We are living in challenging times. Whether in the Global South or Global North, an alarming sweep of nationalism, populism, authoritarianism and racism threatens the health, wellbeing, rights and freedom of millions. The report Democracy in Retreat: Freedom in the World 2019 notes a steady decline over the past 13 years in measures of freedom and democracy throughout the world (Freedom House, 2019). The aggregate scores for Brazil (75/100) and the United States (86/100) lag behind countries mostly in northern and western Europe but also regionally — e.g. Uruguay (98/100) and Canada (99/100).These trends pose disproportionate risks to the most vulnerable. They include increasing economic inequality, reduced public services, dismantling of legal protections, fewer educational opportunities, inadequate and insufficient housing,unemployment, underemployment and poor-quality jobs, diminished access to healthcare, and deteriorating environments. Such conditions erode people’s resources and capacities to improve their own lives. These conditions of inequality and disadvantage are being revealed, even more, by the current global crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This editorial calls attention to a theory of hopeful collective action and radical social transformation, a theory of ‘occupational reconstruction’ (Frank, 2020). What is radical about it? It is radical because it comes from the roots of daily experience. And it calls on our basic human capacities for self-organization and cooperative action to solve problems creatively.