Allow me to be entirely cynical here

\”I certainly have seen the benefits that can come from [oil] royalties. Schools are better. There are swimming pools, gymnasium, cars – and jobs – all the result of billions of dollars.\”

Patricia Cochran, a former chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council from Alaska, expresses the view of many indigenous people on industrial development in the Arctic. Vast oil and mineral wealth have brought huge benefits to some communities.

But her own conflicted feelings about development neatly sum up the dilemma that indigenous leaders in the region face. In Barrow – Alaska\’s oil capital – there are also high rates of suicide and depression, while offshore drilling is a threat to subsistence whaling and the hunting of seals and walrus, she points out. So despite the benefits, Cochran is personally quite negative about industrial development and questions the wider benefit to society.


But even there, local leaders of indigenous people have mixed views about who is really benefiting. And overall the \”community\” representing indigenous people is split down the middle over the issue.

As I say, entirely cynical.

Traditional leaders are going to be against any change. When you\’re at the top of a society you know damn well that change might topple you from that position. And yes, there are those who would rather be top than to be middle or bottom in a much richer society.

Yer average Guardian reader would understand this instinctively about the British aristocracy or the Bullingdon Boys. But they never seem to make the connection with the same thing happening in other societies.

7 thoughts on “Allow me to be entirely cynical here”

  1. Neither does your average Guardian reader make the connection that nowadays the ruling class who resist change due to fear of losing their position is… that class which reads the Guardian.

  2. “that class which reads the Guardian.”

    It’s funny how they’ve gone from castigating rent seekers to becoming their champions.

  3. And:

    …while offshore drilling is a threat to subsistence whaling and the hunting of seals and walrus…

    So whaling and seal clubbing is okay, provided you happen to have dark skin and talk in woolly terms about your traditions. How many of these folk turn up to the seal hunting grounds in a Toyota pickup?

  4. Perhaps the ‘Guardian’ reader’s disingenuous approach to such matters is based upon their observation of the fact that no amount of change effected upon this country’s low and middle income earners, often change which has been imposed upon them whether they like it or not, seems to have the slightest damn effect upon the influence of the aristocracy and the Bullingdonians (did you know that breaking your loom became a capital offence only after Waterloo?). I suppose that they, the ‘Guardian’ readers, might want to take the view that those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  5. Eh? Senior Inuit expressing their concerns makes them the equivalent of the Bullingdon Club? What next – how the Ross faction of the Cherokee were just like the ‘Piers Gav’?

    Maybe younger/other Inuit want to be ore miners, maybe they don’t – either way, it doesn’t warrant such an absurd comparison.

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