Murray Bookchin was among the first thinkers to draw a clear connection between capitalism and the ecological crisis. “For time spent laboring in the trenches of radical environmental theory,” Nash argues, “Murray Bookchin … has few equals.”1 Indeed, his concern with ecology predates the coining of the very term. As he often liked to remind people, Bookchin published his book Our Synthetic Environment (1962) six months before Rachel Carson published Silent Spring (1962). And while Carson’s book received far more attention, it was Bookchin who more clearly advanced the thesis that “the domination of nature by man stems from the very real domination of human by human.”2 The rise of civilization (especially Western civilization), he argued, brought with it an obsession with hierarchy that led directly to the degradation of the natural world. “Just as Kropotkin renewed anarchism at the end of the nineteenth century by giving it an evolutionary dimension,” Peter Marshall argues, “so Bookchin has gone further to give it a much needed ecological perspective.”3
Bookchin’s views are given fullest expression in his major work, The Ecology of Freedom (1982). There he argues for an “ethics of complementarity” derived from an “ecological vision of nature.”4 Social justice cannot be divorced from environmental justice; rather, he sought a “new and lasting equilibrium with nature.”5 Though Bookchin later offered an idiosyncratic critique of the nascent Deep Ecology movement, the revolutionary thrust of his work—especially his belief that there could be no solution to the ecological crisis without a comprehensive economic, political, and ethical reorganization of post-industrial society—offered much to radical environmentalists that came after him.
Participants have decided to read The Ecology of Freedom (1982) for this month’s discussion. As always, below can be found a partial bibliography of Bookchin’s work as well as secondary material that might be of interest to more ambitious participants.
- Bookchin, Murray [Lewis Herber]. Our Synthetic Environment. New York: Knopf, 1962.
- Bookchin, Murray. The Limits of the City. New York: Harper & Row, 1973.
- Bookchin, Murray [Lewis Herber]. Crisis in Our Cities. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1975.
- Bookchin, Murray. The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years, 1868-1936. New York: Harper Colophon, 1978.
- Bookchin, Murray. Toward an Ecological Society. Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1980.
- Bookchin, Murray. The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy. Palo Alto, CA: Cheshire Books, 1982.
- Bookchin, Murray. “Between the 30s and the 60s.” Social Text, no. 9/10 (1984): 247–51.
- Bookchin, Murray. Post-Scarcity Anarchism. 2nd ed. Buffalo, NY: Black Rose Books, 1986.
- Bookchin, Murray. The Modern Crisis. 2nd ed. Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1987.
- Bookchin, Murray. The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1987.
- Bookchin, Murray. “Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology: A Challenge for the Ecology Movement.” Socialist Review 18, no. 3 (1988).
- Bookchin, Murray. The Philosophy of Social Ecology: Essays on Dialectical Naturalism. Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1990.
- Bookchin, Murray. Remaking Society. Boston: South End Press, 1990.
- Bookchin, Murray and Dave Foreman. Defending the Earth: A Dialogue Between Murray Bookchin and Dave Foreman. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1991.
- Bookchin, Murray. Urbanization Without Cities. Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1992.
- Bookchin, Murray. Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm. San Francisco: AK Press, 1995.
- Bookchin, Murray. Anarchism, Marxism and the Future of the Left: Interviews and Essays, 1993-1998. San Francisco: AK Press, 1999.
- Bookchin, Murray. Social Ecology and Communalism. San Francisco: AK Press, 2007.
- Bookchin, Murray. The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy. New York: Verso, 2015.
- Biehl, Janet. “Bookchin Breaks With Anarchism,” Communalism, no. 12 (2007): 1-20.
- Biehl, Janet. Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
- Black, Bob. Anarchy After Leftism. Columbia, MO: CAL Press, 1997.
- Clark, John. The Anarchist Moment: Reflections on Culture, Nature and Power. Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1984.
- Eckersley, Robyn. “Ecoanarchism: The Non-Marxist Visionaries.” In Environmentalism and Political Theory: Toward an Ecocentric Approach, 145–78. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992.
- Light, Andrew, ed. Social Ecology After Bookchin. New York: The Guilford Press, 1998.
- Luke, Timothy W. “Community and Ecology: Bookchin on the Politics of Ecocommunities and Ecotechnology.” In Ecocritique: Contesting the Politics of Nature, Economy, and Culture, 177–94. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
- Marshall, Peter. “Murray Bookchin and the Ecology of Freedom.” In Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism, 602–22. New York: PM Press, 2010.
- Morse, Chuck. “Being a Bookchinite.” Perspectives on Anarchist Theory 12, no. 1 (2008).
- Nash, Roderick Frazier. “Liberating Nature.” In The Rights of Nature, 161–98. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.
- Sale, Kirkpatrick. “Deep Ecology and Its Critics.” The Nation, May 14, 1988.
- Stoll, Mark. “Green versus Green: Religions, Ethics, and the Bookchin-Foreman Dispute.” Environmental History 6, no. 3 (2001): 412–27.
- Taylor, Bob Pepperman. “Restoring Political Vision.” In Our Limits Transgressed: Environmental Political Thought in America, 133–51. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, 1992.
- Tokar, Brian. “On Bookchin’s Social Ecology and Its Contributions to Social Movements.” Capitalism Nature Socialism 19, no. 1 (2008): 51–66.
- White, Damian F. “Post-Industrial Possibilities and Urban Social Ecologies: Bookchin’s Legacy,” Capitalism Nature Socialism 19, no. 1 (2008): 67-81.
There are many videos online of Bookchin speaking. Here is one particularly interesting interview from 1993:
March 25, 2015 @ 7:00 PM
CUNY Graduate Center
Department of Political Science
365 5th Ave. Room 5200.07
New York, NY 10016
1. Roderick Nash, The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 164.↩
2. Murray Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy (Palo Alto, CA: Cheshire Books, 1982), 1.↩
3. Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism (New York: PM Press, 2010), 602.↩
4. Murray Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy (Palo Alto, CA: Cheshire Books, 1982), 366. ↩
5. Murray Bookchin, Toward an Ecological Society (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1980), 58. ↩