As the pantomime in Parliament goes on and on, a no deal Brexit is coming to seem increasingly plausible – not that anyone in charge particularly wants it, but then few of our rulers actively wanted a four-year war in summer 1914.
Some of the best proposals I’ve seen about how we can respond to our rulers’ crisis have come from the South Essex Heckler:
“We face being placed in a situation where at the grassroots in our communities, we’re going to have to rely on each other to pull us through the shite that could well be coming our way… Work from your block, close or street upwards. It’s about everyone looking out for each other, regardless of who they are or where they’ve come from. In a crisis situation, everyone’s in it together. Tell the reactionary divide and rule merchants who’ll be shit stirring to f**k off. Getting through what’s coming isn’t about the ‘survival of the fittest’ bollocks – it’s about everyone working collectively to get through the situation. Start a foodbank for your street and get as many people as possible involved in it so it’s transparent and accountable. Look out for those in your area who are vulnerable – the elderly, disabled and the long term sick. Do whatever is possible to make sure that those relying on medication can get hold of it. Don’t wait until it’s too late – start organising and building now!”
It’s a theme that’s echoed across the Atlantic – without wanting to draw too neat a comparison between the Brexit deadlock and the US government shutdown, I think both are local symptoms of the general paralysis facing a ruling class unable to solve its global crises. It’s Going Down has done some great work showcasing the various groups that are reacting to the state’s failure with “mutual aid and survival programs which can begin to build resilience and autonomy where we live in the face of a crisis that is expanding all around us“.
In the words of their call to action for January 20th and beyond, “This year we are pushing for a week of events around the idea of expanding, supporting, and deepening mutual aid, resilience, and autonomous infrastructure projects. Echoing our comrades at Mutual Aid Disaster Relief who are also endorsing this call, this is not a call for charity – but mutual aid. And, beyond simply pushing for the sharing of resources, to imagine new survival and infrastructure projects as a direct intervention against the crisis of capitalist civilization. This is also not a call to ‘stop’ fighting and ‘instead’ build; our ability to resist is made possible by our degree of autonomy and infrastructure, and vice versa. We ask – what would it mean to attack the legitimacy of the State and capital – by meeting our own needs, directly, and on our own terms.
Across our territories and the wide variety of organizations, spaces, crews, affinities, networks, and unions that comprise our movement – many of us are already doing this work: from autonomous disaster relief, to community food distros, warm winter survival programs, health-care and reproductive resilience, self-defense and firearms training classes, and also mobilizing supplies to send to the border and anti-pipeline and land defense struggles. #J20 is a call to expand, support, and defend these spaces, projects, and infrastructures. In doing so, we hope to become not only stronger, but also deepen our connection with those around us who are attempting to find a life within the daily struggle of survival under industrial racialized capitalism.”
One more time, I just want to plug a few things happening over the next few days that I think point in the direction of mutual aid and solidarity. Of course, none of these by themselves are on a sufficient scale to change the outcome of the Brexit drama, but then sitting around watching politicians argue or going down to Parliament Square to yell at cameras won’t do much to change that either.
Couriers in Bristol are going on a citywide strike on Friday. Leeds antifascists are asking people to join them in joining the RMT picket on Saturday morning, and standing against the bigots in yellow vests and red hats who’ll be trying to march through the city in the afternoon. Railway staff will also be picketing at other train stations across the North, and people anywhere can donate to their strike fund. Down in Birmingham, care workers and other lowpaid council staff will be holding a mass leafleting and doorknocking session taking on the leader of the local Labour council, who’s now threatening to use the anti-union laws to force bin workers back to work. In London, there’s the demo and fundraiser party in solidarity with antifascist comrades in Russia and Greece, and then next week there’s the joint strike by lowpaid workers who clean and maintain various government buildings – you can donate to the Ministry of Justice strike fund here.