Are disasters “natural” under the capitalist system?
Regarding the famous Lisbon earthquake of 1755, which struck the south of Western Europe and North west Africa that killed thousands of people, Rousseau notes in reply to Voltaire “nature did not construct twenty thousand houses of six to seven stories there, and … if the inhabitants of this great city had been more equally spread out and more lightly lodged, the damage would have been much less and perhaps of no account”
Compared to the damage caused by this earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the powerful earthquakes in Japan caused very little casualties, yet much less material damage. Neither human casualties, nor material damage can be compared to the earthquakes in our region.
As we have seen, the town of Erzin, near the epicentre, was not damaged and has become a shelter for 20,000 victims of other areas of the disaster. According to the Mayor and the construction contractor, this is due to the construction of low-rise buildings, to the efficiency and to complying with earthquake-resistant construction standards.
As a result, it is clear to us that under the class system, destructions and damages are not produced only by the impacts of natural disasters on the oppressed classes and deprived populations, but also and mainly by the negligence in construction quality standards and the disregard for earthquake resistance standards by the state for the sake of making greater profits.
Scientific research has also confirmed that some of the natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, droughts, and environmental pollution that cause death of thousands of people every year are the result of the ill planned objectives of the capitalists and their selfish monster companies. They, through total disregard of people’s health and their well beings, has turned the planet into a mean for their unique goal of making more profit by sacrificing the lives of the oppressed and the deprived majority.
The swindlers of those companies and the authorities of the state once again target all these disadvantaged.
10 countries in the world have more earthquakes than any other: Japan, Turkey, Iran, Peru, the United States, Italy, the Philippines, Mexico, China and Indonesia. There are many causes of earthquakes, but the most important are plate collisions, magma movement in volcanoes, changes in temperature or water pressure, and strong winds.
Unfortunately, what is fixed in the minds of the majority is seeing only one side of disasters, which is the narrative of God’s work or God’s wrath or that of the “natural” disasters and regarding the destructions and the losses as normal.
If we look at the history of the world’s regions, we see that before the modern industrial development, the expansion of giant manufacturing companies with their arrogant competitive pursuits and ill-intentioned activities, these natural disasters were not as frequently happening as nowadays.
What is clear is that, as the result of the egoistic capitalist system, natural disasters have a class trait and content. Whenever a natural disaster occurs, the majority of victims are the poor and the deprived majority, due to the density of the inhabitants in a small area and to the high-rise buildings, as well as the low quality of construction materials that cause flood, humidity and other risk producing elements. Furthermore, the earthquake protection engineering standards were ignored in the construction plans of the buildings.
If we look at the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, the above facts will become clear to us that the victims were mostly in the poor residential areas , in the places where there are houses and large buildings that were build by profiteering companies and authorities, for the aim of making more profits, and that obviously ignored all interest in taking preventive measures against any expected natural incidents in the construction of the housing units.
We have seen how the newest buildings, some of which were given to the people during the election campaign, “cheap accommodation for voting” have been destroyed worse than the old ones. This was like throwing cereals at birds to catch and then kill them. Sadly!, for the cheap optimism of the poor and working people who, by selling their votes for Erdogan and his party, those poor-quality buildings that were built for them became theirs mass graves.
We see hundreds of obvious evidences and statements in social media and even in the Turkish media about the corruption of the authorities that has spread to small officials, contractors and real estate companies within an interconnected network. Therefore, the health guidelines and safety requirements for the residents were not taken into account in the construction of the houses, but the profit and capital accumulation were the most fundamental goals!
Despite the advancement of technology, the availability of more information for prevention, for setting conditions and quality of construction for contractors, but, unfortunately, we see the number of earthquake victims are increasing time after time. For example, the 1999 earthquake killed more than 17,000 people, but this year’s death toll has risen to more than 45,000. Recent figures tell us that the death toll is over 52,000. More than 150,000 people were injured and thousands of families were displaced.
According to the reports and documents that have been revealed, so far, all the early warnings of earthquakes by experts and scientists in the field of geology, climate and natural sciences to the Turkish state and senior officials had been ignored. Considering the fact that the warnings were issued two years ago with a much worse disaster prediction instructions by a scientist and an expert who provided a video warnings and information about the occurrence of such a disaster, but the Turkish regime has not taken any steps to protect people’s lives.
In light of the above, the Turkish and Syrian governments are directly responsible for the deaths of all these people, of hundreds of thousands of injured and millions more displaced and of the devastated impacts on the surviving populations.
According to reports, Aid and rescue teams have arrived only after the third day to some people from poor and remote areas which is considered a waste of time to rescue those who were stuck under the rubble and the debris of the collapsed buildings and houses. Naturally, even if a person is in good health, he or she will die if he/she is trapped in a blocked space without food, drink, clean air or without possibilities to move for two weeks.
Worst of all is that of neglecting victims who were trapped under the stones and the debris in the Syrian earthquake. Until recently, the heads of state in Europe and the United States have been talking about Turkey and sympathising with Turkey rather than Syria, as if nothing had happened in Syria.
The occupied city of Afrin, which the Turkish regime occupied in 2018 after 58 days of heavy shelling, has now closed its gates to volunteers and aid workers.
We express our sympathy to the families of the victims. However, despite the nature of the tragedy, we accuse the inhuman global capitalist state, the Turkish and the Syrian authorities for the deaths, for the injured and for the million displaced victims. This is a targeted genocidal crime committed by this brutal class system of capital, by the Turkish and Syrian authorities themselves and their profiteering and bloodthirsty companies. We see this deliberate disregard by the state and its criminal officials before the earthquake and their negligence to rescue the victims under the collapsed buildings as their direct war of the capitalist class and their system that is waged against billions of workers.