Energetic Materialism: The Bogdanov - Sultan Galiev Connection

Orsan Senalp


Alexander Malinovski Bogdanov and Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev, two distinct and forgotten precursors of the Russian Revolution, both were scientist, teachers, and political activists. Both eliminated by the primary leaders of the Revolution. Bogdanov lost his long lasting political quarrel with Lenin, while Sultan-Galiev was the first bolshevik leader arrested by Stalin. Bogdanov led Moscow branch of the Communist University while Sultan-Galiev was working at Kazan branch. Bogdanov is recognized as the founding father of modern Cybernetics and Systems Theory (Wark, 2015), and Sultan-Galiev is seen as the father of Third Worldist Revolutionism (Bennigsen and Embush, 1980). Despite similarities and proximity between the two, there has been no historical records establishing relationship between these significant names. My paper aims to do this; by searching for possible influence of Bodganov's scientific philosophy on political and strategical vision developed by Sultan-Galiev. My starting point is Sultan-Galiev's famous 1929 article, where he claimed to deploy 'Energetic Materialist' methodology to develop his analysis (Sultan-Galiev, 2016). It is known that Bogdanov’s major work (Empriomonism, Tektology and others) was dedicated to advance Marxist methodology by synthesising idealist 'Energetism' of Mach and Ostwald, and Dialectic Materialism of Marx and Engels. Paper will argue for possible relationship between Bogdanov and Sultan Galiev; and/or to an extend influence of philosophy and methodology of the former on the letter’s political work.

Communism in the Global South - Anti-colonial nationalism - Colonialism - Dialectics - Materialism - historical materialism - Soviet revolution