This article argues that, in the face of worsening conditions from climate change, enhanced border enforcement, a growing wealth gap, housing crises, and policing, social movements should focus on expanding mutual aid strategies. Mutual aid projects directly address survival needs, mobilize large numbers of people to participate in movements actively rather than solely participating online or through voting, and offer spaces to practice new social relations. The article looks at examples from efforts for migrant justice, police and prison abolition, disaster relief, and other contemporary struggles and discusses potential pitfalls of mutual aid strategies, such as supplementing and therefore stabilizing existing systems of maldistribution and adopting principles and practices from the charity frameworks that proliferate in capitalism.
Solidarity Not Charity: Mutual Aid for Mobilization and Survival
Dean Spade is associate professor at the Seattle University School of Law. He is the author of Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law (2015). His video projects and writing are available at deanspade.net. His tool kit on mutual aid is at bigdoorbrigade.com.
Dean Spade; Solidarity Not Charity: Mutual Aid for Mobilization and Survival. Social Text 1 March 2020; 38 (1 (142)): 131–151. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-7971139
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