Thursday, November 08, 2012

Beyond All Reason

Chaos isn't a result of freedom, it's a consequence of control. When people are free to create and cooperate, a natural and benign order obtains. It's only when those who fear freedom as a threat to their privileges or control of others obstruct our capacity to create and cooperate that chaos ensues.

The inclination of humanity toward empathy and generosity, however, is not a narrative the privileged and their institutions promote. They, rather, invest heavily in indoctrinating others with a message of fear, counseling compliance, not compassion.

As Rebecca Solnit remarks in this 2009 Bombsite interview, the usual pessimistic view of human nature serves the status quo of authoritarianism, state violence, and fear incredibly well, but that what actually happens in disasters demonstrates everything an anarchist ever wanted to believe about the triumph of civil society and the failure of institutional authority.

Elite panic during natural disasters, projected in the media as social disaster, turns out to be a fabrication that Solnit attributes to elite fear of monsters of their own making. Given the elites are often venal and selfish people, it is not difficult to understand the projection of their psychoses on society as a whole. The fact they are wrong doesn't deter them from violently opposing collective efforts aimed at recovery and restoration. Collectivity in providing human needs then becomes a threat to their sense of control.

The choice between charity and solidarity, Solnit says, pits paternal authorities against mutual aid. Finding fulfillment as citizens helping others is something some elites find so anathema to their psyches that they routinely mobilize armed force to prevent it's spread among communities struck by natural disasters. The beauty and love of collectivity in public and political life scares them beyond all reason.


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