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a blue

posted February 19, 2008 at 4:13 pm

I recently reread a 15 year old hatchet job Gus
did on Murray Bookchin in an obscure rightist journal. It was incoherent in the sense of attacking Bookchin from the Deep Ecology Left
and the neo-liberal economic Right. Both have
now become entirely discredited. Bookchin did
a devastating expose on the mysticism, anti-rationality and anti-humanity ideology of Deep
Ecology including many Nazi-like statements from
Ed Abbey. In one sense Bookchin did move a slight
bit to the right as his former infatuation with
the 60s started to dim after he saw the burned out, no mind druggies and their total hatred of
themselves as well as others. But Murray was an
anarcho-communist to the end and easily refuted
the assumptions of Rothbardians and Randians alike. He was also deeply suspicious of Chomsky’s
proclaimed “anarchism” correctly seeing Noam as
a hardcore institutional Marxist always voting
the straight New Deal ticket. The 60s were not
a great time, too many people are stuck in that
sad era. DiZerega’s infatuation with the “free”
market is bizarre in that environmentalism and
capitalism are deadly enemies as George Reisman
documents in his massive opus, Capitalism, it is
really 2,000 pages in a normal sized book, 1,000
in its atlas-sized form. If DiZerega actually believed his free market swan song he’d be endorsing Paul, not Obama. But then reason, facts,
logic, consistency, history and philosophy are
not our Gus’s strong suit. Bookchin in common
with Rand believed in reason, first and foremost.
As a “wiccan” mystic Gus believes reason is the first thing dispensable.
The only valid point Gus made in his Critical Review rambling rant on Bookchin was that we are
better off ignoring the sick Kantian maxim as treating everyone as an end instead of a means.
I don’t want to know the waiter’s psyche, just want the food served in a reasonable manner. Murray agreed that might be his only valid point.

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posted February 20, 2008 at 7:17 am

Congrats on the launch. Thought I’d drop in – I’m a friend of Phil and John Morehead. Been lurking in the background throughout the process. Wondering if you’re interested in a chat on the book over at sometime. Just for your reference I have linked you there now.

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posted February 20, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Thanks Matt.
Now to the bizarre comment above… (I use … to offset paragraphs because otherwise this all runs together.)
…. ‘A Blue,’ when you accuse someone of incoherence you have a obligation, unfulfilled in your case, to explain just what in their argument is incoherent. I invite you to try. Even if the argument in question is over 15 years old.
….You say – without evidence – that Bookchin rebutted deep ecology. Maybe you can provide some arguments rather than an autocratic assertion? I don’t think he even got close to a rebuttal, though he did produce a great deal of invective. Don’t Bookchinites believe in giving reasons? I did in my article. I invite you to give me some of your reasons. You have already given me your conclusions. Now tell me why.
….You raise the Nazi/Abbey issue without ever discussing whether it had anything to do with my arguments. It didn’t. I had a exchange with Peter Staudemaier in the Pagan journal Pomegranate some years back which demonstrated the fatuous silliness of applying the eco-Nazi argument to deep ecology for anyone respecting either history or logic. Staudemaier is a Bookchinite. If my readers want, I will reproduce what I wrote on this blog. I just looked at it, and it stands pretty well on its own.
….Your understanding of my position on capitalism and the environment indicates you don’t have a clue what it is. I have written some stuff since the Bookchin piece, and much of it has been on the environment and capitalism. Maybe you could scroll down to my review of Peter Barnes’ Capitalism 3.0 and take a look? Or look up above this blog to the topic tabs, click on ‘ecology’ and scroll down the PDF papers listed under the environment on this blog directly above. They’ll bring you up to date.
….Were I to write the Bookchin critique today, it would not be much different. That you found it a “hatchet job” is not very impressive until you get into some detailed discussion as to why. Otherwise why bring it up? Why should anyone take you seriously?
….As I remember, I would have handled the “autonomy” issue somewhat differently, as I did not understand his use of the term as well then as I do now. But I believe that is the only issue I could have significantly improved upon. So you can bring in anything other than that – I’m too busy at the moment to deal with restating something I wrote over 15 years ago I have just granted could have been better put. And one weakness in making a point in a very long article does not a hatchet job make. Go ahead – teach me something new.
….During my high school years and for a few of my college years I was a libertarian. You gotta start somewhere. I haven’t called myself one for well over 30 years though I took from them a belief in relying on markets for certain important purposes and a deep distrust of political hierarchies. (One of their several weaknesses is that they did not similarly distrust corporate hierarchies.) That I did not endorse Ron Paul should have indicated that maybe you have me mis-pegged. About the only things I like about Paul are his position on the war, his position on executive power, and his position on civil liberties. Those are valuable, but I think Obama on balance is better and has a better appreciation for what it means to be a citizen.
….Bookchin had much more in common with Rand than a belief in “reason.” For example, they shared an inability to enter sympathetically into the views of anyone with a different point of view. They also demonstrated a capacity for personal insult as distinct from rational argument to try and make their points. I am afraid you show yourself an excellent student of one or both of them in this case. Believe it or not, reason is something different than an ability to spew invective.
….When my Bookchin piece came out in 1992 the Bookchin folks said someone would write a rebuttal. I am still waiting for it. When and if it comes, I will be delighted to reply. Maybe you can give it a try?
….Thank you for reminding me that the ideological left can be as nasty and insulting as the ideological right. These days it’s easy to forget that fact.

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a blue

posted February 21, 2008 at 9:29 am

Gus, I refer your readers to Bookchin’s writings on Deep Ecology to see his full refutation of same. I have no need to reinvent the wheel here
as all of Bookchin’s writings are either accessible here on the web or at
Not to mention the better second hand bookstores.
You take up a great deal of space to say next to
nothing, a sure sign of a bad writer.
At the time of your 92 hatchet job Bookchin told
me to do a rebuttal if I wished, I said the Critical Review was a very tiny ultra-right journal limited to a very few market fanatics.
If they followed the usual pattern, I might have
gotten space but then YOU would get the last word. And for what purpose ? Neither your piece
nor the venue justified the effort.
Bookchin was thorough in making rational arguments, he would appropriately label people
for exactly what they are, which upsets sensitive
folks who can dish it out but can’t take it. Like you.
Your personal history is uninteresting and rather
than duplicate Bookchin’s arguments here, I invite
readers to look at The Murray Bookchin Reader.
As well as the monograph containing his debate with Foreman. The whole Deep Irrationality movement bears a strong resemblance to National Socialism except in this case the deep ecologists wish to eliminate the whole of the human race.
Your reasons for preferring Obama are as empty
and vacuous as the rest of your mystic philosophy.
Obama is a standard big government statist whose
empty “change” rhetoric conceals more than reveals. Paul is a consistent across the board
principled libertarian who has very bad positions
on two issues, “god” and abortion. But compared to
the others he’s quite good.
Finally, we don’t need to read your exchange with some nobody in some obscure pagan journal, again
I refer to the Bookchin’s massive output here.
Some of us did write to you after your silly letter in The Progressive attacking Bookchin but
you managed to elude all criticisms.
I’m satisfied here with simply giving conclusions
AND references so people can judge the full context themselves. I actually knew Ayn a bit too
and I never read or saw or heard anyone get the best of an argument with her. Nor with Murray.

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a blue

posted February 21, 2008 at 1:49 pm

One reference I forgot to give earlier is a 1995
book Re-Enchanting Humanity by Bookchin, published by Cassell, which goes into an in-depth
analysis of all forms of irrationalism in the
ecology movement including deep ecology, shamanism, mysticism, nature worship, primitivism,
anti-science, selfish gene theory, etc. This came
out three years after Gus’s 41 page attack. Although Gus was really refuted prior to his rambling essay, this book really demolishes all schools of eco-mystics.
Frankly, DiZerega’s CR essay is quite schizoid,
in the first part he has an attack on Bookchin
from the neo-liberal Hayekian Right with the
celebration of market order and a generally utilitarian defense of business. Hayek himself
was a critic of rationality which he seemed to
conflate with the laboratory methodology of physics. But one can at least make sense of his
proposition without assenting to it.
In the second part of Gus’s essay, starting on page 19 he lapses into pure eco-mysticism and
attacks Bookchin from the Left, if Deep Ecology can be called a leftist movement, only in the
National Socialist (Nazi) sense is it. That theme in the second half was dealt with in the above cited Bookchin work at length. And that is the part that is relevant to the ongoing debate with
the eco-mystics. Hayek’s defense of capitalism
is weak compared with Von Mises, Reisman, Rand
and Rothbard. It’s the type of “defense” associated with the various Beltway Buttbuddies
of the CATO stripe.
As far as ideology goes, it’s merely a consistent application of whatever premises one espouses.
As contrasted with the average moron in the street who contradicts himself all the time.
A friend of mine once asked Gus at a cocktail
party in Frisco if he believed A was A. gus replied that he did EXCEPT when he didn’t. This
was about thirty years ago.
So someone could do a critique of Gus’s disjointed essay written in the standard stilted
academic prose OR you can read works like the
above cited book and have a rewarding reading

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posted February 27, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Hi Gus,
Since “a blue” decided to bring up your paper on Bookchin and since I’m teaching parts of that paper in my Environmental Philosophy class this semester, I thought I’d chime in to say that I think the paper is really excellent. And as someone who specializes in Asian philosophy, I find your discussion of the gestalt self especially interesting for its resonances with Buddhist (of course, since you use Macy) and Chinese (Daoist and Confucian) accounts of the self. As an evolutionary liberal, I find the Hayekian critique of Bookchin quite helpful too.

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