Dear Countercurrents readers, please excuse the personal nature of this short piece.
We are in a world in which rightward drift has become a Hurricane gale. The world round, racism, misogyny, obscurantism, violence, and demagoguery are on the rise. Multiple theories exist to explain the rise of such base ideas, but irrespective of which theory is most compelling at what moment, facts are facts. Given this, each of us has to make a fundamental decision- whether to throw our minds and resources into the battle or whether to keep quiet and simply lament the world around us.
Like most of you, I oscillate between despair and hope, between scientific pessimism and necessary optimism. Pessimism, a product of rationalism, is almost always a cop-out. It’s easy after all for those of us lucky enough to be solvent to feel pessimistic while enjoying the luxury of affluence; for us pessimism –howsoever real and rational- is a “talk-track.” Optimism, a product of desire, is on the other hand absolutely necessary but not the kind of “liberal” optimism that suggests that as long as others fight for justice, the job is being done.
The fundamental decision to be made, therefore, is how to balance the forces that play on each of us in a way that optimizes outcome but does not mortgage life’s joys (because if they go, so too do our willingness and ability to fight). Kicking the can down the road is not a solution for sustainable justice work. Nor is living life in silent anger. The Left must find a way to resist/fight/create but in a manner that doesn’t exhaust itself or break under the weight of its own contradictions.
To fuel this, we need to see, feel, and hear the reminders of hope.
When we seek them, we find them and when we find them, they catalyze the very activities that legitimate hope.
A recent trip to the Elliott Bay bookstore in Seattle provided me with just such a reminder. There, I saw countless books by activists on pertinent issues of social justice (many of which were Haymarket Book titles- of note since I’ve written about Haymarket earlier in Countercurrents–https://countercurrents.org/2017/01/19/thank-you-haymarket-books/).
These books reminded me that so many decent people dedicate their time, resources, even lives to dismantling Empire and creating the edifice of a decent future. These books reminded me that as long as enough good people document the truth, the noxious power of lies is ephemeral.
Each person must find his or her own reminders but, I repeat, you must seek them regularly.
Thank you Countercurrents for highlighting- daily- these glimmers of hope that one day will be as bright as the sun.
Romi Mahajan can be reached at email@example.com