Social Ecology Blog

New book on participatory evolution

Counterpunch this week features an interview with molecular biologist James Shapiro, whose new book, Evolution: A View from the 21st Century, seeks to offer a comprehensive view of current work in evolutionary biology and concludes that concepts of innovation, self-organization, and self-directed evolution have now overtaken traditional Darwinian views of evolution driven by random mutations.

The book begins:
How does novelty arise in evolution? Innovation, not selection, is the critical issue in evolutionary change. Without variation and novelty, selection has [...]

Exclusive: The Grand Botanical Chess Game

From Puerto Rican social ecologist Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero:

All over the world, debates on the future of food and agriculture are dominated by one supreme subject: the seed. Its importance cannot possibly be overstated. Seed is, after all, the beginning of the human food chain. In the words of University of Wisconsin professor Jack R. Kloppenburg: “As both food and means of production, seed sits at a critical nexus where contemporary struggles over the technical, social and environmental conditions [...]

Video: John Holloway at the Left Forum (NYC)

In an engaging and genuinely subversive presentation to the closing plenary at this year’s Left Forum in New York City, social critic John Holloway challenged many of the assumptions underlying traditional left strategies in the current economic context. Holloway suggested that today’s popular movements are the real “crisis of capitalism.” We can either aim to help elites restore economic growth and a false sense of normalcy, he argued, or refuse to be subservient [...]

On horizonal decision making and bureaucracy

From the UK webzine Stir (, a perceptive analysis by anthropologist and activist Marianne Maeckelbergh, highlighting  the potentialities and pitfalls of horizontal decision-making processes and their central role in current popular movements.

Maeckelbergh begins by highlighting the historical roots of conscious horizontalism, its liberatory potential, and also the need to  implement such processes very deliberately:
Horizontal decision-making rests on a transformation in the way we think about ‘equality’ and how it is created. The starting assumption is that [...]

General strike in Spain

Adbusters reports:
Spain was hit with a massive General Strike today (March 29th) that shut down shopping centers, roads and transportation hubs. Barricades of burning tires were erected in Barcelona, hundreds of airline flights were canceled across the nation, and an estimated 91% of all employees at large businesses stayed home or took the streets, according to El Pais.
Spain’s General Strike could not have come at a more significant moment from the perspective of the global people’s movement. As ROAR [...]

From Turkey: A social ecology challenge to environmentalism

From social ecologist Cagrideniz Eryilmaz in Turkey:

Social Ecology Challenges Environmentalism: HES Opposition Cases in Turkey

I have completed a sociology dissertation aiming to analyze environmental grassroots movements in Turkey within a frame of social ecology. Hundreds of local movements rose against the construction of thousands of HES[1] (hydroelectric power plants) in the last few years. HES opposition shows new and unique aspects challenging traditional ‘environmentalism’ in Turkey. Except for the Bergama movement (against a [...]

New SEEDS newsletter

ISE Board member and SEEDS co-founder Bob Spivey writes:
We would like to announce the premiere issue of the new quarterly
SEEDS newsletter, Broadcast. Our first issue includes an article on
the future and promise of the Occupy movement by noted author Brian
Tokar, an interview with frontline activist Swaneagle Harijan about
her experience within the Occupy movement, an article on building a
just and ecological urban neighborhood interdependence by permaculture
teacher Emet Degirmenci, and a report on the Eden Reframed eco-art
project [...]

Rise & fall of the Argentine assembly movement

Norwegian social ecologist Sveinung Legard has posted to the New Compass website an enlightening review of a recent University of Oregon senior thesis, which explores the history of the popular assemblies that emerged throughout Argentina during the height of their 2001 financial crisis. Most notably, the thesis explores the reasons for the demise of the Argentine assembly movement, particularly the divisive involvement of left political parties and the state’s attempts to satisfy the [...]

ISE at the Left Forum, NYC March 16-18

ISE faculty members are featured on 10 different panels at this year’s annual Left Forum in New York City.  This is an exceptional yearly event, with speakers and workshops exploring a very wide scope of  theoretical, historical, organizational, and practical questions central to left politics today. This year’s theme is Occupy the System: Confronting Global Capitalism. Full conference details and registration information are available at The conference is held on the campus [...]

Egypt’s Democracy: A Question of Legitimacy

One of our favorite recent websites, The New Significance, has posted a compelling and informative video account of the history and conditions leading up to the Egyptian revolution last winter. The story is told through interviews with activists who connect the ongoing crisis of governance in Egypt to the broader crisis of political and economic decision making across the world. Check it out at Here’s their description of the video:
Although Hosni Mubarak was forced to [...]