The structure of the world, divided into flourishing metropolises and floundering backwaters, underlies the solidarity relationship, and determines its direction. The effect of this structure is not lessened by the fact that the theater of solidarity is exclusively in the West, even if the “raw” causes come mostly from outside it. [...]
As the solidarity marketplace seeks to rank victims in groups, some enjoying much of it while others are left with little, or none, or even with enmity, it creates ranks of solidarity-recipients, and mutual competition between them over worthiness of recognition and esteem, in exchange for obscuring the worthiness of others’ causes. For example, not many of those who express solidarity with the Palestinian cause do the same for its Syrian counterpart. Some of the better-known among them, indeed, place the one against the other, and promote specific Palestinians for the purpose. Neither do those who offer solidarity with the Kurdish cause, among those who have entered the solidarity field via the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) organization in Turkey, do the same with the Syrian cause. For the most part, they offer a mix of total disregard with an intensely unfriendly spirit of hostility, finding in Europe people who satisfy their need for self-satisfaction by such means.
A few months ago, again in Berlin, I attended a solidarity meeting with the PYD (the Syrian branch of the PKK) about Raqqa, shortly after the city’s occupation by the Americans and the Kurdish PKK-linked organization. The meeting’s headline was “After Raqqa: Rojava between attack and revival.” The speakers were two Kurds living in Europe, coming originally from Turkey, and a German moderator. Not one of the three knew Raqqa, or had been to Syria, or to “Rojava” (the Kurdish term for the Syrian portion of the envisaged future state of Kurdistan). The audience were mostly Germans and Kurds. I was the only Syrian, the only Raqqawi, and perhaps the only “Rojavan,” as they hadn’t even invited any Syrian Kurds. I learned of the meeting from the German moderator, who happened to be my colleague at a research institute in Berlin. She knew I was a Syrian from Raqqa, and so had asked me for information about the city and its situation. It hadn’t occurred to her that in asking me to help her strengthen her argument in support of the cause with which she provided solidarity, she was rendering my own invisible cause more invisible still. The reality is she hadn’t envisaged that I had a cause at all, and that it might not be in alignment with—or might even be opposed to—the cause she had adopted, and saw none other than. Here is an extreme case of agency-stripping, in the name of solidarity, justice, and humanitarianism. [...]