Vol 37 No 1 (2021)

Deep Social Ecology

Jason Wirth
Published February 18, 2021
  • deep ecology,
  • social ecology,
  • Buddhist economics,
  • Murray Bookchin


Deep ecology is a call to ground the relationship of our politics, economics, and lifeways in the ecologies that sustain them. It is the cultivation of ecosophy, wisdom grounded in, and taking responsibility for, what it is to be sustained by a place. The renowned “anarchist” social ecologist Murray Bookchin shared deep ecology's sense that our political economy should be reconciled with our ecology, even though he polemicized against deep ecology’s account of that relationship. Although Bookchin has much to offer deep ecology, I argue that we cannot afford to think the two approaches as an exclusive disjunction. This paper first recontextualizes the importance of a deep ecological approach and then evaluates Bookchin's polemic. Although Bookchin overstates his case against deep ecology, features of his own position strengthen its insights. The paper concludes by arguing for a hybrid model, rooted in the cultivation of wisdom, called deep social ecology.