On Takis Fotopoulos's Complaint
by Murray Bookchin
In "Whither Anarchism?" I objected to the insinuation (in Andrew Light's interview with Arne Naess in Capitalism Nature Socialism) that Clark-Cafard's removal from the International Advisory Board of "the social ecology journal Society and Nature (now Democracy and Nature)" was somehow my doing. Presumably I committed this nefarious deed as an authoritarian response to Clark-Cafard's distribution of his article criticizing libertarian municipalist politics at a 1995 social ecology conference in Scotland.
I objected to this insinuation in footnote 72 of "Whither Anarchism," noting that I "had nothing to do with the decision or action to drop" Clark from the board; rather, I said, "Democracy and Nature's managing editor, Takis Fotopoulos, dropped John Clark from the journal's International Advisory Board because of the bitter disagreement between Fotopoulos and Clark at the Scotland conference."
Fotopoulos has now weighed in with a statement, "Comments on Bookchin's 'Whither Anarchism,'" claiming that my account "is completely [!] inaccurate"--no less!
One might expect Fotopoulos to explain what is "completely inaccurate" about my account. Far from doing so, he does the very opposite: "Bookchin is right that he had nothing to do with the decision to 'drop' Clark from our advisory board." Splendid--that is exactlywhat I wrote.
Fotopoulos then goes on to condemn "an obvious attempt [on my part] to discredit me [Fotopoulos]" by "trying to create the impression that important decisions in the journal are taken by myself alone." Allow me to apologize to Fotopoulos for even implying such a thing. As a member of the International Advisory Board for several years, I never quite knew how "important decisions in the journal" were made. In fact it was the least of my concerns in "Whither Anarchism?" to even consider the decision-making processes at Society/Democracy and Nature. My exclusive concern was to emphasize that the decision concerning Clark's presence or absence was not one that I made--or could have made-- because I was never a member of the Editorial Board and thus never played a decision-making role in the journal's affairs. If the decision was not made by Fotopoulos alone, then I certainly apologize for my careless phrasing.
So where does the devil in this whole silly business lie? Fotopoulos goes on to quote from an e-mail that I sent him in October 1995, in which I wrote that "I should advise you that I do not want to be on any editorial board that contains that man's [Clark's] name." From which Fotopoulos concludes that I was "trying to influence the editorial board," tugging on my spider threads to cajole Society and Natureto remove Clark.
If my regal authority is so great that Fotopoulos et al. could be influenced by my desire to dissociate myself from Clark, then they are probably too impressionable to run an independent journal, still less a radical one. If I overestimated their independence and radicalism, I apologize again. However, I have every right to prefer to decide not to be on a board with someone who is, as I also said to Fotopoulos in that same October letter, "an enemy of social ecology and libertarian municipalism" and who has since gone on to malign me in the most ad hominem ways at every opportunity, both by word of mouth and in print under various pseudonyms as well as his own name, depending on whom he is addressing.
Having made these apologies, I should add that no one more effusively denounced Clark's activities to me, both during and after the Scotland conference, than Fotopoulos himself. Indeed, most of what I know about Clark's doings in Scotland came from Fotopoulos, who engaged in an apparently furious debate with Clark during the proceedings. Fotopoulos hardly had to be influenced by anyone to suggest that the Editoral Board rethink Clark's presence on the Advisory Board.
So please, let us cool down and exhibit some common sense in this entire affair.
May 9, 1998