This landmark of collection of essays is, along with Paul Goodman's "Drawing the Line", perhaps the finest American contribution to Anarchist thought in the latter part of the 20th Century. Bookchin draws on a tremendous wealth of experience as a revolutionary (he got his start as a Communist Party agitator at age 8), and careful study of radical history, ecology, and technology, to put forward the claim that society has for the first time entered onto the threshold of the `post-scarcity' era, an era in which there is sufficient material wealth to provide for the subsistence of all people everywhere. Under these circusmstances, Bookchin argues, the culture of domination and exploitation that grew under conditions of scarcity, want, and competition, can finally give way to an anarchist culture of freedom, localism, community, direct democracy, and human scale.
The introduction, and title essay, lay out the particulars of the above argument. The essay "The Forms of Freedom" presents a fascinating capsule history of the spontaneous formation of directly democratic structures of government--factory councils and neighborhood committees-- in revolutionary situations in Paris, Petrograd, Barcelona, and elsewhere, and examines their precursors in the ancient Greeke `polis'. The widely read polemic "Listen, Marxist!", launches a crushing attack on the ideology of the Leninist vanguard groups of the sixties, pointing out the flaws and problems with applying Marx's ideas mechanically to 20th century conditions, and laying bare the inexorable failures of Leninist revolutionaries to deliver on their hollow promises of liberation. Other essays examine ecology and anarchism, technology, and the Paris uprisings of 1968.
A tremendously insightful and important collection which is highly instructive for today's social movements.