bookchin

the thoughts and work of Murray Bookchin have been of immeasurable importance to my understanding of the ecological crisis under capitalism.  i’ve read a number of his works before, but i am trying to go back through them in order to gain a deeper and more coherent grasp of his arguments and philosophy.  since one thing this blog is supposed to be is a journal i’ll try to provide my own summaries and takes on his works, and hopefully — with a little luck and a little extra time — i’ll get a chance to explore some of the thinkers and ideas that Bookchin drew from, including Kropotkin, Marx and Hegel.

i’m trying to use Bookchin as a launching point — thinking about how his contributions fit into the broader movement.  the way i’ve been thinking about it is that Bookchin represents the Marx of the ecology movement.  that is to say, like Marx, he theorized very well an historically cogent and holistic worldview to explain the ecological contradictions of our time.  this is important, but in keeping with the analogy of revolutionary working class struggle, the ecology movement has yet to see its Lenin.

what i mean by this is that as brilliant and as vital as Marx’s contributions were, it was Lenin who began to explore concretely questions of organization and subjectivity.  one question i’ve been kicking around in my head: every oppression dialectically entails the subjectivity that will overcome it – it’s own negation.  when considering patriarchy the subjectivity is women and at times youth; when fighting the bosses the subjectivity is the worker; and under white supremacy the subjectivity is people of color.  without getting into how all these oppressions reinforce each other and are part of the same system, namely capitalism, i’m asking myself, “what is the subjectivity for the ecology movement?”

the primitivists would conclude that society as a whole is the oppressive force, and needs to be negated by nature.  like Bookchin, i don’t accept this.  Bookchin’s assertion that human society is an evolutionary development of the “wilderness” totally bucks any human vs. nature conceptions, whether primitivist or capitalist.

however, Bookchin had his own conclusions that i’m not entirely satisfied with.  i don’t want to take it up here, but i will say it was tied to his abandonment of class struggle as a necessary part of the revolution for a new society, and the way he separated other oppressions — patriarchy, white supremacy, etc. — from the oppression by the state.

i think these questions are important for developing that transitional program that has escaped both revolutionaries and eco-activists alike.  as i noted in the about section of this blog these two layers of the ecology movement seem worlds apart in terms of strategy and organization.

in my next post i’m going to start taking up some of Bookchin’s work beginning with “The Philosphy of Social Ecology: Essays on Dialectical Naturalism” specifically the first chapter: “Towards a Philosphy of Nature: The Bases for an Ecological Ethics”

feel free to chime in. i’m curious how other folks have read the works of Murray B.

Advertisements