Thursday, March 13, 2014

On "Solidarity"

Let's face it: exercising solidarity is tricky business, not the least of which is because "solidarity" itself is a tricky concept, which requires the subordination of real differences (across a whole host of important categorical domains) for the sake of some particular common interest that might prioritize similitude-- often for prudentially strategic reasons-- over, across or in spite of otherwise substantive differences.  Frequently, there are people with whose positions we find ourselves sympathetic or supportive, but whose tactics/strategies for advancing those consonant positions we also find problematic.  And so, inevitably, we find ourselves wanting to say something like "I'm on your side" with regard to the general argument, while at the same time (secretly) saying "but I'm not on your side" with regard to this particular argument.  In such cases, proponents of solidarity have to make a tough call: how much leverage ought I afford those with whom I want to express solidarity in their articulation of our common cause?

Here's my suggestion: there’s a point at which  "solidarity" doesn't necessarily require fighting (or even engaging in) any particular fight with or for one other. Rather, I propose, solidarity only requires fighting THE Fight for and with one other. 

To wit, I’ve stayed out of the particularly site-specific exchanges in the comment-thread on Edward Kazarian's and my NewAPPS post because I think my obligation (such that it is) is only to weigh in on discussions like those in a meta-commentary way.  That is to say, I want to  respect the degree to which Ed and I are *not* primary agents in the various particular disputes under discussion.  I think it's more than a little bit patronizing/infantilizing to presume that any participant needs, wants or deserves our (tbh, largely ineffective) "protection" more than what we have already offered, which is why I don’t feel the need to come to anyone's particular defense in re details of the particular disputes under discussion.  At some point, the individuals directly involved in those disputes need to, and are obligated to imho, fight it out themselves, if they so choose and in whatever way they so choose. As I see it, the obligation for the rest of us sharing the community in which this dispute is taking place is just to call "foul" when people throw dirty punches. 

The need to call foul on dirty punches is, after all, what the original post by Ed and I meant to highlight and is the substance of our insistence that we *not* institute a professional Code for tone-policing, which can and would only call foul on the already-disadvantaged.

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