FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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.

January 23, 2019
Charles McKelvey
Popular Democracy in Cuba
Kenn Orphan
The Smile of Class Privilege
Leonard Peltier
The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song
Kenneth Surin
Stalled Brexit Goings On
Jeff Cohen
The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?
Cira Pascual Marquina
Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert
George Ochenski
Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies
George Wuerthner
Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging
Raouf Halaby
In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High
Kim C. Domenico
No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty
Ted Rall
Jury Trial? You Have No Right!
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail