Murray Bookchin

​Quotes


“The assumption that what currently exists must necessarily exist is the acid that corrodes all visionary thinking.” 
― Murray Bookchin


“If we do not do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable.” 
― Murray Bookchin

Legends of Anarchism

“There are no hierarchies in nature other than those imposed by hierarchical modes of human thought, but rather differences merely in function between and within living things.” 
― Murray Bookchin, Post-Scarcity Anarchism


“Humanity has passed through a long history of one-sidedness and of a social condition that has always contained the potential of destruction, despite its creative achievements in technology. The great project of our time must be to open the other eye: to see all-sidedly and wholly, to heal and transcend the cleavage between humanity and nature that came with early wisdom.” 
― Murray Bookchin


“The truth, indeed, is out—but the ears to hear it and the minds to learn from it seem to have been atrophied by a cultivated ignorance and a nearly total loss of critical insight.” 
― Murray Bookchin, To Remember Spain: The Anarchist and Syndicalist Revolution of 1936


“We are part of nature, a product of a long evolutionary journey. To some degree, we carry the ancient oceans in our blood. … Our brains and nervous systems did not suddenly spring into existence without long antecedents in natural history. That which we most prize as integral to our humanity - our extraordinary capacity to think on complex conceptual levels - can be traced back to the nerve network of primitive invertebrates, the ganglia of a mollusk, the spinal cord of a fish, the brain of an amphibian, and the cerebral cortex of a primate.” 
― Murray Bookchin, Defending the Earth: A Dialogue Between Murray Bookchin and Dave Foreman


“Social ecology is based on the conviction that nearly all of our present ecological problems originate in deep-seated social problems. It follows, from this view, that these ecological problems cannot be understood, let alone solved, without a careful understanding of our existing society and the irrationalities that dominate it. To make this point more concrete: economic, ethnic, cultural, and gender conflicts, among many others, lie at the core of the most serious ecological dislocations we face today—apart, to be sure, from those that are produced by natural catastrophes.” 
― Murray Bookchin


“Unless we realize that the present market society, structured around the brutally competitive imperative of “grow or die,” is a thoroughly impersonal, self-operating mechanism, we will falsely tend to blame technology as such or population growth as such for environmental problems. We will ignore their root causes, such as trade for profit, industrial expansion, and the identification of “progress” with corporate self-interest. In short, we will tend to focus on the symptoms of a grim social pathology rather than on the pathology itself, and our efforts will be directed toward limited goals whose attainment is more cosmetic than curative.” 
― Murray Bookchin


“Social Ecology:

The notion that man must dominate nature emerges directly from the domination of man by man… But it was not until organic community relation … dissolved into market relationships that the planet itself was reduced to a resource for exploitation. This centuries-long tendency finds its most exacerbating development in modern capitalism. Owing to its inherently competitive nature, bourgeois society not only pits humans against each other, it also pits the mass of humanity against the natural world. Just as men are converted into commodities, so every aspect of nature is converted into a commodity, a resource to be manufactured and merchandised wantonly. … The plundering of the human spirit by the market place is paralleled by the plundering of the earth by capital.” 

― Murray Bookchin


“In our own time we have seen domination spread over the social landscape to a point where it is beyond all human control.... Compared to this stupendous mobilization of materials, of wealth, of human intellect, of human labor for the single goal of domination, all other recent human achievements pale to almost trivial significance. Our art, science, medicine, literature, music and "charitable" acts seem like mere droppings from a table on which gory feasts on the spoils of conquest have engaged the attention of a system whose appetite for rule is utterly unrestrained.” 
― Murray Bookchin


“Until society can be reclaimed by an undivided humanity that will use its collective wisdom, cultural achievements, technological innovations, scientific knowledge, and innate creativity for its own benefit and for that of the natural world, all ecological problems will have their roots in social problems.” 
― Murray Bookchin


“To speak of ‘limits to growth’ under a capitalistic market economy is as meaningless as to speak of limits of warfare under a warrior society. The moral pieties, that are voiced today by many well-meaning environmentalists, are as naive as the moral pieties of multinationals are manipulative. Capitalism can no more be ‘persuaded’ to limit growth than a human being can be ‘persuaded’ to stop breathing. Attempts to ‘green’ capitalism, to make it ‘ecological’, are doomed by the very nature of the system as a system of endless growth.” 
― Murray Bookchin


“What compels me to fight this society is, of course, outrage over injustice, a love of freedom, and a feeling of responsibility for perpetuating and enlarging the human spirit - its beauty, creativity, and latent capacity to improve the world. I do not care to come to terms with an irrational society that corrodes all that is valuable in humanity, that eats away at all that is beautiful and noble in the human experience.” 
― Murray Bookchin


“We have permitted cynical political reactionaries and the spokesmen of large corporations to pre-empt these basic libertarian American ideals. We have permitted them not only to become the specious "voice" of these ideals such that individualism has been used to justify egotism; the "pursuit of happiness" to justify greed, and even our emphasis on local and regional autonomy has been used to justify parochialism, insularism, and exclusivity -- often against ethnic minorities and so-called "deviant" individuals. We have even permitted these reactionaries to stake out a claim to the word "libertarian," a word, in fact, that was literally devised in the 1890s in France by Elisée Reclus as a substitute for the word "anarchist," which the government had rendered an illegal expression for identifying one's views. The propertarians, in effect -- acolytes of Ayn Rand, the "earth mother" of greed, egotism, and the virtues of property -- have appropriated expressions and traditions that should have been expressed by radicals but were willfully neglected because of the lure of European and Asian traditions of "socialism," "socialisms" that are now entering into decline in the very countries in which they originated.” 
― Murray Bookchin


“We tend to think of environmental catastrophes -such as the recent Exxon Valdez oil-spill disaster in the Bay of Alaska-as "accidents": isolated phenomena that erupt without notice or warning. But when does the word accident become inappropriate? When are such occurrences inevitable rather than accidental? And when does a consistent pattern of inevitable disasters point to a deep-seated crisis that is not only environmental but profoundly social?” 
― Murray Bookchin


“Power to the people' can only
be put into practice when the power exercised by social elites is
dissolved into the people. Each individual can then take control of
his daily life. If 'Power to the people' means nothing more than
power to the 'leaders' of the people, then the people remain an
undifferentiated, manipulatable mass, as powerless after the revolution as they were before. In the last analysis, the people can never
have power until they disappear as a 'people.” 

― Murray Bookchin, Post-Scarcity Anarchism


“We are asked to orient our “strategies” and “tactics” around poverty and material immiseration at a time when revolutionary sentiment is being generated by the banality of life under conditions of material abundance.” 
― Murray Bookchin


“Any attempt to solve the ecological crisis within a bourgeois framework must be dismissed as chimerical. Capitalism is inherently anti-ecological. Competition and accumulation constitute its very law of life, a law … summarized in the phrase, ‘production for the sake of production.’ Anything, however hallowed or rare, ‘has its price’ and is fair game for the marketplace. In a society of this kind, nature is necessarily treated as a mere resource to be plundered and exploited. The destruction of the natural world, far being the result of mere hubristic blunders, follows inexorably from the very logic of capitalist production.” 
― Murray Bookchin


“[W]ithout changing the most molecular relationships in society — notably, those between men and women, adults and children, whites and other ethnic groups, heterosexuals and gays (the list, in fact, is considerable) — society will be riddled by domination even in a socialistic ‘classless’ and ‘non-exploitative’ form. It would be infused by hierarchy even as it celebrated the dubious virtues of ‘people’s democracies,’ ’socialism’ and the ‘public ownership’ of ‘natural resources,’ And as long as hierarchy persists, as long as domination organizes humanity around a system of elites, the project of dominating nature will continue to exist and inevitably lead our planet to ecological extinction” 
― Murray Bookchin


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