Murray Bookchin: Father of Social Ecology and Anarcho-Communalism

January 14, 1921 — July 30, 2006

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January 14, 1921 — July 30, 2006


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.

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"Or will ecology groups and the Greens turn the entire ecology movement into a starry-eyed religion decorated by gods, goddesses, woodsprites, and organized around sedating rituals that reduce militant activist groups to self-indulgent encounter groups?"

From : "The Crisis in the Ecology Movement," by Murray Bookchin, Green Perspectives, No. 6, May 1988

"...real growth occurs exactly when people have different views and confront each other in order to creatively arrive at more advanced levels of truth -- not adopt a low common denominator of ideas that is 'acceptable' to everyone but actually satisfies no one in the long run. Truth is achieved through dialogue and, yes, harsh disputes -- not by a deadening homogeneity and a bleak silence that ultimately turns bland 'ideas' into rigid dogmas."

From : "The Crisis in the Ecology Movement," by Murray Bookchin, Green Perspectives, No. 6, May 1988.

"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 Bookchin, Green Perspectives, No. 6, May 1988

"...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 Bookchin, Green Perspectives, No. 6, May 1988

"We are direly in need not only of 're-enchanting the world' and 'nature' but also of re-enchanting humanity -- of giving itself a sense of wonder over its own capacity as natural beings and a caring product of natural evolution"

From : "The Crisis in the Ecology Movement," by Murray Bookchin, Green Perspectives, No. 6, May 1988

"...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 Bookchin, November 6, 1992

"...Proudhon here appears as a supporter of direct democracy and assembly self- management on a clearly civic level, a form of social organization well worth fighting for in an era of centralization and oligarchy."

From : "The Ghost of Anarcho-Syndicalism," by Murray Bookchin, November 6, 1992

"The historic opposition of anarchists to oppression of all kinds, be it that of serfs, peasants, craftspeople, or workers, inevitably led them to oppose exploitation in the newly emerging factory system as well. Much earlier than we are often led to imagine, syndicalism- - essentially a rather inchoate but radical form of trade unionism- - became a vehicle by which many anarchists reached out to the industrial working class of the 1830s and 1840s."

From : "The Ghost of Anarcho-Syndicalism," by Murray Bookchin, November 6, 1992

"...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 Bookchin, November 6, 1992

"Broader movements and issues are now on the horizon of modern society that, while they must necessarily involve workers, require a perspective that is larger than the factory, trade union, and a proletarian orientation."

From : "The Ghost of Anarcho-Syndicalism," by Murray Bookchin, November 6, 1992


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About Murray Bookchin

 Murray Bookchin 1

Murray Bookchin 1

A Short Biography of Murray Bookchin

by Janet Biehl

Murray Bookchin was born in New York City on January 14, 1921, to Russian Jewish immigrant parents who had been active in the Russian revolutionary movement. In 1930 he entered the Communist youth movement, joining first the Young Pioneers and then the Young Communist League, serving as education director for his branch. But in 1935 he became disillusioned by Stalin’s shift of international Communism to the less militant “Popular Front” party line. Deeply involved in organizing activities around the Spanish Civil War (he was too young to participate directly), he remained with the Communists until the Stalin-Hitler pact of September 1939, when he was expelled for "Trotskyist-anarchist deviations." He proceeded to aligned himself with the American Trotskyists. After graduating from high school, he found work as a foundryman in northern New Jersey, thereby entering the workers' movement. At the foundry, where he worked for four years, he became active in labor organizing for the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).

He served in the U.S. Army during the mid-1940s, then returned home to employment as an autoworker. He became deeply involved in the United Auto Workers (UAW), which was at the time a highly libertarian union. Ideologically, he became increasingly disappointed by the Trotksyists’ traditional Bolshevist authoritarianism. After participating in the great General Motors strike of 1948, he began to question all his traditional conceptions about the "hegemonic" or "vanguard" role of the industrial working class. Rather than move to the right, as many disillusioned Communists in his generation did, he looked for ways to construct a nonauthoritarian, indeed libertarian communism.

During the 1950s, calling himself a libertarian socialist, worked closely with a group of dissident German Marxists living in New York who held a similar perspective (International Kommunisten Deutschlands, or IKD). Many of his early articles were published in this group’s German-language periodical, Dinge der Zeit, as well as its English-language sister publication, Contemporary Issues, under the pen names M. S. Shiloh, Lewis Herber, Robert Keller, and Harry Ludd. His earliest book, Lebensgefährliche Lebensmittel (1955), published in West Germany in collaboration with Gotz Ohly, was based on a very large article "The Problem of Chemicals in Food," that had been published in Contemporary Issues in 1952. Here he explored the possible effects of food preservatives and pesticides on human health. Such ideas, which have since entered into the general consciousness of our time, were highly original in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In the early 1960s Bookchin wrote two important journalistic books, intended for a general readership, that raised the alarm about a range of environmental ills. In Our Synthetic Environment (pseud. Lewis Herber), published in 1962 (preceding Rachel Carson's Silent Spring by nearly half a year), he surveyed the scientific literature on pesticides, food additives, and X-radiation as sources of human illness, including cancer. In Crisis in Our Cities (1965) explored environmental problems specific to American urban areas.

Around this time Bookchin’s political evolution led him to the anarchist tradition of Peter Kropotkin, which he hoped could become a home for his decentralist and antihierarchical ideas and a political framework within which he could work. As the New Left and counterculture movements emerged in the 1960s, he popularized his libertarian and ecological ideas in several innovative and widely influential essays. “Ecology and Revolutionary Thought” (1964) was the first work to call for a radical political ecology; here attempted to marry ecology and anarchism, founding what he called Social Ecology. In “Towards a Liberatory Technology” (1965) he called for a new ecotechnics using alternative, renewable energy sources and microtechnologies that would form the infrastructure of a liberatory society. In “Listen, Marxist!” (1969) he tried to warn SDS against its imminent takeover by a Maoist group and in so doing mounted a searing critique of Marxism-Leninism. In “A Note on Affinity Groups” he called attention to a nonhierarchical unit of political organization used by the Spanish anarchists. All these essays profoundly influenced the New Left in North America and Europe and were collected in the anthology Post-Scarcity Anarchism (1971; republished 1977 and 2004). In the late 1960s Bookchin also taught at the Alternative University in New York, one of the largest "free universities" in the United States, and at City University of New York in Staten Island.

In 1974 he co-founded and directed the Institute for Social Ecology in Plainfield, Vermont, which went on to acquire an international reputation for its advanced courses in ecophilosophy, social theory, and alternative technologies. In 1974 he also began teaching at Ramapo College of New Jersey, where this self-educated high-school graduate eventually became a full professor of social theory; he retired in 1983 to an emeritus status. In the 1970s Bookchin was active in the antinuclear movement and participated in the Clamshell Alliance, opposing the Seabrook nuclear reactor in New Hampshire. His book The Limits of the City (1974) continued his exploration of urban issues in radical social thought. His next book, The Spanish Anarchists (1977), was a history of the Spanish anarchist movement from its origins to the mid-1930s; a planned second volume, intended to cover the Spanish Revolution of 1936-37, was never written (although volume 4 of The Third Revolution, completed in 2003, covers much of that history). Several of his 1970s essays criticized developments in the new ecology movement and distinguished between ecology, which he considered radical and innovative, and environmentalism, or reformist or state-oriented approaches that failed to address the root cause of ecological problems. These essays were anthologized in Toward an Ecological Society (Black Rose Books, 1981).

The early 1980s saw the publication of Bookchin’s two major works. The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy (1982; republished 1991 and 2005) is a magisterial discussion of ecology and social hierarchy, weaving political, anthropological, psychological, and scientific themes. Here Bookchin explores the notion of dominating nature and its historical emergence primarily from the very real social domination of human by human, particularly in gerontocracies, patriarchies, and other hierarchical strata. He considered hierarchy and domination as more fundamental forms of oppression than class and exploitation.

His second “magnum opus” was The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship (1986; republished as Urbanization Without Cities [1992] and From Urbanization to Cities [1995]). This masterpiece narrates a history of civic self-management, face-to-face democracy, and confederalism in the Western democratic tradition, beginning in ancient Greece and proceeding through medieval European towns and to the popular institutions in several revolutions, particularly the American and French. The book culminates in a chapter-long exposition of libertarian municipalism, which is the name Bookchin gave to his political project. Libertarian municipalism is a politics that seeks to recreate a vital local political or civic sphere in order to establish direct-democratic popular assemblies at the municipal, town, and neighborhood levels. Over larger regions these assemblies would confederate and, as they gained strength, challenge the centralized nation-state. He argued for a municipalization (rather than a Marxian nationalization) of the economy, as a way of opposing the present corporate capitalist system of ownership and management. Some of these ideas were also developed in the essays compiled in The Modern Crisis (1986).

In the mid-1980s Bookchin helped inspire the emergence of the international Green political movement and had a strong influence on the rise of the Greens in Germany and later on its “fundi” wing. In 1987 he delivered the keynote address of the first Green gathering in the United States, in Amherst, Massachusetts. Here he opened up a debate within the ecology movement over Deep Ecology, a set of ideas that were gaining influence ant the time and that he considered to have reactionary political implications due to their prioritization of nonhuman nature over human beings as well as to their emphasis on spirituality and mysticism. He also opposed tendencies in the U.S. Greens that wanted to create a Green Party to run candidates for state and national office; instead he preferred a radical green movement that would educate the public about the need for both local democracy and ecological solutions, in accordance with libertarian municipalism. In the late 1980s, as a member of the Greens in Burlington, Vermont, he participated in several local political campaigns that were intended to raise awareness of environmental issues in the city and at the same time call for the democratization of local political institutions. In 1988 he co-founded the Left Green Network, a confederation of groups that shared his approach.

In 1990 Bookchin retired from active political life. He continued to teach at the Institute for Social Ecology, where he held the status of director emeritus, but spent most of his time writing. With his companion and collaborator Janet Biehl, he co-edited forty issues of the theoretical newsletter Green Perspectives (later renamed Left Green Perspectives); it became the main venue for his articles in that decade, finally folding in 2000. In 1996 he wrote a critique of postmodernism, misanthropy, and antihumanism that he called Re-enchanting Humanity: A Defense of the Human Spirit Against Anti-humanism, Misanthropy, Mysticism, and Primitivism (1996). Underpinning many of his political ideas is a reworked system of dialectical thinking, one that puts a “naturalized” or developmental version of Hegel's dialectics to the service of ecological thinking. His concept of dialectical naturalism is elucidated in considerable detail in his book The Philosophy of Social Ecology (1990, revised 1994).

Between 1992 and 2003 he also wrote his massive four-volume history of popular revolutionary movements, The Third Revolution (published by Cassell and subsequently by Continuum between 1996 and 2003). Volume 1 covers the American and French Revolutions; volume 2, the French revolutions of the nineteenth century, including the Paris Commune; volume 3, the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917; and volume 4, the central European and Spanish revolutions. He spent much of his time in his final years working on this huge project.

In the meantime in the mid-1990s Bookchin developed serious doubts about his late-1950s choice to work with anarchism as an overarching political approach. Anarchism, he increasingly suspected, was fundamentally rooted in individualism, a doctrine that he abhorred. He set about distancing himself from many parts of the anarchist movement, starting with “The Ghost of Anarcho-Syndicalism” (1992). Two years later he argued that “the democratic dimension of anarchism” was communalism; in 1995 he wrote Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm, as a challenge to anarchists to reject the narcissistic, ad hoc adventurism of “lifestyle anarchism” in favor of a communal anarchism grounded in social movements and realities. The challenge was not met, in his view, and in a 2002 essay he called “The Communalist Project” he rejected anarchism altogether in favor of communalism, an equally anti-statist doctrine that he felt to be more explicitly oriented than anarchism to social rather than to individual liberation.

Murray Bookchin's life and work spanned two historic eras: the interwar period, when the Great Depression seemed to bring capitalism to the brink of collapse, and the postwar era of consolidated corporate capitalism. 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. He analyzed these sweeping changes in society and consciousness into a coherent outlook that he hoped could lead to a liberated future. To those interested in learning more about his ideas, he always recommended Remaking Society (1989), his basic introduction to his own ideas; The Murray Bookchin Reader, edited by Janet Biehl in 1997; and Biehl’s summary of his political ideas, The Politics of Social Ecology: Libertarian Municipalism (1998).

On July 30, 2006, about one year after the publication of the fourth and final volume of The Third Revolution, Bookchin died of heart failure at his home in Burlington. He died as he had always lived, as a socialist, with integrity.

From : A Short Biography of Murray Bookchin, by Janet Biehl, from Anarchy Archives


This person has authored 285 documents, with 1,781,141 words or 11,792,757 characters.

This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author and publisher. COMMENT P.O. BOX 158 BURLINGTON, VT 05402 --New Perspectives in Libertarian Thought-- EDITOR: Murray Bookchin     Vol. 1, No. 5     Price: 80 cents The American Crisis II NOTE: The following issue of COMMENT No. 5 is a continuation of No. 4. Please note that the publication of COMMENT has been moved to Burlington, Vermont, where it will be published for at least the next year. Readers who have subscribed to COMMENT will continue to receive it. Those who have not done so -- or do not intend to do so in the near future -- will cease to receive future issues owing to our very c... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
--New Perspectives in Libertarian Thought-- EDITOR: Murray Bookchin     Vol. 1, No. 4     Price: 80 cents The American Crisis      To conceal real crises by creating specious ones is an old political trick, but the past year has seen it triumph with an almost classic example of text-book success.      The so-called "Iranian Crisis" and Russia's heavy-handed invasion of its Afghan satellite have completely deflected public attention from the deeper waters of American domestic and foreign policy. One would have to be blind not to see that the seizure of the American embassy in Teheran by a ragtail group of Maoist students spared both Khomeini and Carter a shar... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
Note: This piece appeared as Vol. 1, No. 6 of Comment: New Perspectives in Libertarian Thought, edited by Murray Bookchin. Anarchism: Past and Present Note: The following issue of COMMENT was presented as a lecture to the Critical Theory Seminar of the University of California at Los Angeles on May 29, 1980. My remarks are intended to emphasize the extreme importance today of viewing Anarchism in terms of the changing social contexts of our era - - not as an ossified doctrine that belongs to one or another set of European thinkers, valuable as their views may have been in their various times and places. Today, more than ever, the viability of Anarchism in America will depend upon its ability to speak directly -- in the language of the... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
Murray Bookchin is the editor of Anarchos magazine, a periodically appearing journal of anarchist thought published in New York City. Copies of his magazine and other writings are available from Anarchos, P.O. Box 466, Peter Stuyvesant Station, N.Y., N.Y. 10009 or may be picked up in person only at the Fifth Estate office. This interview was conducted for the Fifth Estate by Dena Clamage. Fifth Estate: What is meant by anarchism? Why talk about anarchism today? Murray Bookchin: Most people associate anarchists with traditional bomb-throwers and nonsense like that. Anarchism is something much larger than a particular set or a particular school. Some thousands of years ago men lived in some kind of totality w... (From :
Anarchy and Organization appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author.The essay originally was written in reply to an attack by Huey Newton on anarchist forms of organization. ANARCHY AND ORGANIZATION A Letter To The Left   Reprinted from NEW LEFT NOTES January 15, 1969 by permission of the author There is a hoary myth that anarchists do not believe in organization to promote revolutionary activity. This myth was raised from its resting place by Marcuse in a L'Express interview some months ago and reiterated again by Huey Newton in his "In Defense of Self-Defense," which New Left Notes decided to reprint in the recent National Convention issue. To a... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
There is certainly much one can criticize about Israeli policy, particularly under the Likud government which orchestrated the invasion of Lebanon. But the torrent of anti-Israeli sentiment that has surfaced in. the local press and the virtual equation of Zionism with anti-Arab racism impels me to reply with some vigor. For years I had hoped that Israel or Palestine could have evolved into a Swiss-like confederation of Jews and Arabs, a confederation in which both peoples could live peacefully with each other and develop their cultures creatively and harmoniously Tragically, this was not to be. The United Nations resolution of 1947, which partitioned Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, was followed by the invas... (From :
The posters that appeared all over Burlington — Vermont’s largest city (pop: 37,000) in the winter of 1980-81 were arresting and provocative. They showed an old map of the city with a label slapped across it that read: “For Sale.” A bold slogan across the top, in turn, proclaimed that “Burlington Is Not for Sale,” and smiling amiably in the right-hand corner was the youngish, fairly well-known face of Bernard Sanders, sans tie, open-collared, almost endearingly shy and unpretentious. The onlooker was enjoined to rescue Burlington by voting for “Bernie” Sanders for mayor. Sanders, the long-time gubernatorial candidate of Vermont’s maverick Liberty Union, was now challenging “Gordie&... (From :
I strongly doubt if we will ever understand—and fully evaluate—the 60s without placing it against the background of another radical decade, the 30s. Having lived out both periods up to the hilt, I find that my older contemporaries as well as the younger people with whom I worked twenty years ago have seldom been able to distance themselves sufficiently from their time to draw these crucial comparisons adequately. Recent biographies by old New York socialists and communists who lived with such nostalgic exhilaration in the era climaxed by the Spanish Civil War and CIO organizing drives seem utterly estranged and uncomprehending in their attitudes toward the “new left” and counterculture. By the same token, the younger... (From :
Reimar Heider, Öcalan intermediary, to Murray Bookchin and Janet Biehl 6 Apr 2004 Dear friends, please allow me to introduce myself: My name is Reimar Heider, I am one of the German translators of the books of Abdullah Öcalan, political prisoner and most influential kurdish thinker and politician. Öcalan has been in solitary confinement for the last five years now. During that time he has read the Turkish translations of some of Murray Bookchin’s books, especially “The Ecology of Freedom” and “Towards an ecological society” which have influenced him deeply. He has re-built his political strategy around the vision of a “democratic-ecological-society”... (From :
Comments on the International Social Ecology Network Gathering and the "Deep Social Ecology" of John Clark by Murray Bookchin      Between August 14 and 19, 1995, an international social ecology network gathering met near Dunoon, Scotland, to discuss the topic "Democracy and Ecology." Its agenda featured, among other presentations, a one-hour summary of a long essay by John Clark titled "The Politics of Social Ecology: Beyond the Limits of the City."      My age and growing disabilities prevented me from attending the gathering, which caused me some concern since Clark has broken with social ecology and become, as he impishly denominated himself in The Trumpeter, an organ of the deep ecolog... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
I Seldom have socially important words become more confused and divested of their historic meaning than they are at present. Two centuries ago, it is often forgotten, “democracy” was deprecated by monarchists and republicans alike as “mob rule.” Today, democracy is hailed as “representative democracy,” an oxymoron that refers to little more than a republican oligarchy of the chosen few who ostensibly speak for the powerless many. “Communism,” for its part, once referred to a cooperative society that would be based morally on mutual respect and on an economy in which each contributed to the social labor fund according to his or her ability and received the means of life according ... (From :
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... (From :
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author and New Politics. The Communist Manifesto: Insights and Problems Murray Bookchin [from New Politics, vol. 6, no. 4 (new series), whole no. 24, Winter 1998] Murray Bookchin is the author of numerous books on left social theory and history. His most recent work is The Third Revolution, a three-volume history of popular movements in the revolutionary era, Volumes 1 and 2 of which have recently been published by Cassell.       IT IS POLITICALLY RESTORATIVE TO LOOK WITH A FRESH EYE at The Manifesto of the Communist Party (to use its original title), written before Marxism was overlaid by reformist, p... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
"Community Control or Status Politics: A Reply to David Lewis," GREEN MULTILOGUE [Toronto] (May 13, 1991) Community Control or Statist Politics: A Reply to David Lewis by Murray Bookchin In his Green Multilogue hatchet job "The Thought of Director Bookchin" (May 13), David Lewis apparently sets out to undo any obstacle that my antihierarchical views -- libertarian municipalism and social ecology -- might present to his efforts to build a Green party. This does not exclude using blatant lies and gross distortions of my ideas. At his crudest (and he can be very crude indeed), he describes people who agree with my work as my "followers" and in the same vein demagogically makes an analogy between me and Chairman Mao ("Direct... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. GREEN PERSPECTIVES Newsletter of the Green Program Project A LEFT GREEN PERIODICAL P.O. Box 111Burlington, VT 05402 No. 6, May 1988 Price:$1.50 The Crisis in the Ecology Movement by Murray Bookchin      American ecology movements -- and particularly the American Greens -- are faced with a serious crisis of conscience and direction.      Will ecologically oriented groups and the Greens become a movement that sees the roots of our ecological dislocations in social d... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. GREEN PERSPECTIVES Price:$1.00 A LEFT GREEN PUBLICATION Number 23 June 1991 P.O. Box 111Burlington, VT 05402 A Critique of the Draft Program of the Left Green Network by Murray Bookchin and Janet Biehl Editors note: The Left Green Network is in the process of writing, developing and debating its program. The draft proposal for the program was published in the April/May 1991 issue of the Network's organizing bulletin, Left Green Notes, number 7. The following critique was written in response to that program. The proposed program will be debated at the upcoming continental conference of the Network, over the July 4 weekend in Chicago,... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. It appeared originally in The Progressive, August 1989, pp. 19-23. DEATH OF A SMALL PLANETIt's growth that's killing usBY MURRAY BOOKCHIN We tend to think of environmental catastrophes -such as the recent Exxon Valdez oil-spill disaster in the Bay of Alaska-as "accidents": isolated phenomena that erupt without notice or warning. But when does the word accident become inappropriate? When are such occurrences inevitable rather than accidental? And when does a consistent pattern of inevitable disasters point to a deep-seated crisis that is not only environmental but profoundly social? President Bush was content to blame the spill of more than ten mi... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
Publisher’s Note This Freedom Press title has grown out of The Raven 17 issue on The Use of Land. Rodney Aitchtey’s, and Brian Morris’s contributions were submitted for inclusion in that issue as was Graham Purchase’s. Since we already had more material to fill an issue of The Raven (in fact that Raven ended up being 112 pages long) it seemed to us that we had material for a Freedom Press title on Ecology, but only if we could persuade our comrade Murray Bookchin to add his comments to these three contributions, which he has done, and we are sure that the discussion will continue in the pages of The Raven and of Freedom. This volume opens with a challenging contribution ‘Can Life Survive?’ w... (From :
Foreword: Turning Debate Into Dialogueby David Levine, Founder and Director, The Learning Alliance This small but important book grows out of “The Great Debate.” That’s what — for months in advance — many environmental activists around the country called the first public meeting between social ecology theorist Murray Bookchin and deep ecology activist Dave Foreman. Most expected political fireworks at the joint talk organized in November 1989 by the Learning Alliance, New York City’s alternative education and action organization. Given the confrontational rhetoric and the all-too-frequent name-calling that has characterized the volatile political debate between various advocates of “so... (From :
Marat/Sade Most of the articles that have been written thus far about the Marat/Sade play have been drivel and the tritest remarks have come from its author, Peter Weiss. A good idea can slip from the hands of its creator and follow its own dialectic. This kept happening with Balzac, so there is no reason why it shouldn’t happen with Weiss. The play is mainly a dialogue between Desire and Need—a dialogue set up under conditions where history froze them into antipodes and opposed them violently to each other in the Great Revolution of 1789. In those days, Desire clashed with Need: the one aristocratic, the other plebeian; the one as the pleasures of the individual, the other as the agony of the masses; the one as th... (From :
Robert B. Carson, in an article published in the April 1970 issue of Monthly Review, writes that the "major thrust" of 'Listen, Marxist!' is to "destroy a class-based analysis of society and revolutionary activity." This criticism has been made by many Marxists who read the article.[1] Carson's accusation is quite absurd. I seriously doubt if he did more than skim the article. Carson goes on to say that my approach is "ahistorical" and that I try to promote a "crude kind of individualistic anarchism"—this despite the fact that a large portion of the article attempts to draw important historical lessons from earlier revolutions and despite the fact that the article is unequivocally committed to anarcho-communism. The most... (From :
This manuscript was provided to Anarchy Archives by the author. Ecology and Revolutionary Thought by Lewis Herber (pseudonym for Murray Bookchin) [Originally published in Bookchin’s newsletter Comment in 1964 and republished in the British monthly Anarchy in 1965.] In almost every period since the Renaissance, the development of revolutionary thought has been heavily influenced by a branch of science, often in conjunction with a school of philosophy. Astronomy in the time of Copernicus and Galileo helped to guide a sweeping movement of ideas from the medieval world, riddled by superstition, into one pervaded by a critical rationalism, openly naturalistic and humanistic in outlook. During the Enlightenment—the era ... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. From: Telos, no. 50 (Winter 1981-82). Telos Discussions: FINDING THE SUBJECT: NOTES ON WHITEBOOK AND "HABERMAS LTD." by Murray Bookchin   "For a whole series of reasons, the reputation of Karl Marx has been reborn in a new form, the form of Marx as a sociologist. I believe that this is error: that Marx neither was -- nor in a very important sense intended to be -- a sociologist..." Donald G. Macrae (1)      Whitebook has known for years that I reject the very use of the word "modernity." So his attempt to dissociate me from it is quite gratuitous. (2) He also knows that I reject it for rea... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
Freedom has its forms. However personalized, individuated or dadaesque may be the attack upon prevailing institutions, a liberatory revolution always poses the question of what social forms will replace existing ones. At one point or another, a revolutionary people must deal with how it will manage the land and the factories from which it acquires the means of life. It must deal with the manner in which it will arrive at decisions that affect the community as a whole. Thus if revolutionary thought is to betaken at all seriously, it must speak directly to the problems and forms of social management. It must open to public discussion the problems that are involved in a creative development of liberatory social forms. Although there is no theo... (From :
One of the most entrenched ideas in western thought is the notion that nature is a harsh realm of necessity, a domain of unrelenting lawfulness and compulsion. From this underlying view, two extreme either/or attitudes have emerged. Either humanity must yield with a religious, a more recently, “ecological” humility to the dicta of “natural law” and take its abject place side by side with the lowly ants on which it “arrogantly” treads or it must “conquer” nature with its technological and rational astuteness — an enterprise, I may add, that may very well entail the subjugation of human by human in a shared project to ultimately “liberate” all of humanity from the compulsion of... (From :
From: THE VERMONT PEACE READER 1983. This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. From Spectacle to Empowerment: Grass Roots Democracy and the Peace Process By Murray Bookchin Will the present-day peace movement repeat the errors of the 1960s anti-war movement by placing its primary focus on carefully orchestrated and highly centralized national actions in cities like Washington or New York? Or will it try to percolate into the localities and neighborhoods of the country -- into the body politic itself -- and become a genuinely popular movement that reaches deeply into America as a force for education as well as action, for a broad view of the causes of war as well as the dangers of war, for a... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
This manuscript was provided to Anarchy Archives by the author. The Ghost of Anarcho-Syndicalism by Murray Bookchin One of the most persistent of human frailties is the tendency of individuals and groups to fall back, in times of a terribly fragmented reality, onto obsolete, even archaic ideologies for a sense of continuity and security. Today we find this not only on the right, where people are evoking the ghosts of Nazism and deadly forms of an embattled nationalism, but also on the "left" (whatever that word may mean anymore), where many people evoke ghosts of their own, be they the Neolithic goddess cults that many feminist and ecological sects celebrate or the generally anti-civilizational ambiance that exists among young mid... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
There are two ways to look at the word " politics." The first -- and most conventional -- is to describe politics as a fairly exclusive, generally professional ized system of power interactions in which specialists whom we call "politicians" formulate decisions that affect our lives and administer these decisions through governmental agencies and bureaucrats. These "politicians" and their "politics" are generally regarded with a certain measure of contempt by many Americans. They come to power partly through "parties," which are highly structured bureaucracies, and profess to "represent" people -- at times, one person for vast numbers of people such as Congressmen and Senators. They are "elected" and belong to "the Elect" (to ... (From :
This manuscript has been provided to Anarchy Archives by the author. History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism by Murray Bookchin Rarely have the concepts that literally define the best of Western culture--its notions of a meaningful History, a universal Civilization, and the possibility of Progress--been called so radically into question as they are today. In recent decades, both in the United States and abroad, the academy and a subculture of self-styled postmodernist intellectuals have nourished an entirely new ensemble of cultural conventions that stem from a corrosive social, political, and moral relativism. This ensemble encompasses a crude nominalism, pluralism, and skepticism,... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
   Note: This piece was printed in Alternative Forum, Vol. 1, No. 1, Fall, 1991 INTELLIGENTSIA AND THE NEW INTELLECTUALS By Murray Bookchin _______________________________    Editorial Introduction:    The following lecture was delivered as the opening address at the fourth continental Youth Greens conference that took place on the campus of Goddard College in Vermont on July 27,1990 The social theorist Murray Bookchin, whose work on ecology began with an article on the chemical additives in food in 1952, is a long-standing activist in the ecology movement and the author of several books, including The Ecology of Freedom, Remaking Society and The Philosophy of Social Ecology. In many ways... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
There’s certainly nothing precedent-shattering about the thought of a speaker at a national Libertarian Party convention stirring up controversy within the libertarian movement. Timothy Leary did it in 1977 at the national convention in San Francisco. And it had been done more than a few times before that. But for a speaker at a national LP convention to stir up the movement before he’s even assumed his position on the speaker’s platform, before the convention he’s addressing has even convened—now, that’s no mean feat. And Murray Bookchin, the man who did it at the 1978 convention in Boston, may well have shattered a precedent or two in the process. Actually, no role could possibly have made Bookch... (From :
I would like to recall a Left That Was–an idealistic, often theoretically coherent Left that militantly emphasized its internationalism, its rationality in its treatment of reality, its democratic spirit, and its vigorous revolutionary aspirations. From a retrospective viewpoint of a hundred years or so, it is easy to find many failings in the Left That Was: I have spent much of my own life criticizing the Left’s failings (as I saw them) and many of its premises, such as its emphasis on the historical primacy of economic factors (although this fault can be overstated by ignoring its social idealism), its fixation on the proletariat as a “hegemonic” class, and its failure to understand the problems raised by status hi... (From :
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author and consists of excerpts from From Urbanization to Cities (1987; London: Cassell, 1995), with revisions. Libertarian Municipalism: The New Municipal Agenda by Murray Bookchin      Any agenda that tries to restore and amplify the classical meaning of politics and citizenship must clearly indicate what they are not, if only because of the confusion that surrounds the two words. . . . Politics is not statecraft, and citizens are not "constituents" or "taxpayers." Statecraft consists of operations that engage the state: the exercise of its monopoly of violence, its control of the entire regulative apparatus of society in the form of l... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
Libertarian Municipalism: An Overviewby Murray Bookchin Perhaps the greatest single failing of movements for social reconstruction -- I refer particularly to the Left, to radical ecology groups, and to organizations that profess to speak for the oppressed -- is their lack of a politics that will carry people beyond the limits established by the status quo. Politics today means duels between top-down bureaucratic parties for electoral office, that offer vacuous programs for "social justice" to attract a nondescript "electorate." Once in office, their programs usually turn into a bouquet of "compromises " In this respect, many Green parties in Europe have been only marginally different from conventional parliamentary parties. Nor ha... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
From Post Scarcity Anarchism, 1971. Listen, Marxist! by Murray Bookchin All the old crap of the thirties is coming back again--the shit about the "class line," the "role of the working class," the "trained cadres," the "vanguard party," and the "proletarian dictatorship." It's all back again, and in a more vulgarized form than ever. The Progressive Labor Party is not the only example, it is merely the worst. One smells the same shit in various offshoots of SDS, and in the Marxist and Socialist clubs on campuses, not to speak of the Trotskyist groups, the International Socialist Clubs and the Youth Against War and Fascism. In the thirties, at least it was understandable. The United States was paralyzed by a chronic economic cris... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
1. France: A Movement for Life The Quality of Everyday Life The 1968 May–June uprising was one of the most important events to occur in France since the Paris Commune of 1871. Not only did it shake the foundations of bourgeois society in France, it raised issues and posed solutions of unprecedented importance for modern industrial society. It deserves the closest study and the most thoroughgoing discussion by revolutionaries everywhere. The May–June uprising occurred in an industrialized, consumption-oriented country—less developed than the United States, but essentially in the same economic category. The uprising exploded the myth that the wealth and resources of modern industrial society can be used to a... (From :
GREEN PERSPECTIVES A Left Green Publication Number 20 November 1989 P.O. Box 111 Burlington, VT 05402 The Meaning of Confederalism by Murray Bookchin    Few arguments have been used more effectively to challenge the case for face-to-face participatory democracy than the claim that we live in a "complex society." Modern population centers, we are told, are too large and too concentrated to allow for direct decision-making at a grassroots level. And our economy is too "global," presumably, to unravel the intricacies of production and commerce. In our present transnational, often highly centralized social system, it is better to enhance representation in the state, to increase t... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. Originally published in The Raven: Anarchist Quarterly, vol. 7, no. 4 (Winter 1994), pp. 328-46. A Meditation on Anarchist Ethics Ulrike Heider, Anarchism: Left, Right, and Green (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1994; 153 pages) by Murray Bookchin     In the late winter of 1989, one Ulrike Heider appeared at my home in Burlington, Vermont, for an interview, armed with a tape recorder, clothing for a weekend visit--and apparently a butcher's cleaver, looking for as much blood as she could draw from an unsuspecting victim. Citing an old anarchosyndicalist whom I knew as a reference and her plan to write a book on American anarchists as h... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
MUNICIPALIZATIONCommunity Ownershipof the Economy1 by Murray Bookchin In my article, "Toward a Libertarian Municipalism2," I advanced the view that any counterculture to the prevailing culture must be developed together with counterinstitutions to the prevailing institutions -- a decentralized, confederal, popular power that will acquire the control over social and political life that is being claimed by the centralized, bureaucratic nation-state.     Through much of the nineteenth century and nearly half of the twentieth, the classical center of this popular power was located by most radical ideologies in the factory, the arena for the conflict between wage labor and capital. The factory as the locus of the "p... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
Social revolutions are not “made” by parties, groups, or cadres; they occur as a result of deep-seated historic forces and contradictions that activate large sections of the population. They occur not merely (as Trotsky argued) because the “masses” find the existing society intolerable, but also because of the tension between the actual and the possible, between “what is” and “what could be.” Abject misery alone does not produce revolutions; more often than not, it produces an aimless demoralization, or worse, a private, personalized struggle to survive. The Russian Revolution of 1917 weighs on the brain of the living like a nightmare because it was largely a project of “in... (From :
One of the most vexing questions that the Left faces (however one may define the Left) is the role played by nationalism in social development and by popular demands for cultural identity and political sovereignty. For the Left of the nineteenth century, nationalism was seen primarily as a European issue, involving the consolidation of nation-states in the heartland of capitalism. Only secondarily, if at all, was it seen as the anti-imperialist and presumably anticapitalist struggle that it was to become in the twentieth century. This did not mean that the nineteenth-century Left favored imperialist depredations in the colonial world. At the turn of this century, hardly any serious radical thinker, to my knowledge, regarded the imper... (From :
The fact of the matter is that every attitude we have had toward nature has actually been an echo and, even more precisely, a reflection of the attitude we have had toward each other, and that there have been as many different views toward the natural world as there have been in society itself in the relationship between human and human. Our attitudes are entirely a product of our own relationship to each other, our attitudes toward the natural world, but this can be traced back almost to prehistory, to tribal society itself, and we can see the evolution, not only of society, but with society and along with new and different social relationships, different attitudes toward nature. Among so-called ‘primitive peoples’ the n... (From :
The term "affinity group" is the English translation of the Spanish grupo de afinidad, which was the name of an organizational form devised in pre-Franco days as the basis of the redoubtable Federación Anarquista Ibérica, the Iberian Anarchist Federation. (The FAI consisted of the most idealistic militants in the CNT, the immense anarcho-syndicalist labor union.) A slavish imitation of the FAI's forms of organization and methods would be neither possible nor desirable. The Spanish anarchists of the thirties were faced with entirely different social problems from those which confront American anarchists today. The affinity group form, however, has features that apply to any social situation, and these have often been intuitivel... (From :
Death normally invites eulogy–even for a Mafia capo. Accordingly it is not surprising that the death of Francisco Franco summoned up the usual tribute from the acolytes of “relevancy”–a genre of people who are likely to praise any dictator from Stalin to Franco for “modernizing” their countries and ushering them into the “industrial age.” In the case of El Caudillo, Nixon happened to lead the pack. He praised Franco as “a loyal friend and ally of the United States…who brought Spain back to economic recovery and “unified a divided nation through a policy of firmness and fairness toward those who had fought against him.” At the other end of the spectrum, according to som... (From :
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. On "Remaking of the American Left" Murray Bookchin      STANLEY ARONOWITZ has written a generally admirable and important work in Socialist Review, "The Remaking of the American Left," that deserves widespread discussion. For the present, I would like to focus on what I regard as a core issue of the article, notably Aronowitz's distinction "between the ideological left of socialists, communists, libertarians of various sorts . . . and the popular left" which in past decades consisted of movements for redistributive justice," by which I take Aronowitz to mean the traditional labor, agrarian, and unemployed movements of the 1930s an... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
Introduction There can be few words more misused in politics than the word ‘spontaneity.’ It is often used to denote something which seems to happen without obvious cause, without apparently being the result of previous preparation. In the sense of ‘an effect without a cause’ there is probably no such thing as ‘spontaneity’ — either in politics or life. Human behavior is always influenced by previous experience. If a person is not consciously aware of why he is acting in a particular way, this does not at all mean that there are no causes for what he is doing. It only means that the causes elude him. Murray Bookchin does not use the word ‘spontaneity’ in this crude and unre... (From :
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author and is the introduction to The Philosophy of Social Ecology: Essays on Dialectical Naturalism, 2nd ed. revised (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1995).      A Philosophical Naturalism by Murray Bookchin     What is nature? What is humanity's place in nature? And what is the relationship of society to the natural world?     In an era of ecological breakdown, answering these questions has become of momentous importance for our everyday lives and for the future that we and other life-forms face. They are not abstract philosophical questions that should be relegated to a remote, airy world of met... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. Green Program Project -- Discussion Paper No. 2 Popular Politics vs. Party Politics Note: This article was written and published in the River Valley Voice, a New England publication, during the 1984 Democratic primary campaign. Although it makes repeated allusions to the 1984 elections, the views it expresses have a more lasting value, and are submitted for discussion to the reader as a Green Program Project paper. Murray Bookchin A new American politics is definitely needed today. The problem we face is what kind? If the goal of "independent political action" is to gain "power," to "function effectively" as a means to "lobby" or "resol... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
To Our Readers: For the past three months, the editors of Green Perspectives were obliged to suspend publication because of the demanding municipal electoral campaign that was conducted in Burlington from January to March by the Burlington Greens. The Greens, of which the editors are members, ran a slate of three candidates - one for mayor and two for alderman - in the campaign, and the editors were deeply involved in the effort.      Our race was widely featured - not only in the Vermont media and in regional newspapers like the Boston Globe, but also in the national media; at the end of February, Newsweek devoted the greater part of a page to "The Greens of Vermont."      The race posed ver... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
The Population Myth--I by Murray Bookchin      The "population problem" has a Phoenix-like existence: it rises from the ashes at least every generation and sometimes every decade or so. The prophecies are usually the same namely, that human beings are populating the earth in "unprecedented numbers" and "devouring" its resources like a locust plague.      In the days of the Industrial Revolution, Thomas Malthus, a craven English parson, formulated his notorious "law of population" which asserts that while food supplies expand only arithmetically, population soars geometrically. Only by wars, famines, and disease (Malthus essentially argued) can a "balance" be struck between populati... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
A Post-Affluence Critique by Jeremy Brecher Post-Scarcity Anarchism by Murray Bookchin (Ramparts Press, 1971) I Throughout the 1960’s, the themes of a return to nature, hostility to synthetics, anti-“consumerism,” dissolution of sexual restrictions and roles, community and tribalism, internal exploration through drugs and other means, all became widespread among college and dropout youth, and were echoed by many young professionals — all underpinned by a discontent with the established roles assigned them by present-day society. Their experimentation was made possible by their relative affluence and economic security. This put them in direct contrast with the generation which had been scarred by the ... (From :
PRECONDITIONS AND POSSIBILITIES All the successful revolutions of the past have been particularistic revolutions of minority classes seeking to assert their specific interests over those of society as a whole. The great bourgeois revolutions of modern times offered an ideology of sweeping political reconstitution, but in reality they merely certified the social dominance of the bourgeoisie, giving formal political expression to the economic ascendancy of capital. The lofty notions of the "nation," the "free citizen," of equality before the law," concealed the mundane reality of the centralized state, the atomized isolated man, the dominance of bourgeois interest. Despite their sweeping ideological claims, the particularistic revoluti... (From :
Agriculture is a form of culture. The cultivation of food is a social and cultural phenomenon unique to humanity. Among animals, anything that could remotely be described as food cultivation appear ephemerally, if at all; and even among humans, agriculture developed little more than ten thousand years ago. Yet, in an epoch when food cultivation is reduced to a mere industrial technique, it becomes especially important to dwell on the cultural implications of "modern" agriculture—to indicate their impact not only on public health, but also on humanity's relationship to nature and the relationship of human to human. The contrast between early and modern agricultural practices is dramatic. Indeed, it would be very difficult to und... (From :
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. RADICALIZING DEMOCRACY by Murray Bookchin (a timely interview with Murray Bookchin conducted by the editors of Kick It Over magazine) [place tree image here] includes: on the cybernetic revolution towards a new philosophical paradigm the contradictions of the German Greens building a movement for radical democracy For more copies or further information, please contact: Green Program Project P. O. Box 111, Burlington, Vermont O5401    Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? K.I.O. Interviews Murray Bookchin   Murray Bookchin is the author of numerous book (From : Anarchy Archives.)
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. GREEN PERSPECTIVES Price:$1.00 A LEFT GREEN PUBLICATION Number 18 November 1989 P.O. Box 111Burlington, VT 05402 Radical Politics in an Era of Advanced Capitalism by Murray Bookchin      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... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
Murray Bookchin's "Recovering Evolution: A Reply to Eckersley and Fox", Environmental Ethics, vol. 12, Fall, 1990 appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. Recovering Evolution: A Reply to Eckersley and Fox by Murray Bookchin* Robyn Eckersley claims erroneously that I believe humanity is currently equipped to take over the "helm" of natural evolution.  In addition, she provides a misleading treatment of my discussion of the relationship of first nature (biological evolution)  and second nature (social evolution).  I argue that her positivistic methodology is inappropriate in dealing with my processual approach and that her Manichean contrast between biocentrism and anthropocentrism vi... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
Note: Murray Bookchin submitted the following resolution to the Second Continental Conference of the Left Green Network on July 1st, 1990. It was adopted by a vote of 24 -- yes; 16 -- no; 6 - Abstain. Resolution: "On Gubernatorial Races" Libertarian municipalism is premised on developing a dual power -- grassroots in the fullest sense in that its politics rests on the most immediate popular institutions in the political realm namely the municipality, and confederal relationships between municipalities in which the coordination of power is vested in confederal councils whose authority diminishes as the confederal structure is raised to encompass ever-wider political jurisdictions. State power functions on precisely the opp... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
I tried last week to create some sense, first of all, of what social ecology was and what its premises were. And when it came down to working out or heading toward developing what you would call an ethics, I went through a great deal of natural evolution as you’ll remember, and tried to show what meaning there was in the organic evolutionary process. What I would like to do today is continue that to some extent (and perhaps go into other issues as well given time) and examine the social process that emerges out of this biological process. Both the continuities and discontinuities that exist between what can be called natural evolution and social evolution. And what meaning can be given to social evolution. The meaning th... (From :
Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm by Murray Bookchin For some two centuries, anarchism -- a very ecumenical body of anti-authoritarian ideas -- developed in the tension between two basically contradictory tendencies: a personalistic commitment to individual autonomy and a collectivist commitment to social freedom. These tendencies have by no means been reconciled in the history of libertarian thought. Indeed, for much of the last century, they simply coexisted within anarchism as a minimalist credo of opposition to the State rather than as a maximalist credo that articulated the kind of new society that had to be created in its place. Which is not to say that various schools of anarchism did n... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology: A Challenge for the Ecology Movement by Murray Bookchin [Originally published in Green Perspectives: Newsletter of the Green Program Project, nos. 4-5 (summer 1987). In the original, the term deep ecology appeared in quotation marks; they have been removed in this online posting.] The environmental movement has traveled a long way since those early Earth Day festivals when millions of school kids were ritualistically mobilized to clean up streets, while Arthur Godfrey, Barry Commoner, Paul Ehrlich, and a bouquet of manipulative legislators scolded their parents for littering the landscape with cans, newspapers, and bottles. The movement has gone beyond a naïve belief that patchwork... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
SOCIETY AND ECOLOGY The problems which many people face today in "defining" themselves, in knowing "who they are"--problems that feed a vast psychotherapy industry--are by no means personal ones. These problems exist not only for private individuals; they exist for modern society as a whole. Socially, we live in desperate uncertainty about how people relate to each other. We suffer not only as individuals from alienation and confusion over our identities and goals; our entire society, conceived as a single entity, seems unclear about its own nature and sense of direction. If earlier societies tried to foster a belief in the virtues of cooperation and caring, thereby giving an ethical meaning to social life, modern society fosters a beli... (From :
I The interface between nature and society has been a haunting philosophical, ethical, and cultural problem for thousands of years. Indeed, that it constitutes the stuff from which naïve myths and thoughtful moral credos have been formed for ages is a fact we are seldom permitted to forget, if only in a fashion that is patronizing to presumably less “sophisticated" cultures. After all, were not the earliest religions “mere” nature religions and the earliest philosophies “mere” nature philosophies? As far back as we can search into humanity’s rich reservoir of intuitions and rational formulas, our relationship to nature – indeed, humanity’s place in nature – has been a central... (From :
The problems of the social system in Russia have often been compared with those created by revolutionary France more than a century and a half ago. An understanding of both, it is said, requires perspective. Historians are reminded that the years have dissolved the acrimony heaped on the events of the Great French Revolution — that more 'good' than 'harm' was done. Much the same is implied for Russia. Supporters, even mild critics, of the Stalin regime tell us that so 'new' a phenomenon requires the test of many generations, that the judgment nourished by immediate events, by 'passing' abuses, must be suspended until lasting outlines appear. In place of the years and of abuses engendered by 'expediency', a vast theoretical corpus has ... (From :
Age, chronic illnesses, and the summer heat oblige me to remain at home—hence I am very sorry that I cannot participate in your conference on libertarian municipalism. I would like, however—thanks to Janet Biehl, who will read these remarks—to welcome you to Vermont and to wish you well during the course of your discussions over the next three days. Some issues have recently arisen in discussions of libertarian municipalism, and I would like to offer my views on them. One of the most important involves the distinction that should be drawn between libertarian municipalism and communitarianism, a distinction that is often lost in discussions of politics. Communitarianism By communitarianism, I refer to movem... (From :
There is an urgent need for a new radical approach to adequately address the new economic, ecological, technological, and cultural challenges of contemporary society; it must be one of theory and action, one that will draw on features from classical Marxism, socialism, and anarchism, yet go beyond their historical and theoretical limitations. Conceived as they all were in the socially tumultuous era of industrial revolution, the ideologies of communism, socialism, and the more social versions of anarchism responded with a reasonable degree of adequacy to the challenges of the oppressive and exploitative circumstances and contexts in which they took form. In Marx’s hands, communism provided a philosophy, a theory of histo... (From :
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. GREEN PERSPECTIVES Newsletter of the Green Program Project P.O. Box 111 Burlington, VT 05402No. 1 January 1986 THE GREENING OF POLITICS: Toward a New Kind of Political Practice by Murray BookchinThere are two ways to look at the word " politics." The first -- and most conventional -- is to describe politics as a fairly exclusive, generally professional ized system of power interactions in which specialists whom we call "politicians" formulate decisions that affect our lives and administer these decisions through governmental agencies and bureaucrats. These "politicians" and their "politics" are generally regarded with a certain (From : Anarchy Archives.)
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author.Originally, this article was a statement for the fourth faction active in SDS during its final days. This faction is often overlooked by historians, who typically only emphasize the other three factions (i.e., Progressive Labor Party, RYM I and RYM II. Toward a post-scarcity society: the American perspective and the SDS* Radical Decentralist Project, Resolution No. I The twentieth century is the heir of human history - the legatee of man's age-old effort to free himself from drudgery and material insecurity. For the first time in the long succession of centuries, this century has elevated mankind to an entirely new level of technological achievement and to a... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
This work appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. The article was written in May 1965 and published in Anarchos, no. 2 (Spring 1968) and No. 3 (Spring 1969). Towards a Liberatory Technology Lewis Herber [Murray Bookchin] Note: This is the final part of a two-part article on the technological bases of freedom. The first part (Anarchos n. 2) examined the technological limitations of the previous century and their influence on revolutionary theory. An economy anchored technologically in scarcity, it was shown, circumscribed the range of social ideas and tended to subvert revolutionary concepts of freedom. These limitations were compared with the potentialities of technology today -- the substitution of invent... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
Turning Up the Stones A Reply to Clark's October 13 Message Murray Bookchin The May 5th Group's posting on this list (June 13, 1998), and the various subsequent exchanges, have finally led John Clark to attack me and my views with his by-now-typical malevolence (October 13, 1998; at this writing Clark's posting does not appear on the RA List archives). I am only too delighted to have this opportunity, once and for all, to expose his ongoing campaign to defame me. Virtually unrestrained by moral standards, Clark has an indefatigable capacity to slander a critic and distort his or her views, through outrageous gossip, surreptitious character assassination, and falsification. I have had enough of it, and it is time to turn up the s... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
The Twilight Comes Early by Murray Bookchin The twilight comes early, as it should in the autumn of the seasons and in the autumn of life. Every part of my body announces the eternity that must soon follow --- the growing pain that fatal diseases colonize my body, the failure of my organs, the loss of energy, the desire for death. Even society seems to be dying, to desert me, to bid its farewell. To those who are near to death, this is as it should be. To those who are still young, I feel nothing but sorrow. How sad that my children should be faced with a full lifetime of sterility and fear. Three days have passed since Bush was reelected. History threatens to roll back an epoch! What held my life together was socialism. ... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
Is it possible that the Left has been wrong about capitalist development and revolutionary change? Is it possible that 20th-century capitalism is not “moribund;” that the Russian Revolution did not usher in an “era of wars and revolutions,” as predicted by Lenin; that capitalism does not unfold according to an “immanent” dialectic in which lie the “seeds” of its own destruction? Could it be that we are in a ceaseless “ascending phase” of capitalism? We grasp at straws — Hungary in 1956, Paris in 1968, Czechoslovakia in 1969, Poland in the early 1980s — for evidence of a revolutionary proletariat without seeing the tragic marginality of these events. We turn to Ch... (From :
This manuscript was provided to Anarchy Archives by the author What is Communalism? The Democratic Dimension of Anarchism by Murray Bookchin Seldom have socially important words become more confused and divested of their historic meaning than they are at present. Two centuries ago, it is often forgotten, "democracy" was deprecated by monarchists and republicans alike as "mob rule." Today, democracy is hailed as "representative democracy," an oxymoron that refers to little more than a republican oligarchy of the chosen few who ostensibly speak for the powerless many. "Communism," for its part, once referred to a cooperative society that would be based morally on mutual respect and on an economy in which each contributed to the... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
This essay appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. It is from Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology, edited by M.E. Zimmerman, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1993 What Is Social Ecology? Murray Bookchin Murray Bookchin has long been a major figure in anarchlst and utopian political theory, theory of technology, urbanism, and the philosophy of nature. He is the co-founder and director emeritus of the Institute for Social Ecology. His many books include Toward an Ecological Society, The Ecology of Freedom, The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship, Remaking Society, and The Philosophy of Social Ecology. What literally d... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
Publication of the following article is forthcoming in Murray Bookchin, Anarchism, Marxism, and the Future of the Left (San Francisco and Edinburgh: A.K. Press, 1998). The article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author and publisher.Whither Anarchism?A Reply to Recent Anarchist Critics by Murray Bookchin Liberty without socialism is privilege and injustice. Socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality.                     -- Mikhail Bakunin What form will anarchism take as it enters the twenty-first century? What basic ideas will it advance? What kind of movement, if any, will it try to creat... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
On August 24, 1978, Murray Bookchin gave a lecture at the Toward Tomorrow Fair in Amherst, Massachusetts. Also speaking at that year’s gathering were several prominent thinkers, including R. Buckminster Fuller and Ralph Nader. In his speech, Bookchin argues against the ideology of futurism and for ecological utopianism. In the Q&A session, he points out that he is not against technology itself, he is against technocracy, and he also describes, in detail, his political vision for the future. The speech is surprisingly relevant in today’s context: it’s as if he predicted the rise of fascist ideology and lifeboat ethics in the 21st century, and it feels like a direct rebuttal of Elon Musk-esque technocratic futuris... (From :
This article, originally published in The Progressive, December 1991, pp. 18-21, appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. REFLECTIONS: Murray Bookchin Will Ecology Become 'the Dismal Science'? Almost a century and a half ago Thomas Carlyle described economics as "the dismal science." The term was to stick, especially as it applied to economics premised on a supposedly unavoidable conflict between "insatiable needs" and "scarce natural resources." In this economics, the limited bounty provided by a supposedly "stingy nature" doomed humanity to economic slumps, misery, civil strife, and hunger. Today, the term "dismal science" appropriately describes certain trends in the ecology movement-trends that ... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
This article appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the author. GREEN PERSPECTIVES Price:$1.00 A LEFT GREEN PUBLICATION Number 10 September 1988 P.O. Box 111Burlington, VT 05402 Yes!--Whither Earth First?      Editors' Note: The following article was written nearly a year ago in response to a supplement in the November I, 1987, issue of Earth First! The greater part of the supplement attacked the author, Murray Bookchin, for some six columns. After an orgy of personal recriminations, unfounded accusations. and sheer falsehoods, Earth First! refused to print this response. Its existence was merely mentioned in passing in a later issue by the... (From : Anarchy Archives.)


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