Bookchin: A Critical Appraisal.

Author:Pinta, Saku
Position:Book review

Damian F. White, Bookchin: A Critical Appraisal

Pluto Press, 2008, 236pp

Murray Bookchin was nothing if not a stimulating, original, and controversial figure. While his pioneering ecological critique, as well as his historical, political, and philosophical works, made significant contributions to left libertarian thought, Bookchin's views also elicited a response from nearly everyone he came into contact with; in more recent years, his polemics and disagreements often overshadowed the content of his ideas. It is no surprise then, that following his passing in 2006, a string of work has been published examining, assessing, and interpreting Bookchin's intellectual legacy. The most recent contribution to this growing body of work, and the first scholarly book-length study on Bookchin's thought, is Damian F. White's offering Bookchin: A Critical Appraisal. White's well-researched treatment finds its niche in an exegesis and clear exposition of Bookchin's social ecological critique--in which he accentuates the reconstructive and utopian dimension of his ideas as well as percipient criticisms of environmental reductionism or determinism--along with an assessment of Bookchin's thought in relation to a variety of contemporary ecological perspectives.

The first section of the book introduces Bookchin's ideas, placing the development of his thought into the social, political, and historical environments from which it emerged. White provides an excellent summary of Bookchin's intellectual development and influences, from the Communist Party and union activism of his youth, through to his ecologically-infused anarchism and 'mature' writings on social ecology. In the next section, White outlines Bookchin's social theory and analysis of ecological destruction as being tied to social hierarchy and domination. Here, White suggests that contemporary ecological...

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