2017 has been a busy year for us. We saw unprecedented disasters, both climate related and political. The storms are increasing in intensity and frequency, but so is our diverse movement’s power from below, our capacity to bend reality to will and to present viable alternatives. In the face of growing fascist threats, we know a simple return to the politics of economic austerity, endless war, and the slow breakdown of authentic social relationships is not enough to stem the tide against authoritarianism. What we need is a radical restructuring of our social ties, based on mutual aid and our shared vision of the future.
In addition to meeting people’s immediate needs for survival post-disasters, this is what we are building. Every hurricane, every fire, every earthquake, mudslide, flood, and every other disaster, is a space of profound suffering, but in these ruins, there is an opportunity to rebuild a better world in the shadow of the old.
In the words of the revolutionary Buenaventura Durruti: “We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth; there is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts.”
If we are to survive the coming storms, it will be through mutual aid, through manifesting into reality this new world we carry in our hearts.
In 2017, we created a clearinghouse of resources available for free at MutualAidDisasterRelief.org for people engaged in people-powered relief efforts to safely clean up flooded homes, provide psychological first aid, and engage in every aspect of relief and recovery safely and sustainably. We activated thousands of new volunteers who became involved in debris clean up, prisoner advocacy, mobile kitchens, providing medical assistance, building autonomous/sustainable energy and water systems, and distributing hundreds of thousands of pounds of food, water, and other supplies, as well as countless other acts of solidarity.
As we write this, many of our volunteers are in Puerto Rico assisting the centros de apoyo mutuo that operate as beacons of sustainability and communal solidarity. Many more volunteers will continue to trickle in over the coming weeks as they have over the last couple months. The people of Puerto Rico knew as we know too, if we wait on the state or the large institutions to save us, we would not survive. There comes a time when compassion, mutual aid, solidarity, and taking initiative are not luxuries but necessities of survival. In the words of a friend at Centro de Apoyo Mutuo in Mariana, “This is it. Or there is no future.”
We look ahead to 2018 and building the movement for mutual aid through a speaking and training tour, spreading the diy disaster relief ethic, and carving out a future through mutual aid, solidarity, and direct action.
As a new year approaches, we look forward to continuing to build and support civil society alternatives, prefigurative movements for humanity, for survival, and against neoliberalism, fascism, and climate chaos.
Thank you for walking this path with us.