“To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.”
Born in 1921 near Abergavenny in South Wales, Raymond Williams was a socialist writer and academic renowned for his Marxist critique of culture and the arts. A Professor of English Literature, in his work he was always intensely political, arguing that art and literature cannot be disentangled from the material conditions and economic realities in which they are produced. Having first read Karl Marx as a teenager, he soon became one of the leading Marxist academics in the West, developing his theory of cultural materialism.
But as well as being a socialist, Williams also spoke out in favour of various other progressive movements. Having fought in WW2, he became a conscientious objector during the Korean War and narrowly avoided arrest for his refusal to fight. In the late 60s, he joined the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign protesting the US war and British complicity. And towards the end of his life, he wrote more widely about the political issues of his time, from feminism to ecology. He was also a Welsh nationalist and member of Plaid Cymru.
This quotation comes from his posthumously published book of essays Resources of Hope, and the background painting is ‘Sunrise, near the Cape’ (1844) by the Irish painter Andrew Nicholl.
Despairing about politics? Need some optimism in your life? Then this tea towel is just the thing for you!