This chapter asks how it is that some individuals and communities can retain their spirit and optimism under conditions of sustained hardship. Writing as an academic, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and as an engaged citizen concerned with climate change and the resilience of eco-systems, the author reviews psychological and ecological approaches to resilience. The chapter argues against the pathological functioning of social systems which contain within them the seeds of their own destruction. What is proposed as ‘resilience thinking’ is a way of grasping the interconnectedness of phenomena and is also a way of resisting the temptation to control what are in fact uncontrollable systems, be these environmental or governmental. The conclusion argues firmly against governmental centralism and in favour of a more balanced or ‘resilient’ approach to governance which has firmer roots in local forms of control.
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