the anti-necessity of solidarity

by Molly C

State of Emergency: Cue the sovereign’s unilateral authority encroaching on democratic spaces of common living.  In times of crisis, the law is suspended, along with process and procedure.  The name of “necessity” trumps checks and balances, concentrating power to allow immediate and un-mediated action.  All in the name of the people, who are thus made objects of intervention.

This is a general plea for attention to the anti-democratic impulse of necessity, as we launch new campaigns and enter into the long-haul fight. The #occupy moment is boiling, and there are political opportunities everywhere.  Meanwhile, the corporate stranglehold on the planet leaks fresh blood and oil every minute.  There is every reason to feel anxious and ready for action.  But let’s be careful not to repeat the political abuses we’ve suffered.

Action is not the opposite of reflection.  We do not have to choose strategy, hard work, and effectiveness over relationships, trust, and respect.  We are always doing both.  Best heed this truth now rather than stomp out plurality and unapparent potentials of solidarity.  We have all the time in the world.  This crisis burns slow.

We have time to deal with interpersonal conflict.  That is building trust and relationships.  If we don’t stop and do this, we will not make it through this struggle.

I’m not here because I’m expecting any victories right away.  I’m not even ready to define ‘victory’ or think about a triumphant resolution.  I’m thinking about what world we are building together to live through the years ahead of us.  If we burn ourselves out now, we will not make it.  We won’t have energy in our bodies or our communities.  If we burn bridges, if we neglect what we get from working with each other, if we do not cultivate ourselves as leaders of our own lives and allow others respect to do the same— we will not make it.  We will be pacified or co-opted, drained out and self-destruct.  We will be vulnerable to attacks (and they will get worse).  We can’t wait for it to get that bad.

We have time to address trust and respect.  Do not hide behind “solidarity,” expecting everyone to fall in line behind this necessity or to put aside their contributions to the conversation because it apparently already took place.

What does “solidarity” even mean?  It’s not the same as “common cause,” some banner that transcends us and looks the same from all perspectives.  We don’t know each other, you don’t know what my cause is, nobody knows the bottom line.  Any claim otherwise is a reflection of privilege.

Yes: solidarity.  You are my brother and my sister, and I love you.  But don’t abuse that to dodge accountability to democratic process or renege responsibility to mutual respect.   Solidarity is not an imaginary, elsewhere cause.  The cause is us, it’s everywhere, it’s in the common space we share and how we choose to live.  I don’t care if you have a more immediate cause.  We won’t last past that without respect.  Solidarity is how we will sustain ourselves, how we treat the common earth.

Do not throw solidarity in my face.  Show me.