DMF over at Synthetic_Zero has shared a nice quote from an interview with Brian Massumi:
From my own point of view, the way that a concept like hope can be made useful is when it is not connected to an expected success – when it starts to be something different from optimism – because when you start trying to think ahead into the future from the present point, rationally there really isn’t much room for hope. Globally it’s a very pessimistic affair, with economic inequalities increasing year by year, with health and sanitation levels steadily decreasing in many regions, with the global effects of environmental deterioration already being felt, with conflicts among nations and peoples apparently only getting more intractable, leading to mass displacements of workers and refugees … It seems such a mess that I think it can be paralysing. If hope is the opposite of pessimism, then there’s precious little to be had. On the other hand, if hope is separated from concepts of optimism and pessimism, from a wishful projection of success or even some kind of a rational calculation of outcomes, then I think it starts to be interesting – because it places it in the present.
The basis for my Struggle Forever philosophy is that the idea of Utopia as an end – a goal towards which we struggle – is misguided. When taken as such, utopia becomes fantasy and leads to frustration or, worse, fascism. Decoupled from the the teleological impulse, we can begin to see that the struggle itself is utopia and utopia exists as long as there are people engaged in the struggle (and moreso the more people are engaged). We will never reach a point where the world will be just as it should be for all time (or even for a brief moment), but as long as we continue to struggle we might make things gradually better for more and more people and keep the forces of fascism at bay.
Massumi’s notion of hope separated from optimism and pessimism is very much the point of my earlier post on faith. Removed from the optimistic context, hope or faith is no longer about reaching some desired goal, but rather a hope and faith in the struggle recognizing that the struggle doesn’t end. I believe that moving towards this notion of Utopia, faith and Struggle willallow us to get past many barriers that currently keep us from the possibility of making a better world.