By Joris Leverink
Bookchin’s municipalist ideas, once rejected by communists and anarchists alike, have now come to inspire the Kurdish quest for democratic autonomy.
The introduction to the new book The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy (Verso, 2015), explains how Murray Bookchin – born to Russian Jewish immigrants in New York City in 1921 – was introduced to radical politics at the age of nine when he joined the Young Pioneers, a Communist youth organization. This would be the start of his ‘life on the left’ in which he would turn from Stalinism to Trotskyism in the years running up to World War II before defining himself as an anarchist in the late 1950s and eventually identifying as a ‘communalist’ or ‘libertarian municipalist’ after the introduction of the idea of social ecology.
Even though Bookchin never even attended college – except for a few classes in radio technology right after World War II – he wrote dozens of books and published hundreds of academic articles, besides founding several journals and setting up the Institute for Social Ecology in 1974. Possibly his most important contribution to radical politics was to (re)introduce the concept of ecology to the arena of political thought.