Agora, Chomsky, Bookchin, and Democracy & Nature
David Ames Curtis, the translator of several works by Castoriadis and editor of the Agora International Website, which promotes the latter’s work, saw a good opportunity, when announcing Murray Bookchin’s death, to combine it with a new attempt to defame Democracy & Nature, the predecessor of the present journal, by slandering it for ‘censoring’ a submission of his.
For the benefit of our readers (and the truth!) we reproduce below the Agora announcement, followed by a letter of the Editorial Committee to Curtis which, in a genuine ‘democratic’ spirit, typical of him, he refused to publish! Needless to add, as our readers are well aware, we have never censored any of the authors and we do not intend to do so in the future, even if they are very critical of us. This is why we have always published in the past all the exchanges with other journals/authors.
September 1, 2006
We have received word of the death of Murray Bookchin on July 30, 2006. Bookchin (b. January 14, 1921), a former Trotskyist like Castoriadis, shared Castoriadis's advocacy of direct democracy and even preceded the latter in his concern with environmental issues. Castoriadis discussed Bookchin's municipally-based, ecologically-informed, anarchist views briefly in Crossroads in the Labyrinth. They both joined the Editorial Advisory Board of Society & Nature in the 1990s. When Bookchin and his partner Janet Biehl resigned from this journal in 1997 ―considering it, among other things, too "Castoriadian"― Agora International's David Ames Curtis wrote a reply, "On the Bookchin/Biehl Resignations and the Creation of the New Liberatory Project," at Castoriadis's request and with his approval, the text appearing only a year and a half later in censored form in the successor journal, Democracy & Nature. It was on account of D&N's censorship effort that Castoriadis had determined to leave its Editorial Advisory Board as soon as the censored version appeared, a decision he was not able to carry out, however, due to his own intervening illness and death. Bookchin later wrote Curtis a conciliatory letter acknowledging that Castoriadis's views deserved further examination, but ill health and other priorities kept Bookchin from realizing his aim of writing such a text.
LETTER TO AGORA INTERNATIONAL WEBSITE
In the last Agora update we saw an announcement of Murray Bookchin's death accompanied by characterisations against Democracy & Nature (succeeded by our journal) which clearly aim at defaming the journal as one specialising in censorship. Curtis, in his genuine 'democratic' way, 'forgets' in his brief description of events at the time not only to mention that there was a reply to his distortions in the journal:
but also he does not bother to mention what this alleged censorship was about, counting on the fact that very few readers would bother to read his own biased description of the events.
However, even his own description makes clear that the only part of his submitted text that was unanimously rejected by the Editorial Board of D&N at the time was a very small section of it in which he linked his acceptance of our offer to him to join the International Advisory Board (IAB) of the Journal with insulting remarks against fellow IAB member Noam Chomsky on the Fourisson affair, clearly implying that he was not in agreement with Chomsky's presence in the Advisory Board!
The Editorial Board thought at the time that Curtis, as any other author, had of course the right to criticise the views of other authors, members of the IAB or not. It thought however that such an insulting remark against an old member of the IAB by a newcomer in an article which was completely irrelevant to the Fourisson issue or Chomsky for that matter, was an unacceptable intervention in its own affairs and particularly to its right to decide the composition of the IAB. The Editorial Board therefore asked Curtis to withdraw this remark for his article to be published.
This was all that the D&N 'censorship' was about—a clearly defamatory accusation which Curtis repeats thrice in the letter to Agora subscribers.
The Editorial Committee of
The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy
P.S. In case the above letter is not published as an addendum to the Agora announcement, the letter will be published to our Journal and a copy of it will be sent to all our subscribers