7 Responses

  1. Sasha November 11, 2013 at 12:53 am |

    Of course, EF! is a very different movement now. If we return to basic writings on Deep Ecology we can find a lot of similarities with Social Ecology. The Bookchin vs. Deep Ecology conflict occurred towards the end of Dave Foreman’s reign over Earth First!, as new light of emancipatory politics just began to dawn over the ideological horizon. Though he was, himself, a strong polemicist, Bookchin’s stolid stance did help subsequent generations of EF! find a crucial blend of Deep Social Ecology.

  2. Tord Björk November 7, 2013 at 4:26 pm |

    Thankyou for this most valuable and respectful criticism of the book on Bookchin. One might add som smaller remarks:

    1. It is extremly angloAmerican/US centric as if envrionmental thought and Bookchin is primarily an internal anglo american business. Bookchin is much read elsewhere as well, e.g. Eoclogy and revolution was translated into Norwegian 1971. It is highly problematic when theoretical discussions are held as if that at the same time are about theory, which by defintion ought to be universalsitsic, and at the same time discuss as if the idiosyncrasis of one country chould be taken seriously as a contribution to theory.

    2. A detail is that one of the theorists attacked by Bookchin was Arne Naess, a deep ecology philosphoher probaly more well known globally than Bookchin and many other americans. The problem is that Naess explicitly mentions class as one important factor in his deep ecology. So in the case of Naess Bookchin was wrong.

    3. In most other cases it seems as if Bookchin was right, and more so than I knew. What I could not believe is what is stated in this review and book is that Boockhin for a large part was stamped as for ever until now almost as the loser, when he actually inthe qualified debate in Scandinavia and I guess elsewhere was seen as the winner. This says a lot about thet state of affairs in the US envrionmental movement filled with ecofascism from the very beginning with Ahrlich ideas of forced sterilization of people in the third world. What is amazing is how this odd part of the world with its highly fascist tendencies still are seen as so important to follow. By many leftists defining the envrionmental movement in general from the oddities i in the US (read Bond and others). This highly ecofascist movement combined with highly authoritarian and media opportunistic ways of doing things combined with radicals who see big NGOs as the only problem in the world while certainly Earth First were as problematic with their ecofascist tendencies is an oddity. That people get fascinated by such undemocratic an apolitical movements as 350.org conscoiusly organized to destroy an anti neoliberal unity in the climate justice moveemnt shows some strength in the capacity to strangle global movements from the declining empire, interestingly with a lot of help from leftists who admire direct action more than political content. It seems that Bookchins turn after he used his effort strongly to attack the anti social ideas of the US deep ecology going into machine thinking about politics and local unity is a turn taken by many in the left. After Copenhagen admiration of form, local action, horiziontalism etc. and lack of interest in always looking at the political content as well as an indivisible part of action seems lost in a similar way as Bookchin did when he focused on local unity instead of political conscious on class conflicts.

  3. John R Bell November 1, 2013 at 3:18 am |

    And all this time I thought Marx advocated the creation of a classless communist society not a future society that would perpetuate the working class. I stand corrected. Poor old Alan Gilbert. He obviously was on the wrong track when he entitled his book Marx’s Politics: Communists and Citizens. I am with you all the way re direct democracy. Unchecked representative democracy is definitely the way to go. It has served ruling classes so well for so long. I am of course not serious but suggest you provide a more nuanced treatment of this issue. The distance between Marx and Bookchin is not nearly so great re this issue as you make it seem.

  4. Alan P Rudy October 31, 2013 at 9:54 am |

    Great review!

    Two articles appreciative but critical of Bookchin that are nicely in line with this review can be found here among other things on different topics: https://sites.google.com/site/alanrudy/Home/publications

    One is an ecological Marxist critique of social ecology vs. social labor, the other looks at problems of anthropology and ecology at the heart of his project.

    I learned a great deal from working my way through Bookchin, and while I don’t think he appreciated the bigger tent constructed by folks calling themselves deep ecologists his critique of Foreman, et al. and his fight to get Marxists to take ecological crises seriously was without a doubt heroic.

    I should also mention that Damian White has written very cogently on Bookchin in a number of places, most notably here: http://us.macmillan.com/BOOKCHIN/DamianFWhite

  5. Critical Reading October 31, 2013 at 12:59 am |

    The title of Bookchin’s 1987 essay is “Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology:
    A Challenge for the Ecology Movement.” It’s available online here: http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/bookchin/socecovdeepeco.html.

  6. Ben Ourisman October 30, 2013 at 10:16 pm |

    great commentary and analysis. Thanks for blogging this. I am really enjoying reading the Ecology of Freedom and am saddened and a bit perplexed by all the negativity (which seems to amount to petty name calling) that was thrown at the author.

    I’m not done yet reading the ecology of freedom, so I will hold off on making any criticisms for or against his philosophy or politics; however I do feel that humans behavior towards the planet mirrors our behavior against each other and I feel that if mankind treated each other better and generally acted out of the spirit of “love” the planet would also be a beneficiary – I would love it if young people “gave this a shot” and embraced each other instead of retreating into extreme individualism through their i phones and Facebook.

Comments are closed.