Murray Bookchin was asked to write a short (200 page) book summarizing his beliefs. Remaking Society: Pathways to a Green Future was the result. It covers many topics in a somewhat structured manner that builds up to Mr. Bookchin’s suggestions about what should be done. I had to read this book with a dictionary for the first 100 pages or so. After that the book picks up in pace and since you have the vocabulary memorized it becomes a lot more accessible.
Bookchin starts by defining society and ecology and explaining how their meanings have developed. He then goes on to talk about the emergence of hierarchies, classes and the state. These first two chapters will be the most difficult for a first time Bookchin reader. It’s dry stuff with the occasional interesting historical reference. Bookchin has a domineering “know-it-all” style which he actually supports by acutely delving into many aspects of history. I would not want to have had an argument with this guy, he would mop the floor with me. He rails on primitivism, explains how mankind is a natural step in evolution and emphasizes our social nature. I found this passage particularly poignant:
Human beings, no less a product of natural evolution than other mammals, have definitively entered the social world. By their very own biologically rooted mental power, they are literally constituted by evolution to intervene into the biosphere. Tainted as the biosphere may be by present social conditions, their presence in the world of life marks a crucial change in evolution’s direction from one that is largely adaptive to one that is, at least, potentially creative and moral. In great part their human nature is formed socially — by prolonged dependence, social interdependence, increasing rationality, and the use of technical devices and their willful application. all of these human attributes are mutually biological and social, the latter forming on of natural evolutions greatest achievements.