Slava Gerovitch: From Newspeak to Cyberspeak: A History of Soviet Cybernetics (2004)

30 May 2009, dusan

“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.”"

Published by MIT Press, 2004
ISBN 0262572257, 9780262572255
383 pages

Key terms:
newspeak, Norbert Wiener, dialectical materialism, Soviet Union, machine translation, Moscow University, John von Neumann, structural linguistics, Stalin, Stalinist, information theory, Roman Jakobson, servomechanisms, Andrei Markov, Cold War, Andrei Kolmogorov, Liapunov, entropy, Pavlovian, BESM

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David Harvey: A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005)

30 May 2009, dusan

Neoliberalism–the doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action–has become dominant in both thought and practice throughout much of the world since 1970 or so. Writing for a wide audience, David Harvey, author of The New Imperialism and The Condition of Postmodernity, here tells the political-economic story of where neoliberalization came from and how it proliferated on the world stage. Through critical engagement with this history, he constructs a framework, not only for analyzing the political and economic dangers that now surround us, but also for assessing the prospects for the more socially just alternatives being advocated by many oppositional movements.

Published by Oxford University Press, 2005
ISBN: 0199283273, 978-0199283279
254 pages

Key terms:
neoliberal, neoconservative, accumulation by dispossession, South Korea, capital accumulation, chaebols, Argentina, Keynesian, monetarism, foreign direct investment, Indonesia, World Bank, Margaret Thatcher, Mexico, TVEs, capitalist, Chile, Taiwan, Mont Pelerin Society, nomic

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PDF (updated on 2012-12-20)

Jacques Rancière: The Future of the Image (2007)

30 May 2009, dusan

A leading philosopher presents a radical manifesto for the future of art and film

In The Future of the Image, Jacques Rancière develops a fascinating new concept of the image in contemporary art, showing how art and politics have always been intrinsically intertwined. Covering a range of art movements, and thinkers such as Foucault, Deleuze, Adorno, Barthes, Lyotard and Greenberg, Rancière argues that contemporary theorists of the image are suffering from religious tendencies. He suggests that there is a stark political choice in art: it can either reinforce a radical democracy, or create a new reactionary mysticism. For Rancière there is never a pure art: the aesthetic revolution will always embrace egalitarian ideals.

Published by Verso, London, 2007
ISBN: 1844671070, 9781844672974
160 pages

Review (Robert Porter)
Review (Brian Dillon)

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