Radical Hope: Introduction

These days I keep an eye out for material related to Native peoples, environmental chaos, and what the future might look like.

I also look for things related to hope. I believe hope is essential to help face dark and uncertain times such as these. The title of the book, Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation by Jonathan Lear caught my attention. One of the things it taught me was to look at our situation in terms of cultural shift, and cultural collapse.


For many years I’ve prayed, thought and written about why our economic, political and social systems no longer work well. An economy based on continuous growth and focused solely on shareholder profits is neither sustainable nor moral. Especially not environmentally sustainable, with the rapacious consumption of fossil fuel and water and the production of toxic wastes. People are seen as resources for production, whose welfare is not a concern of corporations. Millions live in poverty.


In contrast, the culture I was raised in (1950s) was of small communities of people who knew each other, lived near each other, and engaged face to face in numerous situations. Many had gardens as part of their food supply. People, not profits, were valued.

With a significantly smaller population and less automation there were jobs for almost everyone. Most people had enough disposable income to meet their financial needs, but not much more. There weren’t such things as student loan or credit card debt, or bankrupting medical/drug costs.

Breakdown / Cultural Shift

For decades millions of jobs have been lost because of automation or moving to countries with cheap labor. Combined with rapidly growing population, there is greater competition for a dwindling number jobs. Corporations exploit this with poverty level wages and few benefits such heath insurance or retirement plans.

Our political system, that was once somewhat responsive to citizens, no longer is, being corrupted with huge political contributions from corporations, extreme gerrymandering and foreign influence. The legislative process is often blocked by congressional leaders of the party in power.

The extreme maldistribution of wealth combined with political corruption is resulting in defunding social safety net programs and increasing spending for the military and border security.

The changes from then to now can be thought of as a cultural shift. https://kislingjeff.wordpress.com/2019/12/19/radical-hope-preface/

Climate Catastrophe / Cultural Collapse

Even if our social, economic and political systems were working well, they could not for much longer. They are being overwhelmed by climate chaos, which is rapidly worsening. Increasingly frequent and severe storms, flooding, precipitation, drought, heat and fires are already causing more damage and disruption than communities can recover from. There will be increasing violence and civil unrest as people desperately search for food, water and shelter. We are moving into cultural collapse. https://kislingjeff.wordpress.com/2019/12/19/radical-hope-preface/

My questions are how do we make more people aware of this? Can we get our social, economic and political systems to help?

More to the point, what does a solution for cultural collapse entail?

Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation by Jonathan Lear suggests an interesting answer. (to be continued…)

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