Janet Biehl, Ecology or Catastrophe – The Life of Murray Bookchin. Oxford University Press, 2015, 332 pp.
Review by Tony Sheather. A condensed version of this review appears in ASR 82
Murray Bookchin died in 2006 at the age of 85. He was less widely known than Noam Chomsky as a libertarian internationally, yet a dynamic American voice in the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s. Where Chomsky became the academic voice of conscience and dissent in challenging U.S. foreign policy, Murray Bookchin fought on the edges of society, urging social and political transformation. While praised widely for his revolutionary wisdom in earlier years, towards the end of his life he became a figure of conflict and controversy.
Nonetheless, despite conflict and controversy, his influence as a leading American anarchist and social ecologist in articulating modern perceptions of these philosophies has been profound. Ecology or Catastrophe, the Life of Murray Bookchin by Bookchin’s later life lover and collaborator, Janet Biehl, reviews his life and legacy. It explores the development and the impact of his ideas particularly on the radical youth of his era, notably those of the 1960s and 1970s, in the United States. The theoretical and personal divisions of the late 20th Century within the anarchist and ecological movements are described. These themes will be discussed here. Continue reading