Letter: Need for a Workers' Encyclopedia

Date: 2021-10-20T22:29:50+00:00

Location: cosmonautmag.com

Hello “Cosmonaut”!

This is in reply to “Knowledge: power and emancipation”, written in 2020 by Renato Flores. 

First, I’d like to pick on some phrases from the article.

  1. “every great social revolt posed the question of knowledge democratization”
  2. “Bogdanov proposed to organize the new science in a Workers’ Encyclopedia, which would be a harmonious system instead of just a summary of concepts. The Workers’ University would provide courses on the new unified science and serve as an education point for revolutionaries. A first attempt at a Workers University took place in Capri”
  3. “Once revolutionaries take power, radical programs to increase literacy usually follow”
  4. “ Marxists must understand that there are many ways of arranging knowledge”
  5. “The tools for a collaborative understanding of the world and a collective organization of knowledge dreamt by Caudwell and Bogdanov already exist. Wikipedia casts a light towards what is possible in a Workers’ Republic, an emancipatory tool in-waiting.”

Renato Flores seems to go briefly over the history of knowledge creation and organization, vis-a-vis the working class, or socialism. The task before us is implied in the first phrase above: “every great social revolt posed the question of knowledge democratization”. 

If we stand before a great social revolt, we stand before the task of “knowledge democratization”, meaning its organization and spread into masses. 

How is that to be done? We see that Bogdanov, at the beginning of the XX century, proposed “a Workers’ Encyclopedia”. The idea eventually developed into the “Great Soviet Encyclopedia”, as I wrote in my 2018 article “Encyclopedias as a Battle Ground”. Most important to note here is that an encyclopedia doesn’t offer us a “neutral” point of view of all things and phenomena in nature, but rather a class perspective. 

This is exactly the reason why Wikipedia cannot be trusted and is not a satisfactory project, from the point of view of the future society. Wikipedia is a liberal capitalist perspective on things. What socialists need is their own perspective. This I propose organizing in a form of a multi-portal, as outlined in my 2021 article “An Idea of a Communist/Socialist Multi-portal”

The basic idea here is theoretical self-organization of a class that is rising now to power internationally. This should not be just an encyclopedia, but also contain sections on current news, political/social analysis, scientific and engineering problems, etc. (an example of this form we can see in “Uncyclopedia”) In addition, there should be a possibility of a debate on basic and secondary issues of Marxism, so as to ensure that Marxism doesn’t become an ossified dogma. (Is development of Marxism “finalized”? This phrase I also got from Flores’ article). This can be done in the form of a forum, and/or a wiki, which would be a section of this multi-portal. All kinds of renegades should be able to publish their articles, or provide links to their video-content, or photo. Best articles can be adopted into the main body of the encyclopedia. 

I hope this proposal can be discussed, on the pages of “Cosmonaut”, or by writing to me: TommyJoad2017@gmail.com  

Thank you for your attention,

“Tommy Joad”

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