Hope in the Dark

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February 10, 2006 by cosmoakacitizensmith

OK, it’s been getting a bit dark in here lately, so thank the lawd Rebecca Solnit broke my sense of doom with her book erm….Hope in the Dark.

Woo hoo!!!

If I said it was like a cross between a history of recent activism in the global justice movement and a self-help manual, it wouldn’t really do it justice. There’s no wishy-washy New Age nonsense here, (not that all self-help books are like that, but you know what I mean…), just a practical re-cap on exactly what the sort of achievements have been made, (loads!) and how to deal with the “dark”-ness of the future, especially when you have to face up to the diappointments.

Perhaps the most interesting thing for me was the book’s take on how activists now view the wider process of change. Whereas in the past, it was to try and achieve some kind of power or impose some kind of ideology, now it is almost to let go of this idea, “to let go of the future and find freedom,” as John Jordan says, [p.137].

As the Zapatistas in Mexico said of their movement:

The worst that could happen to it …. would be to come to power and install itself as a revoultionary army. For us, it would be a failure. [p.59]

John Jordan again:

We are trying to build a politics of process, where the only certainty is doing what feels right at the right time in the right place. [p.136]

At times, the book feels like it’s not saying anything, but then you realise its power is by saying very profound things in a very simple way. There’s a kind of feel-good naivety to it as well, which to my mind is a good thing, cos I think you need an element of that along with hard-headed realism if you want to involve yourself in life in this way.

There, feel better already.


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