Solidarity is not without struggle’: Susan Buck-Morss on the Paris attacks

November 14, 2015
It is so important to keep in touch, to speak up and out at this moment, with the terrifying immediacy of the attacks in Paris, because common reaction is not automatic. Even for those of us who share a deep sense of intellectual community, solidarity is not without struggle. Events in Paris are not synonymous with events in Ankara; but they must be thought together. None of the existing logics can stand unchallenged. I write from the US, where scores are shot by lone gunmen in elementary schools and university campuses as common events. No, the number of dead is not the alarming fact; it is the social solidarity of the perpetrators – no lone gunman here. And this: the US is ultimately responsible for the war that began in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq, and continued, spanning, no doubt, the conscious lives of those who felt moved to sacrifice themselves yesterday in Paris. The chain reaction they were counting on needs to be resisted in the strongest manner: this is not the beginning of World War III. It does not augur an inevitable victory of the right-wing politicians. It cannot lead to disavowal of the economic level of injustice that continues to intensify. Racism remains a white problem. Islamophobia, the latest form of anti-Semitism, is a Western, Christian problem. Muslims who decry jihad in this distorted form- and they are the overwhelmingly vast majority – are also the most vulnerable to its dangers, no matter which nationall sovereignty controls their lives. The refugees who continue to stream into Europe are absolutely precarious. The US domestic political scene appears farcical, as the gap between really existing democracy and the West’s posturing as democracy’s world defender is played out on commercial media for the world to see. It is urgent that writing to and with each other continues, not just as a debate among positions, but as a strenuous effort to think beyond our present limits. That only happens together.

—Susan Buck-Morss, GC Committee on Globalization and Social Change