Mutual Acquiescence or Mutual Aid? by Ron Sakolsky
LBC Books, PO Box 3920, Berkeley, CA 94703
Review by A. Iwasa
Radio Tree Frog’s Ron Sakolsky coined the term “mutual acquiescence” in 2006 and its evolution from his article “Why Misery Loves Company” in Green Anarchy to this book. In this lengthy essay, he states “What I call mutual acquiescence is the polar opposite of the anarchist concept of mutual aid in that it paralyzes revolt rather than facilitating it.” Sakolsky rapidly expands on this in the main body of the text.
The essay moves through past eras of Anarchist thought and action with a refreshingly non-sectarian perspective. He also goes about connecting the concept of mutual acquiescence to past Anarchists’ and others’ ideas of voluntary servitude or similar schools of thought such as the Surrealists’ miserabilism. There is a brief but blanketing denunciation of “identity politics” as a form of mutual acquiescence that I suppose shouldn’t be a surprise. But I never agree with anyone 100% of the time, so it’s a bitter pill but easy enough to swallow.
Contrary to the title, Sakolsky goes on to point out how there are more ways to think and live outside of a mutual aid or acquiescence binary, such as Desert’s “active disillusionment,” still arguably a form of mutual aid. He also acknowledges that we can find wisdom in Marxism, specifically within the work of Antonio Gramsci. But make no mistake; Sakolsky is no friend of state Communism. For example, Poland’s 1980s oppositional Socialist Surrealist Orange Alternative is described a length.
Essentially there’s something in here for everyone with an open mind but especially for Anarchists and Fellow Travelers. It’s very philosophical, but grounded solidly in practice. The book is all over the place, but never loses focus. If you’re Anarcho-curious, this would be a great place to start. If you’re a long-time Anarcho-committed whatever, it’s a great refresher.