Allyship vs. Solidarity

If a friend is engaging in activities which you believe are counterproductive to their health and well being then you don’t simply remain neutral or worse encourage them to continue doing what they are doing. You intervene in the hope that you can reverse their current path. That’s what a good friend does. Now whether or not you are correct in your judgment that what they are doing is bad for them is an entirely different question. But the point is that, as their friend, you not only have the right but the obligation to intervene. That is solidarity in the context of a simple friendship. And such is the fundamental difference between solidarity and what has come to be known as allyship.

Allies remain passive. An ally can not possibly be a friend, because a true friend does that not think you are perfect. Allies don’t recognize that you have flaws just like themselves and everybody else. They indulge you when they see you going down the wrong path. An ally is a terrible friend to you because in the mind of an ally you are perfect. But guess what. You are not perfect. If I had to describe the difference between political solidarity and political allyship using a simple analogy this is it.

In regards to one’s own freedom of expression and autonomy, allyship necessarily involves an infringement of both, because prior to even expressing your opinion, you are dubbed incapable of even having a perspective that may be valid and consequently barred from expressing that perspective solely because of your identity.  And so while the adherents of the ideology of allyship claim that they are raising the voice of marginalized groups of people, what they are actually doing is silencing anyone who disagrees with them and their perspective on any particular issue.  It only takes the littlest bit of common sense to understand that not all voices within a marginalized identity share the same politics, the same political orientation towards any particular issue.  Since that is the case,  proponents of allyship can not logically claim to be elevating the voice of the marginalized simply because the marginalized do not speak with one voice.  What they are actually doing is allowing the voices of those who agree with their particular brand of neoliberal privilege politics to monopolize the space while shaming and silencing those who disagree.  Whether or not those who disagree with them are white, black, poor, rich, middle class, working class, transgender, gay, straight makes no difference.  Whether or not those who agree with them are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, wealthy, bisexual, impoverished also makes no difference.  No matter your religion, the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, your class, your gender identity, Black Girl Dangerous and Everyday Feminism are not going to allow you to use their platform to denounce neoliberal identitarian privilege politics because such is their standard fare.  Now of course there is nothing wrong with that.  Obviously they have every right to publish whatever they want and that necessarily includes the exclusion of those voices which do not adhere to their politics.  I only ask that such online platforms and their counterparts in leftist social movement spaces stop promoting this absurd notion that they are elevating the marginalized voice as if such a voice existed.  You are promoting a particular form of politics, and, as such, your ideas not only should be but have the right to be subject to scrutiny and critique.  Whether or not your critics are white, black, poor, middle-class, bisexual, transsexual, straight, Muslim, Christian, Jewish does not matter.  What does matter is the cogency and validity of their critique.  To judge someone’s argument based on their identity not only represents the rankest form of anti-intellectualism, it is an affront to human dignity.


2 thoughts on “Allyship vs. Solidarity

  1. Well said, thank you for posting this. I have said myself that I prefer solidarity to identity politics and its derivatives, such as allyship, because identity politics are fundamentally divisive, and act to silence people rather than engage in discourse. I also agree that those who identify as allies to choose to promote only the voices of their chosen oppressed minorities that match their own politics, which is hypocritical.

I write to dialogue. So please, let's engage each other in some dialogue.

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