The Transition to the Ecological Society: An Interview by Takis Fotopoulos




Published in Society and Nature, vol. 1, no. 3 (1993)

Takis Fotopoulos: It is generally recognized that the Green movement is in crisis. This is indicated not just by its failure to appeal to the electorate but, more important, in terms of its failure to project a new vision of society, an ecological society. All this, at a moment in History when the ecological crisis on the one hand and the collapse of the socialist project on the other make the need for an alternative vision of society imperative. How do you explain the unique failure of the Green movement to capture the imagination of people and its gradual transformation into an environmentalist lobby? What, in your view, are the causes of the marginalization of the Green movement?

Murray Bookchin: Part of the answer to this question is contained in the question itself, namely that most Greens, or at least many of the ones I have encountered–especially in Britain and Germany–are little more than environmental lobbyists. Up to now they have not created a new politics (and in Germany, perhaps they never will). Their leaders have tried to function as parliamentarians within a conventional party framework, and their programs, apart from the hortatory rhetoric that usually precedes the practical proposals, are as pedestrian as those of most center parties. In the United States, although this is less the case–the Greens have a strong left and libertarian core–the idea of confederalism as an alternative to the nation-state has not taken hold sufficiently to make it a decisive component of American Green municipalist politics, the only politics that I contend can give institutional meaning to what is broadly called a “participatory politics.” What, after all, does that much-overworked phrase mean? How is a “participatory politics” to be structured? Through what kind of institutions are the masses to participate in making “politics”? Asking such questions makes it blatantly evident that Greens oriented toward parliamentary politics and the nation-state are not seeking a “participatory politics” but rather a “representative” system of government–the nation-state politics of republicanism–which in fact excludes the masses from participation in political life.

This makes it very easy for Social Democrats, even the various Christian Democrats in Europe, to co-opt the “Green program,” such as it is these days. Why vote for Greens, if one can–with better hopes of “success”–deal with environmental problems by supporting established parties? The German and British Greens clearly face the problem of their own failure to develop a new politics–hence the miserable vote the British Greens received in the last General Elections (about 2.5 percent) and the marginality of the German Greens, who seem doomed to float around 7 and 8 percent nationwide, a vote that turns them into a “swing” party that can make coalitions with the larger parties but never exercise power or even exert significant influence.

I do not think we can ignore the times in which we live. Capitalism is actually becoming a dominant society, not merely a dominant economy, as it was in the first half of this century, when I was a young man. It is penetrating into every aspect of daily life–into the family, personal relationships, the most intimate values–not only into all aspects of economic life. The supermarket and shopping mall are perhaps the best metaphors I have for the way in which daily life is organized. People are being reduced to mere buyers and sellers, not fulfilled as individuals and citizens–with the appalling result that they are becoming increasingly less responsive to radical ideas and movements. Indeed, radical ideas and movements themselves have been infected by what I call the marketization of everyday life, to coin a word–commodification is not a strong enough word–and radical political parties are being penetrated by bourgeois values and forms of organization that were once generally confined to conventional trade unions and business groups. We are only just beginning to understand what capitalism really is, and we can barely anticipate what it will become at a later period. Hence the irrelevance of Marx’s economic prognoses today and the attempts of neo-Marxists to situate Marxian theories in contemporary life. We have yet to see how capitalism will unfold.

But one thing is clear, in my view: capitalism is based by its very nature on continual accumulation–on the need of enterprises to grow or die–which inexorably throws it against the natural world. Hence the enormous importance of social ecology as a radical approach to the problems that will arise even more significantly in the future than at the present time.

TF: Despite the social character of today’s problems (ecological, economic, etc.), it seems that all social strata seek “private” solutions to face them: the middle strata, that dominate electoral politics in advanced capitalist countries, attempt private solutions to all problems, including the ecological ones (such as “green” consumerism, New Age, etc.), whereas the “under-class” of the unemployed, the marginalized, etc., simply abstain from any kind of political activity and resort also to “private” solutions (drugs, etc.)–apart from occasional revolts. How do you assess the prospects for the development of a radical green movement today, and how do you think its chances of appealing to a wider audience would fare at a moment when the concept of community is so much undermined by neoliberalism and irrationalism?

MB: My assessment for the development of a radical movement is very positive. Capitalism cannot resolve the growing ecological crisis–certainly not without ceasing to be capitalism. But we must be prepared for a long development rather than immediate, spectacular results. The “audience” for a social ecological perspective will emerge as the ecological crisis grows–of this I have no doubt; but will the political groups, literature, and dedication so needed to inform that “audience” be available? I find it very strange, in fact, that people in the new political and social movements are very impatient, when there is such a need for them to dedicate themselves to a long-range commitment. This apparent waning of commitment, compared with radicals I encountered fifty years ago, troubles me greatly. It is as though capitalism, penetrating everyday life as it does, is subverting the character structure of many of its radical opponents. Every individual who professes to be a radical today must ask himself or herself whether he or she can resist the corrosive force of the prevailing society, its capacity to penetrate into the very spirit of an individual and corrupt it. The only response I can honestly give to this problem is to warn today’s radicals that the loss of one’s idealism will result in a loss of one’s very personality, one’s humanity, and one’s self-definition.

I do not believe that the concept of community is being undermined by neoliberalism and irrationalism. I believe, rather, that the concept has yet to be clearly defined–hence the seeming “ease” with which liberals and opponents of rationalism tend be able to absorb it. Even many people who profess to be committed to Green ideas have yet to define community and its institutionalization for themselves. Additionally, I believe that we must undertake an intensive educational process–one initially directed at people who profess to be radicals and are oriented toward an ecological politics, not simply at the public, much of which up to now has been trivialized by the need to survive or by consumerism (which really applies to only a segment of the population).

TF: After the collapse of the socialist project in its marxist-leninist and social-democratic versions, libertarian municipalism seems to represent not only a radical alternative to today’s society, but also a historically fundamental project that achieves a synthesis of the historic demands for autonomy and grassroots democracy as well as the new demands for an ecological society. In libertarian municipalism, you make a clear distinction between local politics and national politics, and you rightly reject participation in national politics, which, as the experience of the last ten years has also shown, leads directly to environmentalism rather than to the creation of a radical green movement. However, in highly centralized states like France, Italy, Greece, etc. (in contrast to the Anglo-American model), local politics takes very much the form of mini-national politics, with national parties competing with each other, in exactly the same way as at the national level, to conquer local authorities in order to keep them powerless. In such countries, therefore, there is no possibility even to start the municipalization of the economy within the present legal framework. Given that the transfer of some power from the center to the local communities (similar, for instance, to the one that local authorities have at the moment in the USA/UK) is a decision that in these countries has to be taken at the national level, how do you see that participation in local elections alone could deal with this problem?

MB: First, I should make it clear that libertarian municipalism is not “localism”–which, I may add, could easily lead to a cultural regression and a reactionary parochialism and that, for all practical purposes (fortunately!), is economically impossible for most of the world. No, I am not a localist but a confederalist, more precisely a municipal confederalist, by which I mean that popular assemblies formed in neighborhoods would be interlinked through deputies (not representatives!) my means of confederal councils and thence to regional, nationwide, and continental councils, each of which would have increasingly limited administrative powers. Policy-making powers would be the prerogative of the neighborhood, town, and village levels, and policy decisions by these assemblies would vote on a majority-rule basis. (I am not a naive admirer of consensus except in small, intimate groups in which everyone is thoroughly familiar with everyone else.)

Is this a fantasy? What surprises me is how little people know, even in the radical movements of our day, about the extent to which confederations based on municipalities really worked historically, and not simply in economically undeveloped communities. Paris in the late eighteenth century was, by the standards of that time, one of the largest and economically most complex cities in Europe: its population approximated a million people, and it was almost completely dependent upon a regional if not a national division of labor. Yet in 1793, at the height of the French Revolution, the city was managed institutionally almost entirely by citizen assemblies, forty-eight in number, and its affairs were coordinated by the Commune, or city council–and often, in fact, by the assemblies themselves, or “sections” as they were called, which established their own interconnections without recourse to the Commune.

The history of these confederal assemblies has been literally expunged from accounts of civic life, yet they date back not only to classical Athens but to urban confederations during the Middle Ages, during the Reformation era, and well into recent times. I have tried to present this history and interpret it in my book Urbanization Without Cities, a work that I regard as essential to an understanding of the politics of social ecology.

These days I think it would be wiser to call “libertarian municipalism” confederal municipalism because this term more accurately reveals the integrative features that mark this notion of municipal politics. Nor would a confederal municipalism be dependent upon cities, towns, and villages as they are now, in the existing national frameworks. Rather, a municipalist form of confederalism, in which attempts to form citizens’ assemblies and to elect city councilors with a view toward expanding the powers of the assemblies and confederating them, is meant to countervail the power of the nation-state. I do not expect any national government to willingly “grant” power to a confederal municipalist movement without resistance of one sort or another. By the same token, I do not believe that the confederations underlying a new politics would do more than hollow out the power of the nation-state.

But how the two will relate to each other is a matter of the future–and for another generation to decide. For the present, Greens, social ecologists, and the like must try to create a new politics and a new public sphere based not merely on greater local control and municipal democracy but on confederal relationships between municipalities. I know of no other movement in the left that has advanced such an idea of authentic politics, or politics in its classical Hellenic sense as distinguished from statecraft, or involvement in parliamentarism. Again, I must refer the reader to Urbanization Without Cities, in which I spell out these ideas in the greatest detail.

TF: I’ve asked the previous question because I wanted to have your opinion on the strategy suggested by eco-marxists like James O’Connor, of sublating centralism with decentralism, a strategy that presumably implies participation in national elections in order to, as he calls it, “democratize the State” (in the sense, for instance, of solving problems, like the one I mentioned, of transferring power from the center to the local level). If therefore the possibility of taking part in national elections is ruled out, the question is: Should a radical green movement support other parties or movement in the parliament or the Euro-parliament that would, say, promise the transfer of power to the regions or local communities? Furthermore, assuming that a significant number of local authorities have become libertarian green, should the movement at this point take part in national elections just to press for changes in the constitution that would allow for such a transfer of power and, in the last instance, would replace representative democracy with direct political and economic democracy? Are there any serious risks involved in such an approach?

MB: Much as I respect James O’Connor–I’ve known him for more than twenty years–I do not believe one can “sublate” (aufheben, to use the Hegelian word) the state (or centralism) with a confederal municipal democracy (or decentralism). One cannot ignore the compelling dialectic lies at the very heart of statism, encompassing the state in all its forms, mutations, and degrees of development. What I have tried to rescue from the Hegelian dialectic is a sense of potentiality and “rational necessity,” which means, not an unswerving determinism or teleology, but a recognition of the logic of a given, ever-developing situation. The state by its very nature is a coercive, professionalized, and domineering phenomenon that never ceases to expand, to increase its powers, and to try in all circumstances to take over the entirety of social life. Neither moral suasion nor the most vigilant controls can prevent the state from expanding–however slowly and unnoticeably–at the expense of the decentralist relations that O’Connor would have us believe could coexist with it, much less be created by it. There would in fact be no sublation here at all–only a steady corrosion of popular democracy by an increasingly bureaucratic state apparatus. I say this respectfully, but I think that O’Connor still thinks of decentralism in terms of localism rather than confederalism, whose administrative institutions could deal with the so-called “complexities” of modern society without falling into the traps of a statist development. If policy-making is distinguished from administration–a distinction Marx disastrously ignored when he wrote about the Paris Commune of 1871 and one that Bolshevism failed to make, with terrible consequences for our century–confederation is not only possible but in every respect feasible.

To denature the classical meaning of “politics” by participating in national elections raises the added danger of legitimating state institutions, as well as disorienting the people. In the United States my colleagues and I have been obliged to separate from a friend, ostensibly a confederal municipalist, who advocates that Greens participate in national elections merely, you see, to gain a wider audience for our shared political approach and “educate” them. The logic of this “educational” effort has obliged him to deal with some very unsavory leftist politicians, to form coalitions with patently reformist groups that in no way challenge the present social order, and to play down a municipalist approach that stresses civic democracy in favor of one that resembles a conventional electoral program.

I would have no quarrel with a radical Green movement that worked with a conventional organization to prevent a specific ecological despoliation, such as the construction of a nuclear reactor. But I would emphatically oppose an electoral coalition with a party, however radical it may appear, that tries to gain seats in a statist or even quasi-statist body like the European Parliament, irrespective of the promises it makes. I learned to distrust the promises of statist parties–indeed, of parties generally–after my very considerable experience with the Green parties in Europe, particularly the German Greens. Die Grünen, a classical example of a “nonparty-party,” initially entered the Bundestag with deputies who were to “rotate” every two years to avoid developing a personal desire to gain power; indeed, they even dressed like underprivileged people–in jeans, work shirts, often hippie-type clothing–and carried leaves, tree branches, and other “naturalistic” symbols into the august legislative chamber of what was then the West German government.

Today, this seeming attempt to “sublate” conventional politics has disappeared. The “nonparty-party” has turned into a disgusting bureaucratic apparatus; its leaders often tilt to the right of center or, at best, are little better than the centrist Free Democrats; and the party has increasing tailored its program and its policies to fit the needs of the status quo. None of these developments is accidental; indeed, during lecture tours of Germany over the past fifteen years, I vehemently warned that the party would move in the direction it has–not because I possess any clairvoyant power but because even the most superficial study of statism provides ample evidence that such developments are systemic. They are structured into the very nature of the state as such. Even self-consciously created “minimal states” eventually begin, through a kind of social metastasis, to “maximize” their powers, much as a spreading cancer devours its host unless it can be removed.

TF: In your writings you propose the municipalization of the economy as against its nationalization or collectivization (in the form of coops, etc.). A significant problem arising in this connection is the one relating to the transition from “here” to “there,” from a hierarchical to an ecological society. How do you see the transition to an ecological society? Would you accept the eco-marxist approach of sublating the local and the central, of “democratizing the state,” just as a transitional strategy? What in your opinion are the problems connected with such an approach, even if viewed as a transitional strategy?

MB: Inasmuch as I have said that I regard any attempt to “sublate” the state as self-defeating, indeed mythic, I have already answered your first question. A meaningful transition to an ecological society will depend upon whether confederal associations will “metastasize” at the expense of the state or whether the state will “metastasize” at the expense of even a representative republican system. Given that the growth of ecological problems will in time become overwhelming, I strongly suspect that capitalism will be obliged to turn to authoritarian “solutions” if the people do not develop an ecological society.

Yes, we need a “transitional strategy”–the newly arrived “eco-Marxists” have no monopoly on this approach–but what is it? By repeating the appalling degeneration of the German Greens–or, for that matter, the Marxists and even Maoists who entered the Italian Green movement and were seduced by the power and emoluments of statist politics? Or by trying to devolve power by placing it in the hands of confederated communities, the one political realm that exists directly outside the threshold of one’s home and those of one’s neighbors? In the latter case, politics begins to come out in the open, where issues and problems can be explored, discussed, and acted upon before everyone’s eyes. Note well that even electoral activity in communities, on the part of groups who seek to enter city, town, or village councils, involves a closer personal relationship than do the media-contrived “personalities” who profess to “represent” their “constituents” in statist institutions. On the local level, we have at least a reasonable chance of knowing who our deputies will be, of hearing them speak directly, of meeting them, and of querying them–in contrast to the “representatives” who talk to us through television screens and perform rather than discuss. A movement based on confederal municipalism would be obliged to engage in a kind of face-to-face educational process, not in the sickening personality electioneering that characterizes the campaigns of statist parties.

TF: We have been criticized by eco-marxists that our putting forward of a liberatory project based on direct democracy is dogmatic because there is no practical imminence; in other words, we do not base this on actual, factual struggles and movements with political goals of direct democracy–all this, at a moment when, as they argue, a lot of actual movements aim at democratizing the state. How do you assess this criticism, and generally the eco-marxist position in favor of a plurality of alternative models both at the economic level (community coops and worker coops, nationalized and socialized enterprises, etc.) and the political level (direct democratic forms of organization of the movement and a struggle to democratize the state and to create an autonomous civil society, etc.)?

MB: It amuses me that eco-Marxists regard our liberatory project as “dogmatic.” Leaving aside the fact that many of them still regard themselves as devotees of one Karl Marx, “dogmatic” is often a tasteless euphemism for “principled” these days. I would refer them to Marx’s Capital, one of whose major messages is that a “pluralistic” economy would definitely lead to the domination of the market and propertied forms of production over any kind of cooperative forms, especially if the latter are focused on meeting human needs rather than generating profits. Nor do I see any reason to believe that “workers’ control” of production will not devolve into a form of collective capitalism, each workers’-controlled enterprise competing with others of the same kind for profits and a greater share of the marketplace. This tendency appeared among collectivized enterprises–remarkably, even among anarchistic CNT enterprises–in the Spanish Revolution of 1936-37. Today’s decline in Marxist theoretics is vividly demonstrated by the fact that so-called “Marxists” can call for a “pluralistic” economy–one that includes such utterly conflicting economic institutions as cooperatives, workers’-controlled enterprises, privately owned entrepreneurial firms, and even nationalized ones, as though historical logic would not require that some be excluded at the expense of the others. One has only to look at the extent to which Margaret Thatcher privatized so much of the nationalized economy that the British Labor Party had feebly created, a process that is being replicated throughout the world, including in Scandinavian countries.

The same dialectic holds true for “alternative” statist models, as I have said. Gresham’s Law, according to which bad coinage drives out good, holds true in its own way for the economy and political life as well. Not only are eco-Marxists naive in terms of their “dialectical” approach–which, alas, they generally lack–but capitalism operates according to a law of negative social selection in which the worst invariably triumphs over the best in social and economic affairs. I do not see confederal municipalism as developing within a capitalist ambit but rather as continually in tension with and against it–as a sort of permanent opposition.

TF: Finally, a question relating to your philosophical naturalism. Some readers of your debate with Robyn Eckersley (that was published in Environmental Ethics and reproduced in Society and Nature no. 2) formed the impression that your aim is to create an “objective” basis for ecological ethics and, by implication, for the liberatory project, in other words, the project for an ecological society. The question therefore arises (if the impression is correct) as to whether such a view underestimates the importance of the imaginary element in social creation, as for example Castoriadis points out with respect to marxist dialectics. Do we need to develop an “objective” (not to say a “scientific”) basis for our liberatory project and risk in the process the accusation that we try to develop a new “science” of society and nature, despite the potential hierarchical implications of such a view of the liberatory project? Can’t we just base the liberatory project on our own personal and responsible choice between coexisting tendencies and the interpretation that our choice implies?

MB: My attempt to formulate an objective ethics must be seen in the light of the subjective or relativistic ethics that is so prevalent today. Postmodernism has produced a theoretical and ethical nihilism, presumably in the name of articulating and elaborating the slogans of May-June 1968, that is chilling and dangerous. By no means do I wish to return ethics to a grounding in the classical chain of being or to eternal recurrence, with its static or ahistorical cycles. By the same token, I do not want to enervate social ecology with the relativistic values of logical positivism or positivism of any sort.

Dialectical naturalism is based overwhelmingly on potentiality, conceived as the configuration of a development that may very well unfold along irrational or rational lines. Let me emphasize that when we speak of the “irrational,” we necessarily presuppose that speculative reason, experience, history, and the like can provide us with a standard of what constitutes the rational. The naturalistic dialectic I advance expresses a standard of rational fulfillment, or the actualization (Verwirklichung) of tendencies that are latent in what Hegel called an sich and Aristotle dynamis. Allow me to emphasize the word tendencies, not predeterminations of an end by a beginning. Moreover, the word scientific is not required to denote an objectivistic or ontological grounding for ethics. There are surely many natural sciences, but the term scientific is fraught with endless problems in social theory, not to speak of ethics, about which I would prefer not to open a discussion in so limited an amount of space.

Apart from naive, a priori vagaries like “intrinsic worth,” how can we define “Nature” (which I regard as an evolutionary process) and determine on ethical grounds humanity’s place in the natural world? Certainly any project that involves ecology, not to speak of nature philosophy, is fraught with potentially hierarchical, indeed fascistic implications. In National Socialism’s use of social Darwinism and in Stalinism’s use of dialectical materialism, both resorted to biological “laws” and imperatives to justify genocide, imperialism, and ethnic domination. (People tend to forget the Great Russian chauvinism and anti-Semitism to which Stalin resorted from the 1920s onward.) Does it mean, then, that we must eschew any ontological approach to ethics? But then we will only slip into the treacherous subjectivistic approach of postmodernism today. How can we to define the rational, the good, the just, or indeed the free, without some ontological approach? Or are we merely to say that “goodness” in all of these concepts is merely a matter of opinion or custom? We are obliged, when all is said and done, to define what is the True, and to speak of a pronounced Wholeness rather than “The Whole” (as does Hegel), by which I mean degrees of development–not an Absolute toward which Spirit develops, a terminality that finally brings history and creativity to an end. And what is true requires the empirical test of experience as well as the challenge of rationality.

If understanding this is too much to ask of people, then I simply do not know what to say. Admittedly, I ask for a great deal, but I do not ask for what is impossible or unachievable. On the other hand, if I were to base the liberatory project on my own personal choices from among co-existing tendencies whose ethical weight is said to be equivalent or indeterminate, I could become utterly wayward–and accommodative–in my behavior and thinking. Personal choices imply personal values, and the old positivistic maxim “What is good for me is not necessarily good for you and vice versa, so let’s do what we want” can justify any action that one might take, in the name of negative liberty’s anemic convention that I must not hurt others in doing what I choose to do. This may be a good guide for civility, but it hardly serves as a satisfactory guide to the Good or the Free–or in any way defines it.

The objective ethics of dialectical naturalism has a special importance in creating an ecological sensibility, in that it justifies the creative function that human beings can play in the evolutionary process in fostering biodiversity, preserving species, diminishing needless pain and suffering in the natural world, and the like. Dialectical naturalism provides the soundest basis that I know of for imbuing a free, ecologically oriented society with the ethical obligation to engage in the evolutionary function of humanity as potentially nature rendered self-conscious.

I cannot deal, in so limited a space, with Marxist dialectics. But nor do I want to underestimate–and I do not, in my writings–what Cornelius Castoriadis calls the imaginary element in social creation. But I would want to “reconcile,” so to speak, Castoriadis’s concern with the wavelets of history with the sweeping tidal movements that buoy up specific cultural differences and accidental factors and that give a coherence to social development. Each tribe in the in the Iroquois Confederacy, for example, differed from the others in various ways, just as various civilizations in thirteenth-century Europe differed from one another. Yet one need not adduce Marxist dialectics or the many vulgarities of Engels’s Anti-Dühring to argue that there have been great movements in history that raise underlying social questions, such as the resolution of very real material want at one time, and security and material sufficiency at another. “Nature” is not “stingy” or “cruel,” but in many places the most basic means of life were visibly lacking in the “natural environment” (always affected profoundly by the presence of human beings over much of prehistory) at different times. This problem has today been resolved in principle albeit not in fact–indeed, our ability to have a sufficiency in the means of life and modest comfort has made the social inequities that were in the past accepted as “natural” increasingly insufferable to millions of people.

By the same token, civilization has evolved expansive notions of freedom and justice that were not consciously or generally known in the past, even if earlier, generally nonliterate peoples intuitively functioned as free and just people, often as a matter of mere custom. After many real and conceptual advances, history as a whole–especially in the West–has placed issues “on the table,” so to speak, that were once only intuited at best and clad in mysticism at worst but that are now resolvable. I do not think that Cornelius’s imaginary invalidates the fact that there has been progress–unless everything is to be reduced to the imaginary, thereby dissolving all phenomena into matters of belief, which is far from what I believe he proposes to do. In The Ecology of Freedom, I played two “legacies” against each other, “The Legacy of Domination” and “The Legacy of Freedom,” partly to remove any myth that history has been a “grand narrative” of progress pure and simple.

No–unwavering, predetermined progress does not exist in social development, but I would disagree with any body of ecological ideas that flatly denies that progress has occurred or that asserts that a happy Pleistocene humanity did not have to resolve key issues that concern us today. Notwithstanding what many eco-mystics derive from Marshall Sahlins’s Stone Age Economics, nonliterate peoples may have been “affluent” in relation to their needs, but they did not have Beethoven’s music, Einstein’s science, Daumier’s painting, Shakespeare’s plays, and the potential resolution of the remarkable social issues that are still, in this regressive period, open to discourse. It is meaningless to tell me that they were happy or content with the complex, highly integrated cultures they developed. But the horrors of history notwithstanding, my view of human potentialities cannot be dissolved into a microanalysis of cultural “networks” (as Weber might put it); nor would I regard my view as part of my own personal or social imaginary.

Obviously, this requires considerable discussion beyond the scope of an interview. Suffice it to say here that I have learned from Hegel’s concept of potentiality and actuality to work with a larger view of history–with all due regard to the microanalytic view–with the rationally educed “should be” of potentiality rather than the “what is.” Without this eductive standard, I would have no standard at all by which to determine what is “good,” “true,” and “free,” and I would sink into moral and cultural relativism. I will not react to the “macroobjective” dialectics of Marx by swinging to the opposite extreme of a relativistic “microanalytics” of positivism.

–September 11, 1992