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"On the pitfalls of burgeois identity based-solidarity".

  • Essay
  • Dec 07 2023
  • DMT
    is a cuddly accomplice of linguistic improperty.

The paradox of political corruption is that it is the modality through which brutal institutionality is maintained. The paradox of biosocial corruption is that it constitutes the militant preservation of a general, generative capacity to differ and diffuse.

Fred Moten and Stefano Harney - All Incomplete


Since I started to ponder justice and community-making as the leitmotif of my cultural practice, as a white person from the Mediterranean fringe of Fortress Europe, and from a wage-labor-based middle-class upbringing, I embraced the sticky rhetoric of care and solidarity as a way of relating amongst individuals advertised by progressive cultural institutions. I will be honest with you, I got charmed by this relational propaganda of softness and comforting togetherness, which didn’t disturb my privilege, nor my romantic unsituated view of a society made of people with individual and collective agency. 

Some years have passed, and I have learned that coexistence is a philosophy that politics are programmed to dismiss. I rarely saw solidarity unconditionally between the dis-homogenous. Even when plurality, the child of solidarity, is pursued, for example, in institutions, such as museums and universities (I don’t even dare to go to international politics), the glue that sticks every part together is often a silent agreement on status, while advocacy for change is at a rhetorical level at best. Furthermore, we see, now more than ever, after several weeks into the intensification of the genocide of Palestinians, that confronting the layers on which society is built and asking for a swift change of actions, is rebutted by the repetition of history choreographed by racial-capitalist anti-human politics and interests. The obstacle is a race-gender-class-based society financed and indemnified by institutions of social reproduction that conform to an ideology that they distill and supervise, seeking not its dismantling, but its repackaging. 

I am suspicious of Western leftist intellectuals, or intellectuals acquainted and educated through Western institutions, demanding education to shape community and solidarity, or education before community formation, or a community grounded on an educated code of solidarity. They are well-trained to demystify, and they forget that education often creates a hierarchy of being, or a privilege of identity, reducing solidarity to a currency devoid of revolutionary value. 

Recently, I encountered an IG post shared by a British-Indian academic that illustrated in bullet points what “good allyship” looks like, and how it would be the premise of solidarity: 

  1. Unapologetic  
  2. Educated 
  3. Focused 
  4. Louder than the oppressor 
  5. Quieter than the oppressed. 

By reading the points, my attention was caught by points two and three, which depict a perfect, soft ecosystem, an echo chamber’s of one own, where amidst the chaos of life, the ally can sit and learn and be focussed on the situation that requires allyship. This is the life of the aristocrat, instead of the thief. I came to analyze the premises through which I disseminated my intellectual and practical allyship, and I couldn’t ignore a biased sentinel of affinity guiding me to those standing for the cause of the oppressed, and, beyond that, for a certain way of vocalizing and acting. Initially, I justified my parameters as a way to refuse and to find refuge in a different mode of recognition and belonging until I perceived my affinity through the parameters of class, education, and status. Ultimately my affinity justified and perpetrated exclusion too. 

This is not surprising though, as allyship is embedded in the rights-based discourse of identity politics, which fixes groups across different social axes according to their heritage and privilege, and spreads solidarity according to the motility of privilege, dispensed by those benefiting from the oppression in the form of allyship. Allyship becomes an adjunct of identity, and an identity itself. By transforming the relationship between the oppressed and the oppressor through a set of behavioral codes, including giving away privileges, or redistributing them; solidarity uses status as a currency of transaction that does not abolish the status itself, nor acknowledge the impossibility of an equal society under the racial-capitalist dominion. 

I felt a little trapped, like I was in a loop. I came to see something scary: little can be built on the self-reinforcing foundations of Western culture, the same rational and dehumanizing thoughts that shelter the comfortability of racial-capitalist-bourgeois hegemony, and which a priori creates the necessity for solidarity. Without the unmaking of the culture of class/status exceptionalism and economic privilege, and its academic roots, there is little place for the re-appropriation of solidarity to operate not only on an ideological and social level but on a practical, involved, dirty, nocturnal, impulsive, emotional, communitarian one. However, around and within the pivots entrenching “good solidarity”, those who are affected and oppressed by society are makers of their modes of it, not when the discourse directs the attention, such as when there is an explosion, or a hashtag, or a demo, but in the long-term, plotting the reorganizing of the life stolen and extracted by the Western cultures.

Recently I commented with an Irish colleague about the prompt reaction of Ireland in revoking funds and political support to Israel, and by doing so confirming and deepening Ireland’s political distance from British power and imperialism. They told me that Irish people could empathize with Palestinians, as they recognized the violent system of land partition themselves. British did it with Ireland in 1922, India in 1947, and Palestine in 1948. And I could hear them, but I wondered if solidarity is stronger when injustice and oppression are closer to us and more galvanizing. Shall we feel the pain and mirror ourselves in oppression to be in solidarity? Or, thinking with Jean Genet, could solidarity be more of an urge to call the whole of society into question?


fig. 1


I may be delusional, but I would argue that solidarity should not be based on stereotypes and strategies, or perceived identities administrated through class-based concessions. Solidarity should not be imagined as a way of relating among individuals, but should rather fight the notion of partition (class/race/gender/nation) itself as a factor of exclusion. Guided by the sagacious words of Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, and a fond interest in resistance movements (my grandfather was Partisan fighting against the Fascist occupation of Italy, and a relative of mine was a member of the Communist Red Brigades), for example, the Black Panthers, and the Kurdish Woman Movement, which mined and reimagined systems on their terms, generally I have encountered complicity instead of solidarity as a driver of justice. The accomplice moves in the time-space of the undercurrents, not for discursive and political validation. One gives away their status when fighting back or forward, and, contrary to the ally, provides solidarity, not temporarily, nor on an identitarian basis, but on the premises of a form of faith, a form of romanticism, a form of deep implication between destruction and construction that refuses to move within the class-race-gender paradigm.

If solidarity is the voluntary cooperation of homogeneous individuals with diverse struggles, complicity is no choice. Complicity is the a priori force that unifies to meet at the horizon of a non-subsistance form of hope people, and that welcomes different ways to relate collectively against power and its class-race-gender socializing rules on the same territories of struggle.

I am sure you readers are lacking more concrete examples here, and I don’t want to upset you allies who fell into the trap of allyship, or those who proclaim solidarity like their faith, without knowing their bias and policed psychologies. But, have you ever imagined how, in the quest for belonging, those seeking to have a nation, for example, could stand with those who refuse to have one (without craving a hierarchy of beliefs and interests)? I am not proposing methodologies of action. You will not find them in a text; you will not find them in a well-formulated statement, or a rule. There is not merely one way to do things, contrary to the legacy history left us, the Grand Narrative. However, history is not simply a story, but a process full of impropriety, degeneration, and a generator of difference in a multitude of strategies, tactics, protests, direct actions, or prefigurative forms of politics. 

This diffusion is essential if we do aspire toward “a world in which”, as the Zapatistas have proclaimed time and again, “all worlds fit”, or at least those that do not enact the extermination of the non-aligned Other. The more shapes our actions will subtract from the scrutiny of Western supremacy and its ways of socializing, the more we will speak to a greater plurality of people. We can be creative, if not good allies, rather destructive accomplices, and the moment in history has never been closer to requiring us to be so.




    Cover, fig. 1: İnci Eviner, Nowhere Body Here Series, 2000.© and courtesy of the artist and Dirimart.



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