[Marxism] Social ecologist Murray Bookchin dies at 85

Pieinsky pieinsky at igc.org
Sun Jul 30 18:01:24 MDT 2006

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Murray Bookchin, an early proponent of what he described 
as social ecology, died at home early Sunday at the age of 85.

He was surrounded by family when he died of heart failure at home, said his 
daughter, Debbie Bookchin.

Murray Bookchin long was a proponent of left-leaning libertarian ideas and 
was among the first people in the early 1960s to promote the then-emerging 
field of ecology into political debate.

He published "Our Synthetic Environment" under the pseudonym Lewis Herber in 
1962 in which he called for alternative energy supplies among other 
environmental proposals. It was in that book, which predated by five months 
the better known work Rachel Carson "Silent Spring," that Bookchin 
introduced the notion of social ecology.

He argued that only a completely free and open society can resolve the 
problems that confronted the environment at that time.

Bookchin's views, often well ahead of their time, never got wide play 
because they were so closely linked to his leftist political thought.

Bookchin was born in New York City in 1921 of Russian immigrant parents. He 
joined the Communist youth organization at age 9, although he dropped out a 
number of years later, disillusioned at what he believed was the 
authoritarian nature of the movement.

He was a foundry worker and union organizer in New Jersey before joining the 
U.S. Army. In civilian life, he became an auto worker, but left the industry 
and its labor organization after the General Motors strike of 1946.

He eventually turned to his interest in the environment and writing, 
eventually publishing more than two dozen books ecology, history, politics, 
philosophy, and urban planning.

He taught at Ramapo College of New Jersey from 1977 through 1981.

In Burlington, Bookchin was instrumental in helping to organize the Green 
Party. He also co-founded the Institute for Social Ecology in Plainfield in 

Bookchin is survived by his longtime companion, Janet Biehl; son Joseph 
Bookchin of Burlington; daughter Debbie of Burlington; and ex-wife and 
longtime friend Beatrice Bookchin. 

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