Home' Greymouth Star : February 16th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Thursday, February 16, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1754 - Richard Mead, physician to King
George II of England and promoter of
smallpox inoculations, dies.
1791 - First ship of the third fleet
to Australia — the Mary Anne, carrying
150 female convicts — leaves
1804 - US Marines slip into
Tripoli harbour and burn US Navy
frigate Philadelphia, which had
been captured by pirates.
1918 - England ’s port of Dover is
bombarded by German submarine
in World War One; Lithuania
proclaims its independence.
1937 - Wallace H Carothers, a research
chemist for Du Pont, receives a patent for the
synthetic fibre nylon.
1940 - Boarding party from HMS Cossack
rescues more than 300 British prisoners
from the German supply ship Altmark in
Norwegian waters in World War Two.
1942 - Members of the Australian Army
Nursing Service and other sur vivors of the
sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke are massacred
by Japanese soldiers on Bangka Island. The
only survivor from the party of Australian
nurses is Sister Vivian Bullwinkel.
1959 - Fidel Castro is sworn in as prime
minister of Cuba.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
G M Trevelyan, British historian (1876-
1962); John Schlesinger, English film director
(1926-2003); Sonny Bono, US congressman
and singer (1935-1998); Kim Jong Il,
North Korean leader (1941-2011);
James Ingram, US singer (1952-);
Ice-T, US actor-rapper (1958-); John
McEnroe, US tennis player (1959-);
Andy Taylor, British rock musician
of D uran Duran fame (1961-);
Cathy Freeman, Australian runner
(1973-); Valentino Rossi, Italian motorcyclist
(1979-); Agyness Deyn, British model (1983-) .
“One does evil enough when one does
nothing good.” — German proverb.
“TrulyItellyou,just as youdidittoone of
the least of these who are members of My
family, you did it to Me.” — (Matthew 25:40).
uFood for thought
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Barbara and John Ehrenreich spotted
the looming disaster on the left nearly
40 years ago. This was an impressive
achievement given the temper of the
times. For right-wingers, the 1970s were a
decade of dread. They feared that the left
was on the cusp of an irreversible victory.
They would have been delighted to learn
that their ideological foes faced disaster,
but they would have struggled to identify
the vector of their demise.
But the Ehrenreichs knew what it was.
They had even given it a name: “The
professional-managerial class” (PMC).
In the rather leaden Marxian prose then
in vogue, the Ehrenreichs defined the
PMC as “consisting of salaried mental
workers who do not own the means of
production and whose major function
in the social division of labour may be
described broadly as the reproduction
of capitalist culture and capitalist class
In slightly less daunting language,
the role of the PMC was to explain
and justify the workings of capitalism
to everyone who was not a capitalist, a
professional, or a manager.
Who were they talking about?
Well, in addition to the more obvious
groups “hidden within the processes
of production” i.e. “middle-level
administrators and managers, engineers
and other technical workers”, the
Ehrenreichs controversially identified
“workers who are directly concerned with
social control or with the production
and propagation of ideology ”. These they
identified as “teachers, social workers,
psychologists, entertainers, writers of
advertising copy and television scripts”.
Now, if you’re thinking: “Hey, that
sounds like a description of the
membership of the Labour Party and/or
the Greens” well then, take a bow, because
you have grasped the essence of the
Ehrenreich’s troublesome prophecy.
The PMC was already on the rise
politically when the Ehrenreichs’ seminal
paper was published in 1979. Its impact
was clearly visible in the Democratic
Party where a new generation of liberal
politicians were ruthlessly marginalising
the defenders of Roosevelt ’s New
Deal in preparation for the Carter
Administration’s turn towards the
“monetarist ” ideas of the right-wing
economist Milton Friedman.
The “turn” in the United Kingdom had
come even earlier, in 1976, when the
Labour prime minister of the time, Jim
Callaghan, told his stony-faced party
conference: “ We used to think that you
could spend your way out of a recession,
and increase employment by cutting taxes
and boosting Government spending. I
tell you in all candour that that option no
longer exists, and that in so far as it ever
did exist, it only worked on each occasion
since the war by injecting a bigger dose of
inflation into the economy, followed by a
higher level of unemployment as the next
If Callaghan’s pronouncement prompts
the thought, “ That sounds just like the sort
of thing David Lange and Roger Douglas
used to say,” then, once again, take a bow.
The institutions that Callaghan’s
and Carter’s little helpers were most
concerned to rein-in were the trade
unions. Organised labour represented
a dangerously independent repository
of economic, political, social, and, most
crucially, class power. While they persisted
there was always the worrying potential
for explanations and justifications
unfavourable to the “reproduction of
capitalist culture and capitalist class
By the 1970s, trade unions in
Scandinavia and the United Kingdom
had even begun to construct practical
alternatives to the capitalist way of doing
things. The arguments of class solidarity
and collective action were acquiring an
unprecedented degree of persuasiveness.
The policies of Margaret Thatcher and
Ronald Reagan eventually put paid to the
union threat. But the iron fist of neo-
liberalism urgently needed covering with a
The PMC was there to take on the
task. They downgraded the common
experiences of economic exploitation
which had formerly bound the left
together, supplanting them with
exploitation narratives grounded in the
experiences of race, gender and sexuality.
Capitalism does not oppress humanity,
went the PMC’s argument. Racism,
sexism and homophobia do. Eliminating
these evils requires education, training and
a willingness to embrace cultural diversity.
A task far beyond the capacity of the
The Ehrenreichs knew how this would
end. With the politics of identity and
the politics of class in conflict — and
left-wing unity shattered. The PMC and
the working-class could have confronted
the capitalists over who should own
and control collectively created wealth.
Instead, they confronted each other over
the barricades of knowledge, skills and
Chris Trotter is a left-wing
Capitalism’s saviours: the professional and managerial class
Coal Creek pioneers
An odd spot on the
highway is at present
out. It is the ‘crooked’ Coal Creek No 1 bridge
at the northern foot of the brewery hill,
between the Cobden Bridge and Wingham
Park. The job entails the extension of the width
of the bridge in a westerly direction to bring it
into alignment with the road.
Until now vehicles approaching the bridge
have been forced to veer to the right to line up
when travelling from Runanga to Greymouth,
and to veer left when travelling in the opposite
direction. The repairs, when completed, will
mean that these tactics are no longer necessary.
For the first time in two years, thousands of
television addicts from Barrytown to Ross will
be without a picture for several days as from
Monday. The Hokitika Televiewers’ Society is
having its translator overhauled by one of New
Zealand’s foremost translator authorities.
On Monday, the translator will be
airfreighted to Rotorua, association secretary
Mr W A Reynolds said today, and it will take
“a few days” before transmission is restored.
Greymouth and Runanga, the hometowns of
the 19 miners killed in the Strongman mine
explosion on January 19, came to a virtual halt
today. Greymouth at 11am had the appearance
of a ghost town when most shops and
businesses closed their doors and traffic was an
Rain poured down for most of the morning,
after a month of drought conditions, and
reached its peak as the funeral for the
remaining four miners headed for the cemetery
where 700 mourners gathered.
n 1917 Charles Edward Roper and
his wife Violet Mary Roper paid
£600 for land in Coal Creek made
available by the government for
Charles then had the homestead
built from timber from a Runanga mill and
labourers from Greymouth, and quickly
set about clearing the land. A timber mill
was built, as was a steam tramline which
ran through the farm from Coal Creek to
Taylorville. The first steam tram on the
West Coast ran on this line, moving rimu
logs for sale.
Charles spent most of his working life at
the Ministry of Works. Their family grew
fast, with Violet caring for seven children
under-7 years, including two sets of twins.
Altogether they raised nine children.
One set of twins was Lawrence and
Baden, who both became lawyers;
Lawrence set up law in Hokitika with
Murdoch and James (later Murdoch, James
and Roper), and Baden at the Post Office.
The other twins were Miriam and Anthony.
It was Anthony who purchased the farm
from his parents in 1974.
In 1977 Charles and Violet, the
original Ropers of Coal Creek, moved to
Wellington to live with their daughter
Clare, and while there they celebrated 70
years of marriage. Charles passed away aged
98. The pioneering couple’s three surviving
children — Baden, Shirley and John
— were present for the reunion.
Anthony and his wife Elizabeth built
opposite the original homestead. Anthony
worked underground at the Strongman
Mine until starting a poultry farm in 1964,
supplying eggs on the West Coast. He
could not keep up with demand, but was
forced to close in 1978 when the Poultry
Board at the time, imposed so many levies
that he could not afford to keep operating.
He then worked at the IRD.
They raised eight children, three of whom
still live in Coal Creek with their families.
Anthony died in 1988 from cancer, aged 63.
Michael and his wife Sue took on the
responsibility of the farm from then,
purchasing the farm from Michael’s
mother, Betty. Taxi driving and a few cattle
helped with farming costs, but it was not
until 1997 when they opened On Yer Bike!
that Michael was able to live off the land.
On Yer Bike! is in its 20th year of operation
and has had approximately 120,000 visitors
ride over the land on an ATV, enjoying the
heart of a West Coast rainforest and all the
mud and water contained within.
Mike and Sue have raised three children
at Coal Creek and now have four
grandchildren, but are unsure who is next
in line for farming duties on the old Roper
On Yer Bike! hosted 110 Roper descendants from all over New Zealand and Australia last weekend as they
celebrated 100 years of Roper family occupation of Coal Creek, near Greymouth. They ranged in age from 97-year-
old Baden Roper, who worked at the Greymouth Post Office, to one-week-old Sophia Tucker, from Auckland.
Stories, old videos and photos were shared and the family tree was traced back to 1790 in England. A family walk was
held to the McLeans Creek Falls, which lie west of Coal Creek beyond the farm boundary, taking five hours return
through rough scrub. Children of the pioneering Ropers reminisced at the site of the original family homestead, now
gone, finding remains of paths and grottos.
The Roper family reunion at Coal Creek.
Charles Roper arrives at Coal Creek with all his possessions in 1917.
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