Geoff Evans, James Goodman and Nina Lansbury (eds.)
Moving Mountains: Communities Confront Mining & Globalisation
Zed Books, London, 2002, xxiii + 284 pp.
ISBN: 1-8427-7199-X (pbk) 15.95 [pounds sterling]
Moving Mountains is a collection of fourteen essays dealing, in their different ways, with the imperialism of the mining industry. In the book, monopolistic mining companies from core countries are characterised as ruthlessly exploiting global peripheral economies. On the other hand, much emphasis is placed on resistance, especially that of indigenous communities. The mining companies are portrayed as predatory beasts, huge and with an unprecedented geographical scope, reaching into the most remote areas of both developed and underdeveloped countries. They form close relationships with repressive and corrupt regimes, pay no heed to human rights, destroy the environment, negatively affect indigenous cultures and exploit countries, while contributing little of value and extracting super-profits. The underdeveloped countries are like Doctor Faustus, selling their souls to the devil in return for much-wanted export revenues and foreign exchange. The global mining industry thereby makes national development under global capitalism extremely difficult for underdeveloped countries. There is private absentee ownership, with little or no contact or common interests with the affected peoples; a rapid rate of production, the consequences of which can barely be measured, let alone mitigated; and the need to resort to the use of force in order to keep the wheels turning.
The main objective of the book is to challenge this predatory industry, represented particularly by the transnational corporations that dominate it, by using a bottom-up and civil-society perspective. Given this, the book paints a bleak picture in which the race to the bottom is central, alongside resource exhaustion, asset-stripping, displacement, dependency, exploitation, disruption of local communities, and the inverted Robin Hood policy of robbing the poor to give to the rich that is characteristic of global capitalism.
However, a key aspect of the book is that it contains success stories of communities resisting the powerful corporations and their allies. Perhaps most inspirational in this regard is Havini and Johns's essay on the struggle for self-determination on the island of Bougainville. What started as resistance to the mining giant RioTinto, and to the Papua New Guinean government,...