This article conceptualizes some of the political practices and discourses that characterize recent protest movements such as Occupy and the Indignados. These movements’ strategies are distinguished by the central role they give to the occupation
and recomposition of public spaces and also by their refusal to engage with 10 representative politics and public institutions. Critics argue that this so-called strategy of withdrawal illustrates a categorical misunderstanding of the political. But as notions such as “withdrawal” or “exodus” give only a rather partial account of these movements’ practices and discourses, this paper aims to introduce an alternative, contemporary concept that has a much stronger explanatory potential:
15 “prefiguration” or “prefigurative politics.” In order to flesh out and apply this concept, it reconstructs the political ontologies of two radical traditions that significantly influenced more recent protest movements—namely, early anarchism with its antithetic dialectics (Mikhail Bakunin) and contemporary autonomist Marxism (Antonio Negri).