Creating Free Cities

Janet Biehls graphics of Murray Bookchin

A Brief Note to Our Readers

Readers of New Compass are well aware of how radical theorist Murray Bookchin (1921–2006) continuously worked to develop social and political alternatives to the nation-state and capitalism. His social ecology explicitly sought to create free municipalities peopled by free citizens.

Back in 2005, Murray asked me to collect and edit an anthology of his most recent essays on political theory. This resulted in two books. The first was Social Ecology and Communalism (San Francisco: AK Press, 2006), and the second was to become Free Cities: Communalism and the Left.

Free Cities has—much to my chagrin—still not been published.

I certainly hope to see the book become more available in the near future, but due to disagreements with Murray Bookchin’s legal heirs, I have disengaged myself from this project, and I am no longer involved in making this a reality. The heirs have been strongly encouraged to publish the work in full, as soon as they see fit.

However, since four years now have passed since the book was completed—and I see no prospects for it being published anytime soon—I hereby present to our readers my original “Editor’s Preface” to Free Cities, the book’s table of contents, as well as some information about a series of libraries and archives where Bookchin’s work is available.

Until the full book is properly published and reaches a broader audience, I hope this modest contribution will help engaged readers to understand more of Bookchin’s political developments toward the end of his life, of which far too little is publicly recognized.


Eirik Eiglad
Telemark, January 25, 2012



Editor's Preface: Creating Free Cities

What would a free municipality look like? What would its basic institutions be? What material, political, and cultural preconditions must be met before we can arrive at them, and who will be the agents for social change? What kinds of movements and political efforts are required to create them?

These questions strike to the core of Murray Bookchin’s political project, particularly as he refined it during the 1980s and 1990s. The immediate and ultimate aim of the political approach he advanced is to create free cities or municipalities and as such it is meant to provide both a clear social ideal as well as a concrete political praxis.

By advancing libertarian municipalism, Bookchin hoped to see new civic movements emerge and claim control over their communities. Political involvement at the local level is necessary, he insisted, to guide and inspire a process of municipal empowerment. This process and the institutions it entails, he hoped, can provide a focal point for rallying progressive social movements to the common cause of political freedom in its most expansive sense. To a very large extent, creating free cities is about developing free citizens, in whose hands power over society should be squarely placed: it must reside in popular assemblies and not in bureaucracies, parliaments, or corporate boards. Libertarian municipalism is an attempt to create the political structures necessary for this shift in power. Democratized and radicalized, municipal confederations would emerge, it is hoped, as a dual power to challenge and ultimately confront and replace the nation state and the market.

A life-long radical and a fertile thinker, Murray Bookchin had been politically active since the 1930s; first in Communist parties, trade unions, and Trotskyist groups, then in the 1960s in the civil rights movement, urban ecology projects, anarchist groups, the radical student movement, and community groups; then in the 1970s and 1980s in anti-nuclear movements and the early Green movement. Only in the early 1990s did his health preclude further involvement in practical political affairs, but he continued to write until the last years of his life. Bookchin’s works spanned a broad range of issues, including ecology, anthropology, technology, history, politics, and philosophy. He started to write about ecology and urban issues in the 1950s, and in 1964 he wrote his seminal “Ecology and Revolutionary Thought,” the first definitive essay on radical social ecology. Later he was to refine his theories—through a corpus of more than twenty books—into a coherent body of ideas. Murray Bookchin died at the age of 85, on July 30, 2006. With his passing we lost one of the most challenging and innovative radical thinkers of the twentieth century.

Bookchin expressed his ideas on libertarian municipalism in a number of essays and articles, and he advocated it in his lectures and talks. But no book has yet appeared that collects his essays on the subject. This collection of his late political essays, I am proud to say, helps fill that gap. (1)

This collection should be seen, however, in relation to Bookchin’s full-length book on civic development, citizenship and politics, From Urbanization to Cities. (2) When he republished that monumental work in 1992 he added the essay “The Meaning of Confederalism,” and in a later edition, in 1995, he further added “Confederal Municipalism: An Overview,” as well as a new prologue. Bookchin was no academic, and he did not write for purely scholarly purposes: his aim with that work “was to formulate a new politics” and by appending these essays he showed how he meant to inspire a movement to give his ideas concrete reality.

In light of this, I initially intended this book to be an expanded appendix to From Urbanization to Cities, so that both together would constitute an overview of his political thinking. In my view his late essays, which I have collected here, make his earlier works on urbanization, ecology, and revolutionary history even more relevant and tangible.

Bookchin’s essays from the 1980s and 1990s had tried to advance libertarian municipalism as an anarchist alternative, an effort that turned out to be problematical. Although for many years he called himself an anarchist, pioneering its concerns with ecology and with hierarchy, he had long had a troubled relationship with that tradition. After a bitter polemical struggle to defend what he considered to be its highest social ideals against individualists, workerists, mystics, primitivists, and autonomists, he got tired of “defending anarchism against anarchists,” as he put it, and publicly disassociated himself from anarchism as such. He had spent much time and effort formulating and presenting libertarian municipalism as an anarchist politics, but anarchists, it turned out, were not interested in these ideas, and in fact the political idea of democracy is actually alien to anarchism. Several notions in anarchism inspired Bookchin, but his ideas about municipal government, direct democracy, and confederation could not be contained within an anarchist framework. Breaking with anarchism, he urged left libertarian radicals to embrace a new set of ideas, indeed a new ideology—he called it communalism—that could transcend all classical radical theories, both Marxist and anarchist. Bookchin intended communalism, as an attempt to revive Enlightenment radicalism, to be a coherent ideological platform upon which we can develop libertarian ideas today and provide the Left with a politics.

For these reasons, I realized very soon that these essays expanded the purpose of the anthology; they gave a remarkably consistent overview of Bookchin’s perspectives on communalism and its relationship to the Left in general. Taken together these essays not only provide an overview of Bookchin’s political ideas but explain how his political ideas stem from his broader historical, philosophical, and theoretical perspectives. Although the subject matter may be libertarian municipalism and practical politics, their foundational analyses are profoundly social ecological, and their ideological perspective is basically communalist.

I chose the title Free Cities for this anthology because I think it stimulates our understanding of the historical impetus behind Bookchin’s political project. In order to achieve its ideal of a rational and ecological society, libertarian municipalism is an effort to create free cities, with an emphasis on both these words. Bookchin would have insisted that we interpret free not simply as “independent,” or “autonomous.” Rather, we should understand freedom in its expansive political sense, as the collective expression of human self-recognition and consciousness. Similarly, cities should not be interpreted merely as spatial centers of population or trade. For Bookchin, the historic rise of cities brought humanity the social framework to break out of the rigid tribal world and develop into truly social beings; such citification is a historical precondition for our notion of citizenship. The ideal of the free cities was a subject not only of great historical interest but one that gave meaning to the project for social and political emancipation. The question that occupied Bookchin was to what extent municipalities could become genuine arenas for political creativity, universalism, and freedom and thus give human society its most rational expression.

I also hope that the title Free Cities stimulates the reader to conceptualize the political ideas of social ecology in a tangible manner. How can we empower our communities and recreate them along libertarian lines? How can we democratically transform the political, cultural, and material conditions of our own towns, villages, and cities? Social ecology proposes a politics of remaking daily life not only by creating nonhierarchical social relationships but also by institutionally restructuring neighborhoods and cities. The solemn theoretical adherence to “civilizatory advances” and a “rational society” found in these essays should not frighten the reader; libertarian municipalism is a concrete political practice. It is my genuine hope that this book encourages readers to consider how to revitalize their own communities, how we may remake our municipalities as great places to live—for all its citizens—and render them politically and socially free.

My choice of subtitle—Communalism and the Left—expresses Bookchin’s wish to frame his theories in a communalist framework and to define its relationship to the Left. Bookchin explains in these essays the major achievements as well as the serious deficiencies of various traditional radical Left ideologies, like Marxism, anarchism, and syndicalism. For one thing, both socialism and anarchism have ignored the need to develop a political approach in the classical sense of the term, a politics distinct from the State on the one hand and from the social sphere on the other. Communalism was for Bookchin an attempt to provide the ideological framework to resuscitate the greatest Left traditions and to formulate a libertarian politics.


The idea for this book germinated when I last saw Murray, a few months before his death. At the end of November 2005 Sveinung Legard and I visited Murray and Janet Biehl, his longtime partner and collaborator, in Burlington. During our stay we had lengthy political discussions and even made a substantial interview with Murray, which turned out to be the last one he ever gave.

At one point in our discussions Bookchin mentioned that he hoped to see his writings on libertarian municipalism collected and published. I had already given this suggestion some serious thought and had specific ideas about how to put together some anthologies of his writings. For some time I had been translating his works into Norwegian, and had edited, anthologized and published his political writings here in Scandinavia. But I had hesitated to suggest an English-language anthology, as English is my second language—an obvious shortcoming. Moreover, Murray had long benefited from the support of Janet’s superior editing skills; for many years, she had carefully helped prepare his manuscripts for publication. Hence I was reluctant to offer my assistance. But at that time Janet was exhausted from the intense work of editing The Third Revolution and was in no position to undertake any new obligation of the sort. I fervently wanted to see the anthologies materialize, and emboldened by Murray’s expressed wish, I offered to assist.

My specific suggestions were twofold. First, I would make a small book consisting of some four essays that gave a rounded yet accessible presentation of social ecology, to be called Social Ecology and Communalism. (3) Then I would collect the more directly political essays in a second book that would comprise a comprehensive overview. Murray and I discussed these book projects in detail, and he gave me some manuscripts and notes for my work. (4) I assured him that I would do my very best to see that these books was edited according to his wishes, and he expressed his confidence by putting me in charge of their publication. As soon as I returned to Norway, I began to work on the books.

My own qualifications for preparing these books may not be obvious to the reader, as I not only live on the other side of the Atlantic from Murray but am not a native English speaker. But I have been involved with the ideas of social ecology and libertarian municipalism since the early 1990s. I first met Murray in 1996 and visited him many times thereafter, staying in Burlington for weeks and months, experiencing his generosity and that of his family. Murray and I regularly had long telephone conversations throughout our ten years of friendship and cooperation. Whenever I made a decision to translate his works into Norwegian for publication, I always informed him of my choices, and I consulted him when I encountered problems. He thus became familiar with my editorial skills and abilities. When I started writing my own essays, he always read them carefully and gave me his comments. Sometimes he was a stern critic, and sometimes he was encouraging, but always his perspectives were challenging.

Over the years we grew ever closer. After the Second International Conference on Libertarian Municipalism (held in Plainfield, Vermont, in 1999), I suggested the creation of an international journal to express a consistent communalist perspective. Murray eagerly joined the journal’s editorial board, which was the last political group to which he belonged. (5) For its launch, I wrote “Communalism as Alternative,” a manifesto-like essay presenting the basic ideological views that Murray had developed. Editing the two books has for me been a way to continue our cooperation, as well as a way to show my gratitude for his intellectual generosity.

Unfortunately Murray died only seven months after our meeting on the books, and he never had the chance to see either of them published. I nonetheless feel confident that Free Cities: Communalism and the Left has become what he wanted it to be. The essays gathered here are among Bookchin’s last, and they give a good overview of his ideas at the end of his life. I genuinely hope that the reader will get as much intellectual stimulation and political inspiration from reading these essays as I have done from preparing them for publication.


Some of the essays in this anthology may already be familiar to the reader who has closely followed Bookchin’s work, but most of them are previously unpublished; they are collected from letters, lectures, and unfinished drafts and manuscripts. I have tried to order them in a flowing presentation to give an overview of his late political outlook. Since Bookchin died before witnessing the completion of this project, I think it is only decent to explain as fully as possible my editorial choices in creating Free Cities.

Generally speaking, in addition to doing regular editorial work, such as adding titles and subheadings, or double-checking references, dates and names, I have tried to create a common style of presentation by making the notes, letters and unfinished manuscripts into proper essays.

This anthology consists of independent essays on political issues and often quite general ones – in several places he gives brief synopses of his basic political ideas – and therefore they overlap in some ways. But I have tried to limit these overlaps for the sake of the reader’s ease. In these essays Murray made recurring references to his basic works, From Urbanization to Cities, The Ecology of Freedom, and Remaking Society. I strongly advise the reader unfamiliar with these works to consult them, but I have trimmed the many references. Sometimes he would discuss the same idea in several places, such as the distinction between politics and statecraft, which he explored in From Urbanization to Cities, and his tripartite distinction between the political sphere, the social sphere, and the State. Suffice it to say, again, that readers will deepen their understanding of these ideas by exploring them in Bookchin’s larger works, but they need not be repeated here.

Furthermore, I have cut out some of the conceptual discussions that Bookchin repeated over several of these essays: I speak of his often-mentioned explanation that he was defining politics in its classical Greek meaning, as the self-management of the polis; and his frequently repeated caveat that is was well aware of the historical shortcomings of the ancient Athenian democracy in regard to slavery, xenophobia, and patriarchy. When Bookchin brings up similar discussions in different essays—say on the issue of consensus, confederation, or government—I have tried to limit this, either by removing repetitive sections or consolidating them in one place, particularly in the previously unpublished writings. Generally I have omitted repetitions of similar arguments in different essays, but I have left them intact when they approach an issue from a distinctive angle and thus serve to nuance his views. Here Bookchin was well aware of my general intention.

Whenever possible I have accommodated Bookchin’s wish to update his essays according to the communalist perspective. This issue is of course most significantly related to his break with anarchism, a matter he explains in some detail in several of the essays. (6) To the extent that this was appropriate, I have updated some of his older essays. Similarly, when he appeals to a specific group (say, the Greens, with whom he worked with for a while) in a way that seemed outdated, I have tried to make the appeal more general (and changed it to, say, “radical ecologists”). I thoroughly discussed all these changes with Bookchin and am making them here at his explicit request.

Whenever patching one paragraph to another required the addition of a transitional sentence, I have tried to make use of concrete expressions that Bookchin uttered elsewhere. To the best of my abilities, whenever I have had to revise paragraphs or move phrases, I have tried to preserve Bookchin’s tone. If readers sometimes miss the characteristic musicality of his writings, it is not from my lack of trying.

The hardest part of creating such an anthology, however, lies in deciding which essays to include and how to organize them. I can only hope that more of Bookchin’s essays, lectures and interviews will be made available in the years to come, to shed more light on his intellectual development, particularly during the last decades. Still, based as it is on my understanding of what Bookchin wanted to see published from the last years of his life, this book presents that work as honestly as possible.


The “Introduction” is cobbled together from notes that Bookchin gave me November 2005. When we were discussing this project, I told him that I would love to have him write an introduction to this book, as his earlier essays on libertarian municipalism needed contextualization in light of his recent break with anarchism. He then revealed that he already had started drafting such an introduction, and he passed along to me his draft, along with a draft for a separate essay that he had recently started writing. Both these drafts were in a woefully unfinished state, almost notes, and we agreed that they had to be focused to fit this specific anthology. To ease my work, I suggested we use the drafts in combination with a small piece that Bookchin had written to introduce a recent Swedish anthology of his writings – a suggestion that he approved. (7) I have thus extracted the core message of his drafts and spun them around the existing Swedish introduction. By distinguishing his communalist approach further from Marxism and anarchism, and by emphasizing the profound historicism of these ideas, I think this piece constitutes a proper introduction to this anthology.

The next essay, “The Ecological Crisis and the Need to Remake Society,” brings us directly to some social ecological conclusions on political radicalism, and situates the remaining essays in the context of social ecology. I chose this essay because I find it to be an accessible lead-in to libertarian municipalism as a social ecological politics, in relation to the impending ecological crisis that besets us; I also like that it briefly touches on Bookchin’s criticisms of other radical tendencies in the ecology movement, criticisms that have made for defining debates. Its original title was “The Ecological Crisis, Socialism, and the Need to Remake Society,” and it was published in Society and Nature 2, no. 3 (1994), and it has been edited only slightly to fit this anthology.

“Nationalism and the ‘National Question,’” written March 1993, was published in Society and Nature 2, no. 2 (1994). It has long been one of my personal favorites among Bookchin essays, and I am happy to include it here, as it gives a solid historical argument not only against statism but also against nationalism. In this essay Bookchin explores the Left’s historically ambivalent relationship to the “national question,” and he contrasts his ideas of municipalism and confederation to those of nations and states, precisely because by defending the universal principles of democracy and human solidarity.

The succinct “Nationalism and the Great Revolutions” was originally published as an addendum to the preceding essay, highlighting the universalistic spirit of the Enlightenment.

Bookchin’s arguments against nationalism and statism are taken further in the next essay, which I have called “The Historical Importance of the City.” Here we are given forceful arguments for the civilizatory and humanizing aspects of the emergence of the cities—the tendencies that libertarian municipalism ultimately wants to recover and expand. I told Bookchin that I had long wanted to highlight some of the main issues in his polemics with John Clark, and I specifically suggested these excerpts. (Frustratingly, many of his political adversaries have tended to deflect attention from the real ideological questions at stake; by including these excerpts, I hope to offer the basic yet crucial arguments.) I suggested to Bookchin that I present this abridged version. Even though I have removed them from the polemical essay, I am not suggesting that this abridged version is better than the original, only that it better serves our purpose here. Neither do I want readers to ignore the fact that every sentence in this essay is meant as a direct or indirect criticism of Clark’s position. Readers are strongly encouraged to read the polemic in full, which relates more directly the actual points of contention but contains other important discussions as well. (8) The full polemic is “Comments on the International Social Ecology Network Gathering and the ‘Deep Social Ecology’ of John Clark,” written in September 1995 and published in Democracy and Nature 3, no. 3 (1997). Other essays from his 1990s debates with anarchists are certainly also of interest, as they often give different emphases and nuances to his political ideas.

The 1990s debates over the nature of anarchism alienated Bookchin from the contemporary anarchist movement. Unfortunately he wrote no fundamental essays that explained his conclusions in great detail, although in retrospect we see how Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism opened his break with this ideology. (9) Many of the features of “lifestyle anarchism” that he criticized were ones that he later concluded were symptomatic of anarchism as such. Murray explained his reasoning in a letter to Peter Zegers and the editorial board of Communalism (in November 2001), calling even the more social forms of anarchism basically egoist. He also developed some of these ideas in a letter to Hamish Alcorn, written on July 30, 1999, just before Bookchin’s public break with anarchism. With Bookchin’s permission I have structured the essay “Anarchism as Individualism” around these two letters, incorporating as well some unpublished material from “Toward a Communalist Approach” and an early version of “The Communalist Project.” Despite its brevity, I think this essay may shed light to Bookchin’s reasons for breaking publicly with anarchism, the political ideology with which he had been associated—and of which he had been a major representative—for four decades.

The next essay, “Anarchism, Power, and Government,” is based on the appendix that Murray wrote to “The Communalist Project,” which he called “Anarchism and Power in the Spanish Revolution,” published in Communalism, no. 2 (November 2002). I have expanded it using excerpts on the same subject originally from “The Future of the Left” and “Toward a Communalist Approach.” As these essays were written around the same time and brought up very similar issues, I have knitted the similar passages together. As such, I think this short essay contains one of his weightiest arguments against anarchism, namely its inability to deal with real-life problems in periods of social change and revolution.

The two preceding essays make an interesting contrast with “Libertarian Municipalism as a Revolutionary Politics.” Written as a video-transmitted speech that he presented to the First International Conference on Libertarian Municipalism, held in Lisbon in 1998, it was one of his last attempts to present his political ideas as a direct extension of the anarchist-communist tradition. Here he tries to uphold the classical anarchist preference for communes, revolutionism, and federations, in order to sophisticate this ideal for changed social conditions: The speech was titled “A Politics for the 21st Century.” I have removed dated references and some parts that overlap with the other essays herein. I have also tried to update the essay according to Bookchin’s expressed wishes, making minor changes concerning his ideological drift from anarchism to communalism, without changing any of its basic content. After this speech Bookchin gave up on his attempts to influence the anarchist movement from within, and at the Second International Conference in Vermont the following year, he openly broke with anarchism as a theory and a movement. This essay contains his last important evaluation of the anarchist tradition from within, trying to emphasize its revolutionary, democratic, and socialist character. He later considered his efforts to have been an utter failure. Where he had earlier tried to expand the federalist, cooperative, and municipalist trends within the anarchist tradition, he now tried to bring those valuable contributions into a new theoretical framework that was unburdened by the antisocial, anti-intellectual, and antiorganizational tendencies that anarchism has always struggled with.

The next essay, “The Future of the Left,” is in my view the jewel of this collection, tying all the other essays together and giving this anthology its necessary coherence and breadth. Here Bookchin assesses of the state of radicalism at the turn of the twenty-first century—not only the radicalism of the contemporary resistance against “globalization,” but radicalism going back to the interwar period and twentieth-century revolutionary experiences. He takes a remarkably detached, yet engaged, look at traditional radicalism and its basic premises, specifically analyzing trends in Marxism and anarchism. Bookchin often spoke of this essay and finally showed it to me at our November 2005 meeting. The manuscript that he handed over to me to edit had been written in December 2002. It was still unfinished (it actually ended in midsentence) but was remarkably consistent in its reasoning. Although I have edited the essay, nothing of substance has been omitted. Actually, this essay caused me to struggle to find the necessary composition for this anthology, mainly because it broadens the focus far beyond the collection of his “strictly political” writings that I had intended. In this essay we see Bookchin’s most mature ideas; it is fully communalist. “The Future of the Left” poses a set of challenging questions for our generation of radicals to consider, and even as a stand-alone essay it gives this anthology a scope that stretches far into the future.

We close with an essay that Bookchin wrote for Communalism. Originally written July 2000 as “Communalism: An Overview,” it was supposed to be revised for publication, but instead he wrote a completely new essay that ended up as the masterfully written and theoretically challenging “The Communalist Project.” (10) Even though the “Overview” essay was thus superseded, it did however contain so many interesting aspects that it deserved to be published in its own right, and I always had that idea in the back of my head. (As a matter of fact, Bookchin himself returned to it in June 2003 and made some significant updates.) I have taken out all portions that overlap with “The Communalist Project,” and I think it is of great interest, not because it is a definitive exposition of communalism—it is not—but rather because it is so suggestive of such an exposition. In this essay we see Bookchin still struggling with his ideological break with anarchism, framing his presentation almost entirely as a polemic against prevalent anarchist notions—unlike his “The Communalist Project” and “The Future of the Left,” which independently stand out as a challenging ideological testament.


Taken together, the essays in Free Cities represent Bookchin’s most recent ideas, particularly on political and ideological issues. In my view this anthology gives both a good introduction to the political ideas as well as solid overview of his communalist approach. Not only does it contain much previously unpublished material; it helps explain ideological issues that remained unresolved at his death, particularly concerning his ideological break with anarchism. It will be easy for readers familiar with Bookchin’s writings to see how his distinct political ideas are educed from his broader theory of social ecology. For Bookchin, to advance libertarian municipalism meant to defend and build upon the ideals of the Enlightenment, which he considered the greatest tradition of social development. Based on communalism and social ecology, libertarian municipalism is a fundamental attempt to define a political humanism and to formulate and create a rational society.

I admit that preparing this manuscript for publication has not been easy, particularly since Bookchin passed away before seeing its completion. Despite the arduous task, I have also found it a pleasure to work with these wonderful ideas.

I would particularly like to thank Janet Biehl, Murray Bookchin’s longtime companion and political collaborator, who meticulously edited all of Murray’s work in his last two decades before it saw publication. I would also like to express my gratitude to my close comrades Yngvild Hasvik and Sveinung Legard, as their support, patience, and advice have been indispensable in finishing this project

At the end of this preface I would also like to properly thank Murray Bookchin for allowing me to work on these ideas, and for our ten years of cooperation and friendship. It has been a privilege to be associated with him; his intellectual vigor was always a source of great inspiration, and I have gained much from his genuinely sharing personality. However much I have enjoyed his warmth and generosity on a personal level, my gratitude above all goes to his achievements in providing a future movement with such challenging ideas.

If this collection of essays contributes to contemporary discussions on what kind of political institutions and radical organizations we need today, it will have served its purpose. It is my genuine hope that readers will seek to familiarize themselves with Bookchin’s ideas, here and in his other works, not as an academic exercise but as a way of preparing to change the world.


Eirik Eiglad
March 30, 2008



1. The most comprehensive and accessible overview of these ideas is Janet Biehl’s book The Politics of Social Ecology: Libertarian Municipalism (Montréal: Black Rose Books, 1998), a work that Bookchin himself often recommended as the best introduction to his political ideas.
2. The book was originally published by Sierra Club Books (San Francisco) as The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship in 1987; republished by Black Rose Books (Montréal) in 1992 as Urbanization Without Cities: The Rise and Decline of Citizenship; and finally republished in a revised version as From Urbanization to Cities: Toward a Politics of Citizenship, by Cassell (London) in 1995. Despite its fairly dry titles, this book gives a vivid account of the emergence and meaning of politics, citizenship, and civic development.
3. This small book was published by AK Press in 2007.
4. We also discussed his manuscript on philosophy, The Politics of Cosmology, which he also wanted me to work on; he gave me a copy with instructions on how to edit it, and I gave him my promise that I would see to its publication.
5. The journal was first launched in October 2002 on the Internet. Apart from Murray Bookchin and myself, the other members of the editorial board were Janet Biehl, Peter Zegers, Gary Sisco, and Sveinung Legard. (At our first meeting, in August 1999, I was elected general editor.) Bookchin suggested the subtitle on its masthead—International Journal for a Rational Society—and took a great interest in the workings of this journal, although his declining health impeded him from playing a more active role. (The journal continues to appear, at
6. For Janet Biehl’s account of this ideological break, see “Bookchin Breaks with Anarchism,” in L. Gambone and P. Murtagh, ed., Anarchism for the 21st Century (Edinburgh and Oakland: AK Press, forthcoming). This essay was also published in Communalism, no. 12 (October 2007).
7. This introduction was written on December 14, 2002, and has been known only to Scandinavian audiences. See Murray Bookchin, Perspektiv för en ny vänster: Essäer om direkt demokrati, moralisk ekonomi, socialekologi och kommunalism, translated by Jonathan Korsár and Mats Runvall (Malmö: Frihetlig Press, 2003).
8. In fact, the original essay should be read together with “The Role of Social Ecology in a Period of Reaction,” in Social Ecology and Communalism (Edinburgh and Oakland: AK Press, 2007), pp. 68–76; “Whither Anarchism? A Reply to Recent Anarchist Critics,” in Anarchism, Marxism, and the Future of the Left: Interviews and Essays 1993–1998 (Edinburgh and Oakland: AK Press, 1998), particularly pp. 216–246; and “Turning Up the Stones: A Reply to John Clark’s October 13 Message,” sent to the RA-list and available online at
9. Murray Bookchin, Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm? (Oakland and Edinburgh: AK Press, 1994).
10. This essay was originally published in Communalism, no. 2 (November 2002), and later included in Social Ecology and Communalism.




Table of Contents:

• Editor’s preface: Creating Free Cities

• Introduction, by Murray Bookchin

• The Ecological Crisis and the Need to Remake Society

• Nationalism and the ”National Question”

• Nationalism and the Great Revolutions

• The Historical Importance of the City

• Anarchism as Individualism

• Anarchism, Power, and Government

• The Revolutionary Politics of Libertarian Municipalism

• The Future of the Left

• Toward a Communalist Approach

• Endnotes




The unpublished manuscript is available for consultation at the Tamiment Library in New York City (USA); the CIRA in Lausanne (Switzerland); The Institute for Social History in Amsterdam (the Netherlands); The Institute for Social Ecology in Vermont (USA), The Eutopia Institute in Karditsa (Greece); The Kate Sharpley Library in the UK and in USA; as well as the Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan (USA). Students, theorists, and activists will be able to consult the texts until the book becomes more widely available.



Editorial Comment

The accompanying graphic of Murray Bookchin is made by Janet Biehl.