Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin

Janet Biehl. Oxford Univ., $34.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-19-934248-8
Biehl offers up this tribute to anarchist political philosopher and activist Bookchin who, throughout his life, opposed capitalism, which he believed was inimical to both ecology and the good of the people. Biehl's chapter titles outline Bookchin's evolving philosophy, beginning as a "Young Bolshevik" at the age of nine and transforming through stages such as "Eco-Anarchist," "Social Ecologist," "Green Politico," and finally, "Historian." He decided early in life, and ahead of the Green movement, that capitalism is incompatible with solutions to the ecological crisis. He was also certain that "the struggle for an ecological society... is inseparable from the struggles of oppressed peoples." Although his formal education was limited, Bookchin was an autodidact, teaching himself whatever he needed in order to understand situations and craft arguments, and eventually achieved the rank of full professor at Ramapo College. Bookchin could and did talk extemporaneously for hours on the subject of the moment, though he wasn't always patient with those who opposed him. He also held himself to a rigorous ethical standard that caused him to break with compatriots on occasion. Biehl has an insider's view of Bookchin as both his collaborator and his lover, and she uses that insight to paint a detailed and lively picture of this important figure. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/23/2013
Release date: 03/01/2014
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