11.04.2011 | Mykola Kozyrev

Refined torment of miners



Curious information has been posted on the website of the Luhansk Territorial Division of the State Mining Inspectorate. The text is titled: Miners infringing safety rules in the Luhansk region are given identifying jackets and sent to work clearing the territory”. It states that at the Duvannaya Mine (Krasnodonugol) the administration has officially introduced new disciplinary penalties for workers. An orange jacket with the words on the back “I am an offender” plus compulsory work will now, according to the mine management notion, be a good educational method for negligent workers.

In fact this practice is not new. There are various forms of stigmatizing different types of “offenders” – from run-away slaves and criminals to Jews in Hitler’s Germany and unfaithful wives in modern Iran used to “mark them out” as a lesson to others.  From a brand mark burned on the forehead and being caked in tar to a Star of David on the back and stoning in the public square. In the Soviet Union they were also experts at stigmatizing “parasites” and other “renegades”.

I don’t doubt that the “new order” (Neue Ordnung) at the Duvannaya Mine will bring the employers the desired effect: discipline will improve and profits increase. And if this marvellous initiative is taken as part of a “capitalist competition” around the entire country, just wait, the budget deficit will fall.

Only what about the social and moral costs of such inhuman practice?  After all in any case (whether in a society with slave-owners or today), such torment-like treatment shows that archaic attitudes about human beings are refusing to die, with the individual’s freedom, dignity and rights stripped of their absolute value and free to be sacrificed by the authorities either for the sake of collective interests or to please some petty tyrant boss.

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