In this article, I interpret Zizek’s recent call to “abandon hope” and embrace the “courage of hopelessness,” as a provocation to articulate a new kind of utopia, rather than an endorsement of despair. On Zizek’s analysis, progressive hopes are currently directed towards fixing the existing situation, rather than accepting that the things that we hope will not happen are, in fact, about to happen—unless individuals, at last, summon the political resolution to act decisively. In a context of the “privatisation of hope,” however, where social despair has already been weaponised by the alt-Right, it is crucial to grasp Zizek’s intervention not as the expression of a tragic existential attitude of resignation to disaster, but as an effort to articulate the formal coordinates of a radical alternative. I interpret Zizek’s commentary, in the context of his overall theory of ideology, as an effort to articulate the “hope of the hopeless,” involving a kind of faith (in the future) without belief (in miracles), which requires the formulation of a new social principle that does not rely on the deceptive promise of a guaranteed positive outcome.
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