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Solidarity: A word in search of flesh

May 13, 2013

Who will outsmart who, and who will be kicked out first? This is the job market, and probably society at large, reduced to the level of a TV reality show, writes Bauman. However, though the spirit of solidarity is in exile, it would be premature to give up on the prospect of its return just yet.

To practice solidarity means to base one’s thinking and actions on the principle “one for all and all for one”. Respecting this principle of mutual responsibility (of the group for the individual, and the individual for the group) was labelled as the state of solidarité by the French Encyclopédie in 1765. The word stems from the adjective solidaire, which means “mutually dependent”, “complete”, “whole”. Solidaire stems from the word solide, which implies “solidity”, “completeness”, “massiveness” and “permanence”.

A group with members who display the attributes of solidarity is marked by permanence and resistance to the hardships caused by the widespread human vices of jealousy, mutual distrust, suspicion, conflicts of interests and rivalry. The attitude of solidarity successfully prevents the emergence of opposition between private interests and the common good. It is solidarity which transforms a loose aggregate of individuals into a community; it supplements their physical coexistence with a moral one, thereby raising their interdependence to the rank of a community of fate and destiny… At least such were the hopes attached and pursued when solidarity started to be promoted, cultivated and groomed around the middle of the eighteenth century as the ancien régime began to break down and the era of modern nation-state-building opened.

Written by at Eurozine. Continue THERE

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