Mutual aid begins with us because while we may not have specific demands we do have specific needs. Our society and social relations have been hijacked for profit and power by Banks, Corporations, and Governments. Virtually all of our relations in this world now have brokers who demand their cut for providing us with little more than frustration, violence, and inequality.
Take insurance companies (health, home, car, accident, etc.) for example. A profit driven corporation inserts itself into our lives with the promise of health care, safety, and security. Basically, they promise to be there when we need them. That promise is a lie and when things go wrong after years of monthly payments we are left alone, receiving nothing or a small pittance from them. After which they demand higher monthly payments.
The same 1% brokers have designed and sold us education for which we went into debt. They decide which paper on which wall will determine our validity and worth as a human being in the ‘workforce’. They make promises that we will be o.k. if we just borrow money, study hard, and work in the field that will contribute to their profit the most. These promises are also broken as we get degrees upon degrees and end up eking out a living just to survive and pay debt.
And what of Wall Street and the Banks? They are the biggest perpetrators of the fraud called globalization which is really just the financialization of the planet. These predators are not subject to the laws of the market or humanity. There is no exchange of money for goods and services in their world. Bankers type a few keystrokes and debt is created from thin air, resulting in individuals, municipalities, states, educational institutions, healthcare systems, and countries being beholden to these debt dealers with our livelihoods, our time, and our energy. They take no risk in the casino they have made of this planet for they are the house and the house never loses. They spread the debt to every class of society, every country, no borders or boundaries exist for them. In exchange for this debt they demand servitude. We are expected to pay them no matter what, no matter our health, no matter our employment status, no matter our ability to pay. And when a person or institution cannot pay, renegotiation is not possible only austerity. Meanwhile the Banking Cartels and their Corporate partners constantly renegotiate loans with each other or simply write them off as a matter of business practice. They have no moral obligation or ethical connection to their actions yet they expect us to have a ‘moral’ obligation to pay them their winnings. When threatened with the possibility of losing ever increasing profits they demand control and insist the behavior and modes of existence of humanity be subject to austerity, to their every demand. We are expected to satisfy their growing hunger with our shrinking wages and reduced access to capital as it has been hoarded by the banking elite thru the financialization of the world. Debt is the only access to capital for all but the wealthy. And the controlling elite buy and sell this debt to each other at their leisure. The Banks, Corporations, and Governments collude with each other to artificially suppress wages and increase debt. They claim to believe in the ‘free market’ even as they enslave that market to their every whim. They own our our society, and our culture.
The governments of this world will never solve the problem or help the people. They simply act as a middleman for the Banks and Corporations collecting our taxes and forwarding the proceeds directly the most profitable Corporations on the planet in the form of rebates. The same corporations who secretly hide billions in profit in off-shore accounts. The governments use violence to quell any real threat to the elite and their criminal antics. They periodically make a show of going after one person here or there for some white collar crime. But their real focus is the criminalization of poverty and filling the Prison-Industrial Complex pipeline with the poor and marginalized of the world. Governments have become (and perhaps always were) the swooning teenage fans of the Banks and Corporations. Our governments betray us, the people, at every turn in an attempt to impress and endear themselves to the rock stars that the financial elite have become to them.
And none of this information is new. There are many among us who are crystal clear on the problems the existing institutions pose. We have studied the histories and analyses ad-nauseum. Many of our crowd have even written much of those analyses. We see how life and our planet are nothing more than a piggy bank for the elite. Fuel for the profit motive. And many throughout history have also been aware of these problems with our society. A review of that history shows many examples of organizing and fighting this system. If we are honest with ourselves though we have only seen periodic small victories. The machine of capitalism with its violence, oppression, and inequality has continued to march on unabated with increasing nuance and sophistication. It is a resilient enemy.
And so we continue with our marches, our meetings, our analyses, our writing, our reading, our speaking. We look to the press with puppy dog eyes hoping they will cover us, hoping they will like us. The same press owned by the corporations we fight. We go to panels and speak with academic authority to an audience that already agrees with us. We even sometimes put our bodies in the way of the machine and get hurt, badly. Our hopes rise and fall with the seasons. All of these beautiful actions are necessary but they usually change ourselves for the better not society. We come together in groups with such passion, hope, and talent and move in a direction that seems promising. But unfortunately we are inevitably torn apart by the same issues created by the institutions we fight. Issues of privilege, racism, sexism, classism, academic elitism, and every other form of inequality we see in our world. We re-create what we fight not because we need to learn more, or understand more. We re-create what we fight because we are still intimately tied to the system that creates and nurtures that violence, separation, and individualism. The system we hate is still our main provider and even though this is an abusive relationship we need these violent institutions for our survival, or so we’ve been convinced.
Anyone who was at Zuccotti Park, or any Occupy site, or any common space where people come together and help each other, realize the power and hope that a common space creates. Based upon the violent repression of the state these spaces are also the biggest threat to capitalism and inequality. I’m not saying we need to occupy a park again (although i like that idea). What I am saying is that a common space that autonomous people come to voluntarily and work with each other to meet our needs creates something that can change more than our lives, it can change the world. A common space where existing institutions are not used, respected, or welcome. A common space where we don’t need a piece of paper from the government before taking action or performing a skill. A common space where we don’t need a degree from a college beholden to the banks before we teach another what we know. A common space where we don’t need a banks endorsement before we start a project. A common space where we acknowledge that we each have something to offer and we each have needs. We will not rely on the Banks, Corporations, or Governments that we are fighting, we will rely on ourselves, on each other. We will take the risk to create the relationships we claim to crave. We will take the risk to meet another’s need, and we will take the risk to ask for our own needs. This is the most effective form of direct action and it is what those in power fear more than any other. All other direct action is still necessary but without turning our backs on those in power and coming together in community we will behave in ways that capitalism is designed to ensure that we behave.
While we may not have specific demands, we do have specific needs. There is a project that all are welcome to join, contribute to, and participate in. This project consists of a community designing a space from which relationships can be formed and nurtured free from the caustic effects of capitalism. A place of mutual aid. You can learn about it, join it, and contribute to it here: Mutual Aid Begins With Us