Thursday, May 03, 2012

Mutual Aid in Evolution, some questions...

Not about Kropotkin's idea of mutual aid as it applies to the immediate political world, but as it applies to the broader social world. The basic thesis of mutual aid is that cooperation helps survival and so cultural patterns that encourage cooperation have been conserved over time and are valuable social principles. This may be true, but the other side of it is that these social principles that are effective in helping survival have the possibility of being enshrined as conservative cultural principles in and of themselves. Mutual aid surely works, but it works in the context of the patriarchal family, in the cooperation of a close knit religious village that has little social mobility, as well as in a liberal or socialist society. The successfulness of mutual aid alone does not necessarily mean that a society that is based on it will have values or attitudes that people sympathetic to anarchism would agree with.

In particular, Germany developed a very comprehensive philosophy about community, the Volkisch or Folkish philosophy, that was an  ultra-conservative communitarian doctrine, always ethnocentric and often racist. This was the school of thought that drove the collectivist part of the Nazi state. Volkisch philosophy surely incorporated mutual aid into itself, but I highly doubt that anyone who is an anarchist would want to be associated with it. 

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