Global Solidarity

Global Solidarity

Global Solidarity

Global Solidarity

Synopsis

Explores the potential of globalisation to provide the conditions for a harmonious global community. Lawrence Wilde introduces the concept of global solidarity and explains how it relates to nationalism, gender, religion and culture. Looking to the future, he explores the politics of global solidarity and the conditions required for its development. Solidarity has been a mobilising word since entering the political vocabulary in the mid-19th century, and conjures images of united actionin pursuit of social justice. But is solidarity among strangers is a meaningful aspiration in our globalising age?

Excerpt

The concept of solidarity has an elusive history. Emile Durkheim (1858–1917) brought it into the field of academic social science when he published The Division of Labour in Society in 1893, but although his distinction between ‘mechanical’ and ‘organic’ solidarity provides a seminal moment in our understanding of social solidarity, he famously does not provide a definition of the key concept itself. From the outset I would like to offer a normative definition of human solidarity as a feeling of sympathy shared by subjects within and between groups, impelling supportive action and pursuing social inclusion. There can be little doubt that the powerful subjective element of ‘solidarity’ deters conceptualisation, for as well as being realised in multiple forms of association, it is felt as an inward pull, as an empowering affective force. The tested tools of social scientific analysis struggle with this subjectivity, bringing to mind Henri Bergson’s remark that attempting to analyse something that is essentially fluid is like a boy trying to catch smoke by closing his hands (Bergson 1913: 47). Nevertheless, towards the end of his book, Durkheim identifies the ideal that fired his work, the ideal of ‘human fraternity’, realisable only through the solidaristic division of labour. He clearly has in mind a social construction at the level of the nation state, but he also makes it clear that this could one day be achieved at the level of a ‘single human society’, however distant that possibility appeared at the end of the nineteenth century (Durkheim 1964: 405–6; Inglis and Robertson 2008).

International conflicts of the twentieth century appeared to . . .

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