Prefigurative politics are the modes of organization and social relationships that strive to reflect the future society being sought by the group. According to Carl Boggs, who coined the term, the desire is to embody “within the ongoing political practice of a movement . . . those forms of social relations, decision-making, culture, and human experience that are the ultimate goal.” Prefigurativism is the attempt to enact prefigurative politics.
Boggs was writing in the 1970s about revolutionary movements in Russia, Italy, Spain, and the US New Left. The concept of prefiguration was further applied by Sheila Rowbotham to the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s, by Wini Breines to the US SDS; and by John L. Hammond to the Portuguese Revolution.
The politics of prefiguration rejected the centrism and vanguardism of many of the groups and political parties of the 1960s. It is both a politics of creation, and one of breaking with hierarchy.