murray bookchin

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intro’d to Murray via Darran here:

Darran Anderson (@Oniropolis) tweeted at 5:26 AM – 22 Sep 2016 :

good excuse to finally watch Murray Bookchin’s ‘Urbanization Against Cities’

Murray Bookchin – (1/8) – ‘Urbanization Against Cities’ – 1993

This is the first half of Bookchin’s first day delivering his lectures based upon his book, Urbanization Against Cities (later as ‘From Urbanization to Cities’), at the Karl Polanyi Institute, Concordia Univeristy, Montreal, March 16, 1993.


Murray Bookchin “Visions of a New Society” Interview 10/18/93


Economics and the Moral Order

Recorded in the Spring of 1976 in New York at the Schumacher Center

3 min – most significant .. make people aware of fact that they can exercise control over lives.. biggest crisis.. people lack a feeling that they can control their lives.. powers above them that determine their destiny…

5 min – try to establish this in cities.. 1\ give people feeling they have control over food..

7 min – what we are conserving literally is the human spirit.. far more important than attempt to get people involved in areas where they are really manipulated

11 min – we are tragically converted today into buyers/sellers.. whenever i try to define in ordinary discourse what human being is like.. first thing i’m told.. income/profession/possession/social-status.. it reveals a deep seated sensibility.. a fundamental stance.. an unconscious convention of how one expresses who one is..

a terrifying animization of humanity.. that i am either a buyer or seller or both.. i spend most of my time not with people i care.. but with people whom i’m ..thrown together with for ‘productive activity’..

12 min – we live in this network of buyer/seller relationship.. we’ve slowly transformed one of great amenities/instruments of human solidarity .. the gift into a bargain

16 min – tendency is to raise worst to top.. to live.. is equated with being able to out maneuver.. try to centralize power.. promote idea that power should be gained.. individual has to outwit another individual ..

17 min – this outwinning has a painful logic.. either grow or die

19 min – this all leads to an anti-ecological society..

20 min – every aspect of society built around that.. so that few who question.. not allowed to rock boat.. production/consumption for sake of production/consumption

21 min – we are creating a gym in which people are learning to exercise their powers.. i would hate to see us lose sight of that.. on becoming obsessed with the blueprints.. become captive to technocracy..

22 min – problem i have with environmentalism.. seems to mean.. one person comes up with tech to sanitize nature.. and the rest of us continue living in synthetic environment..

24 min – rather .. need to live in harmony.. go back from the bargain to the gift.. to a world supplied w tech we need.. to help manage world rationally but not violate it..

25 min – can’t do this without stopping ourselves and asking.. are we turning means into ends.. ie: solar house is beautiful.. but is a means to an end.. not end in itself.. most fundamental end to me.. is an ecological world.. meaning.. we do not try to dominate nature but try to live with nature.. integrate/flow with nature..

26 min – obstacle.. we live in world of dominating each other and nature.. how can we not dominate nature.. when we dominate each other..

28 min – if we dare to stop.. we’re going to be on the losing end of the stick.. it’s not an ethic anymore.. it’s a survival condition.. in which grow or die is maxim.. production for sake of production..

29 min – when we do sit back and try to reflect upon what we are doing.. grave mistake if we fail to recognize: we are dealing with a fundamental social structural problem.. unless that social problem.. at the very root of the exchange relationship.. is not ultimately resolved.. our efforts will tragically be marginal.. will replace present institutional structures…. eliminate life.. et al

31 min – we have to be very careful about emphasis on scarcity.. difficult to reach american public.. and all over.. with a theme of conservation.. and self-righteous attitude.. ie: am now bicycling.. i don’t believe we can reach goal.. transform society.. by preaching a message of austerity by people who are today..

33 min – victims of an underprivileged world..  they say: i will practice scarcity when first you give me opp to have/reject abundance.. when i can reject abundance.. then i will begin to preserve/trim..

world of scarcity.. where people won’t have means to reject abundance..  message: people trying to trim.. are people who belong to privileged sectors of society.. trying to wag finger of doom almost patronizingly to underprivileged sector of society..

36 min – real argument against what we call abundance today is literally the kind of demoralization it’s producing.. the kind of sensibility it’s producing.. not simply that world is going to go down.. that they are not able to have their piece of abundance..

people having tasted that abundance.. find that they can reject it.. that it’s toxic to us

38 min – try to establish a real relationship with needs of people in all diff sectors of society.. this isn’t anti ecological.. the very morphology of life today pits human against human.. becomes way we orchestrate our everyday lives.. until such time a fundamental change is made.. much that we will be doing.. will not have anywhere near impact..

stops (speech part) at 40 min


wikipedia small

Murray Bookchin (January 14, 1921 – July 30, 2006) was an American anarchist and libertarian socialist author, orator, historian, and political theorist. A pioneer in the ecology movement, Bookchin initiated the critical theory of social ecology within anarchist, libertarian socialist, and ecological thought. He was the author of two dozen books covering topics in politics, philosophy, history, urban affairs, and ecology. Among the most important were Our Synthetic Environment (1962), Post-Scarcity Anarchism (1971) and The Ecology of Freedom (1982). In the late 1990s he became disenchanted with the increasingly apolitical lifestylism of the contemporary anarchist movement (see: lifestyle anarchism) and stopped referring to himself as an anarchist. Instead, he founded his own libertarian socialist ideology called Communalism.

proposes that markets and money be abolished and that land and enterprises – i.e., private property – be placed increasingly in the custody of the community – more precisely, the custody of citizens in free assemblies and their delegates in confederal councils. (However, Communalism makes allowances for personal property.) The planning of work, the choice of technologies, the management and distribution of goods are seen as questions that can only be resolved in practice. The maxim “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is taken as a bedrock guide for an economically rational society, where all goods are designed and manufactured to have the highest durability and quality, a society where needs are guided by rational and ecological standards, and where the ancient notions of limit and balance replace the capitalist imperative of “grow or die”.

Bookchin was an anti-capitalist and vocal advocate of the decentralisation of society along ecological and democratic lines. His writings on libertarian municipalism, a theory of face-to-face, assembly democracy, had an influence on the Green movement and anti-capitalist direct action groups such as Reclaim the Streets, as well as the democratic confederalism of Rojava


Bookchin also points to an accumulation of hierarchical systems throughout history that has occurred up to contemporary societies which tends to determine the human collective and individual psyche:

The objective history of the social structure becomes internalized as a subjective history of the psychic structure. Heinous as my view may be to modern Freudians, it is not the discipline of work but the discipline of rule that demands the repression of internal nature. This repression then extends outward to external nature as a mere object of rule and later of exploitation. This mentality permeates our individual psyches in a cumulative form up to the present day-not merely as capitalism but as the vast history of hierarchical society from its inception

science of people ness

Social ecology is based on the conviction that nearly all of our present ecological problems originate in deep-seated social problems


Starting in the 1970s, Bookchin argued that the arena for libertarian social change should be the municipal level. …”The overriding problem is to change the structure of society so that people gain power. The best arena to do that is the municipality—the city, town, and village—where we have an opportunity to create a face-to-face democracy.  ….. in 1980.. ‘libertarian municipalism”, to describe a system in which libertarian institutions of directly democratic assemblies would oppose and replace the state with a confederation of free municipalities. ….create a situation in which the two powers—the municipal confederations and the nation-state—cannot coexist. Its supporters—Communalists—believe it to be the means to achieve a rational society, and its structure becomes the organization of society.