With the deeply-flawed but still revolutionary Health Care Reform bill on my mind, I thought I’d point folks to this terrific piece by Rebecca Solnit (for whom I have total essay-talent-envy, if only I could do what she can do). Anyhow, it ran in the Nation a while back, and it’s an eloquent rebuttal of defeatism:
Six years ago I wrote a book about hope. A few years later I went to look at the worst things that happen to people and found some more hope in the resilience, the inventiveness, the bravery and occasionally the long-term subversion with which people respond. It culminated in another fairly hopeful book, based on the surprising evidence of what actually happens in disaster. Civil society happens, and sometimes joy in that society; institutional failure often also transpires. Sometimes a power struggle to re-establish the status quo follows, and sometimes the status quo wins, sometimes it doesn’t. Which is to say, sometimes we win, though that’s far from inevitable. This is grounds to be hopeful. Now, being hopeful seems to me like it’s preferable to being hopeless, but for six years I’ve been talking about these books in public. This means I’ve also been running into people at readings, talks and interviews who are furiously attached to hopelessness, to narratives of despair and decline, to belief in an omniscient them who always wins and a feeble us who always loses. To keep hold of this complex, they have to skew the evidence, and they do. They cherry-pick. They turn complex facts into simple stories. They constitute a significant sector of the left.