Hope Against Hope: An Out of the Woods Book Coming Soon

Cover of book: Cloudy pattern with red, yellow and blue backgrounds.
Hope Against Hope cover

We’re really excited to announce that Common Notions are publishing an edited collection of our writings.

Submitted by Out of the Woods on April 29, 2020

We’re really excited to announce that Common Notions are publishing a collection of our writings, with new content contextualising and reflecting on the arguments we’ve made over the last six years. Entitled Hope Against Hope: Writings on Ecological Crisis, it will be published in June, but is available for preorders now via the Common Notions website. UK and European distribution is planned for the summer, though of course everything is a little up in the air at the moment. We’re not certain on an e-book yet, but will update you as-and-when we know more.

Hope Against Hope is both diagnostic and suggestive, and covers the topics we’ve interrogated over the first five years of our writing-together: the inadequacies of mainstream environmentalism, the threats of far-right environmentalism, technological critique that’s neither technophilic nor technophobic, the prospects and limits of mutual aid, ecological crisis as a crisis of border imperialism and the importance of queerness for ecological flourishing. It also contains introductions to and engagements with a range of thinkers we draw from, and some we are hostile to.

The full table of contents is below, with essays grouped into sections entitled ‘Borders’, ‘Natures’, ‘Futures’ and ‘Strategies’. Each section has a new introduction, and consists of updated versions of essays written for this blog; as well as updated essays, reviews and interviews published elsewhere, including in Commune, The New Inquiry, base and Society & Space. It also includes articles written by some members of the group under their own name: Joseph Kay’s response to Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’ Inventing the Future, and Sophie Lewis’ personal account of her changing relationship with Donna Haraway.

Essays have been revised and updated so that terminology is consistent, and in some cases our arguments have been further developed. We’ve also worked hard to tighten up structures and iron out some of the errors in original pieces (which we will leave unchanged in their original places of publication). What we haven’t sought to do, however, is ensure absolute theoretical consistency, or to bring pieces into line with our current thinking: our views have changed over time and while we’ve left out some pieces we can no longer endorse the substance of, we have kept in essays which we no longer fully agree with. We do so to highlight that the endeavour of struggling within, against and beyond ecological crisis is not one of certainty: our collective views have changed across time and even as individuals we do not always agree with ourselves. These (hopefully productive) tensions are also explored in the book’s introduction.

The book is not intended to be a universal guide, and we situate it in relation to our own positionality as largely privileged inhabitants of the UK and the USA. We hope it will be useful in orienting struggle, but it will do so only so long as it is brought into dialogue with a wider range of histories, theories, practices and struggles.

To that end, we are going to take the publication of this book as a moment to reflect on and alter the composition of our group. We address this at greater length in the book’s introduction but, to cut a long story short, we have never made a conscious, sustained effort to open up our group to those whose voices, struggles and experiences are most absent from and most needed in our struggles against ecological crisis. Regardless of intentions, this is reflected, no doubt, in what and who we have written about, and what we have written. We hope to use the publication of the book - and royalties - to address this. We will be paying interlocutors, broadening the make-up of our collective, and ensuring that discussion is critical and generative rather than simply promotional. Watch this space.

We’ve had some incredible advance praise for the book, which means a huge amount to us:

“Work, energy, and the planet’s ecology are all in crisis—apocalyptically, so. Survival seems impossible, hopeless, in fact. And, and, and. In the struggles against enclosures and borders, wasted natures and foreclosed futures, there are possibilities for going beyond capitalism, the state, and ecological crisis. To the array of competing strategies circulating throughout contemporary climate movements, Out of the Woods offers Hope Against Hope: Writings on Ecological Crisis toward the most revolutionary, interminable prospects of a hopeful future born of struggle.”
—Kevin Van Meter, author of Guerrillas of Desire: Notes on Everyday Resistance and Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible and coeditor of Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States

“Out of the Woods collective frontally attacks three major limitations in the strategies and tactics of dominant strands in today’s climate change movement: national paths to salvation that ultimately rely on and perpetuate oppressive border regimes and global inequalities; the widespread perception of the need to shrink rather than increase the forces of production; and, last but not least, undue optimism about so-called ‘stranded assets.’ Hope Against Hope is also a twenty-first century affirmation of Marx’s highly enigmatic conviction that ‘Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation.’ Importantly, its approach is a non-sectarian, original, and thought-provoking attempt at grappling with, anticipating, and preparing for struggles to come.”
—Kolya Abramsky, editor of Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution: Social Struggles in the Transition to a Post-petrol World

“The global ecological crisis is not going to happen in some distant future, in 2050 or 2100 or when computer projections tell us the glaciers may have melted. It is happening now, all around us. And it builds on and intensifies long histories of extraction, exploitation, extinction, and genocide. How do we fight despair, nihilism, and an eco-fascist politics of the armed lifeboat in the face of this gathering but unequally experienced storm? In this collection of urgent essays, the Out of the Woods collective argues that hope emerges from the acts of solidarity in the face of crisis that they term ‘disaster communism.’ Surveying four key terrain of social struggle around the ecological crisis—borders, nature, futures, and strategies—Out of the Woods plot an environmental politics grounded in antiracist, decolonial, and anticapitalist movements and solidarities. There is no better guide to building a future of collective possibility out of the ruins of the present than Hope against Hope.”
—Ashley Dawson, author of People’s Power: Reclaiming the Energy Commons and Extreme Cities and Extinction: A Radical History

“This collection from Out of the Woods represents some of the most refreshing thinking on the politics of climate change and ecology. It is also the record of a collaborative project that arose from the dynamic conjunctures of radical theory and social movements, written for understanding and worldmaking rather than clicks or commerce. As climate change emerges as an undeniable fact demanding of solutions, Hope Against Hope is an important contribution to an honest examination of the interests, desires and futures which might be served by the range of answers offered across the political spectrum.”
—Angela Mitropoulos, Contract & Contagion: From Biopolitics to Oikonomia

Hope Against Hope is an experimental book that shares important initiatives and dreams to work against the hell of current capitalist climate catastrophe and the worlds beyond that this hell will create. In doing so, it brings hope back from the future. It encourages and nourishes, through friendship and courage, a revolutionary present badly needed today. Oh, yes, Out of the Woods claims, a new world already exists and is set to abolish the present state of things!”
—Gustavo Esteva, author of Grassroots Post-Modernism: Remaking the Soil of Cultures and The Future of Development: A Radical Manifesto and founder of the Universidad de la Tierra, Oaxaca



Introduction: Disaster Migration

On Climate/Borders/Survival/Care/Struggle: Two Members of Out of the Woods in Conversation with base magazine

Refuges and Death-Worlds

Infrastructure Against Borders

A Hostile Environment


Introduction: Cyborg Ecology

The Dangers of Reactionary Ecology

Lies of the Land: Against and Beyond Völkisch Environmentalism

The Political Economy of Hunger

Contemporary Agriculture: Climate, Capital, and Cyborg Agroecology

James O’Connor’s Second Contradiction of Capitalism

Murray Bookchin’s Liberatory Technics

Organizing Nature in the Midst of Crisis

Jason W. Moore’s Capitalism in the Web of Life

III. FUTURES Introduction: Toward a Regenerative Utopianism

The Future is Kids’ Stuff

Cthulhu Plays No Role for Me

Postcapitalist Ecology: A Comment on Inventing the Future


Introduction: Organizing Amidst Crisis

Blockadia and Capitalism: Naomi Klein vs. Naomi Klein

Climate Populism and the People’s Climate March

Après moi le déluge! Fossil Fuel Abolitionism and the Carbon Bubble

Disaster Communism: The Uses of Disaster