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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 )]