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Solidarity Not Charity

Mutual Aid for a More Just World pt. 3

First Published at Cultured

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

So what is mutual aid? Mutual aid is a form of solidarity, which contrasts with idea of charity. Solidarity means a group of people gets organized for a shared vision or goal. Decisions are made together by consensus, not from the top-down.

We could also define charity as a one-time transactional giving that doesn’t address the root causes of the need. Engaging in mutual aid involves establishing long-term relationships, and those relationships help organize against the system which causes such disparity. Mutual aid is an act of reciprocity between equals which also builds dual power.

Charity is hierarchical and reliant upon the whimsical generosity of endowed philanthropists. They place band-aids without addressing the root causes which would hurt their business interests. As a result, charitable systems often fall short of fulfilling needs, and people fall through the cracks. People engage in mutual aid to defy a system that perpetuates artificial scarcity for the many while the few hoard everything. Solidarity stands in contrast to letting folks fend for themselves. Watch this clip below from Amy Goodman at Democracy Now that portrays how mutual aid efforts help folks through this pandemic.

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