When solidarity reigns

Last Wednesday night, the Loras College YDSA (Young Democratic Socialists of America) and the Loras Alliance collaborated to show the film “Pride” (2014). The film takes place in the UK during the year-long mining strike of 1984. The striking miners were met with police brutality, a Conservative government who tried to smear the miners’ dignity, and Conservative media outlets who pandered to the Conservative government. The miners were able to withstand these horrible conditions for an entire year due largely in part to a variety of groups donating money and resources to them so they could continue their strike. “Pride” focuses on one such group – LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners). To many at the time, this would’ve seemed like an unlikely pairing, but it became an important act of solidarity in which two seemingly different groups were able to recognize common enemies.

Solidarity is a term many socialists use extremely often. It is our way of overcoming divisions that have been imposed upon the working class to leave us isolated and powerless. What “Pride” does so well is show the process of solidarity and its transformative nature. Solidarity is more than just voicing your support for those in need, it’s offering up your resources. The movie depicts this by showing LGSM fundraising for the miners. At one point within the film, an individual criticizes them for funding the miners and not the members of their own community. At another point, someone asks what the miners have ever done for them. It’s crucial to recognize that solidarity is self-gift with no reciprocal expectations. It’s to recognize another’s fight with one’s own, and to work together in order to take action. Solidarity has been the rallying call for socialist movements across generations, and will continue to be as long as hyper-individualism remains the prevailing ideology within our society.

So how does solidarity start? “Pride” depicts the process of solidarity in a way which exposes difficulties involved, but once transcending those difficulties, infinite capabilities. Bringing individuals together is a difficult task, especially when those individuals have been taught that the differences between them are far too polarized for any such collective action to take place. In the case of “Pride,” individuals have preconceived prejudices which limit dialogue between the two groups. Somehow, the other group seems too alien to even recognize their humanness. This is all constructed however, and the two groups are more alike than they initially thought. They share the same enemies: the Conservative government, the Conservative media, and the brutal police. Separate, they had no chance against their enemies, but together, all the power in the world.

Solidarity is an extremely transformative action. Through taking part, we are able to recognize an injury to one is truly an injury to all. Solidarity is natural to us because we are social beings who are dependent upon other humans. But what is natural seems unnatural because of prevailing ideologies telling us that we are all “islands,” to use John Donne’s term. But as we know from his meditation, no one is an “island.” The working class encompasses many identities, and it has a common enemy. It is only when we recognize what we share and work together for our common interest that we can create a society in which we truly can be proud to live.

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