Written by Murray Bookchin
“The very notion of the domination of nature by man stems from the very real domination of human by human.” With this succinct formulation, Murray Bookchin launches his most ambitious work, The Ecology of Freedom. An engaging and extremely readable book of breathtaking scope, its inspired synthesis of ecology, anthropology and political theory traces our conflicting legacies of hierarchy and freedom from the first emergence of human culture to today’s globalized capitalism, constantly pointing the way to a sane, sustainable ecological future.
Murray Bookchin, cofounder of the Institute for Social Ecology, has been an active voice in the ecology and anarchist movements for more than 40 years. The author of numerous books and articles, he lives in Burlington, Vermont.
Combining radical political theory with anthropology and nature studies, "The Ecology of Freedom" is a profound exploration of the social causes behind our ecological crisis. Importantly, Bookchin argues for social activism rather than New Age mysticism as the answer to environmental problems. According to Bookchin and other social ecologists like Cindy Milstein and Brian Tokar, the domination of the planet is a mere reflection of the domination of humans caused by social systems like gerontocracy, patriarchy, capitalism, and the state. His solution: the building of a directly democratic, anti-authoritarian, participatory, egalitarian, green society. While critics of Bookchin's work may dislike the fact that he oftentimes prioritizes things like permaculture and appropriate technology over wilderness and wildlife, I nevertheless believe that his writings have enormous social value and I am deeply grateful for his ideas and legacy. Though I no doubt understand the urgency of preserving forest ecosystems and protecting endangered species, I also really empathize with Bookchin's ecotopian vision of sustainable cities. In truth, I feel that the urban ecology/forest ecology binary is a false one that should be challenged. While defending the Amazon rainforest is obviously important, fighting environmental racism is also imperative. Though I cherish the spotted owl, I also cherish working-class communities of color and equally value their struggles to access organic food, clean air, and safe drinking water. As such, I fully agree with the social ecologist libertarian municipalist position that social justice issues are environmental issues and vice versa. Murray Bookchin, who last year passed away, will be sorely missed by the many progressive activists whose lives have been enriched by his brilliant books. That said, I hope that AK Press continues to publish more of his important work.
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