The Will of Life by Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi

Watching Paul Mason’s Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere performed at the Young Vic, was an emotional experience. An influential commentator on global politics and events, Mason has had a busy career. This performance that was aired on BBC2 on the 22nd July, and I feel it should be made available on iPlayer for ever. Mason covers the Arab Spring, the Gazi Park protest, the Occupy movement and more, asking whether anything actually changed? Though the play is very much Mason’s voice, it does offer the audience their own and asks us to find our individual voices to speak up about what we care about.

To close he recites a version of this poem by Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi, which I found particularly potent and suitable for a degrowth context.


The Will of Life


If, one day, a people desires to live, then fate will answer their call.

And their night will then begin to fade, and their chains break and fall.

For he who is not embraced by a passion for life will dissipate into thin air,

At least that is what all creation has told me, and what its hidden spirits declare…

                               ——Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi


Translated by Elliott Colla, from

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