1st Edition

Revolutionary Hope in a Time of Crisis Political Disillusion, Democracy, and Utopia

Edited By Maša Mrovlje, Alex Zamalin Copyright 2024

    Revolutionary Hope in a Time of Crisis takes up the question of how to theorize and revive revolutionary hope in the present era of political disillusion. The collection consists of new cutting-edge research essays written by an interdisciplinary mix of established and emerging scholars, bringing together a wide range of intellectual traditions and perspectives. The contributors confront the challenge of relearning hope by exploring the politically transformative potential of past disappointments and defeats. They encourage us to acknowledge, come to terms with and learn from the complexities, failures, and losses entailed in resistance, and to consider them as an occasion for rethinking the established patterns of revolutionary thought. Specifically, the essays question how engagement with past disappointments, losses, and defeats can help us creatively respond to the difficulties and failures of resistance—and inspire our imagination of revolutionary possibilities in the present.

    Written in an accessible tone without theoretical density or academic jargon, Revolutionary Hope in a Time of Crisis provides theoretical and historical contexts to what it means to engage in left activism today. A vital resource for those interested in intellectual history, political history, radical politics, democracy, and contemporary political theory.


    PART I
    Rethinking the Relationship between Loss and Revolutionary Politics

    1 Antonio Gramsci and the Problem of Fatalism

    2 The Promise of Solidarity: Learning from Failure with Rosa Luxemburg

    3 Between Loss and Hope: Reflections on the Black Revolutionary Tradition

    4 Memorials of "Third World" Solidarity in Latin American
    and African Narratives


    Negative Affect, Mobilization, and the Troubles of Democracy

    5 Staying with Melancholy? An Archive of Futures Past


    6 Despair and Other Political Feelings

    7 Resistance and/or Metamorphosis: Politics as Breathwork

    Facing Failure and Pessimistic Seductions

    8 Responding to Failure: The Case of the US Disability Rights Movement


    9 Beside(s) Hope: A Thought Experiment on (Black) Life, Death, and Literary Puncturing


    Maša Mrovlje is Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Leeds. Her research interests are located within contemporary political thought, with a specific emphasis on theories of resistance and resistance movements. She is the author of Rethinking Political Judgement: Arendt and Existentialism (Edinburgh University Press, 2019). Her articles appeared in leading international journals, including The Journal of Politics, Millennium, Philosophy & Social Criticism and Political Theory . Her current project, entitled Disappointment: Reclaiming the Unfulfilled Promise of Resistance , explores the political potentials of disappointment within the modern revolutionary tradition.

    Alex Zamalin is Professor of Africana Studies and Political Science at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. He is the author of six books, African American Political Thought and American Culture: The Nation’s Struggle for Racial Justice (New York: Palgrave, 2015), Struggle on their Minds: The Political Thought of African American Resistance (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017), Antiracism: An Introduction (NYU Press, 2019), Black Utopia: The History of an Idea from Black Nationalism to Afrofuturism (Columbia University Press, 2019) which was named a 2020 Choice Outstanding Title by the American Library Association, and Against Civility: The Hidden Racism in Our Obsession with Civility (Beacon, 2021). His most recent book is All Is Not Lost: 20 Ways to Revolutionize Disaster (Beacon Press, spring 2022). Zamalin is also a co-editor for a collection of scholarly essays aimed at reinterpreting the American political tradition, American Political Thought: An Alternative View (New York: Routledge, 2017). His scholarly essays have appeared in various edited book collections and journals like New Political Science , Contemporary Political Theory and Political Theory . Zamalin has been a guest on NPR and MSNBC and his work has been featured in The Guardian , Literary Hub , Religion Dispatches , ESPN’s Undefeated , and YES! magazine.

    "Confronting the catastrophes of the 21st century, Revolutionary Hope in a Time of Crisis brilliantly illuminates how past defeats can stoke the imagination of emancipatory futures. Maša Mrovlje and Alex Zamalin’s powerful essay collection explores the work of artists, activists, and intellectuals who have refused to accept injustice as fated. This is political thinking at its most vital."
    Lawrie Balfour, James Hart Professor of Politics, University of Virginia, author of Imagining Freedom: Toni Morrison and the Work of Words

    Despair and anxiety seem to be the presiding affects of our time, and for good reasons too. And yet, revolutionary love and hope have been the vectors of all great social changes. This collection of uniformly excellent essays revisits the meaning of political hope in our dark democratic times. Starting with the realisation that hope presents paradoxical possibilities - of spurring revolutionary action, as well as being politically counterproductive - the contributors to this volume theorise hope in capacious and challenging ways. Through an exploration of political traditions that question the hegemony of western political thought - be they Afromodern, queer, Latinx, or feminist - the volume equally contributes to current decolonial imperatives to resignify key political theoretical concepts."
    Srila Roy, Professor of Sociology, the University of the Witwatersrand, author of Remembering Revolution: Gender, Violence, and Subjectivity in India's Naxalbari Movement

    "This thought-provoking collection of essays offers help on one of the most fundamental issues of our age. Essential reading for all those wanting to rethink hope and its importance."
    Ann Rigney, Professor of Comparative Literature, Utrecht University, co-editor of The Visual Memory of Protest

    "Rejecting simple narratives of either progress or decline, this exciting volume brings a multitude of voices to bear on the question of hope today. From a kaleidoscopic array of perspectives – including Marxist, Black, postcolonial, feminist, queer, and activist orientations – its contributors examine how past failure and present disappointment may be mined for a brighter future of emancipatory politics. At once erudite, challenging, and invigorating, the essays in Revolutionary Hope in a Time of Crisis illuminate both the complexity and the ever-present actuality of utopian vision in the ongoing struggle for a more just and equitable world."
    Loren Goldman, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania, author of The Principle of Political Hope