Disaster communism part 1 - disaster communities

Tens of thousands of people showed that we don’t need capital or governments to get things done. They demonstrated the will of people to take part in comforting each other, re-building, creating and moulding their own futures.

This quote is from a blog called Revolts Now. Libcom readers often see this kind of inspiration in strikes or uprisings, moments when the working class seizes the steering wheel, or stomps on the brakes (pick your metaphor). Revolts Now was talking about the aftermath of the Queensland floods. They write of:

…efforts of communities hit by disaster that do not wait for the state, or allow capital to take the initiative, but instead ‘negotiate with their hands’, rebuilding their own communities and ‘healing themselves’, resulting in communities that are stronger. I call these efforts disaster communism.

We think disaster communism is a useful concept for thinking about climate change. Although it's far from common, we can already identify at least two different meanings of the term. The first meaning is collective, self-organised responses to disaster situations. The second concerns the prospects for an ecological society based on human needs in the face of climate chaos, or to put it another way, the possibility of communism in the Anthropocene.1 We can call this first sense 'disaster communities', and the second 'disaster communisation', and consider both of these as moments of the wider problematic of disaster communism.

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