3 min read


Before anything else, here is a spreadsheet of requests for aid from families affected by the fire in Maui. Please donate if you are able.

I'm going to be brief again this week, and probably take a couple weeks properly off following.

I am always a little hesitant to directly address a disaster like this, particularly when I'm thousands of miles away and just some white dude. But Lahaina is an incredibly on the nose example of the problems that we face going forward in this capitalist shitheap, and I don't want that to go unnoticed.

Maui was rich in biodiversity before white people came along. A biologically stable, diverse region is one that is more likely to be resilient to disaster. After colonization, much of that biodiversity and the crops that Native Hawaiians depended upon was destroyed in favor of sugar and pineapple plantations. Water sources were diverted in order to sate the needs of these plantations. When Hawai'i was made a state, Hawaiians were no longer able to be exploited–quite so much blatantly–and as cheap labor evaporated, so did the sugar plantations themselves. Hawaiians to this day fight very hard to maintain control of their water resources (making a disaster like the US military's fuel leak into the local water supply at Red Hill all the worse).

On top of that foundation of colonialism, you have the combined effects of climate change in the flash drought and hurricane that struck the island, as well as the neglect and greed of capitalists. The fire was caused by downed power lines, a known issue across the island. The wires were not insulated, meaning that the slightest contact with a flammable substance–like dry grasses–would start a fire. You may recall that several years ago California suffered from fires due to antiquated power infrastructure in a similar situation.

Then you have the failure of the state to adequately warn the populace. There were no sirens, no text messages warning of the approaching flames in Lahaina. Many of the survivors who fled by car were ones who disobeyed a barricade which had been set up by authorities to keep civilians from rushing into the fire, driving around it or going off-road. Many who did so came back to help others. Weeks later, Maui residents will still describe to you the paltry assistance they've received from the federal government. Immediate aid came largely in the forms of citizens rescuing and providing for each other–predictably–as well as folks like you donating to mutual aid campaigns.

And, as if we needed their input, the QAnon-types, the fasc, climate  change-denying types, have decided that the fire is a hoax. It was started by lasers. It was deliberate and meant to burn the town down to push people out so that a "green" city can be built. (A large bent of conspiracy theories lately pushes the idea that anything green is associated with the culling of vast swaths of the population, making us eat bugs, and give up our way of life.) Now, I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that capitalists are taking advantage of this situation and trying to buy property–not at all. But climate change is real and climate change helped create this disaster. We do not need space lasers to explain it. Climate change (in no small part exacerbated by capitalist greed) plus neglect of infrastructure (in no small part exacerbated by capitalist greed) plus government inefficacy (in no small part exacerbated by capitalist greed) equals this sort of disaster, which feels like a rare confluence of horrible factors but is in fact just the sort of thing we're going to see more and more frequently.

This is where we're at, folks. The groundwork has been laid for the disasters coming our way to get worse, to be unmitigated, improperly responded to, and then called a false-flag by the opposition. The state, insofar as it ever made consistent gestures at helping people, will cease to do so and become more plainly a support organ for profit. Preparedness assumes a failure of the status quo, but we must soon prepare for a complete lack of normalcy. I have truly found, lately, that the word "disaster" feels far too isolated and singular to describe what is happening to people around the world. It is more like a kind of war.