TOTW: Resilience

1: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2 : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

The buzzword of resiliency is excessively uncritically applied to how the government and businesses recover after a natural disaster such as a hurricane. Natural disasters are recurrent, and some types, like hurricanes, are increasingly frequent and are somewhat predictable and expected.

The response of the population, the environment/ecosystem, the infrastructure, the government, NGO's, the businesses, and the markets is also recurrent and somewhat predictable. This is taken into account by all of these entities and individuals in order to prepare for such events, and this increases resiliency. This allows for a successful and quicker recovery of the status quo, business/disaster as usual, and the recuperation (as in co-optation or neutralization) of solidarity and mutual aid efforts that naturally arise after such disasters.

Disaster capitalism is a concept that refers to the ways in which business interests can be furthered when disasters strike. Disaster pose an opportunity for expanding or controlling markets, or gaining support as a politician or an NGO through clientelism. So called anarchist or activist response has so far focused on similar approaches of mutual aid as way to gain support, in competition or as a complement to the other entities mentioned.

If urban resilience is viewed as counterposed with ecological resilience, and city reconstruction is seen as counterposed with reforestation, for example, we can see disasters as opportunities for counter-resilience. That is, an opportunity for change and transformation of the entities that are resistant to change. More specifically, to counteract the encroachment of the city into the small pockets of areas that are less destroyed by human activity, and to make the most out of the slow down of the destructive pace of the supply-chains. Disasters also affect the most those that are worse off, while those that are better off are better prepared. Urban resilience reinforces inequalities of wealth and power.

In their current form, cities inherently lack resilience. They depend on throughputs of matter and energy that are utterly unsustainable, and consequently endure only because they externalise the consequent social and ecological damage: in other words by systematically undermining resilience elsewhere. Their primary function—reflecting the main, unstated, policy goal of almost every government in the world—is to ensure that wealth and power accrue disproportionately to those who already have both in excess, at everyone else’s expense. An inevitable consequence of increasing inequity is to intensify resource flows to even less sustainable levels, further undermining resilience in the city itself, its constituent subsystems, and connected systems elsewhere.

Let's discuss the ways in which we can even the odds, and make the most out the cycles of preparedness, response, and recovery to disasters that we're becoming more and more familiar with as their frequency increases. Let's talk about counter-resilience: the capacity to resist or overcome the imposition of the status-quo's resilience. Let's talk about disaster insurgents: those who make the most out of the disruption of infrastructure that facilitates policing, patrolling, surveying, and governance, and try to make it so that what results in the aftermath of disaster is not "back to normal", but an irreversible change, and a new state of affairs contrary to the business schemes, centralized planning, and high command.

[Thanks to anonymous for this TOTW submission via email ( thecollective [at] anarchistnews [dot] org )]

There are 42 Comments

Will the young anarchists help the elderly bourgeois trapped beneath the shattered constructions of their fetished lives?

What do you mean?

If I take the question in a literal sense, the so far the answer has been yes, as anarchists here and there have acted as first responders in the aftermath of disasters.

If it’s a poetic rhetorical appeal to reconsider such a reaction, then it’s interesting to consider what this would entail.

What would really help someone “trapped beneath the shattered constructions of their fetished lives”?

Maybe they don’t want to renounce to their ruins, to part with them and shelter themselves with disillusionments, or find comfort and a home in wandering.

I think more often than not constructs are not shattered.
They are briefly exposed and vulnerable, but then repaired and bolstered, updated, given all the maintenance that was overdue. These constructs live on long after the elderly have perished.

How can a storm(?)break records, erase documents and registries, erase memory embedded in the material culture, break people away from inhibitions and norms?

I can think of a few ways, but this comment is too long.

06:06 replying. Maybe it would be best if the children are dragged out of the wreckage, and a match flicked into the piles of contracts and flotsam, and we walk away?

I still think it's an interesting question that's not so straightforward, and would vary from context to context.

Thinking of prisons in the midst of events like these which have flooded, leaving the prisoners trapped inside their cells, or sweating without windows and air conditioner when the power goes out, and without water. Clearly the solutions is not to lobby for prisons to use solar panels and have more modern and "resilient" infrastructure, though it would be "more humane". Reading your comment you might be the one to have no qualms with intervening so that the power takes longer to come back, that's another possibility. Consider that usually rich neighborhoods get their power back first than the poor one's. Maybe you make it so that the rich don't get it back until the last neglected poor block gets it back. Or maybe you are working on a cruel hypothesis that prolonging the power outage for all is best.

The question is not so much one of the ethics or morals of it, each has their own,(in this site we assume or expect it be anarchist, but for nihilism it may n/a) but about a question of timing imposed by events. Will you campaign and organize so that the prisoners are well prepared and do not suffer as much when the storm comes? Will you act in the middle of the storm to help break them out? Will you wait until the prison is at the point of mutiny and riot to intervene? This hypothetical scenario is just an example.

With the huge commotion and distraction of storms, many things can be done before, during, and after, for more than just aid.
Supermarkets have food that could spoil and go to waste. Sometimes they don't come back to reopen and clean it out after days, employees trying not to retch as they mop up aisles of melted ice cream and rotten meat.

During big storms, everyone's holed up inside their homes for good reason, but is it possible that you may come up a better reason to be outside? When the power's out it's good for star gazing.

I've been thinking about resilience for a while now within the remit of rediscovering or creating anew some kind of pre-civilisational conceit of community resilience in combination with a nurtured illegibility.

Suffice to say, I feel I am smack-bang in the midst of an exploration and really have nothing to add beyond declaring my interest.

This TOTW may gift me something I dearly want.

you mean something along the lines of growing edible roots in the land where the river overflows and is pooped on by bats (among other things)?

very curious about the “nurtured illegibility” part. nurturing takes love, illegibility takes a deliberate break from the languages one is evading. familiar discernible forms and rhythms must be the background one blends into, or the unrecognizable alien thing which you can’t be referenced against.

but on second thought, look at all the species that have been great at camouflage that have gone extinct.
all the cultures that were not understood by their conquerors before they erased all of its living memory.

adaptability and versatility as well as specialization have their advantages and costs/trade-offs.

where am i taking this tangent of the topic?
i dunno, i still would like to know more about your original comment

Permanent subsistence zones are an option or embedding oneself in a habitat...I.e., rediscovering our kinship with nature or at the least the natural environment in which we live. If you understand your habitat you probably have a pantry, energy supplies, etc. There are survival skills and there is sensual wisdom - deep knowledge of your specific habitat. Having both of these offers resilience without relying on states or even storehouses necessarily.

Urban people do live in habitats, it’s just that they are smothered beneath pavement, concrete, and steel and glass towers. Exploring renaturalization techniques and taking direct action to re-naturalize now are potential avenues...

Urbanization, industry, and climate change engender/endanger subsistence everywhere.

Hurricanes make clearings in forest canopies that allows undergrowth and other seeds to grow, but many birds lose their habitats. Each building development tears down more trees with no up side. Rows of housing built on places where a river passes by, which will flood, or crumble in a landslide. Hurricanes halt constructions momentarily, as well as lots of other things.
Hurricanes momentarily clean air, but then the gasoline and diesel generators in response to the power outages pollute it at double time.

There is a rhythm and a dance here, part of the sensual knowledge you mention. Listening to the wind, the river and the seasons etc. is almost forgotten by modern people.

Now people consider a radio, a flashlight and lots of batteries as vital necessities in case of a “natural disaster”. Cannot find a way to eat, pee or defecate if the lights are off. And weather can only be inferred from apps it seems.

Common occurrence how two things occur during any prolonged power outage:
-neighbors come together

It seems natural, to take what you need from your environment, taking cues to seize the opportunity, and then to aid each other, enjoying sharing what you have.

Our lifecycle has been interrupted, our waste is net destructive to the ecosystem instead of nourishing it.

and i don't mean this as an insult at all, i think the topic itself is very interesting, especially from the point of view of people who despise many aspects of large scale societies as I certainly do.

However, the issue is once again the tendency to think about this topic in the abstract since we are talking about a hypothetical "collapse" or "crisis". When we get to the human level of this, there's the imbalances of the "rich" and "poor" which will predict how resources will get allocated but the thing about the rich, in any sort of serious use of the word, is that they are going to be very far from any of us who would be attending this forum when some sort of disaster strikes, if the disaster is serious enough, most people will be equal in terms of their poverty and lack of privilege, which hopefully will be an automatic solution to a lot of the things that anarchists want. On the flipside, it could be an entrance point for some sort of brutal hierarchy.

This is ultimately a very local question, and considering the people who live around me, serious shit going down like total power failures and failure of police/institutional function is going to be like some big bag of tricks!

I don’t see it as a prepper thread, that being just one of the possible proactive actions one can take in orientation towards these type of events. It’s more widely a thread about orientations, attitudes, plans, ideas.

You are correct in saying this is “a very local question”.
After living through a few of these events, I can see patterns play out. I see possibilities, but I’m not well suited to intervene in the ways I envision. If made myself capable and positioned myself, then committed, I could, since these events are always around the corner in these parts.

My wish is discussion gets ideas and minds going, some people are more spontaneous and take less time to decide and commit. In other words, if someone lives out my fantasies, I can live vicariously through them, right.

Every joke has a kernel of truth! That one is more like an avocado pit.

Ha! True. The joke part is not the stated desire, but the part of having any hope of fulfilling it, one way or another, is.

people often have kids, is that their lives are so shitty and empty that they can just tell their kids what to do instead of realizing any sort of personal ambition...

the labor value of children is low because they have more freedom to leverage their cuteness, isolating them on a farm is now illegal!

There is also fulfilling one's physiological duty to the species. Love and loathing comes later ;)

"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half." Jay Gould US financier & railroad businessman (1836 - 1892). This along with people voting for their own enslavement etc. I don't see resilience; I see the opposite. Who are the military, the police, the enforcers..why they could be your neighbour, your wife, your husband, your children etc all employed (hired) to keep the status quo or tighten it still more! Listen or watch mainstream media (personally I don't anymore) and the Idiocracy is palpable. Respect one's elders is just one off-the-shelf mainstream ditty. Respect them for what exactly? Western comsumerism produces little wisdom: even these old folk continue to express themselves with consumerism. There is a local graveyard near me which is now lit up at night with hundreds of tacky solar lights with some graves having 20 plus lights! A simple tombstone is not enough. Some graves also have flowers, tacky molded figurines, solar lights, plastic windmills, plastic flowers, helium-filled balloons!

elders have generally deserved respect and still do to the extant that you can learn something from them and it's harder for them to get around by themselves, but a lot of old people are extremely delusional and don't have much to offer in terms of knowledge lol. They can still be nice to talk to sometimes though...

Some pragmatic suggestions. The ones on their last legs can be sent wading through the river to test if any crocodiles are present, before the young ones attempt to pass. Also, the toxicity of unknown drugs, berries and fruits can be tested by them. ;)

why did the thread have to devolve into eugenics and antinatalism? : (

i blame the first comment with the thing about elders in the rubble

an interesting dilemma (ageism aside) was underlying/suggested/implied:

the distinction of what is the type of help we should engage in. it’s a similar dilemma to the “anarchist fixing potholes” discussion, but bigger and more complex

Distinctions you say? The first comment was making the distinction between affluent resilient old people who have reaped the world's wealth in the wake of catastrophic wars and environmental degradation vs the poor young have nots. The complexity in this case is prioritized by who needs and deserves the most help.

they talk so much shit about young people being these lazy immoral sacks of shit when the same is said about the every generation pretty much!

and natilism, anti-natilism, two terms that have bothered me recently. Generically meaning "go have children" or "no don't have children it's a bad idea there's too many people". I am neither a natilist nor an anti-natilist, have fucking children if you want, don't have children if it seems like a bad idea to you. Unfortunately the fate for a lot of people is they will have children, and it's pretty much the shittiest time in history to accidentally have a child...

I think overall the issue the thread is addressing is how will we keep on living without reproducing authoritarian organizations, can anarchists suppress those organizational tendencies in times of crisis? I'm stumped. It seems to me the only solution is that people have to already be accustomed to an anarchist way of living and then to preserve it in crisis without caving in to survivalist fear. The problem with the state and capitalism is it depends on people not knowing how to live without the status quo, an idea that has always been appealing to me is lessening dependency or tapering off from the state, but this is much easier said than done, if you are sitting on here typing you are probably very far from doing that.

No, I live in the wilderness in an anarchic environment yet I type on a satellite internet connection. I am independent of the State thankyou very much!

But but but WHOOOOO has provided u with the satellites so you can have wireless internet in your shack?



Beyond the usual pros and antis of the democratic debate there's the much much much deeper and (obviously neglected by YOU, stupids) rational fundamental question of...

WHY should you make MORE fucking babies?




I know right?

No fucking reason, as usual. Beyond State funding.

you will be saving many generations from alienation and servitude by not having children, however, people will have sex and children, so that's why anti-natilism is not a solution to anything lol. A lot of people are already deciding for themselves not to have children...

So I just a sexology class and found out that people to fuck without having babies as result. That can be achieved through contraception from either or both sexes, or through interrupted or withdrawn ejaculation. Actually since a sperm lives from 48 to 72 hours it's pretty creepy to leave these bastards laying around... or in public waters and aquifer! So, male ejaculation don't do it?


When solar panels or LED lights are installed (or other “green” tech) they’ll say “congratulations! your carbon footprint has been offset by x amount which is is the equivalent of planting x trees!” which is the biggest bullshit ever.

As if trees could be reduced to sucking up co2. LEDs don’t give oxygen, nor habitat, nor shade, nor nutrients, nor contribute to air humidity and water cycle, etc etc.

The manufacturing of solar panels, batteries and LEDs entail pollution, and so does the extraction of materials to make them. Imagine a calculator that after you install the green tech thing it says “congratulations! your product is the equivalent of digging a hole in the ground of x depth and area and dumping x tons of toxic pollutants into rivers!”

Take that same logic and think:
disaster destroys x houses, as well as x trees.
replacing those x houses = (equivalent of) chopping down additional x trees.
the ecosystem only stands a chance to recover if x trees are planted in place of rebuilding the houses.
This is an oversimplification, but it illustrates a dynamic.

If coastal cities are increasingly at risk from disasters (sea level rise,storms,earthquakes,tsunamis) why double down on living there, fortifying them, making them more resistant to these threats?

We know why: the economy and T.I.N.A. and many other very realistic reasons. Incentives to develop every inch of prime real estate exist, instead of allowing for much needed gaps and buffers of reforestation and vegetation and diverse habitats. If the habits for biodiversity could creep back in as corridors from the small rural pockets, all through the suburban sprawl, all the way up to the city, overtaking the abandoned housing and infrastructure.

Interesting video and channel:

Stop Fossil Fuels: Why We Must, How We Can—Responding to climate change—ecological crisis—collapse

As fossil fuel use is cut down, there needs to be alternatives for subsistence instead of it.
So it's a hand in hand thing of tearing down and putting in place the alternative. Are we enough to do both?

we need to create a mass movement so that the proletarians are becoming mobilized and united arund the issue of Climate Change TM, and they move to Tesla cars and eco suburban houses and 5G and stuff..

that is directly contrary to the recommendations of that video. certainly the position you parody is worthy of ridicule.

Resilience now is being expressed as green ressentiment!

*should be replaced with

sigh, typo

leway/ziggle stop saying ressentiment you winchangchung!

Just posted it because the first scare mongering paragraph reminded me of this TotW.
Go to article for the links, it links to sources and stuff.
Emphasis added for flavor:


Editor’s note: This is the first in a series on security and law enforcement during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief scenarios.

Dorian. Gilbert. Haiyan. Idai. Irma. Maria. Mitch. Nina. The names of devastating storms remain forever etched in the memories of those who lost loved ones, livelihood, or property. While major hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, and other natural disasters are a source of tragedy and suffering, they must also be recognized as a source of opportunities. Criminal opportunities. Recent experiences in different parts of the world have shown that while law enforcement assets are diverted to engage in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief after major storms rip through a region, criminals accelerate their activities. They find new routes, new conscripts, new money-making activities. They take advantage of the chaos, disorder, and destruction to find new footholds and speed up their pursuit of illicit profit while the eyes of security professionals are turned toward search and rescue, saving lives, and both responding to and recovering from the latest storm. These major weather events are becoming more frequent and more intense, and should be considered the new normal. To that end, states everywhere must reevaluate how they intend to maintain security and law enforcement functions while attention is focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

[...and it ends with]

And what if that need comes during a global pandemic? Part II of this series will add a third element to this challenging balancing act.

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