This roundtable intervention applies the concept of cruel optimism, as formulated by Lauren Berlant, to situations of decolonization with the purpose of understanding the myths and fantasies of political self-determination. It also examines the idea of a Jacobin spirit, as explored by C. L. R. James, as a counterpoint to the limits of cruel optimism. This intervention subsequently concludes that interpretations of decolonization that assert either tragic or utopian outcomes must be redrawn to accommodate these competing perspectives. Decolonization and revolution, as mutual political phenomena of the “Third World Historical,” inhabit temporalities of incompletion, of unsustained dialectics, that require the continuation of political struggle by other means.

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