Alexander Bogdanov Library (Historical Materialism Series at Brill)

The Historical Materialism Book Series at Brill has initiated a project to publish ten volumes of English translations of the major theoretical and polemical works of the Russian Social-Democrat, Alexander Bogdanov (Alexander A. Malinovsky, 1873-1928).

Alexander Bogdanov was a co-founder, with Lenin of the Bolshevik fraction of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, and he played a leadership role in the RSDLP during the Revolution of 1905. After the revolution, he split with Lenin over both theoretical and practical issues, and his polemics with Lenin provide a fascinating glimpse into Russian Social Democracy between the Revolutions of 1905 and 1917. Bogdanov played no political role in the October Revolution, but afterwards he was an influential figure in Soviet culture. He founded and led the “Proletarian Culture” movement from 1918-20; he helped found and was a member of the Socialist (later Communist) Academy; he was a faculty member in Moscow State University’s Institute of Scientific Philosophy; and he was the director of Russia’s first institute for blood transfusion in the last two years of his life.

Bogdanov was first and foremost a historical materialist. His life project was to express the fundamental principles of historical materialism in what he felt was the most up-to-date scientific terms. He believed that the task of philosophy was not to contemplate the world, but to change it. He believed that the motive force of historical evolution originated in labour. He looked forward to a collectivist society and a culture created by the working class. Early in his writing career, he believed that the empiricist philosophy of Ernst Mach and Richard Avenarius—reinterpreted from the standpoint of labour collectivism—best served as the foundation of a materialist view of the world. Later, as his political activity subsided, he attempted to develop a scientific approach toward understanding the nature of future collectivist society and the necessary cultural, social, economic and political changes involved in any attempt to bring about such a society. His contribution to the analysis of culture, long before ‘cultural studies’ came into existence, was enormous and his influence in articulating the new approach of ‘ideological science’ was significant. Finally, Bogdanov’s idea of tektology, later discovered in the theory of systems, was a bold attempt to theorize organizational structures as such, ultimately resulting in the theorization of socialism as the ultimate goal of human collective existence.

The General Editors of the Bogdanov Library are John Biggart, Evgeni V. Pavlov, and David G. Rowley, and the Advisory Board includes Craig Brandist, Georgi Gloveli, Maja Soboleva, Daniela Steila, McKenzie Wark, and James White.

Alexander Bogdanov Panel at Historical Materialism (New York, April 27th, 2013)

UPDATE: The audio of the panel is found here.

Historical Materialism conference in New York will have a session on Alexander Bogdanov:

Saturday, April 27th – Session One (10am – 12pm):

MCKENZIE WARK – “And Worsening the Climate for Decades”: Bogdanov, Systems Theory, Critical Theory and Climate Change

EVGENI V PAVLOV – Bogdanovshchina: A Certain “Reactionary Philosophy” and the Birth of Dialectical Materialism

RESPONDENT: Elizabeth Kendall

CHAIR: Aaron Jaffe

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