As a practical enterprise, political inquiry has historically tried to address as well as to understand the world. The recent efforts of political theorists in this regard have generally involved the articulation of visions of the good society which are inattentive to real-world constraints. On the other hand, empirical work which has dealt with structural questions normally proceeds in deterministic terms, especially in regard to the constraints under which states operate. A productive combination of the two traditions would have political theory supply the conceptual resources to counteract the imaginative deficiencies of empirical work. The latter in its turn would supply empirical resources to counteract the idealism of political theory. This combination is deployed here to discover and enumerate spaces for freedom in political innovation amid structural necessity. These spaces are discovered in connection with depression, war, local politics, collapsed peripheries, autonomous public spheres, revolution, the international system, and functional indeterminacy.