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From Newspeak to Cyberspeak | The MIT Press
In this book, Slava Gerovitch argues that Soviet cybernetics was not just an intellectual trend but a social movement for radical reform in science and society as a whole. Followers of cybernetics viewed computer simulation as a universal method of problem solving and the language of cybernetics as a language of objectivity and truth. With this new objectivity, they challenged the existing order of things in economics and politics as well as in science.

The history of Soviet cybernetics followed a curious arc. In the 1950s it was labeled a reactionary pseudoscience and a weapon of imperialist ideology. With the arrival of Khrushchev's political "thaw," however, it was seen as an innocent victim of political oppression, and it evolved into a movement for radical reform of the Stalinist system of science. In the early 1960s it was hailed as "science in the service of communism," but by the end of the decade it had turned into a shallow fashionable trend. Using extensive new archival materials, Gerovitch argues that these fluctuating attitudes reflected profound changes in scientific language and research methodology across disciplines, in power relations within the scientific community, and in the political role of scientists and engineers in Soviet society. His detailed analysis of scientific discourse shows how the Newspeak of the late Stalinist period and the Cyberspeak that challenged it eventually blended into "CyberNewspeak."
book  cybernetics  ussr  history_of_ideas  history_of_science  via:raginsky 
5 days ago by rvenkat
Standing Well Back - Home - Guy Fawkes, MI6 and the NKVD
This is fascinating! The USSR may have given up on its total defence guerrilla strategy because Kim Philby told them we were training people similarly and they were afraid of the potential for rebellion
spooks  guerrillas  mi6  kgb  ussr  ww2  ied  kimphilby 
6 days ago by yorksranter
No Miracles: The Failure of Soviet Decision-Making in the Afghan War | Michael R. Fenzel
"The Soviet experience in Afghanistan provides a compelling perspective on the far-reaching hazards of military intervention. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev decided that a withdrawal from Afghanistan should occur as soon as possible. The Soviet Union's senior leadership had become aware that their strategy was unraveling, their operational and tactical methods were not working, and the sacrifices they were demanding from the Soviet people and military were unlikely to produce the forecasted results. Despite this state of affairs, operations in Afghanistan persisted and four more years passed before the Soviets finally withdrew their military forces.
"In No Miracles, Michael Fenzel explains why and how that happened, as viewed from the center of the Soviet state. From that perspective, three sources of failure stand out: poor civil-military relations, repeated and rapid turnover of Soviet leadership, and the perception that Soviet global prestige and influence were inexorably tied to the success of the Afghan mission. Fenzel enumerates the series of misperceptions and misjudgments that led to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, tracing the hazards of their military intervention and occupation. Ultimately, he offers a cautionary tale to nation states and policymakers considering military intervention and the use of force."
to:NB  books:noted  20th_century_history  ussr  afghanistan  war  soviet-afghan_war  decision-making 
16 days ago by cshalizi
The Unbuilt Soviet Metro System that Haunts Latvia’s Capital: Beginnings – Deep Baltic
According to Kaganovich, “geology proved to be a pre-revolutionary part of the old regime, incompatible with the Bolsheviks, working against us”. If this was the case, then the soil underneath Riga was very pre-revolutionary indeed.
riga  underground  history  ussr 
17 days ago by yorksranter
How to Seize the Means • Commune
The boundary here between “socialism” and “state capitalism” is murky. For the authors of this summary, “democratic control” is the part that makes it socialism—whether to use markets or central planning is a technical question that these democratic systems can parse out. Still, the system continues to function through monetary exchange and workers remain, at least partly, dependent on work for survival. With the wage, money, and the market intact, the possibility that what results is just another form of capitalism is high. International markets, if not national ones, will continue to set prices that force competition, and with it increases in exploitation. Likewise the progressive taxes proposed have an expiration date—without continued profits, there can be no tax base to fund the social services and programs this transition requires. Like socialist states before it, the DSA in power would find itself forced to increase productivity and raise profits, by whatever means, or enter into crisis.
lenin  socialism101  ussr  state_capitalism  socialism  strike  worker_ownership  cooperation_jackson  richard_wolff 
17 days ago by perich
The Most Senseless Environmental Crime of the 20th Century - Pacific Standard
The Soviet whalers, Berzin wrote, had been sent forth to kill whales for little reason other than to say they had killed them. They were motivated by an obligation to satisfy obscure line items in the five-year plans that drove the Soviet economy, which had been set with little regard for the Soviet Union’s actual demand for whale products // fully automated luxury communism, comrades?
whales  communism  bureaucracy  ussr 
22 days ago by yorksranter
Kurdistan: A Family Album • Susan Meiselas • Magnum Photos
"Susan Meiselas’ work on the Kurdish people’s historic, and ongoing, struggle for statehood"



"Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas’ retrospective show ‘Mediations’ is one of four bodies of work shortlisted for the 2019 Deutsche Borse Photography Foundation Prize. ‘Mediations’ drew on Meiselas’ work spanning four decades, and included projects like Prince Street Girls and Carnival Strippers, as well as her reportage on Nicaragua’s insurrection and revolution spanning 10 years, and her longterm work on the Kurds, which became the book Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History.


Described by New York Times reviewer Karl E. Meyer as a ‘family album of a forsaken people’, the project saw Meiselas create a visual archive of the Kurdish peoples’ struggle for nationhood through her own interviews and photographs as well as collected historical, ethnographic, and personal images. Christopher Hitchens, in the Los Angeles Review of Books wrote that, “Susan Meiselas has, with infinite labor and tenderness, composed a collage, framed a composition, designed a frame, confected a design and by means of a deft balance between text and camera, brought off a thing of beauty as well as instruction…”


Meiselas’ Kurdistan project is on show at The Photographer’s Gallery in central London, until June 2, as part of the Deutsche Borse exhibition. Here, we reproduce Meiselas’ introduction to Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History, alongside a selection of the book’s images."
susanmeiselas  2019  photography  kurds  kurdistan  turkey  iraq  iran  syria  ussr  history  1990s 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco

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