Theses for Disputation on Conservatism
Avi Woolf

There is an example of an emerging aspect of “collective civil society” to be found in the public response to Harvey. While the police, the medics, the fire department, the Coast Guard and the National Guard staged an admirable effort and gave their all (sometimes their lives) to the response, all their efforts would have been submerged by the sheer scale of the storm if it had not been for the mass intervention of the public at large. People just set out in boats and did it. (Some of them died in the attempt too, but on the whole they were, if not professional, at least shrewd and careful and effective in their efforts.) Some of the intervenors came from a distance. Some had a degree of pre-forged organization. (Cajun Navy, and the new Drone Air Force, hobbyists who with the help of an “app”, can be linked up with fast-emerging needs to scout specific locations and relay the feed to those with boats or copters.) When people with the skills needed and lacked boats, sometimes other random members of the public — -well, random members of the hated one percent — -just bought them one.

Another storm, Irma, is churning across the Atlantic, heading for we-know-not-exactly where. Maybe we won’t get hit. Maybe we will. Maybe lightly, or maybe once again on a massive scale. This kind of informal disaster response network is today’s militia. The right of the people to keep and bear boats, anyone?

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