Must Solidarity Have an Identity?
Can one still speak of an innate solidarity in our increasingly identity driven societies full of others or in an international context where nation states are becoming once again ever more powerful? Does solidarity imply a shared citizenship, shared religious, ethnic, international, humanitarian, or left-wing universal identities among those who give it and those who receive it? Think of “French doctors” or of those who provide international earthquake relief with their national flags sewn on their uniforms, or of the countless Christian, Muslim, or Jewish charities and their Asian equivalents, in the world. Can there be any positive identity-blind solidarity after the egregious failures of the United Nations on this count?
The idea of having solidarity with others may have attracted much attention, but it loses its salience if one defines it in terms of the three pillars of ancient Greek tragedy: unity of time, unity of action, and unity of setting. In our increasingly distracted, present-driven societies, we seem to be failing on all three counts by not focusing on a given problem, preferring to follow emotions down often counterproductive paths, and by ignoring the long-term identity issues behind many humanitarian problems. The result is that one can wonder who benefits most from solidarity: those who offer it or its recipients, and with what perverse effects?
Can green solidarity, by focusing on local and also on global shared environmental challenges, offer a way of reconciling extremely different ethnic, religious, or identity groups inside each society and at the international level? After all, we are all at the mercy of Nature and man’s mishandling of it, whether in the rich North or in the poor South. For green solidarity to be inventive, it must transcend classic ecological issues to address the crucial issues of our day: how to integrate generations of immigrants in their countries, migrants in their host settings, and above all those who stay behind.
Diana Pinto is an intellectual historian and writer, educated in the United States (Harvard) and now living in Paris. As senior fellow at the Institute for Jewish Policy Research she has worked on the pan-European project Voices for the Res Publica. She also worked as a consultant to the Political Directorate of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe for its civil society programs in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Pinto has been a Fulbright Fellow, and has received research grants from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Collegium Budapest. She has written widely on transatlantic issues and on Jewish life in contemporary Europe. Her autobiography Entre deux mondes (1991) is about her experiences living in Europe and the United States. Other book publications include Contemporary Italian Sociology (1981) and Israel Has Moved (2013).