This article aims to contribute to the debate on the short- to medium-term political implications of the 2001 Argentine crisis (see issues 10.4, pp. 5–38 and 14.1. pp. 155–248 of this journal). The bulk of the argument deals with the criticism of the notion of 'reinvention of politics'. The article presents the theoretical premises and empirical data which sustain this proposal. It is argued that in order to appreciate the political innovation brought about by the events of December 2001, it is important first to consider the political, social and economic forms of capitalist transformations and crises that shaped them. Secondly, to locate this event in historical perspective, as a constitutive node within a non-teleological continuum of resistance. Thirdly, to view capitalist crises as presenting open opportunities for the reinvention of the forms of resistance, and to underscore that reinvention occurs as a result of simultaneous struggles against capital and for self-affirmation and recognition. By using examples of organisational innovation and social intervention by the piquetero movement it is suggested that December 2001 led to new practices or facilitated the development of existing forms of collective action that have often been overlooked by those disappointed by the ensuing political developments. The article also discusses the problem of periodisation, addressing the relationship between Marxism and the use of data produced by non-Marxist researchers, and calls into question the adequacy of Cartesian rationality for understanding December 2001 and the meaning of political change in Argentina.