The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy

Bookchin’s classic is available online.

By Murray Bookchin

This book stands on its own ground and projects a coherent theory of social ecology that is independent of the conventional wisdom of our time. But we all stand on the shoulders of others if only in terms of the problems they raised and we are obliged to resolve.  Thus, lowe a great deal to the work of Max Weber, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Karl Polanyi, who all so brilliantly anticipated the problems of domination and the crises of reason, science, and technics that beleaguer us today. I have tried to resolve these issues by following intellectual pathways opened by the anarchist thinkers of the previous century, particularly Peter Kropotkin’s natural and social mutualism. I do not share his commitment to confederalism based on contract and ex­change, and I find his notion of “sociality” (which I personally interpret to mean “symbiotic mutualism”) among nonhuman organisms a bit sim­plistic. However, Kropotkin is unique in his emphasis on the need for a reconciliation of humanity with nature, the role of mutual aid in natural and social evolution, his hatred of hierarchy, and his vision of a new technics based on decentralization and human scale. I believe that such a libertarian social ecology can avoid the dualistic, neo-Kantian ideologies such as structuralism and many communication theories-a dualism very much in vogue today. To know the development of domination,
technics, science, and subjectivity-the latter in natural history as well as in human-is to find the unifying threads that overcome the disjunctions between nonhuman and human nature.


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