Article by Dave Douglass
Who am I to ask them why?
This pit may live that pit must die?
They say but Sir its economics.
That's juggling by financial comics.
What maxim has the NCB?
The miner's lot or LSD
And further Sir it can be said
A pit must die if in the red
Be this so I must resent
This anti-social precedent
So until the happy day
When every pit can pay its way
You cannot Sir rebuke the tide
Or get away with Pitracide!
- Jock Purdon
Pitracide was the decimation of the coal industry, a culture, a people, in continuation of class warfare waged by the rich and powerful against the working population. It was committed to wipe out the forces of resistance located among the coal communities.
Nothing more or less than ethnic cleansing is evidenced in the abandoned and forgotten coalfield communities the length and breadth of Britain. It is something like the fate of the Native Americans, or the Palestinians - without of course the mass murder, but with the same social and political design.
Killed with the mines are the miners as an ancient, specific, fixed, skill and vocation-based populace dwelling in highly concentrated geographical locations, ethnicities and nationalities. The miners' roots under the land run as deep as those of the hill farmers or shepherds who worked above it, or the fisherfolk who sailed the coasts. Many mining families in mining regions stretched back to pre-Norman times, and the language of those regions was the ancient dialect of Angle and Saxon, often shot through with Norse, or the Britannic tongue which had predated the arrival of the English. These were the last surviving direct ancestors of the island's ancient inhabitants, who took their ancient twang below ground where it continued for hundreds of years as in some philological lost world.
Pitracide was waged against the miners, who were in many ways almost an ethnic minority, not simply the practitioners of a trade or a skill - an ancient tradition, a way of life, of speech, of outlook, of community and solidarity. We have witnessed the massacre of a people's whole way of life.
This book has been written as part of the continuing last stand of that people who - as at the annual festival of a far-flung ancient tribe - dance on, defiant in the face of their exterminators, refusing to disappear or conform to the social design of our masters.
Many thanks to Dave Douglass for permission to add this article to the Union Songs website.
It is taken from the front of his book Ghost Dancers (Part 3 of Stardust and Coaldust)
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union songs..........a selection by mark gregory