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Social Ecology and Communalism [Paperback]

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Item description for Social Ecology and Communalism by Murray Bookchin...

An astute observer of the theoretical and practical limitations of the traditional left, Murray Bookchin sought to develop a refreshingly new political framework. Developing from his earlier works on social ecology—which combined ecological principles with the abolition of social hierarchy and economic inequality— Communalism is a fascinating blend of libertarian municipalism with the best of the anarchist and Marxist traditions.

These essays, collected for the first time, represent the final works of Murray Bookchin, co-founder of the Institute for Social Ecology and the author of dozens of articles and books.

Eirik Eiglad is the editor of the journal Communalism.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   118
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 5" Height: 7.75"
Weight:   0.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2007
Publisher   AK Press
ISBN  1904859496  
ISBN13  9781904859499  

Availability  0 units.

More About Murray Bookchin

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Murray Bookchin is cofounder of the Institute for Social Ecology. An active voice in the ecology and anarchist movements for more than forty years, he has written numerous books and articles, including: Anarchism, Marxism and the Future of the Left, Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism, The Spanish Anarchists, The Ecology of Freedom, Urbanization Without Cities, and Re-enchanting Humanity. He lives in Burlington, Vermont.

Murray Bookchin was born in 1921 and died in 2006.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > General
3Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Conservation > Environmentalism
4Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Conservation > General
5Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Environment > Conservation
6Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Reference
7Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Earth Sciences > Environmental Science
8Books > Subjects > Science > Earth Sciences > Environmental Science

Reviews - What do customers think about Social Ecology and Communalism?

Essays in Communalism  Jan 22, 2008
This collection, the last to be written during Murray Bookchin's life, is a basic introduction and overview to Bookchin's views and comments on anarchism, Marxism, ecology, and his own ideology of Communalism. It consists of four short essays: one on social ecology and its meaning, one which establishes Bookchin's idea of the separation of the concepts of the state and the public sphere, one on the state of the radical left in recent decades (this seems obligatory for any left-wing collection), and one on Communalism proper.

This booklet is, in my view, a mixed bag. On the one hand, Bookchin points out many interesting ideas, and makes many useful criticisms: he has correctly nothing but scorn for the spiritualism and 'lifestyle' approach of much of the modern environmentalist movements, he emphasizes the uselessness of trying to evade capitalist co-optation through withdrawals or communal living, radical lifestyles, etc., he argues against a one-sided approach to technology as some unmitigated evil, or against humans as if they were a parasitical species. As he says: "Capitalism has nothing to fear from an ecological, feminist, anarchist or socialist hash of hazy ideas (...) that leaves its social premises untouched."

On the other hand, a lot of Bookchin's ideas are themselves a hash of hazy ideas. His proposal of Communalism is based on idealistic and naive conceptions of citizenship and public virtue; he conceives of cities as possible 'poleis' in the Greek city-state style, where independent citizens come together to discuss and decide through direct democracy the issues of the day. This is a Kantian-Arendtian idea of the public sphere, which betrays not only an exaggeratedly positive and naive view of how the Athenian democracy actually worked (Bookchin admits its limitations in terms of voting rights and slavery, but does not see that the institutions themselves were hardly very democratic or effective either), but also indicates a hopeless idealism as regards current society. Bookchin argues: "In a Communalist way of life, conventional economics, with its focus on prices and scarce resources, would be replaced by ethics, with its concern for human needs and the good life. Human solidarity (...) would replace material gain and egotism." But not a word is said on how this is supposed to be achieved, except apparently by rejecting all existing left-wing movements and by "transcending its categories". We are left then to conclude that we should proceed through the method of moral appeals, a complete fallback to the level of utopian socialism; quite correctly refuted by Marx and Engels back in the day. (Speaking of which, Bookchin's criticisms of Marxism are equally weak.)

That is not to say that there is nothing useful in Bookchin's own choices of emphasis and new ideas, though. Bookchin may well have an interesting research idea when he points out that cities are more than just the locus of trade and bourgeois society, but that they also form a particular kind of community with a public sphere that is not found elsewhere, and where radicalism has its own history. His focus on the civil society and citizenship remind one of Hegel, and are in a sense more a foreshadowing of Marxism than a refutation. He also has a point when he says that the call for rule of law and constitutionalism, common in many historical radical movements, has been swept under the carpet by Marxists and anarchists alike, and deserves more examination.

As a critic Bookchin rhetorically strong and interesting. As a proponent of an alternative vision, not so much.
Another profound book from the pioneer of social ecology and libertarian municipalism!!!  Jul 2, 2007
For many decades, the late Murray Bookchin articulated a left libertarian vision of a rational ecological society and how we could achieve it. Arguing that ecological problems are rooted in social problems such as capitalism and the nation-state, Murray Bookchin's theory of social ecology is a radical departure from the misanthropy of deep ecology and the economic determinism of Marxism and classical anarchism. While Bookchin certainly has much to say about class exploitation, he manages nonetheless to transcend the workerist emphasis of much libertarian socialist theory by insisting that hierarchy in general, rather than just class, is the source of human misery and environmental destruction. Not only is this new anthology of essays an accessible introduction to social ecology, it is also a moving tribute to an important social thinker who revolutionized both ecology and political philosophy. Though late in life he chose communalism over anarchism per se, there's no denying the enormous impact his prolific writings have had on the anarchist movement. While all the essays in this book are thought-provoking and challenging, I most enjoyed the final essay, "The Communalist Project", which incidentally was the final essay he ever wrote. In this essay, Bookchin reflects upon the recent anti-corporate globalization protests and imparts his wisdom to the next generation of activists. Thank you Murray Bookchin for your life-long committment to social justice and the environment, and thank you AK Press for providing the world with such important literature!

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