“Optimism of the Intellect”: An experiment in hopefulness

A meeting at the Secular Hall, Leicester on Sunday 16th September 6.30pm

We welcome once again Professor Richard Johnson to Secular Hall. Members
may be familiar with Richard’s lecturing style. He is a passionate
speaker and tonight he aims to share his thoughts on the following topic.

Gramsci’s ‘Pessimism of the Intellect – Optimism of the Will’ was a source
of strength to him, faced by Fascism in the 1930’s. It has purchase today
too in the throes of economic crisis and neoliberal hegemony. But as
Gramsci’s life-work shows, we need more than criticism and even anger,
however depressing the political scene may be. We also need to examine the
conditions and possibilities of a transition to something better and try
to act on these understandings, developing them further. Richard will draw
on not only his study of Gramsci’s work but also on his experience that
conditions do exist of movement politics to sketch some real grounds for
optimism. He will argue that conditions do exist for a major social
transformation to the benefit of ‘the99%’. He will explore two key ways
forward:

(1) linking many hopeful movements in civil society that already exist,
(2) linking political action with today’s cultural ferment, creating
what Gramsci called a ‘new culture’

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