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Murray Bookchin (January 14, 1921 – July 30, 2006)
by tkat
Monday Jul 31st, 2006 4:54 PM
another death in radical circles. RIP
Murray Bookchin (January 14, 1921 – July 30, 2006) was an American libertarian socialist speaker and writer, and founder of the "Social Ecology" school of libertarian socialist and ecological thought. He is the author of two dozen books on politics, philosophy, history, and urban affairs as well as ecology.

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. In the late 1930s he broke with Stalinism and gravitated toward Trotskyism, working with a group publishing the periodical Contemporary Issues in the 1950s. Then gradually became disillusioned with the coercion he saw as inherent in conventional Marxism-Leninism and became an anarchist, helping to found the Libertarian League in New York in the 1950s.

His book Our Synthetic Environment, published under the psuedonym 'Lewis Herber' six months before Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, described a broad range of environmental ills but received little attention because of his political radicalism. His groundbreaking essay "Ecology and Revolutionary Thought" introduced ecology as a concept for radical politics. Other essays from that time pioneered innovative ideas about ecological technologies. Lecturing all over the United States, he helped popularize the concept of ecology to the counterculture. His widely republished 1969 essay "Listen, Marxist!" warned Students for a Democratic Society (in vain) against its takeover by a Marxist group. These and other influential 1960s essays are anthologized in Post Scarcity Anarchism.

Through the fifties and sixties, Bookchin worked in a number of working class situations -- including a stint as a railroad stevedore. He began teaching in the late 60s at the Free University. a counter-cultural 60s era Manhattan based institution. This led to a tenured position at Ramapo State College Mahwah, NJ. At the same time, he co-founded 1971 Bo the Institute for Social Ecology at Goddard College in Vermont. He moved from Hoboken,NJ to Vermont upon his retirement from Ramapo and devoted his time to writing and lecturing around the world. His 1982 book The Ecology of Freedom had a profound impact on the emerging ecology movement, both in the United States and abroad. He was active in the antinuclear Clamshell Alliance in New England, and his lectures in Germany influenced some of the founders of the German Greens. He continued to teach at the ISE until 2004.

Bookchin remained a radical anti-capitalist and vocal advocate of the decentralisation of society. His writings on libertarian municipalism, a theory of face-to-face, grassroots democracy, had an influence on the Green Movement and anti-capitalist direct action groups such as Reclaim the Streets. He was a staunch critic of biocentric philosophies such as deep ecology and the biologically deterministic beliefs of Sociobiology.

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.

His last-published work is The Third Revolution, a four-volume history of the libertarian impulse in European and American revolutionary movements. He died July 30, 2006 at his home in Burlington, Vermont