Red Hamlet: The Life and Ideas of Alexander Bogdanov

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In this first full-length biography of Alexander Bogdanov, James D. White traces the intellectual development of this key socialist thinker, situating his ideas in the context of the Russian revolutionary movement. He examines the part Bogdanov played in the origins of Bolshevism, his role in the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 and his conflict with Lenin, which lasted into Soviet times. The book examines in some detail Bogdanov’s intellectual legacy, which, though deliberately obscured and distorted by his adversaries, was considerable and is of lasting significance. Bogdanov was an original and influential interpreter of Marx. He had a mastery of many spheres of knowledge, this expertise being employed in writing his chief theoretical work Tectology, which anticipates modern systems theory.

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Biographical Note

James D. White is Honorary Professor in the Department of Central and East European Studies at the University of Glasgow, UK. He is the author of Marx and Russia: The Fate of a Doctrine (Bloomsbury, 2018), Lenin: The Practice and Theory of Revolution (Macmillan, 2001), Karl Marx and the Intellectual Origins of Dialectical Materialism (Palgrave, 1996) and The Russian Revolution 1917-1921 (Edward Arnold, 1994).

Table of contents

Preface

1. Tula
Early Life
Radicalisation
Back in Tula
The Short Course of Economic Science
The Basic Elements of the Historical View of Nature
The Second Edition of the Short Course
Agitation
Kharkov

2. Kaluga
Lunacharsky
Mach
Avenarius
Avenarius and Mach

3. Vologda
The Exiles
Berdyaev
The Debates
What is Idealism
Perception from the Historical Point of View
Problems of Idealism and Studies in the Realist World View
External Relations

4. The Alliance
Pravda
Meeting with Lenin
Our Misunderstandings
The Alliance
Pamphlets
In St Petersburg

5. The 1905 Revolution
After 9 January
Novaia zhizn
Revolution and Philosophy

6. Empiriomonism
Empiriocriticism
The Meaning of Objectivity
Universal Validity
Socially-Organised Experience and Individually-Organised Experience
Parallelism
Life and the Psyche
The First Volume of Empiriomonism
Akselrod-Ortodoks’s Criticism
The Second Volume of Empiriomonism
Plekhanov’s ‘thing-in-itself’
The Fourth Congress
The Third Volume of Empiriomonism and the Conflict with Plekhanov

7. Years of Reaction
The Fifth Congress
The Kotka Conference
Religion and Socialism
The Open Letter to Plekhanov
Materialismus militans
Adventures of One Philosophical School
Studies in the Philosophy of Marxism
Socialist Society
Red Star

8. End of an Alliance
Ten Questions
The Paris Conference
God-building
The Extended Editorial Board of Proletarii
Materialism and Empiriocriticism
The Fall of the Great Fetish

9. Vpered
Party Schools
The Translation of Marx’s Das Kapital
The Platform of Vpered
The Tenth Plenum of the Central Committee
The Bologna Party School
Longjumeau
Cultural Tasks of Our Times
The Course of Political Economy
Engineer Menni
The Fate of Vpered
Pravda Articles

10. Tectology
The Secret of Science
Tectology as Science
Organising Methods
Regulative Mechanisms
The Stability of Forms
Divergence and Convergence of Forms
Crises C and D
Tectology and General System Theory

11. The Philosophy of Living Experience
Philosophy in Tectological Perspective
The Materialism of Modern Times
Empiriomonism
The Science of the Future
A Decade of Excommunication from Marxism
Reaction to the War

12. War and Revolution
Bogdanov in the War
The Science of Social Consciousness
World Crises Peaceful and Military
Disagreement with Skvortsov-Stepanov
Bukharin
Will it be Tomorrow?
The February Revolution
Bogdanov in 1917
What Is It that We Have Overthrown?
The Commune State
On Party Unity
Questions of Socialism

13. Proletkult
Proletarskaia Kultura
Methods of Labour and Methods of Perception
The First Conference of Proletkult
Elements of Proletarian Culture
The Proletarian University
The Workers’ Encyclopaedia
International Proletkult

14. The Final Decade
Bogdanov’s influence
Oppositions
Lenin’s offensive against Bogdanov
Bogdanov’s Arrest
The Communist Academy
Blood Transfusion
The Struggle for Viability
A Martyr to Science
Obituaries

Conclusion: Bogdanov in Retrospect

Bibliography

Index

Readership

All interested in the history of Russia and the Soviet Union as well as the history of Marxism and Marxist philosophy and economics.

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