Aleksandr Bogdanov and Systems Theory

Democracy and Nature 6 (3):341-359 (2000)
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The significance and potential of systems theory and complexity theory are best appreciated through an understanding of their origins. Arguably, their originator was the Russian philosopher and revolutionary, Aleksandr Bogdanov. Bogdanov anticipated later developments of systems theory and complexity theory in his efforts to lay the foundations for a new, post-capitalist culture and science. This science would overcome the division between the natural and the human sciences and enable workers to organize themselves and their productive activity. It would be central to the culture of a society in which class and gender divisions have been transcended. At the same time it would free people from the deformed thinking of class societies, enabling them to appreciate both the limitations and the significance of their environments and other forms of life. In this paper it is argued that whatever Bogdanov's limitations, such a science is still required if we are to create a society free of class divisions, and that it is in this light that developments in systems theory and complexity theory should be judged.
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