The power of hope? Powerlessness and strong democratic hope

Katharina Bauer*

*Corresponding author for this work

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In this paper I discuss how and to what extent core elements of Beatrice Han-Pile’s account of a constitutive experience of powerlessness at the centre of hope can be fruitfully transferred to a collective political level. Despite its constitutive relation to uncertainty, we often talk about the power of hope as a motivating and activating force that helps us to cope with challenges, overcome obstacles and pursue plans. Hoping with an awareness of the limitations of one’s individual power can at the same time be a strong motivation for acting in concert and thereby establishing power as a collective practice. I will explore how democratic hope that is empowering participation can be distinguished from disempowering political hopes. Finally, I will argue that integrating experiences of relative powerlessness and reflecting them explicitly is constitutive for ‘strong democratic hope’, while the experience of powerlessness can remain pre-reflective on the individual psychological level. At the same time strong democratic hope is directed towards preventing experiences of radical powerlessness.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Apr 2024

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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