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Alexander Bogdanov was one of the most creative and inspiring figures of the 20th Century. His utopian novel, Red Star, started the genre of Bolshevik science fiction, and he was the founder of the world’s first haematology institute. He was a leader of the Russian Bolsheviks, working with Lenin, at the turn of the last century, and he produced the first systematic study of ideology, consciousness, and cultural hegemony from a Marxian point of view, decades before the emergence of so-called critical, western, or neo-Marxist approaches.
The year 2021 marks the centenary of the beginning of the demise of Bogdanov. Lenin republished his Materialism and Empiriocriticsm and launched an attack on Proletkult in 1920, which resulted in Bogdanov stepping down from his role in this movement in the following year. With Stalin’s rise to power and Bogdanov’s early death in 1928, one of the most significant contributions made to human culture was lost for several decades.
The rediscovery of Bogdanov’s work began in Russia in the 1960s. Official recognition of Bogdanov and his place in history occurred in the Glasnost and Perestroika period of the late 1980s. Since then, Bogdanov’s work has gained increasing acclaim in his homeland and beyond. As renowned systems thinker Fritjof Capra famously pointed out, Bogdanov’s “Tektology was the first attempt in the history of science to arrive at a systematic formulation of the principles of organization operating in living and nonliving systems”. Since Capra made this claim in 1996, Bogdanov has been recognised as the first systematiser of systems thinking. However, the deserved global full recovery and recognition of Bogdanov’s contribution has yet to come about. But, a century after the beginning of his demise, it seems like a breakthrough is happening. In 2019, the first Systems World of Bogdanov conference was organised by the Financial University in Moscow, with more than 105 papers being presented. The second of these biennial conferences is planned for the autumn of 2021.
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