Solidarity in Europe and the World
We think of solidarity as “the ability to engage in cooperative activity to strive for common goals, and a sense of unity and bonding” (Jeffries, 2014, p. 7). Following Mbembe’s lead, solidarity entails the mutual recognition of our common vulnerability and finiteness and in turn creates a basis for dealing with it.
In the multi-layered network of structures of living together, solidarity can find an expression at different levels and in a variety of intensities. The extent of solidarity that can serve as basis for collective action also arguably varies with the sources of vulnerability. These may vary from the human condition itself, in line with Mbembe’s cosmopolitan argument, to less inclusive definitions of “we” based e.g. on pre-existing “bonds which unite men with another”, as Durkheim (in Lukes, 1972, p. 139) or Sen (2009) would argue, or constitutional bonds, in line with Rawls or Habermas (Banting & Kymlicka, 2017, pp. 5-47, p. 3-4).
Historically, solidarity has come to be centrally anchored at the level of the nation-state, where the “nation” defines a “we” that claims to rule itself (Appiah, 2018, p.147) and that therefore also can both invoke national sovereignty to fend off external influences and, internally, justify the enforcement of particular entitlements and duties. Consequently, the predominant role of supra-national structures has been seen as merely to support national-level structures in fulfilling this role. This tradition is deeply rooted in European Humanism (Grotius in Nussbaum, 2019, pp. 105-55), which has been a rich source of inspiration not just to reflect on solidarity but also to justify a model of civilization imposed through colonization or other strategies of western domination.
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The lecture series Debating Development, organized by IOB and USOS, is part of the subprogramme Europe and Worldwide Solidarity. We revisit last year’s edition on the role of the private sector in the development of the Global South and focus on the session on mining and SDGs.
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'Zero Point 1945. The Low Countries a Generation Later', recently published by Ons Erfdeel vzw, starts from the question whether we could consider 1945 as point zero for the world we live in today and how political constructions that emanated at the time, such as the welfare state and security cooperation, can be transformed to meet contemporary needs.
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What the European Union needs today, are leaders of change. Now is the time for the next generation of leaders to step up, the same way Adenauer, Schuman, Spaak or Gasperi did in the aftermath of a shattering war, designing a structure for the coming generations. The European Leadership Programme hopes to contribute to this goal.
In historic times of COVID-19, a scientific analysis of the way to combat epidemics and ensure basic health, leads us to revisit the conclusions of a workshop we organized three years ago. The content is remarkably topical for the times we are living in today.
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