Friday, September 02, 2005

Individualism, Katrina and Society

1. The Bush Administration and the Federal Government have failed to respond adequately to the hurricane Katrina.
a. They failed to heed the warnings of scientists who predicted that higher sea temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico would create ever stronger hurricanes.
b. They cut the budgets of programmes to upgrade the cities’ flood defences.
c. They failed to organise the evacuation of those without cars or money to pay bus fares.
d. They are now failing to evacuate refugees from the destroyed areas.
e. They are slow to open routes by water and land to reach survivors.
f. They are failing to organise water, food and medicines for those already evacuated.
g. The police are concentrating on preventing looting – even, it seems, people who are taking water or food from the stores. Their priority is the protection of private property rather than the protection of human life.
h. The existence of irrational armed gangs is a tribute to success of the gun lobby.

2. All these failure reflect in some degree the philosophy of individualism that underpins the thinking of successive US administrations, but which finds its fullest expression in the Bush Administration.
a. Flood defences are necessarily an enterprise that is for the common good, for the benefit of society. As Bush believes that there is no such thing as society, it is consistent for him to cut societal budgets.
b. Provision of free transport for the poor would be seen as a socialist act by a committed individualist. Organisation of a service to the public is alien to their thinking.
c. For individualists, private property and the ownership of guns are fundamental to their beliefs.

3. Hurricane Katrina may therefore have destroyed more than real estate and lives – it may have destroyed faith in individualism as a political philosophy.

4. The intellectual task of Greens is to make sure that in the place of individualism, politics moves to a position of ecologically informed communitarianism.

5. Ecologically informed communitarianism is the philosophy that sees that individual humans are part of a nested series of communities – familial, local, regional, national and international – that are themselves nested into a system of life processes which sustain us, and which we must therefore sustain.

And it's not just me saying this : see here.

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