Summarizing The Desire for Mutual Recognition

Chapter 9: The Movement’s Lack of Confidence in Itself: On the Necessity of Spiritualizing Social Activism

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This chapter begins by raising the question of why prior liberatory social movements have failed to bring into being a social world that can sustain the redemptive mutuality of presence generated by the movements themselves. The chapter critiques the idea that this tendency toward dissolution of prior movements can be explained by the strength of opposition to the movements and argues that it is the recurrence of the fear of humiliation, paradoxically heightened by the movement’s very success, that is the movement’s Achilles Heel. Because the openness generated by the movement tends to dissolve the false self and render the movement’s co-creators more vulnerable to threat of rejection (or non-recognition), the movement suffers from an internal lack of confidence in itself that tends to make it collapse from within. The chapter then shifts to a close analysis of the dynamics within groups that form out of the movement’s energy and idealism, showing how these dynamics tend to undermine each group’s transformative potential and leading either to the group’s dissolution or its bureaucratization. The chapter concludes by showing how only a social-spiritual activism that can sustain the open-heartedness and loving energy created by the movement can give these groups the confidence to overcome the residual fear of the other that inevitably haunt them, and can support the evolution of humanity toward the realization of its loving possibilities.  

Peter Gabel