Hope: A Politics of Hope – Chapters Seven and Eight
For the third edition of BOOK CLUB we will review Mary Zournazi’s Hope: New Philosophies for Change. A new post will be published every two weeks focused on each section of the book. For each section, Temporary contributors will initiate a discussion through the comments in the post and anyone may continue the discussion by contributing their own comments and observations on the text.
BOOK CLUB Schedule
October 27: The Elements of Hope – Chapters One and Two
November 10: The Elements of Hope – Chapters Three and Four
November 24: A Politics of Hope – Chapters Five and Six
December 8: A Politics of Hope – Chapters Seven and Eight
December 29: Revolutionary Hope – Chapters Nine and Ten
January 12: Revolutionary Hope – Chapter Eleven
“Writer and philosopher Mary Zournazi brought her questions to some of the most thoughtful intellectuals at work today. She discusses “joyful revolt” with Julia Kristeva, the idea of “the rest of the world” with Gayatri Spivak, the “art of living” with Michel Serres, the “carnival of the senses” with Michael Taussig, the relation of hope to passion and to politics with Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau. A dozen stimulating minds weigh in with their visions of a better social and political order. ”
Hope: New Philosophies for Change may be purchased as a hard copy or is available as a .pdf download courtesy of University of Wollongong’s digital archive.
Excerpt from Prologue: This is a book about hope. To me, ‘hope’ is about a certain generosity and gratefulness that we all need in life. If life is a series of encounters and chance meetings, events and social relations, then hope lies across all of these. It is a basic human condition that involves belief and trust in the world. It is the stuff of our dreams and desires, our ideas of freedom and justice and how we might conceive life. In this book, hope is also about a spirit of dialogue, where generosity and laughter break open a space to keep spontaneity and freedom alive – the joyful engagements possible with others. For in any conversation – individual or political, written, spoken or read – there needs to be the ability to hear, listen and give. If we shut down a discussion through resentment, fear or unwillingness – through adversity or polarised individual or political positions – generosity ceases, and the openness of real discussion and debate is diminished. When a dialogue is not permitted there can be no space for exchange – words and ideas become self-enclosed and the exchange becomes a kind of monologue, a type of depression and narcissism where territories are defended and the stakes raised are already known. Reflections, conversations and dialogues build new social and individual imaginaries – visions of the world that create possibilities for change. They lift us out of despair and let us take new risks in our encounters with each other. What I pose here is the ethical and political responsibility we can share in writing and thinking about hope. This is about collaboration – in writing, in thinking, in politics – how working ideas together, across different styles and traditions, can let new ideas, views and expressions emerge. This involves a sense of trust and a ‘faith without certitudes’ about where hope may lie in thinking about the future. In secular times, when hope has moved out of the religious sphere, the turn towards the future may be found in struggles for individual justice, and in political activity across the globe.
We look forward to the discussions!
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Reading Chapters 6 and 7, I am struck by the slender threads that string from then—in 2002, just after 9/11—to now. Police point out ‘Middle Eastern-looking people’ as threats, and black people are denied hope. Has anything changed? Maybe that’s the way we read: into the mirror of the present. But for all their familiarity, both chapters are steeped in a globalist discourse that sounds too grand to my ears, which are for now tuned to a radical unfolding of history in the streets. As I read, I’m thinking of the decade of unquestioned American dominance prior to the publishing of these interviews, the era of NAFTA and seemingly infinite macroeconomic growth. But because of Ferguson I’m also thinking of the cracks under that veneer, like Rodney King and the introduction of broken windows policing in ’90s New York City. When nearly everyone was staring up at the sparkling new American free-trade world, people were still suffering down below.
What relationship does hope have to reality in a society increasingly dominated by the economic? Capitalism is precisely the economic’s domination over all other value-systems, and the penetration of the market—which is the economic’s maker of meaning—into more and more moments of life. So it’s peculiar to me that in Chapter 7 Ghassan Hage notes a shift away from race being the dominant identifier by which hope, like capital, is distributed. To Hage, in 2002, hope was again, like before the ‘identity politics’ of the ’70s and ’80s, unevenly distributed along the lines of class more so than any other identifier. How do we make sense of this as a frank conversation about race is finally bubbling up to the mainstream in this country?
But Hage is obviously hoping for a way to incorporate both class and race. And in the discourse on the Left about Ferguson and the regular State violence enacted on young black men I think we are sewing the seeds to get there, to a shared discourse which traverses multiple constellations of oppression, from class to race to gender to sexuality and to many others. I struggle to find my place in the maturing conversation about race as a white heterosexual American man who has only class to blame for my felt oppression. But struggle is what politics is. Gayatri Spivak says as much in Chapter 8: “So in fact learning to be a revolutionary…is like that moment in a foreign language when you no longer refer to your mother tongue.” (pg. 174) If we’re willing to listen with hope, we’ll to get to that gorgeous point where our particularities and differences will fuse into a powerful community.
So I’ll end by asking: what do race and class have to do with your artistic practice or political activism? Do you see them as equal, or does one outweigh the other?
My mistake: in the first sentence I mean Chapters 7 and 8.