Egypt: Building a Paradise in Hell

How do people cope when their government totters? In Egypt, it looks like the people organize themselves, if the police make things worse.

John Robb and Jesse Walker observe that some amount of looting is being done by people actually working for police or security services.  In response,

defense of person and property, meanwhile, has fallen not just on the Army but on civil society, as neighbors form informal protective associations. If Robb’s scenario turns out to be true, Egypt has inverted the Hobbesian story of the state: The police are spreading disorder and the voluntary sector is containing it.

This echoes Rebecca Solnit’s argument in her terrific book A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster (2009).  If state authority fails, anarchy often results… not in the bad sense of random violence, but the positive way, with local self-organization and mutual aid.

Is this really happening?

(photo from monasosh)

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