Notes Towards a Materialist Understanding of Progressive Solidarity

James Compton


This article argues for a renewed materialist understanding of progressive solidarity. It historically situates various debates, particularly on the left, to understand how progressive solidarity has been theorized. On this basis, an assessment is made concerning the state of progressive solidarity in North America following two crises: the financial collapse of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic that swept the world in early 2020. In so doing, it seeks to map how the crisis-ridden political economy of neoliberalism mediates the particularities of social experience. To borrow a phrase from British cultural critic Raymond Williams, the purpose is to locate and map the “structure of feeling” of the current historical conjuncture. In this respect, incompatible progressive and reactionary social movements seek to define a new hegemonic common sense within the broader legitimation crisis of neoliberal capitalism. Against this background, the article concludes that any renewed project of progressive solidarity will need to address the dominant structure of feeling produced by neoliberalism—anxiety.

Full Text: