This is part of a chapter by chapter review of THE ECOLOGY OF FREEDOM: The emergence and dissolution of hierarchy by Murray Bookchin (1982, 1991, 2005)
chapter one: the concept of social ecology.
The Ecology of Freedom begins with an account of Norse mythology and how the Vikings saw the world’s precarious balance. There was Asgaard, the celestial domain of the gods above; Midgard, where human beings lived on the earth; and Niffleheim, the dark, icy domain of giants, dwarves and the dead.
These domains were linked by the great World Tree, which was sustained by a magic fountain that infused it continually with life. Odin, the god of wisdom, and his mighty son Thor kept the great wolf Fenris, and the great serpent of Midgard and the hostile giants at bay. They enforced the keeping of oaths and treaties and invited the bravest of warriors to dine with them in Valhalla.
Odin attained wisdom from drinking of the waters of the World Tree, but the price he had to pay was the sacrifice of an eye. So his wisdom was a one-eyed wisdom, like that of modern science, which reveals the scientific laws that govern the world, but blinds us to the uniqueness of each individual thing, especially living things.
Order began to break down when the gods tortured the witch Gullveig, the maker of gold, to make her reveal her secrets. Corruption, treachery and greed began to rule the world. Warriors sought gold and forgot their blood oaths.
The end will be Ragnarok, a war in which the giants, Fenris the wold and the great serpent will destroy humanity and the gods and make the universe a void of cold and darkness.
In one version, that is the end. In another, gods and humans will regenerate, learn from their mistakes and live in joy.
Modern scientific knowledge, according to Bookchin, gives us the possibilities both of Ragnarok or a world of joy. It depends on whether we have a one-eyed or a two-eyed wisdom.