I began Visionary Pragmatism in significantly quieter political times. It was be-
fore Occupy and the antiausterity movements, before the campus divestment
organizing associated with 350 .org, before the growing protests around racist
police violence, and during the very early stages of the increasingly networked
resistance to the fossil fuel extraction industry called “Blockadia.” Each of
these movements has shown that the episodic democratic tradition of protest
and disruption is more alive and subject to renewal than many had believed.
Hopeful suspicions that we may be entering a new era of protest politics are
not unreasonable in light of these events.
At the same time, there is a sense among many that the radical democratic
capacities manifest in these movements—particularly in the United States—
remain far short of what will be needed to radically transform neoliberal cap-
italist trajectories that are rapidly dismantling democracy, expanding horrific
inequalities, resurrecting Jim Crow, and careening toward planetary ecological
catastrophe. So far the “No!” is much more audible and articulated than the
“Yes!” The prefigurative enactments are often problematic. The powers of du-
rability are not yet terribly impressive. The connections to broader organizing
efforts tend to be weak, and the capacity to translate discontents into systemic
political economic transformation remains to be seen. These weaknesses are
common to most young movements, and sometimes, organizing efforts as-
cend steep learning curves. It would be ridiculous to expect that after decades
of quiescent democracy, those beginning to rise up would be great at it. And
who among the critics has figured out how to build broad, durable, and pow-
erful movements for change?
Nevertheless, unless such movements can connect with and generate quo-
tidian practices and cultures of radical and ecological democracy, there is little
reason to be hopeful about the prospects for transformation. Neoliberal capital-
ism is organized to deploy and utilize shocks with increasing frequency and ef-
fect; our world, lives, and bodies are awash in and proliferate mega- circulatory
powers of governmentality; our senses are bombarded and overwhelmed by its
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