Is Solidarity Possible?

Norman Birnbaum

in After Progress

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780195158595
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849352 | DOI:
Is Solidarity Possible?

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Internationalism, the practice of solidarity across borders, has hitherto been a matter of extending ideas and institutions from national settings to international ones. The transformation of the world into a gigantic market is a new context for politics. Social Christian ideas of community and solidarity, radical democratic notions of citizenship, socialist projects for the subordination of the economy to human purpose, have been realized, if partially, in national settings. The task of rethinking the ends and means of democracy as new economic processes undermine its national forms confronts contemporary intellectuals with the uncomfortable reality of their situation. Once attached to causes and movements, addressing publics, intellectuals now must speak to segmented cultural markets, or obey employers. The extreme division of intellectual labor in the universities, and the technocratic appropriation of their work, does the rest. Since the 18th century, at least, original ideas have had a dense but discernible relationship to a public demand for enlightenment.

Keywords: internationalism; solidarity; transformation; democracy; intellectuals; politics; citizenship; economy

Chapter.  6207 words. 

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