Mentioned being impressed with Carlo Rovelli’s references in Helgoland to Aleksander Bogdanov. I considered Bogdanov an entirely new source to me just earlier this year.
[Holding post – collecting links etc.]
I’ve also mentioned previously, as a “social-democratic liberal” type myself, being very impressed with (Marxist) Paul Mason’s “Project Zero” in his Post Capitalism. What I didn’t notice at the time (2015) was that Bogdanov was an inspiration to Mason – I must go back and check references (See *1). A main thrust of Mason’s project is that Information Technology has changed our landscape, such that the evolution of Capitalism cannot simply be another Kondratiev wave or cycle. Relationships between power, resources and knowledge are so radically different that our current models of governance (cybernetics) and economics simply cannot cope. Moreover that realisation is happening at the same time that “resources” are being recognised as the whole terrestrial ecosystem of which we are a part.
Now a complex, dynamic, cybernetic, systems-thinking epistemology is the raison-d’etre of my whole Psybertron project. An information-based epistemology that is more fundamental than even orthodox physics (hence the Rovelli connection).
I think I noticed these – may even have saved bookmarks (?) – back in June this year, at the Hull University Centre for Systems Studies:
The Annual Mike Jackson Lecture
‘Relational Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and Alexander Bogdanov’s Worldview’ by Carlo Rovelli
Online, 1.30pm – 3.30pm (BST), 2 June 2021
The Legacy of Alexander Bogdanov- From Rediscovery to Full Recovery
Online Mini-Symposium, 8.45am – 6.30pm (BST), 3 June 2021
In collaboration with the Financial University of Moscow and the Cybernetics Society (UK)
Something at the time meant I couldn’t attend, but I think I did try to tune into Rovelli’s lecture (?) and I did notice Mason had the introductory talk in the symposium. (The UK Cybernetics Society has been a source of other inputs and dialogues for me eg Peter Marcer and Peter Rowlands.)
At the moment I can’t locate any recording of Carlo’s talk (See *2), but today Paul shared the link to the recording of the symposium:
[Note: all the links in the original post are broken – will come back and fix – the recordings have all been moved here on the Bogdanov resources page. Unfortunately they’re all embedded, so the YouTube content / timing descriptions are all gone too. Grrr.]
His contribution is ~20 mins starting ~13:30 mins and very good it is.
Great connection with Stafford-Beer too. Takes me back to Leonid Ototsky and W. Stafford-Beer. (even though Beer probably never knew Bogdanov’s work.) Tektology – the science of organisation > Cybernetics. Cybercyn – viable systems and requisite variety. Jeez, even Eudomony / Eudaemonia. So many connections in my own earlier work. In fact thanks to Leonid (and later Viktor and Anatoly) Beer’s take on Cybernetics and information-based systems-thinking were pretty formative to my own views. (Leonid is or was also connected to Victor, Anatoly and Matthew).
Layered model of system evolution, proper classification / taxonomy of components … Generalisation (classes of possibility) > Specifics (individual reality) … it’s all in there. Bottom-up driven network.
Really need to pull my finger out
and get Good Fences published.
(Also going to have to pick up on Gramsci who also keeps turning up in references. Political science was never my explicit agenda, but once we generalise “collective decision-making and implementation” in cybernetics, they’re really the same thing.)
[Top-down “Solution” vs inside-out “Best Ways to Proceed”]
(*1) Sure enough several Bogdanov and his sci-fi novel Red Star references in Post Capitalism – I’ll need to re-read those sections. (Updated re-reading Mason’s references to Bogdanov here.)
(*2) Full symposium recording here:
Video recordings of the CSS Online Mini-Symposium: The Legacy of Alexander Bogdanov From Rediscovery to Full Recovery
— Örsan Şenalp (@OrsanS) August 26, 2021
From 2nd June – Rovelli’s Mike Jackson Lecture.
Ha, and Carlo starts by highlighting his own final acknowledgement – which reinforced my own impression (See *3):
Thanks above all
to Werner (Heisenberg)
and Aleksandr (Bogdanov)
[And Mach is the pivotal influence, as ever.]
[We need an “epistemological ontology“
– you heard that here first.]
[Wonderful also that Mike Jackson’s first question is about Carlo “wasting time” as a hippy child of the 60’s/70’s. In my own review of Helgoland, I couldn’t resist this quote:
“For heaven’s sake, I’m all in favour of ‘good vibrations’. I too once had long hair tied with a red bandanna, and sat cross-legged next to Allen Ginsberg chanting ‘Om’.”
It’s why despite not making it to the final acknowledgements, Nagarjuna is another key influence alongside Bogdanov.]
[The whole layered Physics > Chemistry > Bio-Life > Mental-Intellectual-Social dependencies, clear identity, distinct “things” without deterministic definition – where “things” are really just collections of relations. (In the Jackson<>Rovelli discussion). Hard not to see Pirsig in there too. The epistemic ontology is in there again. Shimony – closing the epistemic circle!]
From 3rd June – these are the Mini Bogdanov Symposium sessions:
[Hosts: Örsan Şenalp , Fabian Tompsett, Gerald Midgley, Amanda Gregory]
Part 1 [Start] Paul Mason, Mike Jackson, (Q&A), Maria Chehonadskih, Giulia Rispoli, John Biggart, (Q&A) Maja Soboleva (part)
Part 2 Maja Soboleva (cont.), Noemi Ghetti, Fabian Tompsett, (Q&A) Conversation (Jackson / Wark / Rovelli), (Q&A part)
Part 3 (Q&A cont.), James White, Daniela Steila, Evgeni Pavlov, (Q&A), Peter Dudley, Svetlana Shchepetova, Viatcheslav Maratcha, Örsan Şenalp , (Q&A part).
Part 4 (Q&A cont. and Remarks to conclude).
(*3) Always makes me smile – something I’ve hinted at before – that whilst Carlo is an amazing thinker and writer, probably a genius, he’s not the world’s best lecturer – both his delivery and the tiny text on his slides – make him tough to follow. Reminds me of Nobel Prize-winning Brian Josephson. But definitely worth the effort of concentration. Nobody’s perfect.
(*4) Fantastic Bogdanov resource library here.
(*5) Finally, for now, what has happened to Leonid Ototsky. Seen no communications since 2010? Lots of dead links. Is he still active, is he still with us?
(*6) Fascinating response from AJ Owens linking this post to my next one on the subject of human failings in our understanding of the “relationship between power, resources and knowledge”.