This is a conversation with Ayman Makarem. He’s a Lebanon-based writer and filmmaker who recently wrote essays on mutual aid in Lebanon for The Public Source.
- Beyond Charity: Our Critical Need for Mutual Aid – Part 1
- Beyond Charity: Our Critical Need for Mutual Aid – Part 2
One of the themes of The Fire These Times is to promote mutual aid for the 21st century so I was really looking forward to speaking with Ayman about this. In addition to reading his essay, this has been a topic that we’ve been discussing since Lebanon’s October 2019 uprising.
We both found that there were structures that were lacking within revolutionary settings in Lebanon that could allow for a much longer-lasting movement, and the same could be said for most of the rest of the world. Mutual Aid is simply voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit. Most of us already practice it with family, friends and/or our communities without really feeling the need to label it anyway.
The problem starts with the fact that Mutual Aid is seen as something that arises out of a state of exception. For example, as we go through an ongoing pandemic more people everywhere around the world have been reported to be willing to adopt ‘exceptional’ societal measures such as a guaranteed temporary monthly income, temporarily canceling rent or forgiving debt, depending on the country and situation.
But what those of us arguing for Mutual Aid argue for is that we shouldn’t need a state of exception to think of ways to build a fairer society, and we obviously believe that Mutual Aid is one way of doing that.
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