Hope: Revolutionary Hope – Chapter Eleven

41XCGFX846L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_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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  1. Yaelle

    The final chapter of this edited volume on hope deals with risk-taking and what that means for us hopefuls of major societal changes. For this topic, Zournazi interviews Belgian philosopher Isabelle Stengers on her ideas about what conditions enable hope to emerge despite the risk and uncertainty required for that to happen. Stengers has organized her thoughts on the matter around the concept of the “cosmos,” which for her refers to a political ecology, a “landscape of thinking and feeling” in ways that go beyond the individual. To Stengers, this is the basis of connecting with others, and in the sharing of common thoughts and feelings she finds hope for significant and radical change. Stengers also raises an interesting distinction between ‘probability’ and ‘possibility,’ seeing the former as stifling hope while the latter is the very place where hope is formed: “If we follow probability there is no hope, just a calculated anticipation authorized by the world as it is. But to ‘think’ is to create possibility against probability.” (p. 245) She later elaborates further that “to think is to think against power which always demands that we accept things as they are.” (p. 254)

    This breakdown is very effective when considering new models for our society—how can we look beyond the limits of what we already know – language, landscape, political structures – and envision new possibilities to make our surroundings more just for all? Stengers points us to the interstices lurking everywhere around us, the cracks in the establishment where radical propositions can shine through. I find these cracks in protests where bystanders are faced with a collective statement that goes against mainstream opinion; in the willingness of people to listen closely to those who are different from them; in compassion and acceptance towards individuals whose conditions and beliefs we may not comprehend; in acknowledging that nuance is a necessary approach to understanding our world. Once we acknowledge the crack – the injustice, the alternative, the possibilities, etc. – the only direction we can move is forward.

    Stengers also brings up a lesson that any individuals engaged in organizing can confirm – change takes time. For people to truly come together to share their visions and ideas, and debate methods and consequences – they need to slow down. As Zournazi beautifully articulates this concept: “The idea of slowing down…is a new vision of time itself, which is not about hoping for something to come in the future, but hope in the present.” (p. 255) This is a radical thought in and of itself—hoping for the present, rather than the future. Hope stems from today’s collective consciousness, not tomorrow’s.

    In essence, Stengers states that our problem is not our current reality, rather it is our lack of imagination and inability to think beyond what is achievable (“probable”). While I am not sure I agree with this assessment, I believe she is correct in her overall message—look at the now, talk with others, dream big, give yourselves time, and amazing changes may happen.

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