We are not sure, but we want to try. Maybe the concept of friendship is already too colonized by liberalism and capitalism. Under neoliberalism, friendship is a banal affair of private preferences: we hang out, we share hobbies, we make small talk. We become friends with those who are already like us, and we keep each other comfortable rather than becoming different and more capable together. The algorithms of Facebook and other social networks guide us towards the refinement of our profiles, reducing friendship to the click of a button. This neoliberal friend is the alternative to hetero- and homonormative coupling: “just friends” implies much weaker and insignificant bond than a lover could ever be. Under neoliberal friendship, we don’t have each other’s backs, and our lives aren’t tangled up together. But these insipid tendencies do not mean that friendships are pointless, only that friendship is a terrain of struggle.
The narratives and the images of ourselves we’ve created over many decades are being shattered virtually overnight. It’s as if we had been looking at ourselves and the world around us through a crooked mirror, and now that the mirror has been shattered, a different reality is confronting us. This is a sobering and painful experience — adjusting to a new image and identity for our country. However, as painful as it is, the process is much needed and long overdue. Eventually all the fragilities and distortions hidden by crooked mirrors had to break through — extreme wealth inequality, racial injustice, brittle supply chains, an underfunded public health system, outdated public technology infrastructure, and so much more. Our social immune system — our collective ability to withstand shocks — has been severely compromised as a result of decades of abuse and neglect. It took a tiny virus to shatter the mirage of might and prosperity.
Anarchists work toward two general goals. First they want to dismantle oppressive, hierarchical institutions. Second, they want to replace those institutions with organic, horizontal, and cooperative versions based on autonomy, solidarity, voluntary association, mutual aid and direct action. Through mutual aid, anarchism takes shape as a practice in care, exchanging resources and solidarity, information, support, even comfort, care, and understanding. People give what they can and get what they need. When a group comes together to push for a change; when social outsiders come together to share or explore ideas and new ways of living, these are all forms of mutual aid.
This book is about mutual aid: why it is so important, what it looks like, and how to do it. It provides a grassroots theory of mutual aid, describes how mutual aid is a crucial part of powerful movements for social justice, and offers concrete tools for organizing, such as how to work in groups, how to foster a collective decision-making process, how to prevent and address conflict, and how to deal with burnout.
These people are not revolutionaries. They are not patriots. This was a group of individuals organized on the Internet who rampaged through the Capitol to take photographs of themselves in costume. They have no real politics, no real political principles; they are self-interested individuals who mirror the narcissism of Trump and the vanity of social media culture which rewards stupidity with likes. This is evidenced by what they did once they got inside the building. They were not there to “take over.” They broke into Nancy Pelosi’s office and posed for photographs with her paper mail. They were there to take selfies, to triumph in being able to say, “Look what I did!”
The breakdown of class society, the loss of class mobility, the loss of faith in government, the distrust of experts, the ideology of racism preceded Trump’s presidency. In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt talks about the alliance between the mob and the elite. Yesterday we saw Donald Trump speak at a rally and incite an insurrection, activating a mob he created. But, as Arendt pointed out, the mob doesn’t magically manifest overnight. The seeds of discontent were sewn long before Trump ever ran for President.
Distinguish melancholy from sadness. Go out for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a romantic walk in the park, spring at its most spectacular moment, flowers and smells and outstanding poetical imagery smoothly transferring you into another world. It doesn’t have to be a walk during which you’ll have multiple life epiphanies and discover meanings no other brain ever managed to encounter. Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but ‘steal’ some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be.
Many inmates in Finland live in “open prisons,” where they are allowed to own a vehicle, leave for work or school, and host overnight guests. Now, the country is funding educational programs where prisoners learn technology skills like artificial intelligence.
Of course, the work of filmmakers, artists, and novelists creating in this way is emphatically countercultural — if for no other reason than that it questions traditional narratives and heroic, individualistic values. Any art that asks its viewers to slow down or, worse, pause and reflect is hurting a market that depends on automatic and accelerating behaviors.