Social Services and Mutual Aid in Times of COVID-19 and Beyond: A Brief Critique
May 2021 marked a crucial point in the United States’ fight against the COVID-19 pandemic: sixty percent of U.S. adults had been vaccinated. Since then, Americans have witnessed the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, but its longterm effects are here to stay. Ironically, some are
unexpectedly welcome. Among the lasting positive changes is an augmented sense of individual involvement in community well-being. This multifaceted phenomenon has given rise to #BLM allyship and heightened interest in mutual aid networks. In the legal realm, it has manifested with law students, their educators, lawyers, and the American Bar Association (ABA) proposing new educational standards: law schools ought to build a curriculum centered on social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion rather than the traditional fixation of “thinking like a lawyer” law programs.
On a larger, political, social, and legal plan, calling for social justice is a call for sustainable democratic capitalism. And a democracy is as vibrant as its welfare system is. Calling out social services for being unsatisfactory and inadequate is not and cannot be tantamount to suggesting that the answer was their cancelation. A true critique ought to call for their democratic reevaluation and improvement so that they address intersectional and systemic ills. This article wants to dispel any lingering confusion, especially now that a “newer left” hurries to embrace mutual aid in lieu of the welfare state, which it describes as either cold, dead, or moribund.
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- March 7, 2022