A selection of articles, interviews and reviews from ROAR’s archives to honor and celebrate Bookchin’s long life, important work and great achievements.
The American revolutionary theorist Murray Bookchin passed away on July 30, 2006. Interest in his work and life has been revived in recent years, thanks in part to the Kurdish freedom movement in Turkey and Syria, which has begun to put his ideas about “a rational, ecological libertarian communist society, based on humane and cooperative social relations” into practice.
Long before the more recent upsurge of interest in his work, Bookchin’s writings, which go back all the way to the 1950s, influenced many on the left. Spending his life in revolutionary circles, Bookchin joined a communist youth organization at the age of nine and became a Trotskyist in his late thirties, before switching to anarchism and finally calling himself a ‘communalist’ after developing the theory of social ecology and libertarian municipalism.
To celebrate Bookchin’s long life and to honor his important work, we share a selection of the articles, interviews and reviews that ROAR has published over the years, highlighting the extraordinary intellectual achievements of this great radical thinker.
Bookchin’s Revolutionary Program — Janet Biehl
For Bookchin, the city was the new revolutionary arena, as it had been in the past; the twentieth-century left, blinded by its engagement with the proletariat and the factory, had overlooked this fact. Historically, revolutionary activity in Paris, St. Petersburg, and Barcelona had been based at least as much in the urban neighborhood as in the workplace. During the Spanish Revolution of 1936-37, the anarchist Friends of Durruti had insisted that “the municipality is the authentic revolutionary government.”
Today, Bookchin argued, urban neighborhoods hold memories of ancient civic freedoms and of struggles waged by the oppressed; by reviving those memories and building on those freedoms, he argued, we could resuscitate the local political realm, the civic sphere, as the arena for self-conscious political self-management.
Bookchin: Living Legacy of an American Revolutionary — Debbie Bookchin
One of Murray’s central contributions to Left thought was his insistence, back in the early 1960s, that all ecological problems are social problems. Social ecology starts from this premise: that we will never properly address climate change, the poisoning of the earth with pesticides and the myriad of other ecological problems that are increasingly undermining the ecological stability of the planet, until we address underlying issues of domination and hierarchy. This includes domination based on gender, ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation, as well as class distinctions.
Eradicating those forms of oppression immediately raises the question of how to organize society in a fashion that maximizes freedom. So the ideas about popular assemblies presented in this book grow naturally out of the philosophy of social ecology. They address the question of how to advance revolutionary change that will achieve true freedom for individuals while still allowing for the social organization necessary to live harmoniously with each other and the natural world.
Murray Bookchin and the Kurdish Resistance — Joris Leverink
Over the past decade, democratic confederalism has slowly but surely become an integral part of Kurdish society. Three elements of Bookchin’s thought have particularly influenced the development of a “democratic modernity” across Kurdistan: the concept of “dual power,” the confederal structure as proposed by Bookchin under the header of libertarian municipalism, and the theory of social ecology which traces the roots of many contemporary struggles back to the origins of civilization and places the natural environment at the heart of the solution to these problems.
Learning from the Life of Murray Bookchin — Eirik Eiglad
Janet Biehl treats complex ideas with remarkable ease, and the footnotes reveal careful research into the many movements, figures, and events that were significant to his political life.
Biehl extensively researched personal and public archives, and conducted long interviews with old colleagues. Her account is balanced, yet engaging. And it is never “objective.” Indeed, toward the end of the book, Biehl necessarily enters the book, and becomes part of the story. Yet, her account is in no way “self-aggrandizing”—indeed, much of it is not even flattering—but I think overall she provides a fair account of the personal doubts, frailties, and tensions that often accompany an intense political life.
Source URL — https://roarmag.org/2016/07/30/on-this-day-in-2006-murray-bookchin-passes-away-at-85/