It is rational, perhaps even necessary, to recruit the notion of hope for the purposes of justice. And this is why the rhetoric of hope has all but disappeared. We can seriously employ the rhetoric of hope only when we believe that citizens can be brought to develop a shared commitment to exploring ambitious projects of social justice, even when they disagree about their content. This belief has become increasingly implausible in light of recent developments that reveal how divided Western democracies really are. A sizable minority in Europe and the US has made it clear, in response to the rhetoric of hope, that it disagrees not only about the meaning of justice but also with the very idea that our current vocabulary of social justice ought to be extended. One can, of course, still individually hope that those who hold this view will be convinced to change it. As things stand, however, this is not a hope that they are able to share. [Emphasis added]
Stahl is on the mark with his description of the world as it is. Hope is a vision of a world that can be! I refuse to join with anyone who says that they cannot believe "that citizens can be brought to develop a shared commitment to exploring ambitious projects of social justice." Oh yeah?
Martin Luther King, Jr. did not walk away from hope. When social justice advocates walk away from hope, it means that they have forgotten what hope is all about.