I know I just reblogged this and commented but this time I clicked through and read the whole article and it’s actually such a glorious example of exactly what I’m talking about.
this person’s not exploring their relative privilege. they’re actually positioning themselves above the people who need their charity by pointing out that they’re not the kind of people who need charity, they’re the kind of people who give charity. As opposed to the “legitimately poor” who are let’s face it not really that different from the “deserving poor” that conservatives love to drool over while berating those who need “welfare” from the government because they’re dependent, etc. etc.
[I snipped this for length, but click the link to read the whole thing because it long and more in depth than just these two snippets- glales]
Solidarity, not charity.
So, I know this is longer and has more complex points, but I feel like these are the two I feel most capable of addressing without sounding boring or dumb.
I think, for one, to suggest that “legitimately poor” and “deserving poor” are similar categories seems really untrue for me. The way the author’s framing “legitimately poor” is something he wants people to decide for themselves and be honest with themselves about. So if this framing doesn’t work for somebody, none of my business, but for me , I know that thinking of myself as being in the same level of economic vulnerability as a waitress from a working class background just because we make the same amount of money is a load of self-serving horseshit. Or worse, suggesting that I’m some sort of unified club with friends who make half what I make, or are raising a couple of kids on what I make, just because we all make less than that $47k “global 1%” line.
So, for me, and clearly for the guy who wrote this, there’s a problem of being an earnest lefty who wants to bro down with my lower-middle class virtue because I’ve settled in the world of perpetually low-paying non-profit work, and not be real with myself of the advantages I have and the responsibility that comes with those.
And for “solidarity not charity”, I’ve heard that, I’ve probably said that. I’ve probably annoyed people by spouting that, but at this point in my life, I’m not sure what that means on a practical level. How do I do that? I”m not sure, in retrospect that the street demonstrations I did in my wild youth were really that effective, and anyway I’ve got a boring square 40 hour a week job that pays my bills and prevents me from doing that shit these days. Is solidarity slogging through my paid work and my unapid, spare time political work that may effect change in the long run? Probably. But that feels intangible and if solidarity is just like, a way of positionsing one’s politics, that feels like self-serving horseshit to me too. And I’m an inherently lazy person who likes bubble baths, so self-serving horseshit of the “self care” variety is really tempting to me.
So, for me, part of solidarity in a big picture way is acknowledging that my money doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to God. And for me, making that feeling practical is setting it up so that the minute my paycheck drops in my bank account a chunk of it goes to church and to groups that do the work of helping keep people alive who are suffering right now and can’t wait for that political transformation we’re all slogging away toward. And that helps my life make sense, because trying to combine a free-floating sense of anarchist politics with being too old and too square to keep living in a commune and going to constant poorly attended demonstrations was kind of making me nuts.
And in keeping with what pastimperfection was talking about, the thing that was making me nuts in the opposite direction, was this fear of insecurity that I developed, especially after my sister’s death. I got obsessed with being the opposite of my sister, and having the most stable life a person can have. And that made me afraid all the time, and guilty for how being afraid made me materialistic. And trying not to be afraid has been kind of life-changing.
So yeah, charity is about the giver. That’s kind of the point. That’s why people who make the least amount of money tend to give the most money away. And I think that’s why the fact that the left doesn’t have a culture of telling broadly lower-middle class young people to give their money away the way the right does is a big problem. And the fact that the radical left kind of encourages this self-delusion among the downwardly mobile children of the middle/upper-middle class to think of ourselves as poorer than we really are is an even bigger problem.