Hope in the dark : untold histories, wild possibilities

by Rebecca Solnit

Paper Book, 2004

Description

With Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit makes a radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable. Drawing on her decades of activism and a wide reading of environmental, cultural, and political history, Solnit argued that radicals have a long, neglected history of transformative victories, that the positive consequences of our acts are not always immediately seen, directly knowable, or even measurable, and that pessimism and despair rest on an unwarranted confidence about what is going to happen next. Originally published in 2004, now with a new foreword and afterword, Solnit's influential audio book shines a light into the darkness of our time in an unforgettable new edition.

Status

Available

Call number

303.4

Publication

New York : Nation Books, c2004.

Media reviews

With great care, Solnit — whose mind remains the sharpest instrument of nuance I’ve encountered — maps the uneven terrain of our grounds for hope. Hope in the Dark is a robust anchor of intelligent idealism amid our tumultuous era of disorienting defeatism — a vitalizing exploration of how
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we can withstand the marketable temptations of false hope and easy despair.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member jen.e.moore
This is an incredible little book, about the stories we tell ourselves about change, and a guide for changing the stories we tell ourselves. I got this from Haymarket Books in the days after the 2016 election, when they were giving it away for free, and I'm convinced now that that was the best
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thing anyone could have done. I'm susceptible to pessimistic politics myself, but Solnit doesn't shame you for that tendency, only admits that it's easy and offers another way forward.
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LibraryThing member rivkat
Another short book of essays centering on the theme of being hopeful, not because victory is guaranteed but because the future is dark and thus much is possible.
LibraryThing member rynk
Meditations are out of fashion as a literary category. When services were in another language, churchgoers needed something prayerful to keep them in the pews. They could tease out meanings from poetry or read a tract that looked at an issue of the soul every which way. Rebecca Solnot's reflection
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on the political left seems a lot like the latter, and there's a religious fervor for it among the Indivisible flock.

The central question is the one Sarah Palin posed mockingly: How's that hopey, changey thing working out for ya? The answer is, as it should be, I'm working on it. Change rarely comes quickly. The point doesn't lend itself well to a didactic format, and even this small volume belabors it. But I appreciate Solnot's reflection. The rosary isn't my style either.
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LibraryThing member snash
The book focused on hope in the face of many wrongs as a necessary ingredient to propel social activism. That being the case, it pointed out the many successful changes brought about and noted that there are no final victories since perfection is not possible. The success of activism is, in part,
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in the effort.
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LibraryThing member Carlie
Before Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, I did not think too deeply about protests and activism. I realized that these things happened, but I was not sure about how they moved the ball forward. While I have my own beliefs and philosophies that I would be willing to protest
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for, it was not until this year that I could see more of where I fit in and how that protest might look.

As Rebecca Solnit lays out in this book, activism and protest are not about a specific change as much as they are about a gradual shift. You can’t see the change right away. The movement is slow and happens with one small seemingly minor act after another.

The main gist of the book is about hope. Because you can’t see the progress until you look backwards through history, protesting and activism can feel futile and unproductive. She lays out the ways in which historical figures have brought forward the concept of hope and its integral place when attempting to change society. She goes on to outline movements that sparked change and how those small movements built momentum.
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LibraryThing member greeniezona
This was a lovely and wonderful and needed book. A meditation on hope -- why it's important, how to nurture it, and what it has accomplished. A large portion of this book is dedicated to victories of the past progressive movements -- as reminders that we can create change, even when victories
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aren't always complete, perfect, or permanent. Even when they sometimes don't feel like victories at all.

My favorite bit: "We inhabit, in ordinary daylight, a future that was unimaginably dark a few decades ago, when people found the end of the world easier to envision than the impending changes in everyday roles, thoughts, practices that not even the wildest science fiction anticipated. Perhaps we should not have adjusted to it so easily. It would be better if we were astonished every day."

This quote sums up so much about both my frustrations with and my love of science fiction. It's perfect.
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LibraryThing member eldang
Meh.

Actually that's not quite fair. I wish I'd read this when it first came out, because it would have saved me several years in getting a sense of what the nebulous-sounding global social justice movements that spawned things like the Seattle WTO protests were about. But reading it in 2018 I found
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myself too often reacting with either "how did you not see that [e.g.] Chavez was a problem?", or "yes, that's nice in itself, but we're so manifestly losing this battle". There are some useful rays of light in it, and Solnit's a great writer, but on balance I think this book left me feeling more hopeless and depressed.
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LibraryThing member eldang
Meh.

Actually that's not quite fair. I wish I'd read this when it first came out, because it would have saved me several years in getting a sense of what the nebulous-sounding global social justice movements that spawned things like the Seattle WTO protests were about. But reading it in 2018 I found
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myself too often reacting with either "how did you not see that [e.g.] Chavez was a problem?", or "yes, that's nice in itself, but we're so manifestly losing this battle". There are some useful rays of light in it, and Solnit's a great writer, but on balance I think this book left me feeling more hopeless and depressed.
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LibraryThing member Iira
I listened to this as an audiobook and for some reason was unable to fully concentrate. At times I felt the book was too much fixed on the Bush asdministration politics, but at times it really showed how history sometimes just keeps on repeating itself.
Mostly US oriented and talks about hope and
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activism but now looking backwards with the knowledge of the current situation just makes this book seem somewhat naive. There is no hope.
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LibraryThing member KWharton
Despairing about the world? Read this! Change does happen. We need to look at the changes that have happened and remember that things we might take for granted now had to change once. We need to celebrate the good things, and recognise that even though they're not perfect, they are good and we can
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celebrate them. We also need to get involved with climate activism
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LibraryThing member PDCRead
For centuries people have revolted over the control that the state or other powerful individuals have tried to exert over the people. People can only be told what to do so much. I Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit concentrates on the past five decades of activism against the state about all manner
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of issues. Sonit acknowledges the huge political thinkers who have shaped some of the politics that happen today.

It is an interesting polemic against the vested interests and the present economic system and is written with a clarity that I have come to expect from Solnit. It is a bit dated now, but sadly almost all of the salient points that Solnit makes are still valid. The message though is still clear; never, never give up hope. The smallest actions being carried out by you can be multiplied up into the tens of hundreds of people doing the same thing does have an effect. The rise of website and action groups like 38 Degrees and Avaaz are the testimony to this; exerting pressure on corporations and governments does get through, it is an irritant that they ignore at their peril. I particularly liked the way that think global, act local, can be turned on its head; by thinking local acting global is the replication of the same protest all around our planet. I would love to see a re-write of this to know exactly what she thinks about Trump, can't imagine it will be complimentary…
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LibraryThing member Smokler
Indispensable if you are feeling politically demoralized.
LibraryThing member Evelyn.B
A great book to start off an new year with hope.

As someone who wasn't paying much attention to politics in the 90's and 2000's (seeing as I was born in '95 and caught up with things like learning how to read, and elementary school crushes) I didn't grasp all the content of this book like an adult
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living through those times likely would, and the Trump Administration isn't mentioned. These things definitely influenced my rating, but I did still enjoyed this book for the info nuggets and thoughtful perspectives on hope.
This collection of essays, the third edition updated in 2015, paints a crucial picture of how having hope during times of political or social injustice is the main reason that activism works in a democracy. Solnit uses real examples throughout time focusing primarily on the last 50 years (prior to the Trump administration mind you), to detail how in the darkest times hope shines brightest.
It can't be denied that Hurricane Katrina, Civil wars in South America, 9/11, and the crushing destruction of the environment by fossil fuel emissions were and are dark matters that seem(ed) hopeless. Solnit argues for hope and activism by breaking down what hope is, what it isn't, and why it's been a crucial tool for creating positive change, helping local communities, and bringing people together.

It's not easy to be hopeful when the world seems pitted against you in every way. But Rebecca makes a good case for why hope is good, why it's logical, and perhaps you may find a reason to be more hopeful about politics yourself after reading this book.

Things I need to search on Wikipedia thanks to this book teaching me I know little about them: The Bush Administration, Zapatistas, Malcolm X, Radical Center, Jazz Freedom Fighters, Reclaim The Streets, Occupy Wallstreet, Sandlot Riots 1977, Ronald Reagan, Alberta Tar Sands
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LibraryThing member the.ken.petersen
The trouble with avant guarde politics is that it is always grumpy. This is not right, that is wrong - and, of course, politics should never sit on its laurels and become self congratulatory.

The problem is that it can easily leave one feeling bleak: if one can never reach Valhalla, then perhaps
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one might as well give up: what's the point?

This little book is that injection of positivity that is sometimes needed. It is an excellent read and will be dipped into on many occasions.
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Language

Original publication date

2004 (First edition)
2006 (Second edition)
2016 (Third edition)

ISBN

1560255773 / 9781560255772
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