By the Political Development Working Group of Solidarity Supply Distro
Earlier this month, the City of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department issued a violation notice to a food distribution program working out of a yard in Roslindale. The mutual aid program – labeled “underground” by the Boston Globe – offered regular access to free food for families in need, sourcing its supplies through the Brookline Food Cooperative. In the notice, the organizers were threatened with a year in prison and up to a $1,000 fine if operations did not cease, a threat apparently motivated in no small part by complaints to the city government from ruling class and petit-bourgeois neighbors offended by the sight of the poor in their communities.
That this vile threat by the agents of the enemy class came just as news broke about a double-digit increase in demand at traditional food pantries across the state should come as no surprise. The history of state repression of mutual aid work is long and storied, dating to well before the onset of the COVID pandemic, and almost always targeting left-wing mutual aid projects. Food Not Bombs activists, for example, who have been providing meals to the masses since 1980, have faced dozens of cases, all around the country, ranging in form from direct police action to bureacratic blackmail similar to the Roslindale case.
Solidarity Supply Distro has not been immune to attempts at repression, and we condemn in no uncertain terms this latest attempt by the city to shut down mass organizing.
Like the Brookline Food Cooperative distribution in Roslindale, we are based in a petit-bourgeois neighborhood – in fact, the South End’s average household income is $132,000, far higher than that of Roslindale – while serving workers and oppressed people from all over Boston. Our distribution work draws many families from oppressed nations into a majority white neighborhood which has been thoroughly gentrified since at least the 1990s; the sharp contrast between the decadence of the gentrifier class and the destitution of the exploited masses upon whom their wealth depends has caused at least one of our neighbors to demand the city shut our work down as well.
So far, we have remained resilient, and we intend to continue to stand up to all attempts at shutting down our distribution and others like it – to the organizers of the Brookline Food Cooperative, we offer our support and solidarity, and are glad to see that your work has continued in a new location.
We know that this pandemic is a political event – while the COVID-19 virus is a natural phenomenon, pandemic is a question of how our social structure responds to a viral outbreak. In our case, we have seen the contradiction between the interests of the ruling classes (the bosses, landlords, finance capitalists and their politicians) and the people (everyday workers like us) play out in real time: “essential” workers laid off, evicted, or at risk of sickness and death to ensure that the flow of profits never stops, and real help from the government is nowhere to be found. As cases continue to rise, predominantly in black and brown neighborhoods, the imperialist nations bargain in backrooms to ensure that their own big bourgeoisie has early and unlimited access to the vaccine, leaving the oppressed nations to suffer while the pharmaceutical-sector capitalists rake in record profits. The promise of a $600 relief check is a slap in the face to workers in a city where the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment hovers around $2,000. Meanwhile, mutual aid organizations that attempt to close that gap, organizations run by the people and for the people, continue to be attacked for showing the empty promises of the capitalist state to the masses.
Our work is a stopgap, a tiny bandage on a gaping wound – mutual aid is not, and will never be, a panacea for the struggles of the broad masses, because on its own, mutual aid is no more political than a church food kitchen. Handing out food is well and good – and we plan to keep on doing it! – but if we want to truly serve the people, we have to get them organized for struggle against the social systems that leave them hungry in the first place. The relationships which we foster through through our distribution, and the platform which that work has allotted us, are crucial tools in the long process of doing so.
We know that political problems require political solutions, and in our case, there is only one: all-the-way revolution to end capitalism, imperialism and the white supremacist state.
Solidarity with the Brookline Food Cooperative!
Dare to struggle, dare to win!
Serve the people! It is right to rebel!