[Marxism] Bogdanov, Bukharin
farmelantj at juno.com
Tue Jan 31 08:09:35 MST 2006
On Tue, 31 Jan 2006 06:27:39 -0800 (PST) Andrew Pollack
<acpollack2 at yahoo.com> writes:
> see http://www.marxists.org/archive/bogdanov/index.htm and
> and for the man who started this thread:
> By the way, I'd be interested in opinions on the Lenin quote
> at the top of Bukharin's archive; do you think he'd have felt
> the same way after Philosophical Arabesques?
> P.S. Comrades should get used to checking the writers'
> drop-down list at www.marxists.org to see if we've got
> someone yet, and if not, to badger us about adding them!
> Ben wrote:
> If anyone has info on this I'd be very interested as I'm (gradually)
> trying to read my way through the main Marxist writings on the
> environment. (did Bogdanov write anything that's been translated
> English? Or even French, which I read a bit?)
Juan Martinez-Alier's book
*Ecological Economics* (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987)
provides an account of Marxist treatments of ecological
issues starting with Marx & Engels and proceeding
to the Bolsheviks.
According to Martinez-Alier, Alexander Bogdanov renewed attention
to ecological issues from a Marxist perspective. His theoretical
speculations laid the groundwork for what was later called
general systems theory, as he concerned himself with analyzing
the conncections betweeen thermodynamics and biology. He
suggested a link between the study of energy flow and the
principle of natural selection. In this he was influenced
by Ostwald which was one reason why Lenin chose to attack
Ostwald in *Materialism and Empirio-Criticism*. As Martinez-Alier
noted Bogdanov rather uncritically accepted many of Ostwald's
notions including his idea that "mental" energy is a form
of physical energy. On the other hand Martinez-Alier thought
that Bogdanov's notion that it might be possible to define
the forces of production in terms of energy availibility
to be a promising one. And unlike Lenin he saw promise
in Bogdanov's Machism.
Concerning Bukharin, Martinez-Alier points out that he
devoted one chapter of his *Theory of Historical Materialism*
to analyzing the relations between nature and society in
whic he noted that society must to survive extract
material energy from its environment. The more energy
it can extract from nature, the better adapted it is to
its environment. Soeciety spends the energy of human work
in exchange for a quantity of appropriated natural energy.
For Bukharin the idea of an exchange of energy was a useful
way for interpreting the idea of metabolism between
nature and society which enabled the process of social
reproduction. As Martinez-Alier sees it Bukharin had come
close to dealing with the question of whether this energy
"income" is really an income or is in fact a part of
"capital." Bukharin also presented a typology of both
stable and moving social equilibria which he he analyzed
in terms of social energetics, that is in terms of energy
flows between society and the natural environment.
Obviously, since Martinez-Alier's book came out in 1987,
he couldn't address Bukharin's later treatment of these
issues in *Philosophical Arabesqes*.
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