Hope is for Suckers

Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

We can’t give up hope, I’m often told. Keep hope alive, the saying goes. If we lose hope, nothing will ever change… or so they believe. Well, I’m here to say: Fuck hope. We live on a planet brimming with hope yet that same planet is under perpetual assault… and the hopers are losing. The corporations raping our eco-systems don’t hope they can steal more land, exploit it, poison it, and make boatloads of cash. They make a plan and make it happen… damn the torpedoes. (You might even call it “direct action.”)

Monsanto doesn’t put its faith in candlelight vigils or humans standing in the shape of a peace sign. They get busy putting their people into positions of power, writing legislation, and bullying and smashing anyone opposed to their insane agenda.

General Motors doesn’t reserve its opinions for government sanctioned “free speech zones.” The television, Internet, magazines, movies, songs, radio, etc. are all inundated with GM’s taxpayer-subsidized propaganda… just as the planet is inundated with GM’s output.

McDonald’s doesn’t waste time hoping things will go its way when its days are chock filled with brainwashing, killing, poisoning, destroying… and counting its profits. Hope never enters into the equation.

“Hope is a bad thing,” sez Henry Miller. “It means that you are not what you want to be. It means that part of you is dead, if not all of you. It means that you entertain illusions. It’s a sort of spiritual clap, I should say.”

Author Derrick Jensen explains the impotency of hope as good as anyone: “I’m not, for example, going to say I hope I eat something tomorrow. I just will. I don’t hope I take another breath right now, nor that I finish writing this sentence. I just do them. On the other hand, I do hope that the next time I get on a plane, it doesn’t crash. To hope for some result means you have given up any agency concerning it. Many people say they hope the dominant culture stops destroying the world. By saying that, they’ve assumed that the destruction will continue, at least in the short term, and they’ve stepped away from their own ability to participate in stopping it.”

If Jensen makes it sound an awful lot like religion, well, for most folks, the verb “hope” is virtually synonymous with “pray,” while “hope” the noun is often interchangeable with “faith.”

Hope is for suckers.

How about some good old-fashioned anger, rage, and passion? (Che sez: “If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.”) Let’s forget hope and aim for vision, clarity, strategy, courage, and finally: some goddamned results. “Creativity comes from trust,” sez Rita Mae Brown. “Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work” (as
they say in South Florida: bingo).

At its worst, hope is a dangerous cop-out. At best, it’s a frivolous idea. But even so, as Henry Miller sez: “Ideas have to be wedded to action.”

Wedded, huh? Repeat after me: “I do.”

Mickey Z. is the creator of a podcast called Post-Woke. You can subscribe here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. Spread the word. Read other articles by Mickey.

45 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. D. R. Munro said on April 11th, 2008 at 5:44am #

    “Fuck hope.”

    Right on, Mickey.

    You hit the nail on the head with the Nietzsche quote (even though he stole it from Schopenhauer, but that’s splitting hairs).

    Desire, longing, feeling you deserve something – these are the roots of unhappiness.

  2. Rich Griffin said on April 11th, 2008 at 6:19am #

    I’ve given up all hope and this is why I am able to see outside the box – to reject the two party system, to reject corporate capitalism completely, to use right anger to shake things up – but I’ve also given up on believing we can change the world, too.

  3. Don Hawkins said on April 11th, 2008 at 7:48am #

    An old man was watching TV. He had been watching TV for about a week. He was just old not ancient in his seventies. He was a well educated man and when he was in his thirty’s he made a decision to drop out. At the time he made this decision he was living in Cleveland. He moved to Canada in the sticks so to speak. The back country a few hundred miles away from civilization and built his own cabin and lived off the land. This man in those thirty some years became in tune with nature. He had no choice in the matter as to survive that is what he had to do. In the last ten years before he went back to Cleveland he had noticed changes in the nature of things. The animals, plants and the weather and the climate. He just got tired of being by himself all those years and then you see him in front of a very old black and white TV. For one week he had been watching Oprah, wheel of fortune, something called squawk box and the news. He watched Oprah give away cars and on squawk box sort of what the economy was doing and on the news he found it hard to understand the World he was now seeing. Food riots in many places in the World, War about oil. The way people think about themselves and the World now and something about the war of ideologies now going on. He watched commercials and thought to himself that they had not changed much but seemed more boring. Then he found the History Channel and that was all he watched for most of the week. At the end of the week he realized just how much had been learned in thirty years and he also realized one other thing. He turned off the TV and just sat there in Cleveland thinking. He then thought people have not yet learned how to work together after all these years still the same and maybe in a few more years there will be two people deep in the ground somewhere in Kansas who do work together and turn two key’s that makes the whole damn thing academic. He got up and headed back to Canada.

  4. hp said on April 11th, 2008 at 8:36am #

    The last sentence was a set up for Mencken’s definition of marriage: ‘the end of hope.’

  5. sure said on April 11th, 2008 at 9:25am #

    I agree, but being a total pessimistic hater of everything isn’t the answer either.

    You’re just wasting your energy and depressing yourself by seeing evil in everything.

    Do yourself a favor and get laid, (which is probably why you’re preaching so hard in the first place) and then go work on one thing at a time.

  6. Don Hawkins said on April 11th, 2008 at 9:33am #

    Last night on MSNBC countdown they were talking about Bush and company. Now I don’t fully understand this but they were saying that torture was being talked about in the White House or the dark house and that this water boarding and torture of people was probably not within the law. Then they said that Congress is doing nothing because nobody wants to, Ok. What is that Article 2 Section Four. We can only hope.

  7. TS Draegeth said on April 11th, 2008 at 10:10am #

    Equating all hope with failure to act is wrong. Hope may be partly a result of powerlessness, but we will never be all powerful, nor should we fault ourselves for what we cannot do.

    In the absence of total power and uniform perfection, the decent soul will be unable to repress hope. Do not be so quick to cast judgment on a natural, healthy reaction to a difficult world. Like laughter, hope is an irrepressible desire to express what we never can in words. It is only the black-hearted who do not have wishes for a better future.

    Despair can lead people to begin blaming themselves for not having the power to change thousands of years of history at the snap of a finger. But, do not try to smash your finest qualities simply because evil appears to be winning. Making yourselves more like them–toughening your soul for battle–is the path that will perpetuate their philosophy.

  8. Don Hawkins said on April 11th, 2008 at 11:01am #

    Ohhh! Great warrior! [laughs and shakes his head]
    Wars not make one great!

    “You must unlearn what you have learned.” “Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will…”

    Adventure. Heh! Excitement. Heh! A Jedi craves not these things.

    “You will know (the good from the bad) when you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack. ” Yoda
    Still works for me.

  9. Don Hawkins said on April 11th, 2008 at 11:47am #

    James Hansen just got it. When he writes I send.

  10. evie said on April 11th, 2008 at 11:58am #

    I was raised hearing this a lot: Where there’s life – there’s hope.

    “Hope is for suckers.” That applies to folks like Monica L., i.e. being a sucker and hoping Willie was her knight in shining armor.

  11. hp said on April 11th, 2008 at 12:02pm #

    Hope is a poor man’s substitute for desire.

  12. Don Hawkins said on April 11th, 2008 at 12:07pm #

    please read what I just sent. The planet does not belong to them.

  13. evie said on April 11th, 2008 at 12:10pm #

    Hope (desire) without action is indolence – or thousands of Internet sites with donate now PayPal buttons.

  14. Don Hawkins said on April 11th, 2008 at 12:20pm #

    A major fight is brewing – it may be called war. On the one side, we find the short-term
    financial interests of the fossil fuel industry. On the other side: young people and other beings
    who will inherit the planet. It seems to be an uneven fight.
    Please read the site I just sent you

  15. Arch Stanton said on April 11th, 2008 at 12:45pm #

    Oh, come on, Mickey. Look at the glass half full. There IS hope–currently referred to as global food riots.

  16. Michael Hureaux said on April 11th, 2008 at 12:57pm #

    Toughening one’s soul for battle most surely does not make one like’ one’s oppressor, unless you’re arguing that the violence that it takes to stop a tyrant is the same as the violence it takes to install one. “It is not the weapon, so much as the spirit in which the weapon is used” said Thoreau in his defense of John Brown, and Thoreau was no saint, but he was no war hawk either. I refuse to accept the premise that my heart is “blackened” by any situation that may force me to default to violence. And incidentally, if I were you, Draegeth, I’d think twice before I held forth with a discourse that equates blackness with some sort of bad spiritedness.

  17. evie said on April 11th, 2008 at 1:03pm #

    I read the pdf link. Sorry, but I believe the scarity of fossil fuel is dishonest hype used as one more justification of rising prices, fuel$ the environmental movement, fund$ scientific grant$/foundation$, sell$ books, etc. A new indu$try that the serfs will sacrifice and suffer for but not, lo and behold the wise men who leave their estates and private jets long enough to yell dire predictions of the sky is falling.

    As for being “green” I believe mankind, no matter how many white folks like Prince Charlie Tampon and Al “The Big Sigh” Gore say so, mankind is not powerful enough to destroy the planet. I call it my George Carlin philosophy – the earth will shake us off like fleas, and regenerate. I have moments when that seems a reasonable idea.

    Fifty years ago I heard my great grandparents speaking of the same environmental changes (storms, hot hell summers, frigid winters, abnormal weather patterns, too many of one species or another in a given year, swamps drying up, the Mississippi overflowing) and for them it was Biblical signage – Revelations, end of world, Jesus coming for you.

    Today’s “environmentalists” have co-opted old time religion to make a new religion of nature’s natural activity and scare up donations for the collection plate.

    We need to conserve and protect, especially those individuals fortunate enough to have access to the “modern” world with spray deodorant and airconditioning, and not among the billions living in huts using very little of earth’s resources – but I won’t throw my money at governments and pols and advocates who waste nearly every dollar they siphon.

    Besides, the “ruling class” will give us clean renewable energy when they’re ready: When it’s profitable.

  18. Don Hawkins said on April 11th, 2008 at 1:32pm #

    The ruling class is also overstated just like oil reserves.

  19. Deadbeat said on April 11th, 2008 at 2:53pm #

    Isn’t the “hope” for socialism what most leftist do?

  20. DavidG. said on April 11th, 2008 at 3:13pm #

    I have hope. I have hope that America will get what it deserves. Soon.

    When aliens visit our dead earth at some time in the future they’ll look and wonder. If they dig through some ruins, they’ll soon find a history book. In it they’ll discover the contribution of the American Empire, the one that brought about the end of the world. They won’t find that it represents a Golden Age but merely an age of endless war, violence and greed.

    The Golden Ages have come and gone. Extinction is all that is left now.

    P.S. ‘I Love My Shooter’ might lift your spirits a little. Check my blog.

  21. rosemarie jackowski said on April 11th, 2008 at 3:55pm #

    David…Better to do an action that would give America what it deserves than to hope for it. The problem is that there are too many with hope and too few who have the power/courage to take the action.

  22. evie said on April 11th, 2008 at 5:46pm #

    The US is not alone. Spain, Portugal, Britain, Germany, etc. have contributed just as much in the name of historical violence and greed.

    France receives credit for arming, funding, and supporting the Hutus in the Rwandan genocide, and the jolly English chaps put Edi Amin in power and took him out again when the man actually thought he was in charge of his country. I could go on and on.

    If aliens in the future dig in the US of A the only history they will find is styrofoam and silicone – super sized.

  23. DavidG. said on April 12th, 2008 at 12:29am #

    There have been other countries that have done bad things but none of them set themselves up as ‘the light on the hill’.

    What has happened to America is the ultimate irony and tragedy. It has followed in the footsteps of Hitler with its invasions and occupations and torture and imperialism.

    What a reversal!

  24. Bob said on April 12th, 2008 at 2:29am #

    Man I used to work for, depending on the situation, used to say: “Want/hope/wish in one hand, shit in the other and watch which one fills up the fastest. Get busy, boy!”

    Years later I see how right he was.

  25. joed said on April 12th, 2008 at 4:33am #

    I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
    For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
    For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
    But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
    Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
    So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

    ~ T.S. Eliot ~

    (The Four Quartets)

  26. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 12th, 2008 at 6:36am #

    Didn’t I see some Buddhists on the GG Bridge a couple of days ago? Hope ain’t what it used to be, and never was.

    – G.L. Rowsey –

  27. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 12th, 2008 at 7:02am #

    evie. It’s funny about money. In the 1960s-70s, a lot of us wouldn’t give a dime to to a blind man begging on the street, so much despising of private charity and believing participation in the money-system Was Perpetuating Evil were we. Now, it’s forty years later, and as James Coburn said in Pat Garret and Billie-the-Kid: TIMES… HAVE… CHANGED.

  28. Don Hawkins said on April 12th, 2008 at 7:35am #

    I watched the Dalai Lama last night the interviewer asked about violence. The man said no not violence. Look at the United States, Afghanistan, Iraq violence has not worked out well and the last thing he said was I believe, I believe.
    “You will know (the good from the bad) when you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack. ” Yoda
    Now does this mean that we do nothing as we watch people on TV try and sell a book or tell people strange things that have nothing to do with anything? No it sure doesn’t.
    A major fight is brewing – it may be called war. On the one side, we find the short-term
    financial interests of the fossil fuel industry. On the other side: young people and other beings
    who will inherit the planet. It seems to be an uneven fight. The fossil fuel industry is launching
    a disinformation campaign and they have powerful influence in capitals around the world.
    Young people seem pretty puny in comparison to industry moguls. James Hansen
    So what is a person to do? Well one thing could be to show not only other people but these industry moguls this so called ruling class that is way overstated and in many way’s a myth that being stuck on stupid is not the answer. Where does the ruling class, industry moguls get there money and power from us we give it to them.
    P.S.: Do not fall for the moguls’ dirtiest trick – ‘green’ messages spewed to the public.
    That is propaganda, intended to leave the impression they are moving in the right direction.
    Meanwhile they hire scientific has-beens to dispute evidence and confuse the public. How will
    you be able to tell if they ever “get it”? When they begin to invest massively in renewable
    energies, when they become truly energy companies aimed toward zero-carbon emissions. James Hansen

    I believe.

  29. Don Hawkins said on April 12th, 2008 at 8:41am #

    Some people say a man is made outta mud
    A poor man’s made outta muscle and blood
    Muscle and blood and skin and bones
    A mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong

    You load sixteen tons, what do you get
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the company store

    I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
    I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
    I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
    And the straw boss said “Well, a-bless my soul”

    You load sixteen tons, what do you get
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the company store

    I was born one mornin’, it was drizzlin’ rain
    Fightin’ and trouble are my middle name
    I was raised in the canebrake by an ol’ mama lion
    Cain’t no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line

    You load sixteen tons, what do you get
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the company store

    If you see me comin’, better step aside
    A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died
    One fist of iron, the other of steel
    If the right one don’t a-get you
    Then the left one will

    You load sixteen tons, what do you get
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the company store

    PS. I owe my soul to the Chinese and the Saudis
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go

  30. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 12th, 2008 at 12:15pm #

    Thanx, Don. You got the last (1000) words.

  31. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 12th, 2008 at 12:16pm #

    Er, 400 words? It only seems like 1000?

  32. Elaine N said on April 12th, 2008 at 1:08pm #

    “Hope when you are doing something is a goal….Hope, by itself instills no action on the ‘hopers’ part, it insinuates that they are waiting for ‘good luck’ or fortune, to fall out of the sky into their laps while they wait for it.”

    ~ Scott Peden

    I just listened to an interview the other day on the privatization of water. He went over the strategies used by the big corporations to infiltrate communities that they’re interested in taking over…


    Privatization-challenging corporate power

    Deborah Kaufman/Alan Snitow: The Corporate Takeover of Water
    Richard Grossman: Rolling Back Corporate Power: Lessons from the Past

    They send their employess and their families into the communities very early on, and have them make contacts in the schools, churches, local government, reporting on who the local champions are…the powerful players in the communities (mayor, city council, commissioners, school boards, etc…). Once they form relationships with those people, they then move forward with their agendas that include lobbying legislation, referendums, media advertising saturation for referendums up for a vote, etc…

    They never pay people to stand on street corners with signs, hold candlelight vigils, submit to the limitations of a free speech zone, etc…

    If we are to make a real difference, we MUST play their game. Real strategies involving infiltration on a large scale (running for office locally, statewide, and nationally), exposing their lies as they are uncovered on a large scale, exposing the players, implementing strategies that work to repeal the damaging laws that enslave us, use our power as consumers by spending wisely and locally. WE EMPOWER THEM by giving them our money. Stop it! Do everything possible to seperate yourselves from the their centralized services and their big box chain stores, retaurants, and fast food outlets.

    There is much we can do, but we must be willing to go outside of our comfort zones, and be leaders for the cause. Big corporations don’t play it safe, they take risks and they are constantly lobbying and networking to accomplish their goals. We must do the same.

    Do you attend your county/city commission meetings regularly…school board meetings? If not, why? You’d be surprised how much is accomplished at these meetings, and you can be sure that the interested corporations are there…offering hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of grants in order to buy favor and power within the communities. I know this because I witness it all the time.

    Get out and become active…really active in your communities. All of the powerful players are at these meetings, along with the press. Make yourself known and take your neighbors, friends, and family with you. Make it known that you are a force to be reckoned with. You’d be surprised how one or two people can make a big corporation uncomfortable.

    We need to stop believing we are helpless and unable to compete with these corporations, because that is just NOT true.

    Having big ideas, big dreams, passion, and alot of ambition to accomplish your goals is all that is needed.

    Educate yourselves and educate others everyday, be willing to live your cause.

    The WhiteRose Resistance

  33. Don Hawkins said on April 12th, 2008 at 2:00pm #

    Global oil production peaks between 2008 and 2018, triggering a global recession, food shortages and conflicts between nations over dwindling supplies. UN report
    2008, 2008, 2008, 2008, 2008, 2008, 2008, 2008, 2008, 2008.

  34. anthony innes said on April 12th, 2008 at 6:35pm #

    Mickey Z I’m 62 , when i was eleven i came back from a bushwalk up in the mountains and looked down on the social catastrophe that was Sydney Australia and hoped it would some how stop. It was evident then to a average child that things were going wrong. I travelled the planet and have seen for myself good people and natural things being trashed by the power/money obssessives that society selects for.
    Guess what : the end is in sight .Finite resources and unsustainable consumption are intersecting.
    Natural laws like hygiene ,mutual respect , ecological balance are immutable and have to be obeyed.
    We all die but our hopes live on . Eat the rich etc

  35. ralph a. applegate said on April 12th, 2008 at 6:39pm #

    I am filing my answer on Monday, April 14, 2008 , claiming Ohio’s ballot access laws are unconstitutional in Applegate v. Franklin Co. Ohio Bd. of Elections. Fed. Case C02-08-92, take a l0ok at it. I did this all by myself. I like what WhiteRose Resistance said , above, but because my retirement check is only $452. per month I have difficulty going to all of these ” one part crapshoots ” ! We have a one party , not a two party system, but we Americans have no idea about that! If you run for Pres. as Democrat you need about 36000 signatures, if you run as Republican you need about 54000 signatures, but if you run unaffiliated for Pres. you need 798801 signatures, or near that, how fucking idiotic is that, it defies logic, but that is what these fucking legislators(lawyers)(liars)(hyperbolators)do to us !

  36. ralph a. applegate said on April 12th, 2008 at 6:49pm #

    Do not forget the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, you can not get more out than you put in , that is why Hydrogen will not solve the energy problem, only fusion will, but it has not been solved, maybe never will? Isn’t the massive amount of cars all the time on the road the sign of the ” to and fro ” spoken of in the Bible, or is it not? Are not most of those on the highway those government employees who draw their breath and their pay and those who die 6 months after they retire because of 30 years of stress from lack of real work? All of those War Dept. employees who were involved in firing me 32 years ago are dead,except, I believe, for fascist, evil, H.Lowell Ralph, they all died less than 6 months after retirement from stress from lack of real work, but high pay for nothing. H.Lowell Ralph is probably suffering hell on earth for his fascist leanings!

  37. ralph a. applegate said on April 12th, 2008 at 6:52pm #

    I am still alive and kicking, those evil government idiots saved my life and did not know it, even famous A. E. Fitzgerald of McLean , Va., that honorable gentleman has had his life saved , also, by these individuals who have these” walking-around ” jobs, those ones who are constantly going to and fro!

  38. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 12th, 2008 at 8:36pm #

    evie? Gotta comment on ralph’s suit?

  39. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 12th, 2008 at 8:37pm #

    how bout you, Mickey Z?

  40. evie said on April 13th, 2008 at 5:11am #

    I think Ralph is off his meds again.

  41. Jim Sanders said on April 13th, 2008 at 5:44pm #

    Thanks Mickey Z,

    When hope is the short leash that you are kept on it’s time to gnaw through it.

    At some point I realized what a burden illusions can be. It is so liberating casting them off! There is no despair in casting off illusions. I still have plenty to look forward to. I’m a socialist who doesn’t hope for socialism. I get out there and work with and engage people. It’s frustrating, you could even say hopeless at times, but hope isn’t what we need. Hope isn’t what I want!

    Working for our mutual benefit is what we need. When I know that’s what I’m doing, I don’t have to hope.

  42. John Wilkinson said on April 14th, 2008 at 12:28pm #

    Ralph, you’re confusing the 2nd law of thermodynamics (increasing entropy) with the 1st (or more generally conservation of energy). the 2nd has a bearing on this only inasmuch it introduces inefficiencies into the process.

  43. eileen fleming said on April 14th, 2008 at 8:40pm #

    “HOPE has two children. The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it.”-St. Augustine

    Our deepest choices are between hope or cynicism.

    Hope is NOT a feeling or a state of mind, but a choice filled with compassion and compassion is the way to change the world as it now is and only in pursuing justice will there be peace.

    ” I don’t recall that God ever commanded us to have hope – but we are commanded over and over to pursue justice, to deal justly with every human being. The prophets were faithful, constant – they took their obligations to speak truth to power very seriously. It wasn’t, and isn’t, about outcomes or return-on-investment, it’s about doing what is right and just only because it is right and just. This is what it means to be… a person of conscience. Hope is a luxury; obligation and faithfulness are essentials.”-Keren Batiyov, excerpted WAWA Blog April 14, 2008: Hope, Despair, Free Radicals, Justice + Mercy Kiss

  44. ralph a. applegate said on April 19th, 2008 at 10:15pm #

    Who is “evie”?

  45. ralph a. applegate said on June 5th, 2008 at 8:47pm #

    Why did all of you ,who also do not have all of your oars in the water , quit before April 19th, 2008,with the nonsense about someone not having all of their meds?