprising water features, and landscape planting carefully selected to promote biodiversity and local wildlife.The landscape has been designed to encourage bird habitation in accordance with a bird nesting and foraging strategy agreed with the local authority. The extensive landscape water features uses clean water through natural oxygenation. Walings have been installed along the river wall to encourage habituation by invertebrates at low tide.' Lets spare ourselves any further torture as we longingly look back to the days when Chelsea Bridge Wharf was a rail terminus and close to the site of Turner's 'Rail, Steam and Speed' where a hare is to be seen pelting in front of the approaching train.

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      Of all the UK's conservation centres the Barnes Wetland Centre is by far the coolest: meaning it is the most open to an art world that is taking up the cause of nature minus an anti capitalist perspective and is therefore little different from what property developers are doing in terms of concealing the truth. In 2006, the Wetlands Centre was host to a Pestival which barely concealed its artistic pretensions behind the declared aim of raising invertebrate awareness. Supported by 'Buglife', the insect conservation group, this 'first international arts pestival' was also a means of capitalising insects 'through appreciation of insects in art and the art of being an insect' a from of valorization that is different from the trade in dead stock of yesteryear and which today confers value on the artist who, for example, state insects are art and by so doing raise their own net worth as another brand-me-plc. The important thing however is to stick with the art of being an artist for without it the cash flow and job opportunities will instantly dry up.

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        Unable to push things through to a logical conclusion and turn his back on art, this is the syndrome Jeremy Deller is caught up in. On the strength of his bat film that clinched the Turner Prize for him in 2004, Deller has been invited to participate in a project supported by the Bat Conservation Trust, the Arts Council, The Royal Society of Arts, the Mayor of London and the Wildfowl Trust to select a final design for a bat house that will be built in the Barnes Wetland Centre. Recalling his original film he said 'in Texas some bat lovers have excavated caves and built towers on their land to encourage bat settlement. I'm interested in initiating a project suitable for bats. In this structure the bats are our clients and we hope to accommodate different species that have different housing needs the raising of a family, hibernation etc'.

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        Fine, absolutely nothing at all wrong with this and we could all benefit from a closer study of nature's wants using that  as a basis on which to start building society from scratch. Except Deller then has to make the bat house into a pointless 'work of art', a conception not all that different to Tecton's famous Penguin Pool in London zoo built during the interwar years featuring  helical concrete slides the penguins' rejected but architects, scorning the penguins' philistine narrowness, could only marvel at. And what will distinguish the Texan bat towers from the Barnes bat house? Why art of course. And why is it art and the Texan bat towers not? Because a former Turner Prize winner says so. QED. Marcel Duchamp's inconclusive comment that 'everything an artist spits is art'  always did need rounding-off. However there was to be no satisfying sequel, Duchamp not living long enough to see how his fragmentary credo would become indispensable to capitalism.

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        Deller obviously wants his bat house to become a source of architectural/urban renewal and to 'highlight the need for architects, builders, homeowners and course designers, to work together to produce wild life friendly building design and a provide a real solution'. New build is not just hostile to wild life but also to humans but to stress this really would be rocking the boat because it could mean raising the social question by bringing nature and the survival of humanity closer together. Deller also adds; 'The project builds on the Mayor of London's policies to raise awareness of urban biodiversity and to support the survival of London's ten bat species' This is opportunism of the worst sort and the unashamedly right wing Economist  is far nearer the truth when it pointed out in its edition of June 3rd 2004:  'On planning Mr Livingstone has delighted London's businessmen. He has used his powers to allow through schemes for a rash of new skyscrapers which outrage conservationists but promise jobs, cash and the visual thrill that comes when new buildings slice the skyline'.

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        Deller also received an invite to Buckingham Palace and, worse still, honoured it. But there again the more meaningful Buglife was quick to respond to an invite from No 10 to discuss the fate of the Occidental site on Canvey Island in the Thames Gateway with Tony Blair and Hazel Blears and more than happy to be photographed with them. Using the photo as a proud header to the Buglife website, that superb anagram of Blair's name, Bliar, meant nothing to the group. Had Buglife really understood that the equivocation on Blair's name was an indicator of how deliberate lying had become a way of life, the group would not have stepped into this political trap in the first place and the more wide ranging, inventive but realistic way of thinking and acting that it reflected, far more likely to guarantee the conservation of species. Buglife was also unable to assess critically the Pestival staged at the London Wetlands Centre, seduced into an  acceptance largely on account of the Pestival's educational aim to raise awareness of this neglected taxon still suffering from a bad press dating back millennia.

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        The miners' strike and the wholesale closure of the pits and the spoil heaps that were left behind were a watershed in more ways than one. From the mid 1980s conservation groups were to rapidly become more business oriented and ready to hop into bed with big business. This specious pragmatism led them to conclude as Flora and Fauna International did 'the corporate sector is arguably the single most influential group on earth with the power and resources to determine the future of our planet.' Some of the deals were very shady and constantly risked being exposed. The Forum for the Future set up by Jonathan Porritt and Sara Parkin took money from BP, ICI, Tesco and Blue Circle ludicrously claiming these companies have a 'demonstrable commitment to the pursuit of sustainable development'. The World Wide Fund for Nature struck deals with Chevron and BP for which it received £1 million. Chevron said having the WWF on board would act as a buffer  against international environmental criticism.

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        Environmental protest is also very financially damaging to the companies at the receiving end of it. In haste they then recruit ecologists to repair their battered image. Tarmac established an environmental panel after the uproar over the company's contract to build the M3 motorway through Twyford Down in Hampshire. In fact in its annual green report of June 1998 it claimed companies which ignore the environment 'will see their client base wither away and their workforce become disillusioned'. The hot air had barely cooled when Tarmac was served an enforcement order after ripping up hedgerows and trees at the Manchester Airport development.

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       However this co-optation of ecology by corporate business has been a growing problem for the entire conservationist movement for at least twenty years. It has now invaded the political sphere and national and local governments are now very adept at speaking  the trickster language of green advertising which has its origins in  eco/corporate deal making. Given the lamentable record of environmentalism, none of us should be surprised at the devastation unleashed on the former colliery spoil heaps in the name of nature.


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      Seeing time is so short before a holocaust of unimaginable proportions is unleashed on the world, one would expect brand name green organisations, 'radical' ecologist, George Monbiot uncritically lists in his book 'Heat' to be picking up recruits in droves. This is just not happening and though not haemorrhaging members like political parties are, there is a widespread feeling they are all tarred with the same brush and hypocritical to the core.

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      There are signs governments are more worried than reassured  by this mass passivity that is too like a snake feigning death for comfort. Fearing an eventual uncontrollable explosion with no organisation there to deflect it into safe political channels, apprehensive political think tanks such as the Guardian's journalist Madeliene Bunting's Demos are looking to the example of installation art to eventually draw people back into the vacated political/ecological arena. For this reason the forthcoming makeover of Frickley spoil heaps promises to be that bit different from the previous ones and is already emphasizing, as we have seen, the 'creative' aspects of landscaping in preference to conservationist measures. In the summer of 2006 one such installation event took place on the former spoil heap of Cadeby Main colliery situated close by the eight year old, Earth Centre construction near Doncaster in South Yorkshire. 410 lights were installed on the grassed-over former slag heap to be viewed from the Wyre Lady passenger boat on the river Don. We e-mailed the installation artiste if 'grassed-over' meant there had been a spoil heap makeover similar to those taking place at Kiveton, Dinnington, Woolley and so forth but received no answer. Though the artist said she was 'not looking to be like Tracy Emin and make loads of money' she was obviously sufficiently part of a career structure to deem zeros like us not worth the bother of replying to.

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        Though still somewhat gelatinous in character a new career structure with new funding agencies is beginning to appear, reflecting the fact the so-called new space/time art is stepping outside the traditional gallery set up. Though it pretends not to be elitist using volunteer labour to stake out the lights on Cadeby Main or, like Gormley a couple of months later, to help in the construction of Waste Man in Margate, it is elitist to the core. Sticking to the label of art like glue because that is where the money is, it merely affects to deconstruct the barriers between those who produce art and those who observe it. Though constantly pushing in the anti-art direction this tendency can never go the whole hog because that means becoming a nobody. Opting to live a substitute life, the artists who make up this growing tendency will constantly strive to put an end to the eruption of a genuine  'communism of genius' or ' the poetry made by all'. And in its place all they will have, as a poor compensation, is the rule of money, which they make a show of being hostile to, and the poverty of their artistic roles.

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          What separates this latest development from the nonsense of yesteryear, the Emin's, the Hirst's and the rest of the Saatchi mausoleum is the fact that it is growing out of a still mute protest. The Cadeby installation was also a celebration of mining communities and an acknowledgement of the fact Thatcher and her heirs wanted to completely erase any memory of the mining community. Essentially a further prettifying of what appears to be a spoil heap makeover, the Cadeby installation was less ambiguous then Deller's reconstruction of the Battle of Orgreave in that it does take sides. However Deller's wary coquetry in relation to class struggle and ecology, (though never art it has to be said) is more attuned to the times and despite Deller keeping the two quite rigidly separate, is more likely to prove the winning formula. We asked the Cadeby installation artist if there were Dingy Skippers on the spoil heap. We also mentioned the fact that the building of the Earth Centre had destroyed a Marbled White colony, which we found a stupefying act of eco-vandalism given that the butterfly is still a rarity in the north. However unable to help a career on its way we were not even granted the courtesy of an acknowledgment let alone a reply.                                                         

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         To date the most the most advanced expression of this seemingly anti-capitalist, pro art, ecological interweave has to be by John Jordan one of the founders of the Reclaim the Streets movement. But where there was once the art of contestation, like hiding road drills beneath flounced dresses to dig up motorways, there is now the non-existent contestation of art. Jordan has been involved in the creation of a climate change opera 'And While London Burns' which, explores the role of the City in climate change. Performed within the precincts of the Square Mile it has, not unsurprisingly, attracted the sympathetic attention of the news media, particularly TV channels. However in comparison to imaginative acts like dressing up as city gents during the Take Over The City demos of a few years back this eco Punch and Judy show is of no interest whatsoever. It wont change anything either and its only lasting influence will be on the growing fashion for art activism which appears to be subversive though it is anything but. Increasingly a tool of the advertising trade, it can even bring a city to a halt like when a publicity company Interface Inc recently employed two installation artists to creatively distribute circuit boards, which can also be used in bomb making, around Boston, USA, to advertise a cartoon feature. This calculated gamble was an enormous success and the fact the installation artists were placed under arrest only increased the aura of subversion surrounding this advertising coup.


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      Moreover John Jordan is fast becoming a name and the art world today trades more in names and reputation than product and what really counts is whether one makes an impression not being an impressionist. The hot centre of the art trade has moved from the galleries into the dealing rooms of finance houses and London is its new heart. Sooner or later some superlatively rich hedge fund manager, perhaps on the advice of an ultra urbane, stylish, personal fund manager will be encouraged to take a bet on Jordan.  And then the sky rather than atmospheric climate change will be the limit.


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        Very influential arts organisation like the Royal Society of Arts has shown a huge interest in John Jordan. This organisation is now run by Matthew Taylor the former head of Blair's policy unit and son of Laurie Taylor the former Sociologist of Deviancy who built himself a tawdry university career on deliberately misrepresenting the true facts, particularly youth delinquency, behind the radical theorising that led up to the near revolution of May 1968 in France. The careers of this like-father-like-son duo is silent testimony to a critique of art that dares not speak its name but whose shadowy presence is there in everything they do.

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       The RSA, like Platform, an arts and environmentalist activist organisation, is also into promoting land art, the director of the latter, James Marriott, co-writing the eco-opera for the ladies and gents of the City of London. Did they but know there are huge former colliery spoil heaps up north they can spoil even further. This damning indictment of the spoil heap makeovers may even act as a stimulus for them to do just that.

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         Though initially pretending to be a rejection of the pecuniary gallery system when it first really took off in the late 1960s, land art was soon shown to be just money-grubbing megalomania on a pharonic scale even prepared to demolish fragile mountain habitats. However of late it has become more modest in its aims challenging, in one instance in the USA, the constraints of property law by attempting to create a piece of common land owned by the public in perpetuity. By claiming the land to be art it was possible to cite copyright law, particularly the now highly contentious sub-sections dealing with intellectual property rights. Had developers then gone on to treat it as a piece of real estate they could be violating artistic property rights. Now had this clever bit of legal jugglery used the sanctity of art as a weapon against the bourgeoisie then it would have been in the tradition of Bakunin who hung a Raphael from a barricade, finding it to be the most effective weapon of all against the military. Sadly this is not the case however, the right of the artist and not those of the common people being, in the last instance, sacrosanct in this example of art land grab.

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      Back in the UK inner city dereliction has come to be the focus of a growing attention by land artists. Their comments, including those of Banksy on the fast disappearing, rundown East End, do occasionally have merit like the following by a land artist; "Empty spaces are spaces of freedom.They are the only places not designed by architects but still filled with the idea of possibility". This is more than just an incidental criticism of architects but it is one that will never be fully developed. Remaining an artist will put a stop to that because adherence to the role is the most effective method of preventing all out war on other professions and thus the major obstacle to a critique of the totality.

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        The origin of land art in this country goes back to a little known avant-garde group, Icteric in Newcastle over forty years ago and which we helped instigate. But it was so much else beside and even before adopting a far more coherent revolutionary critique of contemporary capitalism and the stultifying division of labour and roles it gives rise to it, had pitted itself against every conceivable form of artistic expression, cringing at the very mention of  the term art. Its memory and example was viciously suppressed precisely because it superceded its intitial searching contradictions.
 
  However that is another story...


                                                                D & S Wise 2007 

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                                   Dodworth Dingies and a By-Pass

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     We first found the Dingy Skipper on the former Dodworth Spoil heap in May 2003. The Barnsley/Huddersfield line skirts the bottom of the muck  stack as it climbs up to Silkstone station and beyond that to Penistone, the site of what could be Britain's highest Dingy Skipper colony. This heritage railway may have played a part in the butterfly's dispersal for Dodworth, assuming colonization went from east to west, lies in the path of the prevailing winds from Penistone, meaning it is less likely colonization proceeded down over from Penistone to Dodworth. However this may forever remain speculation because the heights in and around Penistone have been mined for centuries and the colony of Dingies at Penistone could simply be the last of a number of similar ones that had long established a toehold on this bleakish Pennine landscape.  At the time we thought if new factory units are to be built along the railway line between here and the MI the very heart of the Dingy Skipper colony will stop beating. Alas it was to be far, far worse than we thought.

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     In 2004 a friendly, inquisitive walker who lived close by and asking what we were photographing, informed us that a road has been proposed which is to pass through here to relieve the rush hour congestion caused by the frequent delays at the level crossing before Dodworth station. From what he was saying, it seemed most of Dodworth's residents were opposed to it but common sense and mute, passive petitioning had ceased to matter. The easing of a traffic bottleneck we all know by now will only multiply the problem in the long term  by encouraging the increased use of motorised transport but such sanity has long ceased to matter seeing that money is the only game in town.

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    By the time we found the Dingies at Dodworth, the Dodworth Business Park, that now occupied the land where the former pit once stood, had been in existence for some time. It was then expanding, and still is, on the flat land at the base of the spoil heap. The latter is still clearly visible from anywhere in the village and from the MI motorway, though its now wooded sides, to the untrained eye, means it looks more like a natural feature than a reclaimed spoil heap. Back in 2003 the M1 trunk road was still a gleam in the eyes of the transport planners though by this time the Labour government had gone into reverse gear and backed down over the moratorium on yet more road building. Making suckers of the road protesters by wholeheartedly agreeing with them made it easier for the Labour government to do the opposite, the fraud of utter sincerity being the key to defusing opposition.This drastic change of direction was orchestrated to the tune of fine-sounding words like sustainability, conservation, eco-awareness, reduction in CO2 emissions and all round environmental improvement - words, and combinations of words - which were then rendered valueless because they are now so necessary to the actual process of universal destruction and mean the opposite of what they say.

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          Dodworth pit had been a large one employing approximately 5,800 people and from early 1870 the colliery had worked many different seams with output being around 1200 tonnes a day. The pit had finally closed in 1987, Barnsley Metropolitan Council acquiring the muckheap in early 1990. Along with many other spoil heaps at the same time including Kiveton and Dinnington between 1993/1994 limited remediation work was undertaken. This included capping the spoil with a layer of clay, to limit water ingress, and the development of settling lagoons and the creation of reed beds to treat water run-off. Though done on the cheap it was still very effective as a means of dealing with heavy metal contamination and greatly added to the beauty of the spoil heaps, especially when seeded with trefoil and clover, which must have increased the numbers of Dingy Skippers that were there. Had the nutrient poor clay then been covered with top soil as happened with the hyper makeovers ten years later, the outcome would have been disastrous for the butterfly.

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          In fact Dodworth spoil heap along with the one at Shillbottle near Newcastle became part of a special study that enquired into the feasibility of setting up a permeable reactive barrier for mine water treatment. Considerable interest was shown in this experiment at international mine water conferences, the geo-chemistry of acid mine drainage and the fear that it could lead to the contamination of surface water then beginning to seriously exercise minds as coalfields and iron stone mines throughout the west were closed down. However we were still a long way from today's drastic bio-remediation which has only succeeded in throwing the baby out with the contaminated bath water.

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         Back then however better sense still prevailed, and the chief problem became how best to treat the rain water that fell on the spoil. When oxygenated water percolates through the spoil's pores and cracks, water rock interaction results in contaminated water which may pass into surface waters and underlying aquifers. The degree of contamination varies with the time the rainwater spends in the spoil and the production of polluted acid drainage is termed acid mine drainage and primarily consists of pH and an increase in dissolved metal concentrations.

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         A permeable barrier was erected at Dodworth and forms a culvert at the bottom of the steep south facing slope, the geochemists leaving the collecting of the rainfall in the culvert to the downward pull of gravity. The construction of this culvert took place in 1996 and was lined with limestone, which helps in the precipitation of mobile metals. For all we know it is possible to find plants there that normally would only be found a few miles to the west in the Derbyshire Dales. It was, however, the heart of the Dingy Skipper colony and it remains to be seen if the butterfly can survive the intrusive motorway feeder road that now runs alongside the culvert.

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       Dodworth village is now well into the throws of change. There are a number of council estates at Gilroyd and South Road that once housed the miners and are a legacy of Dodworth's  industrial past. Further development is happening to the west with new housing in Champany Fields and the place is set to become largely a dormitory village, the new houses being purchased by commuters working in Barnsley or Sheffield. The motorway feeder road will only increase the huge proportion of commuters to places even further a field like Leeds and Manchester, commuters having easy access to Manchester along the very busy A638 over Woodhead. Had the Woodhead line not been railroaded into closure in 1980 by the railway-hating, car-crazy Thatcher government, these commuters would now have a far easier time of it, as would the Dingy Skippers at the former Penistone Junction perhaps now spreading far up the line and into the warm, rock railway cuttings toward Stalybridge.

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         Pathways criss-cross the spoil heap. Some have been laid down deliberately others are of an informal nature and all the more interesting for that, because this age old testament to human preference has been all but lost excepting in places such as these. This powerful reminder of what self-determination can achieve is another reason why these  spoil heaps can be left to find their own form. And there can be no doubting how much local people enjoy strolling around these man-made industrial commons that only latterly have truly come in to their own.

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        However the motorway feeder road is going to divide the villagers from their spoil heap. And besides most of those out strolling particularly those getting on in years preferred the flat ground between the muck heap and the railway, the very ground now occupied by the feeder road. The challenge then is to encourage the villagers to use what's left of the remaining spoil heap, a challenge that is bound to fire the feeble imagination of Barnsley's Metropolitan Council that will opt for the kind of amenity makeover we've already had a belly full of in South Yorkshire. Most of the original inhabitants were dead against the motorway feeder road which would by-pass the bottleneck created at Dodworth station, every time the level crossing barriers descends and a warning siren sounds. Once the train has departed the traffic that has backed up behind the barriers can take several minutes to clear. Even in the days of steam, traffic was regularly held up at Dodworth level crossing when there were many more trains than today. However as we live in an age that puts a premium on getting from here to there in double quick time, the delay caused by the level crossing was never going to be tolerated indefinitely.

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         Just up from the level crossing on the A638 and to one side of the new business park called Capitol Park there is the Bluebell Inn motel which was completed only a short while ago in 2005. It was built in the firm hope through traffic in Dodworth would increase once the motorway feeder road is opened. Dodworth is already a traffic hell but it will be doubly so when this happens. The adage if you want to increase traffic then first remove a bottleneck is more true of Dodworth than most places.

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               Cars already travel at speed through Dodworth though that is obviously not fast enough. With increased speed, motorway capacity declines, as it is not safe for cars or lorries to bunch up, the  stopping distance lengthening as cars and lorries accelerate. According to the Royal Academy of Engineering in its pamphlet 'Transport 2050':  'Congestion already costs the UK an estimated £25 billion each year and that figure is expected to double over the next decade as more of our transport reaches capacity'. The Labour government is hell bent on promoting the growth of traffic by building more roads. According to  Dept of Transport statistics for the year 2005, it is spending £11.4 billion on creating more space for traffic. Between 1997 and 2004 car journeys in the UK increased by 9% and a year later, in 2005, the Dept of Transport claimed  'the central projection is for traffic to increase by 26% between 2000 and 2010 implying an annual increase of 2.3% over the whole decade'. Dodworth is being remade in the image of the future, a future that will never arrive because commuter towns like these will be left stranded when oil runs out, its inhabitants at the very least forced to seek alternative forms of transport.

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          We informed environmental consultants employed by Barnsley council of the butterfly's presence at Dodworth. But  because this increasingly rare creature receives no protection under the Wildlife & Countryside Act nor has UK BAP (Bio-diversity Action Plan) status, the motorway feeder road was allowed to go ahead. However we have to be thankful for small mercies; at least the bio-diversity officials were not downright unpleasant with us as some have been in the past. But it did confirm what we've long suspected - that bio-diversity officials are ecological adjuncts of council window dressing, merely there to show off its green image.

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       Almost certainly the Dingy Skipper would, not so long ago in the 1990s, have been found on the flat land where the pit once stood and is today occupied by Dodworth Business Park. This is predictably made up of serial big-box constructions whose surrounds have been landscaped and horticulturised in the usual business-like, nature hostile, manner. Flanked by acres of car parking, in between there are appealing patches of un-modernised earth  with patches of trefoil growing on them. Perhaps the occasional Dingy Skipper strays onto these areas but we didn't see any. The vanquished old industry has given way to ubiquitous box construction tending to the windowless - lit by artificial light day and night - and surrounded by a manicured, often non-indigenous shrubbery and tidy parking lots giving a contemporary, even bizarre  twist to William Blake's description of "dark satanic mills". This new setting is in reality farther removed from nature  than anything experienced in the paleo-industrial era. Here it has to be said, there are also other areas worth investigating like the embankment that slopes down to the  MI motorway cutting near Dodworth.

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         However it seems likely the remaining Dingy Skippers have been pushed back onto the steep sided spoil heap, the terrain at the bottom having now become far too hostile for the butterfly's liking. From the  summit there are splendid views over the surrounding countryside. Baildon and Ilkley Moor are easily visible in the distance as is Penistone and the former spoil heap of Woolley Coliery. Though practically bare of trees it hosts a resilient population of Dingies that is doing quite well, particularly where the carr woodland thins out close to the top. However on much of the spoil heap the invasive carr woodland is so thick that not even trefoil can survive, never mind the Dingy Skipper. Both in response to conservation measures from the 1960s onwards, requiring that the management of industrial tailings be the responsibilities of the extractive or milling industries and the Aberfan disaster where many children were killed, the spoil heap proper has, over the past 30 years, received a considerable amount of attention. So far this attention has not unduly harmed the spoil heap's wild life and may actually have helped it. However what lies in store for it is another thing entirely.

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           Finally though it was up to the locals themselves. Though many people living in Dodworth pit village opposed the new road because over the years, the spoil heap became their strange through beautiful recreational area, no determined rank 'n' file group  came into existence to protect their unusual playground. Such a group could have made a real difference and in combating the reign of universal passivity and present day "thin democracy" - designed to make people feel utterly helpless - become a much needed beacon for others perhaps to follow suit...

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          Second only to Wakefield in all of Yorkshire, Barnsley Metropolitan Council had, at the turn of the millennia,  207 hectares of derelict land. We believe there are still colonies waiting to be discovered round and about and would heartily recommend that the area is thoroughly gone over in the sure knowledge such efforts will meet with success.

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Tractored out by the Cats:  The Woolley Colliery Dingy

Skippers 


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      This former colliery site still signposted on bus indicators as Woolley Colliery sits astride both Barnsley and Wakefield municipal councils. The total area covered by the spoil heap is enormous and it took several visits  to completely cover the site from end to end. To judge from the amount of undisturbed trefoil we were finding tucked away on gentle slopes and in folds and hollows, this gigantic spoil heap must, we believe, have once hosted the largest colony of Dingy Skippers of all Yorkshire's spoil heaps. The colliery lies just within the boundaries of West Yorkshire and for sure the butterfly does not appear to have moved much beyond Woolley into West Yorks.

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       None the less, even in 2004 we reckoned at the height of the emergence there were about 3000 plus Dingy Skippers on the wing here. That year, alas, marked a peak in numbers and thereafter the butterfly began to decline very drastically, though it still may be possible to find isolated pockets of Dingy Skippers in some out of the way fold where the butterfly is just to say  clinging on. There is in particular  one spoil escarpment that lies at the far side of Woolley Edge Lane, a busy road that skirts the top of the largely 19th and 20th century pit heap. On our reckoning this was centuries old and formed part of the colliery's early workings. Despite its elevated position, with a magnificent view across to Grimethorpe and beyond, there was enough tree cover to provide shelter from the wind for a colony of Dingy Skippers. Moreover there was plenty of birds foot trefoil about which would merely strengthen our argument the butterfly has been on these spoil heaps for over a millennia, possibly going back to Roman times.

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     (The following is a read-out behind particular camcorder clips) We are still back in 2004 ---- the Bluebell Rd bus stop -----and an old  Coal Authority sign ------ shale piled upon shale forming strange man made geological features as if not of this earth and definitely from another planet which nobody in their right mind would ever want to see rolled flat  and made ready for the next, unspeakably boring, legoland house. And then the patches of  trefoil and sudden lines of birch carr woodland, the larval flows of 300 million year old spoil traversed by rivulets of water all adding to the fascinating topography. It is ugly to developers and business people, to politicians and landscape architects, to philistines with a warped love of money but not to us - nor the butterflies of industrial dereliction. And when we espied a sewing machine stuck up a tree we knew that beautician of nonconforming ugliness, Lautreamont, would, if he were alive today, also find remarkable.  

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        When we first 'discovered' Woolley, a large section of the spoil heap had either been recently planted with trees, covered with soil and then farmed. Or turned into open cast or the terrain flattened to attract developers or used as a landfill site ' at that time there were two longish barrows of incinerated plaster board giving of an unpleasant odour of ash and burnt gypsum. The reclaimed area was so extensive (and barren of all vegetation and life) it could have  supported not only a sprawling housing estate but a small, out-of-town shopping centre, as well. However, the new development was to be a cut above that vulgar conception!

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     (The following is a read-out behind particular camcorder clips) This is Woolley two years on in 2006 and way in the distance is the new estate. This is no tacky Barretts housing experience for the lower orders and has been named Woolley Grange, the large stone gateway that bears that inscription like the entrance to a landed estate. This new estate has an outlook over the surrounding countryside toward Denby Dale and the Derbyshire hills no other colliery spoil heap in all of Yorkshire can match and shortly there will be nothing to remind anyone this was formerly a huge pit spoil heap and Arthur Scargill, General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, once worked here.

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      The estate has been modelled to fit in with the outlying Woolley Village that  gives off an  aristocratic air, though more improving 18th century landlord than old style aristocracy, more built on financial risk taking in the East India Company than being in receipt of hereditary wealth, more Cock Robin (i.e. the Prime Minister and speculator, Robert 'Pillage' Walpole) than the Gothic novel of his namesake, Horace Walpole. The new estate is deliberately neo-Georgian in character and has snob appeal written all over it. Mercs slide through the new imposing sandstone portals down the now horticulturally manicured gently sloping incline rather than the former 1 in 3 steep gradient that lorry drivers on their way to the colliery went in dread of, especially when the road was a sheet of ice.

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       To the side of the new estate there is the old, red bricked, terraced pit village that house the people left behind by the value added, new economy. They are hostile to the newcomers and very basic graffiti leaves one in no doubt of that. And though what's left of the old spoil heap gets smaller each day, whilst it is still possible to see the black on black mounds of shale and slurry, they at least have something outside their doors they can recognise and feel at ease with in the old landscape of old, discarded, lives.

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      Now nearby Barnsley hasn't just got an image problem like other former industrial towns in the north. It has been eaten away by a plague it will do anything to kill off once and for all. Barnsley has had to live with the knowledge that the closure of a little pit, Cortonwood, not far from the city centre, sparked off the great miners' strike of 1984/85. It no longer wants to be reminded of this and will go to any length to be rid of that damaging memory. It is now prepared to spend vast sums of money to refashion the town in the likeness of a Tuscan Hill town, which is as different as can be from its 'infamous' mining past that the new hip authorities are inclined to view it. This was the idea that  the so-called visionary architect Will Alsop, who joined the regeneration team in 2002, came up with. Alsop is renowned, just like his much older colleagues in the long dead and gone Archigram project, for dreaming up autocratic schemes on paper and his plan for Barnsley is not a piece-meal rejigging but a remaking from scratch, an approach which accords with the town councils longing to bury the past. Alsop's plan marks a further step toward the integration of avant-garde art into everyday life like his scheme to ring the town with searchlights that will shine an Yves Klein blue at night. In fact the plan has been rather successfully satirised by a local ham poet by the name of Ian McMillan, which could almost be an anagram of William McGonegall: 'Barnsley is a Tuscan hill village, there is no doubt about it, Barnsley is a Tuscan Hill village. The red roofs of the simple houses glow like tomatoes in Barnsley market in the impossibly beautiful light of the gala bingo by the bus station. Barnsley is a Tuscan hill village, Barnsley is'.

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        Just opposite the former Woolley colliery spoil heap on the far side of  the M1 there is a highly 'successful' business park. Formerly one of the units now called Premdor (a furniture factory) belonged to Spring Ram. This company manufactured a range of bathroom suites which a few years back attracted the notice of the Economist magazine as an example of how the north's industrial base could be remade. Had there already been a modern housing estate on Woolley Colliery it would have made business sense to locate its showrooms here just across the way from the factory. As the proxy of decorative sanitary ware progressively replaces essential hygiene, Spring Ram's 'stylish' tat could well have been all the rage.

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       We can say that at the present time a large flourishing population of Dingy Skippers resides at the base of this enormous spoil heap probably still numbering hundreds at the height of the emergence. It runs parallel to the MI (a mere 1000 yards away) and the railway line from Sheffield to Leeds. Going from a row of industrial cottages, Haigh Mews, it extends around the perimeter of several ponds into which flood waters from the pit are still pumped and terminates where the railway line passes through a thickly wooded cutting just before Darton station. The latter area is classic industrial habitat almost to the point of caricature and we have yet to take a photograph of the Dingy here that sums up the spirit of the place. There is a fenced-off area containing an industrial waterfall caked with iron oxides, a graffiti covered brick outhouse, wartime hockey stick  posts of crumbling concrete with the rusting steel reinforcing  showing through, storm drains, ballast on which, wisps of desiccated grass,  shrubs of goat willow and trefoil are  growing. Every now and then a train passes, sometimes within inches of a resting Dingy Skipper.

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       Here we take a closer look at the industrial fountain that still pumps contaminated water out of the closed off galleries far below of the former Woolley pit. Every so often it stops then starts up again after a few hours of inactivity and silence. There is no nuanced resonance, no sound of Dippers to be singled out, in fact no natural music at all in the sound of this industrial waterfall, just a dull unwavering roar like that of a water main turned on full blast. Yet it is a mesmerizing object in its own right and we would hate to see it go. And so would 'sculptor' Anthony 'Gormless' Gormley who is rightly fascinated with the north's heavy industry leftovers. He would only ever get rid of it on the condition he was commissioned to replace it with one of his own wretched bits of metal tomfoolery costing millions of pounds. A Gormley inspired artistic rebaptism would instantly kill of the site's beauty, made all the more potent because Dingy Skippers still fly all around the new steel fencing that has recently been erected in place of the old mesh fencing that had been cut in places and provided an almost unimpeded view of the water pump. We know we could never hope to reproduce the industrial water shoot's magic and would never contemplate doing so, not even for all the readies in Gormley's bank account. However the fountain still serves a useful purpose and without it the mine workings below would flood and the spoil substrata beneath the housing estate become waterlogged, causing subsidence and heavy metal contamination.

                                                                                                                          12

         The pit ponds are located on both sides of the rail track connected by a tunnel that goes under the Barnsley/Wakefield railway line. One of the pit ponds before 2006 had even been turned into a fishpond, which anglers frequently used before it too was judged a danger and fenced-off. This 'new enclosure' had to be at the behest of  the Health & Safety Executive now mindful that the children of this top drawer executive estate could venture out of doors, and, in the absence of parental supervision, start to play around these ponds, just like miners' children once did.  So far we cannot say if the Dingy Skipper is to found in this area between the railway and the MI motorway but very likely it will be here as there is enough bare earth and trefoil.

                                                                                                                          13

        In fact the path traversing the pit heap on which the Dingy Skippers are to be seen is part of the old Dearne Valley Way series of footpaths. One of them, as it climbs up from Haigh Mews, formerly a row of miners' cottages, to Woolley Edge Lane at the top of the spoil heap, not only becomes impassable but even by 2005 had actually been fenced off with barbed wire. We found this infringement of ancient rights maddening and utterly cavalier: it is almost always possible to climb over a wooden fence but barbed wire is another matter. And to cap it all there was a cast iron signpost dating from the 19th Century pointing the way. And an Ordinance Survey map clearly showed there were several paths through the dense woodland fringing Woolley Edge Lane. But we were unable to locate them because, unsurprisingly, they have become overgrown through lack of use. Thwarted on every side this was modern enclosure in practise and very much the shape of things to come. Nowhere is this more true than in the grounds of the former Woolley Colliery, the new fangled aristocratic pretence ruling out its use by commoners.

                                                                                                                            14

       By 2005, repressive measures were set to increase and we were astonished to find that come 2006 there had been an attempt to completely block-off access to the Old Dearne Way. Barbed wire had been thrown across the pathway though it seems some rambler or local inhabitant had rightly got very upset about it and pulled a couple of posts up, tossing them to one side.

                                                                                                                            15

      And then we have  a cinematic conclusion: One lone Dingy Skipper patiently drinking up the pale sunlight for 3 minutes. Should there be commentary behind this?

                                                                                                                            16

       We conclude this section with a long three-minute sequence of a resting Dingy Skipper. In the last minute of the film note how once the sun begins to come out, the skippers wings start to move involuntarily, the butterfly eventually taking off.

                             D & S Wise 2007

 

                                                                        *************


 "MINER" CONFLICTS -

 

MAJOR  CONTRADICTIONS

 

The ruler's greatest fear is coming true: despite all the humiliations the ruling show can think up, the most active section of the striking miners are beginning to prefer life on strike to life at work.....


"...the way I look at my TV and video is that if they got burnt I wouldn't lose a moment's sleep....It's when your backs are against the wall and how you react that matters"   - Keith Boyes, Maltby miner.

                          

                                      

                           

                                           

                                                               "MINERS DO IT WITH TELEGRAPH POLES " (car sticker)

 

                                                                    Not At The Margins Of What Is Collapsing

 

                                                                    Not At the Margins Of What Is Falling

 

                                                                    But At The Centre Of What Is Unifying

 

                                                                    At The Centre Of What Is Rising........................

 

"It's a mucky awful job...(but)...I'm angry because of the threat...of losing the community," Kent miner on BBC 2.

 

The dominant image of the lives of striking miners and their communities is one of misery, of sacrifice, of demoralisation: selling 'precious' heirlooms, having to return their rented videos, "reduced" to eating in soup kitchens, husbands and wives falling out because of the pressures. Contrary to this contemptuous (and contemptible) misrepresentation, mining communities, and those who identify with the struggle, are actually beginning to discover real life outside and against the commodity-spectacle. Despite all the arrests, the beatings, the killing of two miners by scabs, the media bullshit, the relative poverty, and all the other humiliations, strikers are beginning to discover the joy and dignity of solidarity and struggle. Compared with the new experiences of the most active sectors of the strikers, even a victorious conclusion to the strike, followed by a return to normal work, would be a depressing anti-climax. Compared with the 21 months of demoralisation following the Falklands massacre, the miners' strike is already a victory, however partial.

 

SOME VICTORIES
I. The growing confidence of increasing numbers of wage slaves to push for their own demands, however reformist.

 2. The increasing sense of solidarity. Three examples:(a) The development of international blacking,' in particular, the blacking of imports and exports of coal from and to the UK by dockers and seamen in Australia and New Zealand.(b) When 4 men 3 of them miners, were arrested at Grays Inn Rd. on the miners' demo on June 7th, a third of the demonstration -about 4 thousand or more, including a large brass band -stopped and refused to budge until they were released 1 and a half hours later. This brought much of the area to a complete standstill, since the buses refused "to cross picket lines".(c) Also on June 7th, railway men at Charing X spontaneously went out on strike after the arrest and assault of a driver, and also because railway men had seen the police brutality outside the Shell building that day. This is the first instance since the war of a wildcat strike over police brutality. Cunningly manipulative as ever, LBC invented the idea that the miners were "embarrassed" by this inspiring example of class solidarity.

 3. The increasing by-passing of exchange and money relations amongst strikers and their friends. For example, the relatively informal communal allotments springing up, where food is grown and distributed free to those involved, a practical example of the old slogan, "From each according to their ability to each according to their needs".

 4. The breaking out of the isolation of single miners which has developed as a result of communal eating, and other ways of living differently.

 5. The fact that proletarians are talking to each other a lot more and are generally more hopeful than at any time since the riots of 1981. Even many of those husbands and wives for whom the strike has emphasised conflicts that already existed and have thus broken up, have discovered they prefer to develop new relationships than continue petrified ones.

 6. The development of self-managed schooling, without specialist teachers, in Wales, because families can no longer afford the cost of school buses. A more profound critique of mis-education is shown by the riots of schoollkids in mining areas. In Edlington kids came out on strike in support of the miners. Teachers called the cops to push them back into school. This didn't stop the kids coming out again the next day and playing hide and seek with the cops as they chased them up and down the High Street. In Mexborough, kids rioted and smashed up the some of the school over the banning of punk clothes and hair .Then they all decided to come out on strike in support of the miners. In a village in Fyfe, schoolkids decided, on their own, to go off after school and march to stop scab coke lorries travelling through to get to Ravenscraig. They were stopped by the cops. But the initiative was taken up by old age pensioners, both men and women, who harangued and battered on the lorries to such an extent that the next day several drivers reported to 'their' haulage firms that they felt too ashamed to continue delivery of scab coke.

 7. The increasing initiatives to occupy NCB property, and even NUM property dominated by Right Wing scab stewards. The increasing tendency to not take policeviolence and intimidation without a riot - e.g. in Maltby, or at Orgreave.

       The Family: The First Factory Of Alienation, The First Factory Of The Alienation of Men From Men, Of Men From Women, Of Women From Women.

 8. The massive autonomous involvement of women in the strike, often presented by the media as heroic, but though "one's heart goes out to them" they seem a little "too bitter, over-emotional, and not really rational like the working miner's wives... not really feminine", as doubtless many passive spectators would patronisingly put it. Unfortunately, too many of the women in mining areas have not gone beyond the traditional nurturing feminine role in the strike: sure, a few get nicked on picket lines - but few have gone beyond the non-violent image of women pushed by the sacrificial feminists at Greenham (the women who threw egg at the Maggot this June are the exceptions that hopefully will prove to be the rule). Shortly before her murder by the State, at the combined hands of the fascists and the no lesser thugs of the 1919 German equivalent of Kinnock, Benn & Hattersley - Noske, Scheidermann & Ebert ("Socialism means working a lot"), Rosa Luxembourg stated "The worst mistakes of the masses are far more useful than the very best correct lines of the very best of Central Committees". Applied to the relations between men and women today, "The worst initiatives of men & women in their struggle to determine their lives against hierarchy are far richer than the very best 'correct' roles developed by the very best feminist &/or syndicalist &/or leftist ideologies. "

 During this strike conflicts become collective and public, which is progress of some sort: that arguments -over who does the organising of food, who looks after the kids, who does the cleaning, and who goes on the picket lines, over resentment towards the classical masculine insensitivity of some of the miners in their silly chant, "Get Yer Tits Out For The Lads!" -that these basic inequalities and contradictions have become openly discussed is a beginning. But solidarity and common struggle has yet to arrive at anything much more than a one-way unity, with women providing harmony and continuity & support without getting any reciprocal encouragement from men, at least not without a big up-hill struggle. Even if their collectively doing the cleaning and cooking is more fun than doing it on their own at home, listening to Jimmy Young, Brian Hayes, John Peel or whatever, despite the inadequacies of this amelioration of the division of labour, there are still, at the moment, far too few women in the strike demanding that men be far more willing to share these activities, whilst the women go off and fight on the picket lines (like in the mining strikes in Harlan County, USA, in the 197Os).

 The fact that in the summer of 1981, women here were seen in the riots fighting, in however relatively proportionally smaller numbers, alongside men was a memory the spectacle of Greenham Common came to repress. In those July 1981 days, women often got genuine warmth and comradely recognition in the streets, even if by August the usual sexist crap was back to normal. The temporary defeat of a common enemy -in 1981, the cops -develops men and womens' consciousness of their real unity, their strength & sensitivity, & always wipes out the most superficial hierarchies between men & women, which has been manipulated by ruling morality in order to divide and rule, fragment, isolate and repress. The defeat of the cops on the streets helps to defeat the cops in our heads: in Brixton April 1981, gays fought alongside 'straights', blacks alongside whites, men alongside women... It is this unity that neither misogynist macho-stereotypes nor feminist stereo-type-casters ever talk about because it would mean the end of their 'perfectionist' models of human behaviour: if revolution also means a process of de-conditioning it must also imply that the revolt against the separation of men and women can only be developed by historical decisions, by individual and group interventions against habitual contradictions. The most habitual separation is that between politics and the critique of everyday life, to the point whereby most men know how to formulate this separation but are going to have to be given a kick up the bum if they are to go beyond simply 'clever formulations'.

 (9) The pleasure of inventing methods of avoiding the police blockades, having to use the imagination adventurously.

 

   

  DAILY MIRROR, Monday, May 21, 1984   POLICE SELL

  BUS TO THE PICKET.    

Striking miners have tricked police into selling them a bus. Officers thought it was meant for a group of pensioners. They even had a whip-round to pay the road tax. But miners had made a deal with the old folk at St. Helens, Merseyside. they agreed to £1,000 for the bus - and give it to the pensioners AFTER the strike is over. The bus was waved through picket lines at Parkside colliery, Merseyside, by officers who thought the pickets on board were their own reinforcements.

 

 Despite all this (like the above deligtful incident) it would be uselessly optimistic to understate the enormity of the problems and contracdictions involved in the struggle.

The conflict between miners and miners pumped up by the monologuers of the media and maintained by the cop's prevention of communication between striking miners and working miners, is a conflict in miniature of a global conflict, and the conflict within the lives of each proletarianised individual: the conflict between the perspective of resignation, of life reduced to each against all, of life reduced to survivalism, -and the perspective of class struggle, of the dignity of individuals against all that insults them, of the movement towards community.

 Partly because of the confusion and insufficient explicitness on the part of striking miners about what is involved in this struggle, the working miners who epitomise the perspective of petrified impotence, seem to have a monopoly of "reasons" for running scared across the picket lines. The working miner has all the reasonable lies of the commodity economy on his side: he knows that £1,000 for every year worked isn't bad compensation for having slaved his guts out to be able to consume the videos and three-piece suites of his choice. The cynical dreariness and hierarchical 'security' of an isolated family 'life', filled with all the sleep-inducing consolations that bureaucratically manipulated bonus schemes can buy, seems almost 'natural' to those who see their own narrow immediate interest as separate from their class interest. It is not merely the cops and ruling ideology which break up the possibilities of class solidarity: the Notts miners are not victims - they have consciously chosen to accept all the hypocrisies of the State. They know all the media crap about the cops protecting their "Right To Work" (read: Right To Be Exploited) is bullshit, even in it's own terms: it's a "right" their continuing to work is going to take away from thousands of others. They know that all the media crap about "Democracy" (read: the right of each isolated intimidated individual to choose who is going to isolate and intimidate him) is bullshit: when - in 1977 - all the miners voted overwhelmingly against productivity deals, Nottingham area voted separately, and undemocratically, for their own bonus scheme. They know that they too will be the victims of pit closures. Some of them also know that their collaborationist past - the forming of the breakaway boss union in 1929 - didn't stop Notts' miners being sent to prison in 1936 for going on an unofficial stoppage (unofficial strikes had been prohibited under alaw passed in 1927 as a response to the vast unofficial strike which developed the day after the TUC called off the 1926 General Strike). Those who choose, with the support of the whole weight of the commodity-spectacle, to reduce their lives to a narrow survivalist notion of their immediate interest obviously regard history, both past and possible future, with equal indifference. For the same reason, it's pointless asserting a simple rationalist argument that if proletarians don't resolve to destroy the commodity economy the exigencies of international competition have an even chance of assuring the survival of hardly anybody - either through nuclear war or through ecological collapse: these possibilities are just as likely to reinforce people's helplessness, which, if accepted, always leads to a mercenary expedient attitude in the present, just as they are likely to incite proletarians to recognise that their own sense of strength and contact in the present can only come from a class conscious attack on the world that constantly threatens them with death and destruction.

 The working miners have to be attacked for what they are: not simply as 'scabs', but as the personification of all those proletarians who, through their resignation and survivalism, support the hierarchical violence of the State and the commodity (that a working miner in Ollerton killed a striking miner, David Jones, with a brick, is the most obvious symptom of this sickness; that a 55 year old miner, Joe Green, who stood to gain over £30,000 redundancy pay, got killed by a scab truck-driver at Ferrybridge, a death belittled by the cops as "a traffic accident", illustrates how sick all the scabs collaborating with the State to break the miner's determination are). Contrary to the advice of the union officials who patronisingly tell "their lads" to cool their anger towards the working miners, anti-hierarchical violence towards those who prefer computer games and dining out to comradeship and friendship, is the only sane response. Those who, by their complicity, support the brutality of the cops and the repressions of the magistrates, the suicidal desperation of much of the unemployed and the mutilations and killings that take place on the Youth Training Schemes, deserve everything they get, and a lot more. This is the most immediate way of confronting those who choose to accept the status quo, who choose to remain indifferent to their own misery, as well as that of others, who choose to pursue an idea of their self-interest isolated from the self-interest of other proletarians. But such a confrontation must also be theoretically armed if the struggle is to break the internal coherence of the ideologists of capitalist progress, such as MacGregor or Thatcher: the working miner has all the rationale of the irrational commodity economy on his side, whilst the striking miners have yet to link their immediate struggle to any coherent long-term goal. In fact, Scargill's economic arguments (import controls etc.) are completely incoherent - they merely show how he can speak the rulers' language, the language of commodity production and wage labour, in order to hold out the possibility of dialogue with these scum who constantly seek to break up any dialogue amongst the slave class. An explicitly anti-economic consciousness has so far not developed. Of course, so long as capitalism continues, the ruling thought which rules the minds and bodies of the masses the world over, maintains the belief that not only is a successful anti-hierarchical revolution impossible, but also that any immediate anti-economic revolt is 'unrealistic', pointless, pure wishful thinking doomed to defeat. Nowhere is this impotent pessimism contested with anything better than an impotent optimism, at least on the level of ideas. The fact that many union officials' speeches come out with phrases like "defeat is unthinkable", as if they could avoid defeat simply by striking it from their minds, does nothing to undermine the resignation of the pessimist. Those striking miners who recognise that the possibility of defeat, like the possibility of success, is dependant on their own initiatives (e.g. the first flying pickets, which were not controlled by the NUM; the sabotoeurs of working pits; the organisers of motorway "chaos"; the smashing of TV cameras and general attacks on the media; the wives' boycotts of shops not giving credit, and other forms of solidarity activity done by the women; occupations of various buildings; etc.etc.) have yet to initiate a general questioning of class society which could also challenge all the 'justifications' for submission.

 For example, it's purely defensive to reject calls for a national ballot on the basis that no-one has the right to vote other miners out of a job. If the more rebellious proletarians (whether miners or not) don't initiate some real democracy - some form of mass democratic dialogue - by occupying large buildings or any other large area, and attack both the dictatorship of the media, and the confusions of the Union bureaucracy, as well as the limitation of the strike to just a miner's struggle, then any rejection of the dominant notion of democracy will appear abstract, an argumentative manoeuvre. To be sure, the first flying pickets, initially opposed by the Stalinist bureaucrat Jack Taylor, were set up by a mass meeting of the miners. Yet in not retaining this initiative, in allowing the Yorkshire NUM to bureaucratise the flying pickets, these miners had to inevitably suffer the manoeuvres of the NUM in repressing unofficial actions: as one miner said. "We were getting things organised...there was no problem with filling petrol tanks" until control was centralised (Socialist Worker, 2I/4/84).

 

 

      

"We were the first branch in the Doncaster area to go out picketing into Nottingham and we went to Harworth colliery. And that was the only time I've seen a trade union official on the picket line Jim Tierney from Castlehill Pit in Scotland reported things were very much the same up there. "At pithead meetings the Friday before the strike started, we were told the best thing for us to do was to enjoy a long lie-in on the Monday, leaving it to the branch committees to make sure all the pits were out in Scotland. "Fortunately we ignored that, but it was the Tuesday before we got all the pits out. "Again last week our area strike committee, of two delegates per branch, booked eight buses to come down to Sheffield to picket the executive meeting. "But then we were told we weren't getting any money for the buses. The Scottish leadership had taken a political decision they didn't want people down there! At the same time, pickets were being sent out when they weren't really needed, as when they were sent to Northumberland after the coalfield had voted to strike. Or again, when the there was a plan to send hundreds of them to Longannet power station at ten in the morning just so that two representatives of the Scottish TUC could pose in front of cameras. Fortunately on that occasion, the strike committee got people there for half six in the morning and stopped the place. (Pickets quoted in 'Socialist' Worker, April 14th 1984)

 

 

 

For example, saving pits isn't the real reason for the strike, even though it's the inevitable starting point (after all, all attacks on this society begin on the enemy's terrain). The cries about the 'Dignity of Labour' are basically lies which most miners don't believe. The real reason behind their rejection of the £1,000 for every year worked, held out as a bribe and compensation by the NCB, is the fear and horror of the isolation, of the loss of comradeship, of the sense of futility, of the destruction of the element of community amongst the most historically subversive section of the working section of the British proletariat, of the indignity of having the ruling class disorganise proletarians here any further. Miners know full well that, because the work is miserable, it's the friendship and solidarity between them that makes life worthwhile - "Because", as a Kent miner put it on TV recently,"it's all we've got". When the BBC reporter interviewing him smugly asked whether the average one and a half hours sleep a night some of the pickets were getting was "really worth all the trouble", the picket said, "Well, if we don't do this one and a half hours of sleep a night now, we'll be having 15 hours a day in bed, staring at the 4 walls". Even with thousands of pounds in the bank, unemployment is generally more desperate than employment not because wage slavery is "dignified" or "useful" (to whom?) but because in the desperate conditions of separation imposed by this society, the false choice between work or dole is the choice between the possibility of a common recognition of common enemies and common problems, of a common struggle, and, outside of riots, the choice, mostly, of staying stuck and isolated swamped by the degrading bullshit of TV and the 'consolations' of records, and other drugs. Of course, all proletarians can struggle - in work or out of it: but in the face of a deliberate - and largely successful, so far - attack by the ruling class on the solidarity and survival standards of the masses here, to fight pit closures is one of the possible starting points for reversing the demoralisation of the past 8 years, accelerated by the Thatcher government.


UNEMPLOYMENT- ITS CAUSES &
SOME RESULTS


Unemployment is obviously one of the most central means of intimidating the proletariat which capital has developed globally over the last ten years or so. That it is also a means of running down uncompetitive forms of fixed capital gives un-employment an image of an unfortunate, but inevitable, result of the market economy - a partial truth which not only ignores how the various rulers are capable of consciously manipulating the market in varying degrees, but also ignores the fact that the world market is the essential 'fate' which proletarians have no choice but to utterly destroy if the world is to be consciously transformed and re-created to express the desires and possibilities of the masses of individuals (that coal stocks are the highest ever is one example of how impotent is any attempt to fight the symptoms of capital whilst arguing in capital's terms: the rationale of the commodity economy forces the rulers to pull the rug out from under every alienated labourers' feet in order to rationalise the unprofitable contradiction of over-production, which, of course, is only possible in conditions of alienated labour). One of the few expanding industries after the law and order industry and the new technology industry is the overwhelming commentary on the misery of unemployment. Everywhere the results of unemployment are denounced - atomisation; the big leap in suicidal tendencies and breakdowns; intensified survival panic; speed-ups at work, vastly increased productivity, cheap labour; a big increase in the criminalisation of the survival means of the dispossessed; a great increase in vicious, and ultimately self-destructive, desperate behaviour on the streets and at home; greater paranoia about the State and mistrust of 'friends'; a general sense of retreat (exemplified by the big leap in marriages) not yet matched by a sense of the self-defeating nature of such retreat (exemplified by the big leap in divorces); a massive increase in one of the most dangerous forms of commodity fetishism - drug addiction, often with the deliberate collaboration of sections of the State; etc.etc.

One result of this retreat into pure survivalism increasingly imposed by capital is the growing tendency to valorise one's means of survival as an escape from recognising and reversing one's retreat, and the retreat of the rest of the class. In this defeat before the crisis of the commodity economy, proletarians hide this sense of defeat by justifying positively the specialisation of abilities proletarians are forced to develop in order to compete on the ever-shrinking market. The inevitable compromise involved in surviving in this society , and the indignity of this compromise - which everyone with any sense seeks to destroy in time, is hidden by an ideology which pumps up such skills, and makes them superior to other forms of slavery. Legal skills are ideologised as better than illegal ones, or vice versa. Plumbing, piano-playing, inventing such novel commodities as the 'kiss-o-gram', are hailed as somehow more 'dignified' or 'creative' than burglary, shop-lifting, insurance fiddles or whatever.

And the more marginalised sectors who burgle or shop-lift to survive claim that their illegal forms of survival are more 'dignified' - because autonomous - than the others, as if in all cases it's not the alien economy, and it's increasing pressures, that calls the tune. This simply reinforces the ruler's moral hierarchy, even if the more marginalised sectors reactively invert this moral hierarchy by asserting an anti-morality which pretends that illegal work is not really work, contemptuously dismissing the 'mugs' who are 'into' straight work. Either way, divide &rule. This support for commodity relations is most clear amongst those marginalised who resort to mugging - a substitute for the slightly more difficult and risky task of ripping off businesses, the State or the rich. Mugging is an expression of the ability of the rulers (the organisers of the paucity of normal survival means) to force the more fatalistic sections of the masses to seek immediate means of survival which not only insure no long-term solutions but also hopes to insure that the only solutions are bourgeois ones. Muggers use the desperate times to justify their own self-defeating 'contribution' to the suffocating 'good neighbourliness' of pseudo-community policing (of course, as the Newham 8 found out, any response to street violence not sanctioned by the State will be dealt with by the State even more forcefully than the State deals with the attacks themselves, if the State can get away with it). Whilst proletarians do not seek to break with and attack the objective miserable weight of the immediate this immersion in the everyday assures that every day is just one more nail in the coffin. Tonight's mugger could become tomorrows' mugged - or else prison. If successful, the muggers' sense of achievement is about as self-defeating as that of "our boys" in the Falklands: pure image to compensate for the impotence and isolation. Whilst the lads in the Falklands were given a moral face to hide the sickness, the mugger asserts his amorality as something less hypocritical, more "honestly" cynical than the dominant show. Resigned to the present decomposition, he proudly asserts his reduction of others to commodities as being just the same as the bosses who force OAPs to die of hyperthermia as a punishment for not paying their electricity bills.

This separation - amongst the 'marginalised' and the 'straight' proletariat - still tends to manifest itself in the conflicts with the State: the unemployed who see rioting as their form of attack, tend not to identify with, even less intervene in, the strikes of the traditional sectors, just as the strikers tend not to identify with riots. Amongst the more class conscious sectors, not so tainted with leftism on the one hand or anti-workerism on the other, this separation is breaking down, especially amongst the young: e.g. the youths who supported the picket at Warrington by burning barricades and attacking the cops, or the school kids at Mexborough who smashed up their school over the banning of spikey hair and then came out in support of the miners. The conscious breakdown of this separation, with the rising tension in Liverpool offering the most likely opening on this front, is the sole possibility for any successful subversion of capital, a movement of riots, strikes, occupations and mass assemblies the example of which could fire the imagination of proletarians internationally.

The supercession of this separation is dependent on recognisng how our enemies benefit from us seeing work, legal or illegal, as the solution to unemployment (a good example of the contradictory nature of accepting the rulers' false choices was given in a TV interview with a Young Liverpudlian heroin addict, who claimed he started his addiction when he had a "good job", which he lost because of the addiction. and that if only he could find a "good job" he'd be able to kick the habit). Unemployment has partly been the ruler's conscious weapon to divide proletarians off from each other, roll back the tide of proletarian subversion exemplified by the massive successful strike and occupations movements of the early 1970s, and the Winter Of Discontent of 1978 -'79, and make British capital competitive again. Loss of the memory of this history (in particular, of one's memory of one's own relation to this history), impotent despair and cowardly self-contempt are the predictable fates of all those who leave the implications of their resistance to class society to be determined by the perpetuators of this society. Unemployment and the economic crisis a social crisis which is partly a result of the struggle against the miseries of work and State domination, just as it is partly a conscious attempt by the ruling classes to find a solution to this massive resistance on the part of the producer-consumers to their allotted role as competitively-priced objects in the World Market, is the most blatant of these implications. Absenteeism, sabotage, pilfering, and general, commonplace, forms of resistance, have always played an important part if undermining the system of commodity production, which is why the rulers are doing their best to reduce these forms of opposition to the bare minimum ( e.g. containerisation of the docks not only vastly reduces the number of workers, but also makes the perks of ripping-off as well as the chances of international solidarity through the blacking of particular imports and exports, virtually impossible). Nevertheless, in themselves these acts of resistance have hardly ever considered themselves strategically or as objectively significant, and therefore have hardly ever known how to become a more consciously strategic opposition to capitalism. That's why capitalism can straight-forwardly wipe these pockets of resistance out - which is why the ASLEF drivers got flexibly roasted, with the help of the TUC, in response to their resistance to work (likewise, a similar imposition of the disorganising rigours of commodity time is being imposed on the scene-shifters at the BBC, who'd also worked out various fiddles). That flexible rostering has not produced any increased profitability for British Rail shows that the intention of such 'progress' is not just governed by immediate economic considerations; the tendency to impose an almost military rigidity of time-control on the railways was aimed not merely to speed up the circulation of commodities and prepare for the exigencies of a possible war, but also aimed to demoralise all autonomous resistance to capital and wage slavery here in the aftermath of the Falkland-Malvinas War. Whilst those sectors of the working proletariat who are still capable of resisting work do not co-ordinate their agitation, and on the basis of its most class conscious Possibilities, they will inevitably watch this agitation die a slow death. In avoiding the conclusions - both theoretical and practical - of their struggle against a humiliating world the masses of individuals are forced into a retreat where they feel they have to justify their constantly frustrated anger at capitalisms' inevitable hypocrisy. In response to the economic crisis, many workers now feel somehow forced to guiltily excuse wage demands which mean wage cuts, when 13 years ago they were demanding 3 times the amount merely as an excuse to avoid what most people openly recognised as the tyrannical meaninglessness of work, of the production of surplus value for a boss. Nowadays, so the Trade Unions, the Labour Party and all the rest of. The capitalist institutions tell us, all the workers should be happy about is that they have a job, even if there still remains a little contest over how much they should be fucked over. So that you can compete with your fellow wage-slaves in Japan or wherever, money, exploitation, bureaucracy, capital accumulation, exchange and trade relations - and the States which determine these - all these have to be taken as fate, the unquestionable.

If the class struggle is to get off the defensive, it must learn from its own history, that unemployment is partly capital's answer to the vast resistance to work, and that confidence that goes beyond merely reacting to the rulers' moves, can only come from openly refusing the false choices they pose. The humiliation of coal dust or the humiliation of the dole? During the 1972 strike miners were asked if they realised that by refusing to do maintenance work they were putting the future of the pit in danger. One replied, "So what, who wants to go down the bloody pit, anyway?", whilst another said that in closing down the pits they had already saved several lives. And after the dispute had been 'settled', some sections of the miners refused to go back to work, despite a 20% pay rise, thus showing as much a resistance to forced labour as contempt for the Union hierarchy that negotiated the deal. Naturally, the real abolition of forced labour could only take place if workers seized and transformed the mines along with all the other things that are theirs anyway (of course, when leftists talk of "workers' power" or of having "less work, more leisure" they can only see this in terms of developing State power, which, whether by violent or peaceful means, they aim to paternalistically use as a means of reforming the flagrant irrationalities of the current capitalist crisis).

********************************************

 ROW OVER NEW THINK TANK.
"MINISTRY OF TRUTH" REPORT LINK!


By Our Political Correspondent,
MANNY PULATION:

 

A row blew up yesterday over a new leak from the Governments' secret Think Tank, a body set up to make tentative proposals for the development of the isolation and degradation of the individual at the hands of the State and the hierarchical exchange economy it manages. The Prime Minister was quick to pretend to be enraged about the leak. Apparently, though she was genuinely enraged about a leak that claimed that she herself had leaked The Ministry of Truth proposal just to test our public reaction.
The controversial Think Tank report supports "the setting up of a Ministry of Truth whose task will be to ensure the co-ordination, elaboration and perfection of the work already being very well achieved in denying the possibility of organising a world without alienated labour, the State and all external authority."


The report went on to suggest the inclusion of two departments within the Ministry: "...a Department of You-Don't- Like-This-Society-But-What-Else-Can-You-Put-In-Its'-Place, whose task shall be to repress the memory of history: that of yourself, that of your relation to the history of others, that of the society as a whole and that of interactions between them." Part of the function of this department will be, the controversial report continues, "to obscure all the positive and negative achievements of every revolt since The Ranters of the English Revolution to the rioters of Brixton and Toxteth, via the revolutionaries of Hungary 1956 and France 1968."


The report went on to suggest a further department: "A Department Of Fatalism, whose task will be to present the problem of alienation as merely an existential crisis, the "human condition", something absurd to be dramatised in an artistic or cocktail party anecdote form."


Immediately the Labour Party complained that the report failed to suggest "A Department of Harmony, Community and Humanity." A Labour Party spokesman suggested that "the task of such a department should be to present an illusory togetherness based on a repression of the essential conflict between those who wish to live and those who wish to preserve the Grand Mausoleum of Commodities."

 

Certain right-wingers and liberals supported the aims of the proposed ministry but suggested that the name should be changed to one more in keeping with democracy: "Ministry Of Truth smacks too much of 1984. How about "Ministry of Freedom Of False Choices Under The Law & Order Of Things, Their Price & Their Owners?..."

 

*******************************

                                                            New Technology - Same Old Living Death

 

"It's bloody miserable working here - and all that work could be replaced by micro-chips...still, if that happened we'd all be unemployed...lf we're going to be able to use the technology, we'd have to have a revolution;..but that's another matter... "

- Ford Dagenham shop steward during the Ford strike in November 1978 against the Labour government's Social Contract.

The development of the new technology is part of running down industries where large amounts of proletarians have been dangerously brought together. New technology not only speeds up the rate of profit, but also functions as a way of developing a much smaller amount of skilled labour. The bourgeoisie can afford to compensate this relatively small isolated sector with comparatively higher wages, particularly as they hope to assure the acquiescence of this sector by force-feeding the whole population on vast overdoses of bureaucratic-scientific ideology. From the moment we learn to switch on a T.V. we are encouraged to model our lives on the patterns of organisation and consumption employed by hierarchical power. We are all encouraged to play the role of bureaucrat and scientist in the discomfort of our own home, and to view our lives as a series of processes and procedures existing independently from our own good sense.

This is how and why the rulers need to develop nuclear power, for example, which in this society requires the same mass policing year in year out that some of the Nottingham collieries have been getting recently (of course, it's not a moral question as the ecologists would have it, hoping thereby to reduce their 'opposition' to narrowly defined symptoms of the irrationality of capitalism, so as to encourage the development of commodity production and alienated labour in 'socially concerned' guises - Boeing's investments in solar energy , for example). In developing nuclear power, the present government is merely continuing the process pursued by the last Labour government, when Tony Benn, as Minister of Energy, even armed the Atomic Energy Authority (the opportunism of this patronising ponce is shown by his celebration of the miner's struggle, and even of the "great Liverpool uprising of 1981": when he was part of Callaghan's Cabinet, more pits were closed than by the Tories by far, just as riots were put down with the full force of the government of which he was a part). It's worth recalling the minutes of a Cabinet meeting leaked to Time Out not so long after the '79 election: in it Thatcher said that developing nuclear power was necessary to combat the militancy of the miners. This, and not the global energy crisis was her main reason. It is because of this that much of the media attack the miners for a "nostalgia" for their opposition to the progress" of nuclear fuel. This is a clever ploy in so far as 'nostalgia' implies fondness for past battles that many young miners have little chance of critically appreciating and a defence of a 'craft' status attached to one's wage slavery that few young miners identify with. This nostalgia is particularly debilitating when miners, and those who support them, believe they still have a greater potential for attacking the ruling class than any other sector of the proletariat, and at the same time it helps them suppress the consciousness of their own interest, which can only be to re-organise the basis of the economy so that no-one has to go down the mines and inhale the coal dust that the new machinery has vastly increased. To defend this misery is nostalgic, in the sense that nostalgia is a sentimental fantasy about the past which can only be defended by forgetting the miserable part of this past. Rather than repeating the mistakes of the old Luddites, the miners could learn a lot from the new Luddites, who had no position in this world to defend - the. rioters of 1981. An explicit attack on all the false choices of the commodity economy - 'progressive' or 'nostalgic' - is the only way of posing a future in which the whole of the working class could recognise itself.

 

                                Life Under The Last Labour Government

                                                   Some Excerpts From 'This England', 1978.


# The suffering is there of course. A young stockbroker told me: 'The difference in my standard of living has been enormous. I bought a house on a £27,000 mortgage two years ago and now I cannot keep up the payments.' At 28, he is used to making about £20,000 a year. Today, he is making nothing - except his basic salary of about £5,000. - The Times

# Crawley council, in Sussex, is to scrap its heating scheme for old people. 'I am afraid some pensioners will have to make a choice whether to eat properly or keep warm', Councillor A. C, W. Crane said. This year the subsidised scheme would have cost the council £4,500 and costs were going up all the time. 'We just could not continue it.' - The Times

# Very conveniently for part-time doctors and private patients, the hospital has 18 pay-beds in a separate unit of 10 single beds and four double rooms. Patients pay £28 a day for hotel and hospita1 charges, and hospital staff say that most come through one of the private medical insurance schemes: 'We get people from all walks of life: we had a coalminer in once.' - The Observer

# When he gets a chance, Mr Anthony Wedgwood Benn, our Secretary of State for Energy, likes to sit by an open fire at his home in Holland' Park, London, sipping a large mug of tea and reading his official papers. His blazing grate is symbolic, an indication of sympathy with the miners. -The Times.

# Coal Board chief Sir Derek Ezra collapsed from heat during a visit to a Kent pit yesterday. When he recovered, he delivered a speech criticising Kent miners for their low productivity. - Daily Mirror.

                                                    -1926 & All That -


Almost 60 years ago - in 1926 - British wages slaves contested the power of Capital to determine every aspect of their shattered lives. The combined weight of the mine owners, the whole of the capitalist class and its Tory governments' control over the means of intimidation, the servile strike-breaking fodder in the Army, the mercenary troops of student careerists, the power of Winston Churchill's media-muggers, a gang of collaborators called the TUC, a protection racket of political opportunists called the Labour Party - all, without exception, combined to weigh down, defeat and demoralise the masses of individuals in struggle. But despite the fact that, on the day after the TUC called the General Strike off, there were 100,000 more people on strike than on any previous day of the strike, despite the fact that their morale was also much tougher, despite the fact that many strikers had improvised local councils of action and developed spontaneous and widespread mass picket lines without the control of the Unions, when the TUC said, "It's all over" it was the habit of obedience which blinded them from seeing their own initiative & pushed them back to forced labour. Proletarians sell themselves out by putting their faith in bureaucrats who invariably "sell them out".

It is an evasion of reality to blame leaders (of Trade Unions or of political parties) for 'selling out' those they claim to represent. 'Sell Out!' is a habitual complaint which, in not taking direct responsibility for the course of a struggle, merely functions as a complaint by those who want to be led, those who still believe that there is someone who could save them from their misery. Like the Malcolm X chant in the song "No Sell Out", people vaguely hope that if they repetitively mou7th the name of a famous leader and demand "No Sell Out!" like a hypnotic mystical incantation, they can magically insure that they don't get sold out. When individuals resign their power to bureaucrats, the bureaucrats inevitably manipulate the authority which these masses insufficiently contest. The failure to grasp the moment, or at least sharpen ones' grasp over what people have already achieved, is the retreat and defeat of class consciousness which is the basis for all demoralisation. Of course, it's easy, even if necessary, to denounce the obvious shits, just as it's so obviously essential to attack the masses own worst enemy - their lack of audacity. Nevertheless it's only easy to do this if the ivory tower of hindsight blocks you to seeing what's at the base: here is 1926, & here we must jump. As in 1926, today you & I are up against similar enemies (though often they're more subtly confusing). Today also, the central failure of those proletarians who consider themselves the most conscious is to actually communicate their critique to others in struggle, not only against all political, union & cultural manipulations of these struggles, but also against their own narrow arrogance which thinks itself "less resigned" than "the others". Proletarians are not going to break with their demoralisation and extend their revolt without also extending the consciousness of what they've done and haven't done - and that applies to those proletarians who consider themselves "class conscious" as much as to those who pretend to themselves that they're not.

Of course, 1984 both is and isn't 1926. For one thing, the stakes today are infinitely higher: the 30s at least had some street life - the 90s look like having neither streets nor life, if our rulers and their false opposition have their way this time round. Today, the whole of our truth, our friendships, our critiques, our desires, our loves, are at stake. Today, it's either All or the Nothingness of accepting our fate, and the lying apologies that go with this acceptance.

In 1926 a small group of strikers tried to set fire to the Times with lighter fluid from a tiny can. Shall the masses of today repeat the same mistake? Or shall we see something more than the Deptford Fire marchers of 1981 shattering the windows of Fleet Street scum, or the ASLEF drivers refusing to distribute their lies early 1982? Or shall we be reduced to thumbing our noses at an increasingly intimidating world? The defeats of 1926 softened the masses for the degradations of the Depression, the massacres of World War II, and the utterly boring passivity of the consumer society. Today the consequences of defeat could result in a qualitative deterioration of human communication that will make Auschwitz seem like a vicars tea party. The consequences of victory, which will have to be global and irreversible, will have to result in a qualitative explosion of human communication that will make a vicars tea party seem like Auschwitz. Between the two what's the choice? All or Nothing.

  

 PHOTO OF STRIKES RESTAURANT

 

In the early 1970s STRIKES 1926 (now simply Strikes) became a gruesome chain of restaurants where the modern proletariat can momentarily become the Master of the Menu, whilst someone else plays the servant. Here, we can choke on our mono- sodium glucomated hamburgers in the luxurious discomfort of glossy vinyl furniture, gleaming mirrors to dramatise each frozen gesture, and large posters of proletarian demonstrations from the 1920s - men running from the cops, kids & women begging for scraps, hunger marches, images of defeat and despair, to give us the feeling of comparative progress, perhaps. After all, the modern poor don't need the cops to chase them away: the minimum charge just to keep in the warm and have a cup of tea, the polite smile of the management telling you to fuck off in the nicest possible way, and the anxious stares of one's 'fellow' customers are all enough to kick those lowest in the hierarchy out into the welcoming streets. For those of us 'privileged' enough to be able to afford to provide the management with a profit, the surroundings invite' us to console ourselves for our present impotence with an image of an even greater one. After all, if we didn't have this consolation we might remind ourselves that, even if the management condescendingly 'allows' us to consume to the rhythm of the muzak, we still remain desperate for some meaningful contact. Sure, things have changed: but outside of class struggle, our domination by things & their price has become increasingly confusing & subtly debilitating. The essential degradations of daily life, of the inability of human creativity to qualitatively transform the world about us, has vastly deteriorated - in many ways, because capital has been able to integrate the image of opposition, based on past defeats, into its horror show, into the development of the tedious passivity of a 'consumer' capitalism which is now decomposing faster than a vampire in daylight. Will today's proletarian struggle become yet another commodity for the consumption of future slave-spectators? Or... ?

 

                                                                                        The Confusions of Unions

 
"It is the organisational form itself which renders the proletariat virtually impotent and which prevents them turning the Union into an instrument of their will. The revolution can only win by destroying this organism, which means tearing it down from top to bottom so that something quite different can emerge." - Anton Pannekoek.

"Our quarrel is not with the unions...Our quarrel is only with the extremists who want to destroy the moderates in the unions -who want to destroy the unions themselves as they exist in this country." - Edward Heath, February 10th 1974.

Even if the media bills Scargill as extremist, he clearly has much in common with Edward Heath, the former P.M. Both of them have realised how Trade Unionism Is the enemy of the real unity of the proletariat, which rears its' violent head every time the masses of individuals band together against work against forced unemployment (like the occupations of the early 1970s, particularly at Fisher Bendix) and against being policed, bossed about and insulted by two-faced functionaries. At Pilkingtons, in 1969, the workers on strike wrecked 'their' union office. In Port Talbot, the same year, steelworkers told the press that they had neither leaders nor spokesmen: "We are our own leaders", they said. In 1972 dockworkers tried to do over Jack Jones, who, inevitably, had sold them out. In 1977, firemen, fucked over as usual by the deal the bureaucrats fixed for them, went "on the rampage", hurling smoke bombs, damaging engines and smashing glass in their fire stations. Nowadays, the media bills Scargil1 as extremist to hide people from the authentic extremist position. Scargill isn't even as verbally extreme as the trade unionists who were around at the time of the 1926 General Strike, like Purcell, who said, two years before the strike, "Workers must organise specifically and universally in direct opposition to capitalism and its political methods Our patriotism must be that of loyalty, unashamed and unflinching, to our class the world over..." or Swales, who said at the Trade Union Congress 9 months before the General Strike, "We shall be wanting neither machinery nor men to move forward to the destruction of wage slavery and the construction of a new order of society..." But in 1926, they were so scared of an autonomous movement that they ended up selling out on even the most measly attempts at proletarian self-protection. Nowadays, Scargill's rhetoric doesn't sound even as daring as these creeps. Everyone can be completely sure that, just so long as they let him, he'll end up just the same as the Purcells and Swales of this world - selling a demoralising defeat to his followers, possibly in order to get them to participate in an election for the bosses of the Labour party, but certainly in order to preserve his miserable role of House Rebel in the decomposition of the capitalist economy. Like Christ, 'rebels' like him who set themselves up as models, always end up as saviours of hierarchical power, even if they personally get nailed to the cross for a while. But, as the 1981 riots show, the masses are growing weary of apparently well-meaning, 'honourable' failures. Perhaps, horror of horrors, they might learn some of the basic lessons of these riots, the memory of which was meant to have been crushed by the great show of State power launched by the Task Force. Learning from history would mean that not only Mrs. T.'s skin would be at stake, but perhaps even the skins of the Leftists also In September, 1982, Arthur Scargill, star of screen & negotiating table, acted like the Dixon of Dock Green that he is: when miners, on their own initiative, occupied the National Coal Board, he rushed along and politely, but firmly, ordered everybody out or else... The miners preferred to avoid the alternative choice by reluctantly obeying. But Scargill did at least make up for it by having a little tiff with Ezra later that afternoon. Such behaviour is typical of a man in his position: bureaucrats always have to represent opposition so as to better de-fuse it. As his predecessor, and apparent rival, Joe Gormley said during the 1974 strike which kicked out Heath, "If it [the strike] was called off, the members might walk all over us." (The Times, 9/12/1974). Scargill has to appear militant merely to maintain his position. He certainly can't repeat the mistake he made in the spring of 1981, just before the riots, when he steadfastly refused to encourage 'his' Yorkshire miners to strike against threatened pit closures, an order ignore by 'his' lads in four of the Yorkshire pits, and much resented, though relatively privately, by many sections of the Kent miners. Sure he may boast that he got nicked at Grunwicks, and even fantasise aloud about it having been a "victory" (like Dunkirk, no doubt), but that's so that you can forget about that awkward incident during the strike when he led the masses of miners away from the picket line because it was more important for him to play out the usual sheepish demo show than actually win a real battle. Of course, nobody simply gets 'sold out': rebellious workers get 'sold out partly because they have already sold their own voice, their anger and their desires, to bureaucrats like Scargill, who, in representing these points of view in the Courts Of The Bourgeoisie (the media and the negotiation rooms), acts as an immediately secure link with what appears to be realistic. Everywhere there are people acting for themselves in various ways, but very rarely speaking for themselves. Because hierarchical security appears everywhere as the only realistic and apparently safe path, the masses of individuals demand what seems secure according to the criteria demanded by that omnipresent God, the World Market (hallelujah!). Realism leads people to demand retirement at 55, no pit closures and £115 basic - which, even if accepted, which they won't be, are pretty minimal compensations for a wasted life. Moreover, these kinds of demands inevitably succumb to the logical implications of the contradictions of a globally competitive capital. In fact, any struggle against the graveyard of the old World which is not to become self-defeating can only find the help and recognition of other struggles in the world by explicitly opposing the trivialising and brutal world of domination and submission in its totality. Those who only half rebel and who do not draw more daring experimental conclusions from their rebellion and the failures of this rebellion, merely dig their own graves. It's either All or apologies for Nothing. What else is Scargill's programme for the rejuvenation of British capital by means of import controls etc.? It's simply a programme which perpetuates workers' illusions of some external hope within the false choices of the commodity economy. As usual for someone with a hierarchical niche, he can only reduce peoples' margin of choice to that of two 'evils'. It's precisely his kind of 'reasonable' Leftist nationalism which breaks up the British proletariats' possible unity with the proletariat of other countries, the only practical unity, which, in undermining capitalist competition and the inevitable disasters which follow, could maintain even the present defences against the degradations of capital" Luckily for bureaucrats like Scargill, most people have been demoralised (by a daily life colonised more and more by external authority and the media that confuses this situation by presenting false choices which perpetuate the disease) struggling to destroy this irrationa1 world of money, investment, trade and mass starvation seems like a romantic dream. Having censored this possibility from their minds, they feel 'happy' merely to cheer radical-sounding Leftists, who represent something apparently more dignified than the usual apologetic stance with which many feel obliged to present themselves.

The best 'reason' for the pathetic cowardice of the scabs is the nauseating spectacle of striking miners chanting "Arthur Scargill, Arthur Scargill, We'll support you evermore evermore...", particularly amongst the Yorkshire miners. Perhaps they see this as simply for the media, a tactical display of unity, whilst behind the scenes the reservations towards this hypocrite are kept personal, sarcastic jokes behind his back. Nevertheless even as a tactic such displays are worse than useless: they reinforce not only the idea of the regionalism and parochialism of the Yorkshire miners, over-developed by the rising success of many Yorkshire football teams, and which helps the boss's divide and rule - but, more vitally, they act as a way of dismissing all the excellent critiques of Scargill, amongst which is his need for the media, even a hostile media. In repressing their own misgivings about this creep under the pretence of an image of unity, the more radical miners allow the media to take up this critique, in a manipulative form. A good example of these contradictions were expressed in a recent meeting of miners reported by the smug drone, Terry Coleman, in The Guardian, April 16th, 1984 (see bottom of paragraph). So refined are the middle class sensibilities of this hack that the vulgar disdain of the miners for an orderly 'meeting' was really too much for him to stomach. Their refusal to remain polite spectators was an implicit rejection of those tedious rituals where you're meant to keep still and listen, where no-one really meets at all. A good reason why paid scribblers servile to their masters and to their detached 'reflective' role would clearly find such impolite disrespect for the domination of the hall by the stage and by microphones so nerve-wracking. After all, people were meeting, and without hierarchy: not only did the poor imbecile feel excluded, but also he couldn't play the role of good journalist and report the monologues from the platform. But, more importantly, it's a sign of the striker's confusion that, despite their excellent attacks on BBC cameramen, journalists and even threats to the liberal-leftist careerists of Channel 4, that they should cheer the media's defender in this situation, Scargill, who, though obviously critical of the media, indulges in a polite dialogue with what he claims are his enemies. Are they so blind to his patronising vapid flattery? -"The young miners of this country represent the finest in trade unionism", which is implicitly nationalist, and pumps up miners as a 'radical' elite. Are they so blind to his classic inversion of reality? : "When the Coal Board told me I was getting nothing, I had the right to come and ask my members for your support", as if he hadn't been opposed to a strike at the beginning, as if it hadn't been the 'members' who had taken the initiatives in the first place, thereby going beyond being mere 'members'. Our enemies' apparent enemy - in this case, Scargill - is no friend. Each proletarian must see through their own eyes if they wish to avoid the trap of identifying with the present rulers' opposite numbers.

 

 

          Excerpts below from the Terry Coleman article in The Guardian, April 16th, 1984

 

     There were some older men, but the marchers were mostly young, and they began to look like a football crowd. They ran through the open doors of the hall, scrambled for seats, then changed their minds and scrambled for other seats in other parts of the hall. Two men jumped from the balcony into the stalls.....A TV camera was spotted, and at once there was a chant of "Get out, you bums, get out", and "Press out, Press out". This was a ritual chant. The miners turned on a TV crew and ran them out. Arthur Scargill himself was very nearly shouted down when he intervened.....Mr Scargill and Mr Benn were to be the principal speakers, but four others spoke first, though they were barely given a hearing.....A voice was raised to defend the Nottinghamshire miners, at which scuffles broke out, and then scattered fights, and amid the pandemonium a man on the platform, having noticed a camera recording this, hurled himself off the platform and down the aisle at the cameraman. Mr Scargill tried to restore some order, this time shouting through a loudhailer, but even with that it was three minutes before he could be heard.....Only bits here and there were audible. Even then, groups round the hall hardly listened at all, but engaged in their own conversations, arguments, and skirmishes.....It took all of Mr Scargill's popularity, strength of will and strength of voice, amplified by the loudhailer, to produce anything like order, and still sporadic scuffles continued.....There was not quiet even when Mr Benn rose to speak. He is the most eloquent and reasoned of speakers, but even he did not get an attentive hearing....and then the audience took up the chant of "Arthur Scargill, Arthur Scargill, we'll support you evermore, evermore."

 

 

   

 Dispossessed Of All Countries Unite! -

 

We Have Nothing To Lose But Our
Illusions That We Have Something To Lose!


"The miners, said Scargill, were fighting "the social and industrial Battle Of Britain".
Once that was joined, the Government could not afford to lose - not only this Government, but government...
Thus no chances have been taken"


(Peter Jenkins, SDP comedy writer for The Guardian)


Since early April this year, there have been four mass strikes in Europe (Asturias , in Spain; Lorraine in France; a General Strike in Belgium - their third in 8 months; and a mass strike of print & engineering workers in Germany). Outside of Europe, there have been massive riots in the Dominican Republic and Haiti; Indian dockers have seized arms and attacked the cops as part of a national dock strike there; and the National Guard have been called out to attack picketing copper miners in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, who've been on strike for ten months. In Asturias, the barricades and battles with the cops has also been over pit closures: there they went way beyond the unions by extending the strike long beyond the time limit the bureaucrats had stipulated. And in Madrid, construction workers seized the chance opened up by the miners and blocked roads with bricks, cement and plaster, whilst in Valencia, steelworkers went on a wildcat strike against redundancies. Yet Scargill still talks of import controls (which undermines international solidarity) and the Battle Of Britain. In France steelworkers have covered roads with coils of metal, whilst in three towns (Marseille, Metz and Longwy) steelworkers have pulled up the railway tracks, like their comrades in Poland had done 8 years previously, whilst in Toulon a union controlled job centre got trashed, and in Metz the local socialist party headquarters was attacked, though not burnt down as the Poles did to the CP headquarters in 1970. Two other socialist Party HQ's were attacked in France in April, whilst in Caen a Tax Office was swamped by tar unloaded from a lorry. Also in Caen, there has been a big riot, and the Post Office was occupied by Post Office workers, trying to sabotage the growth of the new technology. Meanwhile there have not only been mass walk-outs on the trains in Liverpool, but also looting there, as well as in Derry (condemned, of course, by the petit-bourgeoisie of the IRA). Battle Of Britain? The real struggle - to defeat the inevitable humiliations and isolation and survival miseries the crisis of competing national commodities impose on the proletariat everywhere - can only be affirmed internationally and with an increasingly desperate negativity. Demanding reformism in one country, the pseudo-community of the dispossessed's attachment to their existing position in the economy, insures merely a re-arrangement of insults, usually at the expense of other proletarians elsewhere. Proletarians of all lands have nothing to lose but their resignation to false choices. Recently a Barnsley miner tried to get Scargill to express solidarity with some miners in Sheffield's twin town in the Donetz basin in the USSR who'd been sent to a lunatic asylum for their opposition to the State. Scargill's retort was to ask him why he didn't show support for El Salvador. The global spectacles' competition between eastern State capitalism and the 'democracies' of the wealthier capitalist nations is inevitably supported by the pseudo-oppositional bureaucrats of the West (that many Nottingham miners have Polish family connections -as high as 50% in Ollerton - is certainly one of the reasons why they've not come out on strike: the scabbing can't all be put down to bonus schemes, media manipulation and complacent consumerism). Scargill's effective solidarity with the East European ruling class which he tames at pragmatically opportune moments, is ironic when one considers how much scab coal is being imported from Poland (which is also ironic from the point of view of the scabs with Polish connections: their anti-proletarian stance is objectively supported by their Polish enemies - Jaruzelwski & Co).

At the same time as some of these events were happening, the BBC news show, Sixty Minutes, itself the target of recent physical attacks by Yorkshire miners in Barnsley, broadcast a speech by Thatcher made whilst opening the bunker where Winston Churchill and his cabinet met during the war. In it she said that it was essentially Britain's "sense of humanity which triumphed over evil". Her speech was followed by a clip from Churchill's during the Battle of Britain, "United We Stand - Divided we Fall" (nevertheless, as all the bourgeoisie know, Churchill, who had once hoped that Britain, in its hour of need, would have a Hitler to unify it, had his private plane waiting to take him to Canada should Britain have ever fallen to the Nazis). When it comes to anti-fascist rhetoric the bourgeoisie are far better at it - and ironically it is anti-fascism that unites both East Europe and West: it was, after all, the basis of the spectacles' harnessing of the proletariat to the interests of national capital, whether the capital be bourgeois or bureaucratic.

That World War II is being evoked now is illustrative of the various competing capitals' attempts to tie the desire for community to the interests of various national capitals, whilst crushing the real affirmation of proletarian community now being fought for internationally: this spectacle of unity under the State via the use of war and the threat of an external enemy has already been tested in the FaIklands-Malvinas war manipulated by the State. Ironically, Scargill, who supported Argentinas' militarised capital during the 1982 conflict, now conjures up the very same anti-fascism that Thatcher was able to manipulate. Certainly the spectacle is totalitarian - its primary forms - the market and the State - dominate the worlds' citizens everywhere. But to suggest that the British spectacle has become fascist merely hands over to the dominant class an argument it is best able to dominate. The nostalgia that the bourgeoisie condemns in the miners, the self- same bourgeoisie evokes when it suits it to assert the only form of community it is capable of asserting: the hierarchical 'community' united behind the ruling class of which World War II was the model. In this context it's not surprising that in January 1984, the TUC issued an internal document urging recognition that "strikes hurt the community and they hurt workers" and urges the bureaucratic machine to model itself on its collaboration with Churchill's National Government in World War II, when health and safety regulations at work were suspended, workers were not allowed to change their place of wage-labour without permission, overtime was forced and the wages earned thereby had to be lent to the government, and strikes were effectively made illegal and punishable for "sedition". Nevertheless, to label this possibility as "fascist" is to ignore the tendency of all States in the present crisis, whether State capitalist, social democratic, monetarist or whatever to intensify their repressive means of divide and. rule as a way of trying to insure the survival of the commodity economy, even if it means little else survives. Nevertheless, unlike in fascism, false opposition is still necessary because not all forms of real autonomous opposition have been repressed and demoralised, which would be the only basis for the total integration of trade unions into the State, which was the hallmark of fascism. This is not to make light of the fact that all strands of the commodity economy here are increasingly losing their pluralistic face: that there has been a virtually complete blackout of all the mini-riots here since 1981 and of most of the previously mentioned events in Europe, is just one instance of this intensified repression. Fortunately, proletarians are becoming increasingly aware of this unity of lies: that's why even Channel 4 newsmen were threatened by Yorkshire pickets.


"The active refusal of Power's attempts at categorisation and the re-invention of a language of revolt which is necessarily incomprehensible to the State, insure an in-creasingly clear polarisation between pro- and anti- spectacle forces. Nothing be-fuddles and angers Power more than a refusal to acknowledge its authority." - from a revolutionary video, Call It Sleep.

 

                         Future Shocks

 

In the summer of 1981 - with there having been riots over the previous 18 months in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Lyons, Berlin, Switzerland and throughout Britain, as well as a mass movement in Poland - there was sufficient practical critique on the streets to make thousands - maybe even millions - feel optimistic about a revolutionary movement. Few then anticipated martial law in Poland. Or, more vitally for us here, few anticipated the Falkland/Malvinas War, prepared with even greater calculation than the Polish military put into martial law, prepared with even greater finesse than sections of the Italian State put into kidnapping Aldo Moro in 1978, prepared to intimidate with a far superior subtlety than Goering put into the Reichstag Fire. After every subversion of hierarchical power, sections of the State manipulate a crisis, or 'allow' an obviously avoidable crisis to occur, in order to confuse the masses of individuals from the real internal threat with a common external enemy.

Terrorism ends up creating within regional areas the same conditions of conservatism and nationalism that is initiated by international wars. In Italy in 1978, after several years of riots, strikes, occupations, a general resistance to work and to political forms of organisation, the Prime Minister was conveniently kidnapped and killed by a section of the Red Brigades, a section that had been partly infiltrated and manipulated by one of the more right-wing gangs that dominate the Italian State hierarchy. Supported by an outraged public opinion, trumped up by the political parties, by neo-fascist bombings attributed to anarchists and the left, and, above all, by the Italian press, the Italian police unleashed a wholesale repression which saw thousands arrested (few of them terrorists) and many more very successfully intimidated.

It could happen here. If the State can get away with the Falkland/Malvinas War, with all its obvious incongruities, then they could easily get away with blowing up a working colliery and blaming the massacre on pickets. After 1981, the show of State power in the South Atlantic not only made death seem attractive, not only made sacrifice seem brave, not only demoralised the massive rage which clearly hoped for a qualitative extension of the '81 riots into '82, not only demoralised millions into an overwhelming sense of retreat and helplessness, but based this intimidation on the horrific sense that if they can get away with that they can get away with anything. But they can only do this if each proletarian allows them - which is one reason to speculate on the possible manipulations the State will get up to in order to head off the present wave of class struggle. The killing of scabs by provocateurs claiming to be striking miners might sound far-fetched, but it's probably nothing compared with the conspiracies they could hatch. A terrorist bombing blamed on the strike movement could force a blanket repression of all forms of class anger, justifying armed raids on whole mining communities and elsewhere, and could very easily force a return to work (like the nurses did after the IRA's Hyde Park & Regent's Park bombs of 1982).

 

 

                    THE TRUTH ABOUT THE FALKLAND/MALVINAS WAR:

 

 

"If we were unprepared, how is it that from next Monday, at only a few days notice, the Royal Navy will put to sea in wartime order and with wartime stocks and weapons? ...preparations have been in progress for several weeks."
-John Nott, Minister Of Defence, in the House Of Commons,the day after the Agentinian occupation (see Hansard for April 3rd 1982).


More immediately possible is the closing down of one of the steelworks -a closure conveniently blamed on the miners' strike but which was a move British Steel had already contemplated before the strike. Bill Sirs, who in 1980 the Sunday Times praised for his handling of the steelworkers' strike, is doubtless getting the thumbs up from the government to sacrifice the miners on the altar of his career: he can be guaranteed to scapegoat the miners for any closure he collaborates in as a way of evading accusations of "Collaborator!" Doubtless the steelworkers have forgotten that being good and submissive and doing what the bosses tell them didn't save the whole of Consett being sacrificed on the altar of Sir's paycheque. The rulers, and their guard-dogs in the Trade Union bureaucracy, quite rightly regard respectable good behaviour, that of the Good Citizen, the Good Worker, as a sign of weakness, and reward such timidity with the kick in the balls it invites.

Another possible future is that a big build-up in the Gulf war is allowed to happen, paving the way for a compromise on the basis of pulling together for the National Interest: if oil is threatened, coal will be needed, particularly if the country starts moving towards a war economy. NUM propaganda about British coal is as nationalist as any Tory's: developing British coal could be the basis for a massive intensified collaboration of unions in policing their members "in the National Interest" of course -a new Social Contract (probably without Thatcher). Even anti-Americanism could be manipulated to assure the acquiescence of large sections of the Left, perhaps - a National Government. Possible possibles', possibly .Of course, what happens m the future is usually the possibility you least expect -mainly because each person's actions can change history: unless predicting possible futures is used to prepare for such predictable futures and to intervene to challenge them then all the predictor ends up being is a useless prophet, a Cassandra, resigned to being always right - but too late, content with a posthumous truth.

 

 

Waiting For The 'Sell-Out' ?

 
No More NGA-type Cop-Outs!

 

Waiting for the Next Spectacle Of The 'Just' War?


No More Falkland/Malvinas Con Tricks!


Waiting For the Next State


Manipulated Terrorist Atrocity?


No More Reichstag Fires!


No More Lies!


No More Waiting!

 


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DAILY MIRROR, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1984

 

Arthur Scargill is basically shy. The reason many people find him arrogant and offensive is that he is trying to compensate for his natural diffidence. The miners' president himself is the source of enlightenment in yesterday's issue of THE DERBYSHIRE MINER, a union newspaper. In an interview he told the editor, Mr Bill Moore, that to overcome basic shyness he talks quite a lot and puts his views forward in a positive manner to avoid seeming totally ineffective "and that's regarded by most people as being offensive, particularly on TV, and as being rather arrogant," he said.

 

***************************

 Nevertheless, King Arthur hasn't always been so reasonable and image-conscious. Before climbing up the ladder of the NUM, seeking a power position with its own investments in British industry, he participated as a brilliant strategist when the miners defeated the cops at Saltley Coke depot, in 1972. This defeat for the State was organised not merely by the miners, but by the mass of the whole of the working class 'community' (a community based, of course, on defending itself, rather than one based on individuals realising themselves in a collective destruction of all the lies of external power, which can obviously only happen on any vast and irreversible scale from the revolutionary moment onwards). In 1972 this struggle became autonomous because it refused to confine itself to the legal limits demanded by the union bureaucracy .At that time, even if many involved propagated trade unionist ideology, their practice, and Scargill's as one of them, was to confront many of the aims of integration that trade unions had developed in order to save and perpetuate capitalism. During this period, miners showed their contempt for work and the violence of commodity production often by explicitly rejecting the same economic reasoning with which Scargill, and others, compromise themselves nowadays. For example, during the 1972 strike miners were asked if they realised that by refusing to do maintenance work they were putting the future of the pit in danger. One replied, "So what, who wants to go down the bloody pit, anyway?", whilst another said that in closing down the pits they had already saved several lives. And after the dispute had been 'settled', some sections of the miners refused to go back to work, despite a 20% pay rise, thus showing as much a resistance to forced labour as contempt for the Union hierarchy that negotiated the deal. Naturally, the real abolition of forced labour could only take place if workers seized the mines along with all the other things that are theirs anyway.


Joe Wade, famous for his condemnation of the riot at Warrington which followed the cop's dismantling of the loud-speaker system belonging to the NGA of which he was General Secretary , has been quoted as saying, in relation to the miner's strike, "If the Brigade of Guards goes down, what chance has the light infantry?". Malcolm Pitt, Kent N.U.M. leader, seems to be the person fondest of quoting this military metaphor. For bureaucrats and leaders class struggle is reduced to classical military battles because they are fearful of all initiative that escapes their discipline: for the Left bureaucrats it's always a question of using the troops to promote their own authority. That various factions of the left-wing of the NUM are competing not just with the Right, but with each other, and using different sections of the miners as ideology fodder in these power battles, is the result of this military mentality. As part of this power battle between different sects who have different plans for when they get to control the State over the miner's backs, a large section of miners were deliberately sent to Nottingham when the first battles of Orgreave were getting off the ground, thus helping the cops to maintain the thick blue line. The manipulators, nostalgic as ever for 1972 -'74, when miners were in an objectively far more powerful position, hope that the troops will somehow cause a sufficient threat to the present organisers of British capital, that they will be able to come to power on their backs, led by the 1980s equivalent of Wilson-Callaghan (Benn? Livingstone? Scargill?) to counter the 1980s version of Heath (Thatcher).


The image of the past victories of 1972 and 1974 is like a great weight on the backs of the miners, the idea that they alone hold the key to working class victory. But the miners hardly have any greater a part in the maintenance of the economy than any other sector nowadays: the 'crisis of over-production', partly a conscious choice on the part of the more foresighted managers of the commodity economy, undermines any notion of the miners as an avant-garde. Either they seek the practical recognition of a common necessity to wreck proletarianisation in all its forms -from every sector of the class who are prepared to make solidarity a practical force and to recognise a common attack on this world as their only possible hope. Or they allow themselves to be used as the pawns of chess-players prepared to sacrifice them wherever it helps to further their pseudo-oppositional careers. It is the nostalgia of the union leaders who somehow hope to become as central a part of the running of the commodity economy as they did from 1976-'79. But, as the Winter of Discontent showed, it is dangerous for capital to have the unions to closely associated with the government of the day, for, without the pimps of wage labour representing an opposition to the State, autonomous opposition tends to develop with far greater speed.


"How dare you say that people like Malcolm Pitt, who've been imprisoned for re- fusing to submit to the Tory magistrates' vicious bail conditions, are merely a false opposition to capital? What about Scargill, getting beaten up, getting nicked on the picket lines. Haven't they laid themselves on the line like many others?" you may well ask. But, of course, being arrested has never been in itself indicative of a rejection of hierarchical aspirations. The rulers arrest pseudo-oppositional leaders as often as they arrest people who pose a real threat: sometimes this is even a conscious decision on the part of the rulers, a way of getting the real threat to identify uncritically with a figurehead. Besides, to believe that the enemy's enemy is our friend is to take our judgmental criteria from the rulers, even if we invert such criteria. By this method one can end up supporting Emmanuel Shinwell, because he was imprisoned after Red Clyde in 1919. Or Kadar, imprisoned and tortured by Stalin, brought in as leader to crush the Hungarian revolution of 1956 precisely because of his anti-Stalinist past. Prison or martyrdom is no indication of radical credibility: those who hold it up as such are those who will be demanding worse sacrifices from their followers in exchange for the sacrifices they've made 'for' them (this need for a credible image is the obvious reason behind the decision of the bureaucrats to suspend payment of their salary for the duration of the strike; whether this gesture of equality will also mean they'll refuse back-pay once work in the mines resumes is another question).

 

*******************************


                      Some Facts concerning the Recent History of the NUM

 

 

1977: The Labour Government forces miners to accept a productivity deal in exchange for 'guarantees' against closures These 'guarantees' were forgotten, but the miners have yet to recover from the divisions sown by the productivity deal.

 1981: the NUM call off the South Wales miners' action in exchange for worthless promises from the Tory government. Scargill as President of Yorkshire Area NUM, opposed attempts by South Wales pickets to spread the strike to Yorkshire.

 January 1983: the NUM sabotages growing rank and file movement against pit closures. In Scotland as pickets from the Kinneil pit gain support for their sit-in, McGahey calls off the strike. Kinneil pit is closed. In Wales, the NUM ignores an 80% vote for strike action against job losses. Miners at Selby are persuaded to join the strike by Welsh pickets. The decision is overturned by NUM officials. The threatened pits are closed.

 In Kent, the NUM opposes strike action against a compromise deal over redundancies at Snowdon pit.

 March 1983: Scargill calls for a national strike against pit closures!!!!!!

 3rd November 1983: Start of the overtime ban. Coal stocks are 60 million tons.

 Oct-Nov. 1982: 7 week strike against redundancies at Monktonhall pit in Scotland. The NUM negotiates what they call a 'victory'. None of the strikers' demands are met.

 14th January 1984: Scargill says the overtime ban is "having a devastating effect". It is, It is - for the miners. Derbyshire face-workers' wages are down to a basic £76 per week. By March, each Yorkshire miner has lost £360. NCB coal stocks are estimated at 50 million tons.

 Jan-Feb 1984: Action by Scottish miners at Bogside and Polmaise pits against closures. Spontaneous wa1k-outs throughout Scot1and in response to new shifts and productivity deal. Scottish NUM executive meeting refuses to call an all-out strike, saying there is no support. Polmaise miners storm out of the meeting and attack McGahey.

March 1984: The confusion during the present strike is just the culmination of years of confusion caused by the NUM's divisive manoeuvres.

 The NUM like other unions defends its own power and influence within the capitalist system, the same system whose crisis has caused the run-down of the coal industry. Thus the 'victory' McGahey claimed at Monktonhal1 was simply an NCB agreement to consult the NUM before making further closures. The NUM accepts the need for these closures. It supports token actions by miners, but has consistently opposed or sabotaged any effective action.

 The need of the NUM to "take the heat out of the situation" (Scargill) is shown in the apologetic defensive reaction to the riots in Malt by over two weekends this June, which the Union blamed on "skinheads", presumably because of their un-warranted fascist connotations. In the face of massive State repression, the killing of two pickets by scabs, and the growing 'rational' violence of the irrational market economy, so-called 'mob violence' is a minimal expression of self-pride and class consciousness. Only those who wish to preserve a 'pure' image, which means doing fuck-all against the brute force and cynical intimidation of the State, wish to pretend that miners are merely victims, that they're not out to do anything but win support for their just cause, that this support is dependent on presenting a moral case. That shop windows were smashed in Maltby might threaten the 'support', usually merely pragmatic, of shopkeepers giving food on credit, mainly because the shops would be boycotted if they didn't. The ambiguous position of shopkeepers, often opposed to central power yet supporting it ultimately as a 'necessary evil', means that they generally feel threatened by any serious radical opposition, since the mentality associated with their mode of survival tends to make all reality outside of the 'reality' of the market completely incomprehensible to them. That's why many of them identified with the Falklands/Malvinas War, the spectacle of all the daring they lack, a sacrificial 'courage' which makes all their trivial banal sacrifices seem somehow worthwhile, a spectacle that compensates for and insures their timidity before the 'great' nation which shits on them as much as most of the rest. In the months April to July 1981, these petit-bourgeoisies were given a shock which still haunts them. In those heady days, looting, a practical solution to the poverty imposed on the strikers by the State and the NUM's lack of strike pay, became almost as commonplace as a traffic accident, and infinitely friendlier.

 

 

                                     SUMMER SALES


"Shopping should be an emotional experience. People should want to drop in." -  Mr.Quayle, director at Woolworths' "21st Century Shopping Ltd.", new name for Woolies in Bristol (The Times, 14/2/82). "Just doing a bit of window shopping" - Wood Green rioter, 1981 (London Broadcasting Corporation, July ).

There are certain situations when dropping into a shop is a truly emotional experience. That's when people start to smash that blatantly seductive parader of the beauty of possessions, the shop window which reflects back to you the ugliness of your fundamental dispossession. Don't the vast majority dream of wrecking that fragile separation? At the same time as ii titillates us with things we've been told we want, it prevents us from grasping them. When we smash a shop window, it's not only the miraculous display of things (with their artistic image association and their ideological free gifts) that gets shattered, but also the 'reasonable' cops in our head. The objects become what they always were -just objects, whilst the bourgeois rationale that hypocritically distinguishes between theft and property also appears for what it is: bullshit to keep us impotently yearning. How can those who resign themselves to a world which is meant to be expectantly gazed at know the simple beauty of the delightful anger hurling the brick shattering the repressive splits of this fragmented vicarious life? Perhaps they mutter "Greed...Resentment" as they greedily clutch onto their narrow resentment of those who are having a smashing time. One guy during the riot days of '81 smashed every window in Barkers on his own - and never tried to even take anything. Often people smashed shop windows in order to nick nothing more than what they could far more easily steal from Woolworth's on a crowded shopping day with little risk. And the greedy slander this contempt for the law and order of things as 'greed'. When stolen cameras were used as missiles (Wood Green) and TVs were dropped onto the heads of cops(Liverpool), it was the Holy Trinity of the Commodity, the Media & the State which were being wrecked. When a thirsty kid in Brixton swapped some jewellery for a can of cold coke, exchange value was being subverted by the value of desire. Yet still 'socially aware' pedagogues could smugly moralise about 'greed' along with the Daily Mirror and the rest of the capitalist media. Greed had fuck-all to do with it - and only "socialist" specialists, and other politicians, had a material interest in belittling the looting to this lowest common denominator. It is the game of dare that shatters the vulnerable veil separating the dispossessed from the "wealth" this world has to offer, at the same time shattering the ideology of exchange that separates people from each other; looting is a collective activity that unites us on the basis of an immediate break with our habitual submission to space & things. In those July days, youths often stole things in order to give them away as presents to attractive strangers who, by means of such give and take, were no longer so strange. But shopping keeps us apart, making everyone the policeman of their own encounters, reducing everyone to the banality of shop assistants arid customers, workers and consumers, enervating queues and digits on a till. Products of competing businesses and the separation of production from distribution, shops perpetuate the nonsensical degrading form of organising things, the commodity form, which not only insults everyone's imagination and dignity, but is also bureaucratic, inefficient and wasteful. Any proletarian with an ounce of audacity rightly goes out and liberates them on the basic class recognition of a simple re-distribution of wealth. But it would be merely ideological cheer- leading to sociologically 'justify' looting in terms, say, of bridging the gap between the haves and have-nots. Such moralistic reformists want to turn looting into a struggle for equality under the law of exchange, and thus usually reduce the explanation for looting as being to do with unemployment, and only unemployment. That way looting can become 'safe' and not really the concern of those workers who are a bit higher up the commodity's' ladder than the unemployed. "Understandable, but inexcusable", as Claire Doyle from the Militant Tendency condescendingly put it. The Right, since they had no reason to express any sympathy for the rioters, were usually a bit more sussed. Breakfast TVs' fuehrer, Tory M.P. Jonathan Aitken, complained about what "took place in the prosperous and peaceful towns of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells", where "hundreds of teenagers ran amok in the streets" and "petrol bombs were thrown and a number of shop windows were smashed." Choosing his words carefully, he stated, "I do not think that any objective observer could see there any of the symptoms of decay, deprivation and degradation that we have heard so much about in inner cities in other parts of the country." Of course, it's never "objective observers" who experience the prosperous passivity of sweet English towns as symptomatic of the decay of their desires, the deprivation of their intelligence and the degradation of their humanity: only subjective participants can experience that. Meanwhile, specialists in 'objectivity' content themselves with teaching the masses. "Youth is a force which can be used for the destruction of society, or for the re-building of society. That is what the House and the Nation should be about. That is what our leaderships should be about, on both sides of the House. The art of politics is to change the negative or destructive to the positive. The young should be turned to a proper purpose that will benefit us all.", said Sir Hugh Fraser, Tory M.P. (of course, the art of attacking politics is to try to make sure that the negative or destructive don't get changed in- to "positive" forces {like the Falklands War?} whose proper purpose is to turn the intimidation of youth into a profitable unit which would be of benefit to the leadership of commodity society). Didactic arrogance is not, however, the prerogative of the Right. Leftist SWP leader, Tony Cliff, said at a meeting in Liverpool at the time, "Because they have not been organised the kids have been attacking shops when they should have been attacking factories. We must teach them to take the bakery and not just the bread". The Left, left behind by a movement of kids who were teaching their parents, had to pretend they knew it all as usual, and that the kids were too thick to make the revolution according to their blueprints. Again the Right were a bit clearer: "The French revolutionaries were most interested in securing bread; they were asked to eat cake, but they wanted bread. They are surely strange revolutionaries in our streets today, whose first motivation is to steal the products of a capitalist consumer society. I do not see those people as the traditional vanguards of the proletariat. I see them as people who have...rather less of a need for bread. " (John Butcher, M.P.)

Then there are those urban reformers who were really frightened by the extent to which urban dereliction contributed to the trashing and burning of those nice little shops in poor neighbourhoods, the "horrific" consequences of high rise estates, desolate spaces, barren streets After all, such conditions destroy that convenient informal network of vigilance and surveillance which, including authority figures such as teachers, parents, shopkeepers, local businessmen, publicans, etc., made the job of the cops a fuck of a lot easier: one way or another people were always 'known' to each other. But increasing anonymity has meant that the local shop could be done in without much risk of being made to pay the cost. Behind the veil of good intentions there's that inherent class bias in which small business interests come first in their apparently damning indictments of urban development. They just want to try to recreate the conditions which they pretend once bound otherwise class-divided 'communities' together. That's why they tend to sensationalise street crime. But their greatest fear is the kind of explosion of class war which has no compunction about attacking small businesses, which is exactly what happened on Britain's streets between July 4th and 13th, 1981. In response, one M.P. suggested that "...corporations might engage in marketing studies... They might suggest to neighbourhood retailers how they could make the shopping precinct more attractive, and they might wish to get involved in giving the area a facelift... improve, say, the appearance of the shop frontage." (Anthony Steen, July 16th 1981 ). Doesn't this show the poverty of all aestheticised architecture? It's all just fancy icing coating the rotten cake of market relations, the appearance of an attractive facelift hiding the contempt of the commodity.

The basic disgust youth developed then for the petit-bourgeois mediocrity of shopkeepers was also disgust for the polite policing which is encouraged not only by the reformers but also by the dominant class (after all, Thatcher's father was a grocer ). This disgust often transcended racial considerations also. For instance, the same Asian shopkeepers who had a 'sympathetic' meeting with Thatcher in Southall after the white fascist attacks on their shops, got smashed up a week later by Asian kids. Those who identify with their present means of survival, always always side with the perpetuators of their misery in the end, regardless of their colour - and black and white youth are beginning to recognise it. It's not too difficult to see that behind the shopkeepers' "May I be of any assistance sir?", behind the "Thank you" and "Please" (and the occasional smile, lurk petty-minded shrivelled little tyrants ,who think they're free because they're 'their own boss', content with their island of illusory dictatorship, where power is reduced to short-changing. Regardless of their longing for some fantasised former simplicity and local autonomy, regardless of the fact that, like Covent Gardens' "Alternative Bookshop", they might call themselves anarchists and certainly moan about central government, almost invariably they call the cops. Such dreary respect for the graveyard of the present was smashed with every stone thrown. Until the proletariat seizes and transforms the economy, pillage will always be the minimum expression of life.

  

                                                                      

 

                               GDANSK, POLAND, DECEMBER 1970; workers looting state-owned store.


Looting implies mass communal direct power, unmediated by buying & selling, by cops & specialists: it is the necessary 'chaos' through which we must pass in order to organise the distribution of things on a rational and playful human basis. Theft ,particularly mass theft, gives you the chance to re-invent the use of a thing beyond the resigned individuals' normal submission to the insult of its market value the use to which the Economy demands the individual sacrifice himself to, for which degrading irrationality all the Property Laws are the tedious justification. Against this complicated normality, the rioters have shown the abnormal simplicity of a creative use of space and time. In Keswick, bikers smashed up the theatre, getting away with some of the costumes. In Manchester we saw something a little better than the ultra-leftists' wet dream of a Free Transport System when rioters stole milk floats and concrete mixers to attack the cops. In Brixton, space invaders machines from 'Space City' were used as barricades against the real space invaders - the cops and the traffic, a neat way of showing how the idiocy of the leisure spectacle can easily be turned against the perpetuators of this idiocy. A whining Sunday Mirror hack wrote that whilst standing outside a smashed half-looted clothes shop, a young woman came up to him and said, "May I be of any assistance, sir? I'm sure we can find something your size. And if we can't find anything today, I'm certain we'll have something in stock tomorrow. " Here, humour, normally unserious, safely separate, compensatory and evasive, re-discovered it's point - sharpened, this time, by life, by reality: here, unlike in The Young Ones, The Comic Strip or the rest of the Alternative Decomposition crew, the juxtaposition of incongruities was used to directly challenge the irrationality of the present. Not only was nothing pre-scripted, but the old scripts were spontaneously turned upside down. The parody of politeness, armed by the practical situation of mass subversion, reveals the miserable stupidity of the complicity of individuals with the roles the division of labour demands of them. No wonder the Sunday Mirror mercenary moaned about how bizarre It all was: jokes ain't wot they used to be.

Some "revolutionaries" complained that the kids at Finsbury Park looted gold in order to re-sell it. To them it's an expression of class solidarity when workers go on wildcat strike for a wage rise, but when marginals riot and also get what amounts to a wage rise, these workerists become purists and put down this expropriation as perpetuating commodity relations. Nevertheless, it's possible that one day survivalism and its "compensations" will be superseded to such an extent that gold bars will end up like the £300 cameras in Wood Green: as ammunition - their only use value. Until then, the theft of gold for re-sel1ing merely shocks the dominant class because it mirrors the contradictory irrationalities of the market economy the dominant class is based on. Theft, like hustling, may be necessary but hardly sufficient: such acts assert the self-direction of the masses against the tyrannical misery of the Commodity on one level, yet on another level undermines this practical position by perpetuating its' rules, expressing the decomposition of the system and its' values without in itself posing an exit. Obviously whilst this world is not opposed by an explicitly intelligent global confrontation, posing practically the supersession of the commodity economy, it would be self-defeating to lob all the gold at our enemies. Until global anger has carried us that far, the necessity of determining our existence will inevitably be riddled with the subtle contradictions of The Market. Until then, theft is necessary: but pumping it up or putting it down are just different ways of pumping oneself up or of putting oneself down, stopping a more profound questioning. Until we truly do go over "the edge of the abyss, beyond which lay anarchy, the breakdown of law and social catastrophe" (The Guardian, referring to the riots) quite a few more questions are going to have to be posed and answered.
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Highly recommended: 'Like A Summer With A Thousand Julys' a critique of contemporary Britain up until the end of the Falklands/Malvinas war. The best account of the riots. Available for £1 from: B.M.Blob London W C IN 3XX (this recommendation was not solicited by the authors of this text).

Also see on the Revolt Against Plenty web:

"Miner" Conflicts Major Contradictions

 A Destroyed Yorkshire Miner

M-m-m-miners

The Miners: Jenny Tells Her Tale 

Kingsnorth 2008/Lisbon 1982. Miners and ecos. Monbiot & Scargill   

Energy and Extinction 2004

Filmscripts. Miner/Butterfly Destruction. Part 1

Filmscripts.Miner/Butterfly Destruction. Part 2

Filmscripts.Miner/Butterfly Destruction. Part 3

   

 


Film Scripts

Concerning  post miners' strike makeovers of the former colliery spoil heaps of South and West Yorkshire. (Or how best destroy a profound, subversive historical memory and an abundance of wild life with it, including the threatened Dingy Skipper butterfly).

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      The numbered paragraphs that follow provide the basis for the voiceovers to several digital films we've made detailing the destruction of the increasingly rare Dingy Skipper butterfly on the former pit spoil heaps of South and West Yorkshire. This would never have occurred without huge subventions running into hundreds of millions by the UK State and the EEC. The aim has been to wipe out all memory of the region's subversive past taking with it much of the indigenous flora and fauna. All told it is a disaster of unparalleled magnitude.

      The films are almost complete and are to be streamed on a separate website once a few technical difficulties are resolved. As usual, we've had to do everything  ourselves with no help from anybody. Anyone can download them and use them as they so desire. Once these technical problems are resolved we will post the URL here.

      So why get so het-up about a tiny, dingy, butterfly that really does live up to its vernacular name?  Apart from anything else, little did we realize when  we embarked on the project three or four years ago how we were going to be spat on from all directions - not least by the central committees of wildlife conservation groups, though not from individual members of these groups who were as appalled as we were though unfortunately too afraid to speak out. Mostly however, we were confronted with a hostile wall of silence and our efforts to publicise what was happening came to very little. After all there is a limit as to what two people can do when faced with such massed, overpowering obtuseness. We were as usual the butt of much sneering and derision. This went on behind our backs for had there ever been a stand-up fight we would have trounced the opposition, despite the overwhelming odds.

        What we have tried to get across in these films is the present day sham of greenery. Honed by the language of advertising, a wasteland is being created in the name and image of greenery. And nowhere is this more blatantly obvious than on the former pit spoil heaps of South and West Yorkshire. It is to be fervently hoped that the dissenting voices will grow in number and rend the air with their mass cry of protest aimed not just at naked capitalism but those who seek to do the impossible and make capitalism ecologically responsible. This tendency has now become the dominant ideology and without it capitalism would be unable to function. We hope these modest films will help make that clear, especially the filmscript on Frickley colliery.

       Though hostile to these destructive spoil heap makeovers, that doesn't mean we believe in leaving everything just as it is and letting nature take its course unhindered, though that obviously has a major part to play. Huge earth works could have a marvellous salutary effect on local flora and fauna especially in cities, and they could be an absolute delight to shove up. But this will never happen under capitalism. In a case like this the only effective guarantor of success is a liberatory peoples' assembly one that negates money and external power and scoops up in the newly conserving ladles of the JCBs' to throw on the new spoil heaps all hip horticulturalists, the legions of bought ecologists, landscape designers and earth-installation eco artists.


Stu' & Dave Wise. March 2007

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The Great Kiveton Park Pit Makeover Disaster (A filmscript)


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        We stumbled on the Dingy Skipper in South Yorkshire purely by chance. We had gone to the funeral in Kiveton Park near Sheffield of our dear friend John Dennis, a former miner, who had died prematurely of drink and diabetes. On the day before his funeral in late May 2002 we had wandered dejectedly on to the spoil heap of Kiveton Park pit and to our delight had found masses of Dingy Skippers and, at a rough guess, a ten thousand strong colony of very variable Common Blues. It was like John had risen from the dead for he loved nature as did many another miner and had he known about these butterflies he would have cherished and protected them. He would have had no qualms about mounting a picket to protect the butterfly either for he knew only direct action was going to save the planet. Three years later there is not one Dingy Skipper to be seen at Kiveton and the Common Blues are reduced to a pitiful rump.

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      Over the following days we kept returning to the site to try and get an indication of its size. It was far larger than we first thought and the colony appeared to be concentrated around the old clock tower that formerly belonged to the colliery and pit baths, which have now acquired heritage status. However they were to be found in greater numbers on the wooded side of the spoil heap facing the road toward Harthill, particularly on the fringes and in the clearings not yet completely covered by the encroaching carr woodland. Our on-the-spot estimate indicated that there were about 300 to 400 Dingy Skippers on the wing at the height of the emergence.

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     Three years later there was not one Dingy Skipper to be seen at Kiveton and the Common Blues were reduced to a pitiful rump of about 20 or so adults. In the meantime a supposedly eco-conscious, very destructive amenity makeover, had finished off the former spoil heap's amazing bio-diversity.

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       What we have here are the elegiac first and last film clips of the Dingy Skipper at Kiveton. The film was shot on a blustery day in May 2004 mainly in carr woodland clearings and on the burnt shale path that climbed up the spoil heap. As we silently dwell on these historic shots for a while, listen to the buffeting wind and other ambient sounds.

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       Following the relentless 'dash for gas' programme that had provoked the great miners' strike of 1984/85, Kiveton Park colliery had closed in 1994 as a direct consequence of the brutal wholesale pit closures government directive of 1993. Prior to that some seeding and planting of trees had already taken place. Once the pithead winding gear came down and the shaft filled in the National Coal Board had been under some kind of legal obligation to make good the rest of the bare spoil heap. Heaps of trefoil, clover and kidney vetch seed were scattered over the 22 acres that comprised the spoil heap. It was like a desert had bloomed and the acres of kidney vetch were especially breathtaking. This cut price, haphazard, though ecologically very effective seeding must have considerably helped expand the Dingy Skipper and Common Blue populations, both forming major colonies in a fairly short space of time. On the North Downs in Surrey a flush of kidney vetch will prompt a search for the Small Blue butterfly. Here there were enchanting acres of the stuff and we were reminded the nearest colony of Small Blues was not far away in Derbyshire. In fact from the top of Kiveton spoil heap, the site was almost visible through the blue haze that bathed the Derbyshire Dales above the M1 motorway.

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      But this ecologically successful makeover was merely a stopgap measure, an unintended consequence of the real aim, which was to eventually sell off the land. This temporary greening of the abandoned spoil heaps was increasing the asset value of the NCB's land portfolio and making them less of a financial liability than if they been allowed to stay as they were. Besides, nature was poised to take their grim majesty back in any case.

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      The English Coalfield Regeneration Program was made up of 62 sites, the assorted spoil heaps being the largest portfolio of contaminated land in Europe covering 3,400 hectares or the equivalent in terms of space of 95,000 low-density homes. A land transfer of enormous proportion is the eventual aim, the transfer of land from public i.e. state ownership, to private ownership being presented as the key factor in generating development and wealth. The idea was that such a transfer would facilitate property development and thereby property led urban regeneration. This notion is very much of its time, the defeat of the 1984/85 miners' strike greatly speeding up the flotation of state owned companies, especially gas, electricity, and water on the stock exchange.

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         To attract investors, and ultimately a purchaser, the spoil heaps had first to undergo a facelift paid for by UK and European state agencies. And this is how Kiveton came to be designated an anodyne play and recreational area. The client body that now owns Kiveton, and nominally responsible for the makeover is Renaissance South Yorkshire, in fact a subsidiary body of the Whitehall appointed, Yorkshire Forward. A  government-funded creation in its entirety, the Kiveton makeover cannot pretend to be a product of free enterprise, a fact which goes against the grain of the prevailing neoliberalism. So to be rid of that stigma, Renaissance South Yorkshire is now hoping to denationalise this land holding as quickly as possible by finding a buyer on the open market. Initially its exit strategy for the site had been the Land Reclamation Trust and British Waterways, though there appears to be absolutely nothing left of the Chesterfield canal, which once ran through the site.

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        At its centre are two fully lined, large fishing ponds easily accessible by that all-important piece of noxious junk on wheels, the car. There are also 11 kilometres of paths some of which are laughingly referred to as 'nature walks'. Several miles distant from Sheffield it has been spared the entertainment mega blitz that has been the fate of the Orgreave spoil heap on the perimeter of Sheffield also once a Dingy Skipper foothold  and the site of a legendary battle during the miners' strike. Even so one of the advertised attractions of the remade Kiveton spoil heap is the proximity of Meadow Hall shopping centre or rather 'retail therapy centre' as it is referred to in the sickening post modernist language of the glossy spoiled heap brochures.

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      English Partnerships, an umbrella group comprising Yorkshire Forward and Renaissance South Yorkshire, which liases with local authorities as part of the 'value-added' towns programme, drew up the overall plan. 'Value added' always implies an increase in new build and home ownership and a momentous shift away from traditional industries toward concept, design, marketing and finance otherwise speciously referred to in the post miner New Britain as the 'creative industries'. The asinine myth of a work based creativity spreading out to encompass all of everyday life permits an increasingly de-industrialised Europe and America to believe they will forever maintain economic and cultural hegemony over China and India. It is also the ground on which a moribund installation art and an insipid ecology flourishes, the union of both becoming increasingly important to the post industrial capitalism of the developed world.

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       The cost of the Kiveton spoil heap makeover was put at £9.5 million. After the overall plan was drawn up for Kiveton the contracts were divided up between Cheetham Hill Construction, White, Young and Green and the Encia bio-remediation group. In this subcontracted world how many other subcontractors were involved is anybody's guess. The general idea was to link 'environmental quality with economic investment decisions' What that means is plain to see from the results obtaining at Kiveton, as is the usual predictable blurb about creating a 'prosperous and sustainable economy'.

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      More specifically there were regeneration budgets and land reclamation/derelict land grant programmes. Derelict land is defined for purposes of giving grants as 'land so damaged by industrial and other developments that it is incapable of beneficial use without treatment'. Though this sounds sensible and praiseworthy it hinges on what is meant by 'beneficial use' because the final result does not benefit nature at all and therefore cannot be said to benefit humans either.

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       Considerable emphasis has been given at Kiveton to 'land restoration' which is where the Encia Group comes in, 40 hectares of soil being cleansed of all hazardous waste. 'Soil amelioration', as the process is called, has become compulsory on industrially derelict sites since a European Union directive was enacted in July 2004. In fact most of the European Directives have to do with the environment, including landfill, hazardous waste, surface waters, pollution prevention and control and conservation of natural habitats. However once they reach Britain, the directives are mixed with a noxious eco neoliberalism and become the truth, the whole truth and nothing like the truth.

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       At Kiveton 'soil amelioration,' meant that all top 'contaminated' shale or other soil was removed on a massive scale to be aerated and sampled. Lime and other nutrients were added and finally the whole lot returned to the site. Encia insists that no new topsoil was ever brought in from elsewhere. This is sales pitch with a vengeance for tons upon tons have been freshly dumped on the site, utterly obliterating the spoil heaps top layer of burnt shale and tiny bits of coal which gave the spoil heaps their characteristic ochre and dark grey colour.

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        Certainly the imported soil was not cleansed of alien seeds as fat hen, sharlock, nettles and thistle are now to be seen in abundance, choking off the sparse original vegetation. This was followed up by a seeding in mechanically pricked out rows of rye grass - the living equivalent of astro-turf - giving  the place the appearance of  a permanent artificial spring. Cheetham Hill Construction Ltd should really be renamed Cheating Hill Destruction Ltd for their promotional statutes proudly proclaim (quote):

 1.'We are committed to complying with environmental legislation and have specific site procedures to address waste management, silt pollution and working in proximity to protected species.

 2. Due to our extensive environmental management system we have recently been awarded the prestigious Green Apple Award.'

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        The Rotten Apple Award would have been more appropriate. One of the other construction companies, Birse Civils, also received an award for its remedial destruction of the spoil heap's great promise. Orwellian newspeak is the rule on these pit spoil heap makeovers but just occasionally there are touches of humour, which leavens the grim progression of destruction. Perched on the top of the former Woolley colliery spoil heap one day, disconsolately watching the truck loads of alien soil being delivered to what is another ultra commercial makeover, we suddenly noticed that the firm responsible for the carting operation was called Wordsworth Excavations Ltd. You couldn't make this chance irony up!

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      The Health & Safety Executive is also in the grip of the pervading irrationality and cannot be questioned. Once so helpful in improving health and safety at work and safe guarding the lives of ordinary people, much contemporary legislation makes little sense and is arguably even harmful. The EU contaminated soil directive is a case in point - but it will help fill the order books of firms like Vertase and Encia that specialize in the cleaning up of industrially derelict sites, leaving behind insipid flower beds of pansies and primulas and a sign advertising their wares where once sparse grasses, trefoil, thistle and buddleia were allowed to run free. The spoil makeovers were also dummy runs for even more lucrative contracts for environmental consultancies on the Olympic park site in east London and in the Thames Gateway where there are very big prizes to be had. 

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       Zero contamination becomes zero nature and gone are the rare plants, butterflies, insects and birds which thrived in this industrially generated wilderness. Gone are the Little Ringed Plover, the Dingy Skipper, Brown Argus, Common Blue and the different species of orchids. Doubtless there are many more species. The greater rationality has been buried with the contaminated soil in the binding legality of officially authorized landfill:  if the present legislation was to become retrospective most of the Mendips would be cordoned off with razor wire and the inhabitants of Cornwall cleared off the land, their homes flattened because of radon gas contamination.

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      Whatever soil contamination there was at Kiveton it is doubtful if it even remotely compared with that found on many a great expanse of national park and area of outstanding natural beauty. This sums up the lunacy of much present day legislation and one can only wonder if the pit head winding gears and spoil heaps had been left as they were, and was the custom with abandoned industrial sites until the last three decades, they would they not over time have come to be as valued as the perilous granite wheel houses of the Cornish tin mines and the kaolin lunar landscape left behind by Cornwall's china clay industry?

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     The flashy fold-up propaganda sheets that were given away free in the local library and forewarned of the immanent makeovers are drenched in an ultra-democratic, consultative, ecologically mindful language all the more striking because so phoney. This fastidious, politically correct bigotry could turn out on occasion to be true: there is now a disability ramp that zigzags across both sides of the former Kiveton spoil heap incline, though we have yet to see it being used other than by cyclists.

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     However by far the biggest factor determining the outcome of the Kiveton spoil heap makeover horror has to be the large new private housing estate that lies on the flat land to the side of the pit baths and old colliery offices. We need look no further than this for an explanation: house price inflation has now become the motor of the economy as it is in America with the rest of Europe still trailing behind, though due to catch up as the neoliberal revolution pioneered in Britain and America begins to really bite.

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       Mildly eco-conscious, as most people are nowadays, the recent tenants of these new estates would have expressed regret if at a later date they were told the Dingy Skipper had now gone from the madeover spoil heaps. But if we had pointed out to residents in 2004-5 that the butterfly which then teemed on the Kiveton park spoil heap and would continue to do so only if the spoil heap was kept just as it was, then the initial enthusiasm of these same residents would have rapidly waned. For estate agents descriptions increasingly include outlook as a selling point and the difference between an unmodified and a madeover Kiveton Park or a Woolley spoil heap can add or subtract £10,000 easily from the value of a property. When put like this there is no contest, even if it does mean the loss of an endangered butterfly.

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      The joint venture spearheaded by Yorkshire Forward is nothing if not media savvy. The absence of even the most elementary democracy explains why this is so, the media substituting for the growing lack of basic democratic rights. Yorkshire Forward is one of nine Regional Development Agencies created during the late 1990s by the Labour government. They are appointed by and responsible to the Secretary of State and hence ruled directly from Westminster. Fearful there was too much coercion and not enough consent, these Regional Development Agencies were to become the basis of Regional Assemblies which were rejected by people in the north and west as just another irrelevant tier of bureaucracy they would end up paying through the nose for.

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       When housing became part of the Treasury, in addition to the creation of a ministerial post responsible for housing and communities, a sub department of the same ministry was set up dealing exclusively with the media and communications. The future of housing was henceforth the future of propaganda so it is not surprising to find that space for media centres has been given a top priority in the spoil heap makeovers. When the present Treasury minister, Ruth Kelly, opened Rainham Marshes in the Thames Gateway really the much publicised fanfare was a way of saying once nature becomes an object of virtual consumption, thanks to the increased media coverage it is receiving, then the highly selective images of natural abundance merely help disguise the fact nature is disappearing everywhere.

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       In 1983, a year before the miners' strike, a National Heritage Act was passed signifying a new and wider appreciation/commodification of the historical legacy that began in the late 1960s. An archaeological assessment was carried out both at Kiveton and Dinnington prior to redevelopment. The pit baths at Kiveton have been given heritage status and it also is set to become a media centre anticipating the direction presently indicated by the Treasury by three years. Proposals have been put forward for 'cinema/theatre, function suite, heritage interpretation area, (whatever that is!) multi-media training facilities, caf' and managed work places'.

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       We did everything required of us in terms of informing the authorities particularly bio-diversity groups and even worked hand-in-hand with one officially recognised eco-group, SK 58 birders included in the Kiveton master plan. Given we did not live in South Yorkshire we could have hardly been more hands on. 

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      Though very sceptical from the outset it was a learning curve for us and at the end of the day we were shocked to find we stood virtually alone, two coffin dodgers confronting an unstoppable juggernaut. If we began disillusioned we are doubly so now particularly as our faces are now flattened through running into endless brick walls elsewhere. If what's left of the Dingy Skipper in South and West Yorkshire is to be saved different tactics to the strict legalism and procedures we adhered too will have to be deployed. We have long held that only direct action by a large number of  people living close by as well as elsewhere will change things for the better and the saving of the Dingy Skipper is no exception to this rule.

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      And so these unofficial spoil heap wild life havens that had a long way to go before they reached their climax, are turned into featureless, denatured, development projects made up of housing and warehousing together with the occasional amenity park ' as Kiveton was to become -  with scarcely a voice raised in protest. Ian Bramley of regeneration consultants Renaissance South Yorkshire had the bare faced cheek to say 'the reclamation program will transform a site which currently offers nothing to the community into one which provides a recreational area where people can enjoy a range of outdoor pursuits'.  He also refers to the project as an 'investment' which 'will create the potential for associated developments'. And there we have it: these spoil heap reclamation schemes are a form of trading on the futures' market. This is easily as mercenary as the trade in dead stock, which never pretended to be anything other than that.

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     What's more it never presumed to cover itself in the mantle of maximum sensitivity to human needs, which is increasingly typical of today's sales pitch. A good friend of ours whose home backs onto the makeover said in an email:  'It has a look of Telly tubbi-land if you ask me. Maybe Po and La-la are endangered species. You tell me.' Yes the whole thing is Disney-like and Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse would not look out of place here.

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     A fanfare of publicity nowadays always attends proposed developments such as these, the Treasury's recent innovative use of the media using nature conservation as the pretext serving to underline the fact. Reclamation Scheme Masterplans are thrown open to the public and everyone can express an opinion from councillors, local residents to environmental interest groups teachers to schoolchildren. Nothing on paper could be more consultative, issue conscious and democratic with apparently exhaustive consultative procedures implemented in this instance by the Kiveton Park and Wales Community Development Trust and other bodies under the umbrella of English Partnerships. A Rotherham councillor Karl Barton had stressed that he wanted 'local people to have control over the development and would be pushing for as much local consultation as possible'. And yet always the result is tragically different to that intended by the fa'ade of a seemingly ever more inclusive democracy. If the pet gerbils of school children could speak they would assuredly be given a voice, only to then find that, instead of the cage door been thrown wide open, even their tread mill will now turn faster.

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       This is the bitter truth - an increasingly thin democracy falsely claiming to be all ears but which operates according to globally competitive criteria and which has to follow 'the growth agenda'  (i.e. the maximisation of profit) or perish. This post modern neoliberalism is also characterised by an obsessive spiral of subcontracting which constantly verges on a bad, money-driven, 'anarchy' and the loss of anything like overall control.

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       The Cheetham Hill Construction Company, employed to do the job of covering up the spoil, prides itself on being a hollowed-out company, good at getting the business contracts in then subcontracting the dirty work out to other companies that then operate under its logo as if they were all one and the same company. At no point did the left hand ever know what the right hand was doing, a situation which applies across the board today. Although we clearly indicated the areas where the Dingy Skipper flourished, the instructions always managed to get lost as they were passed down the line, the buck stopping nowhere. The whole set up is so damned crazy it would be hilarious if it also weren't so tragic.

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       It rapidly became clear Yorkshire Forward and Renaissance South Yorkshire are autocratic bodies. They rarely have the decency to even reply to letters. Top management are absolutely against any ecological initiatives and want ecologists that get in the way out of the way. If they refuse to budge Yorkshire Forward and Renaissance South Yorkshire don't hesitate to turn their fire on them especially on awkward eco-groups like the SK 58 birders who had been included in the official regeneration plan. We collaborated with the latter and they were very helpful and did far more to save the Dingy Skipper than official butterfly conservation groups. Bird watching always has been a more popular pastime than the pursuit of butterflies and moths and this is reflected in the far greater willingness of birders to take on authority.

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       Rotherham Council is a little better but not much and did at least listen to SK 58. After much petitioning Rotherham Council was able to get Renaissance South Yorkshire to agree to leave the carr woodland on the slopes of Kiveton Spoil heap, which probably once was the main breeding ground  of the butterfly, at least on the slopes, especially where the wood is thinned out. Renaissance South Yorkshire was in favour of completely chopping this area down because a job well done on the spoil heaps is one that leaves no trace of the past. And that is how the scrub woodland on the slope has come to be left. But to no avail because the indispensable bare spoil around the perimeter of the carr woodland the Dingy craves has been covered up and grassed over.

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      Worse than that however is the fact the birds foot trefoil, the foodplant of the Dingy Skipper and Common Blue, has been all but eliminated throughout the entire 40 hectares! And yet Yorkshire Forward had promised (though not in writing) to smother the makeover in trefoil!

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      There was one spot in particular we drew the developers' attention to. This lay to one side of the former course of the Chesterfield canal and in the early summer of 2004 we were fortunate enough to see the very remarkable sight of the Dingy Skipper and the Brown Argus (then a great rarity in South and West Yorkshire) flying side by side. Our recommendations were duly taken up and the area has been singled out for special treatment. It is now fenced-off and bisecting the rustic fencing is an expensive wooden style that leads nowhere, unless, of course, you are a botanist whose prime interest in life is the study of sharlock! There is not a patch of bare ground or trace of trefoil or dove's foot cranesbill to be seen anywhere. The ecological understanding of Yorkshire Forward was by now so wanting and crude they maybe thought the butterflies could switch eating habits at will and enjoy a takeaway from one of the new eateries on Kiveton High St!

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        This is no joking matter for it gets worse. When Mick Clay of SK 58 pointed out that the thick covering of topsoil would destroy the Dingers Skippers habitat, as the bare spoil was essential to them, it was seriously suggested that he collect all the eggs of the Dingy Skipper like they were the size of ostrich eggs and take them to a spot where they would thrive! Though Yorkshire Forward had promised to seed the site with trefoil it was Woolworth's all-purpose lawn grass that won the day which, except for skylarks, birds dislike. This fluorescent grass was sown right up to the outer edges of the scrapes and only succeeded in frightening off the waders the scrapes were designed to attract. Yorkshire Forward now has the cheek to say its pot of money is now empty and cannot afford to reinstate even some of the spoil by removing the 18 inches of clay and topsoil that has been the cause of all the damage. The bastards!

                                                                                                                   38

        As a reward for their pains SK 58 birders was were not invited to the official opening because they were viewed as troublemakers. Stooping to black propaganda, the local press, prompted quite obviously by Yorkshire Forward, began to hound the birders, printing scurrilous articles about them. It was suggested that SK 58 had attempted to get a children's hospice, the Bluebell Wood at nearby Dinnington moved off the site in order to save the Little Ringed Plover. In reality, what was in dispute was not the hospice itself, though it had been made to appear that way, but the siting of the approach road which ran close to the nesting area of the Little Ringed Plover, through a Dingy Skipper colony and over the other unusual flora that could be found there, like the masses of bee orchids. Birders and Mick Clay especially of SK 58 began to get nervous walking through local streets and were afraid to go into local pubs for fear of attack because they were now viewed as evil people unwilling to provide for terminally ill children. In fact, the birders wanted another route that was already in existence but were overruled. Mud sticks and it stuck to the birders. Not invited to the opening any letter sent to the Bluebell Trust regarding ecological matters is now ignored. The scrapes at Kiveton have dried up and the Plovers have now gone. At the nearby Dinnington colliery development they are hanging on and only three chicks were hatched in 2006.

                                                                                                                    39

      Moreover, as we and SK 58 birders rapidly found out, most of the ecologists employed by Yorkshire Forward and Renaissance South Yorkshire are ecologically illiterate and appear not to know a great deal generally about nature. They are very ineffective and probably given the job because they are so useless but also very adept at blanking letters and searching requests likely to expose their ignorance. Their inertia is a protection against the likelihood of this happening and the high salaries mean their continuing silence and compliance can be relied on.

                                                                                                                    40

       We first heard that the Kiveton Park spoil heap was to be given a facelift sometime in the late 1990s from Jenny, the wife of the miner John Dennis mentioned at the beginning of this film. As British Waterways initially had shown an interest in developing the site, everyone assumed some kind of marina would be the likely outcome, as a branch of the Chesterfield Canal once ran through the colliery grounds.

                                                                                                                     41

       Interestingly in the late 1970s Jenny had, as a Labour party councillor, overseen the development of the Rother Valley Country Park which, today hosts probably more than the one Dingy Skipper colony we definitely know is there. Jenny still has all the paperwork relating to the country park and one day we intend going through it, for it cost a mere fraction of the £9.6 million spent on the far smaller Kiveton Park makeover.

                                                                                                                      42

         The Rother Valley Country Park was a spin off of the 1968 Countryside Act that gave local councils the authority to construct Country Parks. This had formerly been the province of the National Park Commission since the National Park and Countryside Act of 1949. Unlike National Parks they were not necessarily places of beauty but intended primarily for enjoyment. Though the conservancy function had been split off into various conservation councils, an amenity park like the Rother Valley became, within a few years, as good as many a formerly designated nature reserve. For certain the Kiveton amenity park can never hope to equal it.

                                                                                                                      43

       When compared to the apparently exhaustive consultative procedures (in fact an authoritarian, state directed, con trick) of recent years the result at the Rother Valley Country Park was a million times better. Local consultation was miniscule but if objections were raised they were more likely to be listened to than today, for in the 1970s protest still counted for something.  For instance had alien soil been brought in from outside a cry of protest would have gone up, not least, as Jenny made clear, from local mining communities.

                                                                                                                     44

       A sensitively bulldozed amalgamation of the pit spoil heaps of Waleswood, Killamarsh and High Moor, there past outlines can still be traced under the covering of gorse, broom and sparse grass. Though Rother Valley Country Park is not a politically correct bit of landscaping, it does the job of conserving nature admirably, even if it is not as buggy or wheel chair user friendly.

                                                                                                                     45

         Without a doubt the ground is to quote, 'contaminated' and children are asked not to swim in the attractive little lakes at the bottom of the valley because of heavy metal contamination, as a result of the upwelling of water from the mine workings below. All the soil dug from 300 metres below that wasn't coal created huge mounds of dead ground and after 300 million years of internment it certainly wasn't rich soil either. But leguminous seed was scattered far and wide, leading to a natural process of regeneration, for plants like clover, trefoil and vetch harbour a microbe in their root systems able to convert the nitrogen in the atmosphere into nitrate based fertilizer that overtime enriches these nutrient poor wastes, leading to a further natural succession of plant and animal life.

                                                                                                                     46

        This is in complete contrast to the ground zero purification of the spoil and eradication of the former outline of the Kiveton Park spoil heap and which was also threatening on account of the historical memory it conjured up, especially that most traumatic and consequential conflict of modern times, the miners' strike of 1984/85.  The mass manufacture of amnesia is central to the makeovers now taking place at Kiveton,  Dinnington, Orgreave, Thurcroft, Woolley, Grimethorpe and elsewhere. As that must now include the nature that once existed there as well as miners it does suggests that authority is deeply fearful of a coming together of eco radicalism and social struggle, of wild nature and wild ex-miner, that is now long overdue.

***********************

 

  Hanging on by a Thread: the Undefended Dingy Skippers of the

Dinnington Spoil Heap  Makeover


 
                                                                                                                     1

        Finding the Dingy Skipper at Kiveton caused us to look elsewhere. We quickly established it was on the spoil heap of the former pit in close-by Dinnington. We then found it at Orgreave in Sheffield, the site of a pitched battle during the year long miners' strike and at Waleswood at the top end of the Rother Valley Country Park where there is also a colony. Presumably we would have found the Dingy on old pit spoil heaps like those at Thurcroft and Markham just over the Derbyshire border and at the still working pit of Ireland just north of Markham. Given time we shall look for them over the next few years but should we find them here - as we doubtless will - their days will be numbered for Markham is being developed and there are dumper trucks everywhere and Thurcroft must be due for the chop once the open cast has ended.

                                                                                                                     2

      This footage was shot between 2004/5 and shows the dumpers taking away contaminated spoil and returning with lorry loads of good soil contaminated with alien plant seeds and grasses.
      Note the bare earth on both sides of the old concrete fence Isolated plants of bird's foot trefoil, the butterfly's food plant, cling on here and there.
       More bare earth and, as you can see, the butterflies just love it........ The dumper trucks keep rolling in and out. We are looking at the end------

                                                                                                                      3

           At Dinnington it was proposed that 30% of the site was to be set aside for mixed industrial and commercial development. The emphasis was on encouraging the expansion of local business and to bring in inward investment. Originally it was estimated the Dinnington Project when completed would attract over £70 million of investment and create 3000 jobs. 

                                                                                                                      4

        Though the spoil heap makeovers are part of the Coalfields Regeneration Programme they also qualify for EU aid.  Objective 1 and Objective 2 are part of the aid package and come directly from the EU. The first is valued in ECUs and is related to the run down of the Common Market Agricultural Policy, an area qualifying for Objective 1 aid if its GDP is 25% below the EU average. The second - Objective 2 - is designed to facilitate the change over from former heavy industry, like coal mining and steel making, to modern ones like IT, Bio-science/Bio-medical healthcare industries and the growing number of eco industries to do with the environment and alternative energy technology. Append a deep bow before the 'creative industries' like fashion and 'retail therapy' and it is obvious the bullshit quotient is far higher in Objective 2 than in  Objective 1, which is mainly concerned with rural diversification and branching out from farming. As Dinnington sits within the grandly named South Yorkshire Technology Corridor (an SEZ - a strategic economic zone) the prophecy should by now have come to pass and a Californian style hi-tech park arisen on the remains of the former pit heap. Instead what we do have is a business park dominated by a hulking magazine and newspaper distribution centre for much of this part of northern England. Despite a pot of gold, amounting, when all the subventions are totted up to near on two thirds of a billion quid, we are back at old time warehousing and distribution, low pay and job insecurity.

                                                                                                                      5

        This neoliberal business vanguardism was able to sell itself that bit more effectively by cloaking itself on paper in an ecological disguise that was little more than bare faced lying in reality. The colliery spoil was to be planted with trees to produce a community woodland feature with over six acres of public open space footpaths and natural wildlife habitats to 'access and view migrant birds such as Snipe, Lapwing and Redshank enhanced further by a birdscrape to suit the rare Little Ringed Plover'. It was specifically suggested that, 'a wildlife meadow will be produced to enhance the site for wildlife particularly birds, butterflies and insects'. Furthermore; 'Natural heritage areas will be left untouched and provide a haven for wildlife' and an 'existing stream currently partly culverted will be opened up to enhance another habitat for wildlife'. In practise nothing was farther from the truth.

                                                                                                                   6

      Part of the ground on the far side of the second colliery spoil heap near the main road between Todwick and Anston has in addition been turned into a willow coppicing grove. The promotional blurb says: 'short rotation willow coppice is an energy crop which is used to provide heat and/or electricity generally known as biomass and is a type of renewable energy' going on further to say 'It is intended to use energy gap to heat local community building such as school, community centre and local council building. The willow coppicing is intended to be relatively short term in nature though it will occupy land designated for future hard development'. This is just meaningless crap because there are no facilities, like a combined heat and power unit, in one school, community centre or council building to plug the energy gap by using coppiced willow instead of gas fired heating. Nothing could be more sensitive on paper and nothing more designed to pull the wool in reality. It is window dressing pure and simple.

                                                                                                                    7

       (The following is a description behind film clips) Standing on  the old 19th century spoil heap by the side of the new building site, we can see the newer spoil heap which was in use right up to the closure of the colliery in 1994.

       This is how the terrain looked when the spoil heap was in the first stages of the makeover and now we look down to where the older business park from two decades or more ago was situated. Note well the new layer of clay that has been freshly deposited over the grey shale and the contrast between the spoil, the clay and the covering of topsoil.

       Observe all the new paths and the new, imported vegetation, the sharlock and the rye grass. And there in the background peeking out over the new soil cover is the landmark steeple of Laughten church.

        All this earth has been brought in and dumped on the old shale base that still grins through here and there in and among the typical old mottled ochre and grey mud pathways that criss-cross the spoil heap. And there in the distance, still in preparation, is the new, lined birdscrape for the Little Ringed Plover.

                                                                                                                   8

       Unlike at nearby Kiveton there are two spoil heaps within half a mile of each other. One is a pre ecologically aware makeover dating from the 1970s and therefore wild life friendly without ever trying to be, the other a post modern, double-dealing eco makeover and therefore a wild life graveyard. The latter was the one in most recent use, the spoil being transported by rail from the pithead where the newspaper distribution centre now stands. The spoil underwent the same extensive remedial treatment as at Kiveton. Piled up in windrows, aerated then spiced with nutrients it was then transported back to the site. Thoroughly cleansed of all contaminants it had somehow managed, during intensive care, to pick up a botanical MRSA of rye grass, charlock, fat hen and nettles.

                                                                                                                  9

        (The following is a description behind film clips) Here  we are on the top of the new spoil heap once more, with the landmark Laughten church steeple in the background etc'' Most likely there was a  Dingy Skipper colony hidden away somewhere in this huge area but we never found one as we were too late. And even if we had we could have done fuck all about it. At least we were spared that heartache.

                                                                                                                10

      However, it is on the other, much older spoil heap close to where the pit shaft winding gear once stood that the Dingy Skipper is now to be found. But for how long? Again SK 58 birders were given the exact grid references and the four small colonies clearly indicated on the lavishly produced development plan which was then passed on down the line, in theory at least, to the various development bodies. Bio-diversity officials on Rotherham Council certainly knew of their existence. All but one of these colonies were in areas not earmarked for development. Unsurprisingly, the colony on the flat terrain where the new business park has been located rapidly became a victim of development as did one of the nesting sites of the legally protected Little Ringed Plover.

                                                                                                                11

        It would be a brave, though perhaps foolhardy person, who would dare risk taking the developers to court. They would rapidly find themselves bankrupted by the bought lawyers of ecospeak, the contemporary equivalent of newspeak. Worse, that person could be judged responsible for the death of the bird, had up for dereliction of a personal obligation to act in a  manner conducive to the Little Ringed Plover's well being. This is not as daft and as far-fetched as it sounds for we once berated for not going on to the Kiveton pit heap, shovel in hand, and personally removing the 18 inch layer of earth covering the spoil. This was no covering of dust to be brushed to one side of the breeding ground but a layer weighing 1000s of tonnes. We would have been done for malicious damage in any case.

                                                                                                                12

      The biggest Dingy Skipper colony, with about 50 on the wing at the height of the emergence, lies cheek-by-jowl with the development area. This was once separated from the pit proper by a typical wartime fencing of corroding, hockey stick, concrete posts  which has now been replaced with an up to date, close mesh, security barrier that's  impossible to get through - unlike the former which over the years had been breached in lots of places.  This 19th century spoil heap like many of the older spoil heaps has for some time been an informal nature reserve and farming area, the top of the spoil heap now crowned by unattended hay meadows. A dispersed woodland of alder, birch and hawthorn planted three decades ago now surrounds three quarters of the base. This  is criss-crossed  by muddy, furrowed, recreational paths for local inhabitants, which fortunately are badly maintained by Rotherham Council. Even the hay meadows on the top have wooden seats dotted here and there and no one is ever in any danger of being shouted at by a local farmer.

                                                                                                                 13

      We breathe a sigh of relief each year we verify the Dinnington Dingy Skipper is still there. But that comfort in the near future could  be easily taken away and turn into a farewell cry. The bare earth essential to the Dingy Skippers' survival that borders the new business park, especially the magazine distribution business, has been planted with the usual low maintenance, exotic looking rubbish, the native fauna cannot yet adapt to. Also, the woodland is becoming too overgrown and is in urgent need of coppicing. Before long it will be time to say goodbye to the Dingies forever.

                                                                                                                  14

        It cannot be stressed too often that Rotherham Council bio-diversity officials have been informed of the whereabouts of this threatened butterfly on this part of the spoil heap. However they will not, for certain, do a damn thing about it. An afternoon's work for two, we are tempted to bring in chainsaws and set about cutting back some of the trees. We would of course be accused of damaging council property and face instant arrest. An ad hoc, essential measure like this was far more likely to be tolerated even fifteen years ago than it is today. The unspoken rule is if officialdom refuses to lift a finger then for sure no one else will be allowed to do so, even if that bureaucratic inertia results in the death of an endangered butterfly. And when the butterfly has gone we fully expect the council to turn round and accuse us of not trying hard enough to awaken them from an ecological denial made ten times worse by the facade of ecological concern. Any excuse will do just so long as bio-diversity officials are left in peace to pick up their pay cheque at the end of the month.

                                                                                                                  15

      The only colony that is, alas, likely to survive is the much smaller one at the very top of the spoil heap overlooking a Tesco's supermarket on one side and the site of the old colliery on the other, the hill lovingly represented in a naive painting of the colliery pithead and now hanging in the local library. The only other possible colony is a very precarious one indeed of little more than 4 or 5 adults scattered among what is locally known as 'The Hedges' at the very base of the spoil heap. Squashed between a road and a 1970s private estate, at one end there is a roundabout leading to the bus station and high street. Rotherham Council denies that there are plans to convert it into a skating rink but developers have obviously expressed an interest in the site because several roads flank it.

                                                                                                                  16

       We now turn to the private estate, much of it of very recent origin, and built on the reclaimed lower slopes of the spoil heap. Advertised as an executive estate like all the other new build estates on former pit spoil heaps, the snob label and banqueting suite showhouse, mask the fact the most home owners have very modest jobs as low grade civil servants, butchers, plumbers, lorry drivers etc. Designed to encourage residents to believe they are a better class of person than they are, estates like these ostentatiously project a green image as part of their marketing strategy. Recycling crates appeared on the estate well before they did in the streets of neighbouring Sheffield.

                                                                                                                   17

      The roads have names like Limelands and Broadoaks though one would be hard put to find an oak or a lime anywhere. Never has home building been so stamped with the sign of nature and for several years we have been compiling a list of modern estate names like The Sycamores, Teasel Bank, Hawthorn View, Fox Meadows and so on. Like many other towns, Dinnington has several streets named after the various English lakes and the romantic poets. This fashion has long gone and instead we have a nature that is not filtered through art but speaks for itself. And though the contemporary fashion is calculated to give the illusion of sustainability and living in harmony with nature, ultimately this reclassification of estate names on the basis of natural species is an oblique acknowledgement nature has burst through poetry and nature writing and now stands naked before our eyes. It is however so oblique it is also a dire illusion.

                                                                                                                   18

        Something else has changed from 30 years ago and not just street names. House price inflation is now the motor of the economy here just as it is in America and there are disturbing signs the rest of Europe is now following suit. Far more than just a trifling economic fact it sums up a way of life. With rising house prices as collateral it is part of the buy now pay later, easy credit mechanism leading to unprecedented levels of personal debt calculated at an incredible £7.6 trillion which vastly outweighs the £7 billion pounds worth of household assets. This will include the garden but not the low maintenance, exotic, garden centre horticulture to match, or the disproportionate fashion for hard standing that is more and more unrelated to the need to double the size of car ports to accommodate the growing number of two and three car households. Combined with that fiction of greenery covering roundabouts, road medians and the new estates in general, the real aim is to repel rather than attract nature because this anti-nature looks more reassuring, neater and maintained than does nature left to grow up wild, free, and disruptive and therefore just asking for an anti social behaviour order.

                                                                                                                   19

      One of the countries most active commercial developers, Priority Sites, was given the job of developing the hi-tech business units on part of the former Dinnington Colliery site. It is a joint venture company owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland and the national regeneration agency English Partnerships. Priority Sites is also responsible for the 'attractive landscaping a key feature reflecting the development's high profile location.'  The ugly truth is that the landscaping has massively helped destroy the Dingy Skipper on this former colliery site.

                                                                                                                    20

      People are pressurised into continually climbing up the housing ladder, for moving house spurs increased consumption. However we are not talking here merely of a new suite of furniture, fridge or 38 inch LCD TV costing £1500 but of the illusion of fulfilment and that promise of happiness without which the credit mechanism would breakdown. Increasingly nowadays this includes the consumption of images of nature whose manipulated greenwash end product spreads ever further and wider concealing the true state of affairs, which is one of unparalleled destruction.

                                                                                                                    21

      It is all told a far more sophisticated form of indoctrination than any that has hitherto existed. It is dependent for its success upon growing atomisation and the loss of community, which is felt everywhere to a greater or lesser degree and not just amongst those over the age of thirty five in places like Dinnington. The more vacated social life becomes, the more the home grows in importance as an isolation cell, a hall of mirrors and a palace of illusions ruled over by an omniscient, in the main electronic media, whose final aim is the creation of a utopian parallel world that replaces the failures of this one and brings about the final victory of illusion over a liquefying reality: in short, a kind of quantum-spiritual overlay to a world governed by the brute reality of money.

                                                                                                                      22

       These illusions have, of course, to be paid for and don't come cheap. If they did it would defeat the purpose of this exercise in mass control where buying into the high priced dream is the stakeholders' pledge of faith in the coming electronic utopia. However there will be no end of trouble in paradise: allied to this is the destruction of workplace organisations able to ameliorate the worst excesses of exploitation and a long hours work culture that has resulted in the UK becoming the most stressed and depressed country of the developed capitalist world.

                                                                                                                      23

      The drastic decline of the Dingy Skipper in the south is not attributable to loss of habitat. The cause here is possibly atmospheric, increased amounts of nitrate particulates in the atmosphere from car exhausts and gas fired central heating, falling as liquid fertiliser when it rains, resulting in the eventual grassing over of the bare earth, essential to the butterfly's survival.

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      However in the north loss of habitat is the main issue and here the Dingy Skipper's entitlement to life is tied up in property. By the time the vast projected house-building programme comes to an end many 1000s of Dingy Skippers will have perished because of it. Building need not always be hostile to wild life but for that to happen we need changed people and a changed society that is not capitalist.

                                                                                                                     25

       As it is the UK has become the warehouse of the world, tetra-pak, big box hangars dominating the high carbon economy of depots, deliveries and retail parks. This and the allied economics of the housing market will determine the future of the butterfly. The deflation and inflation of the butterfly's numbers will follow the rise and fall of house prices and land values. Deflation and negative equity in the housing market, if and when it happens, will, at least in the north, bring a halt to the declining numbers of Dingy Skipper. Who said that butterflies and political economy were separate? The fate of the Dingy Skipper shows how the entwined the destinies of both are.

                                                                                                                     26

       A basic coming together, say to protest at the demise of the Dingy Skipper, grows ever more unlikely.  Given the situation in South and West Yorkshire it would be striking at the very heart of contemporary society, bringing into question so much more than the survival of a threatened butterfly that had the misfortune to take up residence on a former industrial spoil heap earmarked for housing, that most crucial of all modern developments. And no tinkering like informing various bio-diversity groups and other authorities is going to alter this fundamental fact. Henceforth their chief concern will be one of obfuscation to stop the cat getting out the bag. What is really needed is the will to change the world and life because nothing else has a hope of succeeding. For the battle to save the Dingy Skipper is also now part of a wider battle to save humanity.

                                                                                                                     27

     The greatest mistake would be to attribute this destruction of the Dingy Skipper to sheer malice equal to the deliberate massacre of hundreds of thousands of bison by Buffalo Bill. Rather we have to view it in terms of the yawning gap between reality and representation  in which the representation of nature takes precedent over its reality on the ground. In the society of images, in today's society of the spectacle it is the image of nature that rules and nothing must be allowed to upset this imbalance. Subjected without let up to this corrupting, media driven, false optic we are effectively silenced from speaking out about the unprecedented destruction of nature and above all the anti-statist practical remedies that need to be taken like initially and crudely, just getting up of your arses and doing something!

                     D & S Wise 2007

*******************

 

ARCHIVE LOCAL

 

(Introductory Explanations)

 

Last Orders for the Local : Inspired by the destruction of most of the best pubs in our locality and the increasing difficulty in finding a pub with a bearable atmosphere to enjoy a drink in, this pamphlet casts a critical eye over recent changes to pub environments and the emerging of theming as a marketing factor in various fields of leisure and consumption; and ponders how this connects to the balance of class forces and changes in the way we relate to history and memory.

 

Energy and Extinction 2004  : A wide ranging discussion written in spring 2004 concerning the chaos inherent in all energy options today now that oil and gas reserves are becoming depleted. In reality is there a coherent future for energy?

 

 UK Fuel Convoy in 2000  : On the Fuel protests by hauliers and small farmers in the Autumn of 2000 plus our leaflet handed out to the Convoy participants. "Whilst many of the less ideologically befuddled poor supported this movement, it was left to the professional middle-classes to denounce the blockaders (most of whom earned peanuts compared to these well paid professional liars) as 'greedy' and 'voracious'.

 

 Hope, Faith, Charity, Lottery  : Since the defeats of the strikes and riots up to the mid-1980s, "which were in part against the gentrification of working class areas, the poor have been ever increasingly titillated by displays of what has been stolen from them, whether in the form of wealthy people living close to them or endless stories about millionaires, especially those who have won the Lottery".

 

 Soaps  : Difficult to know if this is local or global, the text is a critique of Soap Operas written October 2001. "Soaps are the vicarious community of isolated individuals, the risk free fake family consumed by highly stressed real families everywhere".

 

 Notes Towards the Economics & Aesthetics of the UK's Great Building Disaster  : On the great wages collapse and the moment where Antony Gormless's 'big art' and 'big engineering' overlap in the increasing aestheticisation of the environment and commodity relations. Plus a bit of a personal history...

 

 Filmscripts.Miner/Butterfly Destruction. Part 3 Filmscripts.Miner/Butterfly Destruction. Part 2 Filmscripts. Miner/Butterfly Destruction. Part 1  : On the post miners' strike makeovers of the former colliery spoil heaps of South & West Yorkshire. Or how best destroy a profound subversive historical memory and an abundance of wildlife with it, including the threatened Dingy Skipper butterfly. This presentation is in the form of numbered paragraphs and a basis for voiceovers for some digital films that are nearly complete and will shortly be streamed on a web. All the central committees of various eco organisations who know of this project are furious about what has been said here especially our emphasis on the con of green capitalism. The film script on the Frickley colliery makeover is the most pointed clearly explaining how installation art and Fluxus-inspired "Pestivals" etc are increasingly playing a significant part in this new world 'green' (dis)order...and one a fall-out from Reclaim the Streets has found to its liking.

 

Long Lost Wildcat Strikes in the UK  : A request from Loren Goldner in May 2007 to list the ten or so most impressive wildcat strikes in the UK over the last few decades. Loren needed personal information plus more intimate knowledge initially for a talk he was giving to some South Korean workers in the city of Ulan but with the broader purpose of writing two books on the subject to be published in the Korean language.

 

Derives, Housing & Real Ecos  : The mid-1970s Lucas Aerospace Plan and community architecture. Jack Common and a Newcastle urban derive. Historicism and aestheticism. BedZed, the Stern Report and a Thames barge. Eco capitalism as the final saviour of markets and humanity. Written in the summer of 2007, the subtitles in themselves provide all the explanation although the general theses at the end really need to be remembered.

 

Scientists and Social Crap  : Summer 2007 and a critical discussion of four early 20th century scientists although the real meat is reserved for the ecologists of the end-of-the-world like Lovelock and followers like Lynas with their cushty lifestyle offerings. ...Plus the con inherent in nature conservation.

 

The Writings of Jack Common  : a biographical note & various articles of this radical Tyneside worker. Although little known in comparison to his contemporary George Orwell, Common's general critical take on modern capitalism pertaining largely to Britain was of a much higher order as he wrestled continuously with his own take on 'new' things unfolding beneath his eyes. Sometimes bordering on a near incoherence, at his best Common is like an English pre-Situationist before such a concept had seen the light of day.

 

Critique of Class War: Two Texts : Two Texts :"Death of a Paper Tiger... Reflections on Class War" - from Aufheben no. 6, UK,1997 & "Publicity of the Organisation and the Organisation Of Publicity" - a reply to the reply to the previous article. (Excerpts). This text was updated in 2000. On the level of appearances, which was always their main form of existence, Class war was essentially a marketing concept of the 1980s - a kind of anarcho-Saatchi and Saatchi.

 

 Om Sweet Om : A cautionary tale of Stonedhenge, Convoys, Mutoids etc from "No Reservations - Housing, Space and Class Struggle"; News From Everywhere & Campaign For Real Life, London, 1989. "The free festivals on rural squatted land in the 1970's were largely an extension of the London mass squatting movement of that time...these events were an extension of a lifestyle organised around resistance to work and living outside the confines of the isolated family structure."

 Notes on the Winter of Discontent 1979-80  : This is a composite of various texts on that event and is at times repetitive. Best read in conjunction with the following: Notes on The Winter of Discontent. Snowstrikes  - was written by one of us during the early spring of 1980 when that glorious movement was on its last legs. At the time it was merely photocopied and handed out to a few people. In the last few years one intention was to combine this text with Henri Simon's very different overview of the same uprising in the hope of producing a greater synthesis. Spurred by this website this project was finally completed in early March 3003 and is a combination of our earlier one, Simon's, and a fresh look at that significant historical uprising. "The Winter of Discontent, forgotten and repressed as it may be, nevertheless still haunts the memory of this society. The only time the politicians and media can bring themselves to mention it is as their ultimate horror scenario that must never be allowed to happen again".

 

 The Lump  : This was written at the behest of German Wildcat in 1997. Later the intention was to use this text (obviously meant for another country) as a basis for a critique of "the buildings" within a greater totality which apart from a mass of scattered notes hasn't concretely progressed beyond a lengthy new introduction going into much greater detail about the rank 'n' file "Building Worker group" in Britain. Moreover, it is an introduction in progress particularly regarding the need to wrestle more clearly with the purpose of a rank 'n' file group. Is there any point in these bodies having any aims other than constant harassment of the many-headed authorities as any programme quickly becomes ludicrous?

 

 1969: Revolution As Personal and As Theatre  : Personal account of someone's initial development in a revolutionary direction in 1969, with a particular focus on political theatre.

 

 Like a Summer With a Thousand Julys  : An account of the huge uprising of dispossessed youth in the cities and towns of England during 1981. From the vantage of the present it is obviously a period piece though having quite an influence at the time of its publication. Some of the more general theoretical elaborations still remain useful though in need of making more relevant. A concluding sentence remains prescient: "The need is especially urgent in Britain considering how close the country is to a gigantic explosion, or, catastrophe if things don't turn out right. If the employed working class doesn't in the near future respond in a revolutionary manner, a death's head psychosis could lie in wait on every street corner. If fresh headway is not continually being made the floodtide of rioting could get jammed up and start to flow in the other way." Unfortunately, that is exactly what was to happen as defeat and destruction of community turned into the pandemic of fuckhead culture.

 

 Postcript to a German edition of a Summer with a Thousand Julys  : Originally a pamphlet called 23 Rough Notes - an account plus analysis of the urban riots in the UK in late 1985 - and situated in the aftermath of the defeated miners' strike. The notes were included in the German publication of "The Summers". Followed by a new (2008) afterword.

 

 Once Upon a Time in Notting Hill  : An historical, critical account - with a pronounced anti art bias - of the Notting Hill area of west London emphasising its alternative ambience and largely Afro-Caribbean riots that marked its existence up until its gentrified demise in the late 1980s as it became England's Hollywood. "Nothing Hill" is nothing like the Richard Curtis film - with broadly the same title - produced some years later!

 

 The London Poll Tax Riot of 1990  : This pamphlet, "The Destruction of Toytown UK" was pruduced immediately after the great riot right across central London in 1990 emphasising among other things the destruction of this huge consumer venue.

 

 Hot Time - Summer on the Estates: On the 1992 Urban Riots  : A reflection on the urban riots of the early 1990s in Britain noting how rioting was beginning to lose its way; its apocalyptic innocence becoming maimed by the system. Followed by new (2008) afterword.

 

 "Miner" Conflicts Major Contradictions  : On the 1984-5 miners' strike in the UK. A new and probably quite long introduction has yet to be completed. This text should be read in conjunction with the following three webs....

 

 A Destroyed Yorkshire Miner  : Memories of John Dennis - a remarkable miner from Kiveton Park Colliery, South Yorkshire who kicked the bucket on the 22nd of May,2002. Originally, this was a pamphlet handed out free in pubs (often stocked behind bars) and gigs mainly in the South Yorks area where there was a great demand for it. This has now been followed by a recent postscript - completed in August 2003 - based on some of JD's final, though often crazed rants which nonetheless are shot through with profound comments. M-m-m-miners : Ah Hum! (Charlie Mingus take note!) An account of what is left of the coal mining areas. Cultural and educational recuperation and those who just couldn't adapt. The historical significance of the miners' defeat as springboard for rampant free market totalitarianism.

 

 The Miners: Jenny Tells Her Tale  : The best account yet of the Yorkshire mining community and of the 1984 strike from a woman at the very centre of this epic struggle. Along with other texts on the 1984 miners' strike, it has been published in a book by by L'Insomniac in Paris, Autumn 2004.

 

 The Arts, and Other Social Diseases  : - was found in pamphlet form in Housman's Bookshop, London, in the early 1990's. It seems to have had an extremely small distribution – our copy is the only one we have seen, no one else we know has seen or heard of other copies and it didn't appear to have been on sale in other likely shops. The author(s) would seem to be disillusioned ex-art students who give us a penetrating critique of their own rejected role and the illusions it is based on. We found it unusually thoughtful, self-reflective, useful and amusing on the subject in hand. It is followed by another short text - MUSIC NOTES: Reservoir of poses - on the failure of radical music. Read on...

 

Samia the Nutter  : Reflections on the sometimes lucid 'sanity' of madness.

 

King Mob: Icteric & the Newcastle Experience from the early to late 1960s  : Something of the unknown and viciously suppressed story of what happened in a northern city. How silence and the vanquishing of the real protagonists - the unmentionables - nonetheless facilitated a vast still unfolding recuperation on Tyneside. (The real story is still in preparation). Should be read in conjunction with the following.................

 

Lost Ones Around King Mob  : Some texts around the King Mob axis that almost certainly would have been lost forever. An introduction was deemed necessary explaining some of the background to these still relevant leaflets and small pamphlets.

 

 A Critical Hidden History of King Mob  : It would have been better perhaps if this had never been written because it still remains utterly incomplete. Unfortunately a bad heart condition plus attack by gun-toting crack heads meant it was produced in haste as death seemed immanent...One cooler day and maybe it will be completed.

 

 A Hidden History of King Mob (Posters/Cartoons)  : Some of the visual material pruduced by King Mob.

 

Reply to Ian Bone over TATE GOLD : On supposedly flogging King Mob archive to Tae Modern and making presumably a lot of money.

 

1968: Wreckage and Bric-a -Brac series :

 The following webs are additions/trajectories; even developments related to A Critical Hidden History of King Mob A further fill-in if you like. The forty year celebrations of May '68 at Conway Hall in London in 2008 and other memories of the time whether here or the media produced absolutely nothing in terms of valuable critical reflection and hardly surprising were dominated by hacks like Mclaren, John Hoyland and Tariq Ali. We really would have been too ashamed to attend......Some of the following webs are at times somewhat repetitious though set within different contexts and with slightly different interpretations.

  A Hidden History of King Mob (Posters/Cartoons)

  A Critical Hidden History of King Mob

  On Georges Bataille:

  On Bryan Ferry: "Ferry Across The Tyne"

  On Ralph Rumney: Hidden Connections, Ruminations and Rambling Parentheses

  Alex Trocchi's Hour Upon the Stage

  BM BIS, BM BLOB, Riot and Post-Modernist Recuperation

  Comparisons: From Mass Observation to King Mob

  A Drift on Germaine Greer, Feminism and Modern-Day Shameless Ranterism

  For Vicki: On What Happened at Selfridges in 1968

  Nietzsche, Revolutionary Subversion and the Contemporary Attack on Music

  New Introduction for a Spanish Book on Black Mask & the Motherfuckers

  New Introduction to Spanish King Mob

  Lost Ones Around King Mob

  Land Art, Icteric and William Wordsworth

  King Mob: Icteric & the Newcastle Experience from the early to late 1960s

  New Afterword to The End of Music for La Felguera in Spain

  THE ORIGINAL: The End of Music (1978)

 

 And then there's the following:

 The Redirection of Production: The Lucas Aerospace Plan  : Today Latin American companeros go on about the Lucas Aerospace Plan of the mid-1970s. What we'd forgotten was that three of us had put together a piece on the subject which, as usual - and for one reason or another - was never published. But there it laid moulding away in a mice-infested cupboard!

 

 A new publication on Captain White : A small portrait of Captn White that most interesting and profound of Irish revolutionaries who joined with Los Incontrolados - The Uncontrollables - in the Spanish revolution of 1936-7. White's unpublished accountof The Uncontrollables was destroyed at the time of his death.

 

 Brendon Ward: Builders, Chancers and the Craic  : Commentaries on the larger than life characters in and around the Irish building scene in London since the early 1950s. Many wild personal reminiscences.

 

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