Peter Staudenmaier

Viewing the Balkans from a Distance

Since I have already taken up too much space in this exchange, I will keep my concluding remarks brief. I have tried at great length to make my position clear to Peter Hudis, and have conspicuously failed in this effort. I have also tried everything I could think of to get Hudis to examine the glaring contradictions in his own position, again to no avail. While I am confident that other readers will have less trouble making sense of my argument, it may help to rescue this exchange from the obscurity of mutual incomprehension if I add a few […]

Disney Ecology

The Walt Disney movie Bambi, one of the best-known films of all time, is more than a treacly childrens fable. The tale of Bambi and Thumper is also a parable about habitat destruction, as seen through the eyes of various furry critters. One of the movies dramatic high points comes in a scene which I still recall vividly from the first time I saw it at age seven. All the animals are grazing peacefully in a meadow at the forest’s edge when the soundtrack shifts to ominous tones. Suddenly the creatures scatter […]

Ambiguities of Animal Rights

Throughout Europe and North America, a considerable portion of the contemporary radical scene takes for granted the notion that animal liberation is an integral part of revolutionary politics. Many talented and dedicated activists in anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian movements came to political maturity in the context of animal rights campaigns, and in some circles veganism and animal liberation are considered the apogee of oppositional authenticity.1

In order to contest these views, and critically examine the philosophical and political presuppositions that underlie them, it is not necessary to defend or condone the exploitation of non-human animals in factory farms, cosmetics laboratories, and […]

Peter Singer and Eugenics

Peter Singer is an Australian philosopher who is best known for his book Animal Liberation. His work on ethics is respected within the academy and he has had an impact on public opinion unmatched by almost any other professional philosopher. He is the world’s foremost proponent of utilitarianism, one of the two major doctrines within mainstream western ethics. Singer was recently appointed to a prestigious chair at Princeton University, a top US school. That appointment has brought to these shores a heated controversy about various of Singer’s views that has been raging […]

Anarchists in Wonderland: The Topsy-Turvy World of Post-Left Anarchy

(In 2003 I was asked by the Institute for Anarchist Studies to write a response to Jason McQuinn’s essay “Post-Left Anarchy: Leaving the Left Behind.” McQuinn’s essay can be found here: The essay below is my response.)

Since the editors of Anarchy Magazine began promoting it several years ago, the vague category of post-left anarchism has generated considerable debate among practically and theoretically engaged anarchists. In the course of these discussions, anarchists from a variety of backgrounds have posed a wide range of critical questions to the promoters of the post-left idea. Most of these questions have gone unanswered, […]

Harbinger Vol. 3. No. 1 — Economics in a Social-Ecological Society

n the midst of our struggles for a better world, social ecologists have frequently engaged in critical dialogue with other strands of radical thought about just what kind of world we’re struggling for. Such dialogues often address the question of how people in a liberated future will organize their material relationships with one another and with the natural world. What would economics look like in an ecological society? How might free communities […]

Social Ecology and Participatory Economics (1)

Response to Michael Albert, Summarizing Participatory Economics

(The following exchange, four essays in all, took place in 2002 as a joint debate organized by the Institute for Social Ecology, beginning with introductory statements by Michael Albert on participatory economics or ‘parecon’ and by me on economics in a social-ecological society. The four essays here are my successive replies to Albert.)

I’m pleased to see the degree of compatibility and overlap between the economic vision outlined by Michael Albert and the proposals for a liberated society put forward by social ecologists. Both of our theories point toward emancipatory and directly democratic alternatives […]

Social Ecology and Participatory Economics (2)

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your two thorough responses. I’m going to try to reply to each of them individually, despite the thematic overlap, though I’m sure I’ll miss some important issues. You asked:

“Are you saying there is no place in politics for representatives deliberating and voting, by some algorithm, even with recall, challenges, and so on — so that all decisions must be by referendum?”

Direct democracy works precisely by negating the need for representation of this sort. The point of social ecology’s emphasis on local assemblies is that they offer an opportunity for people to manage their affairs directly and […]

Social Ecology and Participatory Economics (3)

Hi again Michael,

I think we’re getting into more detail in this thread, so I’ll try to use this rejoinder as an opportunity to explore some of the themes I’ve neglected so far and go a little deeper into those we’ve already broached. You asked:

“why shouldn’t decisions about production, allocation, and consumption be carried out by the actors involved in these functions, organized in councils rooted in both workplaces and regions.”

They should be. We agree that councils have an important role to play in carrying out economic decisions. It is definitely not the case that I “don’t like having workers’ […]

Social Ecology and Participatory Economics (4)

Hi Michael,

I’m not sure what to make of your complaint that I have skipped some central matters. I can’t possibly reply to every point in your posts, of course, but I thought I had covered the main ones. In several cases you say I’ve ignored issues that I have, in fact, discussed at length in this exchange; and in other cases you claim that social ecologists are silent on questions that we have, in fact, addressed repeatedly in our published works. A number of these latter questions are discussed in the book you reviewed three years ago, Janet Biehl’s […]