Urban Survival In Today´s Society

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Pablo Edronkin

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Who said that disasters will affect you differently depending on where you live? Is it really safer to live in the developed world than in the third one?

Talking about the "first" and the "third" world reflects the same arrogance with which people from certain countries used to think about different cultures: For Europeans, Indians needed to be civilised. Pfor the Japanese, Westerners were barbarians as Commodore Perry arrived in the 1840s (see Aaron Schoenberg). But between a French "Bidon Ville" and a Brazilian "Favela" there is little difference; between the attitudes of Mr. Bush and Mr. Chavez only the language changes, and arms deals in the grey made during the government of Carlos Menem perhaps only the models of the weapons sold varied from what Mrs. Thatcher and her fellows sold to the Middle East uin equally questionably ways.

And by the way, in the UK Argentina was condemned as an imperialistic banana republic in 1982, during the invasion of the Falklands / Malvinas and of course, a fleet was dispatched to defend the wolrd agaist those barbaric and murderous armies of the south. Only to make the British Army invade Irak in the name of WMDs that never existed and massacre more innocent civilians than alll the Latin american juntas put together.

We seldom stop to think about this, but life is equally dangerous alll around the wolrd. People living in "developed" - i.e. materially richer - countries tend to think that they would never be hit by plagues, epidemics, banana republic evolutions and such things. On the other hand, citizens from rag-tag countries tend to think that theyr woes originate in their own, somewhat inferior nature. Well… the visit that Mr. Bush made to London, a few years ago while the towns people couldn´t move around with freedom and the visiting president moved around with more escort than a Roman emperor looked very similar to any Latin American revolution with generals full of cheap medals in their chests, sitting on top of old Sherman tanks.

When you see thing like the Argentinean default of 2001 it is easy to assume that such events take place only in certain places, but when you stop again and think about the Enron scandal, what Air Madrid did to its pasengers, the Blackwater murderous scandal in Iraq or how a bank like Northern Rock left its customers in the void, suddenly the wolrd seems much smaller than some people would like. Urban survival rules apply everywhere in the same way.

Someone may argue that cases like those that I mentioned are less common in "serious" countries but that is a relative concept: If some bank goes bankrupt taking with it your savings, being in Buenos Aires feels much the same as being in London and guess what? Goverments just walk away and pretend to be looking elsewhere as such things happen, no matter whether you are in the United Kingdom, Argentina, China or Somalia.

The reality of events indicate that we live in a world that shows a tendency toward corporate stratification. There are many layers of corporations of differnet kinds on top of each individual, differnet sets and levels of power and political muscle; people, however, are becoming a commodity of sorts. Authorities base their decisions on statistics and not humanistic principles, and as the corporate stratification continues to evolve, the distance between decision makers and those that have to endure the effects of those decisions increases.

Thus, whenever anyone pretends to study urban survival, not only those events that cause physical destruction such as wars, epidemics, floods and earthquakes should be considered, but the social and political framework in which we all live as well.

At this page you will find several links that will take you to various articles related to this topic, giving you an idea of what mindset you have to develop in order to really learn about urban survival because it is attitude and not belief, individual action and not collective idleness what will save you in any case. Don´t think for a second that the economic or social nature of the place you live will insure you in any way for, aftere all, the only thing that we can be sure about is the fact that we all inhabit the same planet.

Arguably better trained than most for urban survival scenarios.
Arguably better trained than most for urban survival scenarios.

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