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.
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.