I am really beginning to despise the word solidarity. I’m constantly hearing calls for solidarity – with women just because they’re women, with anarchists just because they’re anarchists, with workers just because they’re workers.
Do you know what I think of when someone asks for solidarity? I think of cops. Nobody shows more solidarity than cops. You could have a cop on video beating the crap out of someone, with a dozen of his fellow cops standing there watching, and not a one will cross that blue line to do what is right. That’s some fucking solidarity right there.
And I think about Hebrew school. I think about how we were always being asked to donate to Jewish causes, to plant trees in Israel, to rescue Jewish Ethiopians. I was supposed to care more about one human being than another on the basis of some happenstance group identity. The idea of “looking out for your own” repulsed me at nine and repulses me now.
Solidarity is about group cohesion, which means you have to see value in group belonging. And I don’t. I’ve never wanted to belong to a group. All too often, group belonging means conformity. It’s why the Amish all dress the same. It’s why every kid in middle school has to run out and buy the same pair of jeans as their friends. It’s why every pundit in Washington thinks exactly the same and why we have all those little boxes on the hillside. Conformity breeds intolerance, ignorance, group think, and stagnation.
You can only belong if others don’t belong. There have to be boundaries and soon enough there will be people policing those boundaries. The next thing you know “mean girls” are telling us we can’t wear sweatpants to school. Your greener than thou friends disown you because you throw cans into the trash. You’re kicked out of the anarchist group because you think smashing windows is pointless. Debate is not an option.
That doesn’t preclude people joining forces for their common interest. But it has to be about more than just group identity. Support between workers halfway across the world, who have never met one another, is bound to be weak. But if those workers are in the same industry or work for the same company and know that their fate is inextricably tied to one another in a very tangible way, then you have something. And it isn’t just some vague notion of solidarity.
If you want me to do something or support something, do not appeal to me on the basis of group identity. Appeal to me on principle. Appeal to a real human relationship that we have. If I think your cause is just, I’ll be there. And if I also know and care about you as a human being, I’ll go to the mat.
If you just want solidarity, join the mob or the white nationalists or the police force.
Translations for this article:
- Dutch, Solidariteit?