Social Ecology Blog

Remembering Barry Commoner, 1917-2012

From The Nation online today, by Occidental College professor, Peter Dreier: At the ISE, we especially remember Barry Commoner for his pioneering advocacy for renewable energy and against nuclear power, his socially and politically conscious approach to environmental sustainability, his work against waste incineration and dioxin contamination in the late 1980s, and his return to the public stage in 2000 to keynote the ISE’s Biodevastation 2000 protest against the annual convention of the biotechnology industry.

Dreier writes:
Described in 1970 by Time magazine as the [...]

Rise & evolution of Occupy: An international view

We recommend the latest tour de force of reporting and analysis by Jerome Roos of ROAR Magazine. Titled "Beyond Occupy: Liberating Ourselves From Debt Slavery," Roos' essay examines the evolution of the Occupy movement in the context of the evolving global uprising against monopoly capitalist domination of our lives.

Seven Left Myths about Capitalism

G. B. Taylor is a former student and long-time supporter of the ISE, currently living in Berlin. Comments and discussion are appreciated:
7 Left Myths about Capitalism

G.B. Taylor
Occupy Wall Street has renewed hope for a left political renaissance by challenging economic inequality and the neoliberal discourse that legitimated it, and reintroducing the word capitalism to political debate. The “greed” of the “1%,” counterpoised to the hardworking, rule-abiding 99%, has emerged as the dominant political frame of OWS. Rhetorically powerful, the slogan’s elegant simplicity [...]

Rethinking nature and culture

ISE board member Eleanor Finley recommends this interview with philosopher and Rice University literature professor, Timothy Morton. In his new book, The Ecological Thought, Morton examines prevailing assumptions about nature and culture in mainstream society and ecological activism. Using metaphysics and object-relations theory, he concludes that nature is “no more” than a social construction. The publisher’s blurb explains:
No being, construct, or object can exist independently from the ecological entanglement, Morton contends, nor does “Nature” exist as an entity separate from the uglier or more [...]

Rediscovering Kropotkin

At the recent social ecology colloquium, Peter Prontzos drew our attention to the renewed interest among scientists in understanding the potential evolutionary basis for human cooperation. Among other developments, this has encouraged some evolutionary biologists to reconsider the work of Peter Kropotkin. Kropotkin’s best known book, Mutual Aid, pioneered the study of cooperation in animal and human evolution more than 100 years ago, and has long been considered a classic work in the emerging anarchist intellectual and literary tradition of that period.

Last September, the Scientific American website [...]

Bookchin’s unique contributions to the left

Social ecologists have long pointed out that many of the ideas that today’s ecological and anti-authoritarian movements take for granted were first articulated in the writings of Murray Bookchin. Indeed Bookchin’s radical ecological writings predated the emergence of an environmental movement by several years. His advocacy for face-to-face municipal democracy anticipated the post-Seattle interest in direct democracy by well over a decade.

In a recent article on the New Left Project website, Janet Biehl offers an accessible and very comprehensive overview of Bookchin’s pioneering [...]

Imboden: In search of a broad, coherent social ecology

This short essay, by Arizona-based social ecologist Charles Imboden, raises some provocative questions about the evolution of social ecology and proposes a reconciliation of some currents that have often been in conflict.  Comments, as always, are strongly encouraged. This originally appeared on the author’s blog at

Recently, someone immersed in Murray Bookchin‘s late-period works asked my definition of social ecology. This brought up an important issue. How is social ecology to be defined generally, taking the entirety of the field [...]

Carmelo Ruiz on Vavilov’s Legacy

Vavilov’s legacy

by Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero

Every modern society needs a substantial public investment in agricultural research. And such research requires the acquisition of useful plant and seed specimens from all over the world. It is no different in the case of socialist societies. During the first half of the twentieth century the Soviet Union was a world leader in the fields of genetics, plant science and the study of agricultural biodiversity, in large part thanks to the colossal work of one single individual: botanist Nikolai I. [...]

The Occupy movement in North America and Europe

From social ecologist Raf Grinfeld in Belgium:

Many people in Europe were surprised to see the Occupy Together movement become so big in North America, even those of the Left who had seen more and more interesting popular protests in the Middle East and the south of Europe in 2011, and had hopes that a similar kind of thing would happen in the USA and the north of Europe.

There was also the surprise of it all in Europe because mainstream media kept [...]

From the streets of Montreal: Le printemps érable

The phrase ‘printemps érable’ translates as “Maple Spring,” but it also sounds like the French for Arab Spring. A new website, (also available at, offers a diverse mix of messages, commentaries and news stories from the Quebecois French press and activist blogs, e.g. this excerpt from a story by one of the site administrators. It describes last week’s historic march of some 600,000 people in Montreal in support of the 3-month student strike and in defiance of the Jean Charest [...]