Monday, July 31, 2006

Murray Bookchin

Murray Bookchin is no more. One of the great re-energizers of the anarchist project died early yesterday.

Bookchin was an important influence upon me and my fellow Vancouver anarchists back in the early days of our movement. Indeed, it seems hard to imagine anarchism developing there at that time without his influence. That combination of ecology, community and libertarian thought seemed just made for us. Raise a glass in honour of Murray!

For a Counterpunch story on Murray Bookchin see:


Blogger Richard S. said...

Hi. It was nice to stumble upon your post while doing a search for blogs mentioning Murray Bookchin's death (though I think we may have met on the Internet sometime before - if not through present blogs, then through some other project (like something I worked on in the past?)). Anyway, I wrote my own short tribute, though I would have liked to write more, and I cited Brian Tokar's article too.

I haven't really been in any group that worked with, and was influenced by, Bookchin though I know many people who have - from the social ecologist school in Vermont (more recently) to people who hung out with him and/or verbally sparred with him in New York City way back in the 1960s. (That is, they tell me stories about this stuff from the '60s - I was still in elmentary school.)

I was active in the anarchist "movement" in the '90s and the first couple of years of the 2000s but have drifted more toward libertarian Marxism/left communism these days (at least in terms of intellectual interest, though I feel that, like many people, I've retreated from radical activism altogether of late - maybe at a loss of what to do at this point, etc.). However, Murray Bookchin's work has stayed with me - in fact, I've actually become more interested in his work and was just experiencing a kind of renewed interest in much of it the past couple of months. I think that Bookchin's work had a theoretical and historical depth that you just don't see in much anarchist writing these days, or much radical leftist writing. And many of his ideas went well beyond the familiar territory of anarchism or any established left-wing ideology. Anyway, yes, I think he will be missed...

1:57 AM  
Blogger denny said...

excellent comment richard... especially in regards to his theoretical and historical depth.

murray will be missed. in 1990, my second year of college, he was my introduction into anarchism via a little book, i think it was remaking society. i moved onto his other works my favorite being the ecology of freedom. it may be a good time for a reread of that.

i was lucky enough to meet him and hear him speak several times when i attended the institute for social ecology in 92-93. he was cranky but lovable at the same time... his crankiness was understandable. he could be rough but his roughness was very well meaning... at least it usually seemed so to me. he wanted us to push forward, to learn, and to develop... and he took it, "the project", very seriously.

in time i think much of what he believed and wrote about will prove to be very useful and relevant.

10:02 PM  
Blogger baraz said...

I have visited the instite several times in the last decade...each time being a very remarkable learning experience.

Two years ago, I had the unbelieveable opportunity of sitting down with Murray in his kitchen to discuss everything from the Spanish Anarchists, to his thoughts on the movement today. He must have continued to speak for 6 hours or more, I honestly cannot remember how long. I do however remember taking a short break during our encounter to walk just up the street from his apartment in Burlington to get him a sandwich. Janet was speaking at a local school, and as she usually prepared his meals, I was happy to help him out and enjoy listening to more of his thoughts as the evening grew darker.

One thing that I remember quite vividly was the staggering number of books this man had surrounding him. Every once in a while he would stand up and shuffle himself over to one of hundreds of books to confirm that what he was saying was infact the truth. It was amazing to watch this man grab a book of a thousand pages, and immediately turn to the page he wanted, where he knew the answer was, without faultering for a second.

The spirit of Murray will live on as long as books are for words.

R.I.P. lived a long and prosperous life.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

I could never make head nor tail of Bookchin's books but I gather his heart was in the right place. Like many Anarchists before him, Murray's lights went out as the flames of freedom grew dimmer and dimmer in comparison to the rockets' red glare.

5:31 PM  
Blogger mollymew said...

Murray was a complicated man, and I'm sure that his works could be represented in "stages", even though he, like almost 100% of radicals almost 100% of the time would choke on the words, "I was wrong". Yet in each of these stages he contributed a lot. I watched Murray skitter back and forth between teleology pro and con depending on whether he had read Hegel recently---for example. But Murray's legacy is hardly in the field of philosophy, no matter how much he took pride in this as an autodictat. He shone in the fields where a self taught person shines most brightly ie in breaking new ground and establishing connections between things that seemed seperate.
Too bad we'll never hear his voice again.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Tim Barton said...


Re Murray Bookchin passing away.

I run the websites:

The latest issue of blue (BlueGreenEarth Vol.5 #11 - August 20th 2006) has run two Bookchin pieces

Whither Bookchin? - Obituary, by Tim Barton
Obituary, by Rob Allen (for Freedom Anarchist Fortnightly)

We also republished our review of Re-Enchanting Humanity

In the previous issue we had run a reprint of our Local-Global Organising feature from November 2005's Lancaster University KnowledgeLab (UK), at which I gave a Social Ecology related seminar.

Our Institute is still in its early stages, despite plans over 15 years ago to get it running, However, in the last few months things have begun to forge ahead and in 2007 we hope to have several courses available. These may be in Hastings, Ipswich, or Cork, and we hope offer them further afield over the next few years.

I hope this is of interest to you. We too were very sad to hear of Murray's death, though aware it was kind of due.


PS I also run the blog:

9:54 AM  

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