Solidarity Today

Discussion series

This fall, launches a discussion series: once a month, we will look at the theoretical issues around solidarity, and initiate discussions with local activist groups about potential tools for widening the social base of solidarity and collective acts.

Time: September 8, 2016, 5 pm to 8 pm
Venue: Mayakovsky 102, the open office of tranzit. hu, 1068 Budapest, Király utca 102.

This is the finissage event of the exhibition Cartography of Artist Solidarity – Narratives and Ghosts from the International Art Exhibition for Palestine, 1978. The archival and documentary exhibition proposes a speculative history of politically engaged artistic and museographic practices in the milieu of the international anti-imperialist solidarity movement of the 1970s.

The event will be in Hungarian.

Guided tour with curator László Zsuzsa

(The exhibition is open from 2 pm)

Solidarity Today – Discussion series

First part: Challenges and Limits

Discussion partners: Péter Konok, Zsuzsa László, Márton Rövid, Erzsébet Takács. Moderated by Dóra Hegyi

Péter Konok is a historian. His field of expertise includes the history of left-wing radicalisms, workers’ movement, as well as the ideology and mentality history of other social movements.

Márton Rövid is a political scientist. He received his PhD at the Central European University. His research field includes cosmopolitan theories, global civil society, transnational social movement, and the Roma movement.

Erzsébet Takács is a sociologist. She is adjunct professor of the Faculty of Social Science at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. Her research activity includes the local adaptability of Western theories, gender, family and youth sociology, as well as solidarity.

Dóra Hegyi and Zsuzs László are curators at

There is still a lot of talk about solidarity: about its necessity and its absence. What is, in fact, solidarity? It is an active attitude of giving a helping hand to those in need, something that goes beyond acceptance and sympathy, and something which today we almost take for granted as the job of civil society. Grassroots civil, professional, or human right initiatives have always had the objective to put pressure on the institutions of representative democracy. What happens, however, when the statues of democracy are violated and the ideological or economic interests make civil control impossible? How can we achieve to have active citizen attitudes instead of declining solidarity and social passivity?

Historically, going back to the 19th century, it was the workers’ movement, following communist visions, that undertook to support social groups who previously had no rights. In the beginning, unions represented these rights, then, in the second half of the 20th century, they were secured in institutionalized forms by western welfare states built on the principles of social democracy. They were also granted, to a certain degree, and on different economic bases, by state socialism as well. The mechanisms of neoliberalism that became dominant in the 1980s and that reduced the state’s regulatory role undermined the social responsibility of the state. The increasing demands of unregulated market economy paved the way for global financial capitalism—that while it promoted democracy in the “West,”—was built on the exploitation of a new proletariat living far away from the centers (India, China, etc.)

As a new form of colonization and as another consequence of global economy, more and more military conflicts emerge outside of Europe—for oil and to sustain the gun market that is destroying in the meantime the lives of civilian population. Yet, today, national economies—which operate the global market at the local level while they are also vulnerable to it—take no responsibility for the social rights of the poorest and the least integrated strata of society (immigrants, minorities, homeless people). All of this is legitimated by an ideology that does not even see those who are forced out of the system; it considers them losers and blames them for their own situation.

In the series, we will discuss the following questions: How has the concept and definition of solidarity changed since the 19th century? What are the forms and possibilities of artist solidarity? What thwarts the emergence of a wider local solidarity and the union of various initiatives? How is solidarity changing when the citizens of the Western world gain first hand, real life experience about the consequences of crises and not only get informed about them from the news? What do civilians do and what can they do? What are the possibilities and the limits of international solidarity? How is politics using solidarity?

Image: Andreas Fogarasi, Solidarity Study, 2016

Cartography of Artist Solidarity – Narratives and Ghosts from the International Art Exhibition for Palestine, 1978