Since the disastrous results of Stalinist plan economy on almost all emancipatory fields the Bolshevik revolution tried to accomplish, technological utopianism is hardly a theme in socialist theory. However, the technological
advances enabled many agricultural, societal and communicative achievements, which raise worldwide (uneven) welfare, as well as helped many democratic emancipatory movements. This essay reviews two books on the early enthusiastic phase of Russian socialism, were hopes, dreams and experiments dovetailed with a trust in the benign role science and technology will play in changing the world to the better.
The first book by Josephson (2010) eloquently reviews the downturn of the bureaucratic institutionalised equation of technology with progress. The second book by Krementsov (2011) deals with the utopian ideas of Bogdanov in his dream to collectivise people: socially, culturally and biologically.
Both books challenge utopianism but, more importantly, are well written studies we need for present-day reflections on the role and use of science and technology in future emancipatory developments.
This lecture examines the role of anti-slavery and slave resistance in the elaboration of 'human rights' and the misappropriation of such ideas by Western colonialism and militarism.
Robin Blackburn is a historian and sociologist, and one of New Left Review’s editors. Blackburn teaches at the New School in New York and the University of Essex in the UK. He is the author of many books, including The Making of New World Slavery, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, Age Shock, Banking on Death, and The American Crucible.