Theater of Cruelty

To have everyday life in its power

Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Juhl-Nielsen resides in Copenhagen.
ANARCHISM / If not now – when? Is social ecology an answer?


TV footage from Bergamo of long lines of military vehicles transporting humans away from the hospitals revealed a frightening suddenness and alarmed our survival instinct. Was civilization threatened?

Although global warming and the changes in biodiversity do not come with the same suddenness, these threats with their "tipping points" must now call on the world to an even greater degree. What other than the prospect of collapse awaits the world community or parts of it?

This should therefore speak to us about the need to develop a collapseology with coherent concepts and in a language that can unite humanity into a transformation and action. A picture of the future that can point a way beyond "tipping points" and collapse?

Social ecology

Back in his youth, Murray Bookchin realized the need to break down class society through the building of local communities. He developed a close relationship with nature and realized that our view of nature could be divided into two. Partly in nature in which man is naturally involved, but where nature has its own life («the non-human nature»), partly in a nature which man has set and continues to make his mark on and which threatens civilization («human nature») .

Significantly more than in class society, Bookchin realized that society also develops with the support of hierarchies in the form of councils of elders, patriarchy, and the relationship between man and woman. Yes, that in general it is the hierarchies and institutions that form the cornerstones of society and play a crucial role in the structure of dominance. It is the state that – supported by its apparatus of violence – holds together the institutions and hierarchies and which is at the same time a guarantor of the maintenance of private property rights.

The memory of human attachment to the earth has survived.

Today, as social beings, we carry with us reminiscences of the forms of togetherness of the past, which we must each go up against and undress by developing personal authority as «lord of our own house». With the market society, we are further dealing with a completely impersonal and self-driving mechanism, which is structured around the compelling principles of brutal competition of «growth or die».

Therefore, Bookchin worked all his life on the question of how power can be given a concrete institutional liberating form. Here, Bookchin's primary contribution is social ecology. As man harmoniously is part of nature («the non-human nature»), so man must have a local community around him with the municipality as the immediate organizational framework. In the municipality and in a broader sense in the bioregion, citizens can establish their own institutions that can democratically support social ecology.

But it begins and ends – beyond the traumas of the personal life and traumas we are born into (the atomic bomb!) – with the development of personal authority as part of and developed in relation to the local community helped by direct democracy in public assemblies and with local communities and municipalities bound together according to Confederate principles. Any kind of state must be avoided here. Ethics and values ​​should constitute the compass of human beings.

Many years of faulty development

The idea of ​​mastering nature stems from the hierarchical mentality and the class relations that have developed throughout history. By progress is meant, for example, the progress of companies, where trade basically has the struggle for profit as its purpose and the development of trade aims to expand the market.

Historically, man has naturally lived in families with a strong sense of solidarity and group cohesion. The values ​​stemmed from a collection of unreflected customs. With the development of trade came an emergence of cities and an urban cosmopolitan policy which contributed to the development of a rational ethic. Man began to perceive himself more and more as belonging to a united community of people, rather than as an ethnic people or a group of relatives.

“Rojava is seen as a haven for grassroots democracy based on principles
on feminism, ecology, cultural pluralism, participatory democracy and a collaborative sharing economy. "

Many years of misdevelopment with an increasingly looser connection to nature have put man in a situation where it has become increasingly difficult to orient himself. The threat to biodiversity in "non-human nature" is increasing when institutions and technology must constantly ensure human survival.

Because we do not intrude behind and attach to a social ecology, we remain at the level of symptom treatment instead of being curative.

With the development of hierarchies and in dominions arose both the delusion that nature can be separated from the social community, but also that nature can be subject to the dominion of man. In social ecology, man's own future goes hand in hand with the future of non-human nature. Not least industrial agriculture has caused great damage to nature. Regardless of this, the memory of human attachment to the earth has survived.

To the extent that the climate and environmental movement today only focuses on the morally reprehensible fact that production does not take ecological considerations into account and that it is only a matter of changing lifestyles, one overlooks the need for a radical social change. For the amorality of society today is structurally conditioned «and ethical, psychological, religious and emotional factors have no place where« business is business ». The system demands growth or we must die!

People's Assemblies

The goal of social ecology with the institutions of society is therefore that man must be conscious ethical advocates for both our own personal and for the well-being of «non-human nature».

Such radicalism requires the building of a broad social movement, which can focus on the decentralization of today's cities into mutually cooperating communities that must be gently integrated into their natural environments. The specialization of the grassroots movements in individual areas can contribute to each their specific focus area.

The regional needs of the local community must be met here on the basis of the desire to take into account the planet's borders with renewable energy, organic farming and the multifaceted industrial design organized in a way that does not burden man. With recycling and quality products. Boring and monotonous work must be replaced by creative work and craftsmanship.

Political decisions must be implemented democratically in popular assemblies. This will also provide better opportunities for producing and developing institutions that are democratic. Municipalities could enter into a partnership and realize the right to self-government on the basis of a network of Confederate councils.

When power is institutionalized in direct democracies of people who, by virtue of being social beings and are perfectly empowered to make decisions in new municipal assemblies, the people will know its potential power. This will inevitably lead to the free municipality existing in an open relationship of tension with the nation state.

In support of Bookchin's theories, the Spanish Civil War constituted a significant object of study. Here the people themselves were active in the social processes to find a form of organization that could unleash a creative force that had hitherto been bound by hierarchies and classes. Bookchin also learned a lesson from the tragic defeat of – ultimately – fascism.

Murray Bookchin

Murray Bookchin – Communalism

Murray Bookchin (1921–2006) was an American social theorist, author, speaker, historian, and political philosopher. As a pioneer in the environmental movement, Bookchin formulated and developed the theory of social ecology and urban planning with references to anarchism, socialist free thinking, and environmental philosophy. Early on, Bookchin was inspired by his grandmother, who was politically organized in a revolutionary organization. As a very young man he became politically organized and chose Trotskyism over Stalinism. He was appalled by the problems with chemicals in food and published a book about it even before Rachel Carson published her book Silent Spring. In 1958, he described himself as an anarchist, finding an overlap between anarchism and his environmental work. Bookchin authored two dozen books covering topics in politics, philosophy, history, urban affairs, and social ecology. Among the most important were Our Synthetic Environment (1962), Anarchism Post-Scarcity (1971), The Ecology of Freedom (1982) and Urbanization Without Cities (1987). Bookchin wanted to reconcile ecological necessity with the best utopian ideals. There must be a liberation of the self – to an "I" who has everyday life in his power. One must live the revolution. The revolutionary subject must regain its own self – what will unleash libidinal forces. Bookchin further realized that the technological development of society enables a different society. Instead of the opposition labor / capital, for Bookchin it was first and foremost about "winning" the cities. He focused on ecological decentralism and direct democracy. In the late 1990s he became dissatisfied with what he saw as an increasingly political "lifestyle" in the modern anarchist movement and stopped referring to himself as an anarchist and founded his own libertarian socialist ideology called "communalism". , who sought to reconcile Marxist and anarchist thinking. His ideas have influenced social movements since the 1960s, including the New Left, the Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons, the anti-globalization movement, and Occupy Wall Street. Bookchin was a central figure in the American green movement.

See also: The Kurds in Rojava og Bookchin's social ecological model inspires

- self-advertisement -

Recent Comments:

Siste artikler

Being in the opposing position

ŽIŽEK: Despite the fact that he has been a public intellectual for at least 30 years, there has never before been such a multifaceted and nuanced discussion of Slavoj Žižek's thinking as the one we see in the current anthology. But does Žižek recognize the revolutionary potential of desire?

Doesn't the ground hurt, brother?

ANIMALS: Ethically speaking, we are way overtime with our treatment of the non-human animals. Many of these have emotions such as fear, pity and sadness. We shouldn't eat animals, but what if we get sick from not doing so?

Personal and impressionistic war pictures

NORWEGIAN GAME FILM: 83-year-old Knut Erik Jensen is back with Longing for the present. A film that does not fit neatly into the ranks of modern Norwegian blockbusters about the Second World War.

Criticism as a role-playing game?

LITERATURE: The informal contexts where one could try and fail without having to stand up for every careless word have shrunk. In Eirik Vassenden's 229-page book about the critic, there are no fewer than 317 question marks. We also ask: Do literary scholars necessarily have any advantage when it comes to human knowledge, life experience or social understanding?

The Other – as a suffering being?

PHILOSOPHY: Wolfram Eilenberger describes here the struggle four philosophers – Hannah Arendt, Simone de Beauvoir, Ayn Rand and Simone Weil fought to become independent people. The book succeeds well in putting them in context with the current events they got involved in and at the same time tried to get out of.

To bring thinking as close to life as possible

NIETZSCHE: Once it was faith in a God or a political party, today it is faith in work, consumption and the economy – that is, myself. According to Gilles Deleuze, what can one learn from Nietzsche?

The nature/human web

ANTHROPOCEN: The combined effects of our environmental impact have become a force on a par with volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, ice ages, floods and droughts. Can the 'anthropocene' as a concept, time phase and reality be interpreted at the intersection between (natural) science and politics today?

The animals in our world of fables and symbols

NATURE:How the world has looked from the animals' point of view – how mammals, reptiles, insects, birds and fish have reacted to us – has been absent from our imaginary world. When nature seemed threatening, it had to be fought.

I was completely out of the world

Essay: The author Hanne Ramsdal tells here what it means to be put out of action – and come back again. A concussion leads, among other things, to the brain not being able to dampen impressions and emotions.

Silently disciplining research

PRIORITIES: Many who question the legitimacy of the US wars seem to be pressured by research and media institutions. An example here is the Institute for Peace Research (PRIO), which has had researchers who have historically been critical of any war of aggression – who have hardly belonged to the close friends of nuclear weapons.

Is Spain a terrorist state?

SPAIN: The country receives sharp international criticism for the police and the Civil Guard's extensive use of torture, which is never prosecuted. Regime rebels are imprisoned for trifles. European accusations and objections are ignored.

Is there any reason to rejoice over the coronary vaccine?

COVID-19: There is no real skepticism from the public sector about the coronary vaccine – vaccination is recommended, and the people are positive about the vaccine. But is the embrace of the vaccine based on an informed decision or a blind hope for a normal everyday life?

The military commanders wanted to annihilate the Soviet Union and China, but Kennedy stood in the way

Military: We focus on American Strategic Military Thinking (SAC) from 1950 to the present. Will the economic war be supplemented by a biological war?


Bjørnboe: In this essay, Jens Bjørneboe's eldest daughter reflects on a lesser – known psychological side of her father.

Arrested and put on smooth cell for Y block

Y-Block: Five protesters were led away yesterday, including Ellen de Vibe, former director of the Oslo Planning and Building Agency. At the same time, the Y interior ended up in containers.

A forgiven, refined and anointed basket boy

Pliers: The financial industry takes control of the Norwegian public.

Michael Moore's new film: Critical to alternative energy

EnvironmentFor many, green energy solutions are just a new way to make money, says director Jeff Gibbs.

The pandemic will create a new world order

Mike Davis: According to activist and historian Mike Davis, wild reservoirs, like bats, contain up to 400 types of coronavirus that are just waiting to spread to other animals and humans.

The shaman and the Norwegian engineer

cohesion: The expectation of a paradise free of modern progress became the opposite, but most of all, Newtopia is about two very different men who support and help each other when life is at its most brutal.

Skinless exposure

Anorexia: shameless uses Lene Marie Fossen's own tortured body as a canvas for grief, pain and longing in her series of self portraits – relevant both in the documentary self Portrait and in the exhibition Gatekeeper.