What kind of critique do we propose? An embodied and experiential critique.
We provide embodied and practical critiques of capital, coloniality and patriarchy at a time when the conditions for the reproduction of life on the planet are deteriorating at unimaginable speed and levels. Our critique is not contained by the words we have learned to speak under these conditions, but is attuned with life, affect, commonality, denaturalizing and nature, utopia, storytelling, possibility and prefiguring.
Our ways of practical, embodied and loving critique strive towards the discovery of a constant opening of possibilities that rejects the present state of affairs and a reconciliation with humanity. We meet uncertainty, ambivalence and not-yet-articulation with intuition and determination to create. In this way, we struggle with, against and beyond capital, the law, the state. We search and find comfort in the spaces opened by seeing and feeling the not-yet reality. This is our starting point.
We must seriously consider that the task of this present captivating moment in radical politics is to venture beyond the given — that is, beyond the expanding horrors of our time: war, death, violence, rape, hunger and despair. Doing so shows us that the notion of “utopia” has returned in subtler forms. We have seen a major transformation in grassroots movements’ politics, which prioritizes the ongoing struggle to create and protect breathing space from which to conceive and organize social life alternatively.
Women on the verge are producing a critique that negates the given by affirming life. This must not be confused — as it often is — with “positive” thinking or affirmationism, for affirmation requires a rejection of what it is. Affirmation is driven by “NO!” and hope and, in practice, ventures beyond what appears to exist, thus offering an epistemological opening that coincides with the determination to live a good life. Yet this prefigurative and “experiential” critique that is already developed at the grassroots of resistance has not been understood by critical theorists, in part because it requires that we approach life and practical theorizing about life without parachutes. Parachutes are helpful and life savers, but they make jumping safe. Staying safe within the confines of what is known to be possible is what is threatening women and society today.
A myriad of knowledges and practices is developing towards this goal in urban and rural territories across the world today, led mainly but not exclusively by women. From projects in cooperative production to anti-oppressive education, from radical ecologies and pedagogies to experimentation with new economic possibilities, concrete processes of prefiguration now clearly anticipate a better future in the present. This is not wishful thinking, but part of reality today.
Yet power is not interested in exploring and developing these alternatives further, and nor, it seems, are the many social scientists who actively ignore or dismiss the theoretical and practical potency of these concrete utopias. Is this an option? We argue that it is not, for the material conditions of this world have fostered this rise of “an-other politics” that thinks and speaks and seeks to understand the language of possibility. This language is not “utopian”. It does not build castles in the air but articulates a potentially better life through concrete and intuited praxis.