Because the radical thrust of ecosocialism is based upon an understanding of dialectic, it might be helpful to offer an overview and clarification of what the dialectical method entails. To provide this, we turn to the work of John P. Clark and excerpt a key portion of his essay, “Domesticating the Dialectic: A Critique of Bookchin’s Neo-Aristotelian Metaphysics.”
Better Worlds, Brighter Futures endeavors to create a comradely “unity-in-diversity” between the broadly ecosocialist tendencies of the radical left, in order to pose a substantive challenge to the system of global, monopoly capitalism that is shown to be at root of both the ecological and social crises. As hinted at in previous posts (see “In Search of a Broad, Coherent Social Ecology” and “Reopening the ‘Intellectual Space’ of Social Ecology”), there is much theoretical agreement between the different approaches.
Recently, someone immersed in Murray Bookchin’s late-period works asked my definition of social ecology. This brought up an important issue. How is social ecology to be defined generally, taking the entirety of the field and its historical development into account? This implies a broad conception–one that recognizes both Bookchin’s open, early approaches, his later narrower variation, John P. Clark’s contribution, as well as antecedent and contemporary influences that continue to be discovered.
September 17, 2011 in New York City marked the beginning of a movement that has spread around the world. Inspired by the people and events of the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement quickly grew to over 2,500 cities in dozens of countries. With slogans including “We are the 99%,” a principle aim of this movement is to highlight the gross economic inequality and increasing austerity measures being taken by governments worldwide, in a context of unprecedented corporate profit and personal wealth of the richest “1%.”
Abstract: A theory of liberatory technology within a broad social ecological analysis is discussed. The need for technological development to encompass ethical, cultural, and institutional dimensions within a social matrix, in addition to the instrumental dimension is demonstrated. The complex dialectic between technology and capitalism is outlined, as is the need to recover technology from its chain of economic imperative and its (qualified) autonomous trajectory. The path for this recovery is illuminated in the praxis of technical means coupled with liberatory sensibilities, and specific characteristics are cited. A specific anchoring of a theory of liberatory technology to the 1980s work of Murray Bookchin, complemented by the insights of Joel Kovel with regard to ecosocialism as well as Martin Heidegger is discussed.
Abstract: Twentieth century social ecology is explored and articulated, focusing particularly on the works of Murray Bookchin and John P. Clark. From this, the creation of concrete praxes to arrive at a free nature are discussed. Such praxes are found to result from an investigation of the interactive border between first nature and second nature. Instances of this interaction are listed. A theory of anthropogenic species dispersal is explored, with the example of an bioregional diet discussed. From these explorations, the importance of the bioregion in discovering social ecological praxes creates the need for social ecologies of place. An outline of such a theory is attempted for the Sonoran Desert, yielding an important alternative institution: Social Ecology Sonora.
Following the previous discussion of opening the intellectual space of social ecology I have begun to finish some works in ecosocialism. The first is an essay by John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark from Socialist Register 2004 titled “Ecological Imperialism: The Curse of Capitalism.” Comments, responses to questions, or supplemental information are welcomed from readers of this blog.
Abstract: “Invasion biology” is a foremost issue for the ecological sciences. The field is discussed in overview, with emphasis on the issue within the Sonoran Desert ecoregion. A specific instance of a local “invasive species,” Pennisetum ciliare (buffelgrass) was taken as a case study and compared to critiques of the field by David Theodoropoulos. In many instances, the science supporting claims of harm of this plant were found to be incomplete or inaccurate. More research is urged. Beginning with Theodoropoulos’ outline of a theory of anthropogenic dispersal as a necessary and beneficial mitigation to anthropogenic disturbance and extinction, an attempt to outline a social ecological theory of anthropogenic dispersal is put forward, along with the creation of Social Ecology Sonora, an institution capable of exploring these theoretical problems.
While ecosocialists (particularly Joel Kovel, John Bellamy Foster, and Fred Magdoff) and their tendency have been given consideration by social ecologists like John P. Clark and Brian Tokar, their work seems under-appreciated in our field. Conversely, the social ecological perspective seems to have had little presence or impression within ecosocialism. This is a strange situation given the wide area of general theoretical agreement (though the vocabulary and argumentation may differ), the fact that social ecology can be seen as a non-Marxist ecosocialism (1), and that Murray Bookchin (then a dissident Trotskyist), whose work on the industrial degradation of the environment dates at least to 1952 with the publication of “The Problem of Chemicals in Food,” was one of the first to introduce a strong ecological dimension to radical (especially Marxist) thought.
The legacy of Murray Bookchin contributes, among others, conceptions of the post-scarcity society; a path for the transcendence of Marxism and anarchism; the insistence on the role of social factors in the ecological crisis; histories and analyses of past revolutionary movements; an advanced analysis of hierarchy and its role outside of economic exploitation; first, second, and free natures; as well as an insightful analysis of capitalism from World War II to 2006. Such distinguished contributions give twenty-first century social ecology a bright future.