Concluding with a quote from Ursula LeGuin, “any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings,” Rebecca Solnit’s series of essays is written with the intention to offer hope, at a time when political, environmental and social gloom can seem overpowering. Without it, there is little to provide opportunity and the desire for change, a positive works in the midst of a bleak political sphere.
Hope in the Dark traces a history of activism and social change over the past five decades, beginning with the fall of the Berlin Wall, to the worldwide marches against the war in Iraq. Considering the last century’s thinkers including Woolf, Gandhi, Borges, Benjamin and Havel, Solnit conjures a fantastic argument and her vision of cause and effect that will see our way through the dark, and lead us to effective activism, not allowing the present to settle and legitimise.
A works written very much in response to the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, however published in early 2016 as we see a diminishing political climate in the USA, Rebecca Solnit advocates that hope is “an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable,” and in “the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act.” Looking back into history the writer explores how change can only be encouraged by hope, and without this four letter word we will struggle to have the impetus to make that possible.
Considering anything from Seattle to Bolivia to Berlin, from the Zapatistas to the WTO strikes to the fight for marriage equality, where people came together to make vast changes, there is much in here to illustrate the benefits of hope. And this book is written in a way that will inspire and encourage you to read on, but is also one that you can dip in and out of, reading an essay at a time, for this much to digest, including her paragraph of George W Bush coming into power. However, it’s an accessible read and one that can have a last impact within the short 152 pages. I urge you to read this in order to find your hope in times that are particularly politically challenging.
Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit is available now, published by Canongate.