Social Ecology and Communalism

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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.)
• "...a market economy based on dog-eat-dog as a law of survival and 'progress' has penetrated every aspect of society..." (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 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....)


This document contains 7 sections, with 31,820 words or 215,795 characters.

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An Introduction to Social Ecology and Communalism We are standing at a crucial crossroads. Not only does the age-old “social question” concerning the exploitation of human labor remain unresolved, but the plundering of natural resources has reached a point where humanity is also forced to politically deal with an “ecological question.” Today, we have to make conscious choices about what direction society should take, to properly meet these challenges. At the same time, we see that our very ability to make the necessary choices are being undermined by an incessant centralization of economic and political power. Not only is there a process of centralization in most modern nation states that divests humanity of any control over social affairs, but power is also gradually being transferred to transnational institutions. Simultaneously, the elites governing the multinational corporations are virtually given f... (From :

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What is Social Ecology? Social ecology is based on the conviction that nearly all of our present ecological problems originate in deep-seated social problems. It follows, from this view, that these ecological problems cannot be understood, let alone solved, without a careful understanding of our existing society and the irrationalities that dominate it. To make this point more concrete: economic, ethnic, cultural, and gender conflicts, among many others, lie at the core of the most serious ecological dislocations we face today — apart, to be sure, from those that are produced by natural catastrophes. If this approach seems a bit too sociological for those environmentalists who identify the primary ecological problem as being the preservation of wildlife or wilderness, or more broadly as attending to “Gaia” to achieve planetary “oneness,” they might wish to consider certain recent developments. The massive oil s... (From :

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Radical Politics in an Era of Advanced Capitalism Defying all the theoretical predictions of the 1930s, capitalism has restabilized itself with a vengeance and acquired extraordinary flexibility in the decades since World War II. In fact, we have yet to clearly determine what constitutes capitalism in its most “mature” form, not to speak of its social trajectory in the years to come. But what is clear, I would argue, is that capitalism has transformed itself from an economy surrounded by many precapitalist social and political formations into a society that itself has become “economized.” Terms like consumerism and industrialism are merely obscurantist euphemisms for an all-pervasive embourgeoisement that involves not simply an appetite for commodities and sophisticated technologies but the expansion of commodity relationships — of market relationships — into areas of life and social mo... (From :

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The Role of Social Ecology in a Period of Reaction Social ecology developed out of important social and theoretical problems that faced the Left in the post-World War II period. The historical realities of the 1940s and the 1950s completely invalidated the perspectives of a proletarian revolution, of a “chronic economic crisis” that would bring capitalism to its knees, and of commitment to a centralistic workers’ party that would seize state power and, by dictatorial means, initiate a transition to socialism and communism. It became painfully evident in time that no such generalized crisis was in the offing; indeed, that the proletariat and any party — or labor confederation — that spoke in the name of the working class could not be regarded as a hegemonic force in social transformation. Quite to the contrary: capitalism emerged from the war stronger and more stable than it had been at any time in its history. (From :

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The Communalist Project Whether the twenty-first century will be the most radical of times or the most reactionary — or will simply lapse into a gray era of dismal mediocrity — will depend overwhelmingly upon the kind of social movement and program that social radicals create out of the theoretical, organizational, and political wealth that has accumulated during the past two centuries of the revolutionary era. The direction we select, from among several intersecting roads of human development, may well determine the future of our species for centuries to come. As long as this irrational society endangers us with nuclear and biological weapons, we cannot ignore the possibility that the entire human enterprise may come to a devastating end. Given the exquisitely elaborate technical plans that the military-industrial complex has devised, the self- extermination of the human species must be included in the futuristic scenarios that, at the tur... (From :

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After Murray Bookchin Murray Bookchin unfortunately did not live to see the publication of Social Ecology and Communalism. July 30th, 2006, he died peacefully in his home, surrounded by family and friends. Until his very last breath, Bookchin never abandoned his commitment to humanism and Enlightenment, and he was always a forceful representative of the great radical traditions he strove to nurture and develop. Although his impact on the ecology movement and on grassroots activism is recognized and appreciated, Bookchin’s real importance and originality has yet to be asserted. Fortunately Bookchin was not only a lifelong activist but also a prolific writer, leaving behind numerous books, essays, lectures, and interviews. Bookchin was a real thinker — controversial and stimulating — and he maintained a consistent social focus all his life. Without doubt, the loss of this great revolutionary w... (From :

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Murray Bookchin, “Ecology and Revolutionary Thought,” originally published in the libertarian socialist periodical Comment (September 1965) and collected, together with all my major essays of the 1960s, in Post-Scarcity Anarchism (Berkeley: Ramparts Press, 1972; reprinted Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1977). The expression “ethics of complementarity” is from my The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy (San Francisco: Cheshire Books, 1982; revised edition Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1991; reprinted with a new introduction by AK Press, 2005). I am not saying that complexity necessarily yields subjectivity, merely that it is difficult to conceive of subjectivity without complexity, specifically the nervous system. Human beings, as active agents in changing their environments to suit their needs, could not have achieved their present level of control over their environments w... (From :


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