Earthquakes and Capitalism

The fear and anxiety induced by earthquakes are often exacerbated by the challenges posed by capitalist societies, where individuals face significant obstacles in their efforts to modify their living conditions or relocate to safer regions. This creates a complex and concerning situation that demands urgent attention from scholars and policymakers alike. 

It’s particularly concerning that even when it’s clear that action is needed, our leaders don’t tackle  the problems that come with the combination of capitalism and  earthquakes. It can be especially hard to do so when policies prioritize the interests of big companies over regular folks’ safety. This can make entire communities even more vulnerable to natural disasters. To make things worse, sometimes policies limit people’s access to resources or their ability to move around, which can make it tough for people to figure out how to prepare for earthquakes or make informed decisions about where to live. That’s why it’s so important for policymakers to step up and help address these issues by taking a more proactive approach to tackling the socioeconomic factors that make people more vulnerable to earthquakes. In doing so, they can support the efforts of individuals and communities to build resilience in the face of these events.

The capitalist system can be a real problem when earthquakes strike. It’s all about making money, which means putting economic growth and development ahead of regular people’s well-being and safety. This often leads to cities getting really big, with  a lot of people living in areas that are at high risk of earthquakes. It’s even worse in “developing” countries, where the rapid growth of cities and the building of poorly designed buildings have made things even more dangerous. These buildings don’t have the right features to make them safe in an earthquake, like earthquake-resistant materials.

In “developed” countries, the rules for building and safety are often stronger, but that doesn’t always help regular folks when it comes to earthquakes. Living in areas that are less prone to earthquakes can be really expensive, which means that low-income families often have to live in cheaper areas that are more dangerous. It’s really frustrating because the contactors of apartments often care more about making money than keeping people safe. They don’t always want to spend the extra money it takes to make buildings safe in an earthquake, and so they charge more for the ones that are. In the end, this just makes it hard for regular folks to live in safe areas. The thought of earthquakes is already super scary, but it’s even worse when you can’t do anything to make things safer. That’s the reality for a lot of people who don’t have the resources to change where they live or make their homes stronger in case of an earthquake. For people living around the  poverty line, this is a really tough situation to be in. They’re worried all the time about losing everything they have – their home, their things, and even their lives. It’s a really stressful and anxiety-inducing situation, and it’s not something that can be fixed easily.

When it comes to getting ready for earthquakes, a lot of people are left in the dark. It’s up to each person to get themselves ready, instead of the government or businesses helping out. This can be really hard for people who don’t have a lot of money. They might not have the resources to get ready for an earthquake, or to leave their homes quickly if there’s an emergency. It’s a tough situation to be in, and it’s not fair that people are left to deal with all of this on their own.

We have faced several earthquakes with magnitudes above 7 in a week in Turkey. It’s clear to me now more than ever that the current system, with its focus on profits and growth over safety and well-being, is failing us. It’s not just a theoretical concern, but a very real and terrifying experience.

In the midst of this chaos, I find solace in the act of writing down my thoughts and emotions. It feels like a small but meaningful way to process what’s happening and to call attention to the need for change. It’s not just me that’s affected by earthquakes and the failures of capitalism, but countless others who are left vulnerable and unsupported. From an anarchist perspective, it is the responsibility of communities and pro-social institutions, not the managing class who failed again to manage anything in a state of crisis, to prioritize the safety and well-being of individuals over profits and economic growth. If policymakers and developers refuse to take these issues seriously, which would be an attempt to prove their legitimacy and existence, they should be removed from power.

Here are some useful links that can provide assistance to those affected by earthquakes in Syria and Turkey:

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory