The Ecology of Freedom : Acknowledgements

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(1921 - 2006) ~ Father of Social Ecology and Anarcho-Communalism : Growing up in the era of traditional proletarian socialism, with its working-class insurrections and struggles against classical fascism, as an adult he helped start the ecology movement, embraced the feminist movement as antihierarchical, and developed his own democratic, communalist politics. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "The social view of humanity, namely that of social ecology, focuses primarily on the historic emergence of hierarchy and the need to eliminate hierarchical relationships." (From : "The Crisis in the Ecology Movement," by Murray Bo....)
• "...anarchism is above all antihierarchical rather than simply individualistic; it seeks to remove the domination of human by human, not only the abolition of the state and exploitation by ruling economic classes." (From : "The Ghost of Anarcho-Syndicalism," by Murray Book....)
• "...the extraordinary achievements of the Spanish workers and peasants in the revolution of 1936, many of which were unmatched by any previous revolution." (From : "The Ghost of Anarcho-Syndicalism," by Murray Book....)


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This book stands on its own ground and projects a coherent theory of social ecology that is independent of the conventional wisdom of our time. But we all stand on the shoulders of others, if only-in terms of the problems they raised and we are obliged to resolve.

Thus, I owe a great deal to the work of Max Weber, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Karl Polanyi, who all so brilliantly anticipated the problems of domination and the crises of reason, science, and technics that beleaguer us today. I have tried to resolve these issues by following intellectual pathways opened by the anarchist thinkers of the previous century, particularly Peter Kropotkin's natural and social mutualism. I do not share his commitment to confederalism based on contract and exchange, and I find his notion of "sociality" (which I personally interpret to mean "symbiotic mutualism") among nonhuman organisms a bit simplistic. However, Kropotkin is unique in his emphasis on the need for a reconciliation of humanity with nature, the role of mutual aid in natural and social evolution, his hatred of hierarchy, and his vision of a new technics based on decentralization and human scale. I believe that such a libertarian social ecology can avoid the dualistic, neo-Kantian ideologies such as structuralism and many communication theories-a dualism very much in vogue today. To know the development of domination, technics, science, and subjectivity-the latter in natural history as well as in human-is to find the unifying threads that overcome the disjunctions between nonhuman and human nature.

My intellectual debt to Dorothy Lee and Paul Radin in anthropology is enormous, and I cherish the time I encountered the work of E. A. Gutkind and Martin Buber's utopian reflections. I have found Hans Jonas's Phenomenon of Life an ever-refreshing source of inspiration in nature philosophy as well as a book of rare stylistic grace. For the rest, I have drawn upon so vast a cultural tradition that it would be meaningless to saddle the reader with names; this tradition appears throughout the book and hardly requires delineation.

I am indebted to Michael Riordan, who was more than a zealous editor and sympathetic publisher. His meticulous reading of this book, his keenly intelligent queries, his searching criticisms, and his demand for conciseness and clarity have made this book more accessible to the Anglo-American reader than I might have been inclined to do. For a European perspective, I must thank my dear friend, Karl-Ludwig Schibel, who, in reading the opening chapters, brought to them the sophisticated queries of his students at the University of Frankfurt and obliged me to examine issues that I would have ordinarily ignored. Richard Merrill, like Michael Riordan, was an endless source of articles and data from which the scientific material in the Epilogue is derived. To have so able and absorbing a biologist at hand is more than a privilege; it is an intellectual delicacy. I wish to thank Linda Goodman, an excellent artist, for bringing her talents as art director to the designing of this book and for rendering it esthetically attractive. I have had the benefit of highly sympathetic copy editors, particularly Naomi Steinfeld, who exhibited a remarkable understanding of my ideas and intentions.

In writing The Ecology of Freedom, I have had the support of many people, a few of whom I would like to cite here appreciatively. My thanks go out to Amadeo Bertolo, Gina Blumenfeld, Debbie Bookchin, Joseph Bookchin, Robert Cassidy, Dan Chodorkoff, John Clark, Jane Coleman, Rosella DiLeo, David and Shirley Eisen, Ynestra King, Allan Kurtz, Wayne Hayes, Brett Portman, Dmitri Roussopoulos, Trent Schroyer, and my colleagues at Ramapo College of New Jersey and the Institute for Social Ecology in Vermont. I could not have begun writing this book in the early 1970s without a grant from the Rabinowitz Foundation, nor could I have completed it a decade later without the sabbatical year provided to me by Ramapo College.

This has been a wayward book that has taken on a life of its own. So I cannot refrain from closing these acknowledgments with the exquisite remarks (all failings of gender aside) of my favorite utopian, William Morris:

Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name.

Murray Bookchin

Burlington, Vermont

October, 1981

(We are enabled to conclude that the lesson which man derives from both the study of Nature and his own history is the permanent presence of a double tendency — towards a greater development on the one side of sociality, and, on the other side, of a consequent increase in the intensity of life . . . . This double tendency is a distinctive characteristic of life in general. It is always present, and belongs to life, as one of its attributes, whatever aspects life may take on our planet or elsewhere. And this is not a metaphysical assertion of the "universality of the moral law," or a mere supposition. Without the continual growth of sociality, and consequently of the intensity and variety of sensations, life is impossible.)

Peter Kropotkin, Ethics

We are forgetting how to give presents. Violation of the exchange principle has something nonsensical and implausible about it; here and there even children eye the giver suspiciously, as if the gift were merely a trick to sell them brushes or soap. Instead we have charity, administered beneficence, the planned plastering-over of society's visible sores. In i ts organized operations there is no longer room for human impulses, indeed, the gift is necessarily accompanied by humiliation through its distribution, its just allocation, in short, through treatment of the recipient as an object.

Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia

Ontology as the ground of ethics was the original tenet of philosophy. Their divorce, which is the divorce of the "objective" and "subjective" realms, is the modern destiny. Their reunion can be effected, if at all, only from the "objective" end, that is to say, through a revision of the idea of nature. And it is becoming rather than abiding nature which would hold out any such promise. From the immanent direction of its total evolution there may be elicited a destination of man by whose terms the person, in the act of fulfilling himself, would at the same time realize a concern of universal substance. Hence would result a principle of ethics which is ultimately grounded neither in the autonomy of the self nor in the needs of the community, but in an objective assignment by the nature of things.

Hans Jonas, The Phenomenon of Life

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November 30, 1981 :
Acknowledgements -- Publication.

July 10, 2019 16:11:00 :
Acknowledgements -- Added to

July 10, 2019 16:13:20 :
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