Solidarity in Conflict: A Democratic Theory 9781503630703

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Solidarity in Conflict: A Democratic Theory

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Rochelle DuFord


Stanford, California

S ta n f or d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s Stanford, California ©2022 Rochelle DuFord. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system without the prior written permission of Stanford University Press. Printed in the United States of America on acid-­f ree, archival-­quality paper Library of Congress Cataloging-­in-­Publication Data Names: DuFord, Rochelle, author. Title: Solidarity in conflict : a democratic theory / Rochelle DuFord. Description: Stanford, California : Stanford University Press, 2022. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2021026178 (print) | LCCN 2021026179 (ebook) | ISBN 9781503628885 (cloth) | ISBN 9781503630703 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Solidarity—Political aspects—Philosophy. | Democracy— Philosophy. Classification: LCC HM717 .D84 2022 (print) | LCC HM717 (ebook) | DDC 302/.14—dc23 LC record available at LC ebook record available at Cover design and illustration: Rob Ehle Typeset by Kevin Barrett Kane in 11/14 Minion Pro


Acknowledgments  vii Introduction


1 Solidarity in Neoliberal Times


2 Two Models of Nonexclusion: Conflict in Feminist and Democratic Theory


3 Antisocial Solidarities: The Psychic Life of Domination


4 Burdened Action: The Social Formation of Solidarity


5 A More Perfect Union: The Ends of Conflict


Conclusion: Solidarity Today


Notes  173 References  181 Index  193

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This book was made possible by the support of many people, institutions, and organizations. I am deeply grateful to many teachers and mentors. My undergraduate advisor, April Flakne, helped me develop a sense of myself as a philosopher. Tony Reeves supported my research and philosophical development as a graduate student. Amy Allen has provided me with advice, read and commented on my work, and offered suggestions that have improved my thought. I could write at length about the role Max Pensky has played in my life: he has advised me, has allowed me to follow my considerably weird interests, and has supported me in following each of them as far down a rabbit hole as I possibly can. I will only say that Max has played a crucial role in my intellectual development, and that this book displays a considerable amount he has taught me. I am also grateful for support and instruction from Lisa Tessman, Christopher Morgan-­K napp, Joe Mink, and Mattias Iser. I cannot conceive of myself as a scholar without their influence and support.

I had many friends and colleagues read, comment, and advise me on this project. Their assistance has been invaluable. First and foremost is Aaron Bell. Much of my thinking has developed through the aid of our hours-­long conversations, in which he always participates with interest and a criticality few others bring. I am also grateful for friends and colleagues who have supported me both intellectually and personally: Izzy To, Regan Rule, Bev Foulks Mcguire, Diana Pasulka, Rachel Walker, Warren Goldstein, my colleagues at Hobart and William Smith and the University of Hartford, and the participants in the Summer 2018 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) seminar “Invisible Bonds: The Enlightenment Science of Society from Mandeville to Hegel.”


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I am appreciative of the NEH for funding my time at the aforementioned seminar, and for audiences at the Critical Theory Roundtable, the “Solidarity and Democratic Theory Today” workshop at the Manchester Centre for Political Theory, and the Czech Academy of the Sciences Philosophy and Social Sciences Conference. The two anonymous reviewers of this manuscript have provided me with thoughtful, challenging, and useful advice in developing my thoughts in the clearest and most compelling way that I could. My editor at Stanford University Press, Erica Wetter, has provided me with advice for writing this manuscript in the most compelling fashion. I’m very appreciative of her ample and generous suggestions. My life and work has been made possible through the many liberatory solidarity groups that came before me. Without their actions, some of which I know and many of which I do not, my life would be significantly different—­not merely in that my awe of their tenacity and bravery has inspired this book, but also in that these movements have made the world in such a fashion that I can live in it less constrained than I otherwise would have been. I would like to thank my partner: Matt Applegate. Matt has been the friend, colleague, editor, and confidant who has made this book possible through his support, kindness, and care. His astute political awareness has deeply influenced my writing, politics, and life in ways I can’t quite express. Regardless, I’m deeply grateful. Finally, I’d like to thank my cats—­Kafka, Rosco, Dumpling, and Rosalie—­for their friendship.


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I T S E E M E D T H A T E V E R Y D A Y in the summer of 2020, we were greeted by fresh images of police violence and public unruliness. While the season was called by some an “insurrection summer,” no one could have predicted at the time that an actual insurrection attempt would be made in January 2021. In each of these instances—­t he summer of protest and refusal of the US policing status quo, and the “Stop the Steal” rally that led to the Capitol breach on January 6, 2021—­people practiced solidarity. They undertook coordinated efforts to work together to achieve political goals based on shared values or aims, through the agitation of conflict.

In Seattle there was a brief attempt at the development of an “autonomous zone” or occupied protest—­alternately referred to as both the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) and the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ). While there is a history of occupying protests being successful in winning community space for marginalized groups in Seattle, CHOP/CHAZ lasted only about three weeks, from June 8 to July 1, 2020. No sooner were the East Precinct’s police station occupied, free food tables set up, and medical, library, and mourning resources established than members began warning each other about the dangers of infighting on June 10 (Bush 2020). CHOP/CHAZ maintained its police-­free zone until it was disbanded by police on July 1, 2020, following a high-­profile series of murders within


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the space. There was no grand end to the zone, or the collectives its members generated while occupying the area. The end of the autonomous zone was unrelated to the lurking threat of infighting. Yet, the possibility of infighting haunted the project nearly from its start. Infighting seems to be the focus not only of organizers trying to build solidarity, but also of observers of solidarity groups. Infighting and other forms of self-­contradiction are depicted as threatening to solidarity. They divide and conquer. They make solidarity groups look ridiculous and laughable to outsiders, who wonder why it is that solidarity organizations just can’t get it together to achieve their goals. Conversely, solidarity groups are also criticized for their conflictual relationships with the society in which they are situated. In each case, the groups manage internal and external conflicts simultaneously, and both forms of conflict are generally up for public critique. This is a book about those political conflicts; its analysis is situated from a position within spaces and organizations designed to build solidarity. This pairing is critical. Academic philosophy concerning solidarity typically avoids engagement with the issue of conflict within organizations. This omission has generated theories of solidarity that lack the necessary connection to its democratic functions and the conflicts it generates. The role conflict plays in building solidarity is decisive. The sites and methods at work in building solidarity are generally positioned against outsiders in situations rife with conflict. Internal histories and memoirs tend to account for conflicts within the membership of a solidary group, and dwell on their clarificatory function. The character of these conflicts is not to be avoided. While many will mentally leap to the fact that solidarity organizations often take up arms against their oppressors, that’s not the sort of conflict that interests me here. This is a book not about violence or brutality, but about the kinds of democratic life that can be built when people struggle together. It is guided by a set of questions and considerations concerning collective organizing, the emergence and transformation of individuals through group formation, and the role of democracy in our everyday lives. I begin with two related questions: How did democracy become disentangled from our ordinary lives and become something that is done only at ballot boxes? And is this related to the way that contemporary democratic theory shed its historical association with social theory? I develop a theory of solidarity

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as a way of answering these questions and showing how solidarity itself is intended to address a growing gap between what is popular and what seems politically attainable. I argue, somewhat counterintuitively, that solidarity functions in its most democratic way when it is open to conflict. Our world is rife with pundits and philosophers bemoaning the lack of ability to develop consensus. While there are many potential sources of conflict in modern society, a select few have been chosen by political philosophers for serious consideration. While one may find many texts concerning the role of religious belief in political justification, little serious attention has been given contemporarily to the role of disagreement and conflict in democratic life. Much more consideration has been given to how it ought to be eliminated. I refer to this book as a study in democratic theory to the extent that democracy is a sociopolitical formation designed to allow for two things: maximal freedom from domination, and the mediation necessary for social life. Theorists will disagree about how formalized democratic institutions must be, the roles that their constitutive members play, and the extent to which representation is desirable. Yet all recognize that democracy is, at its base, a form of collective decision making about matters of consequence to the members. While not all democratic polities (in particular, the Greek polis) are designed with nondomination and collective mediation in mind, those things are the normative benefits of democratic forms of life, which build and maintain pluralistic societies while exercising a minimum of force, coercion, and violence. Democratic forms of life also have other potential benefits: feelings of belonging that are thought to be necessary for human psychosocial existence, autonomy, freedom, and equality. These normative gains will be discussed sporadically throughout this book. Of primary importance, however, is the role of nondomination, and the mediation necessary for maintaining a society that does not drive alienation. FA I L E D C O N C E P T S O F S O L I D A R I T Y

While the political impetus for this text is the contemporary condition of democratic decay, the theoretical impetus is a timely revisiting of the Frankfurt School lineage as it concerns the constitution of society and the mechanism of social integration. Though Theodor Adorno argued that

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social integration is temporally primary and functional individuation is temporally secondary (Adorno 2001; Butler 2003, 13), Jürgen Habermas, taking his cue from social theory, argued that the primary question is how to achieve social integration capable of legitimating political acts. In doing so, Habermas situates his conception of society primarily vis-­à-­vis those of Émile Durkheim, Niklas Luhmann, and Talcott Parsons. This explains why Habermas takes integration, communication, and the relationship of action and communication to the foundation of society as primary considerations in his The Theory of Communicative Action. In volume 2, Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason, his critique of Parsons begins with Parsons’s own question: “By what sort of mechanisms are alter’s actions connected up with ego’s in such a way that conflicts that might threaten a given action interrelation can either be avoided or sufficiently checked?” (1987, 202). Habermas argues that Parsons cannot overcome the contradiction this question raises between social integration and system integration while at the same time failing to provide an account of the development of social pathology within his theory. As Habermas puts it, Parsons “suggests, on the whole, too harmonious a picture, because it does not have the wherewithal to provide a plausible explanation of pathological patterns of development” (1987, 203). However, Habermas fails to consider that perhaps Parsons’s question is simply the incorrect one to ask. Habermas focuses, instead, almost exclusively on an attempt to build a theory of society based on consensus formation. This is appealing primarily because the formation of consensus can provide both for the legitimation of systems-­level action and the imposition of lifeworld-­level norms. Most basically, rationally achieved consensus is necessary for Habermas due to his conception of society as “social order.” On his account, social order requires the normalization of individual, subjective interests to a society-­level structure of normative regulation. As he defines it, society simply is “the legitimate orders through which participants regulate their memberships in social groups and thereby secure solidarity” (1987, 138). Thus, individual interest must be brought, via communicative reason, into line with the values of the whole as subjected to normative validity challenges. That is, consensus, for Habermas, gets us normatively justified politics, law, economics, and society itself. While Habermas critiques his interlocutors for their overly harmonious pictures

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of social life, he commits the same error as they do. It seems as though some social theorists simply could not comprehend the degree to which a society can withstand a world rife with substantive disagreements concerning the development and norms of both systems and lifeworlds. That is, Habermas himself failed to develop a conception of society fitting for the world in which we find ourselves, and a conception of selfhood capable of generating this picture of society.1 The conception of society as legitimate social order belies two underexplored questions: (a) What are the constituent features of an illegitimate social order, and (b) how do we build societies when the potential for developing social order seems, itself, to be too optimistic a proposition? This text attempts to answer both of these questions. It explores how pathological societies developed out of the ruins of the postwar social order, and how it is that solidarity organizations build society when the broad-­ranging consensus necessary for the development of a legitimate political, legal, and economic order is no longer coterminous with societies. That is: How do societies smaller than polity come to be, and what role do they play in the development of normative polity-­level commitments? In many ways, this text is intended as a non-­ideal response to Habermas’s generally unsatisfying insistence on the ideal conditions in which his theory of communicative action takes place. As he puts it, communicative actions are “processes of social integration and of socialization” (1984, 139). His proposal shares much in common with my own: that society is built via conflict. After all, disagreement about normative validity claims is a certain kind of conflict over which norms ought to bind us so that the collective action necessary for the development of legitimate social orders can occur. This, though, tells us very little about the operation of conflict and disagreement within illegitimate social orders. While Habermas takes pains to argue that social pathologies can develop, he does not have much to say about normative circumstances at the edge of social breakdown. Yet those who argue for the elimination of disagreement via forms of consensus building spend precious few words on the status of conflicts themselves. Instead, they simply assume that a democratic polity requires consensus, and that otherwise legitimation is not possible. The elevation of consensus is wrapped in the legacy of a tradition whose

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founding was based in a general will, or in a social contract of some kind. Many take the aspects necessary to founding a democratic polity to be continually necessary conditions for its continued existence and legitimation. Yet they ignore the fact that the founding consensus of a democratic polity is necessary only by virtue of the existence of conflicts that cannot be mediated or eliminated in social life alone. Conflict and consensus, then, are both necessary as foundational social elements of democratic life. Because consensus has received such broad attention from democratic theorists—­including in the development of schemes for how to ensure it, the mechanisms by which it can be attained, and the normative principles on which one might justifiably ignore dissent—­this text serves as a necessary overcorrection. It places conflict at the center of democratizing social life, economic life, and the polity. In that way, it positions democracy as an ongoing political process, rather than a set of formal and secure political institutions or constitutional rules. The basic premise of this book takes its cues from sociological conflict theory. This theory, which readers may know under the terminology of in-­group / out-­group theory, posits that conflict holds the potential to improve group cohesion and integration. It explains why, for instance, one expects to see a rise in nationalist sentiments when the state is involved in an external war. It also is intended to explain why conflicts arise between different groups: because, it tells us, human beings feel more comfortable with people sufficiently similar to them. While the text takes the first premise as a basic motivation, I’m uninterested in the identitarian-­style arguments that are commonly made in empirical sociology and political science concerning what is contemporarily often referred to as “tribalism.” Rather than focus on how human beings develop community with those who are sufficiently similar to them in some identitarian fashion, I focus on the development of community based on preexisting values and goals. That is, to the extent that this book considers groups composed of people with similar identities, it is not about those identities, but about the politics, values, and goals held by the members of the group. Social conflict theory is rooted historically in Marx’s conception of society as a conflict over resources. It was taken up by others to argue that competition under capitalism is a form of conflict: arguing that

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innovation, higher wages, and better working conditions are the result of competition between firms. Others consider conflict to be any form of agitation, including mere taunting or mocking of others. This text does not focus on competition or personal quarrels as forms of conflict. It instead focuses primarily on what Lewis Coser refers to as “realistic” conflicts, or conflicts that are productive and creative. I refer to them as “substantive conflicts” because they concern something of substantial import. They are not quarrels over personality, because one person simply dislikes another, nor are they disagreements about elements of our lives that have little practical effect, such as the choice of what to watch on television. Substantive conflicts are conflicts over elements of the world that affect our lives in serious and thoroughgoing ways. We also live in a time where many argue that we’ve simply had too much democracy. In diagnosing social ills, many theorists are pleased to place the blame on democratic life, policies, and institutions. Democracy is to blame for its role in the increasing hostility that many find in various social interactions. It is to blame for political corruption and inefficiencies because it is run by the “ignorant” (Brennan 2016). Or an excess of democracy is taken to ruin the goods sought through democratic organization (Tallise 2019). Not only are we constantly pumped with the message that democracy is harmful, or that it fails to fulfill the normative ideals it is based on; we are also told at the same time that democracy is crumbling around us because voters cannot or should not be trusted to determine the course of their lives, their political institutions, or their societies. This is a confusing message: that we ought to eliminate democracy, but at the same time be fearful of its death. In these cases, pathologies of democracy are said to create social ills. They enable widespread ignorance, dependence, partisanship, “mobbing,” and so on. This book begins by discussing the social ills we face. I follow the origins of democratic theory in arguing that social systems are mutually constituted with our political lives. Democratic thinking historically involved the consideration of society as a necessary element of democratic life. Contemporarily, democratic politics is taken to be something set apart from everyday life—­a particular arena that affects but is unaffected by social organization. This text is an attempt to remedy the pathologies that result from a democratic theory that fails to take seriously the role the social world plays.

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Nowhere are the failures and ideals of democracy more clear than when those who have been politically marginalized agitate for their own nonexclusion. As a system, democracy promises autonomy for its subjects—­but also withholds it from those who are excluded. The push to end exclusions is, then, a form of both spreading democratic life and recognizing the value that it holds in the world. Eliminating exclusions is often part of the work of creating a less dominative world. Since democracy is a form of building and exercising power, exclusions from it are often forms of domination, or of powering over others. This text takes seriously the roles that exclusions play both in agitation for greater democratic life and in agitation for restricting democratic life. In total, I argue that substantive conflict is a central form of democratic world-­making because of its central role in the building of society. In particular, this occurs via conflicts agitated for nonexclusion. I focus primarily on conflicts that are intentionally agitated by social movements aimed at nonexclusion. This is to say not that conflict is what makes democracy possible, but rather that conflict shows the necessity for democracy, thus making it both possible and desirable. T H R E E O P E R AT I V E C O N C E P T S

This text concerns the relationships generated by three central concepts: solidarity, conflict, and democracy. I deploy these concepts to develop a critical social theory of the associative preconditions of democratic life. In other words, I provide a social theory that is capable of supporting a democratic theory. Contemporary democratic theory is largely disconnected from the need for a social theory. The problem arises here because without social theory, democratic theories could be theories for some other world, and perhaps even a perfect world. This would render them relatively useless as tools for actually understanding our contemporary political circumstances, or for working toward building a more democratic world. Historically, democratic theories were based first on social theories—­and even much older instances of political thought also first provided theories of the social circumstances necessary to produce both the subject of politics and the conditions for those politics to thrive. Plato’s Republic is an exemplar of this relationship, though the tendency I describe isn’t limited to ancient thought.

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Enlightenment political philosophers almost always saw fit to provide some kind of theory of the social that would be capable of providing support for their political arguments. Imagine an attempt at justifying the Leviathan without Hobbes’s theory of the state of nature. State of nature arguments, then, are social theory first, political theory second. This is explicit in most texts because they highlight that the state of nature is lacking in any formal political institutions. One can see an example of the phenomenon I’m describing in that contemporary democratic thought has lost its historical connection to social theory with the transmogrification of the state of nature into the original position by John Rawls. While theories concerning the state of nature posit men as social beings—­or antisocial beings, as the case may be—­the original position requires no such social theory. It relies strictly on various assumptions concerning individual psychological norms and economic rationality. This is, of course, just a backdoor method of smuggling in a social theory under the guise of a neutral claim about what human beings desire and how they feel about others. It is still a social claim, but one lacking in justification or explanation. To constrain the original position via the concept of human beings’ economic rationality subtly supports the idea that there just is something about human beings that makes them desire whatever they can have, and as much of it as they can get. In that way, the critical social theory of solidarity and conflict is meant to provide the context for the possibility of building democratic forms of life. Conversely, democratic values can help us to evaluate the normative valence of solidarity organizations, and the sorts of conflicts they generate internally and externally. Solidarity

No small part of this book is dedicated to developing a coherent concept of solidarity. In particular, I work toward developing a concept that isn’t weighed down by thick assumptions about the moral status of solidarity. In this text, I develop a theory of democratic solidarity as a nonexclusive group of people who work together toward a goal while sharing some independent aim, goal, end, tactic, or value. I say that this is a democratic theory of solidarity because the book also develops the inverse, in the concept of antisocial solidarity. Antisocial solidarity occurs when a group of people share an aim of domination or oppression, and when the

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group itself is a permanently exclusive and exclusionary organization. While one might think that democratic solidarity organizations are also exclusive or exclusionary, consider that their goal is often that everyone adopts some value or is influenced by the achievement of their shared ends. That is, the goals of democratic solidarity organizations are ones compatible with a social formation suitable for democratic life. The goal is a process that leaves no one excluded, provided that they participate. The theory of solidarity presented in this text is thus political rather than moral. While many liberal accounts of solidarity present it as primarily a moral relation that generates moral responsibilities—­and thus develop action-­guiding principles such as moral responsibility to act for the benefit of another, to defer to another, or to cooperate with another—­I avoid this temptation. I refer to it as a temptation because I think that solidarity is much easier to theorize when one considers only the kinds of collective association and action that are beneficial, positive, or aimed at building a better world for us. However, theorizing isn’t merely easier. It also provides a distorted picture of collective action and association, which is often aimed at building a more dominative or oppressive world. Groups with such goals are often overlooked in the liberal literature—­focusing as it does on providing, at a minimum, a regulative ideal of moral behavior rather than a tool for political analysis. The account of solidarity I provide aims not to make a virtue of necessity, in terms of ontologizing conflict in solidarity groups, but to provide an account of solidarity that recognizes that all its forms are not normatively equal. When I refer to moral accounts of solidarity, I mean that they are often intended to develop not merely an evaluative standard for solidarity organizations, but a theory of how those groups can provide action guidance to those who are in solidarity with them, or can make moral claims on others who would, for example, impose duties or responsibilities. However, this is not a neutral text. I argue that some forms of solidarity are those we ought to pursue, and some are forms we ought to avoid or eliminate. I aim to provide a descriptive account of the formation of organized social groups that share social, political, legal, and economic goals or values, and the way those groups operate. At the same time I provide a democratic theory. The evaluative norms applied to the solidarity groups I discuss are those associated with democratic

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life: openness to challenge, nonexclusion, and liberation. Thus, this account of solidarity is a normative democratic account insofar as it argues that democracy is desirable, and that when solidarity organizations are democratic, they’re desirable as well. What I wish to avoid is to argue that because an organization is democratic, I ought to participate in it or follow the dictates it develops. In chapter 3, I will present a theory of nondemocratic solidarity as a kind of pathological social formation or political association: one that undermines its own existence by virtue of the norms it adopts. To the extent, then, that the theory I propose is normative, it is normative in the sense that it provides evaluative standards for assessing how a solidarity group operates, and the role it plays in a democratic society. The aim is to develop a theory of solidarity that avoids three features of fascist group formation: exclusion, expulsion, and extermination of difference. In this way, the theory developed isn’t intended to guide action or provide an organizational imperative. For example, it doesn’t tell me whether I ought to join a solidarity group, democratic or otherwise, or whether I ought to follow a solidaristic action. Not only are these moral questions I do not attempt to answer; they are also political questions about the efficacy of certain organizations or tactics which are highly context-­dependent, and for which no consistent set of guidelines can be generated. The final goal of constructing an evaluative rather than imperative theory of solidarity is that it avoids the confusion between a theory of solidarity and what a solidarity group ought to do. To my mind, a theory of solidarity ought to have explanatory mechanisms that make sense of actual experiences of solidarity and provide some critical way of evaluating solidarity groups. It is not the purpose of a theory of solidarity to inform the reader how one ought to act in solidarity. There are normative and practical reasons for this. First, the theory I develop is a democratic one. The picture of solidarity and democracy I outline is fundamentally based on the idea that members of a solidarity group are in conflict over what ought to be done and why. Thus, a theorist of solidarity cannot provide action guidance, unless it is in their capacity as a member of a solidarity organization, and not as a philosopher or theorist. It would be a violation of the democratic ethos for me, as an observer of such organizations, to tell others how they ought to engage with or interact with

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them. Even worse, given the goals of solidarity organizations, it is not politically feasible. Different actions will be effective for different groups in different contexts with different goals, values, or aims. In providing an idealized picture of solidarity that only discusses morally praiseworthy organizations, those who theorize it miss out on how it functions as a form of association for groups across the political spectrum. This prohibits a complete picture of contemporary politics and the way in which political change is fomented. Solidarity is not practiced only by groups whose aims a moral person or a just society would want to defend. Without recognizing this, we cannot make sense of criminal organizations, white supremacist clubs, or misogynist groups. We cannot, in fact, make sense of colonization without some understanding of how solidarity can function for domination rather than as a tool of liberation or justice. The distorted picture of collective action and association has the side effect of presenting a picture of our political action that is wildly inaccurate. How, for example, ought one treat fascist associations, white supremacist groups, and far-­right protomilitias? These groups and their political associations often fall outside the bounds of liberal theorizing on solidarity. The result is that liberal theories of solidarity fail to comprehend what is at stake in developing solidarity organizations, how those organizations can expand, the tactics they use to achieve their goals, and how their spread can be slowed or stopped. A consideration of antisocial and antidemocratic solidarity organizations provides a more clear picture of their purpose, their membership, and the role they play in democratic life. We can develop a way of classifying these organizations that doesn’t rely on accepting precise moral judgments of the goals, tactics, or values they espouse. This is a significant downfall of many works on solidarity, which aim to help us sort out when we should be in solidarity. I call it a downfall because if, for example, one is not a Kantian, one may find oneself unconvinced by Kantian arguments for solidarity. If one conceives of justice differently from what is considered the liberal norm, then one may come to different conclusions from Kant about what joint actions count as solidarity. A nonmoralized conception of solidarity avoids this pitfall.

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This brings me to the concept of democracy that operates throughout this book, which is based in a radical democratic tradition. I see democracy as more than a set of formal institutional structures designed to process many individual wills into legitimate rule. Democracy also encompases our relationships with others, how we order and organize political associations, and the way we include, exclude, or hear others. I take these cues about the role of democracy from a lineage of radical democratic thought that positions democracy as a process rather than an idealized outcome or set of procedures. When I discuss democracy and democratic life, I do so in the tradition of radical democracy. In a basic way, this means that I treat contestation and conflict as fundamental features of human life under capitalism. They are enacted in our lives via politics aimed at modifying either the formal political structures under which we live or the material conditions of our lives. That said, it is important that I distinguish my work here from that of those on whose work my arguments are based. As Sheldon Wolin identifies it, politics is the work of contestation over material resources by organized groups. He goes on to say that democracy “is a project concerned with the political potentialities of ordinary citizens, that is with their possibilities of becoming political beings through the self-­d iscovery of common concerns and modes of action for realizing them” (Wolin 2017, 11). This ongoing project of realizing ourselves through collective value, common interest, and coordinated action is one I identify throughout this text as “solidarity”; it is democratic if and when it maintains the openness to challenge and nonexclusion that is essential to democratic life. The process of building and maintaining solidarity groups outlined in this text is intended in some ways to focus on the social and communal aspects of radical democracy, rather than merely on what radical democracy can achieve politically. Radical democracy has been a form of democratic theorizing and practice since ancient Greece. Its primary distinguishing feature is that it is not a description of a set of government institutions, norms, or functions. Rather, as Lummis (1996) puts it, it forefronts democracy as the goal of government. In that sense, radical democratic theory is about

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democracy as something to be strived for, rather than a value to be implemented or a function to be instrumentalized. This text follows in the agonistic tradition of radical democratic thought, which generally is characterized by the fact of ineliminable conflict that makes politics necessary. Sometimes this may be characterized as an ontologization of conflict or contest. This is often the case for left-­Schmittians who, following from Schmitt, take conflict and contest as ontological fact. Broadly understood, there are three mechanisms for moving beyond the ontologization of conflict: a fictionalist, a quietist, and an esotericist response. In particular, I attempt to move beyond this framework of responses by developing a negative dialectic that recognizes the current necessity of conflict but the future possibility of a sociality that isn’t marked by the kind of competition for material resources and conflict over the sources of mutual respect by which our current world is marked. As Schmitt characterizes it, human beings are by nature “anti-­social.” He refers to them as wolves in his interpretation of Hobbes (1996), going on to argue that “the more dangerously this asocial ‘individualism’ asserts itself, the stronger becomes the rational necessity for reaching a general peace” (36). Chapter 5 of this book is primarily an argument against this element of Schmitt’s ontology. I do take the same position as Laclau and Mouffe, who state in their original statement of radical democratic politics “that without conflict and division, a pluralist democratic politics would be impossible” (1985, xvii). But I differ from their articulation of the goal of the elimination of conflict. In their account, the goal of eliminating conflict is to limit the democratic horizon in advance and postulate a hegemonic end to the pluralism they see as inherent in human relations. There is, to be sure, an inherent pluralism within human sociality. However, I argue that the contest over resources is in many ways eliminable. I follow from a negative dialectical tradition, positing that while the attempt to end conflict creates conflict, we ought to work toward ending conflict via nonexclusion. This does not mean all conflict can be eliminated, but it may be possible to eliminate many conflicts that are realistic and productive, rather than merely psychologically satisfying and nonrealistic. I’m careful here to separate myself from a particular strain of radical democratic theory which argues that conflict just is. Rather than

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a constitutive feature of human beings, conflict is conditioned by our material and historical circumstances. Conflict

This brings me lastly, to the topic of conflict, which figures centrally in both my conception of solidarity and my use of the term “democracy.” As previously noted, this is not a book about brutality, armed conflict, or guerrilla war. My concept of conflict follows that of other radical democrats, such as Chantal Mouffe and Bonnie Honig. By conflict I often mean contestation: an openness to challenge that is necessary for members of a polity to articulate their self-­conceived needs or desires. However, unlike that of many radical democrats, my concept of conflict, like my theory of democratic life, is informed by social conflict theory, based in the thought of Georg Simmel. In this tradition there are two types of conflict, realistic and nonrealistic. One of the most common critiques of radical democratic theory is that it doesn’t merely highlight the irreducibility of conflict and contestation, but claims that conflict is irreducible and that it must create conflict where it isn’t already found—­thus leading to infighting or other so-­called pathological forms of conflict in society. Simmel’s theory of conflict incorporates and explains this feature of our collective lives by distinguishing between conflict generated for the purely psychological satisfaction of a fight, and conflict generated in the course of advancing a constitutive aim. When I discuss conflict throughout this book, I’m referring to conflict of the latter sort, generated in the course of advancing an aim or goal. Like the concept of solidarity deployed throughout the text, it is based not in a moral framework about “good” and “bad” conflict, but in a somewhat functionalist definition based on what conflict does and what role it has in a society or for the subject. For the most part, I write almost exclusively about productive conflict, with the rather large exception of a chapter on misogynist solidarity, which considers how unproductive conflict helps misogynists maintain psychic solidarity with each other. The solidarity is only psychic, as the conflict provoked isn’t productive or aimed at any material or cultural modification of the world; its goal is the feeling of satisfaction in domination or exclusion. Simmel sometimes refers to it as being about “the love of subjection” or a desire for “annihilation” (1955).

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The three concepts—­solidarity, democracy, and conflict—­are thus developed individually, but acquire their full meaning in combination. Not all conflict serves democratic processes. Not all solidarity groups are capable of withstanding conflict or operating democratically. Said more plainly, democratic institutions and organizations must be open to conflict and contestation. Solidarity groups that are open to internal conflict, and are not merely aimed at provoking external conflicts to achieve some independent end, are democratic in two senses. First, because their internal function is open to contestation, their membership is not set out in advance in exclusionary ways. Second, their goals, aims, and tactics are open to revision through contest. F R O M N E O L I B E R A L I S M T O D E M O C R AT I C L I F E : A B R OA D OV E R V I E W

The text of this book begins in the contemporary state of democratic life in North America and Europe. Over the past five years, polities in these areas have been said to be experiencing a crisis of democracy. We cannot quite agree on what that crisis is. There are various structural explanations: constitutional crises, international financial pressure, referenda that subvert democratic norms, and a rise in popular authoritarian demagogues trampling freedoms and rights. There are also social explanations: widespread ignorance, white supremacy, economic anxiety, partisan echo chambers, and of course the intolerant left. Often these various crises are taken as separate and distinct pathologies, each contributing at least something to the overall state of democratic life and politics today. Yet taking each of these explanations as distinct covers over the fact that democracy has been disentangled from social life in an era ushered in by neoliberal reforms aimed at the destruction of the welfare state. If we are to truly understand the origin of contemporary pathologies of democratic life, we need to understand how democracy became disentangled from our lives such that it became something we do only at the ballot box. In fact, many of us do not do even that; it has become common for political organizations to attempt to limit access to the polls, kick voters off of voter rolls, or simply gerrymander away the importance of a vote. This in many ways is not a new tactic. In the past it was used to dilute the political power of minority groups. Today, it is used by a minority to keep themselves in government.

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In part, this state of affairs is the great victory of neoliberalism, which relies on a financial consensus, and sets the stage for social conflict through its function of emisseration and dispossession. Not only do citizens and residents find themselves excluded from the formal structure of political participation; they are also poorer and sicker than their parents were, in increasingly large amounts of debt, and unable to find stable employment, resorting instead to gig economies. Each of these features of the contemporary order makes it increasingly difficult for people to work together to build power and organize socially. Our current impasse between what is politically popular and the inability of the people to attain it is the animating problem of this text. I argue that the inability is due in large part to the slow dissolution of a society that can be rebuilt through solidarity organization. Here I use the language of society both for the social welfare state and for a meaningful sense that people’s fates are intertwined. Living in a society means that others cannot simply be left alone to live their lives in isolation. It means that the actions, thoughts, and beliefs of others have ramifications for our own lives. It means that we cannot simply formulate an overlapping consensus on free speech, and then leave our Proud Boy neighbor alone to his private activities. After arguing that building society requires some transformation to the individual, which can be undergone as a process of being in solidarity, chapter 2 advances the claim that solidarity is more than just one relationship. Traditionally, philosophical texts concerned with solidarity are written from the perspective of an outside observer, as if the all-­seeing eye could help us to understand the complex relationships generated by human beings working in concert. The external view of solidarity organizations, I argue, distorts both what the organizations are and the contributions they make to the development of democratic life. Instead, to properly understand solidarity, we must take a dual view of solidarity organizations. These groups form relations of two kinds: the internal relationship of members to each other and to the organization as a whole, and the external relationship in which the members present a unified front against an outside world enacting injustice, domination, or oppression upon them. This dual view also allows us to see the role that conflict plays in solidarity both inside and outside. Internally, conflicts are agitated to

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make the organization less exclusive. Often, solidarity organizations reproduce the exclusions and injustices from the situation in which they are formed. This is not a condemnation, but simply evidence that these organization do not exist outside the material context in which they are formed. However, solidarity organizations aimed at alleviating domination or oppression are often open in ways that the broader political and economic order is not. Openness to conflict also makes for organizations that are democratic spaces: those who are unjustly excluded can challenge their marginalization, while the organization is open to challenge concerning its order, tactics, and values. Internal conflicts such as these are often positioned as detrimental to solidarity organizations. I argue against this assumption. It is, as explained in chapter 2, an assumption based only on the outsider perspective. Those involved in solidarity organizations often perceive these internal conflicts very differently. The conflicts ensure that the organizations are open and democratic, and that they gain new information concerning their tactics and goals. These conflicts do threaten the groups’ stability, but solidarity organizations are not intended to be permanent political institutions. Stability, such as it is, is nearly the sole concern in dealing with deep and intractable disagreements in democratic thought. Much has been written concerning its virtues, the mechanisms that can help sustain it, and the exclusions that must be enacted in order to achieve it. Stability, though, is not on its own a necessity for democratic life. I suspect that the overwhelming concern with stability is in large part due to the tenuousness of democratic life. It’s an obsession born of fear of the loss of democratic gains. Yet stability also threatens those who have not yet gained the value of what democratic life has to offer. A stable authoritarian regime may be worse than an unstable one in which fissures show a liberating path forward. From the perspective of the excluded or dominated, stability is an obstacle, not a virtue. It is for this reason that solidarity groups not only leave themselves open to internal conflict, but intentionally agitate conflicts in the broader political-­legal regime in which they find themselves. This is the second relation that solidarity develops: the relation between the group and its outside. The external relation is one in which the group intentionally agitates conflicts in order to develop a less dominative world in general.

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It is focused not necessarily on the group members’ benefit alone, but on the modification of the political and legal order toward a less dominative, less oppressive, less exclusionary society. Solidarity groups stand in opposition to the broader world in order to bring about emancipation. These two elements—­what I call the oppositional-­emancipatory and democractic-­unifying elements—­f unction together, mainly because under the best circumstances, solidarity organizations would no longer be exclusive to a small number of members, but would begin to exclude as few as possible. This is the democratic aspect of solidarity groups. It is also how they contribute to individual transformation: the goal of a feminist solidarity group is that no one should be a patriarch any longer, and thus that no one should remain excluded permanently. Yet there are solidarity organizations whose goal is exclusion or domination. Many conceptions of solidarity are explicit attempts at defining out of existence solidarity organizations with goals that the author finds morally abhorrent. These conceptions include moral criteria about which values the groups must adopt in order to be solidarity organizations, such as “opposing an injustice” or “being equitable.” I argue here that such moves make unjustified exclusions from the concept and, in doing so, distort how solidarity operates. For that reason, chapter 3 of this book focuses on antisocial solidarity organizations. These are pathological solidarity groups whose goals are wholly individual. In many cases, their goal is to develop the social conditions for their members to dominate others. In having as their goal developing the appropriate conditions for domination, such groups undermine the ordinary goals of solidarity, and do so by attempting to undermine social cohesion and political integration. I argue that this comes from a desire to be dominant in a way that our current political-­legal world makes difficult or impossible. In the course of chapter 3, I primarily use men’s rights activists and white supremacist organizations as exemplars of this pattern. Further, I argue that this pattern develops out of a psychic constitution based on longing for the reinstatement of the perceived loss of dominance. The goal here is twofold. First, it is to give truth to the lie that the group is in fact some kind of civil rights organization. Such groups often portray themselves as simply being interested in securing rights for those who have been “left behind” by a civil order that now includes and protects—­at least

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in formal if not substantive ways—­members of formerly excluded and dominated classes. However, their goals are not their own nonexclusion, but the exclusion of others so that they might feel dominant again (whether they actually intend to violently dominate others or not). The second goal is to show that this desire to feel dominant is an attempt at identity integration. Members of such groups lack the sense that they are whole persons; they feel that something is missing. Both these aims work together to show what exactly is so pathological about solidarity organizations such as these: they aim at undermining the social fabric, rather than building it. I call this paradoxical, but perhaps I haven’t yet laid out the paradox clearly enough: individuals working collectively to undermine the collective features of contemporary human life. If the group can secure its goals, it also ensures that groups like itself are no longer capable of existing. So while these groups are driven, in my account, by a psychic pathology of clinging to a past identity that never really existed, the intended effect is antisocial. This analysis leads to a discussion of the ways in which melancholy is not necessarily antisocial. The lineage of critical theory often refers to melancholia in a way that is meant to be liberatory—­w ith Adorno referring to his Minima Moralia as a “melancholy science.” Yet members of the left, too, must confront the potentially reactionary and therefore unproductive tendencies that melancholia can develop. As noted above, melancholy signifies to us that something is missing: perhaps not the sufficient conditions for one’s own status as dominant, but rather the conditions of a liberated life. As this book, up until that point, predominantly focuses on how solidarity organizations aim to build society as a condition of democratic life, I develop a reconstruction of the history of the idea of society, and the role it plays in political thought. I argue that within the capitalist form of life, conflict is a constitutive feature of society. I trace the origins of this claim back through philosophical anthropology and political economy in Enlightenment social thought, and up through to the present. While contemporary political thinking avoids questions concerning deep and abiding disagreements and the development of a properly constituted society fit for democratic life, Enlightenment political thought had these features as central considerations. Many thinkers connected the social change imposed by the transition to capitalism from feudalism

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to a broader range of disagreements developed from a broader range of freedoms. Unlike today’s theorists, they also proposed that conflict is a necessary feature of social life that serves to better human beings rather than make them worse off. In bringing into specific focus a legacy of theories of sociality that hinge on conflict, I aim to show that disagreement and conflict are not merely the hobbyhorse of contemporary radical democrats. Rather, these features of social life are structural and, as such, create the conditions of our political lives. In chapter 4 I focus on a specific type of solidarity organization. It follows from the consideration of capitalist forms of life that we ought to consider the conflict capitalism creates between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. I don’t use those broad terms, though, because they are largely suited for an economic society that no longer exists. Instead, I use the language of bosses, management, or owners as contrasted to workers, labor, or the dispossessed. The solidarity focused upon here is that of working people against their bosses, including in many forms of “organized labor” and “labor actions.” I do this for many reasons, but primarily because theories of solidarity tend to focus exclusively on one sort of solidarity group as exemplary of what solidarity is and how we ought to evaluate its normative elements. I argue against this implied claim. Far from its typical depiction, labor solidarity often functions not merely as a force for economic justice but for various sorts of social justice or, put otherwise, cultural considerations. I aim to show that all labor solidarity is burdened by the social conditions in which it finds itself: structural racism, homophobia, and patriarchal domination. To that end, organizing labor also involves organizing against the ways in which people are differentially treated by the human beings who secure the capitalist order: they are racialized and gendered. As such, it works to undermine the common perception that labor organizing is, to put it bluntly, the province of white men. This is important due to the now common claim that falling wages, high un-­and underemployment, and a generally bleak economic outlook are driving reactionary right-­wing movements. While it’s entirely possible that some white men respond to adverse economic conditions with a kind of revanchist policy of taking their country back from women, immigrants, or other people of color, organizing with others who are dispossessed is also an option. In labor organizing, union members recognize their

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shared fate not merely as workers but as citizens and political agents. For this reason, labor organizing also serves as the basis for building and maintaining robust democratic societies. I end with the most theoretical element of this text, looking back on the argument that conflict is a necessary feature of solidarity; that it serves in maintaining a democratic group; and that as such, solidarity builds societies fit for democratic life. I rely on the work done by the German sociologist Georg Simmel concerning the role of conflict in the development of exclusive and overlapping group affiliations. When my claim about the role of conflict in democratic life is considered in the abstract, a theorist or philosopher is likely to note that I’ve made the possibility of democratic life itself contingent on the existence of conflict. I may even be accused of encouraging groups to agitate conflicts where it does not find them organically present. This critique, though, only becomes a consideration for ideal theory. There is no possibility of an empirical world in which the members cease to have disagreements concerning exclusion or domination. Even if only due to the legacy of exclusion and domination, as chapter 4 claims, such disagreements and conflicts will persist as long as human beings with shared histories do. Still, I follow the claim through. If it is true that I’ve essentially baked conflict into democracy, then I’ve also argued that ideal theory is not suitable for democracy. Chapter 5 argues that democracy as a political system is fundamentally nonideal. There is no meaningful way of developing an ideal democratic theory. One only need consider prominent attempts to compose such a thing to see why I say it is not “meaningful” to attempt to do so. Consider, for example, Rawls’s Political Liberalism (2005). In it, Rawls attempts to develop a meaningful ideal theory of democratic legitimation and stability. In doing so, however, he must simply define out of consideration the metaphysical commitments held by many existing human beings. To that extent, his theory of democratic legitimation and stability is fit only for a world so totally unlike ours as to be unrecognizable.2 It also wholly distorts the nature of democratic life. To develop an ideal democratic theory is to cease doing democratic theory at all. There’s an old saying that democracy is the worst system, but the best one we have. While the saying is not fully accurate, there is some truth to it. Democratic life exists because human beings have a tendency, natural

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or inculcated, to dominate others, to exclude them, and to overpower them. Democracy itself—­in particular, access to democracy or to the process of democratization—­can serve as a regular tool of domination, withholding access to meaningful political participation, making formal political mechanisms strategically difficult to access, and diluting the preconditions of democratic life as a mechanism of exclusion. This, though, does not show the undesirability of democracy. It merely shows that democracy is suited to a deeply pluralist world in which some members seek to dominate and exclude others, and ill-­suited to an imagined world of full compliance and fully “rational” agents. While it is theoretically coherent that in such a world there would still be disputes over the distribution of basic goods, the policies to be adopted, and the various norms by which people ought to guide their private lives, to theorize such a world would be to abstract ourselves out of the really hard problem of living together, sharing each other’s fates, and building a society fit for democratic life. In many ways, ideal democratic theory assumes that these problems are no longer problems. In doing so, it eliminates much of the importance that democracy holds for actual people. I argue against deflationary or pejorative accounts of conflict in democratic life. Contemporarily, one is likely to hear a variety of complaints concerning high-­profile conflicts and the damage they can do to sociality and democratic life. These concerns often characterize such conflicts as mobbing, as tantrums, as the effect of social media echo chambers, or as damage to the sustenance of a free, open, and tolerant society. In almost all cases, such concerns dismiss some forms of conflict and disagreement or some tactics for agitating conflict. This dismissal often provokes even more conflict in which the two sides speak past each other. I will argue that we can easily understand both why these conflicts are so important, and why there is some outrage at the suggestion that the disagreements be minimized. The conflicts are important because they are a form of participation in democratic society. They insist that other people are not left alone with their private lives, and that none be permanently excluded from the realm of democratic life. Outrage at attempts to minimize conflict isn’t merely a child throwing a tantrum when they have been told they cannot have what they want. Rather, it is based in a sense of injustice at exclusion from a formative aspect of democratic society. That we disagree with each other and take the disagreements

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seriously is a sign of moral respect. The decision that a conflict ought to be eliminated or left unagitated serves here as a form of authoritarianism. It fails to consider that something real may be at stake in the conflict, and so concludes that the agitators ought to be excluded. No wonder it provokes such outrage. This text is intended to explain and address that outrage by reconsidering the role of conflicts agitated by solidarity organizations in democratic societies.


W H E N C O N S I D E R I N G solidarity groups and organizations, you may understand them as “fighting for rights,” organizing for liberation, or as generating a group as a form of self-­defense. There is both power and protection in numbers. Anyone can develop some image of solidarity that has brought tears to their eyes: a raised fist; a bent knee; a line of cold, hungry, and tired workers picketing for weeks on end; or an extremely brave young man returning a canister of tear gas at a riot line. Generally, when we imagine solidarity, these are the images that come to mind. But solidarity is not these actions, so what is it? And what role does it play in our contemporary politics?

This book presents solidarity groups as building and maintaining society. I follow Wendy Brown’s (2017) contention that “freedom without society destroys the lexicon by which freedom is made democratic, paired with social consciousness, and nested in political equality. It makes liberty a pure instrument of power, shorn of concern for others, the world, or the future.” In this way, the development of solidarity organizations does not merely work externally on the political, legal, or social structures the group attempts to change; it can also work internally to build the conditions that make freedom compatible with other valuable goods. Conversely, solidarity groups might build themselves in defective ways, placing too much emphasis on freedom as a form of the power to dominate others.


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To understand how these solidarity groups develop and are maintained, this chapter presents the social conditions, or lack thereof, that inform the remainder of the book. It argues that while all solidarity is social, not all relations of cooperation are solidaristic. I develop the basis of an empirically grounded theory of solidarity using the method of negative dialectics. I argue that both liberal (e.g., Kolers 2016; Sangiovanni 2015) and prior critical theories of solidarity (e.g., Scholz 2008) are incomplete, either because they lack an ability to be applied and interpret empirical events, or because they fail to provide a theory that can account for all iterations of solidarity. I argue that the crises of a Brexit that should not have been, the Grexit that never was, and the rise of white nationalism in Europe (in particular eastern Europe) and North America are attributable to the loss of social life, and with it the loss of the demos. A desire for a return to nationalist sentiments seems to have as its origin a reactionary longing for society itself. Two important questions inform this chapter and what is to follow: Where did society, as such, go? And, more importantly, how can we get it back? Wendy Brown argues that the loss of social life has been engineered by neoliberal policies and politics. The neoliberal destruction of society can be seen in Margaret Thatcher’s derisive declaration: “They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women . . . and there are families” (2016, 100–­101). Here, Thatcher denies that society exists in order to defray a demand that any individual might make upon the collective social or political body. It becomes an individual’s responsibility to ensure that their needs are met, their rights are secured, that their life goes well. Brown thus locates neoliberalism’s zenith in the 1980s-­era Reagan and Thatcher political moment. The economic logics currently foisted upon us enforce atomization, austerity, and the end of justice as a guiding value; neoliberalism evacuates the normativity from social life by, above all, abolishing the idea of society altogether. Brown argues that neoliberalism has the effect of destroying the necessary precondition for democratic life: the demos itself. If there is no “we the people,” there is nothing on which to base democratic legitimation at all. Biebricher argues that this is on account of the fundamental unifying principle of neoliberalism: its fundamental opposition to collectivism in the forms of both communism and fascism

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(2018). At its most basic, this is a function of neoliberalism: it translates political and social questions into individualized market questions, and makes the reasons of the market into the reasons of the political and social. What could be “the people” becomes the multinational corporation, the super PAC, or the mere collection of individuals—­each of whom gives a dollar to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Since the institution of various neoliberal policies and platforms, people have been organizing collectively against them for a stronger social life, safety net, or welfare state. Yet, looking at the broad swath of institutional politics and policies, we see only the liberal individual doing her best to support herself. As an antidote to this, I look toward social movements. In this context, social movements are to be understood as groups working together to achieve social, legal, or economic goals. They are not organized by the state or by other formal political bodies. Nationalist movements are frequently conceptualized as social movements, but they do not form the basis of the empirical examples I use here. This is intentional. While nationalist social movements are common and popular, the literature on democratic theory is already rife with examples of such movements, and analysis of their relationship to democratic life and theory. I look toward nonnationalist social movements because nationalist social movements are generally identitarian, and this identitarian relationship is not sufficient for solidarity (an aspect of which will be discussed in chapter 3), though identitarian relationships do often form part of the basis of solidarity movements. The focus of this text is on those solidarity organizations that are formed primarily on shared values, tactics, or aims. This is because they are not mere collections of people based on similarity or proximity. Social movements are intentional communities in ways that national communities are not. National communities are largely a matter of happenstance, whereas the communities built within solidarity organizations are cultivated. Solidarity groups are societies built of necessity, in the wreckage of society. In particular, I focus on feminist and other partisan solidary groups. The purpose is twofold: first, to consider how solidarity builds society when members of the group find themselves excluded from formal social structures or dominated by them; second, to show that solidarity is more than an aggregate of individuals working toward some goal together or in parallel. Solidarity is a relationship

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that transforms individuals. This puts into focus the destruction of the demos on both a municipal and a transnational level. Where the demos has been evacuated of the social elements which enable it to serve the political functions it is intended to fulfill, democracy is under threat. The contemporary crises of society are therefore also crises of democracy. Yet there is nothing new about the relationship I propose between solidarity, society, and democracy. Of the pillars of democracy—­freedom, equality, and solidarity—­solidarity has received the least attention from democratic theorists. Unlike freedom and equality, it cannot be structurally instituted or legally enforced. It is the seemingly mysterious force that takes a smattering of individuals and makes them into a cohesive whole. It raises the particular to the level of the universal. It is no surprise, then, that Jürgen Habermas, for example, writes extensively on the integrative function of solidarity. Axel Honneth takes a similar tactic, but argues that solidarity just is the fully developed form of social integration. We are in solidarity when each individual can receive recognition in their particularity. Traditional democratic theory requires this function as well. Think here of the much ignored and derided third part of John Rawls’s Theory of Justice, which required retooling in his Political Liberalism. Both texts are part and parcel of developing a stable society whose members have a certain type of relation to each other. In Theory of Justice this takes the form of a certain kind of Aristotelian moral education for the individual to develop a personal sense of justice. Political Liberalism reframes the debate, creating distinct spheres of the public and the private in order to claim that stability for the right reasons requires that the public sphere concerns only problems of public interest and is guided by public reasons. The problem presented is in many ways analogous to the challenge presented in this book: On what could we today base democratic life? How do we hold together democratic societies in the face of forces that seek to diminish, deflate, or destroy them? To meet this challenge, I present an account of solidarity for the here and now. Historically, solidarity has been a stand-­in for a necessity in political theory, a properly constituted society; it occupies that strange middle area that is necessary for democratic life but ungoverned by the market or by formal political structures. One cannot be forced to be in solidarity by the coercive arm of law, and solidarity cannot be bought and paid for by a charitable organization, super PAC, or wealthy

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patriarch. And yet solidarity is concerned with both the economic and the political—­with the economic to the extent that it is expressed through the social-­democratic welfare state, and with the political to the extent that it concerns itself with the legitimation (or, more often, the delegitimation) of coercive power and the political institutions that wield it. In particular, an account of solidarity for the here and now must account for and highlight conflict and disagreement. As Chantal Mouffe argues in On the Political (2005), liberalism has evacuated conflict from political societies, to the extent that individuals no longer have the sense that something “undeniably real” is at stake. Individuals have, in turn, simply found themselves removed from politics and from society, focusing instead on their individual lives and achievements or lack thereof. In Undoing the Demos, Brown argues that neoliberalism has resulted in a number of profound changes to society itself. I will focus on one here: the social effect of neoliberalism is not heightened contestation, as one might expect of an individualizing logic, but consensus. While classical liberalism, combined with a more laissez-­faire capitalism, resulted in atomization, individuation, and contestation, neoliberalism flattens the political landscape and political subjectivity. The consensus, Brown claims by quoting Michel Foucault, comes from the fact that the economic freedom that . . . [it] is the role of [the state] to guarantee and maintain, produces something more . . . than a legal legitimization; it produces a permanent consensus of all those who may appear as agents within these economic processes, as investors, workers, employers, and trade unions. All these economic partners produce a consensus, which is a political consensus, inasmuch as they accept this economic game of freedom (Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, 84, as quoted in Brown, Undoing the Demos, 69).

Consensus building, and thus the elimination of disputes, is central to both liberal political thought and neoliberal rationality. It is here that these two paradigms of political reason earn the shared aspects of their monikers. If it is possible to undermine neoliberalism and its attendant destruction of society and democratic life, then we must think more carefully about the reintroduction of conflict and contestation into our social and political lives. It is here that the theory of solidarity I propose deviates from liberal theories of solidarity. I focus on the conflicts

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endemic to solidarity that compose both the internal structure and the inclusions of the group, as well as the conflicts external to the group that it intentionally agitates. While it seems counterintuitive to claim that conflict is necessary to reclaim the social aspect of solidarity, this is exactly the claim I intend to forward in this book. Conflict is, in fact, a mechanism for building societies to the extent that members are unwilling to allow others’ individual thoughts, perspectives, and beliefs to have a trumping position. Building society requires individual transformation; the individual cannot be left alone to her own life. There is indeed something antisociety about upholding the individual above all—­about being wholly concerned with the individual’s duties to solidary groups, or with the individual moral claims a call to solidarity might impose. This aspect of theories of solidarity was already present when Émile Durkheim published his dissertation work The Division of Labor in Society in 1893. I quote him at length: The study of solidarity thus grows out of sociology. It is a social fact we can know only through the intermediary of social effects. If so many moralists and psychologists have been able to treat the question without following this procedure, it has been by circumventing this difficulty. They have eliminated from the phenomenon all that is peculiarly social in order to retain only the psychological germ when it developed. It is surely true that solidarity, while being a social fact of the first order, depends on the individual organism. In order to exist, it must be contained in our physical and psychic constitution. One can thus rigorously limit oneself to studying this aspect. But, in that case, one sees only the most indistinct and least special aspect. It is not even solidarity properly speaking, but rather what makes it possible (67).

Durkheim’s claim here, that moralists and psychologists have individualized and psychologized solidarity, leads to the impetus for this book. Theories of solidarity today have all but discussed the social aspect of the phenomenon, choosing to focus instead on what solidarity might mean for the author—­What does it mean for a well-­off American academic to be in solidarity with Palestinians?—­rather than considering how some Palestinians have come to serve as a solidarity group, what their solidarity means to them, and the role that various disagreements hold in their calls for solidarity. A moral theory of solidarity merely directs its reader

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to refrain from purchasing goods built by factories under Israeli occupation: one must never purchase Sabra hummus or a SodaStream machine (much to my own personal chagrin). Certainly a successful boycott requires as many participants as possible in order to, as Bill Haywood put it, “harpoon [the capitalist] in his pocketbook” so you might actually “draw blood” (Watson, 93). Yet a sole focus on whether and when to join a boycott or answer a call from solidarity risks obscuring the social origin of solidarity. It falls into the trap that Durkheim identifies the “moralists” as committing: setting us up to analyze solidarity solely in terms of individual action, moral orientation, or personal feeling. In almost every case, contemporary debates that concern solidarity have failed to account for one of two distinct aspects: first, that solidarity is something that people who are oppressed do with each other by building social groups and organizations, and second, that these people have abiding disagreements about what ought to be done and why.1 The oversight is particularly striking if one takes it upon oneself to learn the history of what are ordinarily called social movements, which is marked by internal conflicts and disagreements. While external pressures such as lack of popular support, historical change in the distribution of political power, and state repression have an effect on the successes and failures of solidarity groups, internal conflicts take the stage as a complicated aspect of how those groups function, change, call for solidarity, and disintegrate. In overlooking these crucial features, philosophical accounts rely on solidarity as it makes claims on those not within the group who are oppressed, dominated, or inequitably treated. This provides a misleading account of solidarity, solidarity movements, and collective decision making. SOLIDARIT Y IN TR ADITIONAL THEORY

There are a few notable exceptions to this tendency, each of which is notable for a different reason.2 Each theory of solidarity carries with it different problems. First, I consider Andrea Sangiovanni’s (2015) theory of solidarity as joint action. Sangiovanni argues that two individuals are in solidarity when they share a goal to overcome a significant adversity, plan to do their parts in complementary ways, want to achieve the goal for others as well (or at least in a way that doesn’t impede others’ achievement of the goal), and share each others’ fate. Importantly, Sangiovanni

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argues that these facts need not be shared knowledge among the group of those in solidarity; this is why he refers to solidarity as “joint action.” It doesn’t even rise to the level of cooperation; it merely consists of parallel attempts to achieve a goal that individuals all happen to share (343). In Sangiovanni’s account, it is possible for solidarity to lack all social content.3 Throughout his defense of the criteria he develops, Sangiovanni refers to what one “individually intends to do” or is “individually committed to.” Solidarity is made possible by isolated individuals who perhaps believe they are acting independently. This outcome occurs because Sangiovanni’s account prioritizes the instrumental potential of joint action over the structures and organizations that might build a social movement that require joint action and shared knowledge. For Sangiovanni, though, if five people participate in a boycott, they need not know that anyone else is boycotting. So long as all five are boycotting, and that boycott is directed at an entity for a shared reason related to overcoming a significant adversity, the boycotters are in solidarity. Let’s step back. Can a single individual “boycott” in any meaningful way? What would it be for me, and me alone, to refuse to purchase a SodaStream? My solitary action would be indistinguishable from the acts of millions of people who do not purchase the product simply because they dislike carbonated water. It isn’t clear that an individual’s solitary refusal to purchase Nestlé products, for example, is a boycott at all—­even if many other individuals also refuse to purchase them. Boycotting requires shared knowledge. Boycotts cannot be “accidental” insofar as they become indistinguishable from people’s failure to purchase a consumer good simply because it isn’t to their taste. Boycotts do not happen spontaneously in this way. They are organized. Agents work to build social organizations, groups, and structures to publicize, politicize, inform, and encourage boycotting. In Sangiovanni’s account of solidarity, this organized-­structure solidarity is absent by design. This absence marks the departure of solidarity from the realm of the social into the realm of individual moral action. More than one hundred years after Durkheim’s identification of a problem—­that philosophy is unwilling or unable to consider the social aspects of solidarity—­we find ourselves repeating the problem. Second, Avery Kolers’s (2016) theory of solidarity comes closer to answering the two problems posed above. In particular, he highlights the fact that sometimes those in solidarity have disagreements. Yet, he

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overlooks the fact that members of groups treated inequitably (either individually or structurally) stand in solidarity with each other through the development of groups and organizations. Kolers highlights that solidarity is, in essence, a form of deference to others’ judgments that includes action designed to be an equitable moral agent. For him, this means that sometimes one may have disagreements with others who are treated inequitably about what is best to do. In any case where one is not being asked to act unjustly or inequitably, one ought to follow a call for solidarity. This is, for Kolers, a fundamental aspect of Kantian morality: being an equitable person. However, there is room for multiple sorts of disagreement. One may disagree as to whether the called-­for action is equitable, in which case we need a system for how to determine when one ought to follow one’s own moral judgement, and when one should defer in solidarity. Kolers develops a complex theory of deference in order to handle the “problem” of disagreement, and argues that we ought to follow the “shared aims principle”: The Shared Aims principle implies that the relationship carries independent weight against any particular cause to which we might dedicate ourselves. Thus if we can choose a consensus cause in place of a divisive cause, or a narrower cause on which we agree as opposed to a broader one about which we disagree, we should choose the former, not because of its intrinsic importance but because it builds cohesion rather than causes division (97).

In other words, it is not the case that consensus causes are more intrinsically important, but rather that consensus causes are instrumentally important because they do not cause division. For him, the less conflict, the better. In his argument for “relationship deference,” Kolers argues that the aims of solidarity should be transformed by the members involved in the solidary group. He is very clear that solidarity, as a relationship of mutuality, requires that members work to preserve the relationship, and do so through collective deliberation about the goals and tactics. As he puts it, “Our ends are chosen in dialogue with others or at least through the group” (99). The relationship deference model forms part of the crux of Kolers’s theory of solidarity. Ultimately, in order to avoid entrenched disagreement about our collective acts, Kolers relies on collective regulation by structural deference.

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That is, we have an obligation to defer to the least well-­off on a matter of inequity to which they are subject. We ought to look to those who have been the most structurally harmed, and follow their lead. It is here that Kolers is finally able to slough off the bonds of a conscience-­driven account of solidarity: we ought to defer to some people rather than others because structures are objective and therefore make objective demands. They are independent of conscience, relationships, and loyalties (106). It is here that the social feature of solidarity that seems promising in Kolers’s account disintegrates. No longer does he need to develop a theory that can account for disagreement. Since solidarity need not prioritize the maintainance of solidary relationships, disagreement is tantamount to a total failure of solidarity. Infighting means that we are no longer in solidarity, if we ever really were to begin with. Kolers’s discourse concerning the way in which solidarity takes sides makes it clear that there are in fact only two sides: equity and inequity. Within solidarity, a way of being equitable, we have a single difficult task: to determine to which relevant group we should defer. The question becomes, rather than a social question, a version of the question of political obligation: To whom should I defer, and what could motivate that deference? What’s worse is that, though Kolers’s account appears to contain a social or relational element, it fails to recognize the solidarity of the inequitably treated with each other. His account of deference as being rooted in structural concerns means that one member is intended to defer to another. Let us consider this in practice. An ordinary case of solidarity (simplified) may be something like the following. Three women seek to band together to address the structural problem of patriarchy in their workplace. Ariel wants to address it via better mentoring for women and pushing for a quota-­based system for promotion. Bette wants to address it via better policies for family leave, a trans-­inclusive bathroom policy, and a work-­from-­home policy. Cathy wants to develop a union, in particular to address the pay gap between women and men, especially as it relates to women of color who earn significantly lower salaries. All three women seek to address inequities in their workplace. They know they cannot do so individually, and they know it requires collective action. However, the tactics they individually think best and the goals they intend to address differ in significant ways. While both Ariel and Cathy develop schemes to address the gendered and racial pay gap

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in their workplace, their tactics are distinct. Ariel believes the pay gap is mainly a function of failure to promote and retain women in higher levels of the company, while Cathy believes the gap exists mainly due to a lack of collective bargaining. Bette, here, does not intend to address the pay gap directly, but may do so indirectly. Indirectly, all three women are addressing structural features of the workplace that discourage women from working after having children, or which make the workplace a safe and welcoming environment for all the women in it. Kolers’s account of structural deference cannot help us here. It is helpful only for the men in the office who are called upon to “be in solidarity.” His account tells us that men in the office ought to defer to the women’s organization and their determination about what is best. However, it cannot help the women determine how to moderate the conflict they have. This is what I mean by describing Kolers’s account as one that cannot account for the oppressed in solidarity with each other, or for true conflict in solidarity. Perhaps the above example is not convincing because the women have not yet come together to fight for equity. If so, rest assured that this chapter will offer examples of well-­established organizations and groups that have participated in campaigns and direct-­action events, and that fall prey to similar issues. The next section uses Bay Area Gay Liberation (BAGL) as an example. This book takes such internal disagreements among those in solidarity to be typical of solidarity as a relation—­a material fact for which Kolers’s theory cannot account. ACCOUNTING FOR CONFLIC T AMONG THE OPPRESSED

A contemporary account of solidarity ought to do something past accounts have failed to do: account for this disunity as part of the social and democratic features of solidarity organizations. Accounts of solidarity often read as though written without contact with a solidarity group or organization. Sometimes they read as if their authors had not consulted the materials written by activists and organizers, or the histories of solidarity that slipped into factionalism. In short, theories of solidarity misunderstand its lived character and the long-­standing tensions that animate solidarity groups. Solidarity is as much a fight, a conflict, a disagreement, a process of building, and a process of dissolution as it is a relation of “being together.” Perhaps it is even more the former than the latter. Just as a long-­married couple are defined as much by their

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arguments as by their blissful strolls in the summer sun or their shared joy at successes, solidarity, like all human social endeavors, is marked by a dual character. Those in solidarity may be “in this together,” but they also will disagree. They will fight. Perhaps they will even dissolve into factions. Historically, solidarity groups have been marked by their dissolution into factionalism as much as by their triumphant and organizational beginnings. The histories of feminist solidarity groups; queer solidarity groups; socialist, anarchist, and communist solidarity groups; and black and indigenous solidarity groups are all marked by disagreements that lead to factionalism and dissolution.4 Philosophically, this is elided in accounts of solidarity, which focus on questions of obligation or collective action, which are interesting philosophically because many accounts of solidarity rely on individual liberal subjectivity. They elide the fact that, given an account of liberal subjectivity, transformation into a collective that can serve as the basis for society is hard. It is mired with complex problems of two sorts. First: Who is a member of the group, and what does that membership mean? And second, a common question for those seeking just aims: What tactics ought we use? As we will see, managing these problems does not mean settling the disagreements once and for all. Both of these questions are sites of potential disagreement and conflict, though accounts of solidarity have difficulty recognizing them. The difficulty stems from the fact that liberal accounts of solidarity present it as something which those who are not members of oppressed classes do. This is in contrast to many socialist accounts of solidarity, which posit that solidarity is primary between members of oppressed groups—­perhaps across different lines of intersecting oppressions. One can think of women standing together against a boss who gets too “handsy” or makes inappropriate sexual comments. Or the alternate model of the Rainbow Coalition, a 1960s solidarity commitment between the Black Panther Party, the largely Puerto Rican Young Lords Organization, and the poor, working-­class, and largely white Appalachian group the Young Patriots. The Rainbow Coalition consisted of three distinct groups, based largely on racial, colonial, or local affiliation, that committed to solidarity with each other. The basis of their solidarity was the shared oppression of living under a colonial, capitalist, and white supremacist regime. While the groups had

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distinct organizational structures, they frequently engaged in mutual aid with each other. This, though, is not the sort of solidarity meant by Sally Scholz in her Political Solidarity (2008), where she discusses “living among the oppressed” as a form of solidarity, or the examples she provides of respecting economic movements for boycotting, divesting, or sanctioning (understood widely as “ethical” capitalist consumption based on the demands of labor unions or other solidarity groups, and not in the strict sense of the BDS movement against Israel in solidarity with Palestinians). One might wish to reconsider Avery Kolers’s proposal for what to do when you disagree with other members of a solidary group. For him, solidarity is essentially deferential; there is no possibility of disagreement with the group as to what the best action or tactic is. In Kolers’s terms, “What makes solidarity so powerful—­for good or ill—­is that solidarity inverts the direction of fit between acceptance and action: one acts on the aim, and only then—­if even then—­endorses it. Individual agency must be brought into conformity with collective agency” (37). While Kolers claims that the hard cases are those in which an individual does not agree with the determination of the collective, he elides the hardness and wideness of the concern. Most solidarity groups have intragroup conflict. It is not only in a minority of so-­called hard cases where there are collective-­wide disagreements about exactly what we ought to do. The determination is not as simple as creating a policy or platform; instructions for how I ought to act to be in solidarity are not clear and incontrovertible. They may seem so, though, if I am on the fringe of a solidary group, or if I am not a member of the collective but act in accordance with its wishes. It is only from that external point of view that solidarity can appear to be about agreement most of the time. Kolers’s inability to account for intragroup conflict is shown in his simple redefinition of the term “agonism” as it is commonly used by Mouffe, Laclau, and other radical democrats. Importantly, he maintains that agonism is first and foremost about taking sides, while antagonism is a particular attitudinal orientation to others—­namely, that of being irrationally quarrelsome (39). Further, for Kolers, solidarity just is action taken on others’ terms; to be in solidarity is to defer to the structurally worst off. This, in his account, is a response to a request or call

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for solidarity. Kolers provides a number of paradigmatic examples of solidarity. In particular, he claims that the Palestinian call to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel (BDS) is a matter on which every account of solidarity must provide an adequate answer. In doing so, he, like Scholz, proposes a theory of solidarity that is fundamentally removed from those who are themselves the oppressed. While BDS is an international call for solidarity with Palestinian peoples, it is not itself understood to create a solidarity group of Palestinians themselves. Solidarity is for those who are not among the dominated group. It is external to the logic of domination that creates subjects who themselves are dominated. In this way, solidarity is posed as external to the logic of domination. Using his Kantian framework, Kolers argues that we have a perfect duty to be in solidarity with those who are treated inequitably. This has a number of implications worth exploring: (a) those who are treated inequitably will themselves invariably have conflicts concerning what to do about that inequitable treatment, (b) solidarity is a moral obligation for those outside the group of those treated inequitably, and (c) failures of solidarity are individual moral failings. These implications recall the critique made by Durkheim of moralist or psychologizing accounts of solidarity: the social aspect of solidarity has been evacuated. Compare those liberal depictions of solidarity to Michael Staudenmaier’s account of his experience on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014. His piece “Brave Motherfuckers” accounts for the time after the extrajudicial killing of eighteen-­year-­old Michael Brown: Our brief visit reconfirmed one critical lesson from the long history of popular resistance movements in North America and elsewhere: People in struggle disagree with each other, and those disagreements can change the world. [ . . . ] Sharp disputes within the crowd about things like fighting cops, the power of prayer, legality and illegality, and so on—­a ll were quite clearly in evidence when we were there. But they played out in meaningful debates among participants in a common struggle rather than as dismissive or condescending refusals to engage with the other side. (9)

In this text, Staudenmaier presents a history of what could be crassly called “infighting” but is more accurately characterized as the vibrant sort of public sphere that Jürgen Habermas claims public debate can

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create (1991). Those on the ground have a partisan investment in getting the questions right; often their lives, their freedoms, and their communities are at stake. It matters when they get it wrong, in ways that will reverberate throughout their lives. They are engaged in a way of searching for the truth. While democratic theory often places the demos in the public sphere, it rarely places it in the disputes of people actively engaged in civil disobedience, direct action, or facing down of riot police on the streets of a racially unjust city in the middle of “flyover country” USA. The vibrancy of the debates does not merely fulfill the criteria that the members of a discourse are engaged in a common project aimed at truth, rather than powering-­over or some perlocutionary aim. Rather, they are able to participate in and withstand this conflict precisely because they are in solidarity. Comrades in arms feel a responsibility to determine the right tactics to achieve their ends and, furthermore, to choose the right ends, because, as Chantal Mouffe argues in “Politics and Passions: the stakes of democracy,” This shows that what is taken as “common sense” at a given moment is always the result of hegemonic articulations, i.e., the establishment of nodal points that partially fix the meaning of a signifying chain. Attempts to arrest the flow of differences and construct a centre are always precarious and unstable because they take place in a field crisscrossed by antagonisms. (148)

The people on the ground in Ferguson, as depicted by Staudenmaier above, are working without the benefit of fixed hegemonic norms. Lacking these, their solidarity requires either a brute appeal to power or a complex contestation, debate, and disagreement. The former is a kind of authoritarian powering-­over of the group; the latter, the expression of democratic norms of collective action. Staudenmaier doesn’t suggest that the conflict on the ground in Ferguson was an integral part of developing the composition of the group. He does suggest, without much evidence, that conflict among those in solidarity groups can “transform the world.” Those who join a solidarity group do not often do so because the group shares a complete normative, political, or tactical orientation to a suite of injustices or inequalities. In fact, there are many instances of the membership in a

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solidarity group being composed as a result of conflict. Consider Emily K. Hobson’s (2016) discussion of Bay Area Gay Liberation (BAGL), a San Francisco–­based leftist organization formed in 1975. While BAGL worked to ensure that queer teachers could keep their jobs, it organized against racially unjust policies that placed quotas on numbers of people of color in the workplace, and prohibited the presence of femme men and drag queens at local gay bars. The group also had a strong current of anti-­i mperialism. Hobson claims that the group had two distinct tendencies: a “rights” current and an “anti-­i mperialist” current. The two currents frequently came into conflict: those fighting for rights were often thought insufficiently radical by the more anti-­imperialist members of the collective. As Hobson describes it: “Anti-­imperialism gained its greatest influence through BAGL’s Solidarity Committee which [ . . . ] exposed many BAGL members to anti-­racist and internationalist causes for the first time and thereby expanded the base of the gay left” (2016, 81). While BAGL began its work in fighting formal legal and economic structures of gay oppression in San Francisco, it contained elements who were not hostile to such a goal but were rather critical of it. This conflict between members of the group not only created a less exclusive organization but broadened the base of the gay left in general. In this way, conflict has an integrative function wherein the group becomes less exclusive through navigating a deep and abiding disagreement. It is important to note, though, that the deep and abiding disagreement is not an “antagonistic” one in either Kolers’s idiosyncratic context or Mouffe’s more typical one. The disagreement was neither overly disagreeable without reason (as Kolers describes “antagonism”) nor—­in Mouffe’s sense, which follows from Carl Schmitt’s political theory—­the development of an internal dynamic of “friend/enemy.” It was, rather, a disagreement among friends: members of the solidary group knew there was something at stake in their organizing that could not be solved by a mere appeal to instrumental rationality. The question was not simply one concerning which tactics are most efficacious. Instrumental rationality can only be a source of disagreement if we agree on the end goal—­something about which BAGL’s members disagreed. The agreed-­ upon end goal is often a source of conflict in social movements, which predominantly concerns two dynamics: the debate between reform and

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revolution, and the perceived tension between identity politics and the politics of material need. C O N F L I C T A N D C O N T E S TAT I O N A S S O L I D A R I T Y

One of the clearest statements of how conflict is imbued in the politics of solidarity is found in “A Black Feminist Statement” (1983). The statement, written by the members of the Combahee River Collective of Boston, Massachusetts, contains a section titled “Problems in Organizing Black Feminists,” in which the members detail how “internal conflicts” posed one of the greatest problems for the organization. In particular, the “lesbian-­straight” split served as the basis of much disagreement. On this matter, the collective shared much in common with other feminist movements grappling with questions concerning political lesbianism, the role of trans women in feminist movements, and biological essentialism. In their own words, this split was also the result of economic and political differences. Yet they declare, “The inclusiveness of our politics makes us concerned with any situation that impinges upon the lives of women, Third World and working people. We are of course particularly committed to working on those struggles in which race, sex, and class are simultaneous factors in oppression” (217). While the collective recognized that conflict caused a number of “obstacles” to their organizing, they also positioned themselves as a broad and nonexclusive political movement. This broadness and nonexclusivity was the result of the group’s internal conflicts, which changed, opened, and broadened via their disagreements and interaction with external solidarity groups from whom they might learn new tactics or focus, such as their interaction with the National Conference on Socialist Feminism. While the group’s internal conflicts are specifically cited by the collective as a difficulty of organizing black feminists, they also brought to the group a liveliness and a willingness to change, adapt, and become less exclusive. The Combahee River Collective’s statement can also clarify something about many existing theories of solidarity. Perhaps there is a very easy explanation for why philosophical accounts of solidarity do not focus on the conflicts that arise when people are in solidarity. This explanation is that philosophical accounts are moral rather than descriptive. As moral accounts, they aim to set out principles, rules, or regulative ideals for

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being in solidarity. They take it that solidarity is, all things considered, good, and that being in solidarity with the dominated or oppressed is right or praiseworthy. Further, if solidarity groups have good aims and goals, then it is good for them to achieve these goals. Anything standing in the way of this achievement could be conceived of as normatively bad. Further, this may mean that solidarity organizations can generate obligations or duties for both members and for nonmembers. Conflict becomes dangerous and threatening because it holds this double potential, highlighted by the Combahee River Collective statement, to both enliven a group, as in the case of BAGL, or to threaten its destruction, as in the case of the Combahee River Collective. which suffered from fractures, splits, and iterative attempts at self-­definition. A theory of solidarity, if it is normative, is thought to provide a sort of regulative ideal. In this context, a regulative ideal should not include aspects of solidarity that threaten the group’s very existence. Conflict, then, is posed as hostile to solidarity. The hostility conflict poses to solidarity is mostly typified as organizations or political tendencies “eating themselves.” The metaphor of consumption here implies that the critical tendencies of leftist organizations and solidarity movements will eventually be turned on the movement or organization itself. When organizations are critical of others, that criticality is not limited to the outside. It is turned inward as well. Importantly, the metaphor of “eating itself” tells us something interesting about the perception of this inward critical turn: that it will destroy the organization. Certainly, the organization can take little nibbles here and there: a stray fingernail, a scab, or a small lock of hair. But there are bites that the organization cannot take out of itself without destroying itself in irreparable ways. One cannot eat one’s own stomach. This argument recalls Adorno’s critique of idealism as a rational system in Negative Dialectics. There he argues that idealism is a form of rage against nature, and refers to it as the “belly turned mind.” Adorno’s argument is that idealism, as a rational system, must subsume difference. Nature as object must be subsumed by man as subject. The subsumption of difference by idealism is, for Adorno, a form of rage. It is an emotive response of unqualified anger at difference. He sharpens this critique in his lecture series An Introduction to Dialectics, arguing that the dream of a reconciled world is “that the heterogeneous may love and be loved”

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(2017, 71). For Adorno, love does not play a central role in his normative theorizing. Yet when discussing love, he says that the clearest expression of it is when power does not respond to vulnerability with strength (2005, 192). That is, the heterogenous should not be powered over, even if one is capable of powering over it. I take from Adorno’s critique my cues about conflict as a form of living with difference. There is undoubtedly a friction caused by abiding with difference. As I argue, however, any solidarity worthy of its normative legacy must abide with difference, lest it become exclusive at best, or dominative at worst. The inability to sit with difference, or even address it, is a frequent feature of social movements that themselves are dominative. Yet in on-­t he-­g round solidarity movements, conflict does not usually arise from indifferent rage at external difference. Conflict in the groups discussed in this chapter is not an indifferent rage at heterogeneity; in most cases it isn’t even rational rage at heterogeneity. In fact, the conflicts are not about heterogeneity at all. There is a notable exception to this: solidarity groups whose goal is domination or oppression. Unrealistic or merely psychologically satisfying conflict is endemic to such organizations. The relationship between conflict and solidarity for groups whose goal is domination and oppression will be addressed in chapter 3, as part of a critique of liberal theories of solidarity. Take BAGL, for instance. BAGL disintegrated roughly two years after the passage of its “Principles of Unity,” which decisively set limits to the rights-­organizing tendency within the organization. In this statement, BAGL explicitly concludes that it will not organize on behalf of gays and lesbians in the military. In taking this tactic, it effectively diminished the influence of the rights-­based assimilationist tendency within the organization. The statement was the culmination of a years-­long internal conflict: Was BAGL radical, anti-­imperialist, and anti-­assimilationist, or was it dedicated to achieving reforms that would better integrate queer people into all aspects of US public life? The principles clarified and codified the goals of BAGL, as well as clarifying and codifying its membership. In some sense, the statement was an attempt at solving a classic problem of democracy: the democratic boundary problem. BAGL addressed this as a question of a quasiconstituency: Are queer people in the US military among those with whom we seek to stand in solidarity,

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those whom we believe should be represented in our organization, and those with whom we wish to build power (cf. Allen 1999)? Definitively, BAGL answered, “No.” It is at this point that we must briefly return to the general perception that solidarity groups (especially left-­leaning solidarity groups) are put upon by their tendency to engage in intragroup conflict. It is widely speculated that the critical tendencies they foster eventually destroy them. For this reason, liberal theorists believe we need to moderate, deflate, and diminish their internal critical mechanisms. BAGL maintained a long-­term internal conflict over the goals and values of the organization. It finally quashed this disagreement via the “Principles of Unity.” One might be tempted to believe that its disbanding and disintegration shortly after the passage of the statement was related to the statement’s content itself, or the way the statement formed the values and goals of the organization (Hobson 2016, 87). However, this is far from the truth. It was neither the long-­standing conflict nor the resolution of the conflict that led to the dissolution of BAGL. Rather, the dissolution is best described as a failure of leadership. As Hobson puts it, the leadership of BAGL had become overly theoretical, too interested in abstract academic debates that ordinary members found either uninteresting or alienating. A similar set of events led to reconfigurations of the Combahee River Collective. The failure of the solidary group, then, was less one developed by conflict than one developed by alienation from the leadership. Failures of leadership occur often in solidary groups, leading to confusing collective actions, lack of group cohesion, and alienation of the individual from the group. Before her execution, Rosa Luxemburg blamed the failures of the worker’s movement not upon the members of the unions, but upon their leadership. The people did not fail. The leaders of the people failed them and her. As she wrote: The contradiction between the powerful, decisive, aggressive offensive of the Berlin masses on the one hand and the indecisive, half-­hearted vacillation of the Berlin leadership on the other is the mark of this latest episode. The leadership failed. But a new leadership can and must be created by the masses and from the masses. The masses are the crucial factor. They are the rock on which the ultimate victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were up to the challenge, and out of this “defeat” they have forged a link in the chain of historic defeats, which

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is the pride and strength of international socialism. That is why future victories will spring from this “defeat.” (267)

The failure of leadership is a prominent internal problem, a question and criticism levied at solidarity groups and movements. Yet it is not capable of being accounted for by contemporary philosophical theories of solidarity. Liberal accounts do a poor job of accounting for failures of leadership as partially responsible for the failure of solidary groups and organizations. This is because in their accounts, the failings are personal, moral, or political: the individual failed to be appropriately in solidarity, or simply failed to do the right or good thing. This belies the metaphysics of the subject at work in liberal theories of solidarity: individuals each morally accountable for their own autonomous acts. Here we can see the contemporary relevance of Durkheim’s insistence that “the social” has been evacuated from theories of solidarity written by “moralists.” Thus far, I’ve simply argued that liberal theories of solidarity fail in what could be considered relatively predictable ways. Liberalism is well known as a doctrine of individualism. Liberalism either is the origin of the individual, or responds to the social conditions that have created individualism. For that reason, it would be deeply surprising to find a liberal theory of solidarity that didn’t highlight individual choice, individual moral obligation, or individual action. Those are the metaphysical conceptions of subjectivity inherent in liberal theory. However, there are also what I refer to as “critical theories” of solidarity that take seriously the fact of human sociality and highlight our collective relations—­sometimes over and above our individual subjectivity.5 E VA L UAT I N G C R I T I C A L T H E O R I E S O F S O L I D A R I T Y

In her Political Solidarity, Sally Scholz argues that social solidarity is a concept designed to denote group cohesion. This framing allows “a family structure wherein an individual’s interests are intertwined with the interests of others in the family, a group with a high degree of group consciousness or shared consciousness, a group of individuals affiliated merely by a shared goal of gaining a seat on the bus, or a group attending the same sporting event” (2008, 21) to all serve as examples of social solidarity. Any group that is roughly cohesive and has some shared aim counts as being in social solidarity. In Scholz’s account, this is due to the way in which she cleaves social solidarity from its lengthy theoretical

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history in workers’ movements and labor unions (9). If Scholz is right that these are prototypical examples of social solidarity, then Brown’s challenge that neoliberalism is destroying the social is not simply inaccurate, but wildly overblown. Consider the following data: in 2016, 15 percent of millennials (aged twenty-­five to thirty-­five) were living in their parent’s home in the United States. This is five percentage points higher than the corresponding figure for gen Xers in 2000 (when they would have been the dominant members of the same age group) and seven percentage points higher than early baby boomers in 1981.6 Or perhaps consider the following information: the National Basketball Association reported that the 2016–­17 season had the highest regular-­ season attendance in history. Regular-­season attendance is now on a three-­year record-­breaking streak, with each successive season setting a new all-­time record.7 By these numbers, perhaps we live in an age of unprecedented social solidarity. Or perhaps this data tells us something different about social solidarity: that Scholz’s understanding of it is too loose, too variable, or too inclusive to accurately track “the social.” It isn’t clear what record-­ breaking levels of NBA game attendance tell us about society. These facts don’t account for any potential structural reasons for the data to change over time. In particular, with the number of adult children living in their parent’s homes, the rise in indicators of “social solidarity” seems likely to be correlated with decreasing wages relative to inflation, rising housing costs, high student debt levels, and high unemployment and underemployment for people aged twenty-­five to thirty-­five.8 A 2011 policy brief, “The State of Young America,” cofunded by Demos and Young Invincibles, presents the following information. The percentage of young adults without jobs is at its highest point in a generation, the student debt default rate rose more than 31 percent in only two years, 41 percent of households headed by someone twenty-­five to thirty-­four years old paid more than 30 percent of their pretax income in rent, and only 11 percent of workers have access to any child care benefits. In many ways, the fact that more young adults live with their parents tells us precisely the opposite of what Scholz would have it imply. Society has shrunk back to its previous size, relegated only to the sphere of private life—­the site of social reproduction.9 Rather than living in society, we live in a world strictly divided into public and private spheres; the

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excluded middle is society itself. The nuclear family, then, is not a form of social solidarity; it exists merely to reproduce itself and maintain its predominance as a form of heteropatriarchal social organization. There are fewer workers’ protections; and labor unions, Medicare, and Medicaid are being slowly dismantled (as is the National Health Service in the United Kingdom); and the United States currently holds roughly one-­quarter of all the world’s prisoners. Society has not grown stronger or larger. It has grown weaker under austerity, economic crisis, the casualization of labor, and the dismantling of social welfare programs. By evacuating social solidarity of its historical connection to civic life or labor, Scholz has developed a theory of social solidarity that reduces to “multiple people all of whom do X together.” Two siblings building a town of blocks together is social solidarity, and the folks on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, are also social solidarity; but these two phenomena have little in common aside from the fact that more than one person is involved in each case. Though Scholz’s theory of social solidarity is lacking, I highlight her work here because she does emphasize the group-­dynamics element of solidarity more than do most liberal theorists. Unlike Kolers and Sangiovanni, she provides analysis of group dynamics and group cohesion in solidary organizations. To this extent, her theory of political solidarity better captures what I mean by “the social” element of solidarity. Yet, when forced to speak of the internal decision-­making dynamics of political solidarity groups, Scholz simply claims that they ought to use deliberative democracy of the sort theorized by Dryzek (see Dryzek 2000). Scholz’s account on this matter develops much to be admired; she highlights the social, democratic, and political nature of solidary groups. However, her understanding of the social dimension of solidarity is present in a necessarily weak form. In her account, solidarity is social simply because humans cooperate with each other. Any form of collective action, no matter how weak, seems to be included as social solidarity. It’s hard to imagine how one could generate moral or political content from the fact of going to a sporting event alone and sitting among other fans of a sports team; it isn’t even clear that the “group” of fans would constitute any sort of whole. The social aspect, then, fails to perform any kind of integrative function, thus leading to the uselessness of solidarity in a truly political context. As we have seen with Scholz, critical theories generally do a better job of accounting for the social aspect of solidarity. In every case, each

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thinker takes seriously the injunction made by Durkheim that solidarity is first and foremost a social phenomenon. The individual is undoubtedly part of how solidarity and its norms operate, but critical theories of solidarity avoid reducing it to individual moral obligation. As critical theories are a form of social theory, they handle the question of society much more explicitly—­in that they show how solidarity becomes a formative aspect of democratic society itself. For Habermas, solidarity is the social function of integration; it makes the mass of individuals into a socially cohesive group that can then serve the function of ensuring that it is possible to legitimate law. It is a quasi-­Rousseauian point: the legitimacy of our political and legal systems relies on living in an integrated society for which such structures can be binding. Put into the terms of Habermas’s discourse theory: solidarity forms the link between the lifeworld and the system (1996, 670). For Habermas, this makes solidarity a distinctively social phenomenon. Similarly, Axel Honneth’s account of solidarity stands out as an outlier, in that it is thoroughly utopian (1996). Of course, solidarity always contains a proto-­utopian element. As Kurt Bayertz (1999, 27) puts it, solidarity is “prefigurative”; the bonds it builds and the societies it contains show us what kinds of liberated worlds are possible for human beings. It is a glimpse into the social world we could inhabit. Yet Honneth’s entire account of solidarity relies on only that aspect. For Honneth, much as for Habermas, solidarity is the condition of society in its highest functional form (Habermas 1992; Honneth 1996). Honneth posits that solidarity is the recognition of the individual in her particularity by the social whole: in that sense, it is the basis of self-­esteem via the esteem of one’s peers. Critical theories of solidarity, then, have two aspects that inform my use of the method: they posit that solidarity is first and foremost social in a thick way, rather than a thin way. Unlike Scholz, who argues that two members of a crowd at a sporting event are in solidarity simply because they both wish for their team to win, both Habermas and Honneth posit that the social aspect of solidarity is somehow necessary for democratic life, freedom, and equality. Thus, solidarity is not simply a given from the fact that human beings live and work in groups. Secondly, critical theories of solidarity highlight that it is a lived practice: it is done by members of oppressed or dominated groups with each other. Solidarity is not simply a refusal to purchase grapes when Cesar Chavez calls

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for a boycott (as either Kolers or Sangiovanni would have it); it is also practiced by the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee and the United Farm Workers. In working together, these labor organizations are in solidarity, regardless of whether an individual boycott grapes, or whether the boycott itself generates the outcome toward which workers are aiming. In this sense, critical theories highlight that solidarity “is the sort of ethic which is attuned to the contestatory activities of social movements struggling to forge narrative resources and vocabularies adequate to the expression of their self-­interpreted needs” (Fraser 1986, 428). I argue that for social movements, the struggle to forge narrative resources is fundamentally an internal struggle. As much as external forces place pressure on what social movements can accomplish, internal disagreement forges solidarity within them. This solidarity is thus social, but also political and democratic.10 Solidarity as conflict and disagreement requires that solidary groups themselves are composed in particular and nonexclusive ways. Conflict will allow the group to determine its own “self-­interpreted needs” in the way Fraser demands, without overly centering the individual and without developing a universalizing humanistic picture of need, desire, or demand (1986, 428). It is here that we can begin to see a picture of freedom through society via solidary groups. In the next chapter I will consider whether freedom through society can be achieved by feminist solidarity organizations or broad democratic reforms. In the course of doing so, I will develop a conception of solidarity as democratic in its ability to withstand conflict and its ability to agitate conflict. Such a conception captures what is unique about this form of political association, and allows us to understand more fully the role solidarity plays in building democratic life.

2 TWO MODELS OF NONEXCLUSION Conflict in Feminist and Democratic Theory

P E O P L E A R E A L W A Y S Q U I C K to criticize solidarity groups: they’re torn by too much infighting, they’re too theoretical, they’re too demanding, they want too much too soon, they’re too radical, they aren’t radical enough, they don’t demand enough, they don’t act strategically, they’re not popular, they were mean to me on Twitter. Solidarity groups persist in political circumstances where conflict is rife and where their members are subjected to everything from mockery to smears to physical violence. This raises questions concerning why it is that anyone would engage as a member of a solidarity organization, and how it is that solidarity organizations persist despite this near constant strain of disapproval and dissuasion.

How ought we make sense of the concrete political possibilities of solidarity in conflict? This chapter explores two strains of theory that are often kept apart: feminist solidarity and democratic solidarity. I consider these two forms separate because they so often appear to be in conflict. Perhaps it is just the character of our current moment, but feminism is often depicted, rightly or wrongly, as a form of illiberal or apolitical association, or as having perverse goals such as domination. Conversely, as Scholz (2008) argues, it is framed as nondemocratic because it cannot sustain a long-­term political constituency. However, it isn’t only feminist solidarity that is popularly depicted in this way. Nearly all forms of partisan solidarity are framed as illiberal in some

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way. In contrast, democratic solidarity is nearly always depicted as liberal, because it is depicted as individualized and as following norms of liberal thought such as equality. For this reason, this chapter considers feminist and democratic solidarity as two models of nonexclusion that may serve the basic integrative function of solidarity groups. In serving that function, feminist solidarity groups merely stand in for partisan solidarity organizations that are aimed at liberation, all of which have exclusions and inclusions that function in the same way. I focus on the integrative function of solidarity groups for two reasons. First, solidarity groups “hang together” over time while adding new members. Second, solidarity is historically thought to play this integrating role in society, which is necessary for democratic legitimation. In the first chapter of his The Ends of Solidarity, titled “No Forced Unity,” Max Pensky outlines a dialectic of solidarity and alterity found in Theodor Adorno’s 1962 essay “Progress.” In this quasi-­introductory chapter, Pensky focuses on the dialectic produced by situating two of Adorno’s claims: first, that true solidarity requires “absolute non-­exclusion,” and second, that “all inclusion implies exclusion, always” (Pensky, 35). The chapter results in troubling easy claims to an inclusive solidarity that could serve as the basis for contemporary democratic states. Pensky concludes: To refuse a political discussion of the triumph of global democracy is to reject the view that a global order of neoliberal capitalism and a global human rights culture can one-­sidedly insist on its own sovereign power to dictate the terms of inclusion of persons and groups. Adorno is making a different point, referring to the normative harms that the very idea of such discussions inevitably generates. (35)

While Pensky draws out the implications of such a theory of solidarity for other animals, genetically modified humans, and cosmopolitanism, I work toward the development of a political imperative for groups that seek to be in solidarity. This tactic, an extension of those before it, works to balance the seemingly paradoxical dialectic of inclusion and exclusion. I argue that solidarity itself can be a site of inclusion/exclusion so long as we understand that solidarity is not a single relation. It is a process of being in multiple coexisting relations. I draw this conclusion by considering two seemingly distinct forms of solidarity: democratic

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solidarity (which has inclusion as its goal) and feminist solidarity (which is explicitly partian and productively excludes the patriarch). The theory presented here is one not of solidarity as unity, but of solidarity as, in Simmel’s terms, realistic conflict. The realistic conflict of solidarity is to work toward infinite nonexclusion. While the feminist excludes the patriarch, her goal is in fact to eventually include the patriarch who no longer serves the social function of a patriarch. Feminist solidarity works toward infinite nonexclusion via conflict with dominative forces external to the solidary group. Democratic solidarity, I argue, functions through the internal dynamics of the group. It does not seek to include the external subject. It seeks to better integrate the subject who is already internal, but marginalized. In this sense, it allows for productive conflict within solidary groups, if their formative ends or tactical goals become expressions of powering over marginalized members, or of excluding those who ought to be included within the group. Contemporary moral and political theories of solidarity differ in their conception of solidary groups, solidary acts, and the ethical obligations imposed by membership in solidary groups. Yet they share a common feature: solidarity is a relationship with shared commitments and a willingness to work together to achieve shared goals. In some ways, this is obvious. Solidarity, whatever else it is, is not solitary. As Jodi Dean puts it in Solidarity of Strangers, solidarity requires at least three agents: you and me standing together over and against a third (1996, 3). Solidary groups work collectively, share common values, or use tactics to achieve common goals. Solidarity, then, whatever else it may be or do, is thought to require a very basic sort of agreement: at the very least, “we” are in this together. This chapter challenges the basic claim that solidarity requires unity. Rather than lacking forced unity, it may have no deep sense of unity at all. I argue that solidarity is a dialectical process—­not simply a relation of “being together against a third.” This argument has the explanatory potential to clarify why it is that solidary groups are so often, and correctly, characterized by their so-­called infighting. This characterization often contains an implicit judgment: that solidary groups would be far more successful at achieving their substantive goals if they were to simply resolve their internal disagreements. Against this, I argue that such groups require conflict if they are to achieve their goals. This process

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itself is what is important, if it is understood as a mechanism for political inclusion of the dominated, the oppressed, or the disenfranchised. That is, the goal and the mechanism of feminist and democratic groups are the same. I call this goal and mechanism solidarity. The primary motivation for such an argument is that neither freedom nor equality can solve the problem of the disappearing demos, covered in chapter 1. Even if all people were free and equal, it still isn’t clear that such a condition would generate the necessary sense of togetherness to create a demos. This chapter is thus an attempt to theorize how the demos might come to be composed via solidarity, rather than be merely characterized as solidaristic. The basic claim is the following: What appears to be a single solidary relation is actually two distinct sets of relationships: its insides and its outsides. These two aspects are in a productive tension, as they mirror two aspects of solidarity: its oppositional-­emancipatory aspect and its unifying-­democratic aspect. As it stands, this chapter synthesizes three distinct arguments—­asking what is critical about solidarity as a means of answering a provocation from ordinary liberal theory which often ignores the idea of solidarity in favor of focusing on the tensions between freedom and equality. This also implies two distinct but related questions. First, in what sense is solidarity necessary for democratic praxis? That is, how can we characterize solidarity as critical to the success of the democratic project? Second, in what sense does solidarity enact a kind of social and political critique, following Marx’s definition that critical theory is “a self-­clarification of the struggles and wishes of the age”? U N D E R S TA N D I N G S O L I D A R I T Y

Solidarity has a special place at the heart of critical theories. Wary of naturalizing commonalities or determining inclusive groups based on a pseudonatural identification with others, critical theory posits solidarity as a missing link in democratic life. It is a way of coming together without force. In this sense, solidarity can be understood as the way in which something like a general will is possible. The body politic is unified in an important way, through the development of solidarity. All major thinkers of the Frankfurt School have found themselves extolling the virtues of solidarity, though solidarity takes a different form for each. While Adorno, Habermas, and Honneth have provided

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distinct functional and moral designations for the relationship of solidarity (about which I’ll say a little bit in a moment), as Nancy Fraser notes, solidarity seems to remain our last hope of building an emancipated or less dominated world (Fraser, “Toward a Discourse Ethic of Solidarity”). As Pensky criticizes it, the ordinary liberal order of democratic normativity is that once we sort out freedom and equality, solidarity will “sort itself out” (56). That is, solidarity is assumed to naturally follow from the development of democratic institutions because in theory, such institutions create a democratic sociality and ethos. If we were free and equal, the question of solidarity would seemingly be resolved. Because of solidarity’s characterization as a relationship of chosen unity, it has long been thought to be fundamental to democratic life and political process in just this way: if we wish to claim that political associations really are voluntary ones that transform us and our will at the same time. In his most recent work, Freedom’s Right: The Social Foundations of Democratic Life, Axel Honneth circumscribes democracy to its role in the nation-­state precisely because of a question concerning the sources of solidarity. In doing so, he laments, the development of a multivoiced public opposition is hindered by the fact that the necessary resources provided by a common background culture are beginning to dry up. Political integration within the nation-­state, which was once capable of providing moral motives for bundling various social forces, is now constrained by processes of globalization and worldwide migration, without any sign of alternative sources of solidarity on the horizon (2014, 327). Solidarity plays a crucial role in democratic praxis by virtue of its capacity to act as the instrument of integration: it creates unity where there was previously none. Paradoxically, though, for Honneth, solidarity is not itself the building up of a freely chosen relation, but rather is a relation developed by an involuntary commonality: a common background culture provided by a bounded nation. Still, though, democratic solidarity can be described as normative in a certain sense. It ought to be guided by the constraining conditions of freedom and equality. It just so happens, Honneth claims, that the constraining conditions of freedom and equality are not accessible outside the context of the contemporary nation-­state. Conversely, in feminist theories concerning solidarity, the political world-­building aspect of solidarity is often left aside. Solidarity becomes

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a topic of discussion in the wake of the death of identity and the demand for nonidentitarian politics in the 1980s and ’90s. A lack of clearly shared identity between women as such threatened not merely feminist solidarity, but the possibility and coherence of the feminist project itself. With the development of postcolonial, queer, and trans theories of womanhood, it seemed impossible to determine what exactly it was to be a woman—­the very subject whose liberation was sought in the feminist movement. If we cannot agree on whom we are to liberate, how could they possibly be the subject of liberation movements? As a result, many contemporary texts on solidarity have focused on the ability to be in solidarity based on something other than shared identity: shared commitment to a cause, shared and collective actions, or shared ideology. Given their focus on understanding group action and ontology after identity, feminist theories of solidarity have largely left behind the democratic influence and foundation of the idea of solidarity. In this way, feminist solidarity is less normative and more strategic—­an attempt to determine what a successful opposition to patriarchal power would look like, or a tactical attempt to understand the varied forms patriarchal power takes, so as to foment better opposition to it. For this reason, some theories claim that meaningful sources of solidarity cannot in fact be democratic or serve any role in the democratic process. For instance, as discussed in the previous chapter, Scholz claims that political solidarity is ademocratic or nondemocratic because it is not a relationship that endures over time with a stable and bounded community of members. This echoes Honneth’s problematic concerning the relationship of solidarity and democracy, but simply in reverse order. This chapter bridges these two functions of solidarity: both its unifying-­democratic aspect—­that is, its role in democratic integration and legitimation—­and its oppositional-­emancipatory aspect—­that is, its role in liberation and social justice movements. In some sense, this is a project prefigured by Fraser’s discussion of a feminist ethic of solidarity. Given that our means of communicating in society are infiltrated by principles of exchange, this influences, in Fraser’s account, the officially recognized vocabularies in which one can press claims; the idioms available for interpreting and communicating one’s needs; the established narrative conventions available for constructing the individual and collective histories which are constitutive of social

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identity; the paradigms of argumentation accepted as authoritative in adjudicating conflicting claims; the ways in which various discourses constitute their respective subject matters as specific sorts of objects; the repertory of available rhetorical devices; [and] the bodily and gestural dimensions of speech which are associated in a given society with authority and conviction (1986, 425).

Building solidarity, then, is a development of the means by which a group can “forge narrative resources” they can use to press their claims. To do this requires that the solidarity group maintains the two aspects of solidarity I’ve laid out here, but keeps the tension between the two without allowing it to collapse into either pure opposition to the outside or pure democratic unification. In the sections that follow, I will lay out each aspect of solidarity, and then show how the two aspects remain in tension with each other as different relations of a solidarity group. S O L I D A R I T Y ’ S O P P O S I T I O N A L- ­E M A N C I PAT O R Y A S P E C T

The solidary relationship itself is almost always characterized as oppositional. Recall Dean’s conception of solidarity as “you and I standing together against a third.” The “against a third” element is the oppositional element of solidarity. It is also what distinguishes solidarity from other forms of social cooperation or social interaction. Scholz’s picture, then, of two children cooperating to build a tower of blocks is not solidarity, because it lacks this oppositional aspect. On this point we can identify what exactly goes wrong with her promising theory. Scholz is not alone, though, in depicting a solidarity that does not require opposition. Honneth also claims that solidarity is not itself oppositional, but that it may arise from oppositional movements (1996). Solidarity itself is positioned as the social form of esteeming others for the valuable contributions in their individuality. Yet, as Pensky describes it, solidarity in “the politically meaningful sense” is “the formation of a common political will based on mutual and symmetrical inclusion” (2008, 61). This seems to draw out solidarity’s integrative but also oppositional function. Since mutual and symmetrical inclusion requires at the same time a system or process of exclusion, even conceptions of solidarity that do not rely on its oppositional features nonetheless require them. Yet, solidarity’s oppositional aspects are often characterized as being set apart from the solidary relation itself. As Jodi Dean characterizes it:

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“I ask you to stand by me over and against a third” (1996, 3). The implications of this understanding of solidarity are multiple. First, solidarity is not solitary: the relation involves at least three actors, two of whom stand in opposition to a third. This means that first, the two in solidarity share a common opposition. Second, the relation centers conflict and opposition externally. The conflict is not primarily between you and me (as we stand in solidarity); it is between “us” and “the third.” Conflict and opposition stand apart from the solidary relation itself. Internally, however, the relationship is often simply characterized as “standing by,” “mutual esteem,” or “cooperation and coordination.”1 To stand by someone is ordinarily understood as presenting a unified front with them. I am not standing by you over and against a third if I decide to argue with you about the cause. If you request that I stand by you against a university administration that has mishandled your sexual harassment claim, and I dispute whether it was really mishandled, this is not “standing by” you in any ordinary sense of the term. This is because the relationship of solidarity, while it may be marked by opposition, conflict, multiplicity, and difference, is also seemingly correctly and fundamentally characterized as a kind of unity. A solidary relation is actually two distinct sets of relations. One is the internal relation: you and I are in solidarity, and that itself is a relation. The other is the external relation: you and I are in relation to a third whom we oppose. The multiple character of the solidary relation itself has not been thoroughly theorized. As I have argued in chapter 1, there is an overt focus on the external relation of the members to a broader public: both a public that supports them and a public that stands in opposition to them. The internal relation, by contrast, is often the focus of attention in cases where the group is under scrutiny in discussing the supposed causes of failure. I’m not providing any additional examples of this phenomenon here, simply because it is so widespread. Often either the internal relation or the external relation is prioritized, without focus on the way in which each relation puts the other at risk. It is this fundamental dialectic that has resulted in the division of theories of solidarity into the social and the political.2 Feminist theories of solidarity usually work toward creating a coherent theory of solidarity after identity. If we cannot reliably claim to be in solidarity with women, because we have no coherent definition of woman, how is it that we could have a substantive moral

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relation, and what exactly could that relation look like? Political theories of solidarity focus on the integrating, justificatory, or recognitional work that is required for a functional democracy. As such, they deal primarily with the problem of the outside. In this sense, the difference between members is presupposed, and the question becomes one of the external relation of solidarity: To whom must we justify ourselves, and how can we in particular justify the exclusion to those who are excluded? These two problematics dovetail and diverge along various axes. First, the feminist does not necessarily take it that she owes an explanation to the patriarch she has excluded. In this sense, the feminist often cannot provide a justificatory reason, or tactically refuses to do so, thus transgressing Forst’s insistence that “reasonable, autonomous, and moral beings . . . must be able to account for their actions to one another” (2007, 22). Yet ultimately the goal of feminist organizing is the inclusion of the patriarch, in a particular sense only: that the patriarch ought to become a feminist and thereby cease being excluded. This in some sense is part of the battle of solidarity: to maintain what will hopefully turn out to be temporary exclusions that are aimed at some point toward nonexclusion. Second, as Pensky delimits it, solidarity is not a static relation, but a process of change and becoming: becoming nonexcluded and nonexclusive. In part, Adorno’s demand for infinite nonexclusion, even in the face of the knowledge that each inclusion is also an exclusion, is part and parcel of the utopian project: to recognize that it demands the end of practices or events that appear both natural and necessary. However, there is another aspect of solidarity that informs its social and political functions. S O L I D A R I T Y ’ S U N I F Y I N G - ­D E M O C R AT I C A S P E C T

As Sally Scholz theorizes it, political solidarity highlights individual conscience, commitment, group responsibility, and collective action (2008, 33). According to her, “The most notable element [of political solidarity] is perhaps that moral commitment provides the source of the solidarity” (38). Her appeal to moral commitment means that political solidarity contains what she claims to be both formative ends (such as liberation or justice) and substantive goals (i.e., creating a law, closing a factory, or changing a working condition or social condition). She highlights two aspects: first, that political solidarity is necessarily oppositional insofar

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as it is a practice aimed toward the end of oppression or domination, and second, that it is a collective relation composed of individual actors who behave “in solidarity.” That is, solidary acts are often individual. At times, Scholz even appeals to living “among” the oppressed. It is as if here, to be in solidarity is to be or see oneself as separate from the oppressed class. This separation requires acting toward the benefit of the oppressed without considering oneself to be “among” them. This leaves the character of solidarity somewhat open: Can the oppressed fighting for their own emancipation be “in solidarity”? Or is “being in solidarity” already a mark that one is in some sense excluded from the oppressed group? 3 The necessarily oppositional aspect of solidarity is of interest to me here because, despite its oppositional nature, Scholz highlights that “as we have seen, among types of groups, political solidarity is among those least likely to call for conformity (although perhaps among those most likely to call for agreement in vision)” (95). Going on, she argues: “Although the goal of solidarity unifies and mediates the relations within the group, it does not and ought not to silence any of the members. Nothing in solidarity opposes dissent” (96–­97). Scholz points us toward a solidarity that not only has political goals but is itself political. It can withstand dissent and disagreement particularly because the solidary group is committed to a vision of how we ought to live, and because it functions processually. While we may share a formative end, we may also disagree on substantive goals, in part because “we” may disagree about the constitution of the “we” itself. Such disagreement is formative of the interior of the solidary relationship: the question of who is included. However, it is also formative of the exterior: the question of who is excluded and against what we stand. As a process of infinite nonexclusion, solidarity is not a static relation and does not refer specifically to members of a particular group united by some commonality. It refers, rather, to a process. As a process, solidarity is the negotiation of conflict toward nonexclusion. In this way, solidary groups that unjustifiably exclude or subject certain of their values to dissent and contest can be subject to a more thorough process of nonexclusion. Consider, here, the call for the inclusion of trans-­and gender-­nonconforming people in feminist solidarity movements—­or what could be characterized more accurately as a call for the development and mainstreaming of trans feminist movements. This is, on the

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one hand, a conflict over which substantive goals will resist patriarchy. But on the other hand, it is a conflict over who is included in the solidary group itself. Thus, the becoming nonexcluded of trans folks in mainstream feminist praxis performs both aspects of solidarity as inclusion and critique. In this way, despite Scholz’s insistence that political solidarity is often non-­or ademocratic, to be in solidarity is to practice a kind of radical democracy. As Mouffe puts it, “Conflicts and confrontations, far from being a sign of imperfection, indicate that democracy is alive and inhabited by pluralism” (2000, 34). Recognizing solidarity as a process also reveals how solidarity is related to democratic praxis. This is how solidarity cannot merely withstand differences of identity, but is a fundamental process of the negotiation of conflict within groups of people dedicated to a common cause. Solidarity arises as democratic exactly at the moment of a metapolitical contest over the constitution of the group itself. This runs counter to the intuition that solidary groups require either (a) a shared identity, (b) a shared sense of tactics, or (c) a shared set of values. This feature of solidarity exists because it is, internally, a relationship of conflict but also a common dedication to mediating divergent and seemingly contradictory powers and interests. As such, the inside of solidarity requires that we focus on the ways in which social movements themselves are subject to and constituted by relations of power: often questions concerning whose needs are prioritized, whose needs are disregarded, and indeed who can articulate their needs to the group in an accessible way. The legacy of democratic theory, following Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action (1984) or Rawls’s Political Liberalism (2005), is one concerned with the way in which the public uses communication in some form to come to an agreement about what ought to be done collectively. This happens via either public reason, deliberation, or something like the exchange of normative validity statements. In framing democratic theory in this way, the norms of democratic life are evident via processes of determining the truth of what we ought to do and why we ought to do it. This happens because the communicative process is designed so that no strategic moves are made. The goal of coming to the truth of the matter, or of determining the right justifications for collective action, is not a strategic one. Both Habermas and Rawls have ruled out the possibility of strategic action when participating in the democratic communicative

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process. Strategic action is thought to rule out a democratic ethos or democratic norms. Strategic action is thought to undermine democratic norms precisely because democratic norms concern acting in ways that do not advance one’s own agenda at the expense of the agendas of others. The underlying feature of democratic norms of equality, freedom, and solidarity is a mechanism of working together for the benefit of all or most members. Minimally, this happens via the protection of basic rights. Maximally, this happens via the social-­democratic welfare state. Strategic action, on this account, is normatively troubling because it is manipulative. It attempts to gain advantage at the expense of someone else’s needs or wishes. This is a quasi-­Kantian understanding of the problem with strategic action in democratic contexts. We could also understand this in terms of power: strategic action is an attempt to exert power over someone else. This is a quasirepublican understanding of the problem with strategic action in democratic contexts. Here we can see the true difference in character between the external oppositional aspect of solidarity and its internal democratic aspects. The external aspects of solidarity are tactical: they aim to get something done. The external relation of solidarity is, in Habermasian terms, not communicative but strategic. The goals of solidarity organizations may differ, but in their encounters with the wider public they are strategic in that their aim is not necessarily to convince others of the truth. A solidarity group may determine that it can best achieve its ends via convincing others in the public sphere. However, such participation in communicative reason is not employed for its own sake because finding the truth is normatively praiseworthy. Rather, it is deployed as a strategy because it is the best way to achieve a shared end. Strategic rationality is deployed, in Habermas’s account, when one actor consciously manipulates another in order to achieve his goals. It is goal-­oriented, manipulative, and tactical: it does not allow us to come together to determine collective action on shared terms. This is why strategic rationality is nondemocratic. Strategic action does not care for the objections of others, for coming to an understanding, or for getting the question at hand right. It cares for the attainment of its goals—­often, as the saying goes, by any means necessary. Yet the internal relation of solidarity organization can be a sphere of communicative action. It is a space of democratic contestation so

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that the organization can determine for itself that it has normatively good aims and politically effective tactics before it takes strategic action in the wider world. In general, solidarity organizations tend to present a structure whereby the members offer up normative validity claims. They give and exchange reasons in favor of their claims and against the claims of others; they come to understand which claims or interpretations have, on balance, the force of the better arguments behind them. In this way we can understand what solidarity groups do and are—­both within the spaces designed by their members and in the spaces in which the members intend to intervene—­through the terms of Habermasian discourse ethics. Like Nancy Fraser, I am not making or even attempting to make a claim about universal pragmatics or the ideal speech situation. I am arguing that, because solidarity groups have this feature, they can serve as a public sphere, a place where democracy happens. Certainly this picture of democracy differs greatly from the institutionalized democratic procedures that are tied to our current Westphalian state form. However, what happens in solidarity groups is a mechanism of mediating disputes, conflicts, and disagreements. It can identify the forces of domination within the group, by virtue of its membership exclusions. While Scholz has identified political solidarity as nondemocratic, she has done so because it lacks the formal institutional structures of solidarity under the contemporary state form. This doesn’t adequately capture the way in which solidarity groups are imbued with a democratic ethos and, in turn, how participation in them can be a transformative experience for the members. It is transformative precisely to the extent that the members in the group are changed by having lived the democratic norms that are often so distant from us in the broader context of representative government.4 This transformative element of solidarity politics is often highlighted by Black feminist writers and collectives. In bell hooks’s “Theory as Liberatory Practice,” she highlights how participation in a Black feminist reading group brought other women to their voice. Recounting one such experience, she writes: “She gave thanks that our meeting, our theorizing of race, gender and sexuality that afternoon had eased her pain, testifying that she could feel the hurt going away, that she could feel a healing taking place within” (1991, 11). The Combahee River Collective highlights

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a similar transformative feature of its solidarity: “Black feminists often talk about their feelings of craziness before becoming conscious of the concepts of sexual politics, patriarchal rule, and most importantly, feminism, the political analysis and practice that we women use to struggle against our oppression” (1983, 236). “The Black Feminist Statement” also highlights the way in which the collective’s politics proceeded as developed through “criticism and self-­criticism.” In other words, part of the transformative element of the collective was the democratic system of critique and examination. While this is not intended to further Dahl’s famous critique of mass democracy (1972), in some ways it does. By bringing a democratic sociality closer to individual political agents, their values can be changed over time to include nondomination of those near them, a commitment to collective communicative action, and a less exclusive way of understanding their own values and goals. In other words, while many join solidarity organizations in order to advance their own needs or values, in the process of solidarity their needs and values can change through internal conflict. This process is the transformation of an individual into a member of a society. It takes what was initially an individual goal a person perhaps thought many others shared, and transforms the goal, the person, and that person’s norms. By understanding that the internal and external aspects of solidarity contradict each other—­the internal as a process of conflict and negotiation, and the external as a process of unification and opposition to the outside—­we can see how solidarity meets Adorno’s conflicting demands to function as a process of infinite nonexclusion. We can see, though, taking into account my description of the internal and external aspects of solidarity, that the debate over nonexclusion (who’s included and who’s excluded) is part of the practice of solidarity. In this way, internally, a practice of solidarity is a negotiation of power and conflict. It manifests a particular kind of internal-­democratic practice with regard to the negotiation of the space of reasons, whose reasons are heard, and in what way the reasons must be presented. This practice allows for democratic contestation to take place even in circumstances where members are in unequal positions relative to each other. This is something that Amy Allen articulates clearly in her critique of Forst’s theory of power: that domination includes power, “as rule through the constitution of the space

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of reasons’’ (150). Thus, the space of reasons itself must be a site of contestation because it is a potential site of domination. The internal space of a practice of solidarity is thus political and democratic if it is subjected to these challenges about its own process of nonexclusion. Catherine Eschle puts this eloquently: “The difficulties faced by women in leftist movements and by Black and third world women within feminism in getting their concerns taken seriously should serve as a warning of the anti-­democratic implications of presuming that all structures of power and oppositional strategies have been identified in advance” (2001, 173). Here, Eschle highlights the dual character of what she calls a “social movement” and what I’ve called solidarity: internally there is a struggle aimed toward identifying structures of power to combat oppression and domination, and externally there is a struggle to identify effective substantive goals to combat oppression and domination. The internal identification of power structures becomes the democratic project of solidarity, and it shows how solidarity can serve as a kind of prefiguration, part of a lived utopia. It is aimed toward an internal infinite nonexclusion. But it also functions externally to develop tactics of resistance. It is in this sense that Kurt Bayertz discusses solidarity: The solidarity practiced here and now in the battle for a just cause appears as a trial sample of what human beings are capable of when social obstacles hampering the development of their moral strengths are removed. [ . . . ] It refers directly to a means of the battle: solidarity as a weapon. Yet at the same time it refers to an end of the battle: solidarity as an anticipation of future society, as a part of Utopia already lived (1999, 27).

Bayertz picks up on the rich plurality of stances on solidarity found within the critical theory tradition. Solidarity as a form of prefiguration anticipates a liberated future: a coming together against the world as it is, to identify its dominative mechanisms and systems. WHO’S IN, WHO’S OUT? POLICING THE BOUNDARY

The depiction of democratic solidarity thus far relies, in many ways, on the productive policing of boundaries as much as it does on making those boundaries porous. The boundaries of solidarity organizations must hold, such that they temporarily and strategically exclude some

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people. In particular, the aim is to exclude those whose political goal is to eliminate the practice of social freedom that the solidarity organization itself generates. This section takes up the question of power, democratic social freedom, and boundaries. In particular, it is framed by Arendt’s thought on both power and the public/private sphere. I follow Seyla Benhabib’s suggestion that we should “read Arendt against Arendt.” That is, we should avoid succumbing to the masculinist and exclusionary conclusions that Arendt arrives at: that politics occurs properly only in the public sphere. While Arendt’s insistence (and that of Habermas after her) that identity has no role to play in the political makes her a strange “feminist” figure, this also enables us to capture the fact that feminist solidarities are not primarily identity-­based solidarities. I draw on Benhabib’s and Amy Allen’s reconstructions of Arendtian “political” to show how the solidarity I describe is political, democratic, and not mere identitarian identification. Yet, following the mere boundaries of a specifically feminist solidarity is not going to do all the work of developing a new democratic theory of solidarity. This is because feminist solidarity is often strategic. Feminist solidarity groups act in concert in order to achieve goals—­human rights, equality, nondomination, bodily autonomy, freedom from sexual violence, and so on. However, the democratic solidarity I want to develop is not merely strategic and tactical. It is also guided by an internal democratic ethos of nonexclusion, justice, and liberation. In some way, the proposed theory, that solidarity is composed of an inside and outside, again presents the possibility of a public and a private. The internal relations of solidary groups are “private” in the sense that they are not open to all and are not strictly governed by the norms and laws of the wider public, either discursively or juridically. One might be tempted to read the internal relations of solidarity groups as being akin to a household: a place of independent organization for teaching and learning that readies the subject to participate in politics. As Arendt puts it, “The most elementary meaning of the two realms indicates that there are things that need to be hidden and others that need to be displayed publicly if they are to exist at all” (1973, 73). This is the mechanism by which it can be easily understood that what solidarity groups do, with regard to their internal organization and contestation, is to both exclude themselves from the broader public and exclude their opponents from

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them. In many ways, this is easy to understand: take the now fading cultural object of the gay bar. Such places exist privately so that their patrons might appear publicly. Rather than relegate queer life to the domestic sphere, the gay bar brings queer life out into a quasi-­public private space: a place where people can come into being while still hiding from the prying eyes of the state. In these Arendtian terms, solidarity is both an agonistic and an associational space. On the one hand, it is exclusionary and competitive with its outside. On the other hand, it is a space where people come to act together and participate in a common life, and where social freedom can appear. Solidarity organizations, then, build “power-­with” by virtue of their dialectical relationship to the public and private sphere. As Allen articulates it, power-­with is “the ability of a collectivity to act together for the attainment of an agreed-­upon end or series of ends” (1999, 127). It is this very dialectical nature that enables solidarity groups to develop the social sphere more fully—­acting at times in concert, and at times in private conflict. In this way, the groups exhibit characteristics of both communicative action and strategic action. As Habermas lays out the concepts: communicative action is guided by internal norms of discourse aimed at developing an understanding. The norms of communicative action often guide the internal dynamics of solidarity groups that engage in discourse in order to come to agreement about what ought to be done, or about the right analysis of some phenomenon they hope to oppose. As Habermas puts it, “Normatively regulated speech acts embody moral-­practical knowledge. They can be contested under the aspect of rightness. Like claims to truth, controversial claims to rightness can be made thematic and examined discursively” (1984, 334). While I remain skeptical about the normative possibilities of communicative action in the broad contexts in which most people live, argue, and act—­namely, because it requires that all actor-­speakers are already in agreement about the terms under which the debate is to be held—­t here are reasons to set aside this skepticism in the artificially created circumstance of the solidary organization. Solidarity organizations and groups exist because their members have already existing commitments to some set of normative validity claims. In this sense, there is no need for the artificial bracketing of ideologies that are at odds with the solidarity group’s commitments (as Mouffe

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accuses both Habermas and Rawls of determining to do). Internally, the group already acts democratically. The members subject their beliefs, norms, and concepts to contest—­specifically the contest over what is to be done, as this is the only way to truly build power-­with in service of emancipation. This internal dynamic is often analogized to the circular firing squad, or some version of infighting. Yet this subjection of normative validity claims to the reasoning of one’s peers is in fact a sign of the vibrant democratic ethos at play within solidarity organizations. It is not, as Habermas would have it, in the “background” for these groups (1984, 335). Rather, such democratic processes are at center stage because the members of solidarity organizations are attempting to act without relying on fixed hegemonic norms. As solidarity organizations are attempting to undermine in some way the fixed hegemonic norms (or, as some would call them, ideologies) at work in the broader society, they cannot rely on agreed-­upon background norms. As a result, the solidarity organization must bring the background into the foreground. It is at exactly this juncture that the internal democratic ethos of solidarity organizations comes most to the front. Any organization with either democratic goals or norms must concern itself with a democratic determination of its membership, its goals, and its tactics for achieving those goals. In a functionalist sense, solidarity organizations complete all three determinations via communicative action. This chapter highlights how membership determination can proceed democratically while at the same time functioning nonexclusively. Solidarity groups express and rely on a democratic ethos when they subject their own organizations to a second-­order democratic process aimed at determining how power structures have circumscribed not merely the wider social world but the solidarity organization itself. In subjecting these power structures to critique, the organizations implement second-­order democratic processes that challenge the unproductive exclusions made by the group. In feminist relations of solidarity, perhaps the strongest example of this is the question of what it means to be “a woman.” The discursive question is simply aimed at coming to an understanding of a term, its material realities, its operations in society, and its psychic realities. As in many situations of communicative action, it is both preceded and followed by strategic considerations. The meaning of “womanhood” will determine many features of the feminist solidarity group. It may determine

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the limits and boundaries of membership, but more than that, it will determine how the group orients its external actions. It will determine whether, for instance, the group takes it that protecting public bathroom access for trans people is a worthwhile feminist goal. The communicative aspect of coming to an understanding informs the group’s teleology. Externally, such groups rarely subject themselves to the giving and exchanging of reasons. They neither act democratically nor dedicate themselves to displaying a democratic ethos. They act strategically. Having already determined their aims, goals, and tactics via internal contest, they now do what they must to achieve their aims. The fact that they act strategically when considering their external relations yields to and supports the claim that they are nondemocratic, or are otherwise perceived to be authoritarian. I S T H E R E A P R O B L E M W I T H S T R AT E G I C AC TION IN A DEMOCR ACY?

The splitting of solidarity into two relations can help us understand how a solidarity group can be imbued with democratic norms and yet act strategically. Because solidarity is actually two relations in one, the internal and the external, each set of relations can be guided by different norms given the members’ different roles. Internally, members can be guided by a commitment to norms of nondomination and nonexclusion—­democratic norms through which the process of democracy is both enabled and lived. Externally, a solidarity group can be guided by strategic action because the world at large lacks commitment to democratic norms or nondomination. This allows us to see the asymmetrical nature of the two relations. Solidarity organizations exist primarily because the social-­political world in which they exist fails to fulfill the promise of liberation, equality, inclusion, or nondomination. In that sense, the external relationship of solidarity operates in what political philosophers consider the nonideal realm. In part, this explains why a group otherwise imbued with democratic norms decides to begin acting strategically. When dealing with its external relation, the social-­ political world at large has already expressed some norm of domination or exclusion toward the members of the solidarity organization. In other words, the solidarity group exists because of a preexisting expression of power over its members.

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Thus, calls for solidarity groups to behave in ways that are less strategic and more democratic function on two levels. On the one hand, such calls, as good-­faith expressions of the desire to be governed by a polity imbued with a democratic ethos, impose an asymmetric restraint on members of solidarity organizations. They express that, since the group claims it is impermissible to exclude them for strategic reasons (perhaps to build a coalition of voters), the group ought to hold itself to a higher democratic standard than the polity writ large. This asymmetry is a version of the way in which asymmetric force is justified: it’s one thing for the state to act with the threat of force, but another thing altogether for citizens or residents of the state to do so. An asymmetry of power is thus reinscribed in the relationship between the solidarity organization and its outside in the call that solidarity groups negotiate or deliberate in their external relation rather than act strategically. On the other hand, the demand that solidarity groups act nonstrategically is also simply an expression of the desire that solidarity groups not attempt to achieve their goals because the public dislikes their goals and wishes to see them fail. It is here that we can understand why, at the height of Black Lives Matter protests, lawmakers began trying to pass laws making it legal to ram cars through and over protesters who were blocking streets. This is transparently an attempt to disincentivize a particularly effective form of strategic action: making ordinary life unlivable, difficult, and frustrating. Historically, this type of sabotage takes the form of demanding that protest groups “act peacefully” in their protests, while attributing the violence of others to them. Many believed that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was “too violent” despite his many injunctions to peaceful protest. In fact, Gallup polls at the time showed that the vast majority of people believed mass demonstrations themselves harmed the cause of racial justice, regardless of their actual efficacy.5 Of course, the efficacy of tactics can often only be determined in retrospect, and “civil” movements are often accompanied by more militant factions fighting for the same goals.6 What can justify such strategic action on behalf of a democratic organization? Here I’d like to draw an analogy between how solidarity groups operate with regard to their external relation and how states operate internationally. A view of international politics based on political realism tells us that political-­legal norms that govern the behavior of states operate only with regard to their internal actions. When dealing

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with external actors, states have no real normative requirements—­only simply strategic constraints such as lack of military, economic, diplomatic, or political power. States are enabled to act in the international realm in ways that would, if done internally, violate democratic norms or constitutional rights. However, because each state only owes these duties only to its own members, there is no violation when the state acts internationally to harm some other state or violate the democratic norms or constitutional rights of its members. Political realism is often characterized as a brutal kind of political assessment, a kind of international Hobbesianism. The international field is understood as a war of all against all. Unless and until a sovereign comes along to force or entice members to give up their arms, there is simply no possibility of an assessment based on justice. This is because in the realist account, what Rawls calls the circumstances of justice do not obtain. For my argument to hold, we must live in circumstances so lacking in the basic preconditions of society that there are subsequently few constraints on how one may act politically. In the previous chapter I argued that this was the case. To recall, neoliberalism drives consensus, but also an alienation from the possibility of building society beyond the family, which in this context is the “true form” of society. This is not to endorse the Hobbesian thesis that until there is a sovereign there is no morality. I’d like to endorse something softer than that. In nonideal circumstances rife with injustices and domination, strategic action must be allowed as part of democratic life. One might object that members of solidarity groups, if they are indeed committed to democratic norms, ought not to act strategically. Instead, they ought to attempt various forms of action intended to strengthen democratic norms in the society writ large. After all, if a constitutive goal of solidarity organizations is nonexclusion, one way of achieving that goal is to try to spread the norms that govern the group. One can think about it this way: if the goal of a feminist solidarity organization is to cease excluding people, those people’s ethos need to be brought in line with the norms of nondomination of women. Such a goal is unlikely to be achieved by the kind of strategic action that feminist solidarity groups take. This is the impetus, in some way, for both Habermas’s and Rawls’s theories involving communicative action and public reason. The goal is persuasion, but not persuasion by any means.

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In their accounts, we cannot persuade via force or threat, simply because such things aren’t actually persuasion. Those subjected are not in fact persuaded; they are merely subjected. As such, they simply bring their actions and outward statements in line with what they are intended to be persuaded of. Those who are forcibly persuaded are poor candidates for nonexclusion in a solidarity group, because forcible persuasion is a form of forced unity. It is both undemocratic and dominative. Worse, it is likely to make it more rather than less difficult for the group to achieve its tactical goals. This aspect of political action is conveniently ignored in contemporary liberal theories of legitimation. For those theories, legitimation mainly concerns the way in which we use our collective intellectual resources to determine which norms are valid or which proposals and policies can be supported by all reasonable people. Such theories participate in a twofold elision of reality. First, they elide power. That is to say, they do not capture the fact that some people have a larger audience to whom they can speak. Further, some people have an easier time translating their private positions into public ones—­specifically because their private positions use well-­k nown justifying norms which make the argument not simply easier but possible, because details can be left to the listener to fill out. One need not explicate the details of what one means by “freedom to X” because it is taken for granted that “we” know what constitutes “freedom.” If the speaker had to fill out the details themselves, the exchange would be hampered by the sorts of conflict and disagreement that I highlight here. This is an operation of power to the extent that authority is easily granted to some rather than others, thus placing intense scrutiny on the content of some claims made by those lacking in social authority, while allowing equally opaque or undertheorized claims to pass without objection. Second, liberal theories of legitimation elide preexisting relations of domination. As I’ve argued, following Eschle and Allen, domination can be constituted through the space of reasons. This means that one form of domination is the determination of which reasons will be accepted and which will not. Such domination is difficult to recognize as such. In part, this is because contemporarily, we tend to conceptualize domination via identity consideration. That is, to be dominated by a patriarch is to be dominated as a woman. We do not tend to conceptualize domination

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based on characteristics that are easily liable to change. It is through this mechanism that, for example, Rawls can argue that religious reasons are unacceptable for inclusion in political liberalism. While those who are religious have various religious reasons to either motivate or justify action, they are not being excluded because they are religious. Rather, their reasons are being excluded because they are not publicly available reasons. We cannot reliably expect that in a liberal society, people will share these reasons. It comes about that the religious are excluded not for being religious, but because they cannot present any nonreligious reasons for their positions. This is how domination through the constitution of the space of reasons arises. It tells us that people are excluded not for who they are, but for what they do. Where who they are is fixed and unchanging, it is in almost all accounts morally arbitrary. Where what they do is contingent and within their control, it is in almost all accounts morally significant. Yet it is not only the religious who find themselves excluded from the space of giving reasons by virtue of what they do. What they do here is to be understood in the sense of what utterances they make, what metaphysics they appeal to, and what they are capable of putting into terms others might understand and come to expect. But the demand for those excluded to put their claims in terms the dominant have set generates misrecognitions and misunderstandings. On the one hand, simply participating in the political system under communicative theories of legitimation requires that one labor to put their claims into terms understandable by the dominant members of the polity. This increases the burden on those who try to speak in ways that do not simply reaffirm or tinker with the status quo. In each case, it places an extra layer of disincentive to political participation, because of the potential inability to be heard or the inability of others to understand what one is saying (cf. Anzaldúa 1987; Schutte 1998). It isn’t simply the fact that what the excluded say is not something most people want. Rather, most people cannot understand what the excluded say. Yet given the constitution of the space of reasons, the burden is placed not on both the speaker and the listener to mutually come to an understanding, but solely on the speaker, who is attempting to work within a restrictive space of reasons to say what otherwise could not be said in that context (cf. Fraser 1986). On the other hand, it simply becomes impossible to communicate the

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demands that those who are excluded from the space of reasons might have. This is the traditional problem with the feminist demand for justice in the family. Such justice has to be communicated via public, not private, reasons. Yet it is almost impossible to give public reasons for the further encroachment of the state into “the family.” Once all members of the family have formally equal rights, there is little the state can do beyond enforcing and protecting of them. Nussbaum highlights this problem in The Future of Feminist Liberalism. It is only in eliding both these features of contemporary social and political life that we can develop theories of legitimation that require no strategic action. When each feature is included, the need for strategic action becomes apparent. Consider, for example, the inability of the state to involve itself further in developing justice in the family (or the “household,” as it is often put in an attempt to move away from the naturalizing term “family”). Even if every adult member of the household has formally equal rights, there are likely power imbalances in the relationships. This is especially the case given that 30 percent of women with children do not participate in the labor force outside the home.7 This statistic does not account for mothers who do not have a partner in the home and are raising their children on their own. This 30 percent of women are significantly reliant on someone else in the household. The dependence creates a power imbalance. Further, women spend roughly forty-­five minutes more per day on “household activities,” and roughly twenty minutes more per day caring for household members, than men do.8 Such imbalances of work and pay are bound to create other forms of dependence, and in doing so, they create the potential for some members of the household to dominate others. Up to 99 percent of people who have been abused by their intimate partner have experienced financial abuse (Postmus et al. 2011), significantly limiting their options for leaving the abusive situation. It is not clear that the state can intervene in the case posed above. Perhaps it might do so in cases of financial abuse—­but when it does, it is in response to some other form of violence or assault. It isn’t the withholding of a bank account or the threat of being harmed if you go to work that will cause state intervention. The state will do only so much to intervene in power imbalances that result in domination. In fact, it is likely useless to attempt to reach an understanding concerning the issue.

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Just as for decades we lacked an accepted term for when a woman’s boss touched her sexually against her wishes, we still lack the public language for what happens as a result of financial control or manipulation in a household.9 It thus becomes difficult or impossible to work within the communicative framework as it is laid out. This is why feminists come together in solidarity in the first place: often because they lack the linguistic or normative resources for making a claim about their needs that can be taken up in a process of discursive legitimation. This chapter has developed the tension between solidarity’s internal and external aspects. I’ve argued that what looks like the splitting apart of solidarity is the process of nonexclusion in action. As a mediation of conflict over how to instantiate shared values, which shared values we ought to hold, and how power is intimately intertwined with the formation of the group, solidarity exemplifies the process of radical democracy, despite Scholz’s claims to the contrary. In this way, solidarity is critical in both senses: it clarifies the contemporary struggles and wishes of the age, but also serves radical democratic functions. Thus, while the oppositional-­emancipatory and the unifying-­democratic functions appear to be in tension, they are caught up dialectically in each other. Solidarity should then be understood as a pair of relations aimed at nonexclusion that use temporary, strategic exclusions. Solidarity has an inside—­a democratic core aimed at coming to an understanding, and at struggle over who will set the terms on which the group acts, but also at providing a prefigurative social space. The inside of a solidarity group is prefigurative in that it provides for its members a glimpse of what it would be like to have achieved their goals: of a liberated life that could one day exist everywhere, but which for now exists only in the truncated sphere of the solidarity group itself. The external relation of solidarity is aimed at opposition—­at opposing the parts of the world that, as Adorno put it, keep life from living. This chapter has presented a theory designed to both complicate and illuminate common perceptions and use of solidarity in democratic life and thought. It has presented a picture of solidarity as a positive social and political force: it integrates without necessary exclusion, agitates for nondomination without violating liberal norms, and develops temporary public spaces of freer subjective becoming. In other words,

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solidarity can be a mechanism for building a society without force of law or economic necessity. In the two chapters that follow, I will consider solidarity that operates via force: first as antisocial solidarity aimed at domination which undermines a free and open society, and then as solidarity conditioned by economic necessity, burdened by the material history out of which it arises.

3 ANTISOCIAL SOLIDARITIES The Psychic Life of Domination

T O R E V I E W , the value of solidarity comes from its nature as a social and democratic formation: it builds nonexclusive social organizations dedicated to more liberated forms of human life as new ways of being and living together are produced. This seems to fall into line with many other accounts of solidarity I have criticized in the introduction and chapter 1. It risks developing a theory that makes the fact of solidarity contingent on whether the group aims to create more liberated forms of human life. There is no shortage of organizations that aim to make the world more dominative for the worst off or more desperate for those already in desperate circumstances. This chapter considers whether and how we can understand those organizations as engaging in solidarity. As I’ve said, the theory presented here isn’t intended to guide action or determine the moral values that ought to guide a solidarity group or the actions of those outside it. Consequently, this chapter considers organizations that many leftists and liberals would consider to be deleterious as being capable of a kind of pseudosolidarity.

There are pathological forms of solidarity. Many theories of solidarity exclude organizations whose goals are domination, oppression, or exclusion from being capable of true solidarity. On this view, solidarity is a morally beneficial social organization or relation, which means that forms of solidarity that seek to undermine the democratic fabric of our lives ought to be theorized away. The result is twofold. First, it enables

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one to show that solidarity is a desirable or necessary feature of our lives. In this sense, it becomes easy for individuals to understand when they ought to join in solidarity. Second, it enables the development of a streamlined theory of solidarity that need not take into account the groups’ actual political or moral content, and simply assumes that they must be aiming at the fulfillment of generally liberal moral goals. Yet this also distorts our understanding of collectives whose aim is domination. In her book The Power of Feminist Theory, Amy Allen puts it thus: “A military group that is unjustly exercising power over a population by imposing martial law can be said to be exercising power-­with. In fact, this collective power-­with may well be what allows the military to maintain its position of dominance. Yet this does not completely correspond to the kind of solidarity in which feminists are interested” (1999, 127). Here, she identifies the fact that calling group action aimed at building collective power with the end goal of domination sits uncomfortably next to the understanding of solidarity we often use in ordinary, partisan, or democratic contexts. Solidarity thus takes on a partisan meaning or a normative standard. This move is common and popular. However, it disables our full understanding of what solidarity is and does in a society. It also falls short of helping us to understand political and personal pathologies. For that reason, this chapter argues that a pathological form of solidarity, which I call antisocial solidarity, is at the root of a dominative society. When solidarity is practiced toward domination it is, as Allen notes, different. It is antisocial, and in that sense it undermines the general function of solidarity. That is, dominative solidarity is contradictory and self-­defeating for its members. Those who dominate and those who merely desire to dominate, I argue, find themselves in a form of psychic solidarity. This chapter uses examples from patriarchal or white supremacist organizations to show how their structure is based on a form of solidarity that aims to ameliorate the sense of loss their members associate with a more liberated society. In other words, there is a kind of reactionary psychic constitution that underlies their solidarity. This chapter fleshes out the psychic life of domination rooted in this form of antisocial solidarity, whose constitution, goals, and norms are aimed not at building society but at constituting oneself as a dominative subject and building spheres of exception in which one can live out one’s dominative desires. This form of solidarity differs from the ordinary expression of

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solidarity in two ways: it is primarily psychological rather than material, and its aims contradict the possibility of sociality that solidarity groups generally build. H OW M E L A N C H O LY I N F O R M S P S YC H I C S O L I D A R I T Y

While the use of the term “solidarity” here might seem odd, the phenomenon it describes is prevalent in contemporary society. By psychic solidarity I mean a form of internalized solidarity1 that includes the sharing of formative goals between at least two people, against a third who either does not share those goals or stands in direct opposition to them. It also differs from other forms of what I would characterize as “classic solidarity” in that it is nonvoluntary rather than voluntary, individualistic rather than collective, and has as its formative goal domination rather than liberation.2 Many accounts of solidarity require it to be a form of collective or group action aimed toward some end. I highlight that solidarity is often expressive in nature; it is a show of support for another’s ends, even if one does not intervene and assist the other in achieving those ends. As Ashley E. Taylor theorizes it, the expressive sense of solidarity is distinct from robust solidarity in that it is unidirectional: “Examples of unidirectional solidarity could involve identifying with a group that does not recognize that individual, sharing a group’s interest when it is not a joint interest, or feeling empathy or trust toward a group’s members when none is returned. Such solidarity is expressional solidarity” (2014, 140). Taylor’s argument is that robust solidarity is generative of moral obligations, while “expressional” solidarity is not. In her account, expressional solidarity exists when a person or group has a unidirectional relationship to a solidarity group: I support Palestinian rights, but they do not mutually support me. This occurs because I am not a Palestinian. I have no Palestinian rights in need of protection.3 I would like to add a criterion to Taylor’s account: another aspect of expressive solidarity is that it does not provide material support toward a goal. At best, it provides psychological support which can in turn give the group’s members confidence that their goal is widely recognized as desirable. Solidarity’s expressive sense is familiar. Recall that Palestinian rights activists were photographed holding signs in support of those in Ferguson, Missouri, after the extrajudicial killing of Michael Brown. Their solidarity was expressive in that, while they may have hoped or wished that those in

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Ferguson would achieve their aims, their holding of signs did not provide material support for that goal. It will be helpful to look at some examples of the phenomenon I’m describing. While Adorno is more widely known for his thought regarding how fascism functions along these lines, he also critiques gendered norms of domination. In Minima Moralia he refers to one such example as “the tacit complicity of all males” (2005, 45).4 It is not necessarily a solidarity that agents work to build and maintain, though it is built and maintained, sometimes intentionally. It is a solidarity into which individuals are co-­opted or socialized.5 There is a social expectation that members of dominative groups maintain it, and that they allow other members of the group to maintain their psychic status as normative individuals. In perceiving themselves as vulnerable to the loss of their ability to dominate, those who benefit from dominative systems see themselves as being justified in attacking the undesirable other as an inverted form of self-­ defense (Horkheimer and Adorno 2005, 150). A formative mechanism of the psychic life of domination, in Horkheimer and Adorno’s account, is just this false perception of one’s own vulnerability—­the Nazi perceives himself as vulnerable to the Jew, thus inverting the actual power relation. For Adorno, then, the silent conspiracy of all men with each other ought to be understood as a variety of psychic solidarity common among members of dominative groups. Within the realm of object-­relations theory, the loss that precipitates melancholia is not in fact an actual loss. It is a failure to let go of the maternal Thing.6 This is why melancholia is so entrenched and intractable: one cannot replace what one has lost, because one has not really lost anything to begin with. It is, instead, a failure to let go of what one no longer needs that precipitates the feeling of loss. As I’ve relayed it, the perceived loss of a dominant status attends to the structure, values, and goals of pathological solidarity organizations.7 They are built and maintained to fulfill this psychic need for their members. Although it was once a common topic of interest to feminist political theorists, this psychic aspect of the foundational forms of social and political solidarity has largely been left to the wayside. Further, the engendering of solidarity as “the solidarity of men” has not been thoroughly theorized with regard to the plainly dominative aspects of men’s solidarities in contemporary society. In this way, where civil and political

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rights once feigned generality as “the rights of persons” while excluding large swaths of the population such as women, people of color, the poor, and the uneducated, men’s rights activists no longer feign generality in their desire to have greater rights and freedoms than others. Even within men’s rights organizations, the rights and freedoms to which men claim to be entitled are to be distributed in a starkly hierarchical and nonegalitarian fashion. Here, MRAs (men’s rights activists) differ from feminists in both theory and practice. As Bonnie Honig argues, feminism’s fundamental commitment is equality. Honig claims that the chief aim of feminism is “holding people accountable for inequality and seeking to rectify that wherever possible. It’s not always practiced that way, I know that, but that is its fundamental commitment. If you’re not committed to equality, I just don’t think that’s feminism that you’re committed to. You may be committed to women’s rights, or other kinds of things, but I think being feminist means being fundamentally committed to equality” (Watson 2013, 112). While one might, in practice, be committed only to women’s rights, the commitment of feminism itself is equality. In this sense, the philosophical, ethical, and political commitment of feminism can (and does, as was previously explored) come apart from its practical implementation. Nowhere is such a disentanglement more clear than in so-­called “neoliberal feminism” (often called simply “white feminism”). The primary goal of such “feminisms” is the attainment of individual advantage. It is here that the MRAs’ claim that they are simply a men’s version of feminist activism can become true. Both activisms are structures and systems not of solidarity, but of acting in concert toward the goal of individual advantage and achievement. Here there are claims that rising tides raise all boats, but in reality such political organizations are merely smatterings of individuals each concerned only with their own boat. Yet MRAs, like “women’s rights activists” (in Honig’s terms), claim equality as a fundamental organizing principle. In particular, what’s been called “equality with a vengeance” (Flood 2010, 342) is a term applied to MRAs and various father’s rights organizations—­groups dedicated to undermining juridical systems that determine parental rights based on the state’s determination of what is best for the child’s welfare, rather than on a simple deference to paternal/patriarchal authority over child rearing.

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Another paradigm of women’s rights activism splitting from its root concerns of equality is anti-­trans reactionary feminism (whose participants often refer to themselves as “gender critical”). Yet the split occurs because anti-­trans reactionary feminism tends to mirror the structure of demands and organizations developed by MRAs. In particular, this anti-­trans “feminism” is informed by the kind of reactionary melancholia discussed above. Not only does it not aim toward equality, but it specifically claims that trans people8 have subjugated women by usurping the hard-­earned rights that women have gained in the past fifty to seventy years. Such claims of subjugation are based on the same basic logic as Jordan Peterson’s claim concerning women usurping men: that power is a distributable good, and as with other distributable goods, we should assume a moderate scarcity. If trans women are permitted to seek shelter in “women’s shelters,” or in shelters for those subjected to intimate partner violence, they are monopolizing scarce shelter space that ought to go to women in need—­among whom, gender critical feminists claim, they are not. There are, then, two points of connection for MRAs and anti-­trans reactionary feminist organizations. They are motivated by a reactionary melancholy which seeks to go back to the days in which domination was easily achieved, such that one could construct a relatively coherent self-­identity based on it; and their group construction is similar. They are internally hierarchical, and externally exclusionary. The internal hierarchical structure of the group diminishes its ability to withstand internal conflict. The lack of internal conflict, then, renders the group antisocial but also apolitical. In search of what they have lost, men rely on psychic solidarity. Yet there are distinctions between, for example, feminist solidarity and the solidarity of a men’s rights organization. The distinction is not, as many would frame it, one between a solidarity we would like to endorse and one we would not. However, it would seem almost impossible to endorse the normative goals of both groups, as they will often come into conflict, even if much feminist work is completed on the way in which men are harmed by hegemonic heteromasculinity. Theodor Adorno frames this problem well in an aphorism better known for its discussion of homosexuality and totality than for its incisive commentary on heteromasculinity. The aphorism “Tough Baby” (English title in the German original, clearly a

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commentary on American masculinity) claims: “There is a certain gesture of virility, be it one’s own or someone else’s, that calls for suspicion. It expresses independence, sureness of the power of command, the tacit complicity of all males. [ . . . ] For him, the ideal form of human relations is the club, that arena of a respect founded on scrupulous unscrupulousness” (45–­46). “The club” could just as easily be the locker room: that place where masculinity is allowed to be diligent in its ruthlessness—­a place where even the president of the United States can brag about his penchant for sexual assault without expectation of challenge or friction. The expectation is that all those who are allowed in the locker room agree. In the locker room, at the club, white men can find what they sense they have lost in the world itself. Men’s spaces, then, become spaces removed from ordinary constraints on the behavior of men in what used to be called “mixed company.” It is precisely the existence of this state of exception that creates the psychic solidarity of melancholic masculinity. On the one hand, this shows that contemporary masculinity is incredibly vulnerable. Adorno highlights this in this infamous passage: In the end the tough guys are the truly effeminate ones, who need the weaklings as their victims in order not to admit that they are like them. Totalitarianism and homosexuality belong together. In its downfall the subject negates everything which is not of its own kind. The opposites of the strong man and the compliant youth merge in an order which asserts unalloyed the male principle of domination. In making all without exception, even supposed subjects, its objects, this principle becomes totally passive, virtually feminine (2005, 46).

As Randall Halle reads this passage, in one of the most thorough treatments of Adorno and queer theory, Adorno is taunting gay men, displaying the virulence and opulence of heterosexuality, and displaying his own status as an “evolved man” educated at Oxford above all the brute and unsophisticated masculinities of ordinary men (2004). Yet the passage begins with a simple claim: that certain forms of masculinity provide gestures that signify we ought not to trust them, that men are, in effect, in a silent conspiracy with one another. What sticks out to Halle and is highlighted in other queer readings of Adorno is the phrase “Totalitarianism and homosexuality belong together”—­but it is generally stripped from its context. Earlier in the aphorism, Adorno

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argues that the heteromasculinity of the tough guy is actually sublimated homosexuality. What is pretended as violence toward the other is actually violence toward the self. Rooted in a perverse self-­love and a love of those like themselves, heteromasculine men, together at the literal boys’ club, joke about assaulting women. The psychic solidarity is a way not of building power with one another, but of assuring themselves and the other that they can power-­over the lost and thus now undesirable other. P S YC H I C S O L I D A R I T Y I N A C T I O N

The concept of melancholy is a distinctly accessible one here, especially for contemporary life. Inherent within it, as Freud put it nearly one hundred years ago, is a profoundly painful dejection, cessation of interest in the outside world, loss of the capacity to love, inhibition of all activity, and a lowering of the self-­regarding feelings to a degree that finds utterance in self-­reproaches and self-­revilings, and culminates in a delusional expectation of punishment (1964, 244).

Melancholy is distinguished from mourning merely by a disturbance of self-­regard. It plays a distinct role in critical theory, which is a self-­ recognized melancholy science. The endeavor of a melancholy science is based on the poverty of the human condition in contemporary life. Perhaps nodding to Kant’s assessment of the sublime as a lawfulness without a law, a melancholy science is a science which searches for what seemingly cannot be found, which lacks the triumphalism of technical solutions to the world’s problems, and which recognizes the role of science in what appears to be unending catastrophe. Melancholy plays an essential role in the conceptualization of negative dialectical thought, which itself arises out of the ineliminable contradictions of subjective life. In the negative dialectical account, we live in and through these contradictions and they live in and through us: the material reality out of which subjectivity is cleaved stands against us at the same time that we cleave out aspects of the world as discrete things and undifferentiated “stuff.” As Julia Kristeva theorizes it, melancholy is part of a duality of comedy and tragedy, and tragedy is easily transmogrified into farce. Arendt highlights this in her thinking on evil, which can be so ludicrous that not even the best surrealist could have imagined it: reality itself seems to

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break into a comic play, given the depth of tragedy. More than anything else, melancholy, according to Kristeva, is the result of a psychic wound. It can even develop from the loss of what one ought not to have had in the first place. That is, melancholy can result from the loss of one’s perceived status as dominant. The psychic life of domination requires melancholy as motivation for seeking an amelioration to the psychic wound that confronts us as unable to be healed. Michael Kimmel (1997) taps into this phenomenon clearly in his “Masculinity as Homophobia,” in which he argues that homophobia—­read literally as the fear of men—­is the seat of masculinity in contemporary society. In particular, men are afraid that other men will perceive them as “sissies.” Throughout the piece, Kimmel simultaneously makes two arguments: masculinity functions in general as a negation; and where it does not function as a negation, its positive content is violence. To say that masculinity generally functions as a negation is to say that its rules and norms are not positive prescriptions but “a set of negative rules about behavior. Never dress that way. Never talk or walk that way. Never show your feelings or get emotional” (Kimmel, 148). In Kimmel’s reading, masculinity is first and foremost an exercise in negative self-­discipline or the expression of violence toward oneself and others, often resulting in psychic wounding. Psychic wounding is to be expected by everyone, but not everyone is psychically wounded in equivalent ways. Conversely, not everyone is psychically supported in the same ways. In his Black Reconstruction, W. E. B. Du Bois argues that whiteness provides a psychological wage. It provides even poor whites with public standing that is unavailable to black Americans, and these are its psychological wages: respect, authority, deference. As Robin DiAngelo puts it in her “White Fragility,” white people are expected to agree with the interpretations and ideologies of race held by other white people. This expectation, when transgressed, creates racial stress and a challenge to white racial solidarity—­two elements of what she calls “white fragility” (DiAngelo, 57). Analogously, this chapter argues that those who benefit from and reproduce systems of gender-­based domination require and rely on an inverted form of solidarity. I use the language of solidarity here in both a material and a psychic sense. The solidarity of members in dominative groups works to maintain their ability to power-­over others, and that attends with it both

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material and psychological wages.9 Hence, the term “psychic solidarity” is both descriptive and pseudonormative: it generates particular kinds of perverse, perceived obligations for members of dominative groups10 at the same time as it provides a descriptive account of how dominative groups develop, maintain, and reproduce systems of oppression. In her 2017 Down Girl, Kate Manne argues that socially we reserve empathy not for victims of masculine violence but for its perpetrators. Her case in point is that of Brock Turner, the Stanford University student, promising swimmer, and now literal textbook rapist.11 The sympathy for Brock Turner’s ruined life, posing his victim as his violator, lamented his inability to enjoy a steak or continue his promising swimming career, all for—­as his father put it—­“twenty minutes of action.” The urge to empathize with Turner rather than with the unconscious woman he raped behind a dumpster is what Manne calls “himpathy.”12 For Manne, himpathy is not constructed as practiced only by men; it is also practiced by women, as they are socialized to be sensitive to the feelings of men and to distance themselves from the victimhood that could be enacted upon them through blaming the victim. Sarah Ahmed identifies this phenomenon intersectionally. In a 2014 blog post titled “White Men,” she outlines what she takes to be the significance of “white men” as it structures the institution of the university, and thus the experiences and lives of white women, queer people, and people of color in the university. I’d like to focus on one such provocation here: “white men = support system.” The support system she references is likely to be known as an “old boys’ club,” a system and structure of patriarchal preference for white men which recognizes and supports the efforts of white men, and which reproduces itself by doing so. She claims that in academia, at least, white men cite each other into existence. The reliance of white men on white men for the social reproduction of white men requires a certain sort of trust and, with it, psychic solidarity. Notably, here too, Ahmed argues that women reproduce white men—­they write dissertations on white men, they cite white men, they write papers about white men. (I am, as I write, reproducing the existence of white men.) In both Ahmed’s and Manne’s assessments, our socialized desire to protect white men is a kind of psychic solidarity; and as such, it encourages support for the project of white supremacist heteropatriarchy, even if it hurts. As I’ve characterized it, psychic solidarity is built by an unspoken

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and unacknowledged contract. There are penalties for violations, and benefits for holding up your end of the deal—­t hough the rules of the deal are not clearly laid out, but rather are imbricated by socialization. The discussion of white heteromasculinity as generating a psychic solidarity taps into the narcissistic tendencies of melancholia as much as it contradicts them. It also provides a resource for understanding that, though there is a psychic sense of solidarity generated by what Ahmed would call white men as an institution, it often lacks a commitment to an active, material solidarity. There is no commitment to solidarity in act or solidarity in being. It would seem that some men do take it upon themselves to act on behalf of the group (though most admit to being driven by the sort of melancholic desire to kill the other that they have lost). The École Polytechnique massacre, committed by Marc Lépine, and Elliot Rodger’s Isla Vista killing spree are both examples of this kind of desire to act out psychic solidarity. However, we would be remiss to call this “acting in solidarity,” as those involved act individually, often from very personal motives, and seek to harm the direct object that they themselves have lost. Their actions are thus not designed to build power with other men, but to power over the women who they believe have slighted them. The pathological “solidarity” on display here is merely an individual acting out a desire to dominate by harming the projected object of loss. There is no attempt made to build sociality or power with each other. To the extent that it is “solidaristic,” it is only so because of the widespread effects misogynist terror can have on women in general (Mallick 2020). One might be led to wonder whether the targeted mass killings of women are really acts of solidarity. That is, if the goal of psychic solidarity is a dominative identity, don’t spectacular acts of violence further that goal? The answer to this question is clearly yes. But on examination, it is more complicated. My argument that pathological solidarity groups build psychic solidarity through a relation of loss of dominance does not describe the self-­stated goals of the groups; it provides an analysis of what it is that these groups actually do for their members. It doesn’t claim that the groups’ express goals include the violent domination of women. This is, I argue, what lies behind the ideology of such groups. Conversely, in their own words, these groups are aimed at helping men extract sex from women by any means necessary. Elliot Rodger, for example, was a

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member of a community of men who refer to themselves as “incels”—­ short for “involuntary celibates.” Rodger published a manifesto before going on a killing spree in 2014. The manifesto focuses in nearly its entirety on Rodger’s own sexual failures and the women who thwarted his sexual desires. As he put it, Childhood is fun, but when a boy reaches puberty a whole new world opens up to him . . . a whole new world with new pleasures, such as sex and love. Other boys will experience this, but not me, it pains me to say. That is the basis of my tragic life. I will not have a great time in the next ten years. The pleasures of sex and love will be denied to me. Other boys will experience it, but not me. Instead, I will only experience misery, rejection, loneliness, and pain (“My Twisted World,” 20).

Rodger’s goals were, as shared by the incel community, merely to have his sexual desires satisfied through the submission of women to him. In fact, the subreddit r/TheRedPill bills itself as a forum for “discussion of sexual strategy in a culture increasingly lacking a positive identity for men” (Tait 2017). How should we understand a discussion of sexual strategy in a culture that lacks a positive identity for men? It is for this reason that I argue we ought not to consider the acts of incel spree killers as acts in solidarity with their comrades. Their stated goals are not, in fact, the mass murder or even mass terror of women. Their goals are mainly to manipulate women into having sex with them, and for these women to see heterosexual men’s sexuality as a good thing—­or, put otherwise, to begin to see heterosexual men as sexual. The stated goal, then, is in part domination, but only of a particular sort: sexual. Men’s rights organizations, and their attendant Internet forums of the sort being discussed here, do not have as a goal the elimination of women. It is in this sense that one could draw a distinction between the solidarity of white nationalists and the solidarity of incels. White nationalists ultimately do seek to eliminate people of color—­at the very least, to eliminate them from “their” nations. MRAs, though, require women. To cease being incels, to develop the masculinity they desire, they need women as potential, and eventually actual, sex partners.13 One can imagine any variety of acts that would enable their fellow incels to achieve their collective goals of bedding more women: a

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distribution ring for date rape drugs, for example, could fall under the boundaries of material acts in solidarity. The clearest way in which incel solidarity is acted upon is via the distribution of advice by pickup artists: an actual attempt to help the men achieve their collective aim, to have more sex with conventionally attractive women. Violent and murderous rampages don’t even pretend to achieve that goal. The incel “heroes” who commit mass killing sprees don’t demand that the women they kill make themselves sexually available, and they generally don’t rape the women prior to the mass killing. They simply punish the women for their symbolic significance as objects of loss. To be clear, this is not merely my own interpretation. It is often explicitly stated by these killers in their manifestoes or declarations of intent that their goal is to punish. While incels who commit mass murders of the women who are symbols of their frustrated sexuality are hailed as heroes by other frustrated men, the solidarity they elicit is a purely psychological function of the feeling of power that other incels derive from it. Their acts do not help other incels to become more powerful, more sexually dominant, or more satisfied, or to improve their self-­esteem. The remaining issue of such acts is that they do have social effects on women, who, in addition to fearing individual men they know (because statistically these are the men most likely to harm them), are incentivized to fear men in general. Incel mass murders, then, do have social effects; but they are not the effects that MRA groups in general attempt to achieve. The effect is to destroy the necessary precondition of social life: some form of trust. To the extent that these men wish to dominate women, it is mostly in domestic ways: they want permanently caring, emotionally and sexually available women who are not too “needy.” Mass murder simply does not enable the group to achieve those goals. It isn’t even intended to do so. The conflicts that MRAs agitate in the wider world are best understood as “unproductive,” as Simmel theorizes them, because they are merely intended to provide psychological satisfaction, not actually achieve a goal or aim. A 2016 study of online men’s rights advocacy websites (having first appeared in the 1970s, MRAs are not a strictly new phenomenon) found that the majority of MRA websites could be classified as “cyber lads in search of masculinity” (Schmitz and Kazyak 2016). As they put it, such sites “offer a breadth of lifestyle advice aimed at empowering men

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and encouraging them to unapologetically embrace their masculinity” (6). Similarly, these websites act as spaces where men actively derogate women as a collective group and blame “the far left” for stripping the modern man of power. The logic of MRAs is designed to tap into the melancholic sense of contemporary men that something is missing, and that masculinity (and thus a dominative self-­identity) has been lost. At the same time, such sites scapegoat women, feminism, and the left in general for committing a theft of power, leading to a sense that something important to the constitution of the subject has gone missing. Jordan Peterson has become a quasicelebrity academic by making versions of these claims. Peterson cannot conceive of a nondominative relationship between men and women; he argues for a version of gender complementarity, akin to Rousseau’s, whereby women require the domination of men and men require being dominant. Further, Peterson’s conception of power is a distributive one, based in moderate scarcity: everyone can have some power, but the more X has, the less is available for Y to have. Thus, any attempt at women’s liberation is equated to women’s domination over men. For men who are persuaded by his rhetoric, women become an easy scapegoat for any internal sense of the loss of heteronormative masculinity. Psychic solidarity is in part about building trust with others who are interested in domination; at the same time, it functions to destroy the bonds of trust between members of the broader public. It is also in part about building trust in oneself that one can enact the dominance one desires. This is the case with MRAs who often claim that they are working together toward the shared goal of overcoming their involuntary celibacy at the hands of women who will not consent to sex with them—­or the goal of overcoming a variety of other “harms” imposed on them by women and men who support women’s liberation. For a time, the community forum website, Reddit was a predominant location of misogynist organizing on the Internet. Reddit operates via collections of subreddits—­community generated themes for user-­generated posts, on which users can comment and up-­or down-­vote to signify quality or support. Many of these forums have moderators who maintain the individual subreddits’ rules and ensure the quality of posts. In a post celebrating the one-­hundred-­thousandth user on the subreddit “The Red Pill,” community moderator redpillschool discusses the adversity faced

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by its members: “I did not expect what we have experienced: mainstream attention in a campaign against us of fear, shame, and censorship.”14 Yet at the same time, the desire for unbridled access to women’s sexual attention and sexual desire is put into dominative terms. A recent post on the same subreddit by user hawkeaglejesus implores men to “stop talking about your weaknesses,” and cites a study of the online dating app Tinder, in which women report that they do not want to be responsible for the emotional labor of absorbing men’s trauma on a first date. The post ends with the conclusion that “When you have an entire generation of men being told that they need to be sensitive, open, in touch with their feelings and ‘communicate’ this is what happens.”15 In other words, men are being told by other men to do violence against their own emotional constitutions in an attempt to regain the desirable other (a sexually available woman) and the lost other (heteromasculinity). Taking seriously the way in which solidarity is felt in the patriarchal psyche can illuminate many features of dominative society. We can better understand the mechanisms by which oppressive norms are maintained. In particular, psychic solidarity develops the internal sense that one is perversely obligated to aid, protect, or defend systems of domination. It is important to note, though, that the psychic solidarity highlighted here is significantly different from the solidarity of dominated groups building power with each other through the association. S E L F - ­C O N T R A D I C T O R Y S O L I D A R I T I E S

To recall, melancholy forms part of the psychic life of domination, and does so by means of an antisocial solidarity that aims to make material the psychic conditions necessary for domination. To say that a form of solidarity is antisocial is simply to point out a certain dialectic within the concept of solidarity. There are ways of being in solidarity that ultimately undermine the very possibility of solidarity. This occurs because the goals of the solidary organization or group are designed to undermine the broader foundations of society. When solidarity is practiced in such a way as to forefront individual achievement, domination, or success, the solidarity produced becomes antisocial and in some ways self-­contradictory.16 The solidarity necessary to achieve the stated goals of the group would undermine group cohesion after the goals are achieved. However, would do so in a distinct way. It is likely that nearly all solidary

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organizations would dissolve were their objectives to be achieved. At the very least, they would change their tactics and goals. Take, for example, the African National Congress (ANC) in both pre-­and post-­apartheid South Africa. Prior to the national referendum on apartheid, the ANC had already existed for nearly eighty years. It organized itself to agitate for the end of apartheid governance and the enfranchisement of Black South Africans. At times it did so violently, via the organization of a paramilitary force, uMkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation, or MK), aiming to achieve their goals of constitutional reform, full enfranchisement, and resistance to state terror through guerilla warfare. After constitutional reform in 1994, the ANC became the most popular political party in the nation, and it remains so to this day. The MK was integrated into the South African National Defense Force in the same year.17 That is to say, the ANC adapted its structures, goals, and most notably its cooperation with state power throughout its history. The group’s goals have gradually shifted, as have its tactics, after the achievement of the primary goal of constitutional reform to end institutionalized apartheid. In practice, many solidarity groups are similar to the ANC. They have a distinct set of aims and goals, the success or failure of which modifies the tactics, values, and goals of the group and its members. The success of the goals does not generally necessitate the end of the group qua collective entity. Antisocial solidarity organizations are distinct on this axis. They are distinct to the extent that the achievement of their goals undermines their basic ontological premise: that the model of the isolated, autonomous, liberal individual is insufficient grounds on which to build a society capable of democratic processes. Recall, for example, Thatcher’s famous declaration that “there is no such thing as society,” only individual men, women, and families. Building a solidarity group in order to bring about the end of collective human sociality is an exercise in self-­undermining behavior. Yet such groups exist and are characterized here as antisocial. There is a further element to antisocial solidarity groups: they lack the desire and/or ability to withstand internal conflict. This means not only that they have aims which fundamentally undermine the development of society, but that they have internal structures and norms which mirror their aims. Such structures are not unique to antisocial solidarity groups; recall where in chapter 1 I discuss Bayertz’s theorization of this

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feature of solidarity organizations as prefigurative. This prefiguration primarily involves development of the group’s aims on a micrological scale rather than a macrological scale. The aims and goals of such a group are implemented within the group itself. At the same time, the group seeks to bring about those same features in the social, political, legal, or economic institutions in the world more broadly. Here it will be helpful to look at the social structure and functions of such groups, rather than assess their individual members and their work, as in the preceding section of this chapter. Of the work that exists on masculinity and solidarity, nearly all of it is completed by sociologists working on social organization. Predominantly, studies of social organization and masculinity argue that hegemonic masculinity—­a sort of masculinity that is aimed at claiming deference and resisting exploitation—­creates a kind of solidarity among men (Connell 1995). This solidarity is framed in particular by acting as a hegemonic ideal that may aim to consolidate power to the exclusion of those who fall outside it—­including women, gender-­nonconforming people, and men who display an idiosyncratic or insufficient form of the ideal. This work portrays a version of solidarity that clearly stands in stark contrast to the one I’ve presented in chapters 1 and 2 The solidarity of men is generated by a common aim and value, but the common aim and value are already hegemonic. For this reason, the solidarity group does not need to go through such ordinary processes as attempting to define their goals, moderating conflicts that arise, and developing the normative resources to give voice to their self-­determined needs. It is here that we can best see why groups aiming at domination are so often described as being unable to be in solidarity with each other: they lack the democratic processes that most solidarity groups undergo. However, I’ve argued that solidarity is not defined primarily in terms of process, or by virtue of a moral assessment of the group’s goals and values. Instead, it exists because men are working together to forward their goals, and are doing so in opposition to some third party. But we can still develop distinctions that help to separate antisocial solidarity groups from democratic solidarity groups. There are two results of the fact that antisocial solidarity groups already have their terms set out in advance and already adopt hegemonic norms. First, there is no need for internal conflict within the group. This is because internal conflict

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arises in situations where the norms, values, goals, tactics, or exclusions are under review by the members. In a group that adopts a ready-­made hegemonic norm, these debates do not arise. Therefore, they don’t require a democratic ethos for their mitigation, moderation, or debate. Second, because such groups adopt a ready-­made hegemonic norm, the exclusions the group makes are permanent and necessary. Anyone falling short of the norms of hegemonic masculinity (today often called “toxic masculinity”) is excluded. They are excluded precisely because hegemonic masculinity is, in part, constituted by desire for the deference of those who insufficiently fulfill the ideal. This means that it isn’t so much that the group is aimed at dominating someone, but that some of its own members would find themselves dominated in the future, were the group to succeed,. Adorno positions this feature of heteropatriarchy as a form of “damage to the organism” necessitated by hegemonic masculinity. In the typical fashion, this domination of the other is a covert form of domination of the self. In this way, the psychic life of domination functions based on the expectation of punishment, because it is a form of self-­harm. This follows also from Butler’s interpretation of Adorno’s ontology of the subject as being preceded by the social. That is, the “I” is differentiated from the mass of society, and thus is itself a mark of damage. This self-­harm—­violence toward the subject and body—­coheres with a further element of melancholia; the delusional expectation of punishment. D E S I R I N G P U N I S H M E N T A N D FA I L U R E

In Mourning and Melancholia, Freud refers to the delusional expectation of punishment as the “culmination” of melancholic disturbance. The melancholic has such a low self-­regard that he expects, for some reason, to be punished for it (243). The solidary groups I’ve discussed also express this delusional expectation of punishment. However, in making such punishment real, they make their expectations no longer delusional. Let me explain what I mean. Organized misogynist solidarity organizations actively punish their own members. Take, for instance, the Proud Boys, a self-­proclaimed “Western chauvinist” organization spearheaded by Vice Media cofounder Gavin McInnes. The Proud Boys have been analogized to a paramilitary organization, like Hitler’s Brownshirts, acting on President Donald Trump’s behalf. Proud Boys claim that they are

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neither racist nor misogynist, yet they long for the days when “girls were girls and men were men.”18 However, all Proud Boys take an oath to know their enemy and refrain from masturbation. While voluntary celibacy has a strong connection to a variety of MRAs, it also carries within it a historically fascist tradition. In particular, the control of sexuality can be framed as a form of distinguishing the man from beast. As Reich puts it in his Mass Psychology of Fascism, “The necessity for sexual self-­control, for maintenance of sexual repression, leads to the development of compulsive, emotionally highly charged ideas of honor, duty, courage and self-­control” (22). Such sexual repression is necessary to maintain the authoritarian structure of the family, the seat of authoritarian social psychology. The dictate to remain celibate, or to merely refrain from onanistic pleasure, seems to differ starkly from the behavior of MRAs who attempt relations with women but are unsuccessful. However, both Proud Boys and MRAs share the desire for a highly regulated sexuality marked by the overarching desire for control. In the case of the Proud Boys, the desire for control is internalized via prohibitions on masturbation. In the case of MRAs, it is externalized in the form of a desire to manipulate women into serving as the willing object of one’s sexual advances. In our society, such a highly regulated sexuality carries with it the specter of guilt for one’s own desires when they fall outside the boundaries of normative sexuality; and this guilt is often expressed as a desire for punishment. The YouTube commentator ContraPoints (aka Natalie Wynn) notes that for the most nihilistic MRAs, the image of the human skull has become a symbol of their failed masculinity that can never be gained (ContraPoints 2018). The skull—­in particular, a skull with evidence of weak jawlines and brow ridges—­is the eternal symbol of their inability to find sexual satisfaction due to its perceived significance to a “biological destiny.” The connection here to various forms of scientific white supremacy almost makes itself: the incel movement has echoes of old-­fashioned phrenology. The delusional expectation of punishment is made real for incels in Internet forums and message boards that are dedicated to incels posting photos of themselves and telling other incels that they may as well commit suicide due to their appearance—­or, in their words, lie down and rot. The melancholia at work here is pervasive; it has even resulted in an ability to consider proactive behaviors other than the seeking of the punishment they feel they are owed, and perhaps explains why their solidarity is only psychic.

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Melancholia morphs into a politically unproductive, nihilistic, and wholly individualized sadomasochism. This is the real end of the pathological solidarity of other reactionary organizations based on melancholia. Their antisocial nature is fully realized as a forum where users go to tell others to kill themselves, and to be told they ought to kill themself as well. There is no vision of society put forward—­just a vision of individuals, alienated, in pain and seeking punishment.19 In this way, antisocial solidarity can be thought of as requiring a kind of political nihilism that inhibits actually seeking to change the world via conflict. Melancholia is not restricted to its formation of the pseudosocial solidarity of dominative groups; it is also, in some ways, at the heart of liberatory solidarities. Left-­wing melancholy is the other side of the antisocial solidarity of dominative groups. While melancholy signifies a broad detachment from the social, in the form of withdrawing in upon oneself away from the world, it is also, as I’ve argued, at the heart of seeking to ameliorate a psychic wound. This does not necessarily require seeking out punishment of the self or the other, though this is one of the ever-­present threats of how fascism can lurk within our desires. Rather than seeking punishment or mere political resignation, melancholia can also serve as an impetus to produce something politically productive in an attempt to obtain the impossible object of utopia. The term “left-­wing melancholia” was coined by Walter Benjamin in an eponymous essay on Erich Kästner’s poetry. Benjamin poses left-­wing melancholia as the way in which left intellectuals cling to an analysis or theory even though it cannot be brought into the realm of reality. In a way, it is a clinging to the failure of the left. Left melancholy is thus clinging to the past, clinging to its own failure, both depoliticized and conservative or reactionary. This ought to be read as a sort of dialectic: on the one hand, the products of the melancholic left intellectual do not appear on the stage of economic or political conflict because the intellectual themself recognizes that they have already lost the battle, so why fight? On the other hand, this clinging to a past analysis attempts to subvert the arrow of history and bring about a return to the material conditions in which such an analysis may have been fruitful in bringing about revolutionary change. As Pensky puts it, left melancholy is “promoting a form of political resignation and quietism under the banner of leftist moral indignation” (1993, 8).

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A prototypical example of left-­wing melancholy can be found in Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism (2009). In the book, Fisher argues that capitalism has progressed to such a great degree that it is impossible to imagine alternatives.20 The ideology of capital has so thoroughly naturalized itself that imagining an alternative is like imagining yourself in the body of another animal: even when you try, you know you cannot get it right. For that reason, a certain sort of political resignation undergirds Fisher’s Capitalist Realism, which he describes as “a deeper, far more pervasive, sense of exhaustion, of cultural and political sterility” (7). This captures both elements of left-­wing melancholia identified by Benjamin: the sense that the battle is in many ways already over, and that all that remains is the moral indignation at having lost. Adorno’s work might also serve as an accused example of left melancholia. In the 1960s, radical student movements were heavily critical of his work, for what they saw as his “political resignation.”21 Contemporary readers of Adorno’s work are also often quick to note that he provides no positive way forward, a critique he felt necessary to rebut in his essay “Resignation.” As Adorno puts it, “The objection, effortlessly rattled off, runs along these lines: the person who at this hour doubts the possibility of radical change in society and who therefore neither participates in spectacular, violent actions nor recommends them has resigned. What he has in mind he thinks cannot be realized; actually he doesn’t even want to realize it” (1998, 289). In particular, Adorno’s response highlights that thought itself is a form of political activity, particularly in a world that bends subjects toward a failure to think critically, dialectically, and from the position of the other. The accusations parallel Wendy Brown’s (1999) critique of left melancholia. Contemporary debates about it are anchored in Brown’s “Resisting Left Melancholia,” in which she argues that left melancholia persists because of the legacy of twentieth-­century socialist losses. It appears that at the turn of the twenty-­first century, all radical potential in both theory and praxis had been lost. In many ways, this followed from the thesis that we were at the end of history. As Brown delineates it: In the hollow core of all these losses, perhaps in the place of our political unconscious, is there also an unavowed loss—­t he promise that Left analysis and Left commitment would supply its adherents with a clear and certain path towards the good, the right, and the true? Is

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it not this promise that formed the basis for much of our pleasure in being on the Left, indeed, for our self-­love as Leftists and for our fellow feeling towards other Leftists? And if this love cannot be given up without demanding a radical transformation in the very foundation of our love, in our very capacity for political love or attachment, are we not doomed to Left melancholia, a melancholia that is certain to have effects that are not only sorrowful but self-­destructive (22)?

At bottom, then, she claims that the attachment those on the left have to their own leftism, if it is based in a historically oriented critique or a historical legacy, will fall prey to left melancholia. It is this feature of our collective political project, and thus our collective political identity, that leftist intellectuals must be wary of. Contrary to this, I’d like to posit a different sort of left-­w ing melancholia, and in particular to dialecticize the left melancholic. As I’ve argued that a pathological form of solidarity can develop out of a melancholic psychic relation to the world based on a loss of dominative identity, I argue that nonpathological solidarities can also arise out of melancholy. However, it is the sort of melancholy that is not necessarily a pathological attachment to the past, but rather an attachment to an impossible object. In psychoanalytic terms, it doesn’t fixate on the maternal Thing but to the impossible object that synthesizes the ego, which is here, with the other, which is also the ego but is there (Kristeva 1982, 12). In other words, we once again return to the notion of solidarity as the project of nonexclusion. Nonpathological solidarity, then, can also arrive from an attachment to the possibility of liberation or social freedom—­something we are likely unable to bring about, but which we also ought not ever stop trying to bring about. This is far from the political resignation generally signified by the concept of left melancholia, but this section of this chapter intends to develop a case for the notion that the solidarity of revolutionary organization is attached melancholically to an impossible object. Yet, to resist the negative forms of left melancholia, such groups must also contain prefigurative aspects: they must internally model what it is they seek to bring about. T H E P R O M I S E O F S O L I D A R I T Y: U T O P I A A S I M P O S S I B L E O B J E C T

A positive form of melancholic attachment, then, appears in the form of yearning for the impossible object: utopia. For leftist solidarity groups,

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melancholic attachment to utopia is a positive force that resists resignation to the mere facts of our brutal and barbaric world. Despite defeat, the nonpathological solidarity group continues to attempt to bring about a society that is more liberated and less dominated. Left melancholy only becomes a form of tortured stupidity when solidary organizations abandon the project of our collective world and instead retreat into resignation, mere infighting, or theoretical debates absent practical relevance, or fix upon securing only the psychic satisfaction of their members. This form of melancholia, a tortured stupidity that clings to a past theoretical assessment, is, I argue, not actually a form of left melancholia at all. It is instead a simple reactionary melancholia. There is little leftist about it—­excepting, perhaps, a self-­identification by those who suffer from it. Such an orientation is not only fundamentally opposed to the goals of a solidarity organization, but also antithetical to the method of critical theory. For leftist solidarity organizations, melancholia must maintain itself in the desire to attain utopia—­even against a world that makes such an attainment impossible. As Horkheimer puts it in his preface to Martin Jay’s The Dialectical Imagination, “The hope that earthly horror does not possess the last word is, to be sure, a non-­scientific wish” (1996, 19). This is just to say that hope against atrocity is not supported by scientific knowledge, prediction, or data. It is in some way pathological to hope that “earthly horror” does not succeed in the end. After all, the many failures of movements against earthly horror and the many successes of atrocity seem to imply the opposite. Atrocity is the norm. One can recall here the case of BAGL (Bay Area Gay Liberation), discussed in chapter 1 of this book. In its many years of existence, BAGL won a number of victories for equal rights, and organized many demonstrations against US imperialism. After a series of internal conflicts, and while facing external pressures from a newly formed and powerful religious right the organization disintegrated. Its demise was not caused by internal conflict; rather, it was attributed to a leadership committee overly interested in theory. Its attachment to the highly theoretical debates, and its inflation of their importance, actually resulted in the organization falling apart. BAGL could no longer project the possibility of the success of their goals. Clinging instead to a theoretical position that no longer had empirical significance, BAGL’s melancholic attachment did what melancholic attachment does: it turned inward and resulted in

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self-­punishment and a loss of self-­regard. Thus, it was not the internal conflict that drove the group to dissolution, but rather its reactionary melancholic attachment to an analysis and theory that became unmoored from the critical hope of utopia. The critical hope of utopia is, in a way, a form of tortured stupidity. In dialectical fashion, the hope for utiopia also contains within it the knowledge of the depth of suffering, domination, and oppression within the world. Given such knowledge, a utopia is impossible; a perfect world would not begin with the history of our shared world. Yet a left-­wing melancholia that clings to such a hope is neither tortured nor stupid. Such a critical hope is the lifeblood of leftist solidarity movements, which could not begin to gain the traction, support, or interest they do if a pessimistic realism reigned. The attachment to hope for a future one knows is impossible staves off the threat of resignation to a politics of suffering, cruelty, and domination. While Brown decries attachment to overly theoretical historical theories that are no longer functional, and calls them a form of left-­wing melancholia, she fails to identify that melancholia functions dialectically. Further, melancholia is fundamentally a condition brought about by the loss of something that one never had to begin with, but merely fantasized that one had. It is a lack brought about by the loss of what was never one’s own to begin with. When placed into that context, the attachment to failed theoretical frameworks obscures the failures of those frameworks. It is not simply, as Brown argues, that the frameworks no longer apply to our material, historical, and social locations; the problem is not simply that Marx could not have predicted or thought through the problems endemic to financialized capitalism. Rather, it is that Marx did not succeed in the historical period during which such a theory had an actual promise of succeeding. In other words, the problem of left-­wing melancholia is not attachment as such; rather, it is attachment to failure. A vibrant, positive melancholia (if one could call melancholia in any sense a positive) can and ought to be cultivated, as it entails a critical hope for what one has never had but nonetheless realizes is missing. In this chapter I’ve argued that solidarity is often used as a way to ameliorate psychic wounds, particularly those characterized by melancholia. However, the solidarity that forms as a result of such damage tends toward antisocial behavior and organizing. The goal of such

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organizations, when formed as a reaction to the perceived loss of dominance, is to regain the ability to dominate—­or to convince oneself that one can be dominant. In what follows, I will consider the resurgence of labor organizing in North America. In part, this is necessary because labor organizing is often considered as the most fundamental form of solidaristic social organization. It is the exemplar of how collective action and collective organization can modify our social institutions. I also consider it because it has seen a historical decline in both membership and efficacy, due to regulations placing strain on labor organizing, and due to propaganda campaigns against it. Yet the United States has recently seen a number of historic labor actions coincident to the increasing popularity of socialism and welfare state policies among the state’s voting base. I draw two conclusions from this: that labor organizing has historically involved organizing on “cultural” levels, and that labor organizing is based on a critical hope for a better world for all.

4 BURDENED ACTION The Social Formation of Solidarity

In many ways, the depiction of solidarity I’ve provided so far is reactive. Solidarity groups organize under conditions of domination, subjection, or exclusion, even if there is no material basis for their fears about a future of being dominated or excluded. Though this book hasn’t been dedicated to reading or interpreting Marx, it takes as a given that “men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-­selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past” (1852 [1996], 32). The actions that members of solidarity organizations take are often not those they might, in an ideal world, wish to take. Given the choice, in fact, members of solidarity organizations might prefer not to organize and agitate for liberation. As the above quotation famously continues: “The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.” This chapter takes seriously that those who engage in solidarity organizing may do so reluctantly, and that they bring their histories, along with their conceptions of social hierarchy, with them to their solidarity activities.

The previous chapter argues that alienation from the social form of life informs the drive to join antisocial solidarity organizations. It is a paradoxical desire to feel a kind of belonging while destroying the conditions of its possibility out of a desire to be dominant. Yet to be discussed is what a society really is, how society is generated, and why it is distinct such that we ought to worry about a social paradox that mirrors the  101

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democratic paradox: that the forces which constitute societies are also motivated to undermine the conditions of the possibility of society. This chapter provides a historical recuperation of sociality as fundamental to democratic life by showing the historical roots of a sociality/antisociality dialectic that permeates democratic thought and action. I develop an explicit focus on political association with capitalist economic and political logics as background conditions. This point of focus clarifies claims about human “nature” or human psychology as requiring sociality while at the same time hating others. Thus it provides a clear explanation of the necessity for a dialectic of solidarity as developed in the previous two chapters of this book. On the other hand, the paradox of social unsociability generated by attempts to live under logics of capitalism also leads us to consider the specific role that labor solidarity has to play in democratic life, as a form that has been consistently overlooked by contemporary philosophers thinking and writing on solidarity. To accomplish this, I read Enlightenment social thought against itself. While Enlightenment thinkers were correct to highlight the ways in which conflict and contestation can form and organize social groups, there is nothing either natural or necessary about the posited goals and aims of the conflict. The goals and aims, rather, are derived from the commercial nature of society as it is pictured in Enlightenment thought.1 Reading the political economy of the Enlightenment, then, provides a picture of social formation via conflict and contestation as well as a clear picture of sociality under commercial society—­without requiring that the two are necessarily dependent on each other. Further, I look toward contemporary reconfigurations of contestatory social relations that develop out of opposition to the structure of capitalism. There is no better place to begin than in workers movements, as they are structured in opposition to specific forms of alienation in an attempt to gain power over their own labor and working conditions, while having their composition determined by a suite of internal contestations, debates, and often formal democratic processes. This chapter identifies two overlooked and ignored features present in Enlightenment political thought that have been lost as these theories have become divorced from their material and historical conditions. In rending liberal political and ethical theory from its historical origins, contemporary political thinkers disregard the social theory that Enlightenment

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thinkers generated and thought necessary to their political normative work. This division partly explains why solidarity has become almost absent in contemporary liberal democratic theory. Solidarity in our contemporary sense is both social value and social fact. It arises conceptually given the material conditions of early commercialism, as a kind of dialectical other to the sudden appearance of a form of life that requires competition, eliminates local solidarities with the poor, and began to enclose what were once public goods for private gain (Harvey 1982). It is during this movement to commercialism that solidarity and socialism itself begin to gain traction in political thought. While one can (as most do) pull the threads of a democratic theory from Enlightenment thinkers without the baggage of the social theory (or “philosophical anthropologies”), doing so distorts a necessary condition of democracy: a properly constituted society. As Adorno puts it in his essay “Society,” a critical concept of society “would go far beyond the trivial idea that everything is interrelated. The emptiness and abstractness of this idea is not so much the sign of feeble thinking as it is that of a shabby permanency in the constitution of society itself: that of the market system in modern-­day society” (1969/1970, 148). This chapter works toward developing such a conception of society through the social formation of solidarity. This helps to clarify the role that solidarity and sociality play in legitimation: to overcome the contradiction between the atomization enforced by capitalist ways of life, and the integration needed for a functional democratic life. E N L I G H T E NM E N T D E P I C T I O N S O F CONFLIC T IN SOCIAL THOUGHT

Radical democratic theory, of the sort that has informed my arguments thus far, typically posits that the political is “the mode of institution of society,” following Lefort (1988) in this original formulation. As such, the political is the mechanism by which society is organized, institutionalized, and supported. I’ve argued that contemporary conditions of neoliberalism have degraded the possibility of social life and society itself via an atomistic consensus. Much hinges on what it means for something to be a society. At its basis, a society is simply any organized community of people. This again runs into philosophical problems. How and to what extent must a community be organized, and what does it mean for a group of people to be a community in the first instance?

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The concept itself becomes articulated within Enlightenment thought in the form of the “social contract” doctrine. It is only then that society comes to be seen as something distinct and potentially prior to the institution of the state. Society becomes the mechanism by which individuals relate to other individuals in order to seek the fulfillment of their interests, primarily via market mechanisms and relations of private contract. As Parsons puts it, The same theorists, like Hobbes and Locke, who were concerned primarily with the relation of the individual to the state, at the same time laid the foundations of the individualistic theory of social relationships. Since previous developments had tended to rob all organized groups and finally even the state of any but an instrumental value, the predominant conception of society came to be that of a plurality of individuals entering into relations of contract for the promotion of their own personal interests. The most prominent relationship is that of exchange [ . . . ] (1935, 229).

Of course, the individualist conception must then posit a set of metaphysical stopgaps for the divergence of individual interests, including the “natural identity of interests,” “natural rights,” and “the spirit of sociability” (1935, 230). It is this tactic that is operational not only in Locke and Hobbes’s work, but also in that of Montaigne, Rousseau, and Kant. Rawls’s insistence that an overlapping consensus is political and not metaphysical is, in part, an attempt to break out of the necessity for a metaphysical conception of society that requires we posit some natural mechanism that draws human beings together. As it turns out, to provide more than a cursory definition of “society” is more difficult than it first appears. Early in the twentieth century, there was a series of debates concerning what a society is and whether such a thing exists at all. This is the background condition for Thatcher’s claim that there is no such thing as society. Early in the founding of sociology as a discipline, there was much ado over what society, as a term, referred to. Primary in this discussion was how one could differentiate between the mere aggregate of individuals and “society.” Individualists, often following from Hayek, argued that societies were “spontaneous orders” developed from market transactions (1944, 15). Functionalists argued that what differentiated society from an

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aggregate of individuals was that the society was composed of parts that could not function properly without each other. Enlightenment thinkers shared this interest in the structure, order, and origins of society. While communities existed prior to Enlightenment theory, it isn’t clear that society, as such, did. With the development of the concept, the Enlightenment both created and analyzed the idea of society and the social human being. Yet it was not just any conception of sociality that interested the Enlightenment scholars; rather, it was sociality generated by commercial society, and a sociality that simultaneously centered cooperation and competition. The concept of society captured in the Enlightenment is in many ways a cynical, painful, and frustrating endeavor far removed from utopian thought at the time. In fact, Enlightenment theorists often argued that it was just this social friction that bonded society together:2 not the force of our love, affection, or tenderness for each other, but a cynical desire to best another, to extract wealth or resources, or to gain power and prestige. The words “society” and “socialism” share etymological roots in that they derive from terms intended to signify “friend,” “companion,” or “ally.” Socialism was designed to make political the “organic” bonds of people’s need for each other. Henri de Saint Simon, one of the first utopian socialists, intended the theory as a response to the individualist liberal theories of civil society and economy. In part, this was a response to the individualized and disorderly life in France surrounding the time of the revolution. It also, though, was focused on the role that industry played in the development of society. Contemporary normative philosophy, as well as some major works in critical theory, have shied away from presenting a theory of the social. Philosophically, the rise of theories of the social occurred in tandem with the advent of commercial society. The concept appeared throughout Enlightenment-­era theories concerning human nature, the structure of capitalism, and the advent of liberal democratic life. During this time period, the social also came to be a central category in political economy. With the end of feudalism and the newfound economic freedoms instituted with the advent of capitalism—­the end of widespread servitude and the institution of so-­called free labor—­philosophers became interested in what it meant for a commercial society to be composed by free men. Of particular interest is the “observation” about “human nature” that

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human beings are driven to be in a society, but are also irritated by each other in society. It is this quality that Montaigne refers to as our “unsocial sociability.”3 Conceptually, unsocial sociability refers to the human disposition to seek out social relations even though when we congregate in groups, form working relationships, and cooperate we irritate each other greatly. We don’t really like other people, but for whatever reason—­glory, gain, honor, necessity—­we find ourselves driven to cooperate with them. The underlying presupposition of a natural unsocial sociability influences Kant’s anthropological, political, and legal philosophy. It follows from the quasi-­Aristotelian assumption that people are made more perfect in their relationships with each other, and are refined in their interactions. Despite the fact that we also are naturally quarrelsome, the organization of society and the discipline of its members becomes paramount. If, as Rousseau posits, human beings are naturally social and compassionate, then a juridical-­political system to moderate antagonism need not be extensive or invasive. As Kant claims: The means that nature uses to bring about the development of all of man’s capacities is the antagonism among them in society, as far as in the end this antagonism is the cause of law-­governed order in society. In this context, I understand antagonism to mean men’s unsocial sociability, i.e., their tendency to enter into society, combined however, with a thoroughgoing resistance that constantly threatens to sunder this society (1970 [1991], 44).

For Kant, human beings have a natural tendency to sociality. However, we also are naturally antagonistic. Since sociality, for Kant, is the realm in which human progress toward perfection is possible, we need to moderate conflict. The need for the moderation of conflict is perhaps the only aspect of this original supposition that is maintained in contemporary political philosophy. Yet it loses its social connotations and becomes disconnected from a social theory. Rawls’s Political Liberalism can serve as an exemplar here: the goal of the text is to determine how to mitigate the conflicts that arise between competing conceptions of the good and political aims in liberal society. In other words, the book takes a difficult social problem, abstracts it from its social origin, and simply attempts to solve it. In many ways, this tactic makes sense. As

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I’ve argued, there is a reason why democratic theory ignores solidarity. Solidarity cannot be legislated into being. The questions surrounding our shared social life, unlike many other political collective action problems, are not easily solved by simple juridico-­political moves. Rawls himself seemed to change his thinking in the opposite direction, moving from a theory that contained a grain of social theory to the development of a theory of politics that lacks in any basic social elements. C A N P U B L I C C U LT U R E M E E T P R I VAT E N E E D?

In Theory of Justice (1971), Rawls develops an Aristotelian theory of education that would enable the members of a society to have the proper sense of justice. Having come to believe that such a liberal perfectionism is untenable, especially with regard to the good life, Rawls began to argue that we simply live in conditions of reasonable pluralism from which we can derive an overlapping consensus about how society ought to be ordered, via law based on the foundational public political culture of a society. Yet such a move shifts the goal posts of considering the problem of conflict. It takes for granted that societies have a foundational public political culture. Such a culture is, in Rawls’s account, derived from the legal documents, judicial decisions, and legislative norms of a society. But this is far removed both from ordinary sociality and from the ordinary citizenry. In that sense, Rawls has seemed to undermine the claim that society contains fundamental conflicts, while adopting complex procedures for mitigating conflict. There is an unwillingness in his work to consider the depth and intractability of conflicts posed in a society characterized by both capitalist markets and liberal democratic norms. (I am far from the first person to point out such a feature in Rawls’s political thought. Most notably, perhaps, Chantal Mouffe in On the Political (2005) argues that both Rawls and Habermas claim to solve the problem of social conflict while at the same time simply theorizing around the problem or theorizing it out of existence.) As conflict has migrated to the political sphere, we lose sight of two other realms of human conflict: the private and the social. Losing sight of human conflict in the private realm is what drives much feminist thought concerning justice in the family or, put crudely, “domestic” conflict. Further, by relegating important conflicts to the juridico-­political realm, contemporary political thought fails to grasp

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the origins of these conflicts. As a result, the conflicts lose their original meaning, context, and actors. When overlooking conflict in the private realm, we also lose the ability to analyse broad social movements. Rawls’s Political Liberalism describes no role for social agitation, social organizations, and social movements. On this account, Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action (1987) fares no better. In part, this is due to each theory’s assumption of the autonomous liberal subject as the basis for political action. Specifically, for Habermas, the problem lies in the fact that under bourgeois society, social integration no longer takes place in formal, organized social institutions such as the church. Instead, it takes place in “processes of consensus formation in language” (180). This is connected to two separate claims: that language is used for coming to an understanding, rather than for the success of strategic action (or the coordination of collectives toward some agreed-­upon goal); and that communicative action becomes more pure the less social integration relies on formal, organized social institutions. In Habermas’s treatise on system and lifeworld, the wage-­labor relation takes an institutionalized form. This places the wage laborer in a situation where they are at once aiding social and systems integration. This is because the wage labor relation functions as both a social and an economic relation: it allows workers to form unions that are not easily contained within specific boundaries of the spheres Habermas develops. As he argues, “The wage-­labor relation [ . . . ] sets the conditions of organizational membership under which wage laborers declare their general willingness to expend their labor power as a suitably programmed contribution to maintaining the capitalist enterprise” (1987, 335). This requires that wage laborers take on the task of translating the language of system to the language of social (or lifeworld, in Habermas’s terms), in order to move between the two registers. Habermas theorizes, following Brunkhorst, that wage laborers complete this task in order to develop action-­theoretic concepts. Put simply, workers must translate the language of their lifeworld into a language the economic subsystem can understand (1987, 334). Consider the following example. When negotiating the pay for a job, workers are given conflicting directives. On the one hand, they are told to demand higher pay or better benefits. Under individualized conditions, the worker’s leverage peaks at two temporal locations: prior to

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the acceptance of a job, and following an external job offer with higher pay or better benefits. On the other hand, workers are told they need to provide justification for higher pay beyond the high cost of living, that they have a family to support, or that the pay is insufficient to support their current or desired future lifestyle.4 While it seems as though the two directives are in conflict, and while much advice is dispensed on how to ask for raises or better negotiate wages, the first directive is meant to be conditioned by the second. In order to best use leverage to negotiate for higher pay or better benefits, the worker needs to translate the language of the social/lifeworld (i.e., I would like to order my life in this particular way and need a certain amount of money to do so) to the language of the economic subsystem (I am adding value for some specific reasons of use to the company, and thus ought to be paid more). The economic subsystem does not care how many children your job will support, or that you will need to relocate from an area with a lower cost of living. The economic subsystem cares only about rational efficiency maximization. In Habermasian terms, by negotiating in the first place, the worker is expressing their willingness to sell their labor—­the fundamental act that enables the capitalist structure of the world to continue to replicate itself. If people lack this willingness, the capitalist structure of life could no longer continue after the fashion it historically has. Negotiation, then, is how the lifeworld interacts with and conditions the capitalist enterprise of the economic subsystem. It places demands on the system to support the functions served in the lifeworld. This is why the negotiation needs to go through a series of translations from the language of the lifeworld to the language of the economic subsystem and back again. This feature of system and lifeworld interaction exemplifies what Habermas refers to as “steering”: the mechanism by which conflicts between social integration and system integration are mitigated. In this way we can see how Habermas has diffused conflict in his theory of communicative action. In providing a theory of a somewhat seamless interaction between the lifeworld and the economic subsystem, he also delineates how the capitalist economic subsystem operates in a substantially independent fashion. It is largely removed from the demands of the lifeworld—­with wage-­labor being its primary interaction. Where the capitalist economic subsystem fails to meet the needs of the people, the political subsystem fills the gap via the democratic welfare

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state. Such a move displaces the conflict caused by the insufficiencies of the supposedly necessary capitalist economic subsystem onto the democratic welfare state as a political subsystem. This displacement causes further requirements for workers to be able to translating their needs, this time into political, rather than economic, language. This argument inspires Nancy Fraser, in much of her work in the 1980s, to focus on questions concerning the narrative resources for expressing need. The expression of need must be contextualized and backed by arguments concerning the necessity for their provision. While a “dual-­systems theory” may no longer be popular, it recognizes that subjects already function in this dual register. Demanding that your boss provide your same-­sex partner the same benefits that he provides to the differently sexed partners of other employees requires a different sort of argument than demanding that the state provide such benefits (except where the state acts as both political and economic subsystem, as in the case of federal workers). What this shows us is that in the debate between “recognition” and “redistribution,” sometimes recognition is a fundamental corequisite of redistribution—­and this is the case in both subsystems. Unless and until bosses are forced to recognize the legitimate claims their workers make on them, they will give up nothing. Habermas already builds such a feature into his theory of interaction between system and lifeworld. Yet, for him, conflicts become dispersed onto the political subsystem where they can be properly moderated. What these debates overlook is that such conflicts are also moderated in the economic subsystem. Further, keeping such conflicts in terms capitalist bosses can understand and find compelling has extended effects on the political subsystem. That is, when conflicts concerning material need are only articulated in terms that capitalism allows in the economic subsystem, this affects workers’ ability to articulate their needs in political terms. It places pressure on crumbling welfare states to expand their workers’ protections and provide for the needs of their citizens as a mechanism for diffusing economic conflict and staving off economic collapse. W H Y L A B O R U N I O N S A R E C O N S P I C U O U S LY A B S E N T FROM PHILOSOPHIES OF SOLIDARIT Y

It is worth noting here that very little philosophical analysis and argument has been done on labor unions or other workers’ solidarity organizations and movements. Much has been written about the role solidarity

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plays in political integration and community building. Solidarity has also played a strong role in debates concerning distributive justice. It can function here as the “reverse side” of justice. While justice is a formal procedure of the state, solidarity forms the basis of equal citizens recognizing their shared form of life as a basis of concern for the other (Habermas 1998, 47, 244). This might be the case due to the legacy of the New Left and the emergence of identity-­based organization tactics. This legacy has had two notable effects on both theory and praxis. First, workers have come to see “class” itself as an identity characteristic (Krupat 2001). In this way, organizing around class-­based interests is interpreted both by its practitioners and by scholars as a form of identity-­based solidarity. We can see the flip side of this now in conservative claims that organizing for economic equality is tantamount to prejudice against the rich.5 The second effect is the inverse, to claim that class is the last method of solidaristic organizing that is not based on “merely cultural” factors like “identity.” This often takes the form of critiques of identity politics (presented as organizing based on mere solidarity of identity, lacking a firm political commitment),6 while at the same time arguing that it is necessary to organize along class lines. As one pundit puts it, “They have to stop relying on dead-­end culture war tactics” in order to focus on the material economic issues that appeal to the working class.7 In her review essay “Seeking Solidarity” (2015), Sally Scholz systematically reviews the contemporary philosophical and theoretical literature on solidarity. The review contains not a single instance of labor organizing, unionization, or other form of workers’ solidarity. It merely mentions that “political solidarity is often associated with workers’ movements in the United States and Poland” (732). The omission is, on the one hand, understandable and, on the other, obfuscating. The omission is understandable insofar as the near-­wholesale destruction of the US labor movement was nearing its completion in 2015. Rather than labor organizing, many solidarity movements around this time were focused on police violence against Black Americans, or a general critique of wealth inequality as expressed by Occupy Wall Street. Yet 2012 also saw a resurgence of labor organizing and actions in the form of the Fight for 15 campaign. Today the campaign boasts, “We’ve already won raises for 22 million people across the country—­including 10 million who are on their way to $15/hr—­a ll because workers came together and acted like a union.”8 In many ways this paved the way for

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a mass of teacher’s strikes throughout the late 2010s. In Scholz’s review, these movements are mentioned as a kind of afterthought of other “goal-­ oriented” solidarity organizing. The contemporary rending of solidarity from its roots in labor and workers’ movements is a doubly obfuscating gesture. On the one hand, it obfuscates the fact that capitalist economies are themselves political artifacts of administered life—­a feature of modern life that has been shielded from the possibility of democratic control, and which is in fact made by administrative organizations. Removing solidarity from the historical seat for which it is best known shows us that the economy is taken to be wholly outside human control, such that worker’s solidarity would become akin to the solidarity of people against typhoons. One cannot organize against a natural, if predictable, happening. On the other hand, rending solidarity from its roots in labor or workers’ movements obfuscates the fact that solidarity in workers’ movements is aimed at something more broad than the mere collection of workers in solidarity. Labor movements, much like the solidary movements profiled in the previous chapters, aim at a broader overhaul in the relations of human beings to each other, to the material world, and to the political systems and institutions that enable and constrain their lives. Certainly, labor movements are in part about drudgery, brutality, and alienation imposed on workers in capitalist social, political, legal, and economic formations. However, they are also more broadly about the way society should be. That society and solidarity are raised to the attention of philosophers and political theorists contemporaneously with the advent of commercial capitalism highlights that society and solidarity maintain a form of connection within what used to be called political economy: theories of the effects and interrelations of political, legal, and social structures as they are formed, influenced, enabled, and constrained by economic actions and regimes.9 In ignoring this historical influence, contemporary theories of solidarity present it as part of the realm of private ethical life. What follows in this chapter focuses on labor solidarity as an antidote to the overt focus on the private life of consumption and individual action that is prevalent in contemporary theories of solidarity. Such contemporary theories, in their predominant analysis on the acts of individuals in solidarity with others, focus on joining boycotts, engaging in ethical consumerism, or even simply paying one’s taxes. This sort of solidarity

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is termed “one-­sided” because its primary characteristic is that it is not reciprocal. The direction of this solidarity flows only one way. In the case of Scholz’s work, for instance, that direction is from the nonoppressed, or generally privileged, to the oppressed or disadvantaged. Taxation of the rich could be considered a form of one-­sided solidarity. Resources flow from one person to a number of others in need of assistance. It’s a solidaristic relation facilitated by the welfare state with no expectation of reciprocity. That is not to say that all one-­sided solidarity has this particular orientation. One-­sided solidarity can also occur where some individual or group claims to be in solidarity with another group but there is no reciprocity to that solidarity. The declaration of solidarity may even be unwanted or embarrassing; a political endorsement by the KKK tends to be solidarity of this sort (though by no means is such an endorsement always unwelcome or unreciprocated). This focus takes the social effects of capitalist alienation as a background condition for granted. While capitalism is the background condition of contemporary life, taking it as a given disables the impetus to critique it, undermine it, or indeed stand in solidarity against it as a form of life. The following is not an argument intended for weighing in on classic debates in Marxist, socialist, or communist theory concerning reform or revolution. Yet it risks wading into them briefly, mainly because it highlights how a theory of solidarity should be able to account not merely for forms of solidarity that challenge the conditions in which we live, work, and act, but for the building of social organization that attempts to subvert, undermine, or wholly reorganize the terms on which we currently live—­terms that in many instances are elided. I propose that the role of a critical social theory of solidarity is to do exactly that. Solidarity forms between people who feel or believe that the conditions of social, political, and legal life are unlivable—­and sometimes that material conditions make life physically unlivable (ACT UP is a prominent example; one could also consider pro-­Palestinian or anti-­ occupation organizing). Such solidarity is both a form of undermining those conditions for all and a perhaps necessarily unsuccessful attempt to actively build alternative background conditions for liberated lives. No form of solidarity is as clearly engaged in both these activities as labor solidarity. Thus, the elision of labor solidarity causes theories of solidarity to miss these critical activities.

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Labor rights are a form of human economic right. In international covenants and declarations they include the right to work or refrain from work, the right to choose one’s work, the right to be free of discrimination based on various memberships in protected classes at work, the right to form and join labor unions, and the right to strike (UN General Assembly 1966, 3). The right to form and join unions appears here as a particular iteration of the right to freedom of association, which is itself to be found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The freedom of association includes the ability to form and join associations of all manners, as is proper to flourishing, free, and open societies. Yet, the freedom to create and join labor and workers’ unions is set apart as in need of special, specific elaboration. In part, this might be explained by the origin of the separation between the two International Covenants: one on Civil and Political Rights, and one on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. The division between the conventions is structured by geopolitical divisions of the time in which they were conceived, signed, and ratified. Specifically, the geopolitical context of the Cold War created a global division in the adoption of the conventions, with liberal-­democratic states predominantly signing only the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and communist states predominantly signing only the Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. This division provides some insight into the seemingly odd way in which the two conventions recognize the right of workers to unionize. This division of rights prefaces worker’s solidarity being set apart as a “special” incident of solidarity by conservatives and leftists alike. Labor solidarity is thought to be distinct on account of the material structures of capitalism. Capitalism, as a structure, creates distinct classes—­some of whom are exploited or extracted from, and others of whom benefit from that exploitation or extraction (Fraser and Jaeggi 2018). This relationship is not merely incidental to the particular political-­economic regime of capitalism; rather, it is partly constitutive of capitalism. The structure of opposition is required for the functioning of a capitalist system (of whatever era: commercial, mercantilist, state-­managed, or financialized). As the system of capitalism requires this class/caste system, it also builds into society a series of oppositions, including competition, that develop into obvious alliances. These alliances are the social building blocks of working-­class solidarity.

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In contrast, it is thought that broad cultural aspects of domination are less able to be accounted for by a structural account of the world in which we live. These sorts of domination—­patriarchy, racism, anti-­queer and anti-­trans cultures—­are often depicted as somewhat incidental to the formative structure of capitalist society. In other words, a radically reordered and culturally equalized society would not necessarily modify the relations of production and ownership that fundamentally compose a capitalist form of life. Since the interventions of the New Left, almost no one subscribes to such a vulgar, monological understanding of domination under capitalism. But this understanding is still implicit in the exclusion of workers’ solidarity from contemporary accounts of solidarity.10 The debate, then, that comprises an opposition between class and identity is faulty whether one considers a monological account of oppression based on class, or a pluralistic account of oppression based on some identity category or other. In each case, an important aspect of social organization, recognition, and oppression is ignored (Fraser and Honneth 2003). The posited simple dichotomy is false, as such dichotomies so often are. This is the very simple undercurrent of the idea of intersectionality: social positionality is specific and differentiated, based on where the individual sits in relation to the particular intersection of laws. Yet intersectionality theory often fails to account for the means by which groups address domination, focusing instead on the mechanism of domination itself. Popularly, this means that identity-­based social positionality is often addressed via bids for recognition or representation in the media, the boardroom, and the highest reaches of government. Yet these attempts at recognition and representation are often criticized as facile and superficial or, at worst, tremendously damaging to wider liberation movements (Nash 2019). The movement for same-­sex marriage rights in the United States serves as an exemplar of this tendency. By many accounts, the movement for “gay marriage” in the US was remarkably successful. Not only did it eventually win gay marriage as a constitutional right after a Supreme Court battle; it also won the public opinion with a swift hand. It appeared that overnight the majority of Americans simply no longer felt disgust or dismay at the notion that people might engage in living a queer life, having queer relationships, and engaging in queer practices of love. In the United States, prior to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, the campaigns for and against

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same-­sex marriage cost tens of millions of dollars. Yet the US also lacks federal antidiscrimination laws for LGBTQ people, thus rendering 48 percent of them at risk of legal employment discrimination.11 These people may be permitted to marry a partner of the same sex, but they are also left open to being legally fired, simply on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender. The lack of state-­level antidiscrimination laws that either explicitly protect or are interpreted to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender puts queer people at risk not simply of employment discrimination, but also discrimination in access to housing, credit, and public accommodations—­even something as simple as entry to a business. While the formal right to marry may coincide with an increase in positive attitudes toward queer people, it is also only part of a suite of rights that are not fully implemented on the federal level in the United States.12 An easy contrast between the current status of LGBT rights and protections in the United States and in Canada is illuminating. The Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) was modified in 1996 to explicitly prohibit discrimination in employment, public access, and housing on the basis of sexual orientation. Though, it took about a decade for Canada to legalize same sex marriage after the amendment of the CHRA. Here, formal labor rights and rights to the content of public life preceded rights to marriage and partnership benefits. In fact, despite the lack of access to legally recognized romantic relationships, Canadian union members frequently won lawsuits and grievances after their partners were denied benefits such as health insurance coverage and reimbursement (Hunt 1997). The presence of stronger protections for LGBT people in Canada is, in large part, attributable to a more vibrant workers’ movement than in the United States. Labor solidarity played a role in a number of lawsuits for the rights of gay and lesbian Canadians to equal protections under the law. The piecemeal protections won by labor unions, dating back to at least the 1960s, formed bedrock on which the wholesale legal protections for LGBT Canadians could be achieved. Labor solidarity achieved gains across a wide swath of issues for all LGBT Canadians, not merely those who were members of labor unions. In fact, this was often an explicit goal of union organizing in Canada. This is part of a statement issued by the Canadian Labor Congress (CLC) in 1994:

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The labour movement can and should play a key role in the achievement of lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights. This is an integral part of the new approach to unionism which is essential if we are to survive as a vital force in society (Canadian Labour Congress, 1994: 5).

The CLC statement on sexual orientation reflects something that union organizers often know, but that becomes a flashpoint of debate concerning a false dichotomy between class and identity. I call the debate a false dichotomy for two reasons. First, people in struggle often do not identify the dichotomy as formative of their conception of labor solidarity. That is to say, much like the CLC, they understand labor organizing to be an attempt at uniting people for their benefit, protecting them in the workplace, and seeking the necessities of a good life. Second, union leadership did not merely recognize that the protection of LGB people, the advocacy for their rights both in society and in the workplace, and the training of the rank and file members was necessary for the protection and support of its own members. Rather, the union perceived such advocacy to be a fundamental part of the survival of unions as a “vital force” in society. That is, for unions to survive they must think more carefully about how best to support all workers, some of whom face distinct social, legal, and economic challenges, discriminations, and oppressions. This, though, does not mean such decisions were popular within the union at large. Many members grumbled about the focus.13 Yet, in determining that it ought to concern itself with the protection of LGB people in the workplace, the CLC did not merely set its sights on ameliorating the damaging ways LGB people are treated within the workplace. They also set up lobbying efforts at different levels of government in order to agitate for better LGB protections nationwide. Decisions such as those put forward in the CLC’s “Policy Statement: Sexual Orientation” act on both registers of solidarity I’ve presented. They act internally to ensure that members of the organization are not themselves being dominated, discriminated against, or powered-­over by their fellow members. In doing so, the policy functions to build a less exclusive solidarity within the union itself. It is these expressions of power internal to the organization that threaten its devolution. Yet the policy statement also functions externally; it works toward greater agitation in the outside world for the benefit of all LGB workers, not merely those who are unionized workers.

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This external work that the union engages in is an attempt to modify the social, economic, and legal condition of all workers toward a more just and less exploitative condition (Kelly and Lubitow 2015). This is far from the “dual-­systems” approach, yet it does have slight aspects of it. Such statements do aim to effect change on two levels: one exclusive, and one generalizable and broad. While the CLC cannot modify the working conditions of every member of the Canadian workforce, they can at least work toward better working conditions in their own union workplaces. The internal implementation of the statement is a practical (i.e., not overly burdensome in its implementation) goal. External agitation for broader acceptance of LGB people, provision of rights to them, and provision of nationwide antidiscrimination protections are, in many ways, less practical aims. One reason it may be important that such gains are made prior to the legal recognition of same-­sex marriage is due to the way in which same-­sex marriage has been found to be politically polarizing. Despite the widely held belief that legal recognition of same-­sex marriage encourages more positive social attitudes about LGB people, it in fact polarizes opinion. Those who had positive attitudes toward LGB people see their attitudes become even more positive. Meanwhile, those who held negative attitudes see their attitudes become even more negative (Redman 2018). Workers solidarity can take the form of LGBT solidarity and, in doing so, can effectively agitate for legal and political protections for LGBT people, not merely as workers but as full and equal members of society. So perhaps there are other ways in which labor solidarity might form a special case that sets it apart from other forms of solidarity. However, this section of the chapter has shown that labor solidarity isn’t special for its monological opposition to capitalism or to a concrete and specific socioeconomic structure, but rather that labor solidarity is often multifaceted. To be specific, those in solidarity in labor unions have often seen their struggles as integrating what would come to be called “cultural” issues with economic advocacy. The next section of this chapter considers another way one may believe that labor solidarity is a special form of solidarity: labor solidarity is organized, rather than a spontaneous show of support or provision of material aid toward another’s end.

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The foremost aspect of labor solidarity is its general character of being formally organized. I suspect that it is this aspect which causes both the dearth of philosophical accounts of labor solidarity and the treatment of it as if it is a special case of solidarity. Labor solidarity is treated as an exemplar of social collective action, but at the same time its organized nature sets it apart. One can think of the spontaneous crowd that erupts in the streets to protest as a form of “spontaneous” solidarity. International sections in newspapers regularly print photos in this genre, announcing that protests or street fighting have broken out. The language used is telling, in that it is intended to make such actions appear as a spontaneous expression of the human desire for freedom. People living under conditions of domination will eventually, and somehow spontaneously, collectively refuse the chains that bind them. It makes a nice story, but it is also almost never the case. Mass actions are, in almost all cases, organized. Some are organized by a central group, some are organized in a decentralized and horizontal manner. In either event, people participating in solidarity actions have been well agitated prior to the seemingly “spontaneous” and usually spectacular actions we see in the news. We have all seen the scenes in movies where one brave person takes a stand against injustice, only to be spontaneously joined by one single person after another until a mob forms. It is possible that the general conception of solidarity as spontaneous is formed on the basis of solidarity’s historical connection to social integration. In contrast to Durkheim’s insistence that social integration is organized under the division of labor (as organic solidarity), many philosophical accounts tend to assume that solidarity is not in fact organized. As I’ve discussed earlier, they depict it as arising from the accidental bonds of kinship, proximity, or shared activity. To the extent that theories of solidarity do consider the way in which solidarity must be organized, they do so as a consideration of what Scholz calls “civic solidarity”: “Members of a social body need adequate resources that would allow them to act on their political and civil rights. Welfare is the provision of those basic needs that ensure individual ability to flourish within society; solidarity is the generic term for the social duty that informs

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such efforts” (Scholz 2015, 731). Organized solidarity, then, is considered to be organized by the state, and its provision of need is considered almost entirely in terms dictated by the social welfare state. Nancy Fraser’s conception of solidarity sometimes verges into this territory as well, as solidarity is one way through which people come to the language for the representation of their needs. That language is aimed, in a rather Habermasian way, at the social welfare state (Fraser 1989; Fraser 1986). In part, labor solidarity comes to stand for a unique form of solidarity by virtue of the fact that the working class is subjected via a structure of capitalism. Class, then, can be said to be unlike other “identity” characteristics insofar as it is not a categorization of persons but a result of objective structures. In this sense, we have the Marxist version of the claim that structures are objective and therefore make objective demands.14 Labor solidarity is owed to this status of the worker as being currently and historically subjected via objective economic structures and systems. In this way, labor solidarity can be posed as reactive in that it seeks to ameliorate an already existing condition, and often acts by responding to the conditions of the market. This subjection via structure is claimed to set workers’ solidarity apart. Not only is the subjection objectively necessary given the current capitalist structure, but the capitalist structure is also an objective set of institutions that could be ordered differently. This objective nature of the structure creates a kind of commonality between mass swaths of people, each subjected via the structure of capitalism. It is significantly different, some will claim, to be subjected via culture. It is here that we can understand the critique of so-­called identity politics. Subjection via culture is thought not to carry with it the heavy burden of objective necessity. But is that supposition true? Obviously not. Facts that are presumed to be cultural and therefore subject via culture are also always structural. The trick that such claims play is one of ideology; they make the structure appear so natural that the structure itself disappears into the necessity of nature. Consider, as an example, the heteropatriarchal bourgeois family. The structure that creates it is naturalized and therefore made invisible. This makes it difficult to see how feminist movements react against a structure (the bourgeois family as developed in law) rather than a culture (heteropatriarchy). The family in its current form is, it is now well known, developed and reinforced by the existence of objective structures of law, taxation, and (in the United

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States) access to health care. Yet women’s complaints about the way their families operate are thought to be merely cultural (to borrow a term from Judith Butler), insofar as they could be attributed to bad husbands. In this sense, all solidaristic action is burdened action. It is conditioned by the social, economic, political, and legal context in which the action takes place. Solidarity is not a free-­standing moral action or a free-­ standing moral relation. It is unlike other forms of moral community in the sense that it would not exist in an ideal, just, or free world. Yet the claim is that somehow labor solidarity is significant in this realm. The subjection that makes labor solidarity both possible and necessary is taken to be distinct—­though, as I’ve argued, it is not. The solidarity of workers is burdened by the necessity of wage work for the provision of basic needs, while other forms of solidarity are burdened by different necessities, given the current institutional configuration of the political and legal landscape. One reason why the different forms of solidarity are taken to be distinct, the claim goes, is that other forms of solidarity—­specifically, those responding to so-­called merely cultural features of the world that deny recognition—­are thought to be personal (Butler 1998). Whereas the subjection of the worker is obviously not personal or individual, I will argue that in neither case is the subjection that burdens the solidarity group personalized, and no animus is necessary to serve as the engine of subjection. To think that all denials of recognition are based merely in animus is to misunderstand the structural nature and legacy of various forms of recognition-­based subjections. Consider again the subjection of women in the family. That the wife is not seen as a worker does not mean that objective institutional structures have not constructed her subjugation as a necessity for the success of the engine of capital.15 Other forms of recognition-­based subjection can be read back through formal legal, political, and economic structures as well. That is, the subjection of classes of people does not occur as a personalized subjection (as it might have done under feudalism, as a form of private government), even if it is not subjection under the objective structure of capitalist exploitation (Anderson 2017). In this account, then, so-­called identity-­based solidarity and class-­based solidarity are not so different. This is mainly because so-­called identity-­based solidarity is not, in general, based on mere identity. Instead, it is often based on the conditions

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of oppression or domination that lead to the development of identity groups. This mechanism of the development of identity is laid out well by Wittig when she argues that women are not subjugated by virtue of being women or female. Rather, women are because they are subjugated. The causal order is reversed to show that identity is created by virtue of subjection. This account accords with the Frankfurt School account of identity formation (in the broad rather than narrow sense); Adorno argues that the individual cannot exist purely for himself, and that positing that he can is an empty abstraction (2007). This follows from the method of negative dialectics, which takes seriously that when concepts are applied to subjects, there is a remainder that cannot be seamlessly encapsulated by the concept.16 While it may be enough to show that labor solidarity is not a unique form of solidarity, I also want to argue that the objective structure of capitalism is not the source of the workers’ solidarity in the first place. That is, organized solidarity is not developed as a response to an objective structure so much as the objective structure develops the conditions of burdened action which lead to solidarity. It is living in conditions of burdened action that creates the condition of possibility of solidarity. This is an important distinction, mainly because many accounts argue that solidarity occurs in response to a significant adversity, while failing to provide an account of significant adversity. But as I’ve shown, solidarity is not merely a response to adversity. It is a constitutive feature of democratic life. As such, it is a way of building sociality in a world that insists on atomization and individuality. This claim requires that I show that solidarity is not merely a response to objective structural conditions (though it is that), and that it exists where many people experience conditions of burdened action that can be alleviated via some organized strategic actions. It is my contention here that an ideal world would lack solidarity in the sense I’ve used the term throughout this book. But I’ve also contended that solidarity is a fundamental function of the democratic process. A reader may believe these two claims to be in tension. However, I argue that democracy itself is a feature of a nonideal world. That is, an ideal world would not require democracy. This is not to say that I am “against democracy” in the sense that many contemporary political thinkers are. Rather, I am strongly in favor of democracy, precisely because we will never inhabit a world of

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ideal conditions. Democracy is a mechanism of getting closer to those conditions via an ethos, institutions, and organized actions. It exists because we live in a world wherein we cannot trust each other, we do not look out for the need or good of many, and we do not agree on what constitutes a good life. Let’s return to the introduction to this chapter as it concerns social unsociability. Montaigne, and Kant following him, argue that our contradictory drive to be with each other while we irritate each other is a constitutive feature of human nature. I’ve argued that it is not constitutive, but rather is a feature of our shared world by virtue of the fact that we act under burdened conditions. Some moves are inaccessible to us, given the current dominative institutions and cultures in which we act: in particular, the culture of liberalism as it creates both atomized individuals and a consensus on the current politico-­economic system. It is a system that harms more people than it benefits, and leaves those it has harmed without the recourse of the social democratic welfare state. It is only natural that in such a world, labor solidarity would come to be seen as “special.” Labor solidarity is radical in the sense that it goes to the root. This happens on two registers: the economic, in challenging the late capitalist structure of labor, and the political, in challenging the injunction to be self-­oriented and go along with the consensus. The social formation of solidarity exists via groups of individuals understanding their actions as burdened in ways that are unacceptable to them. This is the case for both antisocial solidarity groups, who feel their actions are burdened by living in a more just or liberated society, and the traditional solidarity organizations I’ve discussed, whose actions are burdened by virtue of living in a world that is less just and liberated than it otherwise could be. Solidarity is formed by the basic understanding that our actions are in some sense unfree and that coordination, collaboration, or collective action is required to liberate them. Our unsocial sociability, then, isn’t a feature of human nature, as Montaigne and Kant posit, but a feature derived from the fact that collective action is necessary or even primary (social), and that the nature of that collective action is imbued with conflict (unsocial). In this way, solidarity comes to be the main mechanism through which society is built, both despite and on account of the conflictual nature of solidarity groups.

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This is not merely the case because labor solidarity has historically served to force the hand of politicians and bosses to capitulate by developing the social welfare state. However, the order of operations is often understood as the reverse of the truth. It is thought that the social welfare state creates society. In actuality it is solidarity, a preexisting form of society, that creates the social welfare state. Society, then, is not necessarily coextensive with the state or the nation, even under conditions where a society works toward changing the procedures, laws, or programs of the state or nation. Put inversely, this claim is obvious. The state as such neither requires nor necessarily creates society. This is obvious from the various individualizing and dominative state forms. Yet society is generated wherever individuals recognize at least three claims: collective action is needed; individuals are worse off than they need to be (by virtue of mere material facts);, and we ought not to be left alone to determine our beliefs, thoughts, or desires. That is, society exists where individuals recognize that they need to be transformed away from a sole focus on the individual and her rational maximization of self-­interest. One may believe either that this is illiberal or that it fails to take seriously conflicts between competing conceptions of the good. In contemporary life we tend to believe that a million flowers can indeed bloom. Some people will want to dedicate their lives to beautiful gardens. Some would prefer to just watch television most of the time. Still others will wish to live lives of religious asceticism. Under theories of liberal neutrality, the state ought to allow people to develop these conceptions, and should provide the condition of the possibility of people fulfilling their rational plan of life. My account of solidarity need not undermine this picture of liberal life, though it does appear to do so. The picture of solidarity I’ve generated is compatible with liberalism by virtue of the fact that solidarity is itself voluntary. Unlike Kolers, I have not developed a theory of an obligation to be in solidarity. My account is based primarily on the fact that solidarity cannot be coerced by the arm of law, and that moralists evacuate solidarity of its social content. To say that solidarity is a refusal to allow others to be left alone to their own lives is not to say that liberal perfectionism is justified or desirable. The nature of solidarity as not quite private and not public can be exploited to this end. It is because solidarity cannot be coerced but also has an intimate relation to the building of legitimate political and

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economic institutions that it can, at the same time, be a mechanism both for social freedom and for agitation of conflict. The external agitation the solidarity groups engage in is a way of recognizing that, even if we do not currently live in a society, we ought to. Such agitation becomes a mechanism of building society. It isn’t necessarily public, because it lacks a formal relationship to political will formation or institutional influence. It isn’t necessarily private, because it is involved in questions concerning the public good, which are not mere preferences for what a good life is like, but rather normative claims concerning what a polity ought to do and be. Labor solidarity is often understood to be an exemplar of solidarity because it functions on both registers, is organized, and aims to change the conditions of work not merely for its members but for all workers.17 These three criteria are not solely reserved for labor solidarity; forms of solidarity fulfill them. Solidarity (a) contains elements that make it ill-­suited for a purely private or purely public sphere, and instead serves as the excluded middle that links the two spheres; (b) is organized, though it can appear spontaneous; and (c) aims to bring about wholesale changes to our shared world, not merely to the conditions of the life of individuals under late capitalism, decaying democracy, or some other form of historical subjection. Labor solidarity is in fact frequently referred to as “organized labor.” The organization of labor is what constitutes its solidaristic function. In many ways, this is because laborers and workers would continue to exist, and would likely continue to seek many of the goals of labor unions, even if they were not organized. As labor unions fight for higher wages, more secure working conditions, safer workplaces, better benefits, and an end to discrimination, among myriad other domain specific demands, we can see that these are features of a working life that many workers want and attempt to achieve whether they are organized or unorganized. In the absence of organized unionization, and even in the explicit disavowal of organized unionization, laborers seek many of the same goals. Individual workers all want to make more money; it is, after all, a basic tenet of capitalist economics that individuals are self-­interested maximizers. If nothing else, workers do not want to be discriminated against, even if they support discrimination against others—­the Janus face of that self-­interested maximization. They do not wish to be hurt, injured, or made ill by their workplace: if nothing else, that would keep

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them from their work, and thus from their paychecks. They also seek good benefits packages: again, easily explainable as the result of self-­ interested maximization. It is in this sense that labor solidarity is in some ways distinct from other forms of solidarity; it taps even into what unorganized or disorganized (I use the term to highlight a desire not to organize, rather than the mere fact of lacking organization) workers want and attempt to achieve. This is in part how the Marxist proposition that capitalism undermines itself functions. No one wishes for their boss to become richer at their expense; but they may, out of mutual disinterest, not concern themselves with their boss becoming richer so long as they themselves do not in the process become poorer. However, all workers wish to become as rich as they can. No worker wishes to become more impoverished, make less money, or work in more difficult or dangerous conditions. Whether or not workers are members of labor organizations, capitalism gives them the broad goals they seek: more money, more leisure, less work. Such is the principle of efficiency as it is delineated under capitalist life. W H Y T H I S I S N O T A D UA L- ­S Y S T E M S THEORY OF SOCIAL SOLIDARIT Y

It may seem that my proposal mirrors a tactic Nancy Fraser took in the 1990s and early 2000s: pairing recognition and redistribution in a way that illuminated the two “systems: of domination, cultural identity and economic class.18 This approach has come to be known as a “dual-­ systems” theory: two separate systems that enforce domination. Contemporarily, one might call this an “additive” theory of domination. One is dominated as a precarious worker and as a woman; both patriarchy and financial capitalism function as systems to oppress women. This chapter has thus far played on this very theory, that class and identity interact with each other in the labor union or in the workers’ collective.19 In many ways this is a quasi-­intersectional approach, but it lacks much of the individualizing force that many contemporary theories of intersectionality entail. This is not to say that intersectionality theory was individualistic as originally designed,. Rather, its contemporary iterations often are individualistic. Take, for instance, Solidarity Politics for Millennials: A Guide to Ending the Oppression Olympics (2011). This

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book provides a basic rundown of intersectionality theory in an effort to help individuals conceptualize their roles and identities in society so as to stop “playing” the “Oppression Olympics.” Though this chapter does entail a discussion of “two kinds of injustice”—­a failure of cultural recognition as well as one of economic domination—­its main goal is to argue that workers’ solidarity is not a “special” sort of solidarity, but rather a way of building sociality back into society in places from which it has been evacuated. As such, solidarity entails internal conflict in the development of its own boundaries. Such boundary struggles are part of what makes solidarity democratic. They entail cultural questions about identity and inclusion, as well as productive inclusions and exclusions that modify the features, goals, and values of the solidarity organization itself. In this sense, labor unions and workers’ collectives are democratic mechanisms for building society in its ruins, and are organized for legal recognition as economic benefit for their LGBT members. This is demonstrated by two prominent examples, one historical and one contemporary. The historical example is the use of labor unions to win general LGBT rights. The contemporary example addresses a variety of prominent political firings. These cases are likely well known by now. Mainly, they involve private corporations terminating the employment of an employee due to some sort of national notoriety—­or, better put, infamy.20 Many of those who could be identified as participants in the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, Unite the Right rally, at which a protester was murdered and others were beaten with sticks, rods, and fists, were fired by their employers once their identities became well known. This “doxing” is a contemporary version of “de-­hooding”: making someone’s identity known so that their politics can no longer be done anonymously. Once people are made to take ownership over their authoritarian or genocidal politics, employment consequences often follow. Such consequences, when intentionally sought, raise questions about the labor left—­in particular, questions about whether the labor left is acting hypocritically. While these examples appear to be at two ends of a spectrum of questions concerning labor solidarity, I argue that they are both iterations of enacting the same values: the protection, security, and safety of vulnerable members of a community. How can advocates for labor rights justify advocating for a violent white supremacist to be fired? There are

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two justifications: one a neutral liberal justification, the other a partisan justification based in labor solidarity. A neutral liberal justification for advocating that a white supremacist be fired relies on liberal juridical norms. Corporations are private entities. In that sense, they have the right, in “right to work” or “at will” states, to employ whom they like, so long as they do not violate various laws concerning discriminatory treatment. It is this feature of corporations that Elizabeth Anderson refers to as “private government” in the course of arguing that private government is normatively bad, and is the very feature of feudalism and authoritarianism that was meant to be undermined by commercial society and liberal democracy. As Anderson defines it: “Private government is government that has arbitrary, unaccountable power over those it governs” (2015, 99). As such, though it may be normatively questionable, the advocacy of firing a white supremacist is simply an attempt to force the preexisting system of private government under which we live to bend to the will of the people. In other words, it is an attempt to make the often unaccountable power of the corporation democratically accountable.21 There is, however, a better justification for such advocacy that does not fall into the various problems with the previous justification; it relies on the partisanship inherent in labor solidarity. While unions advocate for their own members, this advocacy also extends to nonmembers in the same sector, or to members of other unions (perhaps people who practice a different trade). Unionization, to the extent that it is a solidary relationship, requires that members give the interest of their union colleagues weight in their reasoning. (While members must give their colleagues’ interests weight, I don’t believe there is any hard and fast rule that can always be applied to provide a precise accounting of how that weighting must go.) In his book Community, Solidarity, and Belonging, Andrew Mason argues that solidarity simply is a moralized conception of community. It is moralized to the extent that it requires “mutual concern.” In his account, then, solidarity is simply mutual concern. He claims, “Minimally this means that members must give each other’s interests some non-­instrumental weight in their practical reasoning” (2000, 27). Mason goes on to argue that as such, there can be no internal exploitation or injustice within a solidarity group. If the white supremacist were, then, to join a union, it would not be the union that would need to change, but

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the white supremacist. To the extent that unions advocate solidarity and their members’ interest in nonexploitation and a just workplace, union members are justified in advocating for the dismissal of workers who violate those norms. This was displayed clearly in the Canadian Labour Congress’s statement on homophobia, which the union itself disavowed, despite its many homophobic members (Hollibaugh and Singh 2001, 61). Further, such advocacy for dismissal is not contingent upon some necessary feature of the white supremacist. The white supremacist is being intentionally and perhaps productively excluded in an attempt to build a better workplace. Recall here the arguments made in chapter 2 concerning exclusions and inclusions. While the goal of solidarity is “infinite nonexclusion,” solidarity functions as a process of a group becoming nonexclusive. Yet as we have seen, every inclusion is also at the same time an exclusion. For the workplace to include white supremacists, it must alienate people of color in the workplace. For the workplace to include people of color, it must exclude white supremacists. In the terms developed in chapter 2, in order for a white supremacist to be in labor solidarity with a contemporary workplace which in all likelihood contains at least some people of color, the white supremacist must modify at least some of their goals and tactics, if not their values. As solidarity is a set of two relations—­one between the union members themselves, and one between the union and the bosses—­the internal relation requires that the union face such conflicts about its membership. Were a white supremacist to join a multiracial union, at the very least they would have to recognize that they in some way share at least the class interests of their fellow workers, regardless of race. As such, in advocating for themselves, they advocate for their fellow workers of color, somewhat undermining their own ability to advocate for racial domination in their workplace. To put it more clearly: were a white supremacist to join a multiracial union, they would need to soften or abandon at least some of their own white supremacist principles in order to be in solidarity. Thus far, I’ve argued that workers’ solidarity, despite its near absence from the philosophical literature on solidarity, functions in the same way as other forms of solidarity organizations do: by agitating conflicts in the broader world that are aimed at undermining domination for a class, and by responding to internal conflicts with a democratic ethos concerning whose needs or desires are relevant. Much like other solidarity

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organizations, unions and other workers’ organizations can develop pathologies based on the alienation of leadership from the ordinary members. This dysfunction often can lead to internal forms of conflict that result in actions contrary to leadership directives. W I L D C AT S T R I K E S A S S T R AT E G I C A N D D E M O C R AT I C

Wildcat strikes express the basic premise of this chapter most clearly. In a wildcat strike, workers organize a strike action without the consent, approval, or permission of those in positions of power within the union. Here we can see why some call those in power positions within a union “union bosses.” A wildcat strike is an unauthorized strike. This means that it draws boundaries between whose will matters—­erring on the side of the average worker. A series of wildcat teachers’ strikes across the United States in 2018 illustrates the deeply democratic principles underlying the wildcat strike. Wildcat strikes are deeply democratic in the sense that they are not spontaneous but they draw boundaries based on need, values, and tactics. They contravene the authority that those who are not affected generally exercise over the solidarity organization of the union itself. This is, yet again, an example of solidarity in conflict. It is a union fighting both its bosses: union bosses and corporate bosses. In the case of the teachers’ strikes, wildcat actions were organized because union leaders were willing to capitulate without having made any gains. So the members of teachers’ unions took it upon themselves to act in contravention of both the state and the leadership of the union itself. Following the general logic which claims that solidarity is a sort of unity or togetherness, we can see here that the wildcat strike does not fit this pattern. If critics are right that internal conflict causes a detriment to solidarity organizations, then a wildcat strike ought to be taken as a sign that the union itself is beginning to fracture—­that it is splitting apart due to internal disagreement, and in the process literally turning on itself. Yet the wildcat strike is a sign that union and labor organizing is not a distinct form of solidarity. It shows that internal conflict is part of the structure of democratic solidarity. It displays the solidarity of workers in a dedication to achieving their own goals and using their own values. In turning against the leadership, a wildcat strike shows the democratic nature of labor solidarity.

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To the extent that this is democratic, it involves a refusal to capitulate to an illegitimate authority. Authority can be illegitimate in several ways (even if there is perhaps only way one in which an authority can be legitimate). Take, for instance, Raz’s normal justification thesis: The normal way to establish that a person has authority over another person involves showing that the alleged subject is likely better to comply with reasons which apply to him (other than the alleged authoritative directives) if he accepts the directives of the alleged authority as authoritatively binding and tries to follow them, rather than by trying to follow the reasons which apply to him directly (1986, 53).

The normal justification thesis establishes an instrumental conception of legitimate authority. Authority is legitimate if it is instrumentally beneficial: it helps people to comply better with reasons that apply to them than they otherwise would. In this sense, the normal justification thesis helps solve collective action problems. Yet in the case of a wildcat strike, leadership fails to provide authoritative directives, in that the rank-­and-­file members of the union better understand the reasons that apply to them and are likely and able to comply with them even in the absence of hierarchical directives. In the case of the 2018–­19 wave of teachers’ strikes, the wildcat strike was used most prominently in West Virginia. The West Virginia teachers’ strike was statewide: teachers in all fifty-­five counties went out on strike, effectively shuttering the school system until their demands were met. Amazingly, it was also a strike that went wildcat, with the teachers being urged by union leadership to return to their postings without having won better pay and a better health care plan. In this instance, the formal structure of union leadership lacked the normal justification for authoritative directive. Complying with their demand did not provide the workers with a greater likelihood of complying with reasons that applied to them anyway. However, this depends on which types of reasons applying to them that we want to consider: either those following a particular interpretation of law, or those generated by poor working conditions. In West Virginia, as in thirty-­seven other states in the post-­1980 United States, it is illegal for public workers to strike. There is some legal squabbling to be had over the issue, though. In all states in the United States, a “work action” is legal. A work action is a temporary showing of

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dissatisfaction that does not elevate to the level of a strike, with a mass of workers refusing to complete their jobs. Work actions include acts like sickouts and slowdowns. While one could bicker over the details of the legal status of the West Virginia teachers’ strikes, I won’t do so here, as it is largely immaterial. Due to the teachers’ and students’ claim that they planned to walk out, school superintendents across West Virginia simply closed schools. This led to the fact that teachers did not legally perform a strike action, despite the widespread notion that this was indeed a wildcat strike. In fact, it would have been a wildcat strike had school superintendents failed to support the action. The teachers’ solidarity generated so much external support that not only did students walk the line in support of their teachers, but school superintendents closed the schools for seven days in an attempt to allow the teachers time to put pressure on the state legislature. The teachers’ action built widespread solidarity by complying with the reasons that actually applied to them, rather than the reasons they were given by leadership. This is how the conflicts that solidarity generates and intervenes in can build a broad base of solidarity—­and with it, sociality. NORMAL SOLIDARIT Y

This chapter has argued that union organizing and labor solidarity are not special in their formation or unique in any way. Yet labor solidarity does help us to understand the claim made in chapter 2 that the aim of solidarity is infinite nonexclusion. As such, when labor solidarity is put into practice, the solidarity groups build society from the inside out; sociality moves from a small nonexclusive group to larger and larger elements, building the more traditional type of solidarity the philosophers draw on (solidarity from the outside of an organization). Primarily this occurs by virtue of two distinct facts about solidarity organizations. First, they aim to build a broad base of support, and second, people outside the organizations are moved to modify their goals, aims, or values in response to a call for solidarity (in the way that Kolers claims that solidarity reverses the direction of fit between conscience and values). Both of these features result from the nature of solidarity as a relationship thoroughly imbued with conflict. Unions are a direct response to capitalist forms of alienation: from work, from its products, from fellow workers, and from politics. This

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argument is based on the history of the idea of sociality in Enlightenment thought as one thoroughly imbued with conflict. While liberal theorists have attempted to rend the idea of liberal society from this background condition of an antisociality imbued by capitalist social formations, they are unsuccessful. They can no longer account for the generation of solidarity organizations, nor for the fact of conflict within and between political associations. In this book thus far, solidarity and conflict have been considered hand in hand, because this book is interested in the social and democratic elements of solidarity, both of which require conflict. I’ve argued that solidarity as a set of relations imbued with conflict generates a society that is both less exclusive and more democratic. But what happens when conflict ends? While it is unlikely that we will see the end of conflict between bosses and workers, solidarity organizations do sometimes achieve their specific goals. They win guerrilla wars, causing legislation to be implemented and enforced, wages to be raised, and health care to be made available and affordable. In this case, the conflict over how to articulate the group’s self-­reported needs no longer exists. The conflict over who ought to be included no longer exists. The next and final chapter will concern the ends of conflict in a double sense. First, what is the goal of conflict itself? Is it truth, as theories of public reason or communicative would have it? Or is the goal of conflict something altogether different? Second, what happens when a more perfect union has been achieved, when solidarity groups win their goals and society has been made less exclusive and less dominative?

5 A MORE PERFECT UNION The Ends of Conflict

A T L E A S T T W O Q U E S T I O N S remain that I have yet to address. First, what happens after a conflict ends? Presumably, conflicts lead to less exclusive societies, with smaller numbers of marginalized populations lacking access to participation in formal political life. None of the solidarity organizations mentioned in this book continue to exist now (with the exception of the ANC, which, while still in power, exists in a much different form than it did before the abolition of apartheid). In fact, most solidarity organizations do not aim simply to be permitted to exist. Their goals are for the most part designed to undermine the need for the group in the first place. This element of solidarity organizations is frequently referred to as “utopian.” I’ve discussed it not as pursuit of utopia, but as a form of prefiguration: a glimpse at what a more liberated world could be like. Solidarity, if it is about anything, is about the continued hope that things might turn out well. In that sense, it draws from the same impetus as the critical theory that informs my methodology: the hope that we can create an emancipated world.

This brings me to my second question: What is the goal of conflict, and how ought we understand its normative status? Some might interpret my discussion of internal conflict within solidarity organizations as a quasi-­deliberative democracy. Participants deliberate over what they ought to do, whom they ought to include, and why these tactics are compatible with their goals or further them. In this way, it is a form of

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contestation designed, on many accounts, to get the participants closer to normative truth. Yet this is decisively not what I mean when I talk about internal conflict. Antisocial solidarity groups are not wrong about normative facts because they refuse to abide heterogeneity. They refuse to abide heterogeneity because they are wrong about normative facts. Put simply, solidarity organizations become less exclusive via conflict because they have already in some sense got the normative facts right but have largely failed to implement them properly. It is a mistake, then, to understand the ends of conflict as the “correct” outcome of a fair procedure. The account of democratic life and sociality I’ve developed has attempted at every turn to avoid such a procedural account of democratic life. Instead, I’ve argued for an account of democracy as something that lives through individuals via an ethos, and something that is lived through society via norms of nonexclusion that often result in conflict. My answers to the questions about the end of conflict and the ends of conflict culminate, then, in a simple but undertheorized claim: democracy itself is only fitting for nonideal circumstances. An ideal world would lack the need for democracy. This does not mean that the norms embodied and implemented by democracies are not to be sought after; they are. There is a distinction to be made between democratic life as a regulative ideal and democratic theory as ideal theory. That an ideal world would lack the need for democracy means, simply, that democratic social life is necessary because we live in a nonideal world. An ideal world would have no need for democratic organization, because an individual’s needs would fully align with the social organization. There would be no need for conflict over needs, over material goods, or over the structure and organization of social and political hierarchy. This is easily understood through the framework developed by Charles Mills (2005) in his “Ideal Theory as Ideology.” Ideal democratic theory is a form of ideology. It capitulates to the version of human nature developed primarily by the institution of capitalist market structures, and the social and political theories that follow in Enlightenment political thought. In this sense, ideal democratic theory seeks to naturalize, and thus make invisible, political claims about the structure of human agency and the tendencies of human beings under capitalist systems. Such claims also ignore a history that leads to the development of democracies as exclusionary

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political systems designed to create some as active political subjects and others as passive decision takers. Yet the norms of democracy and a democratic ethos are valuable for the world in which we find ourselves. A just distribution of material goods and liberation from domination (for which democracy is intended) can serve as regulative ideals. However, an ideal world would not need to develop a system for liberation from domination. Democracy was originally intended to serve a liberatory aim: to free people from the private governments to which they had found themselves subjected throughout history. In many ways, this picture is reliant on parochial ideas concerning political action and agency. It assumes, first, that democracies are uniquely situated to provide the content for “democratic norms.” In some sense this is both true and false. Given the historical development of mass democracies, they are in fact uniquely situated to provide for the content of democratic norms. Neither feudalism, which democratic institutions replaced, nor authoritarianism, which consistently attempts to replace democratic institutions, is well suited to provide the substance of liberal norms for freedom, equality, or sociality. Democracies are better suited for it. This is by design: democracies are built by designating individual subjects as preexisting the social order. The subjectivity developed by democratic institutions and norms, then, becomes particularly well suited for life under democracy: desiring the norms that democracies set themselves up to provide. Still, it is also false that democracies are uniquely well situated to provide for the content of democratic norms. They are best suited to provide for them only so long as the norms themselves are interpreted democratically. This tension is easily seen between republican and liberal interpretations of “freedom.” Democracies are ill-­suited to provide for the content of republican norms of freedom, specifically freedom understood as nondomination or freedom from arbitrary rule. Like other political frameworks, democracies are liable to arbitrary rule. This is a problem for representative democracies in particular, because they do not develop any normative framework by which to judge candidates for rule—­and thus elect officials like Donald Trump. Trump was elected president of the United States for reasons no one can quite agree on. It seems likely that part of that election was due to racial resentment: white people voted for Trump because of his racist comments. It also seems likely that his election was partly attributable to many people feeling as though “politics

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as usual” or “third way” liberalism had not been successful for Obama and would also not be for Hillary Clinton. In any event, it does seem that Trump’s election was arbitrary, given the lack of policy positions taken during the election campaign.1 While many pundits have claimed that Trump’s election was largely a result of what they refer to as the “white working class” (predominantly I believe what they mean is white men without a college education) having “economic anxiety,” the primary predictor of someone voting for Trump was neither economic, educational, nor partisan. The primary predictor was the degree of an individual’s authoritarian, sexist, and racist beliefs. Trump voters were significantly more likely to hold inegalitarian views while also highly valuing obedience (Setzler and Yanus 2018). Trump’s election, then, was the desire for arbitrary rule made democratic. This is why democracies can be particularly bad at providing for the content of republican norms of nondomination or freedom from arbitrary rule. While the formal institutions of government may be constrained from acting in ways that are morally arbitrary, the voters are not so constrained, and do not shy away from such behavior. Democracies are equally ill-­suited to provide for the content of positive norms of freedom. Thus, they largely place what Quong (2010) calls “liberal perfectionism” into the realm of the nondemocratic. Positive norms of freedom, aimed at ensuring that people can fully access the goods of a human life, are difficult to implement in modern democracies, given people’s tendency to seek their own conception of the good life. This may sound like begging the question: perfectionism is nondemocratic because we have a system that relies on neutrality. However, for perfectionism to be democratic, people have to actually desire it. These two aspects of “democratic norms”—­t heir liability to democratic approval and their liability to arbitrary interpretation by the populace—­mean that while democracies tend toward these norms, there are also other norms or interpretations of norms toward which they could lean instead. Further, given the manner in which nearly all democracies are entangled with capitalism by creating economic subjects who act economically in the marketplace of democratic participation, democratic norms embodied by the populace are economized. To draw from Marx and Engels (2008), if the engine of history is class struggle and democracies are now fundamentally entangled with an economic

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system that creates classes, then democracy cannot do without conflict. In their entanglement with capitalism, democracies have created massive wealth inequalities, have disenfranchised and imprisoned massive numbers of people, and have historically supported exclusionary logics aimed toward the collective domination of groups of people based on either class considerations or identitarian concerns. This is despite the fact that democratic procedures were once considered to be features that equalized people via neat implementation of policies such as “one person, one vote,” while capitalism also functioned as a great equalizer by ending the feudal system of private government. In this way, two politico-­ economic systems that could have been, and could still eventually be, liberatory are instead drivers of domination. In other words, the history of democracy is one of domination and exclusion that itself generates conflict.2 In part, this is due to the problem of persistent minorities: members of gender, sexual, racial, or religious minorities who may be grudgingly given protections of equality and freedom only due to constitutional constraint rather than democratic will. Until now, this book has depicted the order of operations as if the solidarity group begins the conflict internally and then moves externally, at which point it comes into conflict with the wider society. However, these conflicts often begin from a point of domination, as explored in the last chapter. Specifically, they arise from domination that is endorsed, caused, or enabled by the processes of democratic life today. Perhaps democratic theorists look to the ideals of democracy because the realities of democracy offer little to show for their values and norms. One could, like the angel of history, look back on democracy and see “one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet” (Benjamin 1968, 257). This chapter, then, follows through with remaining questions concerning the end of conflict. First, it questions whether conflict can be eliminated, and whether it should be. Second, it considers why conflict is necessary, whether conflict is good for its own sake, and whether the goal of conflict is the truth. Last, it argues against the common framing of a fully solidaristic society as utopia. S I M M E L’ S C O N F L I C T T H E O R Y

While the work of the philosopher and sociologist Georg Simmel has largely been lost to time, rarely discussed in either philosophical or sociological theory contexts, it was fundamental in shaping the critical

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theory that was completed during the mid-­twentieth century. Habermas argues that Simmel’s work betrays an unsupported and unsupportable metaphysics of culture (1996). Adorno, Bloch, and Lukács found inspiration for the essay form from Simmel; they also highlighted the manner in which he brought the German tradition of philosophy to empirical questions concerning the lived world. One would be forgiven for overlooking this influence, though, as Simmel is nearly universally ignored in both philosophy and sociology. While his most written-­about contribution is his Sociology (2009), I would like to focus here on the claims he makes in his Conflict (1955). In Conflict, Simmel argues that conflict is a form of sociation that functions dialectically. It has the potential to unite people, thus forming a society where there was none. Simmel distinguishes this theory from the Hobbes-­Schmitt conception of “forever war” by drawing a precise distinction between the aims of conflict. For Hobbes and Schmitt, the goal of conflict is, in Simmel’s terminology, annihilation. To have as one’s goal the annihilation of one’s adversary is to engage in a form of conflict that is incapable of sociation (1955, 26). On the basis of this delineation, it is easy to understand the role both Hobbes’s and Schmitt’s political thought has played in various authoritarian, fascist, and otherwise genocidal political movements. This separates the Hobbes-­Schmitt conception of conflict from the Montaigne-­Kant conception considered in the previous chapter. For both Hobbes and Schmitt, conflict is primarily a mechanism by which one achieves domination (Hobbes, Leviathan; Schmitt, The Concept of the Political). While many radical democrats refer to themselves as “left-­Schmittians,” that is because they’ve merely extracted the conception of partisanship from Schmitt’s otherwise Nazi juridical thought. In his critique of the logic of the friend-­enemy relation as a fundamentally objectifying relationship to others, Adorno argues that Carl Schmitt defined the essence of the political precisely by the categories of enemy and friend. Progress to such consciousness makes the regression to the child’s mode of behavior—­children either like things, or are afraid—­to its own. The a priori reduction to the friend-­enemy relationship is one of the Ur-­phenomena of recent anthropology. Freedom would not be choosing between black and white, but stepping out of such a proscriptive choice (2005, 132).

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The freedom from such prescriptive choice, in Adorno’s account, is a fundamental rejection of an ontology that divides the world into merely useful tools and hated objects. It is easy to see how Adorno’s conception of the nonidentical could have been influenced by Simmel’s conception of conflict. Simmel argues that conflict is an attempt to synthesize elements that work both for and against each other (14), and he often does so against a backdrop of some shared commitments. He defends this picture of conflict by arguing that those who claim that conflict has a negative and destructive nature are committing a version of the fallacy of composition (17). This picture is defended merely by appeal to “the competition of individuals within an economic unit” (17). Conflict, when it is between individuals, has a distinctly different effect than it has within a group or between groups. However, many theorists simply extrapolate from the fact that conflict is experienced personally and individually as a destructive force—­it breaks the bonds we have with each other, or at least threatens to. This is how we end up with Kolers’s picture of agonism as merely “overly quarrelsome,” and the general tendency, as noted by Mouffe, for liberal theorists to mitigate or eliminate conflict. As such, the elimination of conflict can begin to seem appealing. Specifically, if conflict breaks our individual social bonds and we subsequently live in a world with a weaker social realm, then it becomes easy to point to factionalism and quarrels as the cause (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 163). However, conflict is more than mere quarrel. As Lewis Coser, following Simmel, delineates it, conflict can be of two sorts: realistic and unrealistic (1967). Realistic conflicts are those in which something real is at stake. This is contrary to unrealistic conflict, the sort that arises from incompatible personalities or petty quarrels. As Coser puts it, “Conflicts which arise from frustration of specific demands within the relationship and from estimates of gains of the participants, and which are directed at the presumed frustrating object, can be called realistic conflicts, insofar as they are means toward a specific result” (1967, 49). These conflicts are understood in contrast to “unrealistic” conflicts, which “are not occasioned by the rival ends of the antagonists” (1967, 33n). This substantive distinction is important. One will note that throughout this text, conflict is always referred to as a question of substance, either of substantive ends or of formative values. It is not a question of personal dislike, the release

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of tension through the irritation of others, or general quarrelsomeness. This is because in general, unrealistic conflict lacks any true goal. While it may serve a purpose—­the release of tension—­that is not the goal of unrealistic conflict. Further, as Coser delineates it, unrealistic conflict is merely destructive, while realistic conflict is creative. Unrealistic conflict is destructive because it has no substantive aims. Once tension is released through the conflict itself, there’s nothing more that should be done. This comes the closest to what most people fear from radical democratic theories (and it does seem to be structurally required by Schmitt, and by many left-­ Schmittians who adopt his metaphysics): that people will agitate conflict for conflict’s sake because it is ontologically necessary. Coser’s distinction can help us to see that unrealistic conflict, though common in our personal lives, holds no potential for political and social creativity. That is, one would be remiss to advocate that people simply seek out more quarrels in order to alleviate their anxieties and release tensions caused by living in a damaged world. By contrast, realistic conflict is a substantive conflict over resources, power, or other specific demands such as moral respect and legal freedom. Realistic conflict is creative because it does not seek merely to indeterminately negate some opponent or condition of life, but instead seeks to build the conditions for fulfilling the aims of the group. Take for instance the recent call in the United States to abolish billionaires. While it might seem to be merely a form of unrealistic conflict—­a release of tension by the dispossessed masses, aimed at those who exploit them—­it is akin to a now popular tendency to incorporate guillotine imagery into leftist propaganda. The conflict is not merely a destructive one, as in, “Kill all billionaires.” Instead, it is a creative one: what could be accomplished socially if we decided to impose a 100 percent tax on personal wealth of more than a billion dollars? There are many proposals for ways to develop a better social safety net and fulfill the promise of the democratic welfare state in the United States. These proposals could be funded nearly completely with a progressive wealth tax. The conflict is creative because it aims at creating the conditions of possibility for social freedom: the freedom to leave one’s job without loss of health insurance, the freedom to secure an education without near-­indefinite indebtedness, the freedom from a history of racial segregation that has developed the

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racial wealth gap, the freedom to have children whom one can care for with one’s own time and with social resources. “There should be no billionaires” is code for “We ought to have these social freedoms that can be achieved via taxation of the ultrarich.” It is unsurprising that liberalism, its supporters and proponents, fail to account for the difference between productive and unproductive conflict. As I’ve argued, liberal political theory attempts as far as possible to eliminate conflict so as to bootstrap stability in a democratic polity, even though existing democratic polities are everywhere marked by significant pluralism, substantive disagreement, and histories of domination and exclusion. In such an environment one would not expect stability; but this is what the postwar liberal project sought, and as such, it required the exclusion of all sorts of conflict, both productive and unproductive. To dismiss realistic conflict, liberal theory conflates it with unrealistic conflict. Unrealistic conflict, a mere release of tension between antagonists, is easy to dismiss as unproductive, unnecessary, and even potentially damaging. The most common way to dismiss it is to discredit some solidarity organization by publicizing its unrealistic conflicts while excluding from consideration its realistic conflicts, or its substantive disagreements and formative ends. The conflation allows for the dismissal of conflict as childish, unproductive, and even harmful. If conflict were merely a mechanism for the release of social tensions between actors who simply dislike each other, then the liberal attempt to undermine it by bootstrapping stability would be justified. The conflation of these types of conflict is seemingly omnipresent in the media. There are too many instances for citing them to be effective. In the United States, during the election campaign of Donald Trump, many social commentators pointed to our collectively fractious discourse as a form of what was causing our proposed political pathologies. That is, people were no longer having “civil debate.” Similar arguments and diagnoses have arisen on university campuses across the world. The call is always toward civility. Such injunctions have led to even further claims: for instance, that students are destroying universities, and that contemporary leftists are “on the attack” or are creating or furthering “dominance politics.” The discourse is no longer civil because everyone has simply quit performing the rituals of politesse that allow American democracy and empire to continue without friction. The injunction that

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one must listen to Trump voters, in particular, has been ever-­present since Trump’s election. At this writing, we are in the post-­2020 election period. Trump has lost the election and the Electoral College has officially elected Joe Biden the forty-­sixth president of the United States. However, we are still being enjoined to listen to Trump voters. Somehow the denial of attention has become near synonymous with fascism among the American pundit class: there are now hard-­line freedom-­of-­speech positions that claim that not being invited to give a talk is an infringement. In many ways, the injunction to listen to those who have been ignored is a necessary one. I’ve argued that part of domination is enacted through who is listened to and the manner in which they must speak in order to be heard (cf. Schutte 1998; Eschle 2001). Yet the demand that one be listened to can also have dominative functions: we have limited time, limited resources, and limited ability to participate in the sorts of discourse that, as Habermas would have it, legitimizes our political institutions and laws.3 It is an especially disingenuous injunction given that those whom we are implored to hear have always been heard and still are. They are able to define themselves and their political desires in their own terms. We are expected to make room for them, to bend our discursive lexicon to accommodate their personal lexicons. All this is an attempt to end a conflict. Because it is thought that the pathology of American life and politics stems from the fact that we just can’t get along, we seem to have more disdain for others now than in the past. For whatever reason, such an analysis ignores the American history of genocide against native peoples, the hanging of “witches,” the enslavement of Africans, and, later, Jim Crow laws—­all of which appear not as a form of personal animus, but as moral mistakes people made in the past but no longer make now. The call for the American populace to unite and be civil toward each other places asymmetrical requirements on the members of the polity. This is because some people refuse to allow their beliefs to be persuaded by the force of the better argument. An intractable refusal to make one’s beliefs and values liable to reason, combined with the injunction to unite, means that uniting can occur only on the terms set by those who are intractable and unpersuadable. This claim is intentionally neutral with regard to what those beliefs are and what value they have. Some political intractability is a good thing. For example, one ought not allow oneself to be persuaded by Nazis. If one finds oneself constantly enjoined to “find

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common ground,” “be civil,” or “unify” with Nazis, then something has gone wrong. The requirement for unification takes the liberal demand for tolerance and transforms it into a demand that one become like what one previously had to only tolerate. While calls for unification under our current circumstances would likely produce worse outcomes than our fractious and conflict-­ridden society, the aim of conflict is itself unification. In other words, the goal of these conflicts is nonexclusion. The end goal agitated by solidarity groups is such that members of the society who hold dominative beliefs, views, and ideals would modify them, allowing those who formerly held dominative beliefs to cease being excluded. For some solidarity organizations, conflict will not end. The organization may dissolve, break into factions, or simply move on to new arenas of conflict. Conflict doesn’t end, because we do not live in ideal circumstances. Again, this is not an affirmation of the nature of human beings as unsociably social; it is a sign that we live in an insufficiently free world. But there are many ways for a conflict to end. It can end within a solidarity organization: recall the end of conflict that BAGL precipitated by issuing its statement on unity, discussed in chapter 1. The end of that conflict was not, however, the end of the organization. Other conflicts followed. The conflicts that end can also be conflicts with the broader society: once a solidarity organization has achieved its broader social goals, particular conflicts can end. Again, this does not mean no new conflicts will arise. In particular, new conflicts can arise for the external relation due to the way in which the group maintains values that the broader society does not. New external conflicts can arise because a solidarity organization generally does not have a single tactical goal, but rather holds a set of values or collectively advocates for a particular social ethos. One can think here of the massive success of the campaign for gay marriage. Many LGBTQ organizations participated in that campaign. However, their focus was never limited to this singular goal. Their overarching goal, in part, was the integration of queer people into ordinary life. Similar claims can be made for other goals that are quasi-­economic and quasicultural. While there are economic aims, they are set in part due to their relationship to cultural acceptance and integration—­a formative element of a nondominative society.

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W H AT H A P P E N S W H E N C O N F L I C T E N D S ?

In this context, realistic conflicts arise for many reasons, but at root there are only two: one is that the world is insufficiently dominative, the other is that it is insufficiently free. Freedom here is meant in a substantive sense; one must have the material preconditions to live as one chooses. A sufficiently dominative world eliminates conflict by placing high-­stakes consequences on disagreement, dissention, and difference itself. Authoritarianism, or fascism, aims fundamentally at integration. This feature hasn’t yet been discussed in this book, but it looms over the entirety of a project that is fundamentally based on the idea of nonexclusion. Inclusion and integration are features of a dominative world. This feels contrary to common experiences of exclusion and expulsion that characterize political domination. Political domination operates according to the dialectical logic of inclusion-­exclusion, or integration-­expulsion. What cannot be integrated must be expelled; at the extremes, it must be exterminated. In this way, political logics become confusing. Exclusion can be dominative, and exclusion can be liberatory. We become easily confused about when each event occurs. It’s no surprise that a major contemporary problem for feminism exists over the inclusion and exclusion of trans women. As I’ve argued, exclusion can be productive and necessary. For it to be productive, however, it must also lack ontologization. In other words, it must be intentionally temporary.4 Dominative exclusion is neither temporary nor accidental (understood here as the opposite of necessary). It is permanent and ontologized, based on the claim that some natural and fundamental feature of a person necessitates their exclusion or expulsion. This is easily seen in the contemporary state of feminist activism in the United Kingdom. As the political rhetoric concerning whether sex or gender is a protected characteristic becomes increasingly prominent (even spilling over into debates over the structure of the discipline of philosophy itself), ever more ontologization of the body, and of its genital features in particular, is highlighted. The aim of anti-­trans reactionary feminists is the ontologization of the “female sex.” In this way, it has become the near sole goal of UK “gender-­critical” feminists to lobby for the exclusion of trans women on the basis that they are not women because “woman” has been ontologized as “female sex,” whatever that is (Burns 2019). The debate takes for granted both that “woman” is simply another

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way of saying “female,” and that it is simply obvious what is meant by the designation “female.” This move ontologizes for the purpose of not only excluding but expelling. The aim is to ensure that no trans women can access women’s services in the United Kingdom.5 Some of these “feminists’ go so far as to claim that there is no such thing as being transgender.6 That is, people who believe themselves to be trans are radically mistaken about the nature of their own experience. Meanwhile, “gender-­critical” feminists claim to be better situated to determine the nature of others’ experience simply by virtue of their retreat into ontologization of either genitalia or chromosomal information. This movement—­to claim that one knows the nature of reality in a way that others do not, and then to impose that nature of reality on others—­is what Wittig refers to as the operations of the straight mind (1990). For these activists, the aim is expulsion and exclusion for its own sake. The end of the conflict appears when there has been sufficient expulsion and exclusion and those who have been expelled and excluded accept their fate. This is, of course, one way to end conflict: the elimination of the group with whom one has a conflict. It can occur as a physical elimination, displaying the genocidal tendencies of authoritarian domination, or merely as a psychic repression, in which those who have been excluded internalize the logic of their own exclusion and cease any attempt at resistance. To have as one’s aim the end of conflict does not necessarily correlate to a liberatory goal. It can just as easily correlate to a dominative goal. Return for a moment to chapter 2. There, I discussed the basis for this book: Pensky’s reading of Adorno’s claim that we ought to have “no forced unity.” Forced unity can appear by virtue of what Foucault would call normalization, or by virtue of what Adorno identifies as expulsion and exclusion. In a sense, forced unity is not merely the drive toward normalization such that all members of a group must be brought in line with the norms of that group. Rather, it is merely an example of how insidious the drive toward expulsion of heterogeneity can be. It is, as I wrote in chapter 3, an attempt at domination that functions by controlling the psychic life of those who refuse to be expelled. Normalization is a form of exclusion and expulsion, but it is turned inward and compartmentalized. It is not the whole person who must be expelled, but merely the parts of that person that are heterogenous to the norms of the society.

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Success, on this metric, would also be the end of conflict. Or it might merely be the absolute internalization of conflict by the individual, who perceives herself to have internal conflicts that she cannot eliminate but must also repress. The end of conflict, then, is either dominative or merely illusory. If the heterogeneous can be successfully expelled or excluded, it is a sign that authoritarian tendencies have overtaken any appearance of democratic life. One is “free” in only the most constricted of ways: free to act in accordance with the law.7 Further, the proposed end of conflict also supposes that all forms of domination, suppression, and exclusion can be identified in advance. It posits, in some ways, a real end of history that it has identified and can bring about. One may also want to consider solidarity organizations that have outlived their usefulness. Consider, for example, a solidarity organization that does not modify its goals or its values, but continues to exist even after its goals have been achieved or its values have become operational in society. In many ways, such an organization would have nothing to do; it would not be action-­oriented. As such, it would be hard to see it as a solidarity organization at all. There would no longer be an outside for it to oppose, or a need for internal democratic conflict. To the extent that the organization continued to exist, it would lack the features that had made it both solidaristic and democratic. It would have achieved its aims of making society itself more solidaristic and democratic. In that way it would fail to set itself apart as a collective organization whose members aimed to cease excluding ever more members. It isn’t clear that such an organization would or could continue to exist—­at least in the same form it once did. However, there is also the circumstance in which many solidarity groups find themselves: they are told that there is no need for them, precisely because the need for them is great. Two examples come to mind: feminist solidarity organizations in contemporary Europe and North America, and labor union organizing in the United States. One can take, for instance, Janus v. AFSCME (2018). The US Supreme Court found that public unions have no right to collect dues from nonunion members. Primarily, it did so by citing the notion that money is a form of political speech, and the collection of dues from nonmembers was thus a form of coerced speech. The majority decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito,

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found no need to “keep the peace” within a public workplace—­the key feature on which the right to collect fees was based. Similar decisions have been made recently by the court—­for example, in Shelby v. Holder (2013). The majority decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, found that key features of the 1965 Voting Rights Act were no longer necessary, as we no longer lived in a society that attempted to keep Black Americans from exercising their Constitutional right to vote. In each of these cases, the court determined, in a way, that certain forms of showing solidarity were no longer necessary; it determined in advance what was and was not needed. Setting aside the antidemocratic nature of the Supreme Court, these decisions display the social tendency for outsiders to determine for a solidarity group when the group’s work is done. In a cultural context, the same movement has been encouraged for feminist solidarity: that it ought to be eliminated because it has outlived its usefulness in some states. In particular, across North America and much of Europe, women are legally granted equal rights. This has led to the development of new solidarity organizations, such as Women Against Feminism. It would seem that the very prospect of a continued feminist solidarity is itself a conflict that must work its way through the world. In general, it is easy to tell when something is still needed: it is needed at the moment when reactionaries argue that it has outlived our need for it. Let us return to the Janus decision, which claims that there is no longer a need to keep the labor peace. In the aftermath, the United States has seen the greatest number of teachers’ strikes in its history. Data for Progress found that more teachers were on strike in 2018 alone than in the entire period from 1993 to 2007. While the Supreme Court finds there is no longer any need to keep the labor peace, labor is agitating conflicts in an ever-­increasing way. It seems that the call that some solidarity organizations have outlived their use (either because they use tactics that are no longer effective, or because the conflict itself has been eliminated) is in fact a way of saying that society has simply tired of their agitation. This movement toward the abolition of conflict is an attempt at undermining the development of democratic society. It helps us to see most clearly why traditionally democratic societies have been societies that take seriously the fact that we dislike being together. Our “unsocial sociability” is not a feature of ourselves so much as it is a feature of a properly

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democratic society—­which, as Jacques Rancière argues, contains within itself a contradiction. The premature elimination of conflict, then, is the movement of power as a force of domination: it is a powering-­over. When a society attempts to eliminate conflicts, it is attempting to generate a frictionless political and legal order. A frictionless political and legal order, though, cannot coexist with a free and open society. Consider, for example, two people having a disagreement. When one person says “this conversation is over,” of course, the conversation ends. A conversation requires multiple willing participants. But the disagreement has not disintegrated. What has disintegrated is the relationship between the two that exists as one in which the will to dominate is suspended. While I’ve argued that Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action provides a misleading account of conflict, that does not mean we can learn nothing from his conception of discourse. Primarily, the fact that the members of a dialogue are still conversing tells us at the very least that they recognize that they are both part of a common project. This is the kernel of truth that lies behind theories of public reason and communicative action: the inability to let others be alone to their own thoughts, beliefs, and norms is fundamental to a functioning democratic life. What these theories do, however, is mistake the social basis for democratic life for the whole of democracy itself. In this way, it is clear that when some legal, social, or political force works toward the elimination of conflict, it is working toward the elimination of some aspect of sociality. It is a sociality on which the possibility of politics itself is based. To say, then, that conflicts ought to be eliminated insofar as we can eliminate them is an exercise in power, or an exercise in protecting power. The conflicts that are eliminated or claimed to have been eliminated are those that are inconvenient to institutionalized powers. The elimination of labor conflict is instrumental in protecting capitalist accumulation; the elimination of feminist agitation is instrumental in protecting what remains of the heteropatriarchal order. It is no surprise that the call for the elimination of agitation happens at moments that could be turning points in success for the solidarity organizations. Movements that aim to create less exclusive institutions capable of withstanding the conflicts endemic to society are quashed once they begin to succeed. This is not the end of conflict, but the repression or suppression of it.

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The position I’ve laid out here reflects, in large part, an underlying commitment to radical democracy. Much like Foucault’s theory of power, theories of radical democracy are accused of a “crypto-­normativity.” That is, they refuse to truly lay out the normative claims that undergird agonistic depictions of democratic life. Instead, they are said to conceal their true commitments in order to make the theory appear radically open, when in fact it is not. It is difficult to develop a theory of democracy that is radically open to challenge while remaining partisan, as radical democrats often attempt to do; they make no secret of what they believe to be the correct outcome. In this sense, radical democrats are accused of that which they accuse liberal democrats of: smuggling in the content of norms that are contested. The objection is not, as it were, to the norms themselves, but to the fact that the norms must be smuggled. Theorists cannot be open about the norms that are smuggled in, because holding them is incompatible with the broad success of the theory. An example is relevant here. Rawls composed Political Liberalism in response to this very challenge. He argued that the norms of liberalism are political rather than metaphysical, and in doing so he attempted to make the case that we can coerce liberalism because it is a political commitment and not a metaphysical ideology. I would like to avoid such accusations by appealing straightforwardly to political norms. In particular, I’ve attempted to show that it isn’t heterogeneity itself that is valuable, but rather what the ability to abide by heterogeneity tells us: that we live in a society committed to nondomination. This is of course compatible with Marcuse’s arguments concerning tolerance: some political and metaphysical commitments entail domination (1965). Insofar as it is possible, we ought to cultivate a society that is less exclusive. In doing so, we will find productive and temporary exclusions necessary. A democratic society need not include and cultivate authoritarian tendencies, for the same reason that a feminist solidarity organization need not include and cultivate patriarchal tendencies. A commitment to democracy is itself a partisan position that carries with it the necessity for individuals to cultivate a democratic ethos along with a democratic sociality. The commitment to democracy requires the temporary exclusion of people who violate or otherwise seek to diminish, destroy, or deflate democratic life. The “crypto-­normativity” of radical democrats is not

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really cryptic at all. The normativity of their commitments is guided by democracy itself. In other words, they are more honest about what they are up to and why. Contemporarily, this is nowhere more evident than in those who demand free speech above all—­as if being able to say whatever one wants is the pinnacle of freedom. Many leftists perceive the contemporary free speech movement as a kind of trick, an attempt to spread authoritarian ideas and a false ideal. Those who purport to be free speech absolutists, they claim, would undermine free speech for those who disagree if given the chance. So free speech absolutism functions as a political tactic of a solidarity organization that ultimately aims at undermining freedom. What appears on the surface to be an attempt at “protecting democratic norms” is actually a tactic designed to exploit liberal democracy, which lacks norms of commitment to itself. Put differently, liberal democracy does not require its members to commit to its norms, and includes even those who wish to undermine and destroy it. Marcuse’s arguments concerning repressive tolerance, then, appear to be at least honest about the fact that a democracy cannot and should not abide forces that seek to destroy it, deflate it, or diminish it. Institutionally, democratic polities recognize the need for such protections of democratic norms even while denying that they are also required socially. Here, Rancière’s conception of the democratic paradox is illuminating. The institutional form of democracy protects itself at the expense of allowing democratic sociality to wither. Democratic polities operate according to constitutional laws, which are implemented in order to constitute and protect the democratic state. They also often contain provisions intended to protect democracy as a form of life. We can see this clearly in Habermas’s Between Facts and Norms (1998), where he argues that social solidarity is generated in and through the rule of law in a democratic society. The mechanism for this, in his account, is that various subsystems (economy, media, and law) effect an integrative result wherein members of the polity take it upon themselves to generate the public sphere—­and not merely to use the sphere strategically for their own interest, as interest groups. What then, is the difference between social solidarity and an interest group? Habermas never lays this distinction out clearly. Yet interest groups are depicted as those that attempt to buy influence via lobbying, media buys, or market saturation. That is, an interest group attempts to influence without the discursive exchange

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of reason. In an orthogonal way, Habermas is arguing that strategic action is not a form of public reason. Public reason—­like solidarity, as I’ve argued in chapter 1—­cannot be bought and sold. Yet he is also arguing against all forms of strategic political action that fail to reproduce the public sphere on which the legitimation of law relies. For Habermas, the public sphere is produced and reproduced by public engagement in the form of an exchange of ideas. In his account, such a public sphere is what produces social solidarity. It is how workers come to develop solidarity with each other, which they cannot do in the narrow economic subsystem. Workers’ solidarity requires that they are swayed by the force of better arguments, and those better arguments occur only in the public sphere—­even if on the shop floor. These constraints place a double burden on those who are dominated by the current political-­economic-­juridical order. The dominated must translate their concerns in such a way that the broad public can understand the sources of their domination and agree to the solutions that the members propose. The dominated must also do so in such a way that carefully avoids strategic action, because it is also their responsibility to reproduce the public sphere. But the members of the polity who are happy to continue the status quo lack either of these burdens. They are not tempted to act strategically, and because their positions and beliefs are widely held (dominative though they may be), they have no need to negotiate a way to make their claims compelling to people who would wish to dominate them. THE ENDS OF CONFLIC T

It should not be a surprise that I’m far more interested in the ends of conflict than in the end of conflict. Democratic conflict has a kind of teleology. It is guided by improving the conditions for democratic life. This claim need not import premises concerning progress or utopia, though often it does. It is also necessary given that I would like to argue that conflict is not valuable in itself. That is, this section will argue against a kind of fetishism of conflict and disagreement. The fetishism is generally conceptualized as the least compelling part of a radical rather than a liberal democracy. The move against fetishism of conflict in democratic life is in some ways motivated by a version of the democratic paradox. The idea that

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democracy is in a perpetual state of crisis has long been popular, in part because democracy has been thought to be intrinsically unstable. This accounts, in part, for the philosophical obsession with developing stable governments, a reasonable response to the potential instability that threatens to undermine democratic life and institutions. This intrinsic instability is thought to be generated internally by democratic forces, and gives reason for many to be pessimistic about the long-­term prospects for democracy. It was a key worry for de Toqueville (2000), for Schumpeter (2008), and for Crozier, Huntington, and Watanuki in The Crisis of Democracy (1975). There are many proposed causes of democratic crisis: failures of governmental authority, failures of subjective legitimation, or failures to be representative enough. There are, in my view, two traditional critiques of radical democratic theory. The first is that it is cryptonormative. This critique owes its origins to the Habermas/Foucault debate. Habermas charges that Foucault’s work is undermined “by the arbitrary partisanship of a criticism that cannot account for its normative foundations” (1994, 89). As leveraged against radical democrats, it’s a critique of the partisanship they maintain without the sufficient resources to justify their position. In other words, radical democratic theory advocates for a theory of the political and of politics that it cannot sufficiently argue in favor of, due to the theory’s dedication to antifoundationalism. Lacking preconceived standards for democratic norms in favor of contestation, agonism, and critique, radical democracy cannot justify its own implementation; we would have to argue about it first. This requirement is sometimes considered in two ways: first, as a form of “second-­order” democratic decision making, and second, as the introduction of a kind of infinite regress, where ever more abstract levels of democratic decision making are required, thus blocking the ability to make a concrete democratic decision. As a kind of response, conflict is ontologized. This response is the lead-­in to the second major criticism: that radical democratic theory requires conflict even to the extent that the conflict must be invented in order to maintain the appropriate social structure for politics to take place. To avoid providing for the normative foundations of democratic life, one can respond that conflict simply is. While this book until now has argued that solidarity is the appropriate group formation for conflict (or politics) to take place, I’m also wary of valorizing conflict for its own

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sake. One consistent claim against radical democrats is that, in basing their political metaphysics on Carl Schmitt’s theory of the political, they are committed to inventing an enemy even where one may not exist. As Schmitt puts it in The Concept of the Political, “The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between the friend and enemy” (2007, 26). The enemy is made or identified as ontologically different from the friend, in order to set up the possibility of conflict. In its reliance on Schmitt’s political metaphysics, radical democracy opens up for critique by liberal democrats who are concerned that the ontologization of the enemy may lead simply to creation of the enemy. This concern has echoes of Sartre’s claim that if the Jew did not exist, the Nazi would invent him. This section argues that valuing conflict for its own sake, rather than instrumentally, is a way of sneaking liberal norms into democratic thought. It posits, again, that democracy is ideally valuable—­that it has some normative structure such that even a perfect world would require a democracy. In this way, valuing conflict for its own sake, while often dismissed by liberals as a tactic of the left, is a subtle way of reinforcing liberal and capitalist claims concerning human nature as necessarily conflict-­driven. These claims were surveyed and discussed in detail in the previous chapter. Valuing conflict qua conflict is also a common charge against radical democratic thought (Brockelman 2003). Or, perhaps Rancière is simply overplaying his argumentative hand in order to make a higher point. That is, though he says he endorses conflict for its own sake, what he is actually endorsing is a thesis more similar to my own: it isn’t that conflict itself is valuable, but conflict is an ineliminable feature of the world in which we live. To the extent that conflict cannot be eliminated, it contains features that are in themselves valuable, but which also imply the relative value of our social organizations and political life. An analogy might help to clarify what I mean. Perhaps in an ideal world, marriage would no longer exist. Marriage serves to create classes of citizens with differential rights and privileges; it consolidates wealth, and contains many interpersonal injustices or potentials for domination. However, this does not imply that all the social formations we refer to as marriage would cease to exist in an ideal world. It also doesn’t tell us anything about the value of sustained human bonds of friendship and love. Sustained human friendship, care,

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and love are all valuable for themselves, and to the extent that marriage cannot be eliminated, these elements of it are valuable. This does not make marriage itself valuable. One might say, then, that Rancière makes a virtue of necessity. In doing so, he is not alone, as making a virtue of necessity is the sine qua non of democratic theory in an age of capitalist organization. There is no democratic theory that avoids such a trap, because democratic theories claim two related and contradictory facts about the world. The first is that democracy is valuable for itself. It is in some way not merely the best we can do politically, but it is the best that can be done politically. All major political values are said to be embodied in democracies. They help us avoid domination, arbitrary exercises of power, and the morally arbitrary unequal suppression or denial of basic human needs or capacities. That is, democracy embodies the highest normative political values. Or at least it pretends to do so under “ideal circumstances.” Second, democracy is difficult, unpleasant, and in a constant state of disarray or reorganization. Rancière puts it this way: “The contemporary way of stating the ‘democratic paradox’ is thus: democracy as a form of government is threatened by democracy as a form of social and political life and so the former must repress the latter” (2012, 47). Democracy is, in Rancière’s account, inherently conflictual insofar as democracy is both a form of government and a form of life. When either form grows, it places the other in jeopardy. Democracy as a form of life undermines democracy as a form of government because democracy as a form of government is an exercise of power over people. In this sense, the valorization of conflict makes virtue of necessity—­a move I intend to avoid here. Conflict is not valuable for its own sake. It might seem odd that I have to say this, but an ideal world would not be full of the sorts of conflicts we endure by virtue of living in a society in which the injunction to use power to rule over others is rife. Rancière’s error, here, is to argue that conflict is ineliminable under democracy because democracy has a double appearance. On the one hand, democracy tells us that there are no particular qualifications to be a ruler. On the other hand, this quality of lacking particular qualifications is common to both ruler and ruled. In this way, democracy lacks any real basis for anyone to serve as ruler. The lack of qualifications to rule serves as both a legitimation and a delegitimation of democracy in the same movement

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(2012, 47–­49). Here, however, Rancière makes the same error of which he accuses others: he ignores democracy as a form of life or ethos, focusing instead purely on institutions of government. In his sole focus on institutionality and state actors, Rancière is able to provide a picture of democracy which is itself based on a never-­ending internal conflict over legitimation. This error is “corrected,” or at least illuminated, in the later Hatred of Democracy (2009). In this text, Rancière highlights the “indeterminacy” and instability of the mere concept of democratic politics. Some interpreters, such as Samuel Chambers (2012), attribute this feature of Rancière’s thought to his anarchist sympathies: his dedication to indeterminacy standing in for a chaotic disruptiveness. Others, such as Rachel Magnusson (2015), argue that Rancière’s dedication to indeterminacy is part of his commitment to democratic equality: equality requires an openness to future challenges. In either event, conflict as such is made necessary due to Rancière’s commitment to indeterminacy and the fundamentally ungovernable aspects of democratic polities. The depiction of conflict as valuable in itself is common among radical democratic theorists, and it leads to predictable liberal critiques. For example, recall the depiction of agonism on which Kolers’s theory of solidarity relies. Kolers simply defines an agonistic relationship as one characterized as “overly quarrelsome.” Underlying this characterization is the sense that when conflict itself is heightened into a virtue, people start conflicts without good reason, or perhaps with no reason whatsoever. There is indeed a kind of masculine ethos of conflict that can provide the appearance of leftist solidarity organizations starting fights for no reason, or being overly provocative. Yet to define agonism by its outliers will also not do. While some might be confused about the value of conflict, and thus be led into progressively more useless fights, this does not mean that conflict ought to be eliminated. How then ought democratic theorists avoid making a virtue of the necessity of conflict? If conflict is not valuable in itself, why have I made it such a central feature of a book about solidarity? The aim is to show that the ends of conflict are part of what causes conflict to begin with. That is, the ends of a solidarity organization are themselves what causes internal conflict. While it isn’t the case that such conflict is, on its own, a valuable feature of solidarity, it is true that such conflict comes from

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part of the democratic ethos of solidarity organizations. When solidarity organizations lack any internal conflict over either their ends or their tactics, it is a sign and a symptom of the group’s failure to function according to democratic norms. The conflict itself is not valuable, except insofar as it is a facilitation of democratic life. The sense that it is possible to have a solidarity group without conflict, and that building one ought to be the aim of both political and social philosophy, is misguided. Once a theory aims at the elimination of conflict, it will be liable to two distinct traps. First, it will likely endorse some sort of authoritarian value or tendency. The elimination of conflict, first and foremost, will require a kind of homogeneity that is not possible except with the threat of force, expulsion, or (as Simmel puts it) annihilation. The other trap is likely to be much more prevalent. Few theorists believe that homogeneity is a valuable goal, even while they also believe that the elimination or reduction of conflict is a valuable goal.8 Many theorists, however, do attempt to excise meaningful conflict by designing thought experiments or hypothetical circumstances, or by idealizing democratic life.9 In so doing, they cease to hold practical sway. By defining conflict over deeply held beliefs, values, or tactics out of theoretical existence, democratic theory has also eliminated the need for democracy itself. Or at the very least it has made democracy into a kind of quarrel over what sort of liberalism we ought to implement. Democracy itself, and democratic theory following it, exists by virtue of the fact that we have abiding disagreements not merely about how individuals ought to live, but about the structure and ethos of the society in which the individual is made possible (Adorno 1969/70, 152; Butler 2003). It is the latter disagreement that is deep in two ways: individuals have deeply held beliefs about how society itself ought to be ordered, and these disagreements often become entrenched. That is, the disagreements become intractable under theories of democracy that attempt to theorize conflict out of political and social life. Democratic theories often set the terms of legitimation out in advance. This means that there cannot be disagreement about those terms. Further, the terms set out in advance are based on values not held by all. In this context, it is unsurprising to find that there are significant conflicts in society that cannot be ameliorated via institutional political mechanisms. Instead, the conflicts are displaced onto the ever-­weakening social sphere. The social sphere is weakened,

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as I’ve argued, under the stress that the attempt to impose unity places on it. The forced unity required for the reproduction of society does not generate society itself, but merely generates the conditions under which the economy, law, and political institutions can continue on in the absence of society. It fails to recognize that there are people who hold these social roles, and that those people have not merely material needs to be met through the subsystems, but also psychic needs to be met through social institutions. Such social institutions have gradually declined as people find themselves alienated from each other as a consequence of forced togetherness. Injunctions that we ought to unite, then, are a way of telling individuals to repress their desire for freedom through society. This is why critiques of conflict as such either ring hollow—­as they are a way not of eliminating conflict, but merely eliminating the appearances of conflict—­or function by threatening outright domination. They ask that conflict be repressed internally, so as to develop the appearance of a society capable of serving the necessary political-­juridical goal of legitimation. The repression of conflict is required in order to avoid the appearance that we are in a circumstance of political obligation best described by philosophical anarchism, rather than in a circumstance described by normative democratic theory. Alternatively, critiques of conflict threaten outright domination to the extent that they make clear what is not permissible in a society. Consider the liberal critique of Marcuse’s “Repressive Tolerance” which says that Marcuse himself is engaging in an authoritarian project. It is clear, for liberals, that Marcuse’s unwillingness to abide with authoritarian tendencies in a society is itself taken as authoritarian because it violates norms of liberal neutrality. That is the very issue with conflict: one must always take a side. There are risks in taking a side. Both moral and political danger is introduced into our lives when we are placed into circumstances that require partisanship. This moral and political danger is why I do not argue that conflict in and of itself is valuable for a society. D E M O C R A C Y AG A I N S T U T O P I A : C O N C L U D I N G T H O U G H T S

The terms upon which this chapter are situated—­ideal and nonideal theory—­are generated primarily from, but are not exclusive to, debates concerning distributive justice. However, the ideal/nonideal distinction has recently been taken up by David Estlund in his work on democratic

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theory. In Democratic Authority, Estlund argues against what he sees as a troubling tendency: in attempting to be sensitive to empirical or realistic conditions, theorists may compromise normative principles. He terms this problem “utopophobia.” In doing so, he criticizes democratic thinkers for abandoning the project of truly normative democratic theory in favor of a “complacent realism” (2008, 259).10 Others have criticized Estlund for either setting up a false dichotomy (Valentini 2015) or failing to resolve anything but institutional questions (Galston 2010). In many ways, Estlund’s critiques of so-­called utopophobic political thinkers share much in common with the charge, leveled at Adorno, of resignation. The charge of utopophobia is designed to show that the one so charged has either given up on the project of a better world, or fully abandoned the idea that we can even normatively theorize such a better world. What I’ve argued does neither. I’ve provided a theory of solidarity that is democratic and aimed at fulfilling a never-­ending project of nonexclusion, and which considers that even groups that agitate for liberation are capable of enacting domination. Further, I’ve avoided the charge against agonistic theories that they (a) lack a clear normative standard or (b) simply ontologize conflict for its own sake. In part, this is possible because, unlike many realistic political theorists, I’ve focused on the concrete relation of solidarity and shown the value that the association itself holds as a form of prefiguration. This keeps the theory away from the possibility of cryptonormativism and from charges that I’ve smuggled normativity in. This book has argued that solidarity is not the warm and fuzzy feeling of association frequently depicted in accounts. I’ve argued that a fundamental aspect of solidarity organizations is their dual character. They have both internal relations and external relations. While the external relationship of solidarity organizations is generally taken to be the conflictual element, I’ve argued that it is where the unified element of solidarity is best revealed. Members of the group stand together against the outside. The internal relationship, often called something like “fellow-­ feeling” or “sisterhood” (“brotherhood” in the case of the state, most notably in the French injunction for fraternité), is, I’ve argued, actually the one most imbued with conflict. Further, I’ve argued that the order of fit between solidarity and democracy is the reverse of its usual order. It isn’t that we need solidarity to have democracy, but that solidarity is a form of doing democracy. It is

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possible to have democracy without solidarity, and it is possible to have solidarity without democracy. One underexplored element that appeared in chapter 1 and has since been absent from this extended rumination on how solidarity operates is the idea that solidarity contains within it a utopian element. Kurt Bayertz refers to this as “part of a utopia already lived.” Here, however, I’ve argued against both Bayertz’s and Honneth’s claims that solidarity is part of an ideal or utopian society. Instead, I argue that solidarity is, like democracy, a feature only of a nonideal world. Perhaps, dialectically, solidarity gives us the hope for a possibility of an ideal world—­the small hope that things might turn out better, which keeps us from lapsing into resignation. Some might claim that this downplays the normative value of solidarity and of democracy—­that they are fit only for circumstances that lack elements of perfection. However, we live in a nonideal world now, and we always will. Utopia isn’t available. Ideal circumstances are not possible. The fact that our relations are perhaps not the ones that would exist in an ideal world does not influence their value in the world in which we do exist. In his The Struggle for Recognition (1995), Axel Honneth argues that solidarity is the ideal form of human sociality. It is a fully reconciled form of life; each person is recognized for their individual value in the context of the larger social whole. In this way, everyone comes to recognize that everyone else is independently valuable, as well as valuable to society. We have the reconciliation of the individual with the general, both seen as valuable in their own right as well as by virtue of their mutually constitutive relation. While such a picture of solidarity sounds comforting—­who would not like to be recognized both for themselves and for their role in a perfect political society?—­it also tells us little about political norms, social values, or other goals of those who lack these forms of recognition. We need not look toward an ideal theory for the guiding principles of solidarity; we need only look toward those who practice it, imperfectly but admirably, in our own world. Democratic theory often fails to fully capture what it is that democracy is good for. The major democratic theories of the twentieth century have all run into their strongest criticisms when they moved from nonideal to ideal theory. What does it mean to say that when democratic theory purports to function as ideal theory, it has overstepped its bounds? In his “Ideal Theory as Ideology,” Charles Mills distinguishes between

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two types of idealization: ideal-­as-­normative and ideal-­as-­model (166). The ideal-­as-­normative is a standard-­issue claim that ideals are not describing the world as it stands. This is a necessary and uncontroversial aspect of ideals: they are prescriptive or evaluative, and to that extent they are normative. It is because we do not live in an ideal world that ideals are normative. The second sense of ideal theory is the ideal-­as-­model, which, Mills argues, constitutes a form of ideology. When the ideal functions as a model, it fails to capture the lived reality of the phenomenon it attempts to model, and thus idealizes the world in which we live. At the very least, critical theory tries to accomplish a diagnosis of what is wrong with the world, even while often hesitating to provide a model on which to regulate the movement of “progress.” Yet critical theory itself is indebted to the hope that things may turn out well. In its own account, this is probably a lost hope. However, members of the Frankfurt School were adamant that the tradition’s negative work was a way of maintaining the utopian desire we all possess. As Adorno put it, “The ineffable part of the utopia is that what defies subsumption under identity—­the ‘use value’ in Marxist terminology—­is necessary anyways if life is to go on at all, even under the prevailing circumstances of production. The utopia extends to the sworn enemies of its realization. Regarding the concrete utopian possibility, dialectics is the ontology of the wrong state of things” (2007, 11). Utopia, then, serves two aims, the first of which is to make it possible for “life to go on at all.” That is, there is a sense of utopia as whatever it is that escapes totalization and subsumption under the contemporary regime of bourgeois life and culture. Second, the possibility of a “concrete utopia” (an actually existing material fact, rather than merely a regulative ideal) is part of the impetus to do dialectics. Dialectics serves to show us what it is about the concrete lives we live—­which are organized, structured, and understood in such a way so as to block the possibility of a concrete utopia—­that makes life unbearable or unlivable. In that sense, it’s a form of negative utopian thinking. As the above passage from Adorno continues: “The right state of things would be free of [dialectics]: neither a system nor a contradiction” (2007, 11). It is, then, not hard to understand why democratic theory’s tendency to engage in ideal thinking is so often the source of disagreement with it. One can think here of Rawls, who received most criticism for his abstractions via thought experiments. In attempting to design an ideal

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world, he implicitly designed it for white heterosexual men. Or one can think of Habermas’s attempt to define legitimacy and the justification for political authority through an ideal speech situation: one in which merely the force of the better argument wins. In the case of Rawls’s veil of ignorance, nothing is diagnosed, and nothing that ought to regulate our conduct is provided. Habermas, in the critical tradition, at least by way of negation, provides a picture of what is going wrong with our discursive lives: we are swayed by power, force, or other instrumental considerations, rather than by that which has the best support. Yet, by way of positive prescription, Habermas’s work to develop a theory of communicative action is functionally useless. We do not and cannot move toward a circumstance in which arguments can be presented, exchanged, and examined free of the constraints of force, the histories of domination and discrimination, and the conception of some having power over others. Some radical democrats, such as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, believed that the Internet could come to serve as just such a tool (2001). However, given that the anonymization of the Internet has been exploited to organize new dominative solidarity groups rather than attempt to limit those dominative features of democratic life, it is clear that Hardt and Negri were not correct in their predictions. Utopian theorizing of democracy, so long as it remains a version of ideal rather than nonideal theorizing, only obscures the context and content of the world within which politics is actually practiced. Politics is something we do. We do it in groups and collectives, and those groups and collectives will continue to have conflicts and disagreements, both internally and externally. Utopian theorizing as a form of nonideal thinking requires what Adorno might call negative utopia. To theorize a form of negative utopia is to think through what it is that disables utopia. Rather than abstracting away from the contemporary conditions that make democratic life so difficult for us, negative utopian theorizing takes our resistant material existence as its starting place. It begins in history where we begin in history. In this way, while the goal of such theorizing is, in fact, “that things might turn out well,” there is a recognition that the hope that things might turn out well is a frustrated one. It is frustrated by political, social, economic, and legal institutions, and the subjects that such institutions both create and constrain. The injunction of contemporary democratic theory that we focus far more on our

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overlapping beliefs, positions, or general agreements than on those facets of disagreement, dissent, or conflict serves only to justify the status quo. It serves to justify what it is that keeps things from turning out well.

Conclusion S O L I D A R I T Y TO D AY

I ’ V E A R G U E D throughout this text that solidarity is two sets of relations. These relations are embodied in a single association: the solidarity group. The solidarity group itself is democratic when it remains open to challenge concerning its own potentially exclusionary or dominative practices. When a solidarity group lacks this characteristic, it is a sign that the group is moving into an antisocial territory based on providing its members with the conditions that make individual domination possible. The openness to challenge is what renders solidarity an association that builds society in the face of neoliberal forces that seek to enforce atomization and consensus. In sum, I’ve attempted to restore solidarity’s role historically in democratic political thought, and to make sense of solidarity movements as we see them in the world today.

Those of us living today face existential threats to human life in the form of anthropogenic climate change, and political threats to free and open societies by the reactionary nationalist response to refugees, asylum seekers, and economic migrants. We live in a time of perhaps unrivaled wealth inequalities. There is a need for ordinary people to organize themselves and agitate conflict for a world in which we can live fully, openly, and freely. We also live in a time with no shortage of those who pretend to be on the side of those fighting for a less dominative and less exclusive world, if only they would ask nicely, be realistic, and lower their expectations.

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This book argues that solidarity as conflict is realistic. It’s a realistic response to structural conditions that make life unlivable and eliminate avenues for effective change of structural or institutional norms. As a response, it isn’t limited solely to those who might agitate for conditions they would consider “better” or “good.” Illiberal groups use solidarity as a form of group action to agitate conflict. The men who carried tiki torches and chanted, “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, Virginia, were also in solidarity. But, their solidarity is aimed at multiplying the unlivability of life for others. It is aimed, as I’ve put it, at undermining the basis of society for its members. It is this distinction—­between solidarities that build societies (and with them, democratic forms of life) and those that aim to undermine them—­that forms the normative basis of this book. This is because the impetus toward solidarity is a democratic one. Not only do democracies require constituted societies; they also require citizens who can live up to the challenges and unpleasantness of our collective lives. Living in a democracy is, in many ways, hard. It requires ongoing individual and social transformations: an openness and willingness to change one’s mind, one’s tactics, and one’s values. The danger in fixity is that we have closed off the possibility of challenge and conflict, the openness to which is central to both democratic institutions and democratic life. In presenting various portions of this text prior to its publication, the most common responses and questions I’ve received revolve around “professional organizers” and “activists.” This book is intended as a challenge to the framework that solidarity exists for other people: for the dominated, for professional nonprofit workers, for anyone other than the reader. At the same time, it serves to challenge the idea that solidarity is for those who are well off, who can contribute to various charitable funds for the provision of basic needs, and who take it that solidarity (for them) is almost always in the form of a boycott or the amplification of an action via a retweet. There is no shortage of solidarity in the news today. As the writing of this conclusion began, protesters had been on the streets of Hong Kong for six months, and the streets of Santiago were filled with people agitating against austerity under the slogan “It’s not about thirty pesos, it’s about thirty years.” Since then, countless other groups, both spontaneous and organized, have been in the streets agitating for better conditions

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of life, in boardrooms agitating for better working conditions, and in courtrooms arguing for the provision of equal protections. Argentine feminists have celebrated their collective success at securing abortion rights, and Belarusian protesters have been in the streets for more than six months in opposition to President Alexander Lukashenko’s illegitimate election. In Guatemala, the Congress building has been lit on fire in a protest against the government’s austerity budget. These are only a few examples, and there will have been hundreds more by the time this text is in print. This book aims to place these acts within the tradition of democratic thought—­to bring what happens on the streets to the tradition of democratic theory, rather than the other way around. In the summer of 2020, during a global pandemic, George Floyd was extrajudicially executed by Derek Chauvin. Chauvin, an officer with the Minneapolis Police Department and a former acquaintance of Floyd, knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, until Floyd suffocated to death. The wave of protest, uprising, and rioting that followed is agreed to have been the most intense, widespread, and enduring in the history of the United States. In the historic movement against police brutality and misconduct, police militarization, police unions’ role in local politics, the extrajudicial killing of Black people, and systemic racism at municipal, state, and national levels, between fifteen and twenty-­six million people took to the streets. This was undoubtedly the largest sustained protest in US history. The state response to this historic uprising, which is still ongoing at the time of this writing, is repression, domination, and further brutality. It seems that every day, one awakens to another video of police attacking civilians. The National Guard has been deployed to thirty states to “control” the population. National opinion polls show that the police are historically unpopular in the United States. More than 50 percent of the populace supports at least some measures to defund the police. News headlines describe police stations abandoned and set ablaze, and anarchist collectives requisitioning public streets for semipermanent installations dedicated to racial justice, mutual aid, and mourning. Images of police brutality are nonstop: police running over a man’s head with a bicycle; police shoving an elderly man, then stepping over his body while blood runs from his ears; police kettling protestors on the side of a highway to teargas them until the gas is so thick the protesters can’t be seen;

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police shooting, killing, choking, and punching our friends, neighbors, and family members, our pacifist elders and communist children. It has been a radicalizing moment for huge swaths of the American public, even if only a brief one. The movement of people in the streets over the summer of 2020 provoked an outsized militarized police response which, according to the theory I’ve laid out, is also a form of solidarity. Trump referred to cities as “battlegrounds” and sent unidentified federal agents to an unclear number of cities. The militarized response involved mass arrests, provoked some states to try to pass bills that would violate freedom of assembly, and generated untold scenes of additional violence against citizens. It was widely speculated that these federal agents were deploying various counterinsurgency tactics developed for American imperial war. Population control measures were deployed, with several cities creating giant kettles in their downtown areas by strategically closing roads, bridges, or public transportation. Most significantly, it seems that public diplomacy—­long done by cops handing out ice cream cones on hot days or attending street fairs to allow children to sit in their cruisers—­had morphed into cozy relationships with various “organizers” or “march leaders” who were, unbeknownst to those following them, in cahoots with the militarized state forces. Once again, as described in chapter 1, people took to the streets en masse to protest our racially unjust state. There were both spontaneous and organized demonstrations of solidarity. Debate arose not merely among those who demonstrated in the streets, risking both police violence and exposure to the novel coronavirus, but nationwide. Some of the questions provoked by widespread solidarity were internal to the groups on the street: What are we doing, where are we going, and what are our demands? Questions were also provoked outside the solidarity groups, about what kind of world we want to live in and how we ought to achieve it. These questions generated democratic participation, and conversations about what it means for us to live democratically. What is the meaning of freedom in a society of racially unjust militarized policing? In response, solidarity’s value as generating democratic participation is not merely restricted to those who participate in or are targeted by the actions of solidarity groups. Those who participated in the coordinated and uncoordinated actions by Black Lives Matter protesters, independent anarchist collectives, police

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and military, and right-­wing militia organizations provoked a conflict that reached far beyond those in their immediate vicinity. The conflict itself captured national attention and, no doubt, swayed many people’s opinions. Yet it would be irresponsible to say that solidarity groups provoked this conflict toward democratic aims. While that statement would be true, opposition state security forces also worked to modify public opinion and perception, and expanded their reach via local militia organizations. In fact, aspiring police officers cum militiamen found the experience radicalizing. Kyle Rittenhouse, a seventeen-­year-­old-­Illinois resident who drove to Kenosha, Wisconsin, with an illegally possessed semiautomatic weapon for the express purpose of murdering protesters has been hailed as a hero by conservative pundits and ordinary people alike. That’s just to say that coordinated action by political associations is not restricted to the rosy and positive picture we receive from most texts on solidarity, which present it as a thoroughly positive component of our moral or political lives that aims toward justice or equity. Moments and events that radicalize can and are also used for the forces of domination. Nothing political or moral is gained by ignoring this central feature of our shared political lives. It doesn’t enable better coordination, tactics, or nonexclusion. It also distorts the conceptual landscape of theories intended to help us make sense of the world and guide our actions. Further, we can see how it is that dominative groups leverage solidarity to build a more dominative world that will eventually and effectively undermine the very possibility of our collective social lives. One need not look further than to the police in Portland, Oregon, indiscriminately arresting media and press representatives. In their rush to incarcerate (if only temporarily) those who could report on their crimes, they jailed conservative journalists, who are often intent on publishing stories that are favorable to the police and depict protesters in a bad light. Yet the conservative journalists’ ideological alignment with the police couldn’t protect them from being arrested. The contestation provoked by those on the streets can be interpreted in multifaceted ways. The police provoked conflict with protesters, thus leading conservatives to the conclusion that the police were under attack. But the massive wave of unprovoked police violence against unarmed protesters for merely having the gall to be in the streets was widely interpreted as an intentional provocation, leading to headlines such as “The

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Police Are Rioting: We Need to Talk about It.” Police violence at the height of the worldwide protests was so great that the list of incidents has its own Wikipedia page: “List of Police Incidents during George Floyd Protests.”1 Police violence in the summer of 2020 was so extraordinary that the cause of defunding police went from fringe leftist program to mainstream position—­with polls showing a vast majority of Americans in support of moving money from police budgets to better social services, such as mental health care and intervention teams.2 The street violence in the summer of 2020 displayed many of the tendencies described within this book, and concluded in ways in line with its overarching point: Democracy is hard, and democratic solidarity is very hard, but when people fight together they can win. However, our actions are burdened by the material conditions in which we find ourselves, and it would be a mistake to look at the historic protests as merely a victory of public perception. There were highly publicized debates about the “right way” to achieve the goals of ending police brutality, concerning not only whether police ought to be defunded, but also how, where, and when people ought to take to the streets. Internal conflicts raged within groups of people who believed themselves to be on the same side—­against police brutality, at least. Local organizations began to provide for the needs of communities and began, in the midst of ruin, to build a prefigurative future. Abolitionist encampments popped up in cities, both large and small, across the country. This book also has a second central goal: to revive the place of solidarity in both democratic and critical theory. Today, much is being written about solidarity. However, it is largely concerned with solidarity as an individual moral relation that makes claims on us for individual action. In this sense, solidarity has little to do with democratic life and much to do with being a good person. I’ve written very little about moral obligations to be in solidarity, or about the morally relevant considerations for joining a solidarity organization. This isn’t a book of ethical theory. Instead, I’ve chosen to focus only on how solidarity functions socially and politically. The question of whether we ought to be in solidarity is distinct from questions of what solidarity is, what it does socially, and how we ought to evaluate solidarity groups politically. Those are the questions this book has sought to answer. Rather than try to convince the reader that they ought to be in solidarity, it has focused instead on addressing those who already are.

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While solidarity has been and remains a normative concept of central importance within the field of critical theory, it recently has been considered mainly a part of the discursive project. As Pensky puts it, solidarity is the guiding thread through Habermas’s work; it is how we relate intersubjectively and develop more inclusive practices for institutions that are structured discursively (Pensky, xi). Taking solidarity to be part of the project of communicative action, a form of relation guided by communicative reason, is, I’ve argued, misguided because it fails to capture fully the set of normative relations that solidarity groups develop. Further, while solidarity may, as Pensky argues, form a unifying thread through Habermas’s large corpus of work, Habermas himself does not develop a distinct and elaborated theory of solidarity. For him, solidarity simply is social integration—­a conceptualization drawn directly from Durkheim’s elaboration of the concept. Similarly, Honneth’s idealized tactic for theorizing solidarity fails to capture the mechanisms of building solidarity as they actually exist—­placing solidarity in the impossible place of a perfect society where its goal-­oriented functions are no longer needed. To be clear, solidarity in the legacy of the Frankfurt School has been a background character in its development of social, political, and legal theories or analysis. The goal of this book has been instead to begin from solidarity as a central organizing feature of social life, rather than as the result of the proper constitution of political and legal institutions. I’ve focused on what solidarity looks like today, rather than what it could look like were the world different, were we better, and were our institutions normatively ideal. This book has also intervened in democratic thought. One main goal is to show how solidarity is necessary to democratic life, and how democratic processes can operate in solidarity groups. Democratic thought has recently given little consideration to the idea that democracy requires a certain social form for its implementation and success. Despite the constant worries that the world is currently undergoing a democratic crisis (a seemingly evergreen concern), little consideration has been given to the decimation of sociality at the hands of neoliberal reformism. Theorists and pundits have instead spilled much ink on the problems of individual voter motivation, poorly informed voters, and a lack of sensitivity among professional politicians to issues that matter to their constituents. Taken together, this provides a rather pessimistic view of the future of institutionalized democracy. I argue, though, that this pessimistic view is

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unwarranted if we look for the way people build democratic sociality in their everyday lives via solidarity groups. It is for this reason that I argue that solidarity is a way to build society in its wreckage. Lacking connection to formal political institutions and the basics of a dignified life, people seek to rebuild what once was thought to have been secured by the democratic welfare state. This, in part, can also explain why so many “merely cultural” movements have extensive bases of social solidarity: they are literally attempts at building a society in which heterogeneity isn’t expelled or exterminated. It’s here that we can really see why Honneth characterizes solidarity as that which provides the basis for self-­esteem in being respected by others in one’s particularity as part of the social whole. Solidarity organizations allow us to have, on a micro level, what it is that a good society could provide for us: access to democratic life, the nonexclusion of difference, and the sharing of goals, fates, and values. My argument also puts into view why it is that those who are excluded build solidarity organizations. In their exclusion from formal political, legal, and social life, people seek out alternative methods for social organization, social support, and political action; they build these things in solidarity with others who have also been excluded. This also helps to explain the historical connection between the marginalized or dominated and solidarity organization, as well as its flip side. Those who are not marginalized or who do not see themselves as dominated have difficulty seeing themselves as practitioners of solidarity. This book is intended to serve as a contemporary response to the pessimism about contemporary political life that is both overwhelming and demotivating. Far from giving in to that dire picture of our collective lives, it challenges readers to see themselves as potential members of solidarity organizations, to build society when forces attempt to undermine it, and to take the critical but hopeful stance that, though things may not end well, we must continue hoping that they might. Taking this stance seriously requires that we spend much more time focusing on those who actually attempt to realize democratic nonexclusion through conflict, agitation, and the collective project of building and sustaining our world.

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1. A large literature is dedicated to interpreting and critiquing Habermas’s discourse theory of ethics, politics, and law. For literature which touches on it as presenting an inadequate or self-­undermining social theory, see Benhabib 1992; Bohman 1996; Fraser 1985; Meehan (1995) 2013; Taylor 1989; and Warnke 1995. 2. A nonexhaustive compendium of critiques of Rawls’s methodology of abstraction (not limited to his work in Political Liberalism) can be found in Cohen 2008; Forrester 2019; Geuss 2008; Mills 2005; Nozick 1974; Okin 1989; Shklar 1989; and Williams 2005. CHAPTER 1

1. The contemporary literature on solidarity doesn’t really form a consistent set, as discussions of solidarity are scattered among books or articles as well as being embedded in discussions about legitimacy, emancipation, democracy, integration, immigration, and moral theory. That means there are perhaps far too many uses and deployments of the term “solidarity” to be articulated here. However, when I refer to “contemporary theories of solidarity,” this includes Allen 1999; Banting and Kymlika 2017; Bayertz 1999; Dean 1996; Fraser 1986; Honneth 1996; Kolers 2016; Mason 2000; Mohanty 2003; Pensky 2009; Sangiovanni 2015; Scholz 2008; and Taylor 2015. Most of these texts will be discussed in detail, but there are undoubtedly some theories hidden in texts predominantly about other topics that I have not included here. 2. While I discuss Sangiovanni and Kolers’s theories here, later in this chapter I will propose that Scholz and Dean’s theories are also exceptions to the same trend. 3. Sangiovanni is not the first or the only person to make such an argument. In his “Private Solidarity,” Bommarito (2016) argues, following Simone Weil, that solidarity can be practiced in private or as a solo activity. However, it seems  173

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important to note that Bommarito recognizes that such acts of “private solidarity” cannot possibly be aimed at social change. In that sense, he recognizes that private solidarity, to the extent that it might exist, is a personal moral activity aimed at the development of character. This seems a recognition that if private solidarity is possible, then Durkheim is right about the moralizing nature of theories of solidarity. 4. In fact, this seems to be part of the impetus for Dean’s theory of solidarity (1996) as one that can withstand difference. However, her focus is on moving beyond identity politics toward reflective solidarity and moral recognition (49), rather than maintaining a focus on the specific goals or aims of the group itself. 5. I use the term “critical theories” broadly here, to refer to any theories based in a critique of modern society, ideology, or political organization, as well as theories that follow in the lineage of the Frankfurt School. 6. This data is based on the US Census Bureau’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement, collected in March 2017 (Fry 2017). 7. For more on these records, see NBA 2017. 8. These specific facets of the lives of US millennials are highlighted in The State of Young America: The Databook (Young Invincibles 2011). 9. Hegel, in fact, seats the origin of social recognition in the family (1991). Of the family he says, “The disposition [appropriate to the family] is to have self-­consciousness of one’s individuality within this unity as essentiality which has being in and for itself, so that one is present in it not as an independent person [eine Person für sich] but as a member” (199; italics and bracketed content in original). Honneth takes up this mantle, but seats social recognition’s highest form in society itself (1996). In this sense, a return to the family as the primary (in both a theoretical and temporal sense) site of social life, and thus social solidarity is Hegelian. However, even a Hegelian need not take such a deflationary tactic. It is also worth considering whether a society shrunken back down to the family is a society at all. In her Power of Feminist Theory, Amy Allen argues that we ought to utilize Benhabib’s reading of Arendt in a way that aligns social concerns with their interaction in the political, rather than in the private (1999, 94–­99). In some sense, this undermines the strict metaphysical division between the public and private spheres (at least as developed by Arendt in The Human Condition). I follow that tactic here, and say more about it in chapter 2. 10. For more on how social concerns are translated into the normative logic of democratic politics, see Benhabib 1996. CHAPTER 2

1. These characterizations are attributable to Dean, Honneth, and Habermas, in that order.

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2. This is despite the fact that many who discuss solidarity use the two terms somewhat interchangeably. Sally Scholz is an outlier in this regard. 3. While these questions are interesting and potentially important, I cannot deal with them here. However, I can say that this formation of “being in solidarity” implies that solidarity functions antithetically to identitarian relations, or at the very least, that it transgresses or denies mere identitarian claims concerning the solidary group. 4. Lawrence Blum (2007) argues in “Three Kinds of Race-­Related Solidarity” that there is a transformative element to race-­related solidarity. However, the transformation he highlights comes from the community-­based aspects, and the development of noninstrumental goods such as trust and mutual concern are not straightforward political transformations. 5. The Gallup polls showing this are available and analyzed at Reinhart 2019. 6. For an assessment of these tactics that recognizes the illegitimate political system as conditioning the assessment of different tactics, see Pineda, 2021. 7. According to the International Monetary Fund report World Economic Outlook, April 2018 (International Monetary Fund 2018). 8. According to the American Time Use Survey from 2017, the most recent year for which data is available. 9. Some people have called this “coercive control.” and there has been some legislation concerning it in European countries. But “coercive control” as a legal concept is more expansive than mere financial manipulation, extortion, or extraction. CHAPTER 3

1. In Butler’s account, this conceptualization of “psychic life” already preempts the melancholic return of the ego on itself (Butler 1997, 168). 2. One could think here of Amy Allen’s argument concerning solidarity and power: that solidarity is a feature of building power-­with, rather than simply power-­to (individual liberation) or power-­over (individualist domination). 3. This is significantly simplified, of course, because Palestinian rights activists often provide solidaristic support for various freedom struggles across the globe, most notably for Black Lives Matter. 4. This is sometimes, and I think more forcefully, translated as “the silent conspiracy of all men.” 5. This shares much in common with Butler’s conception of the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity: the subject is shaped by the external world as much as by internal desires. 6. The maternal Thing is the maternal subject who also serves as a gap between the child and the world. It is absolutely exterior to the subject in the

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sense that the subject can never reach it, but can only move past it via rejection of it as abject. I am grateful to Max Pensky for this point. 7. This mirrors Kristeva’s theorization of melancholia in Black Sun (1989) as not merely a loss of the object, but also a loss of the self. In a certain way, the loss of domination conditions formerly dominative subjects to feel as though they lack an identity. This will be discussed more clearly and explicitly below, through a consideration of the claim that men often feel they have no positive way of generating an identity. 8. To be honest, the near sole focus of this type of “feminism” is trans women. Trans men are generally ignored, unless one wants to claim that trans men are or should be butch lesbians forced by the cultural tide to feign existence as men. There are so many layers of faulty and prejudiced assumptions here that to unpack them would require another entire book. However, Talia Bettcher’s “Evil Deceivers and Make Believers: On Transphobic Violence and the Politics of Illusion” (2007) can serve as a good, if cursory, first step to untangling these issues. 9. In the United Kingdom, for example, men typically make 8 percent more in salary than women. Data from the UK Gender Pay Gap Service is available at In the United States, women earn roughly 78 percent of the pay that men earn, a number that has generally increased incrementally in the past three decades (Blau and Kahn 2017). 10. One might want to demoralize this conception. In a purely descriptive rather than normative account, perverse incentives are generated. That is, domination enables one to satisfy their own interests, so it is incentivized. 11. In November 2017, Callie Marie Rennison, the author of Introduction to Criminal Justice: Systems, Diversity, and Change, addressed the claim that she made Brock Turner the literal textbook example of a rapist (using his photograph and crimes as an illustration) in an article titled “I’m the Professor Who Made Brock Turner the ‘Textbook Example’ of a Rapist” (Rennison 2017). 12. Manne 2018. The entirety of chapter 8 deals with the phenomenon of “himpathy.” 13. To draw the analogy of MRAs to anti-­trans reactionary feminists: these “feminists” also require the existence of trans women as a foil against which they can define their own “true” womanhood. 14. Redpillschool, ”100,000,” Reddit, March  4, 2015. https://www.reddit. com/r/TheRedPill/comments/2xwllf/100000/. 15. Hawkeaglejesus, ”Stop Talking about Your Weaknesses,” Reddit, March  28, 2018. stop_talking_about_your_weaknesses/.

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16. I think this distinction maps most theorists’ intuition that when we describe solidarity, we aren’t describing something that is, all things considered, bad for the world. However, it also aims at a middle ground where we can use the concept to make sense of pathological forms of political association by identifying their pathological features. 17. For a history of the ANC in their own words, see African National Congress n.d. 18. See 19. For more on the nihilistic nature of these groups, including their tendency to seek out punishment and to be stochastically violent, see “Black Pill” by the editorial collective of Radix Journal. Radix is a publication affiliated with Richard Spencer and the far right. It analyzes the nihilism of incels as a form of acceptance of their own inferiority (Radix Journal 2015). 20. The book begins with the statement that it is “easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism,” which Slavoj Žižek attributed to Frederick Jameson (though it is debatable whether Jameson ever said such a thing in this specific way). In this way, the text is framed by the idea of left-­wing melancholia. Fischer contextualizes this claim with a reading of the film Children of Men (Cuarón 2006), arguing that all of the disasters and crises depicted, rather than providing the possibility of new ways of living and being, have the effect of a political sterility: nothing changes because nothing can change anymore, or at least that is how it seems. 21. For my more detailed analysis of these accusations, see DuFord 2018. For a generalized account of these events, see Jeffries 2016; Leslie 1999. CHAPTER 4

1. I use the term “commercial” here because of its common use as a term of art in Enlightenment thought of the time. A society based on commerce was thought to be a freer and more rational place. While commerce forms part of the bedrock of a capitalist society, it is far from the only element, which is why it is singled out here. 2. See Hobbes 1998; Kant 1991; Mandeville 1997. 3. As cited in Immanuel Kant, “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Intent,” in Political Writings, edited by H. S. Reiss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970 [1991]). 4. Karen Kelsky of The Professor Is In attempts to combat this tendency in academic job seekers (Kelsky 2017). As general salary negotiation advice, it can be found at Ryan 2018. 5. For a representative example of this, see Watkins 2016. 6. This may be due to a misunderstanding of the term “identity politics”

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as it was first deployed by the Combahee River Collective, or to a sometimes bad-­faith way of dismissing the concerns about harassment and discrimination made by people on the basis of sex, gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, or gender identity. 7. The best contemporary example of someone using this tactic is Amber A’Lee Frost. For a representative article deploying this tactic, see Frost 2019. 8. See 9. A prominent example is Charles Fourier, who began writing about solidarity and working-­class poverty at the turn of the nineteenth century. It is difficult to know exactly when his essays were written, as many were only published posthumously. For an overview of Fourier’s thought and legacy, see Cunliffe 2001. There is also, of course, the work of Adam Smith, which stands out in this regard. 10. As the saying goes, it is nearly impossible to provide evidence for the nonexistence of something. As already noted, Scholz’s review essay on the state of the philosophical literature on solidarity contains no instances of workers’ solidarity, and no attempt at delineating a paradigm of solidarity specific to workers or organized labor. 11. More than half of Americans live in states that lack antidiscrimination protections for LGBT people, owing to the lack of federal law. See Movement Advancement Project, “Non-­Discrimination Laws.” Further, almost half of the sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination complaints received by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in 2018 were made in states that lacked explicit protections for LGBT workers. Badgett et al. 2018. 12. The US Supreme Court recently decided three cases that will impact the future of federal antidiscrimination protections. One is based on gender identity and expression discrimination: R. G. & G. R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Two are based on sexual orientation discrimination: Bostock v. Clayton County and Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda. In each case the court found that discrimination based on gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation is prohibited because it is descrimination based on sex. However, these cases merely make up the greater part of a patchwork of rights to antidescrimination on the federal level, through which there are many cracks and loopholes. In particular, one’s boss cannot fire one for being homosexual, but in a right-­to-­work state a boss can fire anyone without cause. The provided protections merely protect a worker in cases where the firing is clearly on account of homosexuality. 13. This was something that members of the Frankfurt School also attempted to study while living in the United States. A number of surveys were

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designed and completed concerning the integration of Jewish people and Black Americans into US labor unions. This work was never completed, in part due to flaws in the study design. For more information on this set of studies, Mark Worrell (2008), provides a comprehensive overview, including appendixes of the data collected. 14. This bears a distinct resemblance to Kolers’s account of the structural conditions for an obligation to be in solidarity. 15. Even today, debates rage about how we ought to understand women’s position in the household as wife and mother, as created by the engine of capital accumulation and necessary for it. 16. This structure of identity formation, individuation, and subjection is most clearly discussed by Butler in her Giving an Account of Oneself (2003). 17. This follows from some strands of Marxist thought which posit workers as the sole revolutionary class, to the exclusion of any other relevant features of their lives that make them liable to forms of domination under capitalism. 18. Though Fraser uses this tactic, she isn’t the originator of a dual-­systems theory, which was extremely common among Marxist and socialist feminists throughout the 1970s and ’80s. Dual-­systems theories posit that there are two different and independently operative structures that develop domination through capitalism and domination through patriarchy. The tactic is often attributed, in the initial instance, to Friedrich Engels’s The Origin of Private Property, Family, and the State. 19. My inspiration for this tactic comes not from Nancy Fraser but from a series of studies undertaken in 1944 by the Institute for Social Research (i.e., the Frankfurt School) relating to anti-­Semitism and organized labor in the United States. The research is documented and critiqued in Worell 2008. 20. This has come to be known as part of “cancel culture.” However, that term is also used more broadly, sometimes just to signal widespread disapproval of a famous person’s actions. 21. Corporations are, of course, accountable to shareholders, owners, and the governments under which they operate. This doesn’t often translate into democratic accountability, either through an application of an all-­affected principle or through a stakeholder model. For more on the unaccountable power of corporations, see Roberts 2019. CHAPTER 5

1. Trump’s policy proposals during the 2016 presidential election campaign mainly amounted to vague proposals lacking in any real detail concerning their implementation, motivation, or legality. Politifact referred to them as “vague

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promises” containing “a lack of detailed stances and firm pledges” (Qiu 2016). This tendency only expanded in the 2020 campaign, during which the entirety of the Republican National Committee lacked a policy platform. 2. This is a primary theme of Michael Sandel, Democracy’s Discontent: In Search of a Public Philosophy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998). 3. I single out Habermas here because his theory of communicative action looms large against a backdrop of political critical theory. But that is a problem for any deliberative account of democracy or democratic action. 4. This could be thought of along the lines of Spivak’s concept of temporary essentialisms: a temporary and strategic action that is necessary to achieve the organization’s goals. 5. It won’t be surprising, then, that in the United States, anti-­trans movements have begun, via state-­level legislation, to attempt to legislate trans children out of existence by making it a crime to facilitate a minor (understood as someone under the age of twenty-­one) in a gender transition, by treating parents supportive of their trans children as engaging in child abuse, or by making it illegal for doctors to treat trans minors in their gender transition. These are attempts not simply to exclude trans people from public life, but to exterminate trans people as trans. 6. For a representative example, see Stock 2019. 7. Two classic critiques of this movement in Kant’s ethics and political thought are Adorno 2007; Foucault 1984. 8. Even liberal nationalists recognize that homogeneity itself isn’t the goal of a polity, even if, in their determination, a polity’s homogeneity is likely to provide benefits for its members. 9. I don’t want to merely rehash Mouffe’s claims. For her argument on this, see her On the Political (2005). 10. He has subsequently published Utopophobia: On the Limits (if Any) of Political Philosophy (2019). CONCLUSION

1. “List of Police Violence Incidents during George Floyd Protests,” Wikipedia, 2. There are many examples of such polls. A number of them are surveyed in North 2020. It’s also worth noting that many “intervention” teams on behalf of which many people advocate are also imbricated in the carceral state. Mental health intervention teams often intervene in ways that lead to people being incarcerated in a prisons, jails, or hospitals against their will.


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“A Black Feminist Statement” (Combahee River Collective), 41, 62–­63 Adorno, Theodor: on contemporary masculinity, 82–­83; on critical concept of society, 103; critique of friend-­enemy relation, 139–­40; critique of idealism, 42–­43; on gendered norms of domination, 79, 81–­82; heteropatriarchy as “damage to the organism,” 93; identity formation, 122; melancholy science, 20; political resignation, 96, 159; Simmel’s influence on, 139; social integration as temporally primary, 3–­4; solidarity as process of nonexclusion, 58, 63; on utopia, 161, 162 African National Congress (ANC), 91 agonism, 37, 140, 156, 159 Ahmed, Sarah, “White Men,” 85 AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), 113 Alito, Samuel, 147–­48 Allen, Amy: on power and domination, 63–­64, 66, 77; solidarity as political, 65 Anderson, Elizabeth, 128 annihilation, 15, 139, 157 antagonism, 37, 40 antidiscrimination protections, 115–­18, 178nn11–­12 antisocial solidarity. See solidarity, antisocial anti-­trans reactionary feminism, 81, 145–­ 46, 176n8, 180n5

Arendt, Hannah, 65–­66, 83–­84 authoritarianism, 24, 39, 128, 137, 145, 151, 158 Bay Area Gay Liberation (BAGL), 35, 40, 43–­44, 98–­99, 144 Bayertz, Kurt, 48, 64, 91–­92, 160 BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, 37, 38 Benhabib, Seyla, 65 Benjamin, Walter, 95 Between Facts and Norms (Habermas), 151 Biden, Joseph, 143 Biebricher, Thomas, 26–­27 Black feminism, 41–­42, 62–­63, 64 Black Lives Matter movement, 69, 166–­68 Black Reconstruction (Du Bois), 84 Bloch, Ernst, 139 “Brave Motherfuckers” (Staudenmaier), 38–­39 Brexit, 26 Brown, Wendy: critique of left melancholia, 96–­97, 99; on freedom without society, 25; neoliberalism and loss of social life, 26, 29, 46 burdened action, 21, 121–­23. See also solidarity, social formation of Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), 116 Canadian Labor Congress (CLC), 116–­17, 129 capitalism: conflict in the private realm,  193

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107–­10; contemporary concept of solidarity and, 103; domination as incidental to, 115; elimination of conflict and, 149; ideal democratic theory and, 135–­36; labor movements and, 21, 102, 112, 113–­14, 120; left-­wing melancholia, 96, 177n20; social theory and, 105. See also neoliberalism; solidarity, labor Capitalist Realism (Fisher), 96 Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), 1–­2 Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP), 1–­2 Chambers, Samuel, 156 Chauvin, Derek, 166 civility, calls for, 143–­44 class and identity, 111, 115, 120, 121–­22, 126, 177n6 Clinton, Hillary, 137 Cold War, 114 collective mediation, 3 collectivism, neoliberalism’s opposition to, 26–­27 Combahee River Collective, “A Black Feminist Statement,” 41, 42, 44, 62–­63 commercialism. See capitalism communicative action: displacement of conflict and, 109–­10; limitations of, 5, 162, 170; relationship to social integration, 108; strategic action and, 66, 70–­ 71. See also Habermas, Jürgen Community, Solidarity, and Belonging (Mason), 128 complacent realism, 159 The Concept of the Political (Schmitt), 139, 154 conflict: calls for unification, 143–­44; at center of democratic life, 3, 5–­6, 8, 13, 23–­24; in critical discourse, 2; Enlightenment thought and, 20, 102, 106, 177n1; fetishism of, 152–­53; Hobbes-­Schmitt concept of, 139–­40; ideal and nonideal theory and, 158–­63; ideal democratic theory as ideology,

135–­36; internal and external, 17–­19, 57–­58, 61, 63–­64, 91–­93; interpretation of democratic norms and, 136–­37, 179n1; Kant’s concept of sociability and, 106; necessary and productive exclusion, 145, 150; normalization and forced unity, 146–­47; norms of nonexclusion and, 134–­35; ontologization of, 14, 140, 145, 153, 159; within oppressed groups, 35–­41, 48–­49; premature elimination of, 147–­49; in the private realm, 107–­10; radical democracy and, 13–­15, 60, 150–­51, 153–­54, 156, 159; realistic, 7–­8, 15, 51–­53, 88, 140–­43, 145, 165; repression of, 23–­24, 158; Simmel’s theory of, 138–­44; as solidarity, 29, 35–­ 36, 41–­45, 130–­32, 165; valorization of, 155–­57. See also democracy; solidarity Conflict (Simmel), 139 consensus formation: central to liberal political thought, 29–­30; democratic polity and, 5–­6; Habermas’s theory of society and, 4–­5, 66; Kolers’s theory of solidarity and, 32–­35, 37–­38 ContraPoints (YouTube commentator), 94 Coser, Lewis, 7, 140–­41 The Crisis of Democracy (Crozier, Huntington and Watanuki), 153 critical theories of solidarity. See solidarity, critical theories of Crozier, Michel, The Crisis of Democracy, 153 cryptonormativism, 150–­51, 153, 159 Dahl, Robert, 63 Data for Progress, 148 Dean, Jodi, 52, 56–­57 deliberative democracy, 47 democracy: abolition of conflict and, 148–­49; antisocial solidarity groups lacking, 92–­93; conflict at center of, 3, 5–­6, 8, 13, 23–­24; conflicting messages about, 7; deliberative, 47, 134;

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democratic paradox, 101–­2, 151, 152–­ 53; democratic pathologies, 7, 16–­17; Enlightenment thought and, 103–­7; ideal and nonideal theory of, 158–­63; ideal democratic theory as ideology, 135–­36; interpretation of democratic norms, 136–­37, 179n1; liberal perfectionism and, 137; neoliberalism and loss of society, 25–­28, 46–­47, 103, 174n9; as nonideal, 22–­23, 122–­ 23, 160–­62; as process vs. idealized outcome, 13–­14, 60; proposed causes of democratic crisis, 153; radical (see radical democracy); repression of conflict and, 23–­24, 158; sociality as fundamental to democratic life, 48, 102, 122; social theory and, 2, 8–­9; strategic action and, 60–­61, 68–­7 1, 74–­75; utophobia and, 159; wildcat strikes as democratic, 130–­32. See also conflict; society; solidarity; solidarity, democratic; utopia Democratic Authority (Estlund), 159 democratic legitimization, 22 democratic solidarity. See solidarity, democratic Demos and Young Invincibles, “The State of Young America,” 46 The Dialectical Imagination (Jay), 98 DiAngelo, Robin, “White Fragility,” 84 distributive justice, 158 The Division of Labor in Society (Durkheim), 30 domination: additive theory of, 126; conflict used to contest, 18–­19; democracy as tool for, 23; freedom without society and, 25; gendered norms and, 79, 81–­82; inclusion and integration as features of, 145; perceived loss of, and melancholia, 79, 176n7; perceived loss of heteromasculinity, 82–­83, 88–­90; in premature elimination of conflict, 147–­ 49; sexual domination/incel groups, 86–­88; solidarity used to promote, 168;

superficial attempts to address, 115–­16; through the space of reasons, 63–­64, 66, 71–­73. See also exclusion; solidarity, antisocial; solidarity, psychic Down Girl (Manne), 85 Dryzek, John, 47 dual-­systems theory: characterized, 126, 179n18; expression of need and, 110; intersectionality theory and, 126–­27; neutral liberal vs. partisan justification, 128; solidarity as moralized conception of community, 128–­29; solidarity as process toward nonexclusion, 129. See also solidarity, social formation of Du Bois, W. E. B., 84 Durkheim, Émile: labor solidarity as organic solidarity, 119; on social aspects of solidarity, 30, 38, 45, 48 École Polytechnique massacre, 86 economics: labor rights as human economic rights, 114; neoliberal denial of society, 26; subsystems in wage-­labor relations, 108–­10. See also capitalism; neoliberalism The Ends of Solidarity (Pensky), 51 Enlightenment thought: capitalism and emergence of social theory, 105; conflict and, 20, 102, 106, 177n1; Kant’s concept of sociality, 106; social contract doctrine, 104; sociality and workers’ unions, 132–­33; sociality generated by commercial society, 105; utopian socialism, 105. See also solidarity, social formation of equality, and gender rights activism, 79–­81 equity, 32–­35, 37–­38 Eschle, Catherine, 65 Estlund, David, Democratic Authority, 159 exclusion: for its own sake, 146; neoliberalist policy and, 17; normalization as form of, 146–­47; pathological solidar-

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ity groups, 19–­20; policing boundaries of membership, 64–­68; as productive and necessary, 145; through the space of reasons, 63–­64, 66, 71–­73. See also domination; nonexclusion; solidarity, antisocial expressed vs. robust solidarity, 78–­79, 86 failure and punishment. See punishment and failure, expectation of fascism, 11, 26, 79, 94, 95, 143 feminism: anti-­trans reactionary, 81, 145–­ 46, 176n8, 180n5; Black feminism, 41–­ 42, 62–­63, 64; commitment to equality, 79–­80; conflict in the private realm and, 107. See also solidarity, feminist feminist solidarity. See solidarity, feminist Fight for 15 campaign, 111 Fisher, Mark, 96, 177n20 Floyd, George, 166 forced unity, 146, 158 forever war, concept of, 139 Forst, Rainer, 58, 63 Foucault, Michel: on consensus building, 29, 146–­47, 153; critique of radical democracy and, 153; normalization and forced unity, 146–­47 Frankfurt School, 3, 53, 122, 161, 170 Fraser, Nancy: dual-­systems theory, 126, 179n18; expression of need, 110, 120; on feminist ethic of solidarity, 55–­56; solidarity as conflict, 49; solidarity in building an emancipated world, 54 freedom: realistic conflict and, 145; without society, 25 Freedom’s Right: The Social Foundations of Democratic Life (Honneth), 54 free speech absolutism, 151 Freud, Sigmund, 83, 93 friend-­enemy relation, 139–­40 functional individualism, 4 Functionalism, 104–­5 The Future of Feminist Liberalism (Nussbaum), 73

gendered norms of domination, 79, 81–­82 gender rights, 79–­81, 115–­18 Grexit, 26 Habermas, Jürgen: communicative action, limitations of, 5, 162, 170; critique of radical democracy, 153; exchange of ideas via public sphere, 152; infighting as public debate, 38–­39; integrative function of solidarity, 28, 48; Simmel’s theory of conflict and, 139; social solidarity through rule of law, 151–­52; society as social order, 4–­5, 66; The Theory of Communicative Action, 4, 60, 108, 149; wage-­labor relations, 108–­10 Halle, Randall, 82 Hancock, Ange-­Marie, Solidarity Politics for Millennials, 126–­27 Hardt, Michael, 162 Hatred of Democracy (Rancière), 156 Hayek, F. A., 104 Haywood, Bill, 31 hegemonic masculinity, 92–­93 heteropatriarchy, 93 himpathy, 85 Hobbes, Thomas, 104, 139 Hobson, Emily K., 40, 44 Honig, Bonnie, 15, 80 Honneth, Axel: neoliberalism’s constraint on political integration, 54, 55; solidarity and oppositional movements, 56; solidarity as fully developed social integration, 28; solidarity as ideal form of human sociality, 160, 171; solidarity as utopian phenomenon, 48, 170 hooks, bell, 62 Horkheimer, Max, 98 Huntington, Samuel P., The Crisis of Democracy, 153 ideal and nonideal theory of democracy, 158–­63 ideal-­as-­normative vs. ideal-­as-­model, 161

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idealism, Adorno’s critique of, 42–­43 idealization, types of, 161 “Ideal Theory as Ideology” (Mills), 135, 160–­61 identity: class and, 111, 115, 120, 121–­22, 126, 177n6; creation of, by virtue of subjection, 122; identitarian identification, 27, 65; identitarian-­style arguments, 6; loss of dominative self-­identity, 88–­89; nonidentitarian politics, 54–­55, 57–­58, 65, 120, 175n3; shared, 54–­55, 57–­58, 60. See also melancholy; solidarity, feminist; solidarity, social formation of illegitimate social order, 5 incels (involuntary celibates), 86–­90, 94 individualism: dual-­systems theory as individualistic, 126–­27; individualist conception of society, 104; in psychic solidarity, 78. See also solidarity, psychic; solidarity, social formation of individual moral action, 31–­32, 169 inequity, 32–­35, 37–­38 infighting, 38–­39. See also conflict in-­group/out-­group theory, 6 insurrection summer, 1, 166 integration. See social integration internal/external aspects of solidarity: characterized, 17–­19, 159; antisocial solidarity and, 91–­93; infinite nonexclusion and, 63–­64; oppositional/democratic elements, 19, 57–­58, 61, 63–­64; as public/private, 65–­66; reactionary melancholia and, 81; strategic action and democratic norms, 68–­7 1 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 114 International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, 114 intersectionality, 115, 126–­27 An Introduction to Dialectics (Adorno), 42–­43 Isla Vista killings, 86 Israel, 37, 38

Janus v. AFSCME, 147, 148 Jay, Martin, The Dialectical Imagination, 98 joint action theory, 31–­32, 173n3 Kant, Immanuel: equitability in solidarity, 33, 38; melancholy science and the sublime, 83; sociality, concept of, 106, 123 Kimmel, Michael, 84 King, Martin Luther Jr., 69 Kolers, Avery: agonism, 37, 140, 156; theory of solidarity, 32–­35, 37 Kristeva, Julia, 83, 84 labor unions. See solidarity, labor Laclau, Ernesto, 14 language: as negotiation with economic subsystem, 108–­9; normative resources and, 74 leadership, failures of, 44–­45 left-­Schmittians, 14, 139, 141 left-­wing melancholia: hope for utopia and, 97–­100; as political resignation, 95–­97. See also melancholy; solidarity, liberal theories of; utopia Lépine, Marc, 86 Leviathan (Hobbes), 139 LGBT rights and workers solidarity, 115–­ 18. See also gender rights liberalism: consensus formation central to, 29–­30; domination through space of reasons, 71–­73; labor solidarity as “special,” 123; utopian socialism as response to, 105. See also solidarity, liberal theories of liberal perfectionism, 137 Locke, John, 104 Luhmann, Niklas, 4 Lukács, Georg, 139 Lukashenko, Alexander, 166 Luxemburg, Rosa, 44–­45 Magnusson, Rachel, 156 Manne, Kate, 85

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Marcuse, Herbert, 150, 151, 158 Marx, Karl: capitalism undermining itself, 126; critical theory, concept of, 53; objective structures and, 120; reluctant solidarity, 101; social conflict theory and, 6–­7 masculinity: functioning as negation, 84; hegemonic, 92–­93; men’s rights activism and, 79–­81; perceived loss of heteronormative, 81–­83, 88–­90 Mason, Andrew, 128–­29 Mass Psychology of Fascism (Reich), 94 maternal Thing, 79, 97, 175n6 McInnes, Gavin, 93 Medicare/Medicaid, 47 melancholy: anti-­trans reactionary feminism, 81, 145–­46, 176n8, 180n5; expectation of punishment, 93–­95; gender equality activism and, 79–­81; hegemonic masculinity, 92–­93; left-­ wing, 95–­97; loss of dominant status, 79, 176n7; melancholic masculinity, 81–­83, 88–­90; melancholy science, 83; nonpathological, 20, 97–­100; psychic solidarity, defined, 78; psychic wounding, 84. See also solidarity, antisocial; solidarity, psychic membership, policing the boundaries of, 64–­68. See also exclusion; nonexclusion men’s rights activists (MRAs): desire for control, 94; melancholy and, 79–­81; perceived loss of heteronormative masculinity, 88–­90; sexual domination/incel groups, 86–­88; unproductive conflicts of, 88 Mills, Charles, 135, 160–­61 Minima Moralia (Adorno), 20 Minneapolis Police Department, 166 Montaigne, Michel de, 104, 106, 123 morality: individual moral action, 31–­32, 169; moral accounts of solidarity, 41–­ 42, 169; moral obligation and robust solidarity, 78; nonnormalized concep-

tion of solidarity vs., 10–­12; obscuring social origin of solidarity, 30–­31, 38, 45, 48; solidarity as moralized conception of community, 128–­29 Mouffe, Chantal: on common sense and hegemonic norms, 39; disagreement, concept of, 40; on evacuation of conflict from political society, 29; problem of social conflict, 107; on radical democratic politics, 14, 60 Mourning and Melancholia (Freud), 93 National Conference on Socialist Feminism, 41 nationalist movements, 27 Negative Dialectics (Adorno), 42 negative utopia, 161, 162–­63 negotiation, 108–­9 Negri, Antonio, 162 neoliberalism: conflict among oppressed groups and, 35–­41; conflict as solidarity and, 29, 41–­45; constraining political integration, 54; critical theories of solidarity and, 45–­49; democratic pathologies and, 16–­17; loss of society through, 25–­28, 46–­47, 103, 174n9; neoliberal feminism, 80; in opposition to collectivism, 26–­27; social vs. individualistic aspects of solidarity, 30–­31; solidarity in traditional theory and, 31–­35. See also capitalism; democracy New Left, 111, 115 nihilism, 95 nonexclusion: boundaries of membership, 64–­68; failures of democracy and, 8; inclusion as feature of dominative world, 145; norms of, 134–­35; oppositional-­emancipatory aspects of solidarity and, 53, 55–­58; realistic conflict and infinite, 51–­52; solidarity as process of change toward, 58, 59–­60, 63, 129; strategic action and democratic process, 68–­75; unifying-­democratic aspects of solidarity and, 51–­53, 58–­64.

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See also solidarity, democratic; solidarity, feminist nonidentitarian politics, 54–­55, 57–­58, 65, 120, 175n3 normal justification thesis, 131 normal solidarity, 132–­33 Nussbaum, Martha, The Future of Feminist Liberalism, 73 Obama, Barack, 137 Obergefell v. Hodges, 115 Occupy Wall Street movement, 111 old boys club, 85 one-­sided solidarity, 113 On the Political (Mouffe), 29, 107 operations of the straight mind, 146 oppositional-­emancipatory aspect of solidarity: democratic-­unifying aspect and, 19, 53; in ending oppression and domination, 59–­60; feminist solidarity and, 55–­58; internal and external relations of solidarity, 19, 57–­58, 61, 63–­64. See also solidarity, feminist; unifying-­democratic aspect of solidarity organized vs. spontaneous solidarity. See solidarity, organized vs. spontaneous Palestine, 37, 38, 113 Parsons, Talcott, 4, 104 pathological solidarity groups. See solidarity, antisocial Pensky, Max: on communicative action, 170; on freedom, equality and solidarity, 54; on left-­wing melancholia, 95; non-­exclusion, solidarity requiring, 51; solidarity as process of change, 58; solidarity’s oppositional aspects, 56, 58 Peterson, Jordan, 89 Plato, 8 police: defunding of, 169, 180n2; response by, 166–­68; violence by, 168–­69 Political Liberalism (Rawls), 22, 28, 60, 106, 108, 150

political realism, 69–­70 Political Solidarity (Scholz), 37, 45–­46 “Politics and Passions: the stakes of democracy” (Mouffe), 39 power: in premature elimination of conflict, 147–­49; public/private sphere and, 65–­66. See also domination The Power of Feminist Theory (Allen), 77 private government, 128, 179n21 productive conflict, 7–­8, 15, 51–­53, 88, 140–­43, 145, 165 “Progress” (Adorno), 51 pro-­Palestinian protests, 37, 38, 113 Proud Boys, 93–­94 psychic solidarity. See solidarity, psychic public/private sphere: conflict in the private realm, 107–­10; power and, 65–­66; produced through exchange of ideas, 152; solidarity as neither public or private, 125 punishment and failure, expectation of: attachment to failure, 99; expectation of punishment, 93–­95, 98–­99; political resignation, 95–­97, 177n20 Quong, Jonathan, 137 radical democracy: characterized, 13–­14, 103; conflict and, 13–­15, 60, 150–­51, 153–­ 54, 156, 159; cryptonormativism, 150–­51, 153, 159; nonexclusion and, 59–­60; traditional critiques of, 153–­54 Rancière, Jacques: democratic paradox, 151, 155; indeterminacy of democratic politics, 156; premature elimination of conflict, 149 Rawls, John: circumstances of justice, 70; conflict in the private realm, 107, 108; ideal democratic theory, 22, 28; liberalism as political commitment, 150; sociality in political theory and, 106–­7; theory of communicative action, 60; veil of ignorance, 161–­62 Raz, Joseph, 131

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realistic conflict, 7–­8, 15, 51–­53, 88, 140–­ 43, 145, 165 The Red Pill (Reddit community), 87, 89–­90 Reich, Wilhelm, 94 relationship deference, 33 “Repressive Tolerance” (Marcuse), 150, 151, 158 Republic (Plato), 8 “Resisting Left Melancholia” (Brown), 96–­97 Rittenhouse, Kyle, 168 Roberts, John, 148 robust vs. expressed solidarity, 78–­79, 86 Rodger, Elliot, 86–­87 Rousseau, Jean-­Jacques, 106 Saint Simon, Henri de, 105 same-­sex marriage rights, 115–­16, 178nn11–­12 Sangiovanni, Andrea, 31–­32, 173n3 Schmitt, Carl, 14, 40, 139–­40, 154 Scholz, Sally: absence of labor solidarity in literature, 111, 112; on civic solidarity, 119–­20; feminist solidarity as nondemocratic, 50, 55, 62; group cohesion as solidarity, 45–­47, 56; “living among the oppressed” as solidarity, 37, 59; one-­sided solidarity, 113; on political solidarity, 58–­60 Schumpeter, Joseph, 153 “Seeking Solidarity” (Scholz), 111, 112 shared aims principle, 33 Shelby v. Holder, 148 Simmel, Georg: conflict theory, 138–­ 44; influence of, 139; productive and unproductive conflict, 15, 88 social formation of solidarity. See solidarity, social formation of social integration: communicative action and, 108; as feature of dominative world, 145; labor solidarity as organized, 119–­20; nondomination and mediation, 3; system integration and, 109

socialism, etymology of, 105 social theory: consensus formation, 4–­5; democratic theory and, 2, 8–­9; Enlightenment thought and, 103–­7. See also social integration society: and broader goals of labor movements, 112–­13; capitalism and emergence of social theory, 105; community through shared politics and values, 6; Enlightenment thought and, 105; functionalist concept of, 104–­5; Kant’s concept of sociality, 106; Montaigne’s unsocial sociability, 106; neoliberalism and loss of, 25–­28, 46–­47, 103, 174n9; social contract doctrine, 103–­4; as social order, 4–­5; solidarity as distinctly social phenomenon, 28, 48; and state, 124 sociological conflict theory, 6 Sociology (Simmel), 139 solidarity: accounting for conflict within groups, 35–­41, 48–­49; in building and maintaining society, 25–­27, 170–­7 1; conflict and contestation as, 29, 35–­36, 41–­45, 130–­32, 165; deemed unnecessary, 147–­48; expressed vs. robust, 78–­ 79, 86; as form of doing democracy, 159–­60, 165; identity-­vs. class-­based, 121–­22; individual moral action vs., 31–­32, 169; integrative function of, 28, 48; interest groups vs., 151–­52; internal and external aspects of, 17–­19, 57, 63–­64, 65–­66, 68–­7 1, 81, 91–­93, 159; neoliberalism and (see neoliberalism); normal, 132–­33; one-­sided, 113; oppositional-­emancipatory aspects of, 53, 55–­58, 59–­60; organized vs. spontaneous, 119–­26; as part of nonideal world, 22–­23, 122–­23, 160–­62; public/ private dimensions of, 65–­66; separation from roots in labor movements, 112; as site of inclusion and exclusion, 51–­53, 129; strategic action and, 60–­61, 68–­75; on the streets, 165–­67;

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in traditional theory, 31–­35; unifying-­ democratic aspects of, 53, 55–­56; worker solidarity as LGBT solidarity, 116–­18. See also conflict; democracy; oppositional-­emancipatory aspect of solidarity; unifying-­democratic aspect of solidarity solidarity, antisocial: characterized, 9–­10, 19–­20, 101–­2; expectation of punishment and failure, 93–­97; hope for utopia and, 97–­100; inability to withstand internal conflict, 91–­93; lacking democratic process, 92–­93; melancholy and, 78–­83, 176n7; psychic solidarity, defined, 78; psychic solidarity in action, 83–­90; at root of dominative societies, 76–­78; self-­contradictory solidarities, 90–­93, 177n16; in solidarity theory, 12. See also domination; melancholy; solidarity, psychic ; utopia solidarity, critical theories of: antisocial solidarity, 12; democratic theory and, 2, 8, 9–­12, 13–­15; dual-­systems theory, 126–­30; internal conflict in contemporary, 31, 173n1; Kolers’s theory of solidarity, 32–­35, 37–­38; labor movements, absence in, 110–­18; solidarity as group cohesion, 45–­47; solidarity as joint action, 31–­32, 173n3; solidarity as social phenomenon, 28, 48 solidarity, democratic: as liberal, 51; as nonexclusive, 9–­10; policing the boundaries of, 64–­68; in political world-­building, 53–­54; as realistic conflict, 51–­53, 165; unifying-­democratic aspects of solidarity, 53, 55–­56, 58–­64. See also democracy; solidarity, feminist solidarity, failed concepts of: consensus building, 5–­6; social conflict theory, 6–­7; society as social order, 4–­5; “substantive” conflicts and, 7–­8 solidarity, feminist: deemed unnecessary, 147, 148; as iliberal and nondemocratic,

50–­51, 55; oppositional-­emancipatory aspect of solidarity, 19, 53, 55–­58; and solidarity as realistic conflict, 51–­53; as strategic rather than normative, 54–­55, 57–­58, 65. See also solidarity, democratic solidarity, labor: introduced, 21–­22; broader goals of, 112–­13; capitalism’s structure of opposition and, 114; class-­ identity dichotomy, 111, 115, 120, 121–­ 22, 126, 177n6; deemed unnecessary, 147–­48; identity-­based organization tactics, 112; labor rights as human economic rights, 114; labor solidarity as “organized labor,” 125–­26; lack of analysis on, 111–­12; neutral liberal vs. partisan justification, 128; one-­sided solidarity, 113; as radical, 123; as reactive, 120; removal of solidarity from roots in labor, 112; superficial attempts to address domination, 115–­16; worker solidarity as LGBT solidarity, 116–­18. See also solidarity, social formation of solidarity, liberal theories of: hope for utopia and, 97–­100; as incomplete, 26, 30–­31, 38, 45; left-­wing melancholia, 95–­97. See also liberalism solidarity, organized vs. spontaneous: creation of identity by virtue of subjection, 122; democracy as feature of a nonideal world, 22–­23, 122–­23, 160–­62; identity-­ vs. class-­based solidarity, 121–­22; labor solidarity as “organized labor,” 125–­26; society and the state, 124; solidaristic action as burdened action, 120–­21; solidarity as mechanism for freedom and agitation, 124–­25; solidarity organized by the state, 119–­20. See also solidarity, social formation of solidarity, psychic: characterized, 78, 85; gender equality activism and, 79–­81; lacking commitment to material solidarity, 86, 88; perceived loss of hetero-

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normative masculinity, 81–­83, 88–­90; psychic wounding, 84; sexual domination/incel groups, 86–­88; white men as an institution, 85. See also domination; solidarity, antisocial solidarity, social formation of: dual-­systems theory, 126–­30; Enlightenment thought and, 103–­7; interest groups vs. social solidarity, 151–­52; labor movements and, 110–­18; normal solidarity, 132–­33; organized vs. spontaneous solidarity, 119–­26; public culture and private need, 107–­ 10; social paradox, 102–­3; wildcat strikes as strategic and democratic, 130–­32. See also dual-­systems theory; Enlightenment thought; solidarity, labor; solidarity, organized vs. spontaneous Solidarity of Strangers (Dean), 52 Solidarity Politics for Millennials: A Guide to Ending the Oppression Olympics (Hancock), 126–­27 Stanford University, 85 “The State of Young America” (Demos and Young Invincibles), 46 Staudenmaier, Michael, “Brave Motherfuckers,” 38–­39 strategic action: democratic norms and, 60–­61, 68–­7 1, 74–­75; domination through the space of reasons, 71–­73; not a form of public reason, 152; ruling out democratic ethos, 60–­61; wildcat strikes as, 130–­32 The Struggle for Recognition (Honneth), 160 symbology, in white supremacy and MRA groups, 94 Taylor, Ashley E., 78 Thatcher, Margaret, 26, 91, 104 “Theory as Liberatory Practice” (hooks), 62

The Theory of Communicative Action (Habermas), 4, 60, 108, 149 Theory of Justice (Rawls), 28, 107 Toqueville, Alexis de, 153 toxic masculinity. See hegemonic masculinity; masculinity tribalism, 6 Trump, Donald J., 93, 136–­37, 142, 143, 167, 179n1 Turner, Brock, 85, 176n11 uMkhonto we Sizwe (paramilitary force), 91 Undoing the Demos (Brown), 29 unifying-­democratic aspect of solidarity: infinite nonexclusion and, 58–­60, 63–­64; internal and external relations of solidarity, 19, 57–­58, 61, 63–­64; oppositional-­emancipatory aspect and, 19, 53; as sphere for communicative action, 61–­62; strategic action and, 60–­ 61; transformative aspects of, 62–­63, 175n4. See also democracy; solidarity, democratic U.S. Capitol breach (2021), 1 utopia: critical hope for, 97–­100; negative utopia, 161, 162–­63; solidarity as part of nonideal world, 160–­62; theories of solidarity and, 48, 58, 64, 134; utophobia, 159; utopian socialism, 105 voluntary celibacy, 94 Voting Rights Act (1965), 148 wage-­labor relations, 108–­10 Watanuki, Joji, The Crisis of Democracy, 153 welfare state, 109–­10, 113, 120, 124 Westphalian system, 62 West Virginia teachers’ strike, 131 white feminism, 80 “White Fragility” (DiAngelo), 84 “White Men” (Ahmed), 85

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white supremacy, 85 wildcat strikes, 130–­32 Wittig, Monique, 122, 146 Wolin, Sheldon, 13 Women Against Feminism, 148

women’s rights activism, 79–­81. See also feminism; solidarity, antisocial work action, 131–­32 Wynn, Natalie (YouTube commentator), 94

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