That an illegal and artisanal gold mine on Sulawesi in Indonesia has collapsed, killing perhaps 100 people, is a tragedy. It’s at minimum 100 tragedies multiplied by the number those dead left behind in fact. It’s also a lesson in the disutility of the local and personal economy and in favour of the global capitalism which does these things right.
For consider what these guys were actually doing. Effectively, using techniques a century or two old to go mining. Making that mining as dangerous as say the coal mining of 1820 in England was. Foully, horribly, dangerous that is.
And yet consider what it is we’re told our entire economy should be like. Small and local. Without the intervention of that global capitalism:
Hopes are fading for up to 100 Indonesian miners trapped inside an illegal gold mine that collapsed on the island of Sulawesi last Tuesday, with dozens of body bags sent to the site and pleas for help from the rubble now falling silent. Thirteen people have died and 19 have been rescued after the wooden support beams of the illegal mine in Bolaang Mongondow buckled under shifting soil, trapping dozens inside.
What is it that this neoliberal terror brings us? Capital, quite obviously. The poor countries are capital poor, that’s why they’re poor. What is that neoliberal globalisation? That we richer people can stick our pensions into the capital that will develop the poor places. What do the poor places get out of it?
They get the machines that go and die underground, replacing those people who do. Bit of a bargain all round really.
Modern techniques using modern amounts of capital wouldn’t have had the cave in in the first place and there wouldn’t have been a hundred and more inside when it did either. Global capitalism saves the lives of artisanal miners because it destroys artisanal mines. A Good Thing too.