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08Apr2017

THE ADHERENT TODAY

This recently-completed draft chapter of Other People’s Struggles deals with the dilemmas of the adherent today. The adherent (to put it very simply) is someone who participates in a social movement despite not being a beneficiary of that movement’s work. Most of the book is concerned with the historical dilemmas of adherence, but this chapter looks at whether and why these dilemmas exist today, and how they are being addressed.

Here and elsewhere I have defined the contemporary dilemma of the adherent as being the obligation to be what he cannot be. I consider five answers that can be extracted from contemporary theoretical discussion. They are:

(1) loosening the obligation to be what he cannot be

(2) denying the impossibility that he can be what he is obliged to be

(3) being what he cannot be anyway

(4) sharing the incompleteness

(5) beginning with equality.

There is a sixth possibility too, of becoming- other than we are, which I am exploring in a separate chapter.

IMAGE CREDITS: SILICONE BANDS FOR CONSTITUENTS AND ADHERENTS SILICONE BANDS LIKE THESE ARE USED BY CHARITIES AND SOCIAL ACTIVISTS TO IDENTIFY SUPPORTERS.