Social Ecology: Communalism against Climate Chaos

Since the 1960s, the theory and praxis of social ecology have helped guide efforts to articulate a radical, counter-systemic ecological outlook with a goal of transforming society’s relationship to non-human nature. For many decades, social ecologists have articulated a fundamental ecological critique of capitalism and the state, and proposed an alternative vision of empowered human communities organized confederally in pursuit of a more harmonious relationship to the wider natural world.

Social ecology helped shape the New Left and anti-nuclear movements in the 1960s and 1970s, the emergence of Green politics in many countries, the alter-globalization movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s, and most recently the struggle for democratic autonomy by Kurdish communities in Turkey and Syria, along with the resurgence of new municipal movements around the world — from Barcelona en Comú to Cooperation Jackson in Mississippi.

The philosophical vision of social ecology was first articulated by Murray Bookchin between the early 1960s and the early 2000s, and has since been further elaborated by his colleagues and many others. It is a unique synthesis of social criticism, historical and anthropological investigation, dialectical philosophy and political strategy. Social ecology can be viewed as an unfolding of several distinct layers of understanding and insight, spanning all of these dimensions and more. It begins with an appreciation of the fact that environmental problems are fundamentally social and political in nature, and are rooted in the historical legacies of domination and social hierarchy.

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