Tuesday, October 27, 2009


A Paradise Built In Hell. The extraordinary communities that arise in Disaster. By Rebecca Solnit.

From the epilogue: The doorway in the ruins.

"Who are you? Who are we? The history of disaster demonstrates that most of us are social animals, hungry for connection, as well as for purpose and meaning. It also suggest that if this is who we are, then everyday life in most places is a disaster that disruptions sometimes gives us a chance to change. They are a crack in the walls that ordinarily hem us in, and what floods in can be enormously destructive—or creative. Hierarchies and institutions are inadequate to these circumstances; they are often what fails in such crises. Civil society is what succeeds, not only in an emotional demonstration of altruism and mutual aid but also in practical mustering of creativity and resources to meet the challenges. Only this dispersed force of countless people making countless decisions is adequate to a major crisis. One reason that disasters are threatening to elites is that power devolves to the people on the ground in many ways: it is the neighbors who are the first responders and who assemble the impromptu kitchens and networks to rebuild. And it demonstrates the viability of the dispersed, decentralized system of decision making. Citizens themselves in these moments constitute the government—the acting decision-making body—as democracy has always promised and rarely delivered. Thus disasters often unfold as though a revolution has already taken place."

2 comments:

Belnu said...

Interesting!

Druidhead said...

Yes. The every day strife of being controlled by our own fears falls away in catastrophes. With being displaced comes the willingness to discard anything but the immediate moment. It doesn't last though.