Talk:Murray Bookchin

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nonsensical sentence[edit]

In the Murray Bookchin article, in this paragraph:

"Through the fifties and sixties, Bookchin worked in a number of working class situations -- including a stint as a railroad stevedore. He began teaching in the late 60s at the Free University. a counter-cultural 60s era Manhattan based institution. This led to a tenured position at Ramapo State College in Mahwah, NJ. At the same time, he co-founded 1971 Bo the Institute for Social Ecology at Goddard College in Vermont."

The last sentence doesn't make sense.

Michelle Meaders 13:33, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

It's been fixed. Rodparkes 05:53, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

Private Bookchin quote[edit]

I heard Bookchin saying this in the 1984 years anarchist festival in Venice:

"The working class movement in America died in the 1940's. I know it. I was there.I saw it happen."

A strong quotation from a strong individual. And the message of his death came to me from Wikipedia!

Jerker Nordlund , Sweden —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

How to describe him?[edit]

I am not sure that the description of Bookchin as a "libertarian socialist" in the opening paragraph gives the correct impression. In current American usage, "libertarian" tends to be applied to those who reject governmental interference in both social and economic matters (see Libertarianism), including those who report private property as sacrosanct. Many who use the label are ultra-free-marketeers, certainly not socialists.

The description should give the right impression to most of the world except the United States, where "libertarian" has come to mean "anti-state laissez-faire capitalist". For the rest of the world, "libertarian" has historically been almost synonymous with "anarchist", meaning "anti-state socialist". The US-specific meaning is spilling over, though. However, "libertarian socialist" makes it clear that somebody related to anarchism is meant - and not somebody combining e.g. Marx and Ayn Rand. -- (talk) 18:34, 9 March 2009 (UTC)
"Libertarian socialist" is an oxymoron. Socialism is a program of theft from producers to support parasites, and that can't be accomplished without a tyrannical state to do the robbing.2601:9:7E00:9F4:216:CBFF:FE3A:135C (talk) 21:23, 21 October 2014 (UTC)
This is not an appropriate place to debate politics. This is an appropriate place to debate whether Bookchin self-identified as a "libertarian socialist" or whether it's an appropriate label, given the ways that self-defined "libertarian socialists" describe the concept. If you think libertarian socialism is an oxymoron, please feel free to share that view on forums -- not Wikipedia -- where people discuss the concept. --Lquilter (talk) 22:32, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

Although Bookchin ceased to classify himself as an anarchist late in life, his philosophy for most of his life was broadly within the anarcho-syndicalist tradition of Proudhon ("property is theft") and Kropotkin, and that may be a better label for him (in so far as such an individual thinker can be subjected to a label). His greatest achievement lies in synthesising this tradition with modern ecological awareness. Rodparkes 05:53, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

In an interview with Harbinger in 2000, he described himself as a "libertarian socialist," ("I decided to go beyond Marxism and became a libertarian socialist"), an "eco-anarchist" and a "libertarian." He refers to libertarianism and libertarian municipalism throughout the interview. Here's an excerpt with probably the best summary of how he saw his political views near the end of his life:
DV: You have called your approach anarchism. What do you mean by that concept?
MB: Today I prefer the word communalism, by which I mean a libertarian ideology that, as I said, includes the best of the anarchist tradition as well as the best in Marx. I think neither Marxism nor anarchism alone is adequate for our times: a great deal in both no longer applies to today's world. We have to go beyond the economism of Marx and beyond the individualism that is sometimes latent, sometimes explicit in anarchism. Marx's, Proudhon's, and Bakunin's ideas were formed in the nineteenth century. We need a left libertarian ideology for our own time, not for the days of the Russian and Spanish Revolutions.
The overriding problem is to change the structure of society so that people gain power. The best arena to do that is the municipality — the city, town, and village — where we have an opportunity to create a face-to-face democracy. We can transform local government into popular assemblies where people can discuss and make decisions about the economy and society in which they live. When we get power at the neighborhood level in a town or city, we can confederate all the assemblies and then confederate those towns and cities into a popular government — not a state (which is an instrument of class rule and exploitation), but a government, where the people have the power. This is what I call communalism in a practical sense...[1]
Of the various terms he uses, "libertarian socialist" is the broadest and best known. While he seemed (at least in this interview) to be most sympathetic to the term "libertarian municipalism" to describe his views, "libertarian municipalist" is not a commonly used term, nor did he call himself that. In balance, "libertarian socialist" does seem best, as its breadth seems to best encompass his views. Sunray 07:09, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
I think the missing word in the description, which he uses in the interview, is "left". Right wing libertarians are a completely different animal, and Bookchin would not have recognised much common ground with followers of Milton Friedman or Ayn Rand who also use the libertarian label. But maybe the word "socialist" takes care of that angle. Rodparkes 03:39, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Note that Ayn Rand is not a "ring-wing libertarian". Examples of rightist libertarians are Lew Rockwell and Justin Raimondo. Rand tried to create her own comprehensive philosophy and her minarchist politics were simply the extension of the philosophy into the political arena; it was neither leftist nor rightist, and in fact the Randroids do not call themselves libertarians at all. 16:19, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

The fact remains that throughout much of his life he called himself an Anarchist and this is matched by the bulk of his writings. In later life he sort to distance himself from the individualist/right-wing forms of Anarchism, the "libertarian socialist" label is not backed up by evidence nor used by himself, all the above quotes define a form of anarchist thought. Jleske (talk) 10:54, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Very clearly, it is difficult to label Bookchin. Labels turn into jargon. Bookchin would find a label to use to describe himself, and when others would attach themselves to that very label and turn it into something very much other than what Bookchin intended when when he adopted it for himself, he start calling himself somethign else in an effort to differentiate himself from those polluted the banner.
Murray (I knew him as "Murray," not "Bookchin") was, more than anything else, a "Revolutionary." I reminded him, a few months before he died, when his condition was terminal, that he had been predicting his impending demise for the last 25 years of his life that I knew him. He replied that, as a "Revolutionary," he never expected to live as long as he did.
One cannot describe his political position with one word; two or three modifiers are required. He was not simply an "Ecologist;" he was a Social Ecologist. He discovered, late in life (and to his chagrin) that he could not be considered an "Anarchist" because of the way other people were defining Anarchism by their lifestyles. He came to the conclusion that "Anarchism" was a lifestyle, not a political philosophy (
So he could not call himself an "Anarchist" even though he despised the State, so he was a "Libertarian;" but not a "Ron Paul" type of Libertarian, or as the Libertarian Party of the USA defines itself, so he is a "Left Libertarian," or more accurately a "Libertarian Municipalist" as he believed in the small "d" democracy of the New England Town Meeting and its revolutionary potential.
While greatly influenced by Marx and Hegel, he taught a course called "The Politics of Cosmology" that was going to be a book (he taught The Third Revolution as a course around the same time), in which he traced Western Philosophy from the Pre-Socratics through the Frankfurt School, noting (of course) that philosophers did not write in a vacuum, and that they wrote within the politics of their time. "Dialectical Naturalist" is probably the best label of this sort.
However, the omnibus definition, which has never truly been hijacked, and which truly describes Bookchin's philosophy will always be Social Ecologist. Nothing else is required. For those who will then scratch their heads and wonder what Social Ecology means, they can look it up. MasterPrac (talk) 19:41, 5 July 2008 (UTC)

Category:Former anarchists[edit]

For some reason, Bookchin is contained the the category Former anarchists. I suspect, but cannot confirm, that this is wrong.

My understanding of the category is that it is for persons who ceased being anarchists while still living (e.g. Herbert Spender), and not including those anarchists who simply died (e.g. Lysander Spooner). After all, there are a lot of dead anarchists out there.

To my knowledge, Bookchin was still an anarchist at the time of his death, in which case I would suspect that his inclusion in that category would be simply wrong. Can anybody confirm whether or not Bookchin was still an anarchist at the time of his death?

Allixpeeke (talk) 23:44, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

I'm almost certain he renounced anarchism during his lifetime. I don't have a ref handy, but I'm sure you'll find it in the article references. Regards, Skomorokh incite 23:49, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
This is correct. Bookchin renounced the anarchism in the late 90'ies, and started only using the expression SOCIAL ANARCHISM, (he wrote a pamphlet called "Social anarchism or lifestyle anarchism: the unbridgeable chasm", a few years after he renounced the use of the word anarchism alltogheter, and opted for the use of the label "communalist". A short, but deeply critical history can be found here: Being a bookchinite —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:12, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
An important thing to remember is that he only renounced the use of the word "anarchism". His thinking had evolved some, but he held basically the same ideas as before when he referred to himself as an anarchist. It was a move to distance himself from the "lifestylist" and "individualist" currents within anarchism that he felt were irreconcilable with his understanding of libertarian socialism. At the end of the day, he still held the same beliefs, and drew heavily on past anarchists for inspiration, but no longer used the term.Sarcastic Avenger (talk) 17:14, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
I agree with your point that he did call himself an anarchist for much of his life and the article should reflect that. However, with respect to the term "libertarian socialist," please read the previous section, particularly his interview with Harbinger. Sunray (talk) 22:14, 25 March 2008 (UTC)


I find it odd that Murray is not granted the privilege of having every criticism that was written about him (there are many… Bob Black’s Anarchy After Leftism, David Watson’s Beyond Bookchin, and numerous harsh but comprehensive reviews in anarchist periodicals by Murray’s least favorite of all, John Zerzan and others) synthesized on his bio page. Zerzan and others are given a much more critical examination on Wikipedia. Would someone like to write this? As I figure I could, but that my bias would get in the way, I would enjoy it if someone did it before me. (talk) 19:15, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

  • everyone is biased. Feel free to have a start at it. --Lquilter (talk) 12:56, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

"minor" "restore deleted content"[edit]

An editor recently put in a paragraph about Palestine/Israel issues labeled as "restore section accidentally deleted" and with a "minor edit" flag. Due to the political nature of the topic, and the fact that I can't find this "deletion" in recent edits, I'm a little leery of accepting it at face value. I posted this on the editor's page, and would appreciate anyone else who can actually verify the "previously deleted" nature of this section.

HI LiamFitzGilbert -- You just made a change to the Murray Bookchin article which you checked with a "minor edit" flag and described as "restore section accidentally deleted". Can you please identify where this was previously, and how it was deleted? Because it looks like new content to me, and I hope that you are not putting in new content of a highly political nature that is described in such a way to hide what has happened.

--Lquilter (talk) 12:56, 14 October 2012 (UTC) LiamFitzGilbert (talk) 12:59, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

Thanks, LiamFitzGilbert; we had an edit conflict. I found the same thing too: here's the content. This and other material was part of a chunk of content that was not "accidentally deleted", it was deleted intentionally back in June by User:Byelf2007 with the edit description "not "thought", no citations, messy". The content in question was added by IP editor in a series of edits during June. Here's the content that was added both times.

 ; On Israel
In a 1986 article, Bookchin criticized what he characterized as the left's focus on Israel and its ignoring of human rights elsewhere in the region, as well as Arab atrocities against Jews and Palestinian calls for the "annihilation" of Jews. He mentions one incident in which Israelis tried to discourage the Palestinian Arabs from fleeing Jaffa during the Israeli War of Independence. However, he also claimed to be critical of Israel, especially under Likud.[1]

The original add had a lot more about a documentary.

So my main concern here is that the misdescriptive edit summary & minor flag suggest something sneaky is going on, which, given the subject, makes me suspicious of potential bias and POV-pushing in the content. I am not personally familiar enough with Bookchin to know whether this is an accurate characterization of his views, and whether it is proportionate to the article. So someone else needs to weigh in on that. In the meantime, I'm going to post a follow-up to User:LiamFitzGilbert's page, the IP editor's page, and to User:Byelf2007's page, since they had previously been involved in the edits. Let's please talk it out here and avoid edit-warring on the Murray Bookchin page. --Lquilter (talk) 13:08, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

I'm flattered that you're casting aspersions at my "sneakiness" or alleged "POV". Can I ask, what is your problem with the content? If you don't have one, why all this effort?
At any rate, either it was accidentally deleted (my guess) or else it was Byelf2007 who was being deliberately deceitful, as the section was obviously not "messy" or lacking a citation. LiamFitzGilbert (talk) 13:19, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── When that section was removed in August 2011, the following edit summary was used:

I deleted the bit on Israel under "Thought," because Israel was not at all significant or representative to Bookchin's thought. Why not include his assessment of revolution and Spanish Anarchism, which he actually wrote books on?

I agree with the IP who made that change. Having a full section of this article based on a single op-ed piece written by Bookchin is giving it undue weight. It is also based on a primary source, so we may be violating WP:NOR by including it (see WP:PSTS). — Malik Shabazz Talk/Stalk 04:16, 15 October 2012 (UTC)

Ah yes, now for a completely neutral, apolitical, and dispassionate opinion.... LiamFitzGilbert (talk) 13:03, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
Are there in fact more writings than the one editorial cited on Bookchin's thought in this area? Because if as Malik Shabazz notes there is only one editorial on the matter, then I agree, it's undue weight, no matter what his thoughts. Bookchin is not generally noted as a scholar or activist on Israeli / Palestinian issues. --Lquilter (talk) 16:52, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
If that's your rationale, then you'd have to go through Wikipedia and delete the comments of every journalist, author, activist, historian, pop star, actor, politician who ever commented on the Israeli-Arab conflict. Good luck with that.
If you type "Murray Bookchin Israel" into Google Scholar, you will find that the article is highly referenced by both anarchist and mainstream publications. LiamFitzGilbert (talk) 17:33, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
Do you wish to engage in personal insults, or deal with the relevant Wikipedia policies?
Typing "Murray Bookchin Israel" introduces a lot of noise. Searching for "Murray Bookchin "Attacks on Israel"" (the title of the op-ed) yields only four results, two of which are mirrors of this article and one a false positive (the fourth cites it in a footnote). So much for your assertion that the op-ed is "highly referenced".
Do you have anything to counter the policy-based arguments I made? — Malik Shabazz Talk/Stalk 22:58, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize that typing "WP:NOR" constitutes a "policy-based argument". My bad. Ok, here's my policy-based argument: Wikipedia:Use common sense.... i.e., a political theorist's views on a political topic is probably worth including provided it is reliably sourced and well-referenced. Which this is.
Now, do you have an actual reason (not Wiki-talk) why such information shouldn't be included? I know perfectly well your motivation (and you know that I know), but I'd like to see you try and manufacture a different one (without typing something that begins with "[[WP:"). LiamFitzGilbert (talk) 04:14, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
" a political theorist's views on a political topic is probably worth including provided it is reliably sourced and well-referenced. Which this is. " Reliably sourced & well-referenced is good.
Then the question is whether those views are accorded undue weight. Someone might have expressed opinions on any number of issues, but unless they are substantial parts of that person's biography / scholarship; or highly notable for some other reason (i.e., intensely controversial, like Noam Chomsky's brief discussion of intellectual freedom for a holocaust-denier), then they wouldn't necessarily be appropriate for the article. Consider for example Emma Goldman on Native American rights. While of great interest to a current audience, it wasn't a major part of her portfolio, so it hasn't been included.
So the question here is: Are Bookchin's views on Israel/Palestine a significant part of his portfolio? I think we can all agree, no. Then we could ask: Were his views as expressed notable for some other reason -- i.e., particularly controversial; ground-changing in the debate even if not notable to Bookchin himself; or notable in any other way?
Note -- the burden of proof, if you will, is on those seeking to include information. So the question is not "is there a reason not to include it"; it's "is there a reason to include it?"
--Lquilter (talk) 19:24, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
a political theorist's views on a political topic is probably worth including provided it is reliably sourced and well-referenced. Which this is.
No, Liam, it isn't. It's sourced to a photocopy of an op-ed on a self-published website. I'm sorry you don't like our policies, but please read WP:NOR, especially WP:PSTS. — Malik Shabazz Talk/Stalk 20:44, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
Presumably we can verify the Burlington Free Press cite (May 4, 1986), and then I don't have a problem with quoting Bookchin' from that source. We have to be careful not to synthesize his views, which is the problem with op-eds and that sort of writing. My main problem with the content though is the weight of it in context with the rest of the article, and I haven't seen a response to that yet. --Lquilter (talk) 23:06, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
  • LiamFitzGilbert, you seem to be suggesting that there is bias on the subject. Is there an editor that you think would have the opposite bias who might be able to weigh in on this? For my part, I can assure you I have zero bias based on my opinions about Palestinian/Israeli issues per se. But I don't want wikipedia pages on other subjects to become part of a battleground to get in material that is not relevant to those pages. --Lquilter (talk) 19:27, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
It's been more than 10 days, and Liam hasn't responded. I've removed the paragraph in question from the article. — Malik Shabazz Talk/Stalk 23:04, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
  • Seems like the right decision to me. While the text itself seemed relatively neutral, the subject seemed like undue weight given the focus of Bookchin's work over the years. Obviously, if LiamFitzGilbert or other editors have other thoughts, I hope they can talk it out here. Tx for keeping up with the issue, MS. --Lquilter (talk) 18:57, 31 October 2012 (UTC)


And, we have a similar paragraph on Israel being added. (diff) Still seems like undue weight, so I've reverted (diff), but am posting here for discussion. --Lquilter (talk) 23:12, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

  • The same editor put it back again; I've reverted & now posted a note to their page (User talk: Unfortunately they're an IP editor so they won't necessarily be notified about the talk message. If they continue to put the content in, I'll temporarily semi-protect the page to direct the conversation here. IP, if you are looking at this page, please discuss this material here. --Lquilter (talk) 14:23, 14 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Replaced & reverted again; I've now put the article on edit-review status. --Lquilter (talk) 15:20, 14 March 2014 (UTC)


The anon editor who wants to include content on Israel / Palestine (see discussion above) noted in its last edit summary (putting the same content in, three times in a row) that "if position on obscure militant organization (PKK) is relevant, then surely position on Israel is too?". So I'm raising the question here: Is the content on PKK relevant, undue weight, or sufficiently important to be included in the article? --Lquilter (talk) 15:25, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

as a political thinker, surely his opinions on both are relevant? but it seems you own this article, and have blocked me from editing, so i don't know who you're supposedly having a conversation with here on this "talk" page... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:33, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

  • You're not blocked from editing. The changes are for review, because you kept putting them back after discussion, and without responding to conversation -- in other words, edit warring. (Also -- I've hardly edited this article at all, so I definitely don't "own" it.) --Lquilter (talk) 00:39, 15 March 2014 (UTC)
  • More importantly, on the substance: If you look at the earlier conversation on this information, there was concern that including this information was WP:UNDUE - undue weight. The "undue" standard helps us focus on writing an article about the topic -- staying focused on what is notable to the subject of the biographical article. So, for example, there might be many political or other topics of compelling interest to readers. But if, say, "abortion" wasn't a key focus of the person's interest, then it would be unrepresentative to dedicate one paragraph out of ten (10% of the article) to that topic -- even if abortion is of high interest to many people. This standard is also helpful in ensuring encyclopedic content is reliable and neutral, because it's difficult to find enough sources on topics of lesser interest to that person to ensure that their views / actions are adequately and fairly represented. If it's not of important to that person, or if that person wasn't of importance to that issue, then the nexus between the two is best described as "trivial". Not that the issue or the person is trivial, but that the person's views on that issue are (relatively speaking) trivial in the context of their life.
Applying this standard to Bookchin: Bookchin might have commented on Palestine, the space program, abortion, and any one of several different political candidates. But in an encyclopedia article, we're going to focus on the things that are notable for and about Bookchin. So the question is not, "Would someone be interested in a particular fact about Bookchin and his views that he expressed once or twice on a subject of high interest to readers?" but rather, "Is this information about Bookchin's views or actions or life highly significant to his life, such that any reader of an article about him in a general encyclopedia would need to know it to get a general picture of Bookchin?" You might get there by showing that Bookchin cared a lot about an issue; or that he did a lot of work on the issue; or that his positions/views, even if trivial to him, caused a big controversy that affected his life; or that even if it was trivial to him, he in some way had a significant effect on that issue. If any of those things apply, then it would make sense to include them in a general level encyclopedia entry of Bookchin. But if none of them apply, then a general level encyclopedia entry of Bookchin should not include them -- maybe they're relevant in a comprehensive biography of Bookchin -- but not a Wikipedia-level general biography.
So, if this standard is clear, then I want to ask you -- Was Bookchin's position on Israel/Palestine is of that level of importance, to Bookchin or in Bookchin's life; or was Bookchin's position/actions influential in the general Israel/Palestine activist community? If so, then make your case.
As to PKK, if you allege that it's trivial (no more important than Israel/Palestine), then it would make more sense to cut out PKK than to add in Israel/Palestine. At least from the evidence so far provided.
Lquilter (talk) 00:39, 15 March 2014 (UTC)

So you're allowed to "edit war", and I'm not. Good deal. And Wikipedia wonders why there's no new editors. I've provided my reasoning. You've said a lot, but you haven't actually put forward a cogent argument as to why you disagree. So, have fun talking to yourself. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:52, 16 March 2014 (UTC)

As the editor who added the information on the PKK, I would like to point out that it deals less with Bookchin's views on the organisation and more with his influence on their current ideological bent. The PKK is no more—I would even venture to say less—obscure than Bookchin himself, and represents perhaps the most prominent example of a group which owns and acknowledges a debt to his theories and seeks to put (its variant on) them into practice. As such, I definitely think it's important enough to include here. While the information on his views on Israel may or may not be important enough to include, it certainly has no business in the "Legacy" section. Just because material pertaining to foreign things is there doesn't mean it's a catchall section for any view he expressed on a topic related to foreign affairs. ~~ Lothar von Richthofen (talk) 02:50, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

  • Thanks for weighing in, Lothar von Richtofen. Seems to me that the PKK material is relevant based on LVR's comments. --Lquilter (talk) 12:56, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
  • 109.*, let me be more succinct: As far as we can tell from the inserted content, the Israel/Palestine commentary by Bookchin is not significant in Bookchin's life and it's not significant to the Israel/Palestine movement. One article in his bibliography is not significant -- if we summarized each article Bookchin wrote, the Wikipedia article would be hundreds of pages long. Can you show evidence -- that is more than one article by Bookchin -- of the significance of Bookchin to Israel/Palestine, or vice versa? As LVR did above. --Lquilter (talk) 12:56, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

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  1. ^ Attacks on Israel Ignores the Long History of Arab Conflict, published by Murray Bookchin in The Burlington Free Press, 1986.