Quotations from Murray Bookchin & Paul Shepard

Bookchin Quotes

"Our Being is Becoming, not stasis. Our Science is Utopia, our Reality is Eros, our Desire is Revolution." ("Desire and Need", 1967)

"An anarchist society, far from being a remote ideal, has become a precondition for the practice of ecological principles." ("Ecology and Revolutionary Thought", 1965)

"Peter Kropotkin described Anarchism as the extreme left wing of socialism - a view with which I completely agree. One of my deepest concerns today is that the libertarian socialist core will be eroded by fashionable, post- modernist, spiritualist, mystic individualism."

"Capitalism is a social cancer. It has always been a social cancer. It is the disease of society. It is the malignancy of society."

"If we do not do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable."

"The assumption that what currently exists must necessarily exist is the acid that corrodes all visionary thinking."

"Nor do piecemeal steps however well intended, even partially resolve problems that have reached a universal, global and catastrophic Character. If anything, partial `solutions' serve merely as cosmetics to conceal the deep seated nature of the ecological crisis. They thereby deflect public attention and theoretical insight from an adequate understanding of the depth and scope of the necessary changes." (The Ecology of Freedom, 1982)

"To speak of 'limits to growth' under a capitalistic market economy is as meaningless as to speak of limits of warfare under a warrior society. The moral pieties, that are voiced today by many well-meaning environmentalists, are as naive as the moral pieties of multinationals are manipulative. Capitalism can no more be 'persuaded' to limit growth than a human being can be 'persuaded' to stop breathing. Attempts to 'green' capitalism, to make it 'ecological', are doomed by the very nature of the system as a system of endless growth." (Remaking Society)

"The ecological principle of unity in diversity grades into a richly mediated social principle; hence my use of the term social ecology." ("What Is Social Ecology?", 1984)

"This pursuit of security in the past, this attempt to find a haven in a fixed dogma and an organizational hierarchy as substitutes for creative thought and praxis is bitter evidence of how little many revolutionaries are capable of 'revolutionizing themselves and things,' much less of revolutionizing society as a whole. The deep-rooted conservatism of the People's Labor Party 'revolutionaries' is almost painfully evident; the authoritarian leader and hierarchy replace the patriarch and the school bureaucracy; the discipline of the Movement replaces the discipline of bourgeois society; the authoritarian code of political obedience replaces the state; the credo of 'proletarian morality' replaces the mores of puritanism and the work ethic. The old substance of exploitative society reappears in new forms, draped in a red flag, decorated by portraits of Mao (or Castro or Che) and adorned with the little 'Red Book' and other sacred litanies." ("Listen, Marxist!" in Post Scarcity Anarchism, 1971)

"If we recognise that every ecosystem can also be viewed as a food web, we can think of it as a circular, interlacing nexus of plant animal relationships (rather than a stratified pyramid with man at the apex)... Each species, be it a form of bacteria or deer, is knitted together in a network of interdependence, however indirect the links may be." (The Ecology of Freedom, 1982.)

"In our own time we have seen domination spread over the social landscape to a point where it is beyond all human control. Compared to this stupendous mobilization of materials, of wealth, of human intellect, of human labor for the single goal of domination, all other recent human achievements pale to almost trivial significance. Our art, science, medicine, literature, music and "charitable" acts seem like mere droppings from a table on which gory feasts on the spoils of conquest have engaged the attention of a system whose appetite for rule is utterly unrestrained."

"Humanity has passed through a long history of one-sidedness and of a social condition that has always contained the potential of destruction, despite its creative achievements in technology. The great project of our time must be to open the other eye: to see all-sidedly and wholly, to heal and transcend the cleavage between humanity and nature that came with early wisdom."

"The notion that man must dominate nature emerges directly from the domination of man by man… But it was not until organic community relations… dissolved into market relationships that the planet itself was reduced to a resource for exploitation. This centuries-long tendency finds its most exacerbating development in modern capitalism. Owing to its inherently competitive nature, bourgeois society not only pits humans against each other, it also pits the mass of humanity against the natural world. Just as men are converted into commodities, so every aspect of nature is converted into a commodity, a resource to be manufactured and merchandised wantonly." (Op. Cit., p. 63)

"The plundering of the human spirit by the market place is paralleled by the plundering of the earth by capital." (Ibid., p. 65)

Shepard Quotes:

In our species, knowledge of who we are is linked to origins and beginnings, and it is communicated as a mythology. The first obligation to society by young men and women who are being initiated into adult status is acknowledgment and affirmation of the past, and of its living presence in them as the symbolic embodiment of their ancestors. Being inescapably human, we have not lost the capacity for that affirmation, but we have denied its central content. Because of the imminent extinction of the large primates, opportunity to renew that affirmation is vanishing. Let us protect our cousins from further human persecution, and go on from there to the whole of animate life, and so redeem our heritage. It is not our responsibility to do so because of some higher authority because we would be angels but a responsibility, first to ourselves, and second to the island earth and our fellow inhabitants in a vast and lonely cosmic sea. The anguish of our human tragedy is due more to a delusional system that insists on the exaltation of our species and failed myths of progress and history than to reality.    - The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game

There is a profound, inescapable need for animals that is in all people everywhere, an urgent requirement for which no substitute exists. It is no vague, romantic, or intangible yearning, no simple sop to our loneliness for Paradise. It is as hard and unavoidable as the compounds of our inner chemistry. It is universal but poorly recognized. It is the peculiar way that animals are used in the growth and development of the human person, in those most priceless qualities which we lump together as "mind" . . . Animals are among the first inhabitants of the mind's eye. They are basic to the development of speech and thought. Because of their part in the growth of consciousness, they are inseparable from a series of events in each human life, indispensable to our becoming human in the fullest sense.    - Thinking Animals

Most people seem to agree that we cannot and do not want to go back to the past, but the reason given is often wrong. The truth is that we cannot go back to what we never left. Our home is the earth, our time the Pleistocene Ice Ages. The past is the formula for our being. . . . The attempt to revive our humanity and recover values and behavior does not mean giving up science, art, medicine, law, machines, music, or anything else.    - The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game

The history of Western man has been a progressive peeling back of the psyche, as if the earliest agriculture may have addressed itself to extenuation of adolescent concerns while the most modern era seeks to evoke in society at large some of the fixations of early natality rationalized, symbolized, and disguised as need be. The individual growth curve, as described by Bruno Bettelheim, Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, and others, is a biological heritage of the deep past. It is everyman's tree of life, now pruned by civic gardeners as the outer branches and twigs become incompatible with the landscaped order. The reader may extend that metaphor as he wishes, but I shall move to an animal image to suggest that the only society more frightful than one run by children, as in Golding's Lord of the Flies, might be one run by childish adults.    - Nature and Madness

In conventional history/progress thinking, the complexity and quality of music have steadily grown in the course of cultural evolution from something repetitive and simple like the Kalahari bushman's plucking his bowstring to the symphonies of the nineteenth century. But a very different view is possible. Suzanne Langer observes that "the great office of music is to . . . give us insight into . . . the subjective unity of experience" by using the principle of physical biology: rhythm. Its physiological effect is to reduce inner tensions by first making them symbolically manifest, then resolving and unifying them. . . . One interpretation is that the more complex the music, the more fundamental the problem; or, one might say, the more elaborate the music, the more fragmented the vision of the world. Composer and musician Paul Winter has said that we are now habituated to an overstructured format, especially in so-called classical music, from which we need to escape into a more informal extemporaneous performance and audition. But if, indeed, music is a kind of final refuge serving to hold things together, this might be impossible in modern life.    Nature and Madness

"Ecological thinking...requires a kind of vision across boundaries. The epidermis of the skin is ecologically like a pond surface or a forest soil, not a shell so much as a delicate interpenetration. It reveals the self ennobled and extended rather than threatened as part of the landscape and the ecosystem, because the beauty and complexity of nature are continuous with ourselves."  "Ecology and Man-A Viewpoint"

"It has taken four thousand years of struggle to 'lift' man 'above' nature. In the course of that struggle language and thought and behavior in the West have lapsed into a too-simple framework of discontinuity and opposition: spirit and body, mind and matter, earth and heaven, man and nature, good and evil. It is not an insoluble dilemma, but it is far more dangerous than we permit ourselves to know."   - Man in the Landscape

"It is not necessary to 'go back' in time to be the kind of creature you are. The genes from the past have come forward to us. I am asking that people change not their genes but their society, in order to harmonize with the inheritance they already have."   - The Only World We've Got

"We should not be mistaken about our terms. It is not technology or materialism that is the problem. The love of materials and the physical world and the extraordinary craftsmanship in its use have made us human. By catastrophes of industrial greed I refer to the corporate organization of the economy, with its destruction of the human community, its blindness to place, its obscene disregard for scale, its garbage, its rapacity, and its excessive desire for 'products.'"   - The Only World We've Got

"All around us, aspects of the modern world - diet, exercise, medicine, art, work, family, philosophy, economics, ecology, psychology - have begun a long circle back toward their former coherence. Whether they can arrive before the natural world is damaged beyond repair and madness destroys humanity, we cannot tell.   - The Others

"If nature is not a prison and earth a shoddy way-station, we must find the faith and force to affirm its metabolism as our own---or rather, our own as part of it. To do so means nothing less than a shift in our whole frame of reference and our attitude toward life itself, a wider perception of the landscape as a creative, harmonious being where relationships of things are as real as the things. Without losing our sense of a great human destiny and without intellectual surrender, we must affirm that the world is a being, a part of our own body."   - "Ecology and Man-A Viewpoint"

"The human mind came into existence tracking, which for us creates a land of named places and fosters narration, the tale of adventure."   - The Others

"We 'go back' with each day along an ellipse with the rising and setting of the sun, each turning of the globe. Every new generation 'goes back' to forms of earlier generations, from which the individual comes forward in his singular ontogeny. We cannot run the life cycle backwards, but we cannot avoid the inherent and essential demands of an ancient, repetitive pattern..."   - Coming Home To The Pleistocene

"White European/Americans cannot become Hopis or Kalahari Bushmen or Magdalenian bison hunters, but elements in those cultures can be recovered or re-created because they fit the heritage and predeliction of the human genome everywhere..."   - Coming Home To The Pleistocene

"The substitution of pictures for places was the step toward making places that match pictures. Now we are taking pictures of places whose patterns happen to suggest those gardens built in imitation of paintings which were originally done as visual expressions of literary evocation of 'classical' scenes--Scenery is from a Greek word meaning stage prop."   - "Ugly is Better," an essay in Where We Belong (forthcoming]

 


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