Magazine article New Internationalist

Hope in the Dark: The Untold History of People Power

Magazine article New Internationalist

Hope in the Dark: The Untold History of People Power

Article excerpt

Hope in the Dark The Untold History of People Power by Rebecca Solnit (Canongate ISBN 184195 660 0)

Poet Olzhas Suleimenov is supposed to be reading poems live on Kazakh TV. Instead he suddenly departs from the script and calls for the shutdown of a local Soviet nuclear test site. Encouraged by this, 5,000 people gather at the Writers Union and start a movement. They link up with anti-test site activists in Nevada. The movement snowballs and the Kazakh site is eventually closed.

This is part of what lies at the heart of Rebecca Solnit's philosophy: sometimes the most unlikely-seeming actions can set off positive chain reactions, even in the darkest times. And the tool to bring about change is: hope.

Casting her net across the world, cultural historian Solnit draws a convincing catch of evidence over the past four decades. Some are large and obvious - Latin America's emergence from military dictatorship; apartheid's demise; the fall of the Berlin Wall; World Social Forum gatherings; the Zapatistas; antiGMO victories; the collapse of the rich-world agenda at the WTO meeting in Cancun. …

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