Submitted by lettuceLeafer in CritiqueThis

Now, most mutual aid doesn't make actavists money via, gold, currency or crypto but they still profit form it. For example food not bombs, food is given out for free but people who organize it have some fairly obvious profits. They gain social relationship with people they may have never met before, often they gain new people who will run the food not bombs for free (resulting in the initial founders gaining food they didn't work to get), they gain more people who will possibly do favors for them in the future as they cultivated a relationship. i.e. A carpenter goes to the food not bombs, they meet one of the founders and they become friends. The carpenter later then helps the founder replace the flooring in their home since they are friends who help each other.

These benefits are all things that end up resulting in something that has an ambiguous monetary value. Food is gained, work from laborers is gained, emotional energy from new friends is gained. These are all things that can be bought from grocery stores, carpentry firms and therapy sessions respectively. The founders did not make this gain for free, it is a resulting profit from their food not bombs work.

I'm really starting to become cognizant of how mutual aid clearly seems to profit activists. Unintentionally I have profited greatly from some of the small amount of work I have done. I can't imagine how immense the profits could be as I get better at doing mutual aid.

For instance I've done work helping disabled people and giving food away. While I didn't charge people I helped at all I have profited from these activities. Unlike traditional economic activities where you do work for a boss or consumer and the boss or consumer pays u my actives have causes me to profit nothing if very little from my customers. My profit seems to come from like minded individuals I meet.

Now, I don't go bragging about my actives but they mean a lot to me as a person. So when I meet people eventually my actives come up in conversation. These conversations result in many positive events for me. For example I was meeting two other people, when I mentioned my mutual aid projects they realized I was cool and felt it was appropriate to rope me into the consumer base for their mutual aid projects. I received free food, consultation/ lots of advice for a future project I was thinking of and the possibility that they would provide free labor for my new project.

I doubt I would have gained these benefits if they didn't know of my desire to do mutual aid. This wasn't conscious profit but just a result of my activity. It seems almost unavoidable to not eventually profit in some way for doing mutual aid.

Another big profit I've been considering is how mutual aid clearly benefits me in romantic relationships. I have met people and dated people who probably would have picked someone else if it weren't for my passion for mutual aid. Lets face facts, publicly giving away food inherently makes many people trust you more and more interested in being around u. I know this is true for me, I am far more likely to be friends with or date someone who does mutual aid.

Now, is that not a clear profit? Often times in relationships people will help each other cleaning, moving, making food and other such things. I gain those benefits from that person largely in part from my mutual aid efforts.

Now, I think this is somewhat talked about in mutual aid but I have never seen it stated openly as a profitable thing for people to do. My experience and theoretically it seems clear that mutual aid causes profit. I'm not saying this is inherently bad, but I think its important to be cognizant of how it is profitable. Maybe there is something to be gained from this realization of a power dynamic or something else. Maybe there is nothing useful from this realization. But its neat to think about in the least

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moonlune wrote

life isn't a zero sum game. You can get stuff while sill helping others. You aren't jesus, there's no need of sacrificing your life to save others.

Also, people doing other activites instead of mutual ad, eg dances classes, will also build a network and via these activities and get similar "profits". The difference is that you'll also be helping other people at the same time.

I'm not sure if the things you're describing are because of mutual aid, or just because you're a social person in social context, and that people feel good with you and want "more of you". It's just life.

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moonlune wrote

Volunteer work is cited quite often on vegan subreddits as one of the best ways to find a vegan partner and/or make vegan-"friendly" friends.

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lettuceLeafer OP wrote (edited )

life isn't a zero sum game.

I don't understand. I don't think game theory is relevant outside of talking about oligopolies. So, I didn't claim that life is a zero sum game.

You can get stuff while sill helping others

Yeah, I think profit and market exchange is good

You aren't jesus, there's no need of sacrificing your life to save others.

I have no idea where this came from either.

I'm not sure if the things you're describing are because of mutual aid, or just because you're a social person in social context, and that people feel good with you and want "more of you". It's just life.

Yeah I think markets and profit are central to how current life functions and apply to way more than just monetary stuff. Profiting is just life

Thanks for the critique I appreciate you spending the effort to engage even though I'm struggling to understand how it applies. In fairness my views are somewhat different from others on this site. I havn't been around for a while so this might be the first time u have interacted with my ideas. So, maybe u are assuming my reasons for doing mutual aid are the same as others on this site. idk

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moonlune wrote

I got the feeling from your post that you felt bad that you get something out of doing volunteer work. I was just saying that getting something out of it yourself doesn't invalidate the work done for others.

And that social interactions bring more social interactions, so doing something with other people regularly, would bring most of the "profits" you're citing. And that it's normal and there's nothing bad about that (most of the time) and just means you're making friends.

It's ok, I'm bad at expressing myself, especially written :)

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lettuceLeafer OP wrote

Oh, I don't feel bad about profiting at all. It was something I allways kinda thought would happen and was a significant reason if the only reason for me doing mutual aid. Just now I feel like I have enough evidence to definitely say that mutual aid is profitable.

mb, should have been more clear about how I felt about profiting form mutual aid. Now I understand where u are coming from

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Tequilx_Wolf wrote

Your life should get better through your lived politics, that's the point. The problem is calling it 'profit' instead of 'meaningful relationships', which, when utilised anarchistically, need never look like capitalist profit.

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[deleted] wrote

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Tequilx_Wolf wrote

You are welcome. It's always nice to know when something I've done here has been worth something :)

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[deleted] wrote

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Tequilx_Wolf wrote

I don't think that there are many cases where having the politics would worsen your life.

You'll see sometimes people say that they wish that they had remained ignorant centrists and never been exposed to how terrible the world is. I don't know how to speak for those people. They are not anarchists in a way that I understand, if they are anarchists at all. Even the most destroyed of those who I am in affinity with, who have experienced mind-rending horror at the hands of this world, still choose anarchy, because they value living in a real way more than anything. When you live in a real way, you can feel jouissance, your emotions and world are real. When you live compromise, nothing is real or worth anything, imo.
In short, if you are doing it right, I think it can only make your life better. Even if you are killed or chose to die.

I hope that makes some sense. I'm not sure what kinds of ways I should elaborate. If you had specific examples I could try to relate to those.

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lettuceLeafer OP wrote

I do think anarchy has made life worse for some anarchists. Care in point people who are serving long prison sentences for things such as arson. They would have been far better off not doing the arson, so they could have had more freedomn from life and not be separated from their children and lived ones for many years.

But overall I agree with what u said. Anarchy has made my life way better despite the many challenges.

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celebratedrecluse wrote

Absolutely, mutual aid is not charity. It is a reciprocal relationship, and you should only do it if you are aware that it is reciprocal.

There are a lot of "mutual aid activist" type people, usually younger and privileged, who...well, let us say, they are really destined for the non profit world long-term. They are insufferable to poor people everywhere, because while they will feed you, they will never truly acknowledge that they are supposed to be benefiting too.

Invariably, burnout, deradicalization, liberalization, etc result.

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celebratedrecluse wrote

So, my critique, I guess you can say that it is:

gaining something from an interaction, is only profit in a broad capitalist sense if it actually contributes to a process of accumulation. If it disturbs accumulation and dis-encloses resources etc, then to the extent that it does that the gains are not "profit" in the same sense as we pejoratively might use it to refer to CEO line go up.

So, mutual aid is mutual, but that is not necessarily pejorative in the sense that the term you use implies. However, it frequently is problematic in the ways you describe, because the people participating don't acknowledge the mutuality or the necessity of disturbing accumulation processes (even and especially the informal ones you describe)

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grey_jedi wrote

I don't get equating benefits to profits. Can you expand on that?

I know this is true for me, I am far more likely to be friends with or date someone who does mutual aid.

Now, is that not a clear profit? Often times in relationships people will help each other cleaning, moving, making food and other such things. I gain those benefits from that person largely in part from my mutual aid efforts.

Surely, like any participation in any social function, that's simply a benefit of circumstance? If I meet someone at a comic book convention and start a romantic relationship, I'm gaining the same perks of partnership as I would meeting someone at a Food Not Bombs event.

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lettuceLeafer OP wrote

I don't get equating benefits to profits. Can you expand on that?

Typically I labor for a boss to get money. I then use that money to get bread. So by working I profited by gaining bread. In mutual aid I labor for others and end up getting food through social relationships gained from my mutual aid labor. So I'm saying I gained something through labor, profit. Just because the monetary in between doesn't exist in this transaction doesn't mean the profit disappears.

Currency is a way to record profit and a way to gain profit from work or nonwork. It is not essential to profit.

If I do some bartering i.e. fix someones door and they give me food I have profited from fixing their door. Mutual aid I profit though it is obscured but still existent.

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grey_jedi wrote (edited )

If I do some bartering i.e. fix someones door and they give me food I have profited from fixing their door.

That's not necessarily profiting, though. What if your labor is worth more than the food they give you?

Since profit specifically means getting more of something than you put in, how are you measuring when a social benefit becomes profitable if it's value is obscured? Do you take into account the opportunity cost of participating in mutual aid vs other social functions?

Ignore that last question, I realized it's really not relevant to the critique .

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lettuceLeafer OP wrote (edited )

labor has no intrinsic monetary value. If 10 hours of labor will only get u 1/2 a bagel ur labor was only worth half a bagel. It seems u might be coming form the labor theory of value. Which isn't super relevant as "value" in the labor theory of value isn't really tied to profit from labor.

Since profit specifically means getting more of something than you put in, how are you measuring when a social benefit becomes profitable if it's value is obscured

well, u can make a loss which is a negative profit. Now thats a little silly use of the word profit but the point is that their are clear gains from mutual aid. Most of the people I help seem to think that I gain nothing when in reality that isn't true. I get many things form mutual aid that benefit my life.

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grey_jedi wrote (edited )

As you pointed out: a negative profit is a cost, so I wouldn't use profit in your argument.

Based on how you're using the word profit in your further explanations, I think your argument would be more clear if you change all the instances of the word 'profit' to 'benefit'.

In which case I would say, "well yeah there's a reason it's called 'Mutual Aid' and not 'One Way Aid'" lol

Aside from that, the only thing I would critique is the part about relationships being a benefit of mutual aid work, when its something that can happen in any social function where mutual interests align (concerts, workshops, conventions, schools, etc)

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lettuceLeafer OP wrote

okay thats fair. Though I think profit is still useful term. If the mutual aid project is perceived as costing more than it benefits it prob will end pretty soon unless the people doing mutual aid think that it has a chance to be profitable long term.

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Fool wrote

Isn't this the mutual part of mutual aid?

I help them, they help me...
Together we are stronger...
Eventually we merge into super mutant and destroy the city...
You get the drift?

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lettuceLeafer OP wrote

You say that like my point is obvious, but people are disagreeing with me a little bit.

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Fool wrote

I think they're more disliking the word profit. Profit normally refers to a surplus, whereas mutual aid is generally too ethereal to gauge if one side benefits more.

I can imagine ways to take advantage of the reciprocal arrangement, such as using social propoganda to claim the deeds of others as one's own, to reap the profits, but I wouldn't call that mutual aid.

I also think that the ethereal nature of mutual aid means that the return can take a long time, and may not be noticed for what it is. I've seen some push back on mutual aid in areas recently, claiming most programs are not mutual, and closer to charity.

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lettuceLeafer OP wrote

Yeah, the whole hot take was that it is profitable. I think it being ethereal doenst matter a ton. In my case I've spent very little and gained quite a bit so even through the obscurity it's clear that I've profited. So maybe my refined take is.

Mutual aid can be profitable but often times it is hard to tell if it is profitable or a net loss. But if done properly should result in profit.

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Fool wrote

I was going to say the tangible factor is part of defining a profit, but it does appear there is a definitions of profit just to be "advantage".

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zoom_zip wrote

others have said it already, but i want to chime in too and say yeah, there is no real altruism in the perfectly balanced sense of giving something and getting nothing

you could even say that giving charity profits me with feeling good

but that’s not what mutual aid is, right? it’s not altruism. it’s not charity. it’s mutual beneficial exchange. i have food. the carpenter can fix floors. together we both get what we need.

i don’t think it is really more complicated than that, is it? when you start weighing up the value of these individual things, you start drifting into capitalist territory

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lettuceLeafer OP wrote

I don’t think it is really more complicated than that, is it? when you start weighing up the value of these individual things, you start drifting into capitalist territory

Yeah I don't think weighing it up would be very useful at all. Tho I think analysing if your mutual aid project is overall benefiting u personally is a good idea.

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aaaaarg wrote

I'd push back against the idea that mutual aid is trade.

I prefer to think of it as building a culture of care which doesn't require either the synchronous and serendipitous matching of needs, or the book keeping of asynchronous exchanges.

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zoom_zip wrote

i hope it didn’t come across as me saying it needed to be synchronous trade or that in some way the books needed to be balanced?

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aaaaarg wrote

Mutual aid benefiting both parties!

*shocked pikachu face*

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