Some thoughts on Mutual Aid vs Mutual Support

Brotherly aid. (Andre Nagel 2019)

Paul recommended the Mutual Aid book by Peter Kropotkin, and I have been reading. It does inform the position from a modernist thinking point of view. It is what aid means to a capitalist where I see a disconnect. Kropotkin refers to mutual support and I think that is more in line with what I am looking for. Ubuntu is more about social responsibility rather than optional almsgiving…

What I am going to say now may be controversial so please bear with me. The Afrikaners were Calvinist and this thought was embedded in their ethic – refer to the Swiss. Calvinism originated there and influenced the Dutch philosophies and ethics which traveled to the Cape. Social Responsibility and Mutual aid were embedded in terms such as “menslikheid”(translated directly means being a human being) and “gasvryheid” (hospitality). However, Post-war poverty, industrialisation and urbanisation of the Afrikaner lead to unhealthy selfishness and internal focus. It lead in aspirations of upliftment for the Afrikaner people. Exclusive Mutual aid… It worked… but the Exclusiveness of this mutual aid was the major issue. in less than 20 years the Afrikaner and other Europeans experienced growth and strength. While some mutual aid did cross the line it was insufficient. The way I was taught “Separate Development” meant that all people needed to be developed but due to disparity and between levels of urbanisation and education, they thought this had to be done at different rates of change. However, this principle warped when the Afrikaner was corrupted with political and financial power and of course racist views that were common in South Africa at that time (Dutch (Afrikaners), English, French and Germans colonialists). 

I have the same concern for the new South Africa: that Ubuntu will similarly be misdirected by those in power for capital and racist goals. I fear a new form of apartheid or nationalism. i.e. discrimination between European, Eastern and African or even nationalism. Even Ubuntu does not discriminate on the basis of race or nationality. Neither did Calvinism. Looking past the errors of the apartheid system there were programmes that were implemented by the apartheid government that, if applied or re purposed will help the new South Africa. If South Africa can apply mutual support to all as described by Ubuntu and Peter Kropotkin, in the same way, we will survive the future. In that, I agree with Peter. Urbanisation was not the survival of the fittest. It is the week organising in a way that aims prosperity for all.

Getting back to my photography I will be covering these issues in photographs in my project and in a small way help to keep the process on track. I know it it is idealistic. I know that most post-modern artists seem pessimistic. But the artist has been known to provide a vision of a way forward or at least act as a prophet by comparing intent versus reality. 


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