Sunday, February 05, 2006

Its so hard to decide who is funnier sometimes

25 Years of "Radical Charity"
Green Anarchy

Food Not Bombs is often adopted as aanarchist project despite its liberal beginnings and currents – a soup kitchen promoting "...positive personal, political, and economic alternatives". That is, a charitable organization serving "The Hungry" who – like the rest of us – struggle with our dependency on the System. But, FNB IS different from church and state institutions! They only serve vegetarian food, usually vegan – usually rice and beans. Their treatises on vegetarianism replace those on religionism. They also serve outside so even the welcome hour of shelter is lacking. Finally, FNB offers an excellent chance of sharing a meal with the local pigs! That's because FNBers "...make political and social statements at public places" in order to "... prove[s] to the government and business sector that nutrition is as necessary as health care and welfare cheques." The established order must be terrified by rousing rhetoric such as "for a person to ask for a bowl of beans and rice once a day is like to start a revolution." Or "Voting for the best candidate or giving money to your favorite charity are worthwhile activities but many people want to do more." FNBers "want to create life affirming structures from the ground up. We want to replace the death culture with a culture of "Plumbers Not Bombs", "Daycare Not Bombs", and "Healthcare Not Bombs"". Is it the threat of sedition locking up the occasional FNBer or is it another spectacle serving up both activist and pig?

There was a time when FNB's food stock came mainly from dumpsters, but as grocers locked the trash containers, FNBers switched to petitioning capitalists in grocery stores, co-ops, restaurants. Now most food comes from tax-deductible (as long as they don't name FNB as the receiver) charitable donations. The meal is prepared in private homes then taken to public areas where FNBers show "Solidarity with the poor." "We serve the poor to demonstrate that poor-bashing is out of whack with propriety and that charity is not in the governments purview to license." When I see an FNB group outside an affluent university, I wonder how they define their "underclassed" and "starving millions"? Some FNBers serve primarily to friends and each other, a laudable re-appropriation if this was the intent instead of the result of attitude, timing, reliability, taste, or food quality keeping away the "needy".

I've been asked "can't anarchists help others in need"? My reply is more questions: do you think it is helping when, at best, you temporarily perpetuate dependency? Would you call it mutual aid or codependency since one gets food while the other gets a feel good moment? Isn't this one of the subtle hierarchies that illustrate anarchist opposition to charity?


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