– The isolated individual, society is collapsing
– Let’s create an organization that is strong in crisis, a mutual aid organization
The unfortunate deaths of three Suwon mothers and daughters and a young man preparing for self-reliance in Gwangju occurred one after another. As we read this gruesome story as an article, we have no choice but to question which direction our society is heading in. We pride ourselves on being an economically advanced country, and we are defending ourselves by saying that K-movies and K-foods are envied by the world, but the harsh social reality behind these brilliant achievements is being revealed. Does the state and society exist for them?
Korean 5hit 1people are isolated
According to a social survey by the National Statistical Office in 2021, about 20% of people said they had no one to help when they needed someone to talk to because they were discouraged or depressed. In the same survey, when asked if there would be anyone to help if they were sick and had to do housework, 3 out of 10 answered no. This is an increase from the 2019 survey. It is a depressing indicator that can confirm that a significant number of people have a disconnected social network. In addition, the number of people who participated in group activities such as social gatherings, hobbies, religious groups, and civic groups during the past year was 35.8%, down more than half from 66.1% in 2019. This is a very serious statistic. In Northern Europe, the participation rate in group activities is over 70-90%. In Sweden, a representative social democracy, the figure is close to 90%. On the other hand, it was reported that the Yun Seok-Yeol administration was pushing for the repeal of the ‘Regulations on Activation of Civil Society and Promotion of Public Interest Activities’. It’s an odd reality.
USA, with the corona pandemic 1,000More than one mutual aid organization has been established
In the United States, it is known that more than 1,000 large and small mutual aid organizations have been created in the United States to help many citizens whose daily lives have been paralyzed and placed in extreme inequality due to the coronavirus. It is very natural for individuals who do not have enough national resources to join forces in difficult situations. We can know from our life experiences that the foundation of such mutual aid becomes the driving force for the expression of social solidarity.
Helping each other is the best device to overcome the individual feeling of isolation mentioned above, and it can make society very stable. It will be a very important foundation in a social contract based on solidarity. It also means that society exists between the state and the individual. It is not the result of many scholars already studying that the foundations of social democratic countries such as Sweden and Finland are based on such reciprocity and solidarityism. Scholars also call it social capital.
In Korea, the Mutual Aid Labor Mutual Aid Movement centered on the Labor Mutual Aid Association Pulbang
We also have life cooperatives, which are traditional mutual aid organizations, and various mutual aid societies. In recent years, in particular, mutual aid organizations in which workers help each other in the name of labor aid have increased rapidly. A representative example is the Chemical Fiber Food Trade Union, the Sewing Artisan Association. The Sewing Workers’ Association is a labor union that embraces the labor deductions made by seamstresses. Earlier this year, the Kabugi Mutual Mutual Aid Association was established by a surrogate driver in the Yeongnam area. In addition, the Good Neighbors of the working people based in the region have been active for over 7 years in the Ansan area. We are working hard to organize ahead. And the ‘Labor Mutual Aid Association (Pulpan)’, which supports this, was founded last year and is supporting the organization of various labor mutual aid organizations.
‘Deciding to help each other is radical enough’
In this context, a meaningful book has recently been published. Dean Spade’s book ‘Mutual Relief and Solidarity During This (and Next) Crisis’ was published in Korea under the name of
The book describes three key elements of mutual aid: ‘First, mutual aid projects meet survival needs and build a common understanding of why people don’t get what they need. Second, mutual aid projects engage people in movements, expand solidarity and build movements. Third, mutual aid projects have a participatory character in solving problems through collective action rather than waiting for a savior.’
Usually, the mutual aid that we perceive is easy to think of or to recognize as the level of a mutual aid association of any group. This is in the same direction as the labor mutual aid movement currently being promoted in Korea. The Labor Mutual Aid Movement was designed as a device to establish a practical labor welfare foundation for a good life for workers and to actively intervene in the national laws and systems based on this.
In the context of Korea, there is a tendency to view it as reformism in the labor mutual aid movement. This is quite a misunderstanding. A project that builds solidarity with each other’s power to help each other and changes society with this power is both practical and radical. This is in line with the assertion of the author, Dean Spade. The author also describes this mutual aid movement as a sufficiently radical movement in the book.
What is more useful in this book is that it presents the necessary parts for building and operating the mutual aid organization discussed in Part 2. It may seem too trivial for theorists, but on the other hand, organizing and running an organization is only possible if you manage conflicts, think about finances, and run meetings effectively. This is an urgent task as an activist, and this book presents these concerns as a senior based on past experiences, so it can be a necessary guide for activists.
In a climate disaster, uncertain economic environment, and a situation that seems to fall into hell if you look at it a little, creating a being that can reach out and step forward with someone on a shoulder is to restore society between the state and the individual. If our society wants to restore solidarity beyond individual isolation, I suggest forming a mutual aid organization with those around us right now.