Praesidium

Friday, June 16, 2017

Grenfell and Politics

Over the last few days, many in the UK have been shocked by a large tower block fire in London. Though the latest confirmed death toll is 'only' 30, this number is bound to rise - though we may never know exactly how many were involved.

Just the other day, I was reading a book chapter that pointed out how the number and distribution of deaths resulting from disease, famine, etc is always in part the result of political decisions. While we may think of some things as 'natural disasters', political decisions determine who is affected and how badly. As the author put it, “politics plays a major role in determining the kinds and distribution of diseases in societies” (Adrian Leftwich, in his (edited) book What is Politics?, p. 82).

I'm pleased to see that, despite some criticism of 'politicising a tragedy', this point has been picked up by some commentators. It's been noted that the fire is political and that those who died were victims not only of fire but also bad government.

Though politics is sometimes seen as a peaceful alternative to war, it's a sad fact that it is still sometimes a matter of life and death.

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