Recovering Bookchin

Through an extensive body of political and philosophical ideas he called social ecology, Murray Bookchin (1921-2006) elucidated one of the first intellectual responses to the ecological crisis. However, over the last two decades of his life Bookchin’s ideas slipped from focus, obscured by the emergence of a crude caricature that portrayed him as a dogmatic sectarian who intended to dominate the radical left for his own personal motivations.

In Recovering Bookchin, Andy Price revisits the Bookchin caricature and critically discounts it as the product of a largely misguided literature that focused on Bookchin the individual and not his ideas. By looking afresh at Bookchin’s work, Price argues that his contribution can be seen to provide a coherent practical and theoretical response to the ecological and social crises of our time.

Dr Andy Price is Senior Lecturer in Politics at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. He has written articles on both Bookchin and social ecology and on contemporary radical movements for the academic and popular press.

Why should you read this book?

This is a work of “recovery” in the best sense, a lucid, sympathetic yet critical account of Bookchin, demonstrating his continuing relevance in the face of ecological catastrophe. Andy Price’s insightful treatment goes beyond the polemics surrounding Bookchin to illustrate the richness and depth of his ecological philosophy, which should do much to revive interest in this bold thinker.

— Jules Townshend, Professor Emeritus, Manchester Metropolitan University

A trenchant and much-needed reassessment of this singular and all too often misrepresented anarcho-green theorist, and of his contribution to social theory. Price indeed “recovers” Bookchin; he does so with admirable verve and analytical rigour, cutting through the myriad distortions surrounding him and providing us with a new framework for understanding social ecology today.

— Dr Chris Ealham, author of Anarchism and the City (AK Press, 2010).

Andy Price's much needed study provides us at last with a reasoned and balanced reassessment of Murray Bookchin, a man whose ideas were hugely influential on a whole generation of scholars and ecologist or anarchist activists, and yet whose valuable contribution had become obscured by sometimes bitter controversy. Through a detailed, thoroughly researched and properly contextualised analysis of debates between Bookchin and his antagonists, Price convincingly rebuffs much of the caricatural criticisms of Bookchin, without lapsing into hagiography. An important book.

— Dr David Berry, Reviews Editor, Anarchist Studies; Senior Lecturer, Loughborough University