T.W. ADORNO ON SOLIDARITY

Even solidarity, the most honourable mode of conduct of socialism, is sick. Solidarity was once intended to make the talk of brotherhood real, by lifting it out of generality, where it was an ideology, and reserving it for the particular, the Party, as the sole representative in an antagonistic world of generality." It was manifested by people who together put their lives at stake, counting their own concerns as less important in face of a tangible possibility, so that, without being possessed by an abstract idea, but also without individual hope, they were ready to sacrifice themselves for each other. The prerequisites for this waiving of self-preservation were knowledge and freedom of decision: if they are lacking, blind particular interest immediately reasserts itself. In the course of time, however, solidarity has turned into confidence that the Party has a thousand eyes, into enrollment in workers' batallions—long since promoted into uniform—as the stronger side, into swimming with the tide of history. [Beginning of section 31 (p. 51)]


Condescension, and thinking oneself no better, are the same. To adapt to the weakness of the oppressed is to affirm in it the pre-condition of power, and to develop in oneself the coarseness, insensibility and violence needed to exert domination . . . . For the intellectual, inviolable isolation is now the only way of showing some measure of solidarity. All collaboration, all the human worth of social mixing and participation, merely masks a tacit acceptance of inhumanity. It is the sufferings of men that should be shared: the smallest step towards their pleasures is one towards the hardening of their pains. [End of section 5 (p. 26)]


SOURCE: Adorno, Theodor. Minima Moralia. London: Verso, 1987.


Theodor W. Adorno Study Guide


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