Throughout much of the world there is growing resistance to the severe harm that has resulted from the neoliberal policies of the past generation. Latin America has progressed farthest in overthrowing this harsh regime, in recent years largely freeing itself from the grip of Western imperial domination for the first time and beginning to confront some of its severe internal problems, though many remain, as revealed recently by the mass protests in Brazil. These protests are joined by many others throughout the world, responding to local attacks on elementary rights and sometimes challenging dominant institutions and seeking to develop alternatives, escaping their fetters. They join in the effort to “realize hope,” to build a better world, to develop structures and relationships that are essential to overcoming class, gender, racial, power, and other hierarchies that relegate the many to subordination and that allow the few to dominate. But how should these hopes be realized? That question has to be posed clearly, and answered to the extent that we can.
The task is fraught with risk. One can envision too much and in so doing exceed what anyone can now reasonably assert, an act of hubris that might close off rather than enrich creative initiatives and, even worse, usurp the rightful role of future citizens in determining their own lives and relations. However well-motivated, such blueprinting would threaten coercion rather than facilitate liberation.
Alternatively, one can praise values we all share but say too little about how they might be actualized and about the kinds of institutional features that would allow people to manage their own lives with dignity, solidarity, and equity. Realizing Hope, and I am now referring to the book, not the endeavor, carefully navigates this minefield of possible dangers. It aims to provide a worthy and viable vision that is much needed in the current climate of resistance, one that can inform, inspire, and generate shared programs without going beyond what we can sensibly envision and crossing the line to authoritarian prescription. It investigates a wide range of issues, including economy and polity, kinship and culture, international relations and ecology, and even journalism, science, and education, among other topics. It seeks to provide an outline for a wide-ranging exploration of long-term aims of resistance that will provide essential tools for movements seeking to bend the arc of history towards justice, to adapt Martin Luther King’s famous phrase.
It is surely necessary to resist oppression and pursue liberation — and also to advance towards realizing hope by gaining clarity about our objectives and constructing paths to attain them.