The Misused Solidarity
Ralitsa Kovacheva, 22 October 2010
Do you know which word I hate the most lately? Solidarity. I shudder at the thought of it, because when I hear it I know that a big lie follows, presented as authentic truth and moreover as being of great public benefit.
Some Indian tribes believe that everything in the world is created by the first man through speech - he uttered names and creatures appeared. According to the Christian religion, "in the beginning was the Speech." For centuries people believed that words possess magical powers and uttering them should not be in vain, because they stir energy and can cause harm.
So let's start with Word
According to the dictionaries, solidarity means consensus, unanimity, community of interests. Solidarity is associated with fellowship of responsibilities and interests. According to the Oxford dictionary, solidarity means unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.
In other words, solidarity is not a natural state of mind or of society, it is a goal that is achieved through conscious actions, moreover, focused on a common direction and serving a common interest. So, in order to show solidarity to one another we need:
- To have common views and goals that express the personal interest of everyone;
- To act jointly to defend and achieve them;
- To be ready to share the responsibility for our actions;
In defiance of the conventional Bulgarian understanding that solidarity is negation of personality, it is evident that solidarity can be achieved only by individuals. Moreover, individuals who are conscious of the need to realise their interests, together with other individuals, while sharing the responsibilities and the benefits from the achieved common interest.
And having come this far, let`s make a U-turn and see what is called ‘solidarity’ in Bulgaria (and not only):
Is the pension (or health care) system based on the solidarity principle, since the state decides how much one has to pay, where to collect the money from and how to distribute it? The worker knows neither if his social contributions are paid nor how much money is collected or what pension he would receive. Because this does not depend on his efforts but on the number of people among which the money should be distributed and how many people will work and will pay social contributions.
Did you notice here solidarity in the meaning described above - a recognised common interest of every single one of us and therefore of us together?
Where is solidarity when a group of impostors, called trade unions, dictate the terms by which all employees must comply, regardless whether they are or are not trade union’s members?
Where is solidarity when, in order to protect the right of several thousand people to retire earlier, the right of tens of thousands others to retire at all is threatened?
Is it solidarity when the state spends more money on social benefits than on education, science and health? Moreover, when not the vulnerable but working and educated people are the country’s only hope to continue paying the money to the needy?
Is it solidarity when the state redistributes 40 percent of taxpayers' money without giving them a say what to spend their own money on?
Is it solidarity when the state chooses privileged communities to pamper, and others to pay the bill?
It is clearly not solidarity. The more interesting is why it is not. Let’s come back to the meaning of the word itself. Initially, the understanding of solidarity as a state policy is wrong: the state cannot provide solidarity, because to that end we need to have people, individuals, society, to be driven by conscious public interest, expressing personal interests of individuals. And since the so called public interest is totally absent from our country (because of the lack of critical mass of individuals to express and defend their interest), its place has been taken by many private interests that are successfully realised, often helped by the state and masked as public interest.
And since it is a crime to deny the general principle of personal initiative and responsibility because of these mercenary (sometimes criminal) private interests, perhaps this has to stop. Once and for all. There would be no state welfare benefits, no pensions, no hospitals. Everything has a price to pay. Everyone should save themselves alone.
Do you know what happens then? Genuine solidarity arises. Everyone will be able to choose individuals to unite with, to be able to cope better together. Survival is a good reason to realise your personal interest and share it with similar interests, focused on the same direction.
Utopia? Anarchy? Whatever it is, it is better than the current situation, where everyone feels isolated and deceived because the so called social solidarity, practised by the state, does not in any way represent their personal interest. Who is motivated to work in and for such a state? How do you understand that you work for yourself, if there is always someone more needy, more important, more privileged?
Until the state is trying to please seemingly all, but especially some (more attractive in electoral terms), nothing will change. Until we wait for the state to change this, nothing will change. The only solution is our freedom to make decisions alone, to work to implement them and to take a responsibility if we fail. And most importantly - not to be required to show solidarity with those who refuse to do the same.
You cannot have solidarity with people who don`t share your principles and values and don`t have interests similar to yours, which they are ready to actively defend. Solidarity must be a conscious mutual process, everything else is misuse, parasitism and hypocrisy.
And since everything starts with words, it is time to start calling things by their real names.