Self-Organization Under Natural and Social Catastrophes

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:15
Oral Presentation
Marco GÓMEZ, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico
Popular self-organization following natural or social catastrophes. The 2017-09-19 earthquake in Mexico

It appears that, under certain circumstances, in capitalist society it is posible for people to manage and govern society directly, without the mediation of a special political class of officials organized to perform those functions. In many instances, those circumstances arise from natural or social cataclisms that continually affect the social organization. People are driven to spontaneously organize themselves in order to take over, partially or completely, administrative and governing tasks, at first those directly related to the catastrophe itself, due to the disorganization or disability of the central political power, but then extending to other áreas as organization desterity grows, and the situation affords itself.

However, during and in the aftermath of these catastrophes, the centralized political power of capitalist societies confronts these self-organizing attempts by the population. Measures taken by government forces can exhibit a greater or lesser ability, be more or less violent, all to quell the spontaneous self-organization by the people in whatever attempt to take over the management and governing powers of society. The result of this confrontation will depend, naturally, on the correlation of forces between the two, but above all, on the organizational capacity and the level of consciousness achieved by the self-organized masses of people.

During the recent earthquake in Mexico, thousands of people went to the affected áreas and spontaneously organized themselves in all sorts of rescue tasks. The government acted late, unefficiently, and many times in conflict with the self-organized volunteers.

Field work will be undertaken in Mexico City and surroundings to document these events and to try and describe posible outcomes.