From difference to the solidarity of others

Philosophy and Social Criticism 31 (7):823-849 (2005)
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In recent years postmodernism has been increasingly emphasizing difference to the point of rejecting anything resembling nature and essence out of fear of oppression and exclusion and for the sake of justice and liberation. In this article I argue that precisely for the sake of justice and liberation difference must be ‘sublated’ – in the Hegelian sense – into the solidarity of the different or others and that such solidarity requires a basis more enduring and more universal than the contingent coincidence of interests shared by members of temporary coalitions. I make this argument by criticizing Derrida and such feminists as Iris Marion Young and Linda Nicholson on philosophical, historical, and strategic grounds. Philosophically, we need solidarity as much as we need difference. Historically, our contemporary challenge is not so much how to appreciate difference as how to find ways of living together for all our differences. Strategically, no group can effect its own liberation without solidarity with other groups. I also reconstitute a concept of human nature on the basis of a synthesis of classical objectivity and modern historicity and disclose solidarity as an essential characteristic of human nature itself that only needs activation, not invention, in the united struggle for justice and liberation.1



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