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Evgeny Morozov: The Planning Machine (The New Yorker)
In June, 1972, Ángel Parra, Chile’s leading folksinger, wrote a song titled “Litany for a Computer and a Baby About to Be Born.” Computers are like children, he sang, and Chilean bureaucrats must not abandon them. The song was prompted by a visit to Santiago from a British consultant who, with his ample beard and burly physique, reminded Parra of Santa Claus—a Santa bearing a “hidden gift, cybernetics.”
The consultant, Stafford Beer, had been brought in by Chile’s top planners to help guide the country down what Salvador Allende, its democratically elected Marxist leader, was calling “the Chilean road to socialism.” Beer was a leading theorist of cybernetics—a discipline born of midcentury efforts to understand the role of communication in controlling social, biological, and technical systems. Chile’s government had a lot to control: Allende, who took office in November of 1970, had swiftly nationalized the country’s key industries, and he promised “worker participation” in the planning process. Beer’s mission was to deliver a hypermodern information system that would make this possible, and so bring socialism into the computer age. The system he devised had a gleaming, sci-fi name: Project Cybersyn…
When Beer was a steel-industry executive, he would assemble experts—anthropologists, biologists, logicians—and dispatch them to extract such tacit knowledge from the shop floor. The goal was to produce a list of relevant indicators (like total gasoline reserves or delivery delays) that could be monitored so that managers would be able to head off problems early. In Chile, Beer intended to replicate the modelling process: officials would draw up the list of key production indicators after consulting with workers and managers. “The on-line control computer ought to be sensorily coupled to events in real time,” Beer argued in a 1964 lecture that presaged the arrival of smart, net-connected devices—the so-called Internet of Things. Given early notice, the workers could probably solve most of their own problems. Everyone would gain from computers: workers would enjoy more autonomy while managers would find the time for long-term planning. For Allende, this was good socialism. For Beer, this was good cybernetics.
Stupid wars (RT; Video)
What is Washington’s strategy against the Islamic State? Is the Islamic State a creation of the United States? Is the war on terror really a war on Islam? Will the US make amends with Iran in order to defeat the jihadist militants? What is Washington’s endgame? CrossTalking with Ken O’Keefe, Majid Rafizadeh, and Peter van Buren.
Rafael Taylor: The new PKK: unleashing a social revolution in Kurdistan (Roar)
As the prospect of Kurdish independence becomes ever more imminent, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party transforms itself into a force for radical democracy.
The negotiations in Milan in a sense completed a diplomatic cycle begun by the Minsk Agreement, heralding a still weak hope for de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. It became clear that Russian gas will be supplied to Ukraine this winter and the Poroshenko administration will be able to provide heating to the population without resorting to exotic options like South African coal or Norwegian gas via Slovakia.
Victor Shapinov: Left in fascist Ukraine (Боротьба)
The election results are clear. The bloc of oligarchs and nationalists, who longed for power at the Maidan, have consolidated their power. In this the junta became more homogeneous – the purely oligarchic parties have adopted Nazi rhetoric (Yatsenyuk first and foremost), and among the nationalists Lyashko came to the fore, more clearly elitist than the uncouth fans of SS runes, and not so embarrassing for Europe. Actually the logic of the political process was understandable in the days of the Maidan — the strongest momentum was to the right. And it passes through the strengthening of the neo-Nazi fringe, and the Nazification of moderate “pro-European” politicians.
Tunisie: le discours policé des islamistes d’Ennahda après un bilan controversé (Assawra [at̠-T̠awra])
Les islamistes tunisiens d’Ennahda, arrivés deuxièmes aux législatives, n’ont eu de cesse de polir pendant la campagne leur image éreintée par deux ans au pouvoir et d’insister, bons perdants, sur leur attachement à la démocratie.
Répété à l’envi, “consensus” fut le maître mot des interventions de ses chefs dans les médias comme sur le terrain.
Et une fois les premières estimations publiées, les responsables du parti ont reconnu être arrivés derrière la formation anti-islamiste Nidaa Tounès sans attendre les résultats officiels, qui n’avaient toujours pas été proclamés mercredi matin.
The Two Most Important Things About Malala Yousafzai That Everyone Seems to Ignore… (Political Blind Spot)
In the wake of Malala Yousafzai’s snubbing by the Nobel Committee some have raised important questions like did Malala lose the award because the committed was afraid to confront radical Islam?
Perhaps, but an even more fundamental question is why is no one talking about Malala Yousafzai’s religion or politics?
The Jewish Forward poignantly notes that “As touching as Stewart’s interview with her was, and it was touching, it did overlook a big part of what makes Malala Malala, and that is her religion. Yousafzai is a Muslim, and sees the potential for reform within the context of Islam, and not, like other prominent feminists from Muslim countries, outside of it.”
In all the Western media craze over Malala, there is another key point ignored about her: she is not only a Muslim feminist, she is a socialist with Marxist tendencies. In her own words: “I am convinced Socialism is the only answer and I urge all comrades to take this struggle to a victorious conclusion. Only this will free us from the chains of bigotry and exploitation.”
Jill Treanor: Richest 1% of people own nearly half of global wealth, says report (Guardian)
The richest 1% of the world’s population are getting wealthier, owning more than 48% of global wealth, according to a report published on Tuesday which warned growing inequality could be a trigger for recession.
According to the Credit Suisse global wealth report (pdf), a person needs just $3,650 – including the value of equity in their home – to be among the wealthiest half of world citizens. However, more than $77,000 is required to be a member of the top 10% of global wealth holders, and $798,000 to belong to the top 1%.
“Taken together, the bottom half of the global population own less than 1% of total wealth. In sharp contrast, the richest decile hold 87% of the world’s wealth, and the top percentile alone account for 48.2% of global assets,” said the annual report, now in its fifth year.
Eric Lichtblau: In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis (New York Times)
In the decades after World War II, the C.I.A. and other United States agencies employed at least a thousand Nazis as Cold War spies and informants and, as recently as the 1990s, concealed the government’s ties to some still living in America, newly disclosed records and interviews show.
Asher Schechter: Why Israel pretends Mohammed isn’t there (Haaretz)
Earlier this week, Israel’s Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) released its annual statement for Rosh Hashanah. Filled with tidbits about Israel’s population, such as the official number of Israeli citizens (8,904,373) and how many births occurred during the outgoing Jewish year (176,230), a main attraction in PIBA’s annual publication is the list of most-popular baby names.
The year 5774 saw a stunning upset when it came to girls: Tamar dethroned Noa. Regarding boys, the most popular names stayed Yosef, Daniel and Uri.
But Yosef wasn’t actually the most popular baby name in Israel. That, as reported by Haaretz’s Ilan Lior last week, was in fact Mohammad.
Samir Amin: Contra Hart and Negri (Monthly Review) / Au sujet des thèses de Michael Hardt et d’Antonio Negri. Multitude ou prolétarisation ? (Mémoire des luttes)
The term multitude was first used in Europe, it seems, by the Dutch philosopher Spinoza, to whom Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri explicitly refer. It then designated the “common people” who were a majority in the cities of the Ancien Régime and deprived of participation in political power (reserved for the monarch and the aristocracy), economic power (reserved for property owners of feudal ancestry or for the nascent financial bourgeoisie, both urban and rural—including the rich peasants), and social power (reserved for the Church and its clerics). The status of the common people varied. In the city, they were artisans, small merchants, pieceworkers, paupers, and beggars; in the country, they were landless. The common people in the cities were restless and frequently exploded into violent insurrections. They were often mobilized by others—particularly the nascent bourgeoisie, the active component of the Third Estate in France—in their conflicts with the aristocracy…
We are, then, quite far from a step backward towards a diversification of statuses similar to that which characterized the multitude in the past. In fact, we are in the exact opposite situation. Before Hardt and Negri, Touraine had confused the new segmentation with the “end of the proletariat,” and in that vein, substituted the struggle of “social movements” (in the plural) specific to each of these segments in the new social reality for the struggle of the proletariat (in the singular).