Building Power, Resisting Recuperation

Building Power, Resisting Recuperation

From It's Going Down

Dean Spade on Mutual Aid, COVID-19, and Beyond

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On this episode of It’s Going Down, we speak with long-time anarchist and organizer Dean Spade, author of the new book, Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next), published by Verso Press.

We discuss the explosion of mutual aid projects which have formed in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued wave of climate change fueled natural disasters and wildfires. We talk about the strengths and weaknesses of these projects, the drive of the State and neoliberalism to recuperate grassroots mutual aid, and the need to deepen and politicize these programs.

We also look towards the future, discussing how mutual aid projects can improve, and how autonomous anti-capitalist movements can maneuver in a terrain where the far-Right is presenting itself as an enemy of the State’s attempts at managing the COVID-19 pandemic through lock-downs and other measures.

More Info: Dean Spade on Twitter, Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis, and Big Door Brigade

There are 16 Comments

Wolfi Landstreicher had a good article on anarchist mutual aid being nothing but charity work, or something like that and I can never remember the name of it

Wolfi mentions charity a in an article for 'Green Anarchy' called 'Play Fiercely! Our Lives Are at Stake!'

Wolfi also briefly points his forehead at charity in the section regarding free love in 'Against The Logic of Submission'.

Both are in the library:

there was an article in the green anarchy journal many years ago, a critique of food not bombs, from precisely this perspective.

Better to be the kind of fierce rebel who has nothing to give to anyone else and has to be endlessly carried by others instead. Who needs Mutual Aid when you've got S.S.I?

nice ad hominem. every one of us is working some scam -- unless you're just a cog in the machine, some loyal citizen who pays all his taxes, never crosses a street against the light, and always defers to authority. you're just mad that Wolfi's scam has long-term stability.

the fact is that almost all self-described mutual aid/solidarity projects are charity; the aid and solidarity goes in one direction, maintaining the relation of resource moving from the dominant to subordinate. the mutual in mutual aid doesn't have to be present at the same time as the aid is being offered, but without the possibility/potential for some future aid moving from the initially subordinate person/project to some other person/project, it's not mutual at all. same thing with solidarity; if there's no possibility of support moving in different directions, then it's not really solidarity. Wolfi is not the only one who's pointed this out. the Wobblies wrote a few critiques of the Starvation Army back in the day.

Wow, I wish I could unthink that term --Starvation Army-- It plays on that saying about revenge is best as a dish served up cold.

So freakin' cold, no place in a real anarchist agenda, thinkin' of the unselfish old who volunteer :(

Your first paragraph is not too persuasive.

The second one is on target.

All politics and doctrine aside, Stirner would have volunteered his time as an autonomous individualist caring for the poor and destitute people in his town and being charitable. The external machinations of society can be enjoyed or participated in if it creates inner joy for the Stirnerian. There is no conflict or duplicity if joy is the end product.

and what shaky, fickle ground to build on that is! best of luck anon

Oh for chrissakes he taught teenage girls at a private school. That alone proves he possessed a deepset core of empathy, he wasn't an embittered hermit recluse hell bent on destroying kindness in the world regardless of the uniform it wore!

this Dean Spade character really shouldn't do radio until/unless he learns to speak slower and less out of his nose. it was almost worse listening to his voice than it was hearing him describe self-organized charity as mutual aid. even as big a fool as Rebecca Solnit is sophisticated enough to know the difference.

Ooops! There I go, foolishly counting on the basic functionality of something anarchists again! In this case, the always malfunctioning 'Reply' feature on My bad!

To 06:03:

Your first paragraph is not too persuasive.
The second one is on target.

it’s not malfunctioning, 20:18, this is how comments stack now, no further indentation after this. it’s been this way for days now, better than the endless scooting towards the right and thinning of column of text.

OMG it can be cold hunger in the streets if it wasn't for the Starvation Army.

@20:15/20:18 -- i could tell you were addressing my two paragraphs. glad my second was on target for you, but my question is: do you not think every one of us is working some scam? employee theft has a long, fine tradition among regular proles, anarchists of course included. if you've worked retail, have you ever passed along your employee discount to a friend? have you ever flushed something down the company toilet that didn't belong there? ever been insubordinate to a supervisor/boss? ever participated in a slow-down or work-to-rule? ever under-reported income on your taxes? refuse to file taxes? have you ever traded food stamps for cash (i know it's harder to do that nowadays)? have you ever shoplifted? ever worked off the books? there are a million and one scams to circumvent the daily drudgery of capitalism, most of them minor (non-confrontational and having few if any legal consequences), but some are more serious, like full-time criminal activity. if you can figure out a scam like qualified or permanent disability, wouldn't you rather do that for income than work a shit job for a shitty boss? these are personal choices, and it's pretty unanarchist to take a moral position about someone else making those decisions for themselves. if you don't condemn people for smashing windows and looting, then you probably shouldn't condemn people for finding ways of surviving without accepting the 9-5. just a thought.

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