Faced with the the coronavirus pandemic and a government characterised by a callous and sociopathic disregard for anyone but their friends in high places, the rapid growth and spread of mutual aid networks around the world has been nothing short of inspirational and the source of much hope. Self organised and community led, these networks have shown how willing and ready people are to break the individualist, isolated mindset fostered by capitalism and the state, to help each other out as equals without profit or reward but with plenty of human spirit and solidarity.
It’s worth reminding ourselves that the term mutual aid is one originally put forward in the 19th century by one of the original anarchist “old beards”, Peter Kropotkin, and we have been putting these principles into practice ever since, both in our daily lives and in times like these. It’s been shown so clearly time and time again and comes as no surprise that in times of crisis and disaster, it is always the people who come to each other’s aid first while governments at best drag their feet and usually leave us all for dead.
They have been totally shown up by our capacity for organising for ourselves, left looking redundant and quite simply, rubbish. So now we see councillors, wannabe politicians and others used to being in charge scrambling to do their best to delay, divert, co-opt and control the incredible efforts of ordinary people, desperate to be in charge of it all again. We see them predictably and arrogantly seeking to manouevre themselves into leading roles and leading genuine grassroots activity down the tired old institutional paths that have so consistently failed us. Let’s make sure we keep our mutual aid networks horizontally organised on principles of free exchange and solidarity without the need for leaders. It’s understandable why they see this as such a threat to their existing order. Who knows where it could all lead to…
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