Discerning New Forms of Solidarity That Go Beyond Nation, Religion, and Social Class

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One thing that is clearly evident is that human beings have consistently developed new forms of solidarity as we have evolved from roaming bands of hunters and gatherers to a digital society with swiftly eroding national borders. Organisations such as Médecins sans Frontières, The Red Cross, and Amnesty international were created as platforms of international solidarity (Baglioni 2001, p. 224). For these organisations, all that mattered was helping people in need, wherever they were and utilising individual expertise for global benefit (Baglioni 2001, p. 227). Today, the primary basis of solidarity is nationalism—i.e. the recognition of a special duty to one’s own nation, although this notion is eroding in Europe and Asia. Although there are certainly extremists for nationalism, most support for these movements is moderate, and moderate nationalists would say that the individual does have a moral duty to treat others fairly (Wilde 2004, p. 137). Nevertheless, nationalist sentiments preclude global identification as prioritising one’s national group still allows discrimination to flourish. Of course, the next logical step of human solidarity is that of the global level—where through the creation of international bodies, people strive to articulate universal values that are common to all cultures and come together on that basis. The aforementioned organisations do play a role in helping us advance to that point, but there are still many things that need to happen before the cosmopolitan ideal can be put in place. For instance, there needs to be a development of a universal system of ethics, a common language for business, science, and politics, and a change in consciousness from being a citizen of Nation A to citizen of the world. In a sense, this has happened as local movements for equal rights have influenced other people around the world to campaign for their own interests as well. As more organisations and governmental bodies are recognising the inherent worth of the individual, it is reasonable to expect that the development of a broader form of solidarity will emerge. In the scholarship of international relations, an increasing number of writers agree that the ‘old international order’ is insufficient for dealing with the current threats to human survival, such as resource shortages (oil and potable water), increased population growth, and chaotic climate patterns (Wilde 2004, p. 137). Therefore, it is recommended that a form of global governance and stewardship should emerge (Hardt & Negri 2005, p. 161). Now, more than ever, the primacy of the nation-state is in question, especially as new ways of identification continue to be explored. While some lean to embracing a more local identification—with one’s city or cultural group, others believe that identification on the continental or global level would be more relevant (Waterman 2001, p. 200). In the mid-twentieth century, there has been some movement to creating bodies that possess international oversight such as the International Criminal Court to try war crimes, the Geneva Convention, which dictates international provisions for the treatment of prisoners of war, and the United Nations which dictate standards and prohibitions for weapons proliferation and international trade agreement (Tarrow 2011, p. 2). Although this does present a positive advance toward a system that promotes global accountability and global collaboration on certain commercial and environmental issues—there is still a strong tendency to identify nationality before anything else, and in some circles, tribal identity is most important. Social change toward a more global perspective will likely be slow and painful because of the tendency of the ruling class to view all collective action with suspicion—i.e. as a conspiracy or an infection that must be extracted (Melucci 1996, p. 42). One piece of evidence that supports the conclusion of social change as a contagion was the opposition’s past reliance...
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