Leftwing anarchist writer and philospher Murray Bookchin was born in New York to Russian Jewish leftwing immigrants on this date in 1921. Bookchin’s thought followed an arc from Stalinism to Trotskyism to anarchism to libertarianism and communitarianism, which emphasized political and economic decentralization and ecological awareness. His first book, Our Synthetic Environment, was published just a few months before Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 and pointed to a slew of environmental problems; five years later, his essay, “Ecology and Revolutionary Thought,” introduced ecology to the radical movement as a political concept. His 1969 essay, “Listen, Marxist!” warned against the Marxist influence and factionalism within SDS. In the 1980s, after some years of university teaching, Bookchin became an environmental innovator in Vermont and a key figure in the Vermont Green Party. He was a critic of “lifestyle environmentalism” that put political activism to the side, and a critic, as well, of the “deep ecology” movement, which he saw as anti-humanist and counterproductive. Bookchin’s influence extended to the anti-nuclear movement, the European Greens, and American libertarianism. He was one of the few radical thinkers to detail what a decentralized society might look like.
“Peter Kropotkin described Anarchism as the extreme left wing of socialism — a view with which I completely agree. One of my deepest concerns today is that the libertarian socialist core will be eroded by fashionable, post- modernist, spiritualist, mystic individualism.” —Murray Bookchin