Editor’s note: Ursula K. Le Guin died Monday at age 88 in Portland, Ore. In honor of the science fiction writer, we’re reposting the above video of a speech that is perhaps more relevant now than when she first delivered it in 2014. 

“I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope,” said Ursula K. Le Guin as she accepted the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th annual National Book Awards ceremony.

The fantasy and science fiction author “stole the show” as she warned the literary crowd against the dangers of capitalism, which has turned writers into producers of market commodities rather than creators of art.

“We will need writers,” Le Guin continued, “who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.”

When her short speech was loudly applauded, the bespectacled writer thanked her audience, calling them “brave,” ostensibly for cheering her on in her scathing criticism of the publishing world despite the fact that the literary business constitutes the livelihood of many of those present at the ceremony.

And while the entire speech is well worth watching, the most poignant lines Le Guin spoke are the following: “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.”

During the hard times we are facing and throughout those that the author herself foresees, let us never forget Le Guin for her passion, her art, her words and, perhaps most importantly, her truths.

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig