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Social ecology is a
philosophical theory A philosophical theory or philosophical position''Dictionary of Theories'', Jennifer Bothamley is a view that attempts to explain or account for a particular problem in philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundament ...
about the relationship between ecological and social issues. Associated with the social theorist
Murray Bookchin Murray Bookchin (January 14, 1921 – July 30, 2006) was an American social theorist, author, orator, historian, and Political philosophy, political philosopher. A pioneer in the environmental movement, Bookchin formulated and developed th ...

Murray Bookchin
, it emerged from a time in the mid-
1960s File:1960s montage.png, Clockwise from top left: U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War; the Beatles led the British Invasion of the U.S. music market; a half-a-million people participate in the Woodstock Festival; Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Ap ...

1960s
, under the emergence of both the global environmental and the American civil rights movements, and played a much more visible role from the upward movement against
nuclear power Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reaction In nuclear physics Nuclear physics is the field of physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), ...

nuclear power
by the late
1970s File:1970s decade montage.png, Clockwise from top left: U.S. President The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polit ...

1970s
. It presents ecological problems as arising mainly from social problems, in particular from different forms of hierarchy and domination, and seeks to resolve them through the model of a society adapted to human development and the biosphere. It is a theory of radical
political ecology Political ecology is the study of the relationships between political, economic and social factors with environmental issues and changes. Political ecology differs from apolitical ecological studies by politicizing environmental issues and pheno ...
based on
communalism Communalism is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability o ...
, which opposes the current capitalist system of production and
consumption Consumption may refer to: *Resource consumption *Tuberculosis, an infectious disease, historically in biology: * Consumption (ecology), receipt of energy by consuming other organisms in social sciences: * Consumption (economics), the purchasing of ...
. It aims to set up a moral, decentralized, united society, guided by reason. While Bookchin distanced himself from
Anarchism Anarchism is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge ...

Anarchism
later in his life, the philosophical theory of Social Ecology is often considered to be a form of Eco-Anarchism.


Overview

Bookchin's theory presents a vision of
human evolution Human evolution is the evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual ...

human evolution
that combines the nature of biology and society into a third "thinking nature" beyond biochemistry and physiology, which he says is of a more complete, conscious, ethical, and rational nature. Humanity, according to this line of thought, is the latest development in the long history of organic development on Earth. Bookchin's social ecology proposes ethical principles for replacing a society's propensity for hierarchy and domination with that of
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to cho ...

democracy
and
freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philosophy and religion, it is associated with having free will and bein ...

freedom
. He wrote about the effects of
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural File:Rural landscape in Finland.jpg, A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000. In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographi ...
on human life in the early 1960s during his participation in the civil rights and related social movements. Bookchin then began to pursue the connection between ecological and social issues, culminating with his best-known book, ''The Ecology of Freedom'', which he had developed over a decade. His argument, that human domination and destruction of nature follows from social domination between humans, was a breakthrough position in the growing field of ecology. He writes that life develops from self-organization and evolutionary cooperation (
symbiosis Symbiosis (from Ancient Greek, Greek , , "living together", from , , "together", and , bíōsis, "living") is any type of a close and long-term biological interaction between two different Organism, biological organisms, be it Mutualism (biolog ...

symbiosis
). Bookchin writes of preliterate societies organized around mutual need but ultimately overrun by institutions of hierarchy and domination, such as city-states and capitalist economies, which he attributes uniquely to societies of humans and not communities of animals. He proposes confederation between communities of humans run through democracy rather than through administrative logistics. Bookchin's work, beginning with anarchist writings on the subject in the 1960s, has continuously evolved. Towards the end of the 1990s, he increasingly integrated the principle of
communalism Communalism is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability o ...
, with aspirations more inclined towards institutionalized municipal democracy, which distanced him from certain evolutions of
anarchism Anarchism is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge ...

anarchism
. Bookchin's work draws inspiration from anarchism (mainly
Kropotkin Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin (; russian: link=no, Пётр Алексе́евич Кропо́ткин ; 9 December 1842 – 8 February 1921) was a Russian anarchist, socialist Socialism is a Political philosophy, political, Social ph ...

Kropotkin
) and
communism Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...

communism
(including the writings of
Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, M ...

Marx
and
Engels Friedrich Engels ( ,"Engels"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
). Social ecology refuses the pitfalls of a
Neo-Malthusian Malthusianism is the idea that Malthusian growth model, population growth is potentially exponential while the growth of the food supply or other resources is linear growth, linear, which eventually reduces living standards to the point of triggeri ...
ecology which erases social relationships by replacing them with "natural forces", but also of a technocratic ecology which considers that environmental progress must rely on technological breakthroughs and that the state will play in integral role in this technological development. According to Bookchin, these two currents depoliticize ecology and mythologize the past and the future. Thus, social ecology is articulated through several key principles: *''Interdependence'' and the principle of ''''. Social ecology seeks to oppose the standardization of beings and thoughts, promoting the importance of diversity and the organic unions between different parts of society. These differences include a diversity of talents, points of view, and styles, which allows the society to evolve while simultaneously maintaining stability. * ''
Decentralization Decentralization or decentralisation is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision making, are distributed or delegated away from a central, authoritative location or group. Conce ...

Decentralization
''. A social ecology society would take the form of a confederation of decentralized municipalities linked to each other by commercial and social ties. Dispersed
renewable energy Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resource File:Global Vegetation.jpg, Global vegetation A renewable resource, also known as a flow resource, is a natural resource which will replenish to replace the portion resou ...
sources would feed these communities on a human scale and provide for each according to their needs. * ''
Direct democracy Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which the Election#Electorate, electorate decides on policy initiatives without legislator, legislative representatives as proxies. This differs from the majority of currently estab ...
''. Structured around the principle of a form of
communalism Communalism is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability o ...
called
libertarian municipalism Communalism is a political philosophy and economic system that integrates communal ownership and confederations of highly decentralized independent communities. Murray Bookchin, a prominent libertarian socialist, defined the communalism he d ...
, social ecology advocates the development of municipal assemblies, a modernized version of the type developed by the
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in
Antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts *Antiquities Antiquities are objects from antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or arti ...

Antiquity
or implemented during the
Paris Commune The Paris Commune (french: Commune de Paris, ) was a revolutionary government that seized power in Paris from 18 March to 28 May 1871. During the , Paris had been defended by the , where radicalism grew among soldiers. In March 1871, after th ...
for political decision-making. The decisions concerning the life of the commune are discussed and voted by majority in these assemblies. Similarly, at the higher level, representatives with
imperative mandateThe Imperative mandate is a political system in which "representatives enact policies in accordance with mandates and can be recalled by people’s assemblies".
s, and therefore revocable, are appointed to represent their municipality at regional and multi-regional assemblies. It is a horizontal, non-hierarchical
popular democracy : ''Not to be mistaken with People's Democracy (Ireland), Irish or People's Republic, Marxist-Leninist People's Democracy. For the Italian party see Popular Democracy (United Left). For the Ecuatorian party see Christian Democratic Union (Ecuador)' ...
system, in which decisions go from the bottom up and are decided transparently and face-to-face. *A ''renewal of citizenship''. At the base of the social ecology system are the citizen and the community. All people must relearn to participate in the decision-making process concerning local life, specifically by learning to come to these decisions through a communal process. All citizens are expected to have a basic level of civic responsibility that, at minimum, allows them to take an active part in making the decisions which have direct repercussions on their community and the lives of the people and ecology within that community. *A ''liberating technology''. Social ecology is not opposed to modern technologies but is in favor of developing them solely to be used in service of human beings. Science must regain a moral foundation and develop for the benefit of humans, not to enslave them. Modern machines and tools must become multifunctional, durable, environmentally friendly and easy to use and maintain. By standardizing the technical skills required to complete the tasks, citizens will be able to free themselves from strenuous work and concentrate on the creative and positive aspects of the tasks. *A ''social vision of work''. Developing machines have, in social ecology, the aim of freeing human beings from a large part of manual work (factory work) that can be done by machines, in order to leave human beings to more creative work and reduce working time. The time saved would allow them to participate in the political life of their district and to enjoy social life more fully. The model is thus articulated around diversified partial times, combining as much work as possible inside and outside, intellectual and concrete, etc. The hierarchies at work will be replaced by supervisors whose sole purpose is to provide a global vision on the work of a project. *''
Dialectical naturalism Dialectical naturalism is a term coined by American philosopher Murray Bookchin Murray Bookchin (January 14, 1921 – July 30, 2006) was an American anarchist, political philosopher, trade-union organizer, and educator. A pioneer in the ...
''. Dialectical naturalism is a dialectical philosophy developed to serve as an ethical foundation for a society based on the principles of social ecology. In order to fight against the ravages of Western binary representations, this philosophy is based on "developmental" thinking to understand the complexity of living things. Thus, dialectical naturalism invites us not to study species by isolating them from each other, which is "a reflection of the entrepreneurial bias of our culture" but to think about their interrelations. Its principle is that "what should be" must serve as an ethical basis for "what is", with the aim of freedom and synchronicity with nature.


Movements


International meetings

In May 2016, the first “International Social Ecology Meetings” were organized in
Lyon Lyon or Lyons (, , ; frp, Liyon, ) is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located at the confluence of the rivers Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, Rodano ; frp, Rôno ; oc, ...

Lyon
, which brought together a hundred radical environmentalists, decreasing figures and libertarians, most of whom came from
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
,
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...

Belgium
,
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
and
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_title1 = Fe ...

Switzerland
, but also from the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
,
Guatemala Guatemala ( ; ), officially the Republic of Guatemala ( es, República de Guatemala, links=no), is a country in Central America Central America ( es, América Central, , ''Centroamérica'' ) is a region of the Americas The Am ...

Guatemala
and
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
. At the center of the debates: libertarian municipalism as an alternative to the nation state and the need to rethink activism. The second edition of the meetings takes place in
Bilbao ) , motto = , image_map = , mapsize = 275 px , map_caption = Interactive map outlining Bilbao , pushpin_map = Spain Basque Country#Spain#Europe , pushpin_map_caption ...

Bilbao
, in October 2017.


Kurdish movement

Bookchin's reflections on social ecology and libertarian municipalism also inspired
Abdullah Öcalan Abdullah Öcalan ( ; ; born 4 April 1949), also known as Apo (short for both Abdullah and "uncle" in Kurdish), is a Kurdish people, Kurdish nationalist, political prisoner and one of the founding members of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party ...

Abdullah Öcalan
, the historical leader of the Kurdish movement, to create the concept of
democratic confederalism Democratic confederalism ( ku, Konfederalîzma demokratîk;) also known as Kurdish communalism or Apoism is a political concept theorized by Kurdistan Workers Party The Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK ( kmr, Partîya Karkerên Kurdistanê) i ...
, which aims to bring together the peoples of the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
in a confederation of democratic,
multicultural The term multiculturalism has a range of meanings within the contexts of sociology, political philosophy, and colloquial use. In sociology and in everyday usage, it is a synonym for "Pluralism (political theory), ethnic pluralism", with the two ...

multicultural
and
ecological Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms In biol ...
communes. Adopted by the
Kurdistan Workers' Party The Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK ( ku, پارتی کرێکارانی کوردستان / Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê) is a Kurds, Kurdish militant political organization and armed guerrilla warfare, guerrilla List of guerrilla movements, mov ...
(PKK) since 2005, Öcalan's project represents a major ideological shift away from their previous goal of establishing a Marxist-Leninist state. In addition to the PKK, Öcalan's internationalist project was also well received by its
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
n counterpart, the Party of Democratic Union (PYD), which would become the first organization in the world to actually found a society based on the principles of democratic confederalism. On January 6, 2014, the cantons of
Rojava The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES), also known as Rojava, is a de facto autonomous region in northeastern Syria. It consists of self-governing Regions of North and East Syria, sub-regions in the areas of Afrin Region, ...

Rojava
, in
Syrian Kurdistan Syrian Kurdistan is a Kurdish-inhabited area in northern Syria surrounding three noncontiguous enclaves along the Turkey, Turkish and Iraq, Iraqi borders: Afrin, Syria, Afrin in the northwest, Kobanî, Kobani in the north, and Jazira Region, Ja ...
, federated into autonomous municipalities, adopting a social contract which established a decentralized non-hierarchy society, based on principles of
direct democracy Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which the Election#Electorate, electorate decides on policy initiatives without legislator, legislative representatives as proxies. This differs from the majority of currently estab ...
,
feminism Feminism is a range of social movement A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal, typically a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting popu ...

feminism
,
ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms In biol ...
,
cultural pluralism Cultural pluralism is a term used when smaller groups within a larger society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The ori ...

cultural pluralism
, participatory politics and economic cooperativism.


References


External links


Institute of Social Ecology
(official site) {{Authority control Communalism Ecology Philosophical theories Theories