Friday. An early end to the day. A quick stroll to a disreputable pub amidst the glass towers of Vancouver. Four miners around a small round table, heavy with IPA ale and serious talk.
Dare I record the diverse and contentious opinions? Dare I tell what was said in the honesty of booze? For while these are Liberals in the best Canadian tradition, they are still true to the ideas and norms of England and Germany. And those are not politically correct ways of thinking or talking now-a-days.
We started with the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan and how they almost created opera—but not quite! The lament from the Yeoman of the Guards where Jack Cope sings the best song in all G&S I have a song to sing oh, the most touching lament and death song in all opera or operetta.
We quickly progressed to Francis Fukuyama’s The Origins of Political Order. He writes of thousands of years of central control in China and an equal period of caste conflict and the failure of central control in India. We talked of the result of this on the way Chinese and Indians approach mining.
The Chinese with whom one of our group was working to develop a mine in the Yukon, are: “unable to comprehend how to approach a problem in any way other than the way set out in their text books and standards–for they are without the ability to innovate and make independent decisions. It must all come down from the top or they are supine.”
I ventured that I have worked with equally incompetent European engineers and that he must just be involved with the stupid engineers. Maybe his observations were not general to a nation, but specific to a group of fools.
We ordered another round of IPAs.
I noted that it is all about education. I noted that two of my grandkids in California attend a private school that costs their parents more than it costs me to send a third child to a university in the mid-west. I noted that these kids are taught that you can argue with God–see the Old Testament. I noted that when I introduced my grandson to Darwin and evolution, and he told his religious instructions teacher that I had said that Darwin is more intelligent than all the commenters on the old text, the teacher had replied: “Go learn what you can from your grandfather and come and share it with us.”
We ordered another round, asking: “Could or would this happen in a public school or on an Indian reservation?”
Probably not. And that is why there are different ways of viewing mining and material success. Not every culture is set up to succeed in an adversarial and confrontational climate. Some are set up to exist in nature and suffer the deprivations of all that the environment can provide. Some are the product of rule by Prussia, Russia, and Hitler. Some create opera like Wagner, others create repetitive hypnotic drum beats and feather-dancers.
Not all cultural norms need mining to continue. Some cultures do not seek to advance; they seek only to continue. Most cultures and their peoples seek only to survive to procreate; that is ultimately Darwin. Mining makes you more likely to survive and procreate. But if mining and consumptions is not in your culture, then you will decide that fighting in nature is the way to survive and procreate.
Fact is there is a clash of cultures that affects mining. The culture of the Chinese, the Indians (of India), the East Germans, England, and all the rest of the long list clash when it comes to mining.
How do we decide? I have written in previous blog postings of the search for an uber norm. My fellow drinkers laughed at this concept. They asserted: “It is a race to be won by the winner.”
And so we parted and I got on a bus, drunk, to come across to the North Shore and write this.