Saturday, January 23, 2010

Anarchy, i.e. Spontaneaous Order, on the Streets of Port-au-Prince

Dieu merciHaiti alley tries to take matters in hand. The report follows "a founding member of the executive board of the Delmas 36 Committee, representing several blocks' worth of homeless, destitute earthquake survivors," who "has taken down in careful cursive the names of 389 residents at 36 Delmas Street, all in need of food, water and tents." From the report:
    Across Port-au-Prince, block by block, Haitians are arranging themselves into subsets within the chaos around them. Seizing upon a centuries-long tradition of the most basic grass-roots community organizing, they have set up sort of neighborhood watch committees meant to facilitate the distribution of aid and maintain security.
"Haiti is not so much a failed state as a phantom state," a Haiti scholar is quoted as saying. "Haitians are used to having very little services. They see the state never comes, so they must do it themselves."

"Anarchy is the glue that holds society together," said Roderick T. Long — Icky Sticky Anarchy.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous mcmlxix said...

Interesting.

Because our building codes are better (due to wealth and civil government), it's hard to imagine such a magnitude quake wreaking so much destruction to life and property here, say in California.

But early on I had a thought experiment. In an equivalent closed system, what if in we were to have a quake of such a magnitude that it did wreak an equivalent toll on life and property? Who would ultimately "weather the storm" better?

I can't imagine upwardly mobile, consumerist, and spiritually postmodern San Franciscans having the institutional or psychological dimensions needed to pull through as effectively.

Ours is a culture that relies on civil institutions, but I can't help but think that cultural institutions are more durable. The state can break down in one event, but it takes generations to break down culture.

How does postmodern spirituality (consumerist, egocentric, and void of depth) stack up against premodern spirituality? When western pseudo zen, wannabe neopaganism, and queer-feminist studies fail to deliver, the Loa will still be fully accessible.

2:20 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Excellent commentary!

I'm reminded of something I read suggesting that the Mormon Church was the most likely institution to survive a catastrophic collapse in America.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Steve Hayes said...

Free-enterprise socialism I like.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

You know, I'd agree about the Mormons!

1:16 AM  
Anonymous love the girls said...

"Who would ultimately "weather the storm" better?"

'Ultimately'? We would.

They might do better in the short term because they're used to living in conditions of devastation, but long term we have the capacity to pull our selves up while they have proven over the long term to not be able to.

7:22 AM  
Anonymous mcmlxix said...

The Mormons...quite astute...in my post I was going to bring up a scenario of San Andreas vs Wasatch. The Mormons, no doubt! But that's bit of a touchy situation for me, as my sister has converted to Smithism big time. For what they excel at, there's a huge downside to their close knit (ie. closed) communities. Don't expect BYU to produce any notable scientists, artist, musicians, theologians, philosophers, statesmen, etc any time soon...let alone any extraordinary ones.

LTG...yes, I suppose that you're right...ultimately...Haitians will go on being Haitians and Californians will go on being Californians. Such is tautology.

Anyway, thought experiments are all very well and good, but since I'll be back in LA for a bit, I pray I won't be tested first hand!

1:25 PM  

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.