What is the meaning of solidarity?

Cork protest Jun 8 2014

You wouldn’t think there’d be much dispute about what solidarity is but in fact there is–or at least there is confusion. For those who want to change the world, “an injury to one is an injury to all” isn’t a sentimental or ceremonial mantra but an iron law of social change.

Somehow, in an attempt by some to thwart the appeal of socialist ideals, solidarity became identified as an act of white supremacy, the noblesse oblige of privilege. Some of that discredit is due to political chicanery by those who prefer capitalism since conformity can be a lucrative career move. But also implicated in the confusion is the “mismanagement” of those ideals by some socialists who have made solidarity an expedience–or much worse, the pivot of betrayal. Mismanagement is the politic word for treachery.

Solidarity is not an act of supremacy; nor is it not an expression of sympathy or, heaven forbid, pity. Nor is it negotiable. We don’t express solidarity with sweat shop workers, immigrants, homeless, unemployed, starving, & those millions fighting tyranny & austerity because we feel sorry for them because they’re the “underdog.” Solidarity has more muscle than mere weepy-eyed sentimentality. It means we recognize our connections with others in a complex, international nexus of economic, social, historic, & political bonds. Our fate is inextricable from that of all others.

Neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism, tries to sever those bonds by creating competition between working people from Asia to Africa to Europe to the Americas. Racism is central to that competition & the rancid, hateful howlings of that ideology change little from one continent to the next.

We render solidarity–of the muscly hard-nosed kind–because of our common humanity, because we are committed to the ideal that all human beings are equal, & because one consequence of neoliberal globalization is making working people around the world completely dependent on each other for justice & emancipation.

This photo of a 2010 protest in Cork, Ireland in solidarity with Palestinians is repeated thousands of times at thousands of protests around the world to support those being targeted by tyranny. These protests represent humanities highest aspiration: solidarity. Someday it will represent our highest achievement. Solidarity forever!

(Photo by John Jefferies)

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