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Fiction and making activist vision tangible


I recently learned the importance in the history of Poland of the writer Adam Mickiewicz — whose 19th-century writings about a then-hypothetical Polish nation-state helped inspire the work which eventually would lead to the modern nation-state of Poland. That kind of makes sense, I suppose. It can be hard to get most people to rally behind an abstraction, like a nation state or a new kind of economy, especially when the work necessary to achieve that abstraction could take decades or centuries to achieve. But show people how that abstraction could very tangibly affect people’s lives, particularly for the better, even when those affected people don’t exist beyond the margins of a printed book, and the task to rally could become much easier. I suspect that’s one reason why the movement for a participatory society will need to have a literature of fictive imagination. Even when the blueprints of a better society are clear, logical, complete, and well-written, they won’t have the visceral punch of a story set in that society. Besides, it’s far easier to adapt a work of fiction for the screen than a work of theory. You might think of this as a call for aspiring short story writers, poets, novelists, and other creative types. Show us what we as activists are working for, and I suspect we might improve our chances to get there. Rather than being considered as a "waste" of time and resources, I wonder if this might be hugely influential for such a movement or movements. Part of the struggle for a better world, I suppose, is no doubt imagining and articulating what the better world might look like. We’re seeing this already in the global justice movement.

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