Today’s post is based on the article “Mutual aid will help us survive the Biden presidency. Biden and Harris are not going to stop the crises we are facing — mutual aid projects are essential to survive and build the world we want to live in.” by Dean Spade, ROAR Magazine, November 20, 2020.
This title is about the misconception so many have in the wake of the Biden election. Although things will get better in some small and incremental ways, the real change needed is to reject the capitalist economy.
Many people are feeling great relief that Trump has been voted out and are rightly celebrating the efforts so many people have undertaken to make that happen. But even as we celebrate, we must ensure we do not demobilize, hoping that the new administration will take care of our problems. Unfortunately, we can be certain that the Biden/Harris administration will not address the crises and disasters of climate change, worsening wealth concentration and poverty, a deadly for-profit health care system and racist law enforcement.
We must continue the momentum that Black Lives Matter, No DAPL, Not 1 More Deportation, Abolish ICE and other campaigns have built exposing the utter failures of the Democratic party to oppose racism, war, the oil and gas industry, criminalization and wealth consolidation, and the necessity for bold direct action in the face of mounting crises. More than ever before, we need to organize and sustain mutual aid efforts, both to survive the crises we are facing and to build our movements for change.
The west coast of the US saw record-breaking wildfires that destroyed millions of acres and kept people breathing smoke for months on end. Ice shelf collapses in the Arctic and Antarctic suggested alarming new impacts of climate change. A record-breaking hurricane season is battering the Atlantic. Everywhere we look, we see signs that the systems we have been living under are collapsing, and something new must emerge if we are to survive.Mutual aid will help us survive the Biden presidency
People are scared and angry right now and trying to find ways to fight back and support each other. Building mutual aid projects is a way to plug people in to build shared understandings of current conditions, offer meaningful support to vulnerable people and prepare for the coming disasters.
Mutual aid work is not easy. It means forming lasting commitments to doing hard work collaborating with people even when we have conflict. And facing the heart-wrenching realities of the systems we live under.
It is also deeply satisfying work that transforms us from being exasperated passive observers of the shitstorm we’re living in to inspired builders of the new world we desperately crave.
Stop believing in authority and start believing in each other.
We’re all we’ve got, we’re all we need.Transcript from the video below: We’re All We’ve Got, We’re All We Need: A Mutual Aid Explainer
As we move to a new presidential administration, the work of building mutual aid infrastructure in our communities remains as urgent as ever. There are no signs that Biden and Harris are going to stop the crises we are facing. There are abundant signs that we must be ready to support ourselves and each other, not only from the coming storms, floods, fires, evictions, power outages and austerity packages, but also from the cops and soldiers they will continue to send to put down our resistance.
We have no choice but to fight together for our shared survival in these dire times. Mutual aid projects are where we build that fight while building the world we want to live in, where everyone has everything they need. The only way to win is through collective action and massive participation and 2020 has given us many small glimmers of what that might look like. Now it is time to double down on caring for each other.Mutual aid will help us survive the Biden presidency
Mutual aid projects depart from these norms of charity, social services and non-profitization in several key ways that often include:
- An understanding that it is the system, not the people suffering under it, that creates poverty, crisis, and vulnerability
- Governance/control by people who are most effected (can mean having a membership base of those most effected, or being formed in ways that ensure those providing the aid are from the same group as those giving the aid, or models that allow allies to participate but focus on accountability to those being served)
- Transparency about how they work, any money they use or manage (many mutual aid projects are not funded and are all volunteer run)
- Open meetings and pathways for new people to join and participate
- Political education within the organization to help those working in the project to expand their awareness of experiences that are not their own, to build solidarity, and to make the project supportive and welcoming to marginalized people
- Humility and willingness to accept feedback about how to make the project more useful to the people it serves
- Long-term commitment to provide the aid the project works on
- Connection to and solidarity with other mutual aid projects and other transformative work
- Commitment to dignity and self-determination of people in need or crisis
- Consensus-based decision making rather than majority rule
Dean Spade is the creator of the mutual aid toolkit at BigDoorBrigade.com. His latest book, Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next), was published by Verso Books in October 2020. And he helped