What was it about Barack Obama's campaign of hope that resonated so much not just with Americans, but people the world over? Have we really become so despairing in the face of collapsed economies and the threat of violence around every corner that a simple rallying cry to remember hope can have such a powerful effect? In this moving and thoughtful book, Ronald Aronson explores our relationship to hope at a time some have called the end of history, others the end of politics, in order to formulate a more active stance, one in which hope is far more than a mood or feeling it is the very basis of social will and political action. Aronson examines our own heartbreaking story: a century of violence, upheaval, and the undelivered promises of progress all of which have contributed to the evaporation of social hope. As he shows, we are now in an era when hope has been privatized, when despite all the ways we are connected to each other we are desperately alone, struggling to weather the maelstrom around us, demoralized by the cynicism that permeates our culture and politics, and burdened with finding personal solutions to social problems. Yet social hope, Aronson argues, still persists.
Carefully exploring what we mean when we say we "hope" and teasing hope apart from its dangerously misconstrued sibling, progress, he locates real seeds of change. He argues that always underlying our experience even if we completely ignore it is a sense of social belonging, and that this can be reactivated into a powerful collective force, an active we. He looks to various political movements, from the massive collective force of environmentalists to the stunning rise of movement-centered politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, as powerful examples of socially energized, politically determined, and actionably engaged forms of hope. The result is an illuminating and inspiring call that anyone can clearly hear: we can still create a better future for ourselves, but only if we do it together.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of pages: 208
Weight: 408 g
Dimensions: 228 x 152 x 25 mm
"Timely, stimulating, and creative, We offers a fresh and very timely perspective on what Aronson correctly identifies as the general loss today of 'the hope of a better society and a better world.' In broad but firm strokes, drawing on leading thinkers from Smith to Condorcet to Marx to Sartre, it convincingly traces the historical formation of collective hope, which can today take shape as the capacity for meaningful action."--Leo V. Panitch, York University
"We is a tonic. At a time in our history when many are despairing about the turn in our nation's political life, Aronson has produced a sober yet exhilarating cri de Coeur about why we need not be. Anyone concerned about how 'we' might mount resistance to the forces of reaction should read We and take heart."--Steve Fraser, author of The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power
"A useful book to discuss, to meditate on, We is well-timed and helps us think more clearly about the next stage of the global transformation. And don't forget what Studs Terkel said: 'Hope dies last'."--John May "The Generalist "
"By pointing out again and again that hope and social progress reside in collective action, Aronson calls on us to leave our lonely planets of hyper-individualism behind to join others in common struggles for a better world. Because only when we become active in concert with others, a sense of we and hope can materialize."--Tikkun
"We: Reviving Social Hope is not only a testament to Aronson's optimism, then, but an analysis of the re-emergence of what he sees as a collective, rather than an individualistic form, of political action."--spiked review