Brian Tokar

Social Ecology and The Greening of Our Cities

First published at Toward Freedom, Sept. 2008

Note: This article is from a presentation for Changer le Monde, Un Quartier à la Fois! (Changing the World, One Neighborhood at a Time) conference, Montreal, 5/1/08

Over the past year, we’ve seen an unprecedented rise in awareness of the consequences of potentially catastrophic global climate changes, and the need for a more ecologically sound way of life. We know that profound changes in our energy systems, our modes of transportation, and our entire way of life, are absolutely essential if we are to avoid a cascade of climate disruptions that [...]

Toward a Movement for Peace and Climate Justice

– For In the Middle of a Whirlwind/Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, Summer 2008

Complaining about the weather is about as American as apple pie, sitcoms and rock and roll. But while the rest of the world has been noticing for years that our increasingly unstable weather is an initial sign of potentially devastating global climate changes, our nation’s collective heads have mostly remained in the sand. Finally, over the past year or so, things have begun to shift a little.

It helps, of course, that weather changes over the past year or two have become so [...]

On Bookchin’s Social Ecology and its Contributions to Social Movements

– For Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, March 2008

Murray Bookchin was a leading theoretical progenitor of the many currents of left ecological thought and action that emerged from the 1960s, and his voluminous and many-faceted work has continued to influence theorists and activists to this day. Marcel van der Linden of the International Institute of Social History, based in the Netherlands, has described Bookchin’s collection of sixties-era essays, Post-Scarcity Anarchism, as “definitely… one of the most influential works on the international generation of 1968.”1 His magnum opus, The Ecology of Freedom, was placed by the Village Voice “at [...]

Toward a New Agenda for Climate Justice

For Synthesis/Regeneration Spring 2008

With all the fanfare that usually accompanies such gatherings, delegates to last December’s UN climate talks on the Indonesian island of Bali returned to their home countries declaring victory. Despite the continued obstructionism of the US delegation, the negotiators reached a mild consensus for continued negotiations on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, and at the very last moment were able to cajole and pressure the US to sign on.

But in the end, the so-called “Bali roadmap” added little beside a vague timetable to the plans for renewed global climate talks that came out [...]

Global Warming and the Struggle for Justice

– For Z Magazine, January 2008

If 2006 was the year that the “inconvenient truth” of global climate disruption made its way into the popular consciousness—and sparked a huge new wave of green products and corporate greenwashing—then hopefully the results of 2007’s revelations about the earth’s rapidly changing climate will prove more substantive and long-lasting. Not only did the UN’s Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issue a massively comprehensive report on climate science and its consequences, but the disturbing, and sometimes catastrophic, reality of worldwide climate collapse began to affect almost everyone’s daily life.

Here in the [...]

Taking it to the Streets: Challenging Biotech PR

– For GeneWatch, Spring ‘07

Since 1999, activists across North America have created comprehensive educational events, colorful parades, and determined oppositional media campaigns in response to the annual conventions of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). BIO is the world’s largest biotech lobbying organization. Their annual conventions have grown in recent years to bring nearly 20,000 biotech executives to major cities across the continent, and have featured high profile speakers from Presidents Clinton and Bush, to Hollywood celebrities, such as the late Christopher Reeve and Parkinson’s sufferer Michael J. Fox. These conventions are a huge public relations extravaganza [...]

The New Energy Debates

– For Z Magazine, January 2007

One of the most pressing issues facing us all, including the new Democratic-controlled Congress, is what to do about energy policy and climate change. With sweeping changes in the leadership of key congressional committees, and heightened public concerns about the consequences of disruptive climate shifts, the time appears ripe for significant changes in US policy. Environmental lobbyists in Washington, however, are bracing themselves for only minimal steps. California Senator Barbara Boxer, the new chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, is planning comprehensive hearings on climate and energy policy—a departure [...]

The Real Scoop on Biofuels

Green Energy: Panacea or Just the Latest Hype?

You can hardly open up a major newspaper or national magazine these days without encountering the latest hype about biofuels, and how they’re going to save oil, reduce pollution and prevent climate change. Bill Gates, Sun Microsystems’ Vinod Khosla, and other major venture capitalists are investing millions in new biofuel production, whether in the form of ethanol, mainly derived from corn in the US today; or biodiesel, mainly from soybeans and canola seed. It’s virtually a “modern day gold rush,” as described by the New York Times, paraphrasing the [...]

Murray Bookchin Tribute

Murray Bookchin, visionary social theorist, dies at 85 A tribute by Brian Tokar. Murray Bookchin, the visionary social theorist and activist, died during the early morning of Sunday, July 30th in his home in Burlington, Vermont. During a prolific career of writing, teaching and political activism that spanned half a century, Bookchin forged a new anti-authoritarian outlook rooted in ecology, dialectical philosophy and left libertarianism.

Can we buy our way to an ethical society?

– For World Magazine X (Norway)

Today we live in the most narrowly market-driven society the world has ever seen. Social movements in many countries are at a low ebb, and people’s lives are utterly shaped by the norms of the commercial marketplace. This is especially true in North America, but its effects are increasingly felt in Europe as well. Advertising for consumer brands aims to reorient our personal aspirations and our fundamental sense of selfhood. We seem to live in a world where literally everything is for sale.

It is little surprise that, in such a world, [...]