Review Article: The Domination of the Text: Morris’s Reading of The Impossible Community

by John Clark

Republished from Anarchist Studies volume 26, number 2 (Autumn 2018), pp. 95-107


The Domination Of The Text: Morris’s Reading of The Impossible Community


Never judge a title by its book seems to be a guiding precept for Brian Morris. The title, he says, is ‘a complete misnomer, and quite misleading. Communities (or societies) are not “impossible”, nor are they “spooks”, for they have a real existence…’. In fact, the title, The Impossible Community: Realizing Communitarian Anarchism, was chosen to indicate that a certain kind of community that is thought to be ‘impossible’ can in fact be realised. It echoes Bakunin’s statement about being ‘an impossible person’ (though he did in fact exist!) and the famous May ‘68 slogan about ‘being realistic and demanding the impossible’. If Morris missed the irony of the title, he might have gotten a clue by reading chapter one, which discusses precisely the meaning of the title. That chapter (which should perhaps be called ‘Impossibility for Dummies’) begins with a discussion of various kinds of possibilities and impossibilities, including the one alluded to in the title, in which something that is defined as impossible according to the dominant ideology and imaginary is in fact possible. Despite all this, Morris presents a work written on behalf of regenerated human and ecological communities as a rejection of the very possibility of community. He even implies that I advocate Stirner’s idea that society is nothing more than a ‘spook’ (a pernicious abstraction). Yet, I’ve written an entire book attacking Stirnerite egoism and nihilism, and continue to argue vehemently against such views in debates with anarcho-Stirnerites. So, Morris’s polemic has a rather inauspicious beginning. Unfortunately, things begin to go rather precipitously downhill from there.


The Struggle Over Class Struggle

Morris depicts me as an enemy of class struggle anarchists, ignoring the many discussions in The Impossible Community of the importance of class analysis and class politics. In a rather sad attempt to manufacture evidence of my supposed anti-class struggle views, he claims that I refer only once to Malatesta, because he was an ‘ordinary working bloke’. Morris somehow managed to glean this bit of trivia thumbing through the index, while overlooking the rather conspicuous fact that there are 117 page-references to ‘labor’, ‘labor organization’, ‘anarcho-syndicalism’, ‘workers’, and ‘self-management’, and another 134 page-references to ‘capitalism’, ‘production’, and ‘exploitation’. In fact, there is abundant evidence in this book and elsewhere, that I take class issues very seriously.

The Impossible Community reflects a decade of heavy involvement in struggles regarding West Papua, Indonesian neo-colonialism, and U.S. corporate imperialism. Work on such issues convinced me of the need to revise class theory in relation to the changing world system. The book was also profoundly shaped by my city’s post-Hurricane Katrina experience with disaster capitalism (and disaster statism), including exploitative pitting of African-American workers against migrant workers from Latin-America. Since close members of my family are refugees from the legacy of war and imperialism in Central America, and we live here on the edge between global core and periphery, these issues are an everyday reality. I note the traumatic crisis for the Western left resulting from the convergence of class politics and the realities of globalisation, and its need to confront current transformations. I remark that ‘we might reflect on the fact that perhaps one-third, if not more, of the population of El Salvador now lives in the United States’ and that ‘class struggle has been called “struggle” for a reason. As “America” globalizes itself into the world, the world globalizes itself into “America” – whether “America” likes it or not’ (pp. 44-45). My growing awareness of the Eurocentric bias of Bookchin’s politics as I became more preoccupied with global class and transnational issues, especially in South Asia and Latin America, was one cause of my disillusionment with certain aspects of his outlook.

I also explore class politics in the chapter on ‘The Microecology of Community’. I stress the lessons to be learned from classical working-class culture and organisation, which was exemplary in creating a many-sided and coherent ethos. I cite the cultural history recounted in Tom Goyens’ outstanding study Beer and Revolution, which describes the role of the beer parlor culture in the German immigrant working-class anarchist community of New York. I note that the saloons ‘functioned during a certain epoch as important sites for working-class and revolutionary organizations, as centers of comradeship and community building among radicals, and as an important sphere for free expression and nonconformist discourse’, so that these institutions ‘were an integral part of a vibrant radical culture in which social activities, daily newspapers, political clubs and organizations, public meetings, popular music and arts, and many other factors worked together to create a richly textured fabric of relationships that nurtured both the personal lives and the revolutionary values of the community’s members’ (p. 149). I often point to such a rich, integral working-class culture as a model for the kind of political ethos that is desperately needed today.

Far from deemphasising the role of class, I argue that Bookchin ‘goes too far in dismissing the role of economic class analysis’ (p. 257). I agree that there is a ‘transclass’ dimension to what he calls ‘transclass issues’ such as ‘ecology, feminism, and a sense of civic responsibility to neighborhoods and communities’, but contend that they are at the same time just as much class issues, and argue that although he ‘was far ahead of most Marxists and other socialists in breaking with a one-sidedly economistic conception of social transformation’, he seemed to ‘equate the obsolescence of the classical concept of the working class with the obsolescence of any detailed class analysis’ (pp. 257-258). In this connection, I relate the concept of concrete universality (which Morris finds ridiculous and incomprehensible) to class issues. I state that ‘it became clear that mere abstract membership in the working class could not produce practical solidarity, and that contradictions based on trade, ethnicity, sex, and other factors needed to be worked out in practice through ‘industrial unionism, the general strike, working-class cultural organizations, rituals and celebrations, working-class art and music, and daily papers and other publications, not to mention working-class parties’ (pp. 255-256). Most significantly, these contradictions must be worked out today through a recognition that women perform the majority of the labour on earth, and that what Ariel Salleh calls the ‘meta-industrial labor’ of women and indigenous people must be integrated into our concept of ‘working class’.[1]

This is what making universality concrete in relation to social particularity is all about.

For years I have collaborated with the Situations group, which is associated with the legendary social theorist and major analyst of the American class system, Stanley Aronowitz. One chapter is devoted to a constructive dialogue with the group’s ‘Manifesto for a Left Turn’, in which the future of class politics is considered. I endorse its contention that ‘radical democracy should be extended to ‘everyday social interactions, including the home’, and that we should ‘rethink personal relationships within the framework of class’. My only objection is that the manifesto does not explore the details of ‘how class is to be used as a basis for this rethinking’ (p. 46). This is one of my ongoing preoccupations. I urge anarchists to consider much more seriously Marx’s analysis of class domination and the fetishism of commodities to help explain how class is mystified in late capitalism. I pose the problem that ‘class domination today takes on a systematically mediated form that is very different from the old paradigm of socially dominant groups directly and visibly dominating subordinate groups’ (p. 99). Class struggle is transformed radically in a world in which ‘individuals go about their daily life, selling their labor for wages, exchanging money for commodities, unaware of the ways in which their own actions are an expression of class domination, unaware of the ways in which the seemingly objective quality of economic value disguises social relations of domination’ (ibid).

Issues of class are inseparable from the question of the nature and fate of capitalism. Morris claims that I am not ‘anti-capitalist’, and I would not expect him to be aware of anything that I have written or done that is not mentioned in sectarian attacks. Yet, there are extensive discussions in The Impossible Community itself that might have enlightened him. I argue that ‘capitalism is a system of economic domination not because of the degree to which individual capitalists exhibit undesirable character traits or treat people badly on a personal basis, but because the ever-increasing concentration of wealth and power is built into the system, and the structure of the system dictates that the human good and the natural good are subordinated to the demands of capital’ (p. 98). I state clearly that humanity cannot be liberated until it is freed from what Marx called ‘the expansion of value, which is the objective basis or main-spring of the circulation M-C-M’ (ibid). This structural dimension is crucial to capitalist domination, and the process it describes must be destroyed, if other aspects of capitalism are to be challenged effectively.[2] The process of destruction is called social revolution. As for the path toward abolishing capitalist relations, I find Morris’s purist posturing much less convincing than the experiments of revolutionaries from the Spanish collectives up to the present in Chiapas, Rojava, and Aymara communities, irrespective of any ‘pettiness’ that he might be obliged to find in their lack of purity.


The Struggle Over The Strugglers

Not only does Morris fail to confront what I say about class, he complains that I ‘never lose an opportunity to criticize, berate or even ridicule’ various forms of anarchism, including ‘class struggle anarchism’ and ‘anarcho-syndicalism’. He gives examples of the sort of people that I supposedly attack, specifically Alfredo Bonnano, Albert Meltzer, Dimitri Roussopoulos, and Sam Dolgoff. Bonnano, Meltzer, and Roussopoulos are never mentioned in the book, so that leaves Sam Dolgoff. I knew Sam Dolgoff personally and admired him greatly. Dolgoff’s The Anarchist Collectives is cited in the text (p. 283). I reviewed it positively in The Review of Politics and have often recommended it, along with his Bakunin on Anarchy and The Cuban Revolution.  For years, I have been friends with Sam’s son Anatole Dolgoff, who wrote an inspiring book about Sam, Left of the Left. Earlier this year, I wrote a very favorable review and organised a visit by Anatole to speak about it and his father.

Sam Dolgoff was a revered member of the IWW, of which I have been a member off and on for forty years. My association with the Wobblies only lapsed during the years that I was closest to Bookchin, who was very condescending to the organisation, and expressed contempt for Sam. He repeatedly, and with great sarcasm, recounted a story of how he met Dolgoff and the Libertarian League with high expectations, and was shocked to find out how miserably they failed to live up to what he saw as their self-proclaimed lofty ethical ideals. He never clarified the nature of the entire group’s supposed ethical shortcomings, but he explained the basis for his disdain for Sam’s character. He often repeated the phrase ‘I rescued Dolgoff from the grave’, and complained about what an ingrate Sam was. He claimed that Sam was a forgotten figure until he, Bookchin used his prestige to help get Bakunin on Anarchy published and then magnanimously wrote the introduction to The Anarchist Collectives. In Bookchin’s eyes, Sam betrayed him grievously by editing out a passage in the introduction without his permission. I never heard Bookchin say a single favorable word about Sam in the twenty years I collaborated with him. The closest thing to it were a few ambiguously amicable words in a letter he sent me attacking a new publication with the exemplary ‘class struggle anarchist’ title, Strike!, along with its supporters, including Sam:

The ‘strike’ shit is too odious to endure. Like so many of their admirers – Dolgoff, alas, is one of them (and I really like the guy!) – they lack even the most rudimentary knowledge of the history of ideas. Mechanical ‘materialists’ of the most stupid kind, grossly ignorant, and woodenheaded, they make the Marxist-Leninist sectarians seem like enlightened – or at least, knowledgeable – people. It is my absolute intention to have nothing to do with these people.[3]

My own view of Sam is conveyed in the title, ‘The Best of the Left’, of my review of Anatole’s excellent book. My view of the radical working-class culture in which Sam lived is expressed in the following passage:

Readers who have been drawn to anarchism through the counterculture, through Punk music, through radical ecology, through ecofeminism, or through the global justice movement, will get something very important from this book. It will show them that their own movements are related to a long and very rich history of struggle and organization that has largely been forgotten over the past generation or two.[4]


Three Or More Cheers For Democracy

The other major distortion of my ideas, and, indeed of my life and history of political engagements, concerns my view of citizenship and democracy. Morris claims that I reject any concept of democracy as a ‘social institution’, and that I am opposed to the idea of social revolution. These claims continue a crusade of disinformation launched by Bookchin, Janet Biehl and Takis Fotopoulos in the aftermath of the International Social Ecology Gathering in Dunoon, Scotland in 1995. Years later, Moore repeats the same groundless contentions uncritically, without any supporting evidence other than a few phrases quoted out of context, and with no references to the discussion of democracy in the book. I would like to note some things I actually say about democracy, and then present a short excursus into the important subfield of anarchist studies and the history of ideas we might call ‘the genealogy of baloney’.

My chapter on what can be learned from the Sarvodaya (Welfare of All) Movement stresses heavily its grassroots democratic character. I discuss a programme that included communal assemblies (gram sabhas), village councils (panchayats), communally-owned land, local political and economic self-rule (swaraj), locally-based production (swadeshi), a peace army (shanti sena) of community-based mediators, a corps of trained Sarvodaya workers (gram sevaks), and prefigurative democratic eco-villages in each community. Because the latter are called ashrams (in the sense of places for undertaking dedicated work as part of a personal and collective journey), Morris concludes in good Orientalist fashion that in such communities, ‘people will no doubt cease to be citizens and become devotees of some spiritual guru’. This kind of stereotyping is familiar from recent ideological manipulation of the term ‘jihad’. It is, however, clear that what Sarvodaya members are ‘devoted’ to is not any leader, but rather the practice of its egalitarian and democratic values. Secondly, because Sarvodaya was greatly inspired by the ideas of Gandhi, Morris transforms the discussion of a participatory democratic movement of millions of peasants and workers into an endorsement of the illusionist philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, which Morris (falsely) believes Gandhi to have accepted, and which I entirely reject. Finally, in referring to Gandhi, Morris labels him ‘Mahatma’, and snidely puts the honorific term in quotes, though he is called ‘Mohandas’ in the text.

I have spent many years studying, translating, and writing about the work of the geographer, philosopher and social revolutionary Elisée Reclus, whom I consider the foremost classical anarchist thinker.[5] I have sought to keep alive the Reclusian tradition of exploring the complex dialectic between revolution and evolution, of uncovering both the progressive and regressive dimensions of social phenomena, and, not least of all, of advancing the cause of revolutionary democracy. In the book, I explain that ‘Reclus showed that a rich history of radical freedom has existed and developed alongside the long story of domination that has been so central to world history. This “other history” has included cooperative and egalitarian tribal traditions, anarchistic millenarian movements, dissident spiritualities, anti-authoritarian experiments in radical grassroots democracy and communalism, movements for the liberation of women, and the radically libertarian moments of many of the world’s revolutions and revolutionary movements’ (p. 144).

Rather than rejecting democratic institutions, the book celebrates their history as part of the larger history of human liberation. I conclude that ‘we are left with a heritage of utopian practice that continues to inspire the radical imagination’, and that now includes ‘the direct democracy of the section assemblies of the French Revolution, the civic democracy and egalitarianism of the Paris Commune, the council democracy of the early Russian Revolution and the Hungarian Revolution, and the democratic self-management of the anarchist industrial and agricultural collectives of the Spanish Revolution’ (p. 145; emphasis added). It is false that my divergence from Bookchin concerns the value of these radically democratic achievements. An actual divergence is that, unlike Bookchin, I recognise that non-Western and indigenous cases make up a very large part of this history of liberation and solidarity, and sometimes go far beyond the Western paradigms.

The book also contains extensive theoretical discussion of diverse democratic practices and institutions that might contribute to the achievement of a truly free and democratic community. Far from ‘criticizing, berating or even ridiculing’ municipal assemblies and arguing that democracy is merely a ‘state of mind’ detached from any form of decision-making, I contend that democracy should be associated with many forms of decision-making. I do not reject municipal assemblies and have been active in the movement to establish them. Rather, I question Bookchin’s tendency to over-emphasise their centrality as the privileged locus of democratic decision-making. I do not offer a recipe for balancing various forms of expression of communal democracy, but suggest that not only citizens’ assemblies, but also workers’ assemblies, citizens’ councils, citizens’ committees, popular juries, and the development of democratic culture and sensibilities all contribute significantly to the existence of authentic democratic communities.

The relationship between communal democracy and workplace democracy is a crucial issue. I question Bookchin’s position in part because, while rightly emphasising the identity of citizen, he tends to neglect in some ways the identity of worker. In stressing the importance of municipal democracy, he neglects issues concerning workplace democracy and the need to relate these two loci of democracy to one another. I have always agreed with Bookchin, and, more importantly, with the historical tradition that he follows, that the priority of communal democracy is the ultimate goal. However, I do not agree that prioritising it programmatically, as advocated in the libertarian municipalist literature, without careful attention to historical conditions and preconditions, is the best way to reach that goal.

Underlying my critique of the often-masculinist politics of counter-power is a commitment to an ecofeminist and indigenist ethics and politics of care, which I consider essential to the achievement of an egalitarian and democratic society. I am concerned about the problem of the masculinist and manipulative tendencies that often emerge in large assembles, and the possibility that hidden agendas will prevail unless a pervasive democratic, egalitarian, and care-oriented ethos is expressed through many dimensions of communal life. I am encouraged that today’s most promising experiments in participatory democracy, whether in Rojava, in Chiapas, or in Aymara communities, have in very significant ways gone in this direction.[6]

It is noteworthy that Rojava, while making assemblies a central institution, also experiments with everything that Bookchin attacked me for proposing as possible elements of a democratic community. This includes citizens’ councils, citizens’ committees (or commissions), popular juries, self-managed workers’ cooperatives, and an emphasis on changes in ethos and personality structures. In one tirade, Bookchin concluded with horror that ‘what the author of The Anarchist Moment‘ was ‘really calling for’ was ‘courts and councils, or bluntly speaking, systems of representation’.[7] Yet many, even in his name, laud the role that Rojava’s popular courts and complex system of councils play in its democratic revolution, seeing the councils as participatory and democratic, not merely ‘representative’ institutions.[8] In addition, the achievements in Rojava, Chiapas, El Alto, and elsewhere help us move beyond a fixation on Western political models such as the Greek polis, the classic European revolutions, and the New England town meetings, as important as these are. Rojava also demonstrates that a free community can incorporate members of diverse cultural and religious traditions, while respecting those traditions, rather than imposing a rigidly secularist and atheist ideology.[9]


The Roots Of Misinterpretation

Morris concludes his polemic with a reference to Janet Biehl’s ‘fine biography of Murray Bookchin’. Whatever admirable qualities this work may have as biography, it has some rather serious shortcomings as history. Specifically, it contains a highly distorted account of the International Social Ecology Conference at Castle Toward in Dunoon, Scotland. It was at this gathering that I first presented criticisms of Bookchin’s municipalism, contributing to a break between orthodox Bookchinites and heterodox social ecologists. This was followed by a campaign to misrepresent my views, including the false claim, repeated by Morris, that I rejected social ecology, democracy, local assemblies, social revolution, and even politics as a reality beyond the sphere of personal life. In short, all the Bookchinite fantasy-images of their enemies were condensed into a certain image of what I was imagined to be.[10]

This explains the perhaps baffling fact that despite the extensive defense of radical democracy in The Impossible Community, Morris attempts to convince the reader that I ‘view democracy not as a social institution’, but as only a ‘state of mind’. As he explains, this is what I think, according to Takis Fotopoulos. And what is Morris going to believe, Takis Fotopoulis, or the text in front of his own eyes? Morris merely follows an article of faith that was established after the Dunoon Conference, and expressed in Janet Biehl’s canonical account of that event. Biehl claims that I gave a ‘keynote speech’ in which I ‘rejected the very concepts of citizenship and democracy (asserting, for example, that “it would be a mistake to associate democracy with any form of decision-making”)’.[11] Then, she says, I proceeded to indoctrinate the hapless social ecologists with the idea that ‘social ecology should not be a political concept at all’, and that they should merely ‘direct their efforts to “the familial group”’.[12] Either through the miraculous power of my oratory, or through some kind of mystical spell that I cast on them,  I ‘bulldozed those who knew better’ and ‘successfully barred’ any ‘mention of libertarian municipalism’. Finally, having reduced the assembled social-ecological militants into mere putty in my hands, I compelled the drafting committee to adopt a programme of mystical ecology, so that ‘instead of a democratic politics, the draft advocated eco-spirituality’. She omits the fact that that this supposed manifesto of eco-mysticism was adopted by a democratic vote of the assembly.

Fortunately, we can compare this account with the actual text presented at the conference and the statement adopted there. Here is the part of the statement that addresses democratic politics:

social ecology advocates a sweeping vision of social transformation and ecological regeneration. We wish to see a democratic and ecological society which fosters co-operation … Such a society will consist of eco-communities sensitively attuned to the natural world around it and based on forms of direct political and economic democracy … We believe in a grassroots participatory movement as opposed to an elitist vanguard party or a parliamentarist approach. We aim to recreate a public sphere and notions of citizenship at the grassroots municipal level. We need to expand radical democracy in all spheres with a view to creating citizens’ assemblies and other processes of self-management and autonomy … We need a new kind of politics that involves taking part in social struggles and direct action, developing self-management and community based co-operatives, intentional communities, and other forms of social-ecological creativity. Participating in local elections is seen as a key strategy.[13]

I helped formulate and voted for this statement. It is true that the phrase ‘libertarian municipalism’ does not appear; however, it supports a ‘left-libertarian’ programme of ‘citizens’ assemblies’ at the ‘municipal level’. It advocates in effect, a ‘libertarian’ form of ‘municipalism’. Thus, the concept of libertarian municipalism was not ‘barred’. Secondly, nothing was ‘substituted’ for a democratic politics, which the statement clearly espouses. Finally, there is no reference to ‘eco-spirituality’, much less the idea that it should ‘replace’ anything. It is true that a reference to ‘the current ecological crisis’ was expanded with the phrase ‘and crisis of the human spirit’. This innocuous wording was transmogrified into an expression of dangerous mystical and spiritualistic ideas. Yet, ironically, that same year, Bookchin published a book subtitled ‘a defense of the human spirit’.[14] Thus, all three of Biehl’s contentions are groundless. Admittedly, I am intrigued by the idea of taking over an international social ecology conference and forcing the delegates to declare that the purpose of social ecology is ‘socializing and relaxing with the family unit’. But in the real world, this is not the direction that my efforts have taken.

The call for the subsequent Lisbon conference stated that: ‘libertarian municipalism is a political theory, developed by Murray Bookchin in various works since the 1970s, to advance fundamental social change. Situated in the traditions of social anarchism and left green politics, it essentially calls for the creation of a free, direct democracy through the establishment of citizens’ assemblies, and confederations of those assemblies, with the ultimate objective of building a decentralized, cooperative, ecological society’.[15] I recognise the right of any group to organise a conference on whatever basis it chooses; however, its choices have certain implications. It is possible that all might have benefited from dialogue on certain issues, while a decision for rigid orthodoxy forecloses the possibility of useful exchange. The call’s formulation of the politics of social ecology raises one such issue that needs to be debated openly among social ecologists. A fully-realised, decentralised, cooperative, ecological society will not consist merely of ‘assemblies, and confederations of assemblies’, but rather of ‘communities, and confederations of communities’, in which assemblies will be a crucial institution, but nevertheless only part of a complex web of democratic institutions, and of a deeply democratic ethos. I argue that such a confederation of communities will be most likely to emerge not merely out of a confederation of assemblies, but out of a confederation of communities, as has, in fact, happened in Chiapas and Rojava.


Sometimes Our Heroes Turn Out To Be Assholes: Addendum On A Famous Philosopher

There is really no substantive discussion in the book of Nietzsche, whose name appears in two footnotes, and who is mentioned as an influence on individualism in one sentence. Yet, Morris takes the opportunity to claim that I ‘follow slavishly the reactionary nihilist Friedrich Nietzsche’, whom I ‘portray as a heroic figure, an anarchist’. The text that Morris cites as the source of such ideas refutes his confused reading conclusively. One will search in vain there for any claim that Nietzsche simply is, in some clear and simplistic fashion, ‘an anarchist’.[16] Rather, the text treats him as a highly ambiguous and self-contradictory figure, so that one can find both ‘the Nietzsche who is an anarchist’, and ‘the Nietzsche who is not an anarchist’.[17] Further, it is asserted that there is both ‘a best of Nietzsches’ and ‘a worst of Nietzsches’. Since the article is about what anarchists can learn from Nietzsche, it focuses largely on the ‘best’ one. However, it also points out that the ‘worst’ one:

can be indeed abysmal. The abysmal Nietzsche emerges, for example, in a statement, quite appropriately, on the topic of ‘depth’.  A man, he says, ‘who has depth, in his spirit as well as in his desires … must always think about women as Orientals do; he must conceive of woman as a possession, as property that can be locked, as something predestined for service and achieving her perfection in that’ [BGE p. 357]. And savor the exquisite odor of this statement: ‘We would no more choose the “first Christians” to associate with than Polish Jews – not that one even required any objection to them: they both do not smell good’ [A p. 625]. On Nietzsche as a pretentious buffoon, see Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, part two, ‘Why I am So Clever’, and part five, ‘Why I am Such an Asshole’.[18]

For anyone who has doubts, I’ll point out the fact that Nietzsche never actually wrote a ‘part five’ of Ecce Homo entitled ‘Why I am Such an Asshole’, and that this was, in fact, an editorial comment. I suggest that a text such as this cannot possibly be read by any minimally perceptive person as a work of hero-worship.


Author Biography

John Clark is an anarchist writer and activist. His next book is Between Earth and Empire, which is forthcoming from PM Press. He is Director of La Terre Institute for Community and Ecology, an educational and organisational project in New Orleans and on an 87-acre site in the coastal forest of the Gulf of Mexico. He is a member of the Education Workers’ Union of the IWW.



[1] See Ariel Salleh (ed.), Eco-Sufficiency & Global Justice: Women Write Political Ecology (London and New York: Pluto Press, 2009) and Ecofeminism as Politics: Nature, Marx and the Postmodern (London: Zed Books, 2017).

[2] See Joel Kovel, The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World (London and New York: Zed Books, 2007)

[3] Murray Bookchin, Letter (12/28/81) in ‘John P. Clark Papers’ in Special Collections & Archives, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans, Collection 57, Series I: Correspondence, Box 1, Folder 9. My correspondence from Bookchin, including over fifty pages of handwritten letters, was placed in the Loyola University Special Collections after Hurricane Katrina.

[4] Published earlier this year in the Fifth Estate, which edited out parts and changed the title. For the original, see .

[5] See my ‘Introduction to Reclus’ Social Thought,’ in John P. Clark and Camille Martin, Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: Selected Writings of Elisée Reclus (Oakland: PM Press, 2013), pp. 1-100, especially sections 4 and 5, ‘Anarchism and Social Transformation’, and ‘The Critique of Domination’, pp. 52-98.

[6] See John P. Clark, ‘Imaginare Aude! Lessons of the Rojava Revolution’ in Capitalism Nature Socialism, vol. 27, no. 3 (Sept. 2016): 103-110; draft version online at

[7] Murray Bookchin, ‘Comments on the International Social Ecology Network Gathering and the ‘Deep Social Ecology’ of John Clark’ in Anarchy Archives at Note: I have never used the term ‘deep social ecology’.

[8] For example, Janet Biehl, who posted on her blog a long interview on ‘Rojava’s Communes and Councils’ in which councils are mentioned 28 times and their importance is never questioned. See

[9] For example, Janet Biehl and Gary Cisco of the ‘International Organizing Committee/Montreal-Burlington’ rejected an applicant for participation in the Lisbon ‘International Politics of Social Ecology: Libertarian Municipalism Conference’ because of the applicant’s interest in the relevance of social ecology and libertarian municipalism to religious communities. The organizers stated that ‘as atheists, adhering to the traditional left-libertarian credo of Neither God Nor Master, we do not regard any religious community as compatible with our program to advance a universalistic ethos and a civic sphere open to all adult residents of a community, one that attempts to create a revolutionary dual power against the nation-state and capitalism’ [Communication of Mon, 6 Jul 1998 17:45:09 EDT].

[10] This led Bob Black in his polemic ‘Withered Anarchism’ to claim that Bookchin had made me the ‘Emmanuel Goldstein’ of social ecology. This is a good line, but also a sad commentary on how Bookchinism had developed as a political sect. See Bob Black, ‘Withered Anarchism’ at

[11] Janet Biehl, Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin (New York: Oxford Un. Press, 2015), pp. 291-292. Loc cit. for all Biehl quotes.

[12] For the precise passage that Biehl subjects to this tortuous misinterpretation, see The Impossible Community, p. 259.

[13] ‘Principles of the International Social Ecology Network (Draft Three)’.

[14] Murray Bookchin, Reenchanting Humanity: A Defense of the Human Spirit Against Anti-Humanism, Misanthropy, Mysticism and Primitivism (London and New York: Cassell, 1995).

[15] Janet Biehl and Gary Cisco of the ‘International Organizing Committee/Montreal-Burlington’ rejected my application to participate, on grounds that I ‘take issue, quite agonistically, with almost every aspect of the libertarian municipalism of Murray Bookchin’ [Janet Biehl and Gary Cisco, ‘International Organizing Committee/Montreal-Burlington,’ Communication of Sat, 18 Jul 1998 21:11:25 EDT].

[16] Morris also claims that the article describes anarchism itself as ‘a kind of left Platonism’. In fact, it uses the term ‘Left Platonism’ to describe an insidious tendency that anarchists should avoid.

[17] Max Cafard, ‘Nietzschean Anarchy and the Post-Mortem Condition’ in John Moore and Spencer Sunshine (eds), I Am Not a Man, I am Dynamite (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2004), pp. 86-87.

[18] Ibid., p. 104. The bracketed references are to Beyond Good and Evil in Walter Kauffman (ed.), Basic Writings of Nietzsche (New York: Modern Library, 1968) and The Antichrist in Walter Kaufman (ed.), The Portable Nietzsche (New York: Penguin, 1976).