Beneath Us

In a way it is even humiliating
to watch coal-miners working. It raises in you
a momentary doubt about your own status
as an ‘intellectual’ and a superior
person generally. For it is brought home to
you, at least while you are watching, that it is only
because miners sweat their guts out that superior
persons can remain superior. You and I
and the editor of the Times Literary
Sup., and the Nancy poets and the Archbishop
of Canterbury and Comerade X, author
of Marxism for Infants–all of us really
owe the comparative decency of our lives
to poor drudges underground, blackened to the eyes,
with their throats full of coal dust, driving their shovels
forward with arms and belly muscles of steel.

From George Orwell’s 1937 book ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’ as cited on Fors Clavigera. Submitted by Marika Rose.