FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Altruism in Nepal

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake has devastated Nepal. Buildings, old and new, have crumbled. Older brick and wood homes are almost exclusively reduced to rubble.

In an interview with The Guardian, Bhaskar Gautam, a local sociologist, describes the situation: “Outside Kathmandu it’s the rural poor. But in the city it’s the people in the older precarious housing. It’s obvious: the wealthier you are, the stronger the house you have.” For years the Nepali people have tried to improve disaster preparedness and resilience, but too many are resource strapped.

Kshitiz Nyaupane, a Kathmandu local in his mid-20’s, is quoted in Time: “Our government is not strong enough to handle this. We must take care of it ourselves.” Nyaupane echoes the beliefs of many in the region. The Nepali political system has a decades long history of indecision, conflict and instability. To maintain the political class important issues, such as basic infrastructure needs, have been ignored.

Once again, disparity and asymmetrical power relations add to the severity of disaster.

Frustratingly, the very institutions that cause such disparity are who the populace must depend on for relief. As aid floods Nepal, victims continue to struggle to regain control over their lives. Meanwhile, decisions over the distribution of resources are made for them. The influx of aid pouring into the region will no doubt save lives, but many ravaged by the quakeare having to wait days for food and shelter as government officials take pictures, avoid the public and leave.

The situation is so bad that Nepalese villagers are blocking trucks carrying supplies for earthquake victims. Protests are on the rise outside of Nepal’s Parliament. Locals are demanding more to help the tens of thousands now homeless and short of food and water.

So, what can be done? What can be done to close the wealth gap? What steps can be taken to ensure that the impoverished do not continue to be the hardest hit by disaster?

The answer may lie behind altruistic social forces in the region. In an interview with theAssociated Press, a local talks of his frustration with the government, stating: “Only the other villagers who have also lost their homes are helping me. But we get nothing from the government.” In the wake of calamity there is no mass violence, no survival of the fittest mentality, but instead a beautiful mutualism. Altruism is alive and well, a part of human nature.

The Nepalese are huddling together at night to keep warm, sharing blankets, food, water and more. Scholarly research shows such selfless behavior is common after disaster. Often, it is the political authorities who are selfish. Fearing anarchy, power structures often work against altruistic behavior.

Never the less, the human condition prevails. In the wake of disaster there is always hope, generosity and solidarity. The basic libertarian principle of mutual aid shines through.

This of course fuels the fire against the ruling class. Even in calamity we build rich, cooperative networks. This serves as a reminder that vibrant social cooperation is intrinsic to the human condition. If we grasp it, if we confront disparity, if we strive for the permissive society, we will revel in the altruistic markets that emerge. We can alleviate human suffering, simply by advancing human liberty.

Grant A. Mincy is a senior fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS.org) where he holds the Elinor Ostrom Chair in Environmental Studies and Commons Governance. He also blogs at appalachianson.wordpress.com. In addition, Mincy is an associate editor of the Molinari Review and an Energy & Environment Advisory Council Member for the Our America Initiative. He earned his Masters degree in Earth and Planetary Science from the University of Tennessee in the summer of 2012. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee

More articles by:

Grant A. Mincy is a senior fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS.org) where he holds the Elinor Ostrom Chair in Environmental Studies and Commons Governance. He also blogs at appalachianson.wordpress.com. In addition, Mincy is an associate editor of the Molinari Review and an Energy & Environment Advisory Council Member for the Our America Initiative. He earned his Masters degree in Earth and Planetary Science from the University of Tennessee in the summer of 2012. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee where he teaches both Biology and Geology at area colleges.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
Thomas Knapp
Pork is Not the Problem
Manuel García, Jr.
Global Warming and Solar Minimum: a Response to Renee Parsons
Jill Richardson
Straight People Don’t Need a Parade
B. R. Gowani
The Indian Subcontinent’s Third Partition
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: The Black Body in LA
Jonah Raskin
‘69 and All That Weird Shit
Michael Doliner
My Surprise Party
Stephen Cooper
The Fullness of Half Pint
Charles R. Larson
Review: Chris Arnade’s “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America”
David Yearsley
Sword and Sheath Songs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail