Bookchin, Murray, 1921-2006

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Murray Bookchin (1921-2006) was an American anarchist and social ecologist. Formerly a Communist and Trotskyist, he later became an anarchist and a founder of the social ecology movement, which seeks to combine insights from anarchism (and from the Marxian Left) with ecological concerns.

From the guide to the Bookchin, Murray. Free Cities: Communalism and the Left / Edited by Eirik Eiglad., 2008, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

Murray Bookchin (January 14, 1921 July 30, 2006) was a libertarian socialist, political philosopher, speaker and writer. The founder of the social ecology movement within libertarian socialist and ecological thought, Bookchin is noted for his synthesis of the anarchist tradition with modern ecological awareness. He was the author of two dozen books on politics, philosophy, history, and urban affairs as well as ecology. Bookchin was a radical anti-capitalist and vocal advocate of the decentralization of society, in particular in his writings on libertarian municipalism, a theory of face-to-face, grassroots democracy. He was a staunch critic of biocentric philosophies such as deep ecology and the biologically deterministic beliefs of sociobiology. Bookchin was born in New York City to Russian Jewish immigrants and was imbued with Marxist ideology from his youth. He joined the Young Pioneers, the Communist youth organization, at the age of nine. He worked in factories and became an organizer for the Congress of Industrial Organizations. In the late 1930s he broke with the Communist movement and gravitated toward Trotskyism, working with a group publishing the periodical Contemporary Issues. Then gradually becoming disillusioned with the coercion he saw as inherent in conventional Marxism-Leninism, he became an Anarchist, helping to found the Libertarian League in New York in the 1950s. Bookchin began teaching in the late 1960s at the Free University, a counter-cultural 1960s-era Manhattan-based institution. This led to a tenured position at Ramapo State College in Mahwah, NJ. At the same time, he co-founded, in 1971, he founded the Institute for Social Ecology at Goddard College in Vermont. His book, Our Synthetic Environment, published under the pseudonym Lewis Herber six months before Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, described a broad range of environmental ills but received little attention. His essay "Ecology and Revolutionary Thought" introduced ecology as a concept for radical politics. His 1969 essay "Listen, Marxist!" warned Students for a Democratic Society against takeover by a Marxist group. His 1982 book, The Ecology of Freedom, had a profound impact on the emerging ecology movement. His book From Urbanization to Cities (originally published as The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship) traces the democratic traditions that influenced his political philosophy and defines the implementation of the libertarian municipalism concept. A much smaller work, The Politics of Social Ecology, written by his partner of twenty years, Janet Biehl, briefly summarizes these ideas. In 1999, Bookchin broke with anarchism and placed his ideas into the framework of communalism. In addition to his political writings, Bookchin wrote extensively on his philosophical ideas, which he called dialectical naturalism. The dialectical writings of Hegel, which articulate a developmental philosophy of change and growth, seemed to him to lend themselves to an organic, even ecological approach. His later philosophical writings emphasize humanism, rationality, and the ideals of the Enlightenment. Bookchins last major published work was The Third Revolution, a four-volume history of the libertarian impulse in European and American revolutionary movements. He died of heart failure on July 30, 2006 at his home in Burlington, Vermont at the age of 85.

From the description of Murray Bookchin papers, [ca. 1950-2003]. (New York University). WorldCat record id: 183095514

b. Jan. 14, 1921, the Bronx; d. July 30, Burlington, Vt., aged 85; was a writer, teacher, and activist who began his political odyssey as a Communist, became an anarchist, and then metamorphosed into an influential theorist on ecology.

From the description of Hierarchy : an anarchist critique / Murray Bookchin, 1974. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 81303332

From the description of The development of anarchism (vs. Marxism) / Murray Bookchin, 1977. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 81303001

From the description of A radical analysis of the city / Murray Bookchin, November 26, 1976. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 81303254

Murray Bookchin (January 14, 1921- July 30, 2006) was a libertarian socialist, political philosopher, speaker and writer. The founder of the social ecology movement within libertarian socialist and ecological thought, Bookchin is noted for his synthesis of the anarchist tradition with modern ecological awareness. He was the author of two dozen books on politics, philosophy, history, and urban affairs as well as ecology. Bookchin was a radical anti-capitalist and vocal advocate of the decentralization of society, in particular in his writings on libertarian municipalism, a theory of face-to-face, grassroots democracy. He was a staunch critic of biocentric philosophies such as deep ecology and the biologically deterministic beliefs of sociobiology.

Bookchin was born in New York City to Russian Jewish immigrants and was imbued with Marxist ideology from his youth. He joined the Young Pioneers, the Communist youth organization, at the age of nine. He worked in factories and became an organizer for the Congress of Industrial Organizations. In the late 1930s he broke with the Communist movement and gravitated toward Trotskyism, working with a group publishing the periodical Contemporary Issues . Then gradually becoming disillusioned with the coercion he saw as inherent in conventional Marxism-Leninism, he became an Anarchist, helping to found the Libertarian League in New York in the 1950s. Bookchin began teaching in the late 1960s at the Free University, a counter-cultural Manhattan-based institution. This led to a tenured position at Ramapo State College in Mahwah, NJ. He also co-founded, in 1971, the Institute for Social Ecology at Goddard College in Vermont.

His book, Our Synthetic Environment, published under the pseudonym Lewis Herber six months before Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, described a broad range of environmental ills but received little attention. His essay "Ecology and Revolutionary Thought" introduced ecology as a concept for radical politics. His 1969 essay "Listen, Marxist!" warned Students for a Democratic Society against the threat of takeover by a Marxist group. The Ecology of Freedom, which he published in 1982, had a profound impact on the emerging ecology movement. From Urbanization to Cities (originally published as T he Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship ) traces the democratic traditions that influenced his political philosophy and defines the implementation of the libertarian municipalism concept. A much smaller work, The Politics of Social Ecology, written by his partner of twenty years, Janet Biehl, briefly summarizes these ideas. In 1999, Bookchin broke with anarchism and placed his ideas into the framework of communalism.

In addition to his political writings, Bookchin wrote extensively on his philosophical ideas, which he called "dialectical naturalism." The dialectical writings of Hegel, which articulate a developmental philosophy of change and growth, seemed to him to lend themselves to an organic, even ecological approach. His later philosophical writings emphasize humanism, rationality, and the ideals of the Enlightenment. Bookchin’s last major published work was The Third Revolution, a four-volume history of the libertarian impulse in European and American revolutionary movements. He died of heart failure on July 30, 2006 at his home in Burlington, Vermont at the age of 85.

For additional information, see: http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/bookchin/Bookchinarchive.html

From the guide to the Murray Bookchin Papers, 1950-2003, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Biehl, Janet, 1953- person
associatedWith Eiglad, Eirik person
associatedWith Institute for Social Ecology (Plainfield, Vt.) corporateBody
associatedWith Left Green Network (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Morea, Ben person
associatedWith Tambellini, Aldo person
associatedWith Van Sickle person
associatedWith Wieck, David Thoreau, 1921- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Communalism
Communism--History
Communism
Social ecology
City planning
Green movement
Anarchism
Municipal government
Anarchism--History
Socialism--History
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1921-01-14

Death 2006-07-30

Americans

English

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