In his 2017 book The Courage of Hopeless: Chronicles of a Year of Acting Dangerously public commentator and sometime philosopher Slavoj Žižek provides a treatment of the concept of hope in crisis times. Specifically, he suggests that we should turn our back on it and instead embrace hopelessness as a transformative tool. Žižek is inspired by Lenin’s 1923 statement – made on his deathbed – in response to his growing realisation that a Europe-wide revolution was not likely to occur:
What if the? complete hopelessness of the situation, by stimulating the efforts of ?the workers and peasants tenfold, offered us the opportunity to create the fundamental requisites of civilisation in a different way from that of the west European countries?
Taking his cue from this statement, Žižek argues that it is not hope, but hopelessness – a loss or abandonment of hope – that will lead to the revolutionary action that he desires, and which he appears to treat as a proxy for positive social change. Žižek claims that hopelessness encourages us to act before we have a fully formulated alternative vision in mind, enabling us to take the first step on a journey for which we cannot yet conceptualise the desired end-point.
SOURCE: Julia Cook and Hernan Cuervo. “In Defence of Hope: Towards a Sociology of Hope in Crisis Times.” The Sociological Review, September 30, 2019.
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