Aaron Wildavsky on Resilience

We see a lot of people talking about the inadequacy of planning prior to Katrina. Whatever merits this critique may have, it is not possible to foresee everything and to plan for everything. So, what is it that mitigates disaster? Resilience:

A strategy of resilience … requires reliance on experience with adverse consequences once they occur in order to develop a capacity to learn from the harm and bounce back. Resilience, therefore, requires the accumulation of large amounts of generalizable resources, such as organizational capacity, knowledge, wealth, energy, and communication, that can be used to craft solutions to problems that the people involved did not know would occur. Thus, a strategy of resilience requires much less predictive capacity but much more growth, not only in wealth but also in knowledge. Hence it is not surprising that systems, like capitalism, based on incessant and decentralized trial and error accumulate the most resources. Strong evidence from around the world demonstrates that such societies are richer and produce healthier people and a more vibrant natural environment.

(From here.)