By Rebecca Solnit
Why is it that during the aftermath of a disaster—whether artifical or natural—people by surprise turn into altruistic, imaginative, and courageous? What makes the newfound groups and goal many locate within the ruins and crises after catastrophe so joyous? And what does this pleasure display approximately commonly unmet social wants and percentages? In A Paradise in-built Hell, award-winning writer Rebecca Solnit explores those phenomena, significant calamities from the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco during the 1917 explosion that tore up Halifax, Nova Scotia, the 1985 Mexico urban earthquake, September 11, and typhoon Katrina in New Orleans. She examines how catastrophe throws humans right into a transitority utopia of replaced states of brain and social probabilities, in addition to the price of the common myths and rarer genuine situations of social deterioration in the course of.
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Additional resources for A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster
But by this time, as Gramsci was to recognise with bitter self-criticism in subsequent years, the task of national co-ordination of the proletariat’s revolutionary activity had been left too late. The April metalworkers’ strike was in fact the high point of revolutionary mass struggle in the post-war years; and it was only after its defeat that the Ordine Nuovo group attempted to sink its theoretical differences with Bordiga, in order to participate in the process of creating an Italian Communist Party.
Socialist Politics in Turin When Gramsci arrived in Turin, the city was the red capital of Italy— Gramsci was to call it Italy’s Petrograd—home of its most advanced industry and above all of FIAT. By the end of the war, FIAT was to be the biggest producer of tractors in Europe; its workers were to increase from 4,000 in 1913 to 20,000 in 1918; by 1915, it was exporting armoured cars and aeroplanes to the Entente countries in great quantities. Turin’s population rose from some 400,000 in 1911 (20 per cent of them industrial workers) to over 500,000 in 1918 (30 per cent of them industrial workers)—and this despite the fact that between 5 and 10 per cent of the population was in the army and therefore not included in the 1918 total.
At its founding congress at Livorno like Gennari) whether the Turin proletariat was prepared to take the lead in an insurrectionary bid for power. But the Turin representatives, quite apart from their suspicions— only too justified in view of the events of April—that they were being cast in the role of sacrificial lambs, knew very well that the arms and military preparation even of the workers of Italy’s “Petrograd” were totally inadequate for such an enterprise. The Ordine Nuovo might have implanted an idea that had caught the imagination of the masses; the intransigents and Bordiga’s abstentionist fraction might have defined an attitude which rejected all compromises; but not even these forces—and how much less the mass organisations, the Party and the trade unions— had made any serious attempt to organise the proletariat, on a national scale, for a revolutionary assault on the capitalist State.
A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit