Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"People are Nothing But Sheep! They are Nothing But Lemmings!"

So the brainwashed, who are the unpaid, inadvertent agents of brainwashing, in turn say - a countless number of times every day just about everywhere.

I say:

We see in small children two tendencies:

1) to be original, individual and individualistic

2) to be like those they admire

They can, depending upon how they are educated, go either way.

We are educated, forcibly, such that the sheep-like tendency is fostered. We are broken in the public schools by means that would be considered mental, emotional and physical torture if they were appraised honestly. Like Pat Benetar sang: "Hell is for Children".

After being stunted, stultified, crippled and truncated we are told that we can't be set free because people are lemmings and sheep-like.

Those who claim that "people are nothing but sheep and lemmings" are merely, and mindlessly, repeating what they have been told about themselves and what they have heard everyone else being told about themselves and telling one another all their lives. They are reinforcing the brainwashing.

Fight like hell to break out of the vicious cycle of repeating to yourself that you and everyone around you are incapable of independent thought and action!

The reader might be interested in looking into the educational system of one Francisco Ferrer. His theories of education served as the basis of what was called "Modern Schools" in a number of countries, including the US. There are accounts of ex-students of his school in New Jersey on the net. They remember being free, creative and, above all, happy children.

As one might expect, he was put to death for being a radical in his native Spain. Setting people free is a dangerous avocation.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Sunday, August 20, 2006

אל לישראל לשוב למצב לפני המלחמה

http://www.geocities.com/dordot2001/IsraelMustNotReturnToTheStatusQuoHEB.htm

דורין אלן בל-דותן, צפת
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Friday, August 18, 2006

Israel Must Not Return to the Status Quo Ante Bellum

Now, with the cessation of fire in Lebanon when we are no longer under constant threat of death, we look around us and allow ourselves to estimate the full extent of the devastation. We bury our dead. We mourn. We clear away the rubble of what once were homes and other structures. We assess the ecological loss of forestry that was set back fifty years. We ask: "Why? We ask: "Did this have to be?" We ask: "Why weren't the lives of our soldiers protected to the absolute maximum?" We ask: "Did our government betray and attempt to befuddle us?" We ask: "How could Hezbollah have been left to arm itself and train without disturbance for six long years?" We ask: "Why didn't our leaders obviate this war?" We know that something, many things really, were blundered horrifically. Young men paid with their lives and the integrity of their bodies and psyches. Families are devastated.

But the execrable prosecution of this war was not just a matter of blundering. It is not just a matter of faulty intelligence. Our government always disappoints us. They always fail us. They always abuse use. We always pay for their luxurious lifestyles with the quality of our lives, if not our lives themselves. During wartime the faults of governments are highlighted because they are exaggerated. The truth is, governments are always bodies characterized by the crudest methods of intimidation and grossest excesses of mendacity. They are always peopled by those who, were they wiser and better, would refuse to be government officials for the shame of the debauchery, improbity and moral squalor being part in a government necessarily entails. We simply see this in greater relief clearly after a war, but we see nothing that is not always apparent, just somewhat less so. It is only after a war that we all become agreed that the failings of government must be addressed.

The government of Israel will now be faced with questions, but they will still not be faced with the questions that most urgently need to be asked in the forms in which those questions really must be formulated. They will be faced with questions that they are eminently capable of fielding and they will answer on their terms. They will answer the questions posed to them such that they retain their political positions; such that the economic status quo in Israel, which keeps a full one third of Israel's children below the poverty line, remains intact; such that Israeli workers continue to be worked to exhaustion and live in constant trepidation of losing their jobs, not being able to pay their mortgages or the many payments they are responsible for; such that Israel's children remain the victims of violence in public schools, to which they are sent in order to be systematically broken into docile, subservient citizens who run to their death when the government calls them to wars that need not have been fought, wars they do not know how to prosecute, wars that are fought so that the filthy businesses of the super-wealthy who produce armaments continue at a brisker pace.

In the wake of this war we are at a crossroads. We can change society substantially. Israel must not return to the status quo. The Israeli people, if we are not to continue to be used, abused and sent to our deaths, if we are not to fool ourselves that any victory in war is anything but a Pyrrhic victory, must mature and take steps closer to the way in which mature, fully Human beings organize society - that is, the way of Anarchy.

The term anarchy has been much maligned. Anarchy does not mean a lack of order. Governments would have the public think that Anarchy is a state of violent chaos. It is anything but.

Governments and big businesses would paint pictures of Anarchists as those dedicated to the destruction of society. We are anything but. It is our purpose to build society – real society that is inhabitable for fully realized, fully human beings.

Anarchy means simply the absence of government. It is a condition in which there is no state – the people rule themselves and society is a dynamic kaleidoscope of purely voluntary social and economic interactions based on the common advantage of all who choose to take part in those interactions. So too in an Anarchistic society, one may choose freely not to take part in any human interactions that are not personally palatable, productive or otherwise satisfying or desirable.

Anarchy is a condition in which there is no private property. Everyone owns all, but of course, it is recognized that each individual needs certain private effects that may differ from the needs of others and those are provided for in such a way that the genuine needs of the person are fulfilled, while capital cannot be made of the effects nor can power accrue from them. Unlike Marxist Communism, as it is has been expressed so dreadfully, there is no central state that controls the modes of production. That which differentiates Anarchy from Marxism must be made clear. We are non-authoritarian and therefore do not accept the existence of any kind of state. The expression "dictatorship of the proletariat" is half honest. It is indeed a dictatorship, but in no wise represents the interests of or is concerned with the welfare of the proletariat. Moreover, we understand that people are more than just workers. Work is absolutely essential, of course, but we must associate in the fullness of our humanness in order to access, express and share the deepest levels of our being.

In an Anarchic society there is no state that retains an army and a police force that are illegally utilized to put people out of their homes and force them to live in tents. There is no value of commodities or labor. Anarchists understand that it is impossible to determine how much any item is "worth" based on the hours or difficulty of work that went into it per se. Therefore, our motto is: From each according to his or her ability, to each according to his or her need.

Anarchy is a condition in which children are not sent to prison-like schools, which are nothing but indoctrination facilities and holding pens in which they are subjected to monotony, humiliation, competition, violence and more – all intended to break the child's spirit and make him or her malleable.

In a state of Anarchy children learn for the sake of the joy of learning, as was the case in the system of education developed by Francisco Ferrer. The best in children is creatively drawn from them. They are not force-fed unsupported and unsupportable assumptions like ducks and geese being force-fed with pneumatic pumps for pate gras.

Anarchy is not only simply in keeping with Judaism, it is a particularly Jewish mode of living and interaction.

Before Israel took upon itself the government of a king we lived in a state of Anarchy. There was no centralized government during the periods of early prophets and the judges. Prophets lived communally with their students who attributed honor and authority to their revered and beloved Teachers solely on the basis of their loving-kindness and wisdom. Wise and trusted elders, who were known personally by the people who sought out their counsel, settled disputes. The Dead Sea Sect lived likewise communally.

The accepting upon ourselves of kings in order to be "a people like every other people" was a decision that proved to be a disaster – even the best of Israel's kings stumbled under the weight of a responsibility that no human being can bear. From this we learn that more than their appointed leaders, those who appoint leaders over themselves are reprehensible.

When we accepted kings upon ourselves we abrogated the right to self-determination. We became subjects, that is, we became slaves.

To this day the Jewish people remain slaves. We are slaves to government. We are slaves to public opinion, which is shaped by professional propagandizers, who are in the employ governments and, more particularly, international corporations, which retain governments as their private body guards. We are slaves to our jobs, which rob us of the lion's share of our production and force us to work brutally long hours under extreme physical and psychic pressure in workplaces that are always understaffed in order to "cut the cost of labor". (It was calculated by Anarchist economist over one hundred years ago that to attain a middle class standard of living for all, all that was required was four or five hours of labor a day. All labor above and beyond that was, and is, pocketed by employers.)

It is a precept that slaves are forbidden to perform some of the precepts of Jewish law. We cannot so much as understand the foregoing precept profoundly or correctly. We imagine that it applies to others. We imagine that we have understood the circumstances being described. We do not realize that it is we to whom it applies. We do not realize that it relates to our circumstances. I have explained how we, in fact, are slaves in so very many ways. We are, then, in fact, exempt from the practice of many precepts. When we insist upon practicing those precepts we do so without deep understanding and in the way of slaves, that is, hurriedly, under pressure and without real joy. We are, in fact, forbidden to practice many of the precepts that we, in our present state of slavery, try to do and in so doing we make a mockery and a travesty of Judaism, which is none other than Freedom. When we learn Torah we cannot possibly understand what we have read and carry out the commandments properly. Chained, shackled, mutilated, crippled and truncated as we are; we cannot move our bodies to do the precepts properly. Poisoned as we are by state propaganda as well as toxic air, water and food; we cannot possibly see or cognate clearly.

Do you know anyone personally who has attained true and complete emancipation of the Soul, body, mind and emotions as a result of carrying out the precepts as they are performed today? No! And neither will you find such a one. Of course we are told tales about perfectly righteous people who possess this freedom. Do you know them? Do they deign to come to your home and live amongst you? No! Why? Because they are yet more phantasmagoria concocted to enslave you still further.

True Judaism is nothing but Freedom and slaves know nothing of freedom and are not capable of living as free human beings.

It follows, if we are to practice Torah as we should, that our first order of business is to ransom one another, to emancipate ourselves and one another mutually. The only real precept that we can carry out in our present reduced state of bondage is to set ourselves free, to throw off the yoke of government, to unloose the chains and shackles that keep us captive to promises of that will never come to realization, to illusions and addictions, to become free moral and moral-spiritual agents.

To build an Anarchistic society is holy work. In fact, it is the only holy work that we are fitted to perform at this juncture. It is the sine qua non of being able to be fully realized Jews. We cannot pray more perfectly than to toil for the purpose of building such a society. No self-sacrifice is greater than this.

Only when we live in a non-authoritarian society characterized by propertylessness, when there will be no more rich and poor, when there will be no more institutionalized injustice that we must submit ourselves and our children to for fear of being prosecuted by state law, when we will have more free time to learn, interact with one another freely and reflect deeply - then and only then will we be able to know what it is to be Jews and know what Judaism is. Until such time the vast majority of our religious expression is frustrated impotency at best, a cruel and pathetic parody in the middling case, at worst manipulation and suppression of the very best in us by agents of the government who reduce masses of people to spiritual servility by heaping upon them meaningless acts to perform and distorted "interpretations" which are devised to prevent us from taking truly moral direct action to rebuild society.

How many are straddled with poverty because of this pseudo-religion? How many children subsist on white bread devoid of nutrition and unhealthy, artery-clogging margarine while their parents give the expected "presents" to their Rabbis and take part in pilgrimages and other "obligatory" religious practices, which seem to multiply exponentially? Those who turn to religion lonely, confounded and disillusioned by the cruelty of society find not a programme for reconstruction of the society that has failed them, but rather, have laws and customs heaped upon them until they are crippled and break.

On the following link you will find essays on Anarchy. Most are in English. Only the essay entitled אנרכיה מובהקת is in Hebrew, having been translated by my husband, Daniel Dotan, at my request. The original English version of אנרכיה
מובהקת, under the rubric "Authentic Anarchy", is to be found on the site as well.

http://www.geocities.com/dordot2001/Mystical_Anarchy.html

Unfortunately, very little about true Anarchy is familiar to Israelis and, thus, there are practically no treatments of the subject in Hebrew. For the time being; we will have to suffice with the writings in other languages, principally English, and only those who can read other languages will be able to access this school of thought and programme of action we call Anarcho-Syndicalism. It is the hope of the writer that others will be inspired to take it upon themselves to translate Anarchistic essays, lectures and books into Hebrew.

Many of the greatest Anarchists were Jewish. It is not difficult to understand why. Anarchy is an integral part of true Judaism. No true Judaism is possible without it. Those Jews who have loved and love freedom best are those Jews who not only were attracted to Anarchy, it was they who best expressed the heart, soul and intent of true Judaism – emancipation of the human being for the sake of allowing each to actualize his or her absolute optimum and interact fully with others.

It has been said that Anarchists are non-believers, that they are atheists. This writer, it should be stated categorically, is not an atheist, but a convinced Jew.

It is true that most Anarchists do not believe in an authoritarian God who compels people to actions that are not in keeping with their will. It is true that Anarchists do not accept the authority of self-proclaimed religious leaders. It is true that Anarchists do not accept religious institutions bleeding the masses of their money and impoverishing them. It is true that Anarchists do not accept compulsory education of precepts without rational analysis. It is true that Anarchists reject any and all superstitions and the inculcating people with fear. It is true that Anarchists abhor telling the poor, hungry, cold, sick, lonely and miserable that a better life awaits them in the World to Come when a better world could be made for them here.

Are they, then, anti-religionists? No! It is by virtue of the foregoing rejections that they are the very truest of those who express Judaism. Emma Goldman (1869-1940), one of the most prominent Anarchist activists and lecturers of her time and who continues to be an inspiration to all of us, once addressed a large conference of clergymen. She explained her antireligious position. Upon finishing, a Rabbi who had heard her lecture said: "In spite of all Miss Goldman has said against religion, she is the most religious person I know." Anarchists walk the walk that the pseudo-religions only talk the talk about. Anarchists live to emancipate those who are enslaved – and they take great personal risks in so doing for governments and corporations do not easily surrender their power. Anarchists are the prophets and students of prophets of modern times and they pay all the prices for freedom that prophets and students of prophets of yore paid.

Is the realization of a society based on justice, equality and oneness not the discovery and expression of the God of Israel in creation? Is it not God which propels us toward this ultimate freedom which needs be and will?

I invite those of you who truly love freedom and are intrepid enough, who love humankind enough, to bear the responsibility of building a better world, here in this world, to enter the world of the Anarchists and to join hands with us. Is this not the Israel that we envisioned during our two thousand years long Diaspora?

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com
August 2006




Monday, August 14, 2006

Muslim Anarchists

There is some experimentation with Anarchy occurring among Muslims.

I think it is important to be aware of these intrepid individuals and to offer them every support, encouragement and expression of solidarity.

For an introduction, please see:

Muslim Anarchist Charter

http://www.bayyinat.org.uk/manarchist260706.htm

The Progressive Muslim Declaration

http://www.bayyinat.org.uk/pmd.htm

Human Rights

http://www.bayyinat.org.uk/hrights01.htm

Map of Various Areas of Interest

http://www.bayyinat.org.uk/map.htm

Anarcho Akbar

http://anarchomuslim.blogspot.com/

Anarkismo.net

http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=977

Anarchist People of Color

http://www.illegalvoices.org/knowledge/general_articles/natural_islam.html

Mumin al-Bayda

http://muminalbayda.blogspot.com/2005/11/muslim-anarchism.html

Islamic Anarchism

http://raforum.apinc.org/article.php3?id_article=20

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Monday, August 07, 2006

ANARCHY AND THE SPIRITUAL QUEST

The Hebrew version of this article is to be found on the following URL:

http://www.geocities.com/dordot2001/AnarchyandSpiritualQuestHEB.htm

Unlike the majority of Anarchists, I am not an atheist. In my youth I undertook a spiritual quest that went over a period of some twenty-five years. I know there is a God. I experienced God.

Magnificently sublime and rapturous as the experiences were; they were removed from the pain I saw all around me in this world and they were very isolating. I could not share that which I experienced with others. Worst of all, I could not alleviate people's suffering simply by virtue of the fact that I knew there is a God, that there are higher worlds than the one in which we live and that the Soul is immortal. While I communed with God widows and orphans languished. I could not stay in those rarified heights knowing there was so much suffering. I took leave to return to this reality.

Spiritual quests should not be undertaken for the sake of fleeing the unbearable in this world, as was mine. They should not be a desperate resort for a wounded Soul trying to find solace and meaning in a world that seems too cruel and absurd to live in and bear.

The spiritual quest should be undertaken only when we have achieved a very high level of material security, moral human interaction and personal fulfillment.

When we live in a world described by free and fair trade, equality among all Human beings, mutual aid respect for all sentient beings, maximum actualization of the Self and aid to others to actualize themselves in the material world we will discover that there is still something missing, something that we cannot attain from material welfare, well-being and prosperity alone.

We are spiritual beings and the need to fulfill that aspect of ourselves will come to the fore. It will arise spontaneously and naturally within us as individuals and among us as societies and it will be an expression of organic unity that we, atomized as we currently are, are simply not capable of.

The time for that has not yet come. There is much groundwork to lay.

We are in a sickly, mutilated, truncated and stunted state. We are slaves. Our perceptions are distorted. We are filled with negativity and mistrust. We are filled with every manner of fear and trepidation, as our economic masters have conditioned us to be. We are filled with shame. Our bodies are poisoned and we have been trained to run to the comfort of substances and diversions in the small bit of free time that we have. We regard one another as competitors. Our eye is trained on the negative in others.

In such a state of insalubrity and in societies as unwholesome as ours we cannot possibly interpret and understand holy Texts properly. We do not possess the clarity and the refinement to perceive the Holy. Most certainly, we do not see it in one another as we vie with one another for our sustenance.

We see the very same negativity in holy Texts that we see in those around us and in ourselves.

There are, under the present social conditions, two possible reactions when encountering holy Texts. In both cases we read them on a most perfunctory level and wholly misunderstand them, but believe that what we see is what they are saying. We then do one of two things. We either reject that which we think we see out-of-hand. Or, we accept that which we see and live a religion that is little more than our own hallucinations.

A goodly number of religious figures gathered large followings within a relatively short amount of time. It has been my experience that that which truly elevates the estate of human beings does not become popular quickly. People do not let go of their shackles nor surrender their crutches readily. Those who are shackled have been taught that it is their shackles that sustain and support them and they are, therefore, desperate to hold on to them. They attack those who would divest them of their fetters viciously, perceiving those who would emancipate them as enemies who mean to harm them. Therefore, the fact that religions have caught on quickly makes them suspect in my eyes.

There is another matter that is of yet more concern to me. Although I would say that most people who set out on spiritual quests were sensitive Souls and well-intentioned; we see that not one spiritual path has ever alleviated human misery and poverty. I think the reason for this is eminently clear. Religions do not change the physical conditions that cause people to want to flee from this world. They do not call for the elimination of classes, power structures and economic disparities. Quite the opposite. They encourage them, even making them obligatory. The adherents of religions are taught that it is sacrilege to defy or even question authority. The punishment for doing so is, in addition to the misery of this world that is taken as a given, unending indescribable misery in the next world or forfeiting one's place in the World to Come altogether. It is, then, in the interests of those in religious power to keep this world rather unbearable so that they may constantly dangle the carrot of hope in the next world before their adherents if and only if they "behave" themselves. Thus far, all religions, no matter how sublime they may or may not have been in their inception, deteriorated into mass mind and behavior control by creating conditions of misery for the vast majority.
Not one religion thus far, not a single one, has called for the elimination of power structures as a religious tenet. They cultivated a "this world-other world" illusory dichotomy. Rather than organized religions eliminating poverty and the dependence of classes upon others, they encourage it as one of their most central methods of concentrating power in the hands of some.

Today religion teaches us that we, as individuals, and we alone, are responsible for all of our unhappiness and ills. No blame whatsoever is put on our economic slave masters. If we are sad, sick or evil befalls us (all too often in the form of economic hardships) it is because we have been negligent in the performance of some ceremony, recitation of formulas or other magical rite. Of course, we are expected to tithe our incomes and to give some percentage to both our religions' priests and to the poor. We are not taught to eliminate poverty in society, or even that that is desirable. Neglecting to tithe (a system devised to perpetuate poverty by keeping the poor on the brink while stuffing the pockets of the clergy) most certainly rains the wrath of heaven down on us, so we are taught.

For the present, then, the holiest work one can engage in and the only real spiritual practice available to us is the abolition of classes and poverty, with all their attendant ills so that we may be freed to become fully Human beings. This idea is expressed in a quote from the Preface to Part Two of RED EMMA SPEAKS by Alix Kates Shulman 1998. Shulman writes: "A rabbi who heard her lecture a large conference of clergymen on atheism probably came closer than the public to understanding her antireligious stand. "In spite of all Miss Goldman has said against religion, he announced, "she is the most religious person I know."". Amen!

Religion cannot, must never, be otherworldly. It must be an expression of both our physical and our spiritual natures. We are both physical and spiritual beings always and inextricably. In a healthy society, one that is habitable for those people who have attained their humanity in the fullest sense, the one aspect is never sacrificed in favor of the other. Our profoundest spiritual yearnings are always expressed through physicality. It is only in physicality that we can carry out the precepts of justice and express our love. It is in full acceptance of our own physical nature, that of other living beings and the world we live in that we become capable of expressing or spiritual nature as expressed in free and voluntary interaction and exchange.

Religion must never be a refuge for the economically, intellectually, emotionally and socially indigent. It cannot be a palliative for living in economic, intellectual, emotional and social squalor and deformation. We must never ask of religion that which we need from people and is not being fulfilled. If we do, that neediness makes us easy and certain prey to those who would demand all manners of unnecessary and even perverse behaviors in order to get that which we seek piteously when we turn to religion in our need. It is in our turning to religion for that which society must provide, that which we must demand and see to it that society provides, that we create organized religion and beg others to fulfill our needs by becoming "religious leaders" over us.

Just as emotionally healthy human beings do not wish to enter into emotional relationships on the basis of desperation or personal lack; so our spiritual-morality must proceed from us as full and materially and socially fulfilled human beings.

Religion must be the crowning achievement of having creating a just, providing and fulfilling society. It can never be a replacement therefore.

When we will have created just societies and attained Human stature; when we will have created a world that is habitable so that we may be grounded in this reality, in this world; we will, in wisdom, security and repose, turn to God for ultimate fulfillment, able to engage in a relationship with the Divine that is real and fitting for free Men, Women and Children. No more will we come to God as beggars bartering our Souls for our daily bread.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com




Thursday, August 03, 2006

Saul Alinsky vis-à-vis Noam Chomsky – The Difference Between a Dedicated Radical and a Hypocritical Opportunist

http://www.geocities.com/dordot2001/AlinskyVisAVisChomsky.htm


Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Murray Bookchin, Visionary Social Theorist, Dies at 85

Murray Bookchin, visionary writer and activist, died at his home in
Burlington, Vermont on July 30th at the age of 85. A revolutionary
thinker and prolific writer who authored several AK Press titles,
Murray
Bookchin produced work spanning two historic eras: that of traditional
proletarian socialism and anarchism, with its working-class
insurrections and struggles against classical fascism, and the postwar
period of growing corporate capitalism, environmental decay, statist
politics, and the technocratic mentality. In his work he tried to make
something coherent of these changes, looking forward to a liberated
future. He will be sorely missed.
Please visit http://www.akpress.org/bookchinobit for a full obituary by
Brian Tokar at the Institute for Social Ecology in
Plainfield, Vermont.

This is the obituary:

Murray Bookchin, the visionary social theorist and activist, died during the early morning of Sunday, July 30th in his home in
Burlington, Vermont. During a prolific career of writing, teaching and political activism that spanned half a century, Bookchin forged a new anti-authoritarian outlook rooted in ecology, dialectical philosophy and left libertarianism.

During the 1950s and '60s, Bookchin built upon the legacies of utopian social philosophy and critical theory, challenging the primacy of Marxism on the left and linking contemporary ecological and urban crises to problems of capital and social hierarchy in general. Beginning in the mid-sixties, he pioneered a new political and philosophical synthesis-termed social ecology-that sought to reclaim local political power, by means of direct popular democracy, against the consolidation and increasing centralization of the nation state.

From the 1960s to the present, the utopian dimension of Bookchin's social ecology inspired several generations of social and ecological activists, from the pioneering urban ecology movements of the sixties, to the 1970s' back-to-the-land, antinuclear, and sustainable technology movements, the beginnings of Green politics and organic agriculture in the early 1980s, and the anti-authoritarian global justice movement that came of age in 1999 in the streets of Seattle. His influence was often cited by prominent political and social activists throughout the
US, Europe, South America, Turkey, Japan, and beyond.

Even as numerous social movements drew on his ideas, however, Bookchin remained a relentless critic of the currents in those movements that he found deeply disturbing, including the New Left's drift toward Marxism-Leninism in the late 1960s, tendencies toward mysticism and misanthropy in the radical environmental movement, and the growing focus on individualism and personal lifestyles among 1990s anarchists. In the late 1990s, Bookchin broke with anarchism, the political tradition he had been most identified with for over 30 years and articulated a new political vision that he called communalism.

Bookchin was raised in a leftist family in the
Bronx during the 1920s and '30s. He enjoyed retelling the story of his expulsion from the Young Communist League at age 18 for openly criticizing Stalin, his brief flirtation with Trotskyism as a labor organizer in the foundries of New Jersey, and his introduction to anarchism by veterans of the immigrant labor movement during the 1950s. In 1974, he co-founded the Institute for Social Ecology, along with Dan Chodorkoff, then a graduate student at Vermont's Goddard College. For 30 years, the Institute for Social Ecology has brought thousands of students to Vermont for intensive educational programs focusing on the theory and praxis of social ecology. A self-educated scholar and public intellectual, Bookchin served as a full professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey despite his own lack of conventional academic credentials. He published more than 20 books and many hundreds of articles during his lifetime, many of which were translated into Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Turkish and other languages.

During the 1960s–80s, Bookchin emphasized his fundamental theoretical break with Marxism, arguing that Marx's central focus on economics and class obscured the more profound role of social hierarchy in the shaping of human history. His anthropological studies affirmed the role of domination by age, gender and other manifestations of social power as the antecedents of modern-day economic exploitation. In The Ecology of Freedom(1982), he examined the parallel legacies of domination and freedom in human societies, from prehistoric times to the present, and he later published a four-volume work, The Third Revolution, exploring anti-authoritarian currents throughout the Western revolutionary tradition.

At the same time, he criticized the lack of philosophical rigor that has often plagued the anarchist tradition, and drew theoretical sustenance from dialectical philosophy-particularly the works of Aristotle and Hegel; the Frankfurt School-of which he became increasingly critical in later years-and even the works of Marx and Lenin. During the past year, even while terminally ill in
Burlington, Bookchin was working toward a re-evaluation of what he perceived as the historic failure of the 20th century left. He argued that Marxist crisis theory failed to recognize the inherent flexibility and malleability of capitalism, and that Marx never saw capitalism in its true contemporary sense. Until his death, Bookchin asserted that only the ecological problems created by modern capitalism were of sufficient magnitude to portend the system's demise.

Murray Bookchin was diagnosed several months ago with a fatal heart condition. He will be remembered by his devoted family members—including his long-time companion Janet Biehl, his former wife Bea Bookchin, his son, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter—as well as his friends, colleagues and frequent correspondents throughout the world. There will be a public memorial service in
Burlington, Vermont on Sunday, August 13th. For more information, email HERE.

—Brian Tokar,
July 31, 2006


Join the Blue Ribbon Online Free Speech Campaign
Join the Blue Ribbon Online Free Speech Campaign!