2006: PKK’s salute to Bookchin

After Murray Bookchin died on July 30, 2006, the PKK (“PKK assembly”) saluted him in a moving tribute. It was forwarded to me by two intermediaries. It’s been on my hard drive ever since. Here it is in its entirety, edited slightly for spelling and syntax.

“One of the greatest social scientists of the 20th century, Murray Bookchin, has passed away. We extend our condolences to his family and friends together with all those who struggle for freedom and democracy. His thoughts, struggle, and passion for freedom shall continue through the freedom and democracy struggle of humanity.

Murray Bookchin, c. 1989

Murray Bookchin, c. 1989

“Bookchin broadened the consciousness of humanity: the ecological consciousness. He introduced us to the thought of social ecology, and for that he will be remembered with gratitude by humanity. Through his thesis a great service has also been provided to humanity to achieve a better understanding of itself.

“Social ecology is not only a product of ecological consciousness, it is also a philosophical and an ideological method which helped to overcome the shortcomings of socialist theory. Therewith important shortcomings of the 19th and 20th century socialism have been completed.

“Bookchin was an intellectual who was militantly devoted to his ideals of freedom, equality and democracy. He will be remembered as an intellectual who has completed his militancy with science. It is precisely this characteristic that enabled him to continuously approach things that are wrong and/or incomplete. Hence he was an intellectual from revolutionary circles who criticized the shortcomings and the errors/mistakes of Marxism as well. Through his critical method he made a great contribution to the ideals of freedom, democracy, and socialism.

“He showed the ability to analyze capitalism, which has brought humanity to the point of possible extinction, in great detail; demonstrating that it is the worst of all systems in the history of humanity thereby opening new horizons in the struggle against capitalism. His definition of capitalism, as a cancerous disease effecting humanity and nature, proved without doubt that the struggle for the development of freedom, democracy, and socialism was an obligation and not a matter of choice.

Abdullah Öcalan

Abdullah Öcalan

“Contrary to those who claim that serious criticism of Marxism and socialism was an attack on Marxism and/or has weakened socialism, we believe that he helped to develop socialist theory in order for it to advance on a firmer basis. Hence socialists owe a lot to Bookchin for the ideas he developed. Despite certain shortcomings of his theoretical thesis and repetitions of ‘real socialism’s’ errors, nothing minimizes the importance of his contribution.

“One of Bookchin’s most important findings is that democracy, freedom, and socialism can only be realized in a system outside of the state machine. This may have been said before by others, especially the anarchists; however Bookchin showed how this will become reality and hence opened up new horizons. In order to establish a nonstate formation and democracy, he proposed the concept of ‘confederalism,’ a model that we believe is creative and realizable.

“He held a revolutionary theory which says that without a proper analysis of state, power, and hierarchy one cannot struggle for democracy, freedom and socialism. He showed that this was one of the biggest mistakes of Marxism and hence helped to improve our understanding of this issue, in order for socialists not to fall into the same trap in future. Those who hold to the ideals of democracy and socialism should take seriously his analysis and thesis if they want to avoid falling victim to another denomination of oppressive systems.

“Bookchin was not only an intellectual but at the same time an organizer and an activist. He has also aspired to practice the important work he had done on ecology and local administration. His contribution to the development of such work around the world through his thesis and efforts are immense.

“It is well known that Bookchin went through difficult and adverse periods of struggle throughout his life. The general dogmatic and incorrect approaches of Marxists, together with their intolerance to alternative thinking, impeded Bookchin from expressing himself and those who have freedom, democracy and socialism ideals to benefit much earlier from his thoughts.

“Ecological movements not able to detach themselves from the system and being integrated into the system is another factor why the importance of his ideas and actions have not been understood well. The experience of his struggles has shown him how human beings can be integrated simply by the capitalist life style hence keeping them away from the struggle. At the same time his personal experience taught him that not being organized is equivalent to not being able to struggle and thus surrender to the system. And that is why he always focused on the theoretical and practical measures against it.

“Bookchin’s theoretical thesis and struggle shall be discussed even more and become a part of the history of freedom in the future. His devotion to the scientific method, his principles and sincerity and morality, which failed to corrupt his mind, are some of his personal characteristics that could be taken as an example.

“Bookchin has made his contribution for the 21st century to become the century of socialism. Those who struggle for freedom and democracy will continue to gain strength from his life and morals. His thesis advances the development to freedom, democracy, and socialism more than ever.

“The PKK has also learned from Bookchin. His contributions to our leader’s thesis on social ecology will always be remembered. To attain the democratic socialism that we envisage, his contributions to the ideas of “confederalism”, his thesis on the state, power and hierarchy will be implemented and realized through our struggle and hence will continue to make its impact.

“We undertake to make Bookchin live in our struggle. We will put this promise into practice this as the first society which establishes a tangible democratic confederalism.

“We hope that all social scientists and revolutionaries will attain the characteristics of Bookchin; principles, consciousness, revolutionary moral values, and most of all that they practice this in life.

“Bookchin has not died, he will live through his work and through the work of others.


“August 2006”






Oxford University Press blogpost

I’m delighted to announce that the book Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin will finally be published this fall, from Oxford University Press! The release date (for review copies) is September 1, and publication date is October 1. In the meantime, the OUP Blog has run a post from me, based on the book. More to come soon!