Empty supermarket shelves and panicked government briefings have become the defining images of the coronavirus crisis. But the community response, however, may well be a more enduring feature. The virus and the enforcement of social isolation have sparked uncertainty and anxiety. But a range of local volunteer-run mutual aid networks have also emerged.

Many of the people involved in these groups know that the term “mutual aid” was made famous by the 19th-century anarchist Peter Kropotkin. He used it to attack Social Darwinists who described nature as a competitive fight between self-interested individuals. “Survival of the fittest” became their catch phrase and was used to describe antagonistic relationships between people, races and states. This way of thinking normalised aggression as a natural response to scarcity.

[Read more from The Conversation]

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