In this gathering together with Begüm Özden Fırat, Valeria Graziano and Tomislav Medak, we wish to reflect on neoliberal crisis of care, potentials and limits of solidarity networks, community and neighborhood organizations. Highlighted by but not limited to the current crisis, we wish to question changing meanings of practices of solidarity and care and possibilities of piracy and politicization of care-organizing.

Failed Solidarities: Crisis, Corona, and Networks of Mutual Aid in Turkey

Based on my previous research on local urban commoning movements, post-Gezi uprising neighborhood assemblies and mutual aid practices, I would like to touch upon the potentials and limits of pandemic ‘solidarity networks’ that (re)emerged during the early weeks of the lockdown in Turkey in April 2020. I will put forward my critical concerns and questions about the potentials of and dilemmas faced by the (pre- and post-pandemic) networks of solidarity in Turkey. I will present ‘six factors impeding the rise of the common in against and beyond the pandemic crisis’ as a response to Stavros Stavrides’ article “Life as Commons” published during the early days of the pandemic. These ‘6 factors’ relate to the transformation of the politics of the scale of the neighborhood and changing meanings of practices of solidarity and care. I will be focusing on the situation in Turkey mostly, but I hope the questions I try to raise would have larger reach than their country of their origin, as I think the emergence of neoliberal authoritarian populist regimes all over the world and the socio-political conditions triggered by the pandemic makes us share a similar if not a common ground.

Pirate Care Network

With our Pirate Care network we’ve been mapping and connecting efforts of collective organising of mutual aid and solidarity emerging in response to the neoliberal crisis of care — a convergence of processes that include austerity, welfare cuts, rollback of reproductive rights and criminalisation of migration. In response to that denial of care, these practices are helping migrants survive at sea and on land, providing pregnancy terminations where those are illegal, offering health support where institutions fail, organising childcare where public provision does not extend to everyone, liberating knowledge where access is denied. Crucially, they share a willingness to openly disobey laws and executive orders. Our aim is to support learning processes from the knowledges of these practices and, to that end, we have created a collaboratively written Pirate CareSyllabus. 

With the onset of the pandemic, we have seen an unprecedented expansion of community organising, which we documented in our “Flatten the Curve, Grow the Care”. Yet, a year later, it seems that much of that effort could not be sustained over long periods of time, while social movements struggled to avert the re-entrenchment of inequalities in the division of care-labour and in the imperial intellectual property relations resulting from the market-oriented responses of the states to the pandemic crisis. At this moment, care-organising thus seems in a dire need of piracy and politicisation.