We can’t create a better world if we haven’t yet imagined it. How much better then, if we are able to touch such a world, experience it directly, even live in it—if only to a partial degree and for a brief moment. This is the idea behind “prefigurative interventions,” actions that not only work to stop the next dumb thing the bad guys are up to, but also enact in the here and now the world we actually want to live in.
These kinds of interventions come in all shapes and sizes, from modest artistic gestures like John and Yoko’s 1969 “WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It)” Times Square billboard, to utopian-flavored mass movements like Occupy Wall Street with its free libraries, communitarian ethic, and experiments in direct democracy.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality,” Buckminster Fuller advised. “To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” A brilliant insight, but he’s only half right, because the best direct actions—and social movements—actually do both.