1986b and his later writings can also be seen as an attempt to address and

1986b and his later writings can also be seen as an

This preview shows page 189 - 191 out of 257 pages.

1986b), and his later writings can also be seen as an attempt to address and radicalise this electoral impulse. Reflecting on these differences of emphasis in Bookchin’s recon- structive thought also points to certain tensions in the politics of social ecology between Dionysus and Philia , but also and more broadly the tension between ‘libertarianism’ and ‘municipalism’. We might formulate this issue in the follow fashion: in what sense is there a tension, in Bookchin’s writings, between a politics concerned with character development and the cultivation of a strong civic morality and a politics that seems equally concerned to root itself in a liber- tarianism that at some core level presumably must, by definition, be committed to the principle that people should chose their own ends for themselves? In some respects, we are here re-working one of the central themes of the liberal/communitarian debate that ran through political theory in the late 1980s and 1990s. Bookchin does address this issue by maintaining that such a tension between libertarian- ism and municipalism is overstated. Associating the ‘autonomous individual’ with a rather desiccated liberalism, Bookchin cites Horkheimer’s assertion that ‘individuality is impaired when each man decides to shift for himself’ ( FUTC : 225). He argues that the type of ‘rugged individualism’ championed by many liberals and so-called libertarians is in fact a juvenile form of selfhood. Such tensions are thus negotiated in Bookchin’s thought through foregrounding the virtues of an Aristotelian view of the self and the good life. For Bookchin, it is independence within an institution- ally rich and rounded community ‘which fleshes out the individual with the rationality, solidarity, sense of justice, and ultimately the reality of freedom that makes for a creative and concerned citizen’. It is the municipality that is the ‘irreducible grounds for genuine individuality’. The municipality constitutes the ‘discursive arena in which people can intellectually and emotionally confront one another, indeed, experience one another though dialogue, body language, personal intimacy, and face to face modes of expression’
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Citizens, Politics, Democracy 171 ( FUTC : 226). Such an Aristotelian view of the self is attractive; if we turn to consider Bookchin’s description of civic mindedness in the Athenian polis , he notes that the developed notion of citizenship in the polis emerged as an idea of self-expression, not an obligatory burden: ‘Citizenship became an ethos, a creative art, indeed a civic cult rather than a demanding body of duties and a palliative body of rights’ ( FUTC : 75). However, he goes on to mention that this ‘civic cult’ often took on quite an extreme form in the Hellenic world. Thus, we are told: ‘in a world where the city produced a deep sense of ethnic and cultural identity that compares with the modern world’s most strident form of nationalism, the conquest of one city by another often terminated in the sheer annihilation of a people as a distinct community’ ( FUTC : 57). As such, it would seem that Hellenic civic
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  • Sociology, Bookchin

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