Acknowledgments to Reuters
I have made my donation to the Haitian earthquake fund via Avaaz, specifically because they say that their donations will be directed towards community based support. Nothing against the big relief agencies, but the community is the foundation of a healthy nation.
Port au Prince has been wrecked. The international community is rightly weighing in to help. The question is, do we just help them to clear up the mess, rebuild houses and infrastructure, and clear off? Or do we help them rebuild not just the physical infrastructure, but also the non-physical structure of the country also? Could (or should) we help them to rebuild their economy in a convergent way, where the gap between rich and poor tends to become less rather than greater? Could we help to stop the child slavery system? Could we help them create a sustainable localised, community based economy? In short, should we take this opportunity to rebuild one of the poorest nations in the world into a model of a green society and economy?
Probably not. The conservative mindset would be to create a bit of hardware, then leave it to market forces, while the extreme left mindset would probably classify any attempt to rebuild the software as paternalistic neo-colonial interferencism.
Another aspect: a Green Party colleague spent many months a few years ago campaigning for dedicated military depots around the world to be on 24/7 standby to respond to disasters of this kind. Whatever they are bad at (rape, pillage, War on Terror, wasting money &c) the military are undeniable good at logistics, at shifting people and materiel around in a short time span.
He got quite a lot of high level support. The main objection was the worry of politicians about inviting foreign soldiers onto their soil. It could have been implemented on a voluntary basis. It's still a good idea. Be good for the soldiers too, seeing people as in need of help, rather than as in need of being killed. (more on this)
Anyway, I am going to be in the Question Time in Cheddar audience on Friday, so I am going to try to put the societal rebuilding question forward.
[update 15 Jan] Naomi Klein speaking about free market fundamentalist Heritage Foundation looking to push their agenda on Haiti.
Haiti brief history
Looting or surviving?
Haiti and the bankers