September 19, 2019

Solidarity Will Save the Planet

“As you’ve probably heard, UN scientists recently warned that we have eleven years to avert climate disaster. We face a civilizational crisis that can only be solved by unprecedented action on an unprecedented scale. To avert this crisis, we must begin to see our fates as linked and make good on that insight. The culture of the atomized individual has brought us to the brink. Our obsession with wealth and power has turned out to be the path to destruction, of our habitat and ourselves. If we want to find a way forward, we must adopt a fundamentally different vision of human enterprise and shared endeavor. 

Fortunately, one such model is hiding in plain sight, a framework that must play a central role if we are going to equitably address the biggest existential threat we have ever faced. It dates all the way back to ancient Rome, but in contemporary political discourse, it doesn’t surface all that much beyond certain left-leaning activist circles where people often end their emails with the sign off “in solidarity.” The idea of solidarity describes the ways in which we are bound together and how we can act, in concert, to change our circumstances. 

Not that it’s all that easy to spot and harness the idea of solidarity in the wild. Indeed, our culture is currently awash in semblances of solidarity that, even when well-intentioned or laudable, fall short of the real thing. Consider common appeals to allyship and altruism; such locutions convey a sort of optional quality, a moralistic tone, and unreliable trendiness. They are invitations to be a good and generous person, rather than the necessary expressions of our interdependence. They’re thus woefully unequal to the task of sparking concerted mass action on the scale we now urgently need.”

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