'How Green Is My Valley?' was the predictably cliched title of one of BBC Wales's programmes in the Real Valleys season.
'How Real Is My Valley?' might have been more apt, since the two presenters chosen to debate the state and fate of y cymoedd were Jonathan Adams from Caerleon (architect of the Millennium Centre) and Prof. Dai Smith, historian, writer and Chair of the Arts Council of Wales, who has long lived on Barry Island, though is a 'bachgen bach o Bontypridd erioed, erioed.'
The controversial starting-point of this discourse was Adams's theory that up to 250,000 people would need to be 'moved' from the Valleys (especially the Heads) and into the cities ( or 'city regions' as they are now termed).
Adams's reinforced his argument by showing us what has already happened in two north Wales communities.
He showed us the former slate-mining community of Treforus - now an Ozymandias ruin - as a warning and then a huge former slate mine tourist trap with wires and underground trampolines.
Adams believes tourism is the way forward and turning hubs of population like Merthyr into market towns like.....well, Caerleon.
I was expecting him to suggest that Merthyr FC's pitch should be dug up and the Roman remains there opened to the public at a price.
There are serious problems with this contentious vision.
How are you going to persuade at least 100,00 people to up sticks and move to Cardiff when property prices there are nearly double those in the Valleys? Moreover, there aren't even jobs to accommodate those kind of numbers, even apart from the dictatorial actions required.
The notion that we aren't already embracing the 'new tourism ' is absurd, with a large Climbing Centre and Mountain Bike tracks close to Merthyr.
These can create employment, but hardly enough to compensate for the thousands of jobs lost when works, mines and factories have been closed.
To Adams and his supporters the Valleys are treated with too much sentimentality and are a 'predicament' rather than place.
Dai Smith found all this infuriating and argued forcefully that neo-liberalism had failed the Valleys.
He used ex-Burberry workers and a project called Valley Kids to show how the co-operative spirit still existed and creative artists like writer Rachel Tresize and photographer Paul Cabuts to show how they drew on the unique people and places for inspiration.
The problem with Smith's theory is that he made a sentimental journey back to his past.
He was filmed chanting alongside Ponty rugby fans, who would never be sucked into the city to support Cardiff Blues.
This, to Dai, was a symbol of Valleys camaraderie and resilience.
Yet, he used stereotypes to reinforce his views.
The male rugby fan may be a part of the present, but most people are just as likely to support football teams and there are many families who have moved here to get away from city life: a middle class only touched upon by Tresize.
'We need a poet's answer!' declared Dai.
He never asked one, so I'm providing mine.
Although I find Adams's blueprint frightening, I did see some glimmer when he stressed the need for 'a sense of hope'.
The most telling comment came from one of the ex-Burberry workers, when she stated that 'the Government needs to fetch some work up here for the kids.'
Prof. Smith nodded and agreed.
However, what she said perfectly illustrated our enduring colonial mentality, which has made dependence so integral to our lives.
While Smith propounds the case against neo-liberalism from an Old Labour perspective , he totally fails to analyse our history as a neo-colonial one.
In this respect I think of the Labour MP for Ceredigion at the time of the 1979 Referendum. Elystan Morgan was, with Newport's Paul Flynn completely isolated within the Labour Party in Wales as a strong advocate for their own policy of devolution.
Devastated by the 'No' vote he condemned the Welsh people for their inferiority complex.
He was duly ostracized.
He was also absolutely right.
With the ensuing 'Yes' vote and our own Assembly that 'inferiority complex' has been gradually denuded and replaced by a growing confidence, indicated in the Arts and especially in rock and folk music.
Yet it remains, because we still expect so much to be done for us.
Despite the inspirational example of the Tower Colliery workers, we're conditioned to wait for the 'powers that be' to provide.
Prof Smith , with his Old Labour loyalties, is as much part of the problem as the aloof planning of Jonathan Adams.
This dependence comes from being abandoned when our raw materials and cheap labour were no longer needed.
It comes from our subservience to a foreign monarchy and, of course, from the Thatcherite mentality which has destroyed society and left the individual to cope on their own.
But crucially, it comes as well from the very Labour Party which Smith sees as a solution( though he didn't take a party line on the programme, it must be emphasized).
Apart from totally embracing neo-liberalism and giving the bankers free rein, they now carry out and support austerity measures just as the ConDems do.
Their running of this country - from Senedd to Council - represents their adherence to Stalinist attitudes, based on 'We know what's good for you' ,rather than ' You decide and we'll support you'.
To my mind, the future of the Valleys lies neither with Adams's totalitarian vision or Smith's harking back to a past that was full of union and rebellion, but also of a macho and chapel-narrow society.
We must build our own industries producing sustainable goods and base them largely on crafts and high technology. Though communications must be improved, a hi-tech future doesn't need to relocate to any city.
Above all, we need a political solution which rids us of this neo-colonial situation once and for all ; we need control of our own lives in every institution, from school to factory.
Smith is right when he says we are 'slaves of capitalism'. But as misguided as Adams in his analysis.
We need encouragement for co-operatives to be set up and a Welsh bank owned by the nation which can support them.
We are slaves to more than capitalism. We are slaves to an 'Ich Dien' ( I Serve) tradition, worn on every Welsh rugby shirt.
ABANDON THE VALLEYS
Let's all abandon the Valleys
so they can turn them into an industrial museum,
a theme park of past glories
they could drown every one
and it would make Tryweryn
seem a piddling puddle by comparison
they could leave it to the animals,
bring back the wolves and wild cats
and let the adventure- tourists loose
they could cultivate market towns
with lots of cutsy craft shops,
places peopled only by Groggs
let's abandon the Valleys,
they've outgrown their uses ;
let opencast prevail without protest
let all those wasted Valleys folk
move coastward to the cities ;
it'll be like one long Saturday
let's all abandon the Valleys
to the march of conifers and SAS training courses,
shift every building to St. Fagan's.