Burnout: The Emotional Experience of Political Defeat

Verkäufer Hannah Proctor

"Hannah Proctor takes that feeling we all have, and names it again and again, helping us to resee the past and present of revolutionary struggle. A must-read."
–Hannah Zeavin, Founding Editor,

How to maintain hope in the face of despair

In the struggle for a better world, setbacks are inevitable. Defeat can feel overwhelming at times, but it has to be endured. How then do the people on the front line keep going? To answer that question and to help readers roll with the punches, Hannah Proctor draws on historical resources to find out how revolutionaries and activists of the past kept a grip on hope.

Burnout considers former Communards exiled to a penal colony in the South Pacific; a young Bolshevik fleeing the city in despair; an ex-militant on the analyst’s couch relating dreams of ruined landscapes; a trade union organiser seeking advice from a spiritual healer; and a group of feminists padding a room with mattresses to scream about the patriarchy. Jettisoning therapy talk and its stranglehold on our language, Proctor offers a different way forward - neither denial nor despair. Her cogent exploration of the ways militants make sense of their own burnout demonstrates that it is possible to mourn and organise at once, and to do both without compromise.