Current Movements

Latin Americans debate ‘extractivism’

In a comprehensive review article in the Fall 2014 issue of Green Social Thought, long-time Left Green activist Don Fitz offers an insightful analysis of the current debates over ‘extractivism’ in Latin America.  While most environmental and indigenous activists are highly critical of the elevated levels of resource extraction that are occurring under nominally leftist governments in South America, proponents argue that it is unrealistic to reverse this trend, now that countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru are aiming to use the proceeds from oil and mineral extraction to benefit their majority populations. Fitz’s article [...]

“Ecological Challenges” conference in Oslo

The weekend immediately following the gigantic People’s Climate March in New York City, social ecologists and others will be gathering in Oslo for this important event:

Ecological Challenges: Oslo 2014 Conference
25-27 September 2014

The ecology movement deals with the greatest social and political challenge of our time: climate change. How should we meet this challenge? Some claim that democracy is to slow to solve the climate crisis, and that authoritarian measures are necessary to create a greener future. At the conference we will explore the idea of participatory democracy as a counter argument to this claim. How [...]

Don’t Mourn, Organize! A Social Ecology Panel at the 2014 Left Forum

This year, the annual Left Forum was held on May 30st through June 1st at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. The conference and its theme, Reform and/or Revolution: Imagining a World with Transformative Justice, attracted scholars and activists from across many social, environmental and labor movements including Occupy Wall Street, Idle No More, and Turkey’s Gezi Park.  Social ecologists collaborated to produce a panel discussion on the legacy and contributions of Murray Bookchin and his vision of communalist politics. Don’t Mourn, Organize! The Radical Decentralist Politics of Social Ecologist Murray [...]

The return of “scientific” racism

Alan Goodman, a professor at Hampshire College, co-director of the American Anthropological Association’s Understanding Race project, and long-time friend of the ISE, has posted a review on of a disturbing new book by New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade, which aims to revive long-discredited theories proposing a biological basis for racial divisions among peoples.  Here’s an excerpt:
Nicholas Wade’s book, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History, is what the title suggests: a troubling view of human history.   A Troublesome Inheritance is troublesome, but not for the reason he proposes: his “courageous” telling [...]

Dan Chodorkoff on the origins of the ISE

Video of Dan Chodorkoff discussing the origins of the ISE, focusing on early renewable energy experiments at Cate Farm in central Vermont.

Social ecologists at the Left Forum in NY City

Once again, faculty and associates of the ISE will be participating in several panels at the annual Left Forum, scheduled for May 30th – June 1st in New York City.  Following huge turnouts that stretched the limits of available spaces at Pace University, the Forum has been moved uptown to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, just west of Central Park and Columbus Circle. The theme is “Reform and/or Revolution: Imagine a World of Transformative Justice.”  Featured speakers this year include Harry Belafonte, Angela Davis, Cornel West, David Harvey, and over 1,000 more. Registration information [...]

Report from European social ecology meeting

Dan Chodorkoff reports from the recent European social ecology meeting in Greece:

TRISE, the Transnational Institute for Social Ecology held its second annual meeting in Marathon Greece from April 23-27th.    The organization is a primarily European effort to develop and disseminate the ideas of social ecology, with an emphasis on urban issues and the active transformation of cities.  There were folks from Sweden, Finland, Italy, Canada, the U.S. and Greece present.  I was there with my wife Betsy to represent the I.S.E. and to do a presentation on our 40 years of history.  All told about 25 [...]

Jerome Roos: Why is there less protest today?

In a recent post to his website,, Jerome Roos unpacks 2 recent articles aiming to explain the apparent decline in protest since 2011, and suggests some explanations of his own, focused on the triad of precarity, anxiety, and perceived futility.  Roos argues that there’s considerably more protest in the US and Europe than there was before 2011, but since it’s now viewed as less novel, it gets less media coverage.

Here’s an excerpt, outlining the three mutually reinforcing current trends (embedded links are from the original):

The total dis-aggregration and atomization of the social fabric as a result of [...]

Tikkun Magazine symposium: Does America Need a Left?

This special feature in Tikkun’s Spring 2014 issue contains many prominent voices, including three people with long histories with the Institute for Social Ecology: Chaia Heller, Blair Taylor and Janet Biehl.  They join other well-known writers, including Barbara Ehrenreich, Stanley Aronowitz and Michael Lerner, in addressing this important question. This Table of Contents mirrors the print version of the symposium, and a second set of articles, including Blair’s, are posted as Online Exclusives.

Here are links to the three articles that feature perspectives from social ecology:

Enter the Alter-Left: Reviving Our Revolutionary Nerve
by Chaia Heller

To Be Realistic, [...]

New book: Between Occultism and Nazism

From long-time ISE faculty member, Peter Staudenmeier, now a professor at Marquette University:

Between Occultism and Nazism:
Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race in the Fascist Era

The relationship between Nazism and occultism has been an object of fascination and speculation for decades. Peter Staudenmaier’s Between Occultism and Nazism provides a detailed historical examination centered on the anthroposophist movement founded by Rudolf Steiner. Its surprising findings reveal a remarkable level of Nazi support for Waldorf schools, biodynamic farming, and other anthroposophist initiatives, even as Nazi officials attempted to suppress occult tendencies. The book also includes an analysis of [...]