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Libertarian municipalism

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Title: Libertarian municipalism  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Murray Bookchin, Green anarchism, Janet Biehl, Libertarianism, Social ecology
Collection: Left-Libertarianism, Libertarian Socialism, Libertarianism by Form, Local Government, Political Ideologies, Social Ecology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Libertarian municipalism

Libertarian municipalism is a political program developed by libertarian socialist theorist Murray Bookchin, to create democratic citizens' assemblies in towns and urban neighborhoods. The assemblies in these free municipalities join together to replace the state with a directly democratic confederation.

Bookchin became an advocate of face-to-face or assembly democracy in the 1950s, inspired by writings on the ancient Athenian polis by H. D. F. Kitto and Alfred Eckhard Zimmern. For the concept of confederation, he was influenced by the nineteenth century anarchist thinkers. Bookchin tied libertarian municipalism to a utopian vision for decentralizing cities into small, human-scaled eco-communities, and to a concept of urban revolution.

Libertarian municipalism uses the strategy of dual power to create a situation in which two powers—the municipal confederations and the nation-state—cannot coexist.

Bookchin's The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship (1986) is an overview of the historical conflict between city and nation-state, which also presents his municipalist program. In Burlington, Vermont, Bookchin attempted to put these ideas into practice by working with the Northern Vermont Greens, the Vermont Council for Democracy, and the Burlington Greens, retiring from politics in 1990. His ideas are summarized succinctly in Remaking Society (1989) and The Murray Bookchin Reader (1997).[1]

While Bookchin long placed libertarian municipalism within the framework of postcolonial anarchism, in the late 1990s he broke with anarchism and in his final essay, The Communalist Project (2003), identified libertarian municipalism as the main component of communalism. Communalists believe that libertarian municipalism is both the means to achieve a rational society and structure of that society.

Another program in which independent communities form a confederation was written by the Swiss historian and philosopher Adolf Gasser.[2][3] His work led to an alternative proposal for a European community - the Council of European Municipalities and Regions - which was co-founded by Gasser in 1951. It still exists today, but has limited power since the centralized European Union became the European organization with the real power.

See also


  1. ^ Murray Bookchin, The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship (1987 and 1992); Murray Bookchin, Remaking Society (1990 and 1998); and Janet Biehl, ed., The Murray Bookchin Reader (1998)
  2. ^ Berlijnse reflecties: Gemeentevrijheid als redding van Europa?. (2006-07-11). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  3. ^ (in dutch language)Gemeindefreiheit als Rettung EuropasDiscussion on Gassers book


  • Adolf Gasser, Gemeindefreiheit als Rettung Europas. Grundlagen einer ethischen Geschichtsauffassung. Zweite, stark erweiterte Auflage. Verlag Bücherfreunde, Basel 1947. ASIN: B000XAB6A0. In 1983 republished as A. Gasser en F.-L. Knemeyer, Gemeindefreiheit – kommunale Selbstverwaltung (part 4 in the series: Studien zur Soziologie), ISBN 3-485-03090-2, Nymphenburger Verlagshandlung GmbH, München, 1983.
    • Published in French under the author and title: Gasser, Adolphe L’autonomie communale et la reconstruction de l’Europe: principes d’une interprétation éthique de l’histoire, Editions de la Baconnière. 1946., L'évolution du monde et des idées. Broché. 240 pages.
    • Published in Italian under the author and title: A. Gasser., L’autonomia comunale è la ricostruzione dell’Europa, Milano, La Fiaccola 1946 (1a ed. in tedesco 1943);
  • "Communal Freedom and Democracy, Adolf Gasser’s attempt of a conceptual clarification" by Dr. Phil René Roca, Switzerland in Current Concerns, September 2010
  • Adolf Gasser, "Zum Problem der autonomen Kleinräume. Zweierlei Staatsstrukturen in der freien Welt", in Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, Attachment to the weekly magazine Das Parlament, vol. 31/77, p. 4
  • Adolf Gasser, Ulrich Mentz (Hrsg.): Gemeindefreiheit in Europa. Der steinige Weg zu mehr kommunaler Selbstverwaltung in Europa. Nomos, Baden-Baden 2004, ISBN 3-8329-0772-6.
  • Murray Bookchin, The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship (1987 and 1992) ISBN 978-0-87156-706-2
  • Murray Bookchin, Remaking Society (1990 and 1998) ISBN 0-921689-02-0

External links

  • Murray Bookchin, Radicalizing Democracy (1985) [1]
  • Murray Bookchin, The Greening of Politics (1986) [2]
  • Murray Bookchin, Municipalization: Community Ownership of the Economy (1986) [3]
  • Murray Bookchin, The Meaning of Confederalism (1989) [4]
  • Murray Bookchin, Radical Politics in an Era of Advanced Capitalism (1989) [5]
  • Murray Bookchin, Resolution: On Gubernatorial Races (1990) [6]
  • Murray Bookchin, Libertarian Municipalism: An Overview (1991) [7]
  • Murray Bookchin, Urbanization Against Cities (1993), lecture series at Concordia University, [8]
  • Murray Bookchin, Thoughts on Libertarian Municipalism (1999) [9]
  • Janet Biehl and Murray Bookchin, The Politics of Social Ecology: Libertarian Municipalism (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1998), ISBN 1-55164-100-3, ISBN 978-1-55164-100-3
  • Social Ecology London, English libertarian socialist study/action group
  • Democratic Alternative, Scandinavian libertarian municipalist organization
  • Paul F. Downton, Ecopolis: architecture and cities for a changing climate: Volume 1 of Future City, Springer, 2008, p. 157, ISBN 1-4020-8495-1, ISBN 978-1-4020-8495-9
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