The Human Solidarity in Philosophy, Cinema, and Drama

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The Human Solidarity in Philosophy, Cinema, and Drama

The concept of human solidarity was not among the topics that fall within the philosophical discourse as it is often derived from other subjects. Therefore, the concept of solidarity remained multifaceted and had various effects depending on the context within which it appeared in the branches of philosophical subjects. It should be noted that the concept of solidarity has taken other dimensions that still fall within the unexplored territory, such as solidarity with animals, trees, and places that represent the country’s memory, and other forms of solidarity that the world is currently witnessing, giving this concept the seeds of its evolution and expanding its significance.

The concept of solidarity is closely tied to the social contract theory of the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. When individuals find themselves in a relational framework with others, they are compelled to establish standards that regulate and govern their relationship with them because they and others are part of the same structure. Hence, the concept of solidarity emerged, which ensures the safety of this structure; what affects one individual affects everyone, and in this way, life continues, and individuals restrain their evils and conflicts with others, replacing their natural freedom with civil freedom.

We can also see some roots of the concept of solidarity in the subject of friendship as discussed by Aristotle, who believes that friendship motivates individuals to wish good for each other and exchange feelings of love. He considers that such friendship is only realized among virtuous individuals who share the same virtuous values, as they alone have the ability to love others for their own sake, without considering self-interest or benefit.

We find that the concept of friendship in Aristotle is similar to that of Baruch Spinoza, who views friendship from the perspective of wishing good for others. In ordinary circumstances, humans love and wish good for themselves, but their involvement in friendships expands the scope of wishing good and benefit, moving them from individual circles to the community represented by friends.

As for Émile Durkheim (1858 – 1917), we find that the concept of solidarity has evolved slightly to include “mechanical” and “organic” solidarity. Durkheim divided to answer the question: How does society come together, despite our differing interests? Mechanical solidarity, according to Durkheim, exists in small communities with a high degree of religious commitment, where roles and responsibilities are similar, meaning these are uncomplicated societies with reduced division of labor and a margin of shared feelings and responsibilities.

In societies characterized by organic solidarity, which tend to be more secular and individualistic, where responsibilities and roles vary, solidarity takes place through the division of labor and mutual reliance among people. Thus, social solidarity according to Durkheim is essentially about interest and mutual benefit, making social conscience weaker because solidarity is not based on similarity but on mutual dependence.

With Hannah Arendt (1906 – 1975), we can perceive the theme of solidarity through her theorization of the concept of citizenship, which she reconstructs through what is known as the public realm, political power, and collective identity. According to Arendt, the public realm consists of two dimensions: the first being the space of appearance characterized by freedom and equality, where members of society act harmoniously through expression and persuasion.

The second dimension is represented by a common world and public space where there is a national will, institutions, and entities that separate us from the natural world. Thus, revitalizing citizenship in the modern world primarily depends on creating a common world and spaces of appearance that enable individuals to reveal their identities and establish reciprocal and solidarity-based relationships.

Political participation and filling the public space are important aspects for Arendt because they allow citizens to meet each other, exchange opinions, reconcile differences, and seek collective solutions to their problems. This means that solidarity for Arendt derives its presence from political participation in a world that dissolves conflicts and fosters common concerns for salvation.

On the other hand, the American philosopher Richard Rorty (1931 – 2007) rejects all foundations of solidarity based on mutual benefit and those that revolve in narrow circles, describing them as failed to discover unified foundations for their way of life, as they are, in his view, deeply dormant.

Rorty’s proposal for solidarity represents an ethical advancement towards broader human solidarity, but not on the basis of common essential principles for all humanity. He sees traditional differences such as tribe, religion, race, and customs as insignificant when compared to similarities among humans, such as respecting pain and rejecting cruelty. Instead, they represent an ability to think of people vastly different from ourselves and as part of a collective “we”, and that these preferential descriptions of differences concerning the rejection of pain, oppression, and humiliation are modern cultural contributions to moral progress.

Thus, we find that Rorty presents his concept of solidarity as an alternative to the cosmic harmony that has lost its meaning in philosophy. He offers it as an ethical and political alternative to objectivity and to the common human nature that, from his perspective, led to oppressive systems and ideologies that crushed human dignity. Therefore, Rorty sees this solidarity realized in democratic society, which rejects viewing some human beings as “masters of nature” and others as “slaves”, or that some people are chosen while others are irreparably flawed.

This philosophical engagement with understanding solidarity finds resonance in the works of the French-Czech novelist Milan Kundera, who recently left our world, as he says in one of his novels: “Pain unites all living beings, for it is the secret language of existence, because human pain is the same as the pain of a cat.”

Despite the writings of philosophers and sociologists on the subject of solidarity, it remains a concept that floats above the surface of language, especially since there are other forms of solidarity that have not been thoroughly explored yet, enabling humans to answer the question: Why do we show solidarity?

Solidarity in Cinema and Drama

Cinema and drama teach us practical lessons about the meaning of human solidarity, as if philosophical texts on this subject descend from their heights to embody themselves on the screens.

In the film ‘Tea with Mussolini’ directed by Franco Zeffirelli, we find two forms of human solidarity that lead to saving others from certain death. In the final scene of the film, a Nazi officer orders his soldiers to destroy the towers of ‘San Gimignano’ amidst a tense and chaotic atmosphere, which does not deter them from carrying out his orders and beginning to connect wires to the dynamite charges planted at the entrance of the towers.

Meanwhile, one of the characters in the film appears and wraps her body with dynamite wires, attempting to obstruct the explosion even if it means her body shattering with the tower bricks. Despite the officer’s threat and his gun aimed at her chest, she carries enough determination to stay in her place.

Solidarity is embodied in this film by a group of other women joining to support this woman. Before the German officer fires his bullet towards her chest and before his soldiers begin to detonate the towers, the British army enters the village. The Nazi officer and his soldiers retreat amidst the threads of disappointment and humiliation, amidst the cheers and welcomes of the villagers for rescuing a landmark of their city’s history that was almost lost. Thus, solidarity in this film saved both history and the life of the lady who was on the brink of death.

The other form of solidarity in this film transcends identity and shares the human concern. After English women are placed under house arrest in Italy, and their continuous effort to maintain their identity and culture after sympathizing with Mussolini, a wealthy American lady visits them to check on their conditions. At that moment, the English women behave in a way that makes the American woman feel unwelcome, even after she was put under house arrest after the United States joined the war. But the spirit of solidarity and compassion ignites in the hearts of the English women after the American lady tells them the story of her Italian lover who seized her wealth. So, the women unite their efforts to seek revenge and reclaim her right.

In the film “V for Vendetta” (2006) directed by James McTeigue, we find solidarity that extends over four hundred years. The film begins with the statement: “Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot.” Thus, the act of remembering remains the central theme of the film. Remembering harbors behind it a quest for revenge for unjustly lost lives. Remembering here is considered the fuel for the people’s movement, igniting the spirit of rebellion. Milan Kundera says: “Man’s struggle against power is, in essence, the struggle to spread and establish the truth so that it is not forgotten.”

The gunpowder plot dates back to the year 1605. After James I became king, he enacted laws allowing the persecution of Catholics, prompting a group of young men to plan to seize power by destroying the entire Parliament building. They then placed barrels of gunpowder in the Parliament cellars and prepared on November 5th, 1605, when the king, lords, and nobles gathered in Parliament. However, the plot was discovered through betrayal, and the rebels were captured and executed.

In this film, we are confronted with solidarity that spans four hundred years. The protagonist, “V”, wears the same mask worn by “Guy Fawkes”, who was responsible for igniting the barrels inside Parliament. Thus, “V” is in constant pursuit of reminding the British people of this event in the presence of a government that sponsors injustice and conspiracies, seeking to erase that incident from people’s minds. It is a game of remembering, and forgetting is a game of revolution, indifference, and liberating the memory oppressed by the shackles of the political system.

In this film, solidarity has two aspects: “V’s” solidarity with the heroes of the gunpowder plot, and the people’s solidarity with “V”, who revitalizes the heart of the revolution against injustice. This solidarity takes an unstoppable course, driven solely by the pursuit of justice, as it aligns with memory, ideology, and spirit. What’s striking in this context is “V” being subjected to intense gunfire from close range without dying. When asked about this, he responds: “Beneath this mask, there is an idea, and ideas are bulletproof.” When “Evey” is asked about “V’s” identity, she answers: “He was all of us.”

The film concludes with the explosion of Parliament amid chaos and the music of November 5th, followed by people pouring out onto the streets wearing “V’s” masks. Security forces are powerless to stop them, as the idea of the hero has permeated the social fabric and become ubiquitous. Therefore, all they can do is raise their heads high as they watch Parliament engulfed in flames.

Solidarity is also prominent in the film “Snowden” (2016) directed by Oliver Stone, where we encounter another example embodied by the protagonist, “Edward Snowden”. He works for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) but soon turns against it, exposing its secrets that reveal the role of the US government in violating the privacy of its citizens without judicial orders.

Snowden turned against the agency after discovering that he and his wife had fallen into the surveillance trap, prompting him to leave the country. From his new place of residence, he confesses to his role in exposing secrets and expresses his readiness for a fair trial. Nevertheless, Snowden takes pride in awakening the people and urging them to hold the government accountable for spying on individuals even in their bedrooms.

At the end of the film, there is a show of solidarity with him through people wearing masks representing his character in major protests that erupted in the United States and some other countries.

In the series “La Casa De Papel” (2017), we encounter three forms of solidarity: the solidarity of others with the Professor to become one body in confronting the system, the solidarity of the people with them by wearing the Salvador Dali’s surrealist painter mask and the red jumpsuit that distinguishes the Professor’s team, and finally, global solidarity. When Tokyo asks the Professor about what they have achieved, he shows her images of protests in different countries in solidarity with them.

He then says to her, “You will never walk alone, we have inspired many people to fight with us.” In this way, he and his team survive each time, and life returns to their ideas and aspirations.

In the movie “Joker” (2019) directed by Todd Phillips, we encounter the clearest forms of solidarity, where we find the failed comedian “Arthur” whose life has shut its doors on him, making him a social outcast, a subject of ridicule, laughter, and violence by others. This diminishes his options for living his day-to-day life and drives him to resort to violence and chaos as a response to a classist society and a political system that disregards the deaths and homeless on the streets, but his uprising comes if it touches one of the elite’s sons.

Arthur says in one of the film’s most memorable dialogues: “If I’m dead on the sidewalk, you walk over me and you don’t notice me, I’m invisible. You see what you wanna see.”

In the movie “Joker” (2019) directed by Todd Phillips, we encounter the clearest forms of solidarity, where we find the failed comedian “Arthur” whose life has shut its doors on him, making him a social outcast, a subject of ridicule, laughter, and violence by others. This diminishes his options for living his day-to-day life and drives him to resort to violence and chaos as a response to a classist society and a political system that disregards the deaths and homeless on the streets, but his uprising comes if it touches one of the elite’s sons.

The Human Solidarity in Philosophy, Cinema, and Drama

Arthur says in one of the film’s most memorable dialogues: “If I’m dead on the sidewalk, you walk over me and you don’t notice me, I’m invisible. You see what you wanna see.”

After his acts of revenge and self-defense, Arthur becomes a wanted man by the police, prompting the residents of his city, characterized by class inequality, crime, and unemployment, to take to the streets, wearing the clown mask that Arthur wears. During his pursuit by the police, Arthur enters a train filled with protesters, losing his face amidst the crowd of masks, prompting the police officers to hysterically open fire, while Arthur manages to escape and survive.

At the end of the film, Arthur emerges as a leader of the marginalized masses who sympathized with him and realized that their voices are only heard through chaos, gunfire, and sharing pain. This makes Arthur smear his face with blood, smile, and dance to the chants of the crowds who sought revenge for their lost dignity.

Those who watch these cinematic works find that they share several characteristics. The mask worn by the hero is a symbol of the idea feared by authority and fought against its spread regardless of the consequences. Your solidarity with an idea that bothers authority, even if you’re not convinced by it, does not imply submission or passivity but rather an ethical stance that may save someone from certain death.

Another aspect is the idea that solidarity simultaneously saves both the hero and the group that sympathized with him. This is contrary to emotional and tearful solidarity, which is a hint to the authorities to eliminate the one who sings outside the choir. The final aspect lies in the fact that solidarity transcends borders, identity, race, and religion, aligning with the philosopher Richard Rorty’s interpretation as it is based on respecting pain and rejecting cruelty.

original article

Motasem Hanani
WRITTEN BY

Motasem Hanani

مطور مواقع، مصمم، ممنتج وكاتب محتوى. اسعى الى تغذية المحتوى العربي التطويري والثقافي في كل ما هو حصري ومفيد بعيداً عن النقل العشوائي والبرامج القديمه التالفة.