Social Ecology London

What we believe
December 10, 2006, 6:21 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We are a study and action group exploring democratic alternatives to capitalism. We believe that the present market system, in which one per cent of the world’s population owns 40 per cent of the world’s wealth, is not only spiralling towards ecological catastrophe, but also systematically undermining all forms of human solidarity, spreading an ethos of survivalism and antagonism. This requires an increasingly authoritarian state to control a society in meltdown.
We want to build an libertarian socialist alternative. We want to move beyond single issue protest to patiently building new kinds of democratically-controlled institutions.

We believe that Social Ecology is an appropriate framework for those aspirations. Opposed to all forms of hierarchy not just class oppression, Social Ecology is committed to the construction of a ecological society based on face to face local assemblies, in which power is held by citizens, not elites. We are also exploring the economic foundations of a post-capitalist society through visions such as Parecon.

Why Study?

Study groups have been formed for more than 200 years to build alternatives to seemingly impregnable political systems. At a time when traditional left-wing ideologies have completely capitulated, we believe it is vital to establish to theoretical foundations of a new opposition. Before we can act, we must know what we think and the kind of society we wish to create.
We believe that study groups can become the nuclei of a new political movement. We are currently building a network of study groups which we hope will evolve active political organisations in their localities.
Join us.

The Politics of Social Ecology by Janet Biehl and Murray Bookchin
December 3, 2006, 6:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Over the last few decades, Bookchin developed the basic components of “libertarian municipalism”—how to create free cities. Written in short, to-the-point chapters, this book presents an introductory overview and sketches the historical and philosophical context in which these ideas are grounded. Included is a lengthy interview with Bookchin, as well as substantial material on the practical questions of creating and organizing a new municipal movement toward such democratic cities.

[Description taken from]

This is the first text read by our group, and it’s a handy introduction to Social Ecology.

The Politics of Social Ecology by Janet Biehl and Murray Bookchin

Parecon by Michael Albert
December 3, 2006, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Texts

“What do you want?” is a constant query put to economic and globalization activists. In yet another volume, Albert expounds on his answer—participatory economics, “parecon” for short—a new economy, an alternative to capitalism, built on familiar values including solidarity, equity, diversity, and people democratically controlling their own lives, but utilizing original institutions fully described and defended in this book.

[Description taken from]

A short introduction to the ideas in the book can be found here, at the Parecon website.

Parecon by Michael Albert

Anarchism, Marxism and the Future of the Left by Murray Bookchin
December 3, 2006, 4:28 pm
Filed under: Texts

This expansive collection ranges over, amongst others, Bookchin’s account of his teenage years as a young Communist during the Great Depression, his experiences of the 1960s and reflections on that decade’s lessons, his vision of a libertarian communist society, libertarian politics, the future of anarchism, and the unity of theory and practice. He goes on to assess the crisis of radicalism today and defends the need for a revolutionary Left. Finally, he states what is to be valued in both anarchism and Marxism in building such a Left and offers guidelines for forming a new revolutionary social movement.

[Description taken from]

This was the first book we read as a group and it took around 2 months to finish.

Anarchism, Marxism and the Future of the Left by Murray Bookchin

Introduction to the Group
December 3, 2006, 3:48 pm
Filed under: Basic Info


Social Ecology London is a reading, study and action group meeting every other week in Whitechapel. We’re examining genuine democratic alternatives to capitalism, such as libertarian socialism, communalism, social anarchism and participatory economics. If these terms are new to you, don’t worry, see the text below for an introduction to the ideas.

Every two weeks we read a chapter of a book and discuss the ideas during the meeting – often the discussion is very wide-ranging! In the second half of the meeting we discuss and plan for any activities and events that are coming up. New people at the group are very welcome; the atmosphere is friendly, open and fair.

The group has been running in its current form since September 2006 and previous books have included Anarchism, Marxism and the Future of the Left, a collection of articles and interviews with Murray Bookchin. We are currently reading Parecon by Michael Albert, which outlines a participatory economic system that reinforces the values of equality, solidarity, diversity and self-management.

Social Ecology London is linked to the Scandinavian organization Democratic Alternative .


To contact the group, email

or come along to the meetings:

Every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, 6.30pm
London Action Resource Centre (LARC)
62 Fieldgate Street
E1 1ES
Nearest tube station: Aldgate East/Whitechapel


(For a longer explanation see see here)

There is a growing awareness of the environmental problems we face. Governments make pledges, companies fall over themselves to promote a ‘green’ image. Campaigning organisations have become household names. So why do we need a new voice in this already crowded arena?

Social Ecologists believe that the solutions we are offered by governments, business and pressure groups are at best palliatives, at worst smoke screens to allow business as usual to continue – literally. We do not accept the idea that ecological issues can be tackled without addressing their social contexts and the power structures that created them.

Ecological problems are not caused by bad people doing bad things. This behaviour is simply a logical inherent consequence of an economics based on competition and greed. Our economic system is based on growth. It has to constantly expand. Carbon dioxide and other pollutants aren’t being chucked up into the air because industry bosses decide they’re going to be nasty – they’re simply driven by the profit motive.

In Western societies we have been placed in a trap. In order to have livelihoods we have to have jobs. In order to have jobs, businesses must constantly exploit desires to sell new products. Hence, not only do we have an economic system that makes us ill and unhappy, we have runaway growth that steadily engulfs our remaining green spaces in tarmac and concrete. An area the size of Leicester is lost to development each year. The volume of traffic in the UK is predicted to rise by 30 per cent by 2015.

Social Ecologists believe we need an alternative to a market system which shackles society to an economy over which we have no control. We believe in a participatory society in which we, as citizens, consciously determine our priorities, the balance between leisure and work, and how human society can exist with nature, not against it.

But to do this we must challenge not only corporate power, but also a political system that in the name of ‘democracy’ has reduced ordinary people to passive constituents, permitted merely to choose between almost identical pre-selected political programmes once every five years.

The alternative must come from below. We believe in the formation of local face to face assemblies that can build a democratic public power to confront both capitalism and the traditional political system.

This group is hosted by Social Ecology London, a discussion and action group which is taking first steps in building a new political movement.

If this sounds good to you, do come along. Check out the website and email the contact address to find out what we’ll be discussing at the meeting.

New faces are always welcome 🙂

But if you don’t live in the London area, please see this group as an opportunity to debate these ideas and get touch with like-minded people

Here are some good primers:

Social Ecology

The Politics of Social Ecology – Janet Biehl, Black Rose Books

Social Ecology and Communalism – Murray Bookchin, Eirik Eiglad, AK Press

Remaking Society – Murray Bookchin, Black Rose Books

Participatory Economics

Parecon – Michael Albert, Verso

A short introduction to social ecology:

Facebook Group: Social Ecology London