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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

March 21, 2010

RECOVERED HISTORY: SALVADORE ALLENDE'S INTERNET

METAFILTER - Cybersyn (or Synco, in Spanish) was computer network constructed in 1970 by an English/Chilean team headed by cyberneticist Stafford Beer (his papers). Cybersyn was an electronic nervous system for the Chilean economy, linking together mines, factories and so on, to better manage production and give workers a clear idea of what was in demand and where. The network was destroyed by the army after the 1973 coup. Later that year Stafford Beer drew upon the lessons of Cybersyn to write Fanfare for Effective Freedom, a eulogy for Allende and Cybersyn, and Designing Freedom, a series of six lectures he gave for CBC, outlining his ideas. Besides the first link in this post, the best place to start is this Guardian article from 2003. If you want to go more in-depth, read Eden Medina's Designing Freedom, Regulating a Nation: Socialist Cybernetics in Allende's Chile. And if nothing else, just take a look at the amazing Cybersyn control room.

GUARDIAN, 2003 -When the Allende administration was deposed in a military coup, the 30th anniversary of which falls this Thursday, exactly how far Beer and his British and Chilean collaborators had got in constructing their hi-tech utopia was soon forgotten. In the many histories of the endlessly debated, frequently mythologised Allende period, Project Cybersyn hardly gets a footnote. Yet the personalities involved, the amount they achieved, the scheme's optimism and ambition and perhaps, in the end, its impracticality, contain important truths about the most tantalising leftwing government of the late 20th century.


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