Coronavirus: Why Mutual Aid Is Important

It’s a very difficult time for any person. And this is not war, it is not just an economic crisis, it is not just mass poverty or catastrophe. This is a pandemic, in some ways a cross between all these things. Ordinary people are at great risk, like all the major capitalist companies. The poor and the rich alike are infected, grocery store shelves are laid-bare and almost everyone is quarantined. Stop!

We are really at great risk, but we should not panic so much. Panic divides people in the fight against the problem, which is most beneficial to the capitalists and the state. I believe that we can protect ourselves only with alternative methods. What methods do we have right now? 

Almost everywhere, privatized medicine, fraudulent pharmaceutical companies, social isolation, and empty shelves are the norm, even in the largest capitalist countries. As a result, we are all in a vulnerable position, so it is for us to solve this problem and not the state. All the kleptocrats are still sitting in their comfortable chairs and aggravating the situation. They never wanted people to collectively solve their problems through mutual assistance. 

In Russia, business deliberately creates a shortage, sometimes grocery stores purposefully exhibit the most expensive goods on the shelves instead of the cheap ones that stand idle in warehouses. Companies also fuel the panic about specific products — masks, antiseptics, pills. Masks have already become a symbol of the coronavirus, and it is one of the best-selling remedies, but it is not as effective as the less popular soap. 

However, this is how we are left: without any good protection because they are trying to catch us on the hook. This general picture makes it clear that big business and the government do not spare their citizens in an urgent situation, but only try to maximize their own monetary profits and control over society.

The market and the state can act collectively, but they separate us once again by isolating us from each other. Photos, where people stand at a distance of several meters from each other, are very scary, they show the existing share of absurdity in such politics. Isolation blocks us from helping each other and this is terrible. This may be paradoxical, but in a pandemic time, social interaction will be the best medicine. Stores will not be able to take care of the poor, and private or public hospitals are not able to help all patients. Let’s deal with possible actions now.

We should help our medics

The success of the fight against the virus is achieved primarily with the help of medicine. In fact, the most acute shortage of resources is in hospitals; they need more protection and food. Most often they need respirators and masks, goggles, disinfectants, gloves, etc. It all means that the safety of all healthcare workers should be our first priority. Right now public movements that have a goal to support the workers have become a common practice. I’ve found the most noticeable movements in the United States, where there are already more than 700 thousand confirmed cases of the disease. As an example, take #GetUsPPE, this decentralized community does not have a prominent structure behind the idea, it is created by people for people. This flexible platform allows you to create a connection between those who want to help medics and medics in need of assistance themselves. Coordination is achieved by both parties — just as volunteers are able to pass on what is needed, or doctors can request the necessary resources. 

Ukraine has gone a different way. They have a movement that consists of many drivers who are ready to give a lift to medics at any time. This movement is called #ПідвезиЛікаря, they are coordinated through Viber and Facebook groups, where each group chat is divided by city. People started doing this for a reason. Since the authorities stopped the work of public transport, the only way to get around was the “free taxi.”.

In fact, a similar practice is acceptable for Russia. Like privatized healthcare in the United States, our rotten state medicine exacerbates the crisis. None of the hospitals in the cities outside of Moscow could withstand the load of hundreds of patients, because even before the epidemic, they were in ruin. For Russia, public transport is the main way of transportation, too. When public transportation becomes inaccessible, what will people do? What will the state do? The answer is clear, in this situation the responsibility lies with us, as is the case with other problems.

We should help the poor too

Hypothetically, the appearance of at least one such non-formal movement does not mean their limit. Another important issue is poverty, which provokes the emergence of independent affinity groups. For Russia, government measures to ensure security and comfortable living conditions are fictional. The solution will be to help pensioners, the disabled and the unemployed or any other people through the creation of decentralized and non-formal distributing food communities among local residents. A “food bank”, where people could donate their food or money to buy goods could become an ideal. This community would work similarly to the medical one, as a simple system of requests and transfers of the necessary. The only problem is the lack of communication between all those in need, for example not every grandmother in Russia uses the Internet and is aware of such actions. In general, just a few seeds in the form of those who want to help are enough for this idea to come up. Solidarity can rally even the poor, they could both help others and just share contacts of activists.

The structure of this initiative painted by me can be modified, but the essence will be unchanged. Non-formal mutual aid to the poor means that households will need to unite in commune-like networks, where homeowners will be key elements. This is due to the partial socialization of material resources. The fact is that in the event of an exacerbation of the coronavirus and the imposition of total quarantine, homeowners will not find any other option but to cooperate with each other. At the very minimum level, this may be the appearance of barter, the most rational option is socialization. Despite the theory, we miss the most important thing mutual assistance can be not only material, but it is also expressed in the unity of people.

We should be ourselves

The human routine has been turned upside down; instead of working and studying, people are at home. Some people have already gone astray, they don’t know what will happen afterward, because they don’t live on the day that was before. Not everyone understands — now is the time when everyone is obliged to be friendly. Now you can get to know your neighbors better, improve relationships with loved ones, and communicate with friends online unlimitedly. The whole world does it, people collectively sing well-known songs from their balconies, clap in support of doctors and wish each other a happy birthday. Everyone hid in their homes, but these people have never been so united. Everything is much simpler: you need to be yourself and live your life, and not spin in the rat circles of capitalism. The answer to the question of the article couldn’t be simpler, and it sounds like this — we will be strong while we are together.

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