Monday, September 05, 2005

Anarchy and mutual aid

The emergence of tribes in state-free New Orleans (from Boing-boing)

NEW ORLEANS — In the absence of information and outside assistance, groups of rich and poor banded together in the French Quarter, forming "tribes" and dividing up the labor.

As some went down to the river to do the wash, others remained behind to protect property. In a bar, a bartender put near-perfect stitches into the torn ear of a robbery victim.

While mold and contagion grew in the muck that engulfed most of the city, something else sprouted in this most decadent of American neighborhoods - humanity.

"Some people became animals," Vasilioas Tryphonas said Sunday morning as he sipped a hot beer in Johnny White's Sports Bar on Bourbon Street. "We became more civilized.

While state-sanctioned violence continues in cruder forms than usual:

Police came through commandeering drivable vehicles and siphoning gas. Officials took over a hotel and ejected the guests.

An officer pumped his shotgun at a group trying to return to their hotel on Chartres Street.

"This is our block," he said, pointing the gun down a side street. "Go that way."

They say disaster uncovers real social relations (presumably, by overturning the everyday structures of survival and forcing people to spontaneously create new, crude, temporary ones where the mechanisms are more obvious).

Meanwhile California is stepping up (and presumably many other locales and individuals are doing the same).

Keywords: anarchy, self-organization, human nature, katrina

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