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[xmca] Bush fires

Just a short report on the bush fires in Victoria for people on xmca. Here in inner Melbourne we are 100% safe, and because of the strong winds which triggered the real devastation, we don't even see smoke here. But things are very emotional because the news is all around us. So far the death toll is 173 but may go much much higher. The whole state is a smouldering cinder box outside of the city.

Most of the dead died in their cars vainly trying to outrun the flames which have been driven by strong winds, and leaping forward by cinders igniting tinder dry foliage and spontaneous combustion after 12 years of drought. Many people have left their homes, their animals and sometimes their spouses, with hardly a shirt on their back, later having nothing to return to.

Despite all the grief, it is remarkable the spirit that is awakened in people by a struggle against a natural enemy like this. Capitalism is temporarily suspended as people whose neighbours have lost everything give everything away - supermarkets give away their stock, hotels accommodate people for free, people give away their cars if they can spare it and of course most of the firefighters are volunteers.

Once people start to get back on their feet and start to see if the insurance companies actually have the money to pay for these losses, I am sure capitalism will return with a vengeance.

The commercial media try as hard as they can to turn it all into a witchunt against fire bugs. Really, about 50% of fires have been ignited deliberately. But people are just not interested at the moment. Blame is not something people are willing to contemplate ... yet.

The fire culture in Victoria is "Fight or Flight." I.e., every person has to notify well in advance whether they are to be evacuated as soon as there is a fire threatening their home, or, they will stay and defend their house, in which case they get advice but when the fire comes, the firefighters flee the flames and wish the resident good luck.

But this fire has been different. It is just so big, so unpredictable and so fast, that people have been caught unawares and unable to flee, or have stayed to fight and found that it is impossible to save their house, but too late to flee.

Unlike the midwest USA where people live with tornadoes and have built underground bunkers, we have not had this culture. Some people did dig bunkers and some of these survived, but some didn't too.

These practices will have to change.

Strange tensions too around the fact that police are sealing off areas where people have died to count bodies and secure things etc., but people are left homeless and stranded in the meantime and this is generating tensions.

Also, as in previous fires, you see whole streets of houses (indeed entire townships) leveled, and then one lone house, with perfect white-painted weatherboard, an English garden, etc., etc., as if nothing had happened. Very trying on the emotions such things.


Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435 Skype andy.blunden
Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:

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