Wellington: Mining in Aotearoa - AWSM discussion, May 5th

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Apr 22 2010 13:34
Wellington: Mining in Aotearoa - AWSM discussion, May 5th

From the AWSM website:

Quote:
Dear friends,

You are warmly invited to a discussion:

MINING IN AOTEAROA

Wednesday 5 May at 7pm

Unite Office - Level 1, Trades Hall, 126 Vivian Street

Tea/Coffee provided

We’ll have people outside to let you know where to go in the building smile

Come along and join an anti-capitalist discussion on mining.

All welcome.

National recently released their discussion document on mining, proposing the removal of 7000 ha of land from Schedule 4 (protected lands) so that mining can be considered on a ‘case-by-case’ basis. This has led to a bout of anti-mining sentiment; there has been a march on Parliament and more marches are planned in Nelson and Auckland. The environmental NGOs are busy gathering submissions and groups like Coromandel Watchdog are planning on-the-ground civil disobedience to stop the bulldozers.

Much of the present debate is framed around where the profit goes, yet whether it goes overseas or stays here its ultimately going to capitalists.

This discussion will look at how we oppose mining from an anti-capitalist position and narrative, rather than an anti-corporate one. How can we link this struggle with others be more effective and to have greater potential to resist capitalism than marches on Parliament and submission gathering poses? How do we resist this new round of capitalist enclosures of land previously largely untouched by capital’s hand?

What does direct action and solidarity look like in this context?

Should we be fighting mining in solidarity with the struggle against colonisation, and what does that look like?

Will there be mining in an anarchist-communist society? What does that mean for the battle now?

Should we oppose opencast mining and not underground mining? Do workers really have more power at underground mines and are they really less damaging to the environment?

What are the effects on communities from mining (both the effects of work, and dust / tailings / damns / water pollution etc) and how do we stand in solidarity with these communities?

Is this 2010 review of Schedule 4 providing a line in the sand - however arbitrary - and it’s important that we say, ‘Capitalism cannot encroach further onto these lands.’

How can an anti-mining struggle also include a growing anti-authoritarianism and anti-capitalist struggle and encourage self-organisation?

How do we stand in solidarity with our fellow workers whilst not ‘buying into’ the capitalists’ stories about ‘job creation’ and the national economic good?

Is it okay to oppose ‘new’ mining, but more complicated to oppose mines that provide continued employment for an existing workforce?

Should we be okay with anything that creates jobs that pay a ‘decent’ wage?

Is targeting coal even a strategic way to address climate change? Given that coal miners have traditionally been a strongly organised workforce, have work sites that lend themselves to this kind of organisation, and often strong communities built on solidarity, should we be targeting coal? Can climate change be tackled under capitalism, and if not, are climate change and anti-mining campaigns contributing to transforming the underlying social relations of capitalism, or perpetuating them?

You may wish to read an interesting piece here: http://www.afed.org.uk/ace/april.pdf

For more info please email info [ at ] awsm.org.nz

* * *

“It was one community, even though there’d been hundreds of scabs, it was united. And they can’t take that away. But that’s what they never understood anyway. That they could do whatever against us, whether it was taking away money, beating us up or whatever they bloody liked, they couldn’t take away what’s in here. And they’ll never win because of that. Because in the end, we’re stronger. Because we love one another like they don’t. And that’s my memory. That’s what I’ve got to give my kids. I shall never have money to give them, but they’ve got that, they’ve got my great grandfather’s watch chain done as a pit lamp, they’ve got newspaper cuttings and a drawing of my dad when he was in a staydown strike to save his pit, and that’s their heritage. And that’s why we’ll win, if we pass that on. For me anyway, it’s the only way to win.”
Jenny Whysall, UK Miners’ Strike.

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May 11 2010 02:09

From the AWSM website:

Quote:
Notes from the Wellington mining discussion

National recently released their discussion document on mining, proposing the removal of 7000 ha of land from Schedule 4 (protected lands) so that mining can be considered on a ‘case-by-case’ basis. This has led to a bout of anti-mining sentiment. The environmental NGOs are busy gathering submissions and groups like Coromandel Watchdog are planning on-the-ground civil disobedience to stop the bulldozers. There have been marches in Wellington and Nelson, and tens of thousands marched down Queen Street, Auckland, on May 1st to oppose the Government’s plan.

About a dozen of us gathered at Trades Hall, Wellington for a discussion on the mining debate. AWSM holds regular discussion evenings in Wellington and Christchurch. We had envisioned a discussion on how we should engage with the anti-mining debate from an anti-capitalist perspective, but it turned out to be a different conversation, because of the 40,000+ march against mining the previous Saturday.

The discussion included the following points: (Please note that these don’t represent the view of AWSM or all the people present at the discussion – it was a discussion rather than a planning meeting):

* If mining is done by a state owned enterprise it’s no more environmentally friendly
* National are not worse than Labour – they just do things faster.
* Frustrating that 50,000 people would come out for anti-mining but not for any thing else
* There is a lot of nationalism in the anti-mining debate, e.g. “Our parks”
* Miners’ unions are not necessarily nested in new seems and new areas being opened up for mining; there doesn’t need to be a divide between those against the opening up of Schedule 4 and miners.
* In Britain the National Union of Mineworkers and Earth First! have joined up to oppose opencast mining.
* If a divide is perpetuated, what side do we stand on?
* Ideally the anti-mining movement wouldn’t be dominated by the large environmental non-governmental organisations (e.g. Greenpeace, Forest and Bird).
* It’s possible to have a mass movement that is much more democratic. It would be much stronger if lots of little groups were doing stuff. That way, those who wanted to get active could get involved.
* It is grassroots – organised via Facebook etc.
* Greenpeace did a lot of organising, including emailing the Sign-On list.
* Not going to stop mining with a really big march.
* Both ‘mining’ and ‘don’t mine; we’ve got a great tourism industry’ reinforce capitalism. We need to argue this is a false ideology. Could use the debate to push a specific anti-capitalist ideology; people care about this issue.
* The discourse is narrow.
* The environment centres of the 1980s and 1990s were grassroots based. They were a way for greenies to do something local – both vague liberal stuff and direct action. Those groups have died; they went under by cuts to funding as part of the neoliberal agenda.
* We have these peaks of mobilisation at the moment, e.g. anti-Iraq, and then it drops away again. With anti-Vietnam work it took years to mobilise.
* The current mining debate overlooks class. A major critique of mining companies and what they are trying to do globally. Financial capital built up all these debts and now they are desperate for money.
* Cyanide dams have to pump for 200 years or else the cyanide dries out, oxidises, and is then water soluble.
* There is no gold-mine that’s been successfully ecologically rehabilitated.
* If we open up more mines, it’ll fuck people up.
* Are we opposed to all mining? Would Tiwai (aluminum smelter) exist in an anarchist-communist society?
* We wouldn’t need as much mining. Currently industry is competing against each other. That goods become obsolete is built-in, especially under modern neo-liberal capitalism. A lot more could be recycled. Consumerism is fed upon people – it’s all we’ve got. Mining could be done by robots because it is a shit job.
* Everyone is packed together – there is more solidarity – These are better paid jobs. Part of the bizarre alienation is that people are desperate for those jobs even though it gives you black lung etc.
* 50,000 people saying “our land” doesn’t have to be nationalistic because in future society, it would all be ours. The land is everybody’s – that’s potentially a really good starting point in terms of talking about distribution of wealth.
* So often greenies are so condescending when talking about alternatives to mining; e.g. ‘oh all those workers could get green jobs’
* Organising a radical anti-mining, anti-capitalist movement is a huge amount of work. It’s very easy to get excited by 50,000 people. How do we engage with it as it exists?

Convert
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May 11 2010 07:18

Wont this just end the way happy valley did? A few activists do some civil disobedience stuff and the state laps it up by positioning it as hippys trying to save snails. Maybe the best thing you can do is nothing, thereby not handing them a 'resistance to mining section 4 is not mainstream' story. And it will create jobs.

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May 11 2010 07:27
Quote:
A few activists do some civil disobedience stuff and the state laps it up by positioning it as hippys trying to save snails.

I think if that's the way it'd end up, then certainly it wouldn't be worthwhile (and while I wasn't at the discussion, I imagine the AWSMers there would agree).

To be honest, personally, I don't even knew if I'm against all mining in Schedule 4 areas necessarily. There's certainly mixed opinions within AWSM about it. For me, there are lots of questions that'd need to be asked first, primarily to do with the positive (jobs) & negative (environmental, etc) effects on the local community, and their thoughts on the matter.

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May 12 2010 07:26

What are they even going to mine there? And is it that it's opencut that people are against it?
And also, why do you factor the amount of work it creates into an equation with what kind of damage it's going to do ecologically?

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May 12 2010 13:42

The area I grew up in is pretty much the mining center of Australia at the moment, and it's a giant, dirty fucking hole in the ground where the waters acidic, you wipe tons of dust off everything every morning and tons of people are getting cancer/respiratory problems, plus all the farmers/wineries are going out of work. I'm not overly-green but fuck mining.

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May 12 2010 17:24

Yeah, your hood's a hole.
Pun, lol.

bootsy
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May 12 2010 21:05
Quote:
And also, why do you factor the amount of work it creates into an equation with what kind of damage it's going to do ecologically?

Because there is a major lack of reliable work right now, so creating new jobs through mining is a positive which should at least be taken into account, even if it doesn't outweigh the ecological problems.