Alexander Bogdanov, Stafford Beer and intimations of a post-capitalist future, Prof Mike Jackson online, March 15th, 5:00-6:30 pm Metaphorum’s Webinar Series

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Alexander Bogdanov (1873–1928) was a Russian social theorist and revolutionary activist whose ‘universal organizational science’, or Tektology, is increasingly being recognized as offering stronger foundations for the systems approach than the later ‘general system theory’ of Ludwig von Bertalanffy. Had his thinking not been suppressed by Stalin, the course of Soviet history might have been different. Stafford Beer (1926–2002) was a British management scientist and consultant who was a pioneer in the development of ‘organizational cybernetics’. His best-known engagement was with the government of Salvador Allende, in Chile, seeking to use his ‘viable system model’ to create a socialist society that did not rest on a command economy. This experiment was cut short by the Pinochet coup d’etat. I have found no evidence that Beer was familiar with the work of Bogdanov, and this makes the similarities in their thinking particularly striking. This paper explores the ideas they shared. The work of other writers who have drawn on the work of Bogdanov and Beer, in formulating contemporary visions of post-capitalism, is also noted.