Dual Power and Prefigurative Politics
An Annotated Bibliography of Key Texts For Reading-Inclined LibSocs
Prepared by Mark Rizzo for the LSC Political Education Committee
This text was written as part of the LSC Pamphlet Program. It reflects only the opinions of the author(s) and not the consensus of the Libertarian Socialist Caucus.
- Dual Power: A Strategy To Build Socialism in Our Time by the DSA-LSC
Dual Power: A Strategy To Build Socialism In Our Time is a collaborative text meant to express the shared strategic vision of DSA-LSC. It calls on socialists to build a base of grassroots, working-class power through counter-institutions that can join together to challenge both capitalism and the state.
2. Prefigurative Politics: Building Tomorrow Today by Paul Raekstad and Sofa Saio Gradin
Central to the Dual Power Strategy is the belief that a new world can rise from the ashes of the old, but our means and ends must be in harmony. This is an idea sometimes referred to as prefigurative politics. Raekstad and Gradin argue that organizations that aim to construct a free, equal, and democratic socialist world not only can be prefigurative, but must be.
3. Tyranny of Structurelessness, by Jo Freeman
Is there a leftist essay referenced as often by people who have clearly not read it? Written about the horizontal nature of women’s movement organizations in the 1970s, Tyranny of Structurelessness, explains how informal structures can form within “structureless” movements and provides a set of guidelines to avoid these pitfalls. Freeman correctly notes that informal power structures can assert them when formal structures are not present, and organizers everywhere who believe in horizontalism would do well to take her critique and her suggestions seriously.
4. Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi by Kali Akuno and Ajamu Nangwaya
When trying to understand what the Dual Power strategy looks like in modern-day conditions, one has to engage with Cooperation Jackson and the Jackson-Kush Plan. Cooperation Jackson is, as laid out in this collection, a movement for Black liberation centered on building up the capacity of people to hold power within their own communities, even in the context of racist state institutions. Activists in Jackson, MS, have built a network of assemblies, collectives, and cooperatives that emphasize participation and collaboration and provide a vision of the new world here in the old.
5. Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology by David Graeber
This pamphlet explores the anarchist history of anthropology and suggests that an “anarchist anthropology” should be developed to explore the ways that societies resist the development of statist or hierarchical institutions. Graeber’s elaboration of this anarchist anthropology gives us new ways to approach challenging state power and tools for understanding the resistance we encounter in our day to day life. Dual Power is just one expression of the counterpower institutions that oppressed people use to escape the trap of domination.
6. Means and Ends by Anarchopac
This piece explores one of the key theoretical facets of Anarchism: the unity of ends and means. If our end goal is libertarian socialism or communism, it will be necessary to consider the ways that the social structures like our organizations, or the state for that matter, shape and reproduce particular kinds of people and particular situations.
7. Organizational Materialism Expanded by Jean Allen
This article lays out the history of socialist party organizing, and asks important questions about what their limitations were, and why they eventually failed. Allen asks organizers to consider what it is that their movements actually do, and how those practices and forms that become popular spread across political tendencies.