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Return to Blair Mountain

November 23, 2010

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, and then as farce. I forget who said that, but the events unfolding in West Virginia at the site of the largest armed labor conflict in U.S. history appear to be both tragic AND farcical. Massey Energy, the same coal conglomerate responsible for the accident earlier this year that killed 29 people after a gas explosion in another West Virginia mine, has begun operations to stripmine the coal from Blair Mountain.
The clash between mineworkers and coal company agents at Blair Mountain in 1921 resulted in the suppression of a campaign for union representation, but thrust the Stygian conditions mineworkers faced into national attention. It was a step on the road in the volcanic struggle fought in the first half of the last century to claw back some equity from the titans of industry. The popular knowledge of this history has more or less bled from the public consciousness by now, however, making it possible for the National Park Service to delist the Blair Mountain site, effectively giving Massey the go-ahead. The bulldozers are already at work.

Good articles at the Guardian, Sierra Club, and Huffington Post.

AnarchismAnti-capitalismGlobal SolidarityLaborSocial Movements

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