The idea behind prefigurative politics is that we begin to practice, here and now, the better world we want to bring into existence. Prefigurative politics describes an orientation to social change that rejects the notion that “the ends justify the means” – revolutionary prefiguration is an acknowledgement that the means themselves shape (and constrain, and infect) the ends that are possible. The means are actually all we’ve got.
So, the best way to cultivate the sexy, just, liberated world we desire is to experiment with and develop the skills and social relationships it will require — right now. As we begin to reject colonial-capitalist lifeways and enact better practices of relating to each other, other beings, and the earth, we are – truly – bringing a better reality into being in real time.
‘Practice’ is the key word here: how might we reject the ways oppressive systems want us to act, and act differently? This is not only a matter of ideology, but also a practical matter of growing our capacity for things like self-governance, interpersonal accountability, and healing. Current systems intentionally siphon away our power; they do not develop the skills in us that we need for revolution or, importantly, what comes afterwards. We are conditioned by the dominant patriarchal, ableist, white-supremacist, colonial society to be alienated from one another, to value certain people’s voices over others, to compete, to distrust and be dishonest. These harmful ways of being, if left unaddressed, severely limit our ability to meaningfully transform existing systems, and will replicate themselves in any new society we try to build. Through the deliberate implementation of better relational systems in our communities and movement spaces, however, we may unlearn these patterns and begin to live and organize in potently revolutionary ways. It is important to note that this approach to political action is not meant to replace other strategies. Rather, it is a component that successful political strategy requires.
Every present emerges from the past, and all futures grow from the present. Prefigurative politics asks: how can we shape the present to enable the future we want?
• Book – Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown
• Podcast – Srsly Wrong ep. 243 “Revolutionary Prefiguration (w/ Anark)”
• Video – “What is Prefigurative Politics?” by Red Plateaus on YouTube
• Pamphlet – “What is Prefigurative Politics: How large scale social change happens” by Paul Raekstad and Eivind Dahl, available on anarchistlibraries.net