Ursula LeGuin on Murray Bookchin




Verso Books has published an outstanding new collection of Murray Bookchin’s political essays from the 1990s and early 2000s, titled The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy, and edited by Debbie Bookchin and Blair Taylor. Debbie and Blair sought a foreword from the renowned science fiction writer, Ursula LeGuin, and were pleasantly surprised when she agreed to write one.  Here’s the concluding portion, beginning with an extended Bookchin quote; the full text can be found at

Capitalism’s grow-or-die imperative stands radically at odds with ecology’s imperative of interdependence and limit. The two imperatives can no longer coexist with each other; nor can any society founded on the myth that they can be reconciled hope to survive. Either we will establish an ecological society or society will go under for everyone, irrespective of his or her status.

Murray Bookchin spent a lifetime opposing the rapacious ethos of grow-or-die capitalism. The nine essays in “The Next Revolution” represent the culmination of that labor: the theoretical underpinning for an egalitarian and directly democratic ecological society, with a practical approach for how to build it. He critiques the failures of past movements for social change, resurrects the promise of direct democracy and, in the last essay in the book, sketches his hope of how we might turn the environmental crisis into a moment of true choice—a chance to transcend the paralyzing hierarchies of gender, race, class, nation, a chance to find a radical cure for the radical evil of our social system.

Reading it, I was moved and grateful, as I have so often been in reading Murray Bookchin. He was a true son of the Enlightenment in his respect for clear thought and moral responsibility and in his honest, uncompromising search for a realistic hope.

 A positive and forward-looking review of The Next Revolution, by a Vermont journalist often noted for his skepticism, appears in the February 4th issue of the Vermont weekly, Seven Days.