Tag Archives: Socialism

The Soviet InterNyet

Soviet scientists tried for decades to network their nation. What stalemated them is now fracturing the global internet

BOOK REVIEW
How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet, Author: Benjamin Peters.

By Benjamin Peters – First proposed in 1962, the All-State Automated System, or OGAS, was intended to become a real-time, remote-access national computer network built on preexisting and new telephony wires. In its most ambitious version, it would span most of the Eurasian continent, mapping itself like a nervous system onto every factory and enterprise in the planned economy.

The forces that brought down OGAS resemble those that eventually undid the Soviet Union: the surprisingly informal forms of institutional misbehavior. Subversive ministers, status quo-inclined bureaucrats, nervous factory managers, confused workers and even other economic reformers opposed the OGAS project because it was in their institutional self-interest to do so. Without state funding and oversight, the national network project for ushering in electronic socialism splintered in the 1970s and ’80s into a patchwork of dozens and then hundreds of isolated, non-interoperable factory local-area control systems.

The Soviet state failed to network their nation not because it was too rigid or top-down in design but because it was too fickle and pernicious in practice.

There is an irony to this. The first global computer networks took root in the US thanks to well-regulated state funding and collaborative research environments, while the contemporary (and notably independent) national network efforts in the USSR floundered due to unregulated competition and institutional infighting among Soviet administrators. The first global computer network emerged thanks to capitalists behaving like cooperative socialists, not socialists behaving like competitive capitalists.

In the fate of the Soviet internet we can glimpse a clear and present warning to the future of the internet. Today the ‘internet’ – understood as a single global network of networks for advancing informational liberty, democracy and commerce – is in serious decline. more> https://goo.gl/Ha9MmF

Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem?

BOOK REVIEW

The Divide: A Brief History of Global Inequality and Its Solutions, Author: Jason Hickel.

By Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk – A full three-quarters of people in major capitalist economies believe that big businesses are basically corrupt.

Why do people feel this way?

It’s because they realize—either consciously or at some gut level—that there’s something fundamentally flawed about a system that has a prime directive to churn nature and humans into capital, and do it more and more each year, regardless of the costs to human well-being and to the environment we depend on.

That’s what capitalism is, at its root.

What might a better world look like? There are a million ideas out there. We can start by changing how we understand and measure progress.

We can change that.

People want health care and education to be social goods, not market commodities, so we can choose to put public goods back in public hands. People want the fruits of production and the yields of our generous planet to benefit everyone, rather than being siphoned up by the super-rich, so we can change tax laws and introduce potentially transformative measures like a universal basic income. more> https://goo.gl/ntiMQr

Socialism should begin with what it is for, not what it is against

BOOK REVIEW

Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, Author: John von Neumann & Oskar Morgenstern.

Hubris: Why Economists Failed to Predict the Crisis and How to Avoid the Next One, Author: Meghnad Desai.

By Alex Gourevitch – Another latent desire might be to think about the development of one’s own capacities independent of their monetary value.

Words like ‘human capital,’ ‘human resources,’ or ‘leveraging abilities,’ are the watchwords of our capitalist society. They speak volumes about how we think about our skills and talents. We are encouraged to see them instrumentally, like we would a stock portfolio, rather than as something connected to our own life projects.

In our society, whether someone is willing to pay for it is the dominant measure, and, so it appears, the more someone pays the more urgent the need that we satisfy. As reasonable as this sounds in any given instance, we know that on the whole, given the extreme inequality in wealth and income and the lack of democratic control over production, we end up serving not the most urgent needs but the needs of the wealthiest.

The development of our abilities is subordinated to the need to make a living, and the jobs that count towards making a living depend disproportionately on the needs of the best off. more> http://tinyurl.com/ov26jyr

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