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Re: cybernetics and the Internet, Was: <nettime> NNA...
Newmedia on Sat, 10 Jun 2006 06:20:14 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: cybernetics and the Internet, Was: <nettime> NNA...


> but the Macy discussions weren't military or a mathematical philosophy.

We've talked about this before . . . that is simply wrong.  

Of course they were "military" -- or more specifically a result of the 
intersection of "intelligence" interests in the application of social science and 
the use of private foundations as funding conduits.  All of this was direct 
outgrowth of the development of psychological warfare in WW II.

Please read the biography of John J. McCloy, "The Chairman," to collect 
information on the use of the Ford and Rockefeller foundations for these purposes.

The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation was a Rockefeller "fellow-traveller" and 
deeply involved in this practice.  Their LSD conferences were completely financed 
by the CIA.  They were an integral part of what is now known as MKULTRA.

> Margaret Mead was part of the Macy group. She was an anthropologist,
> not a military mathematician.

Margaret Mead was high-level "intelligence" operator.  She was directly 
involved in application of anthropology to war-planning in the Pacific -- including 
the decision to drop the atom bombs on Japan.  Read her various biographies 
about her activities and world travels.  She continued to operate this way 
until she died.

> I wondered if you have read any of the Macy meeting books?

Yes, I have.  Have you gathered an overall dossier on the involvement of 
those involved at Macy during WW II?  With OSS?  With British MI6? How many were 
*not* involved with these intelligence services?  None?

Most helpful in gaining an understanding of how essentially *all* social 
science in the 1950's was "military" funded is Chris Simpson's "Science of 
Coercion."  Have you read this very important book?

The practice of the CIA broadly supporting social science was true all the 
way through the Vietnam War, after which "Pentagon" funding was substantially 
redirected to "direct" military purposes.  ARPA became DARPA.  Btw, this shift 
is one of the primary reasons why MIT's Media Lab went for "commercial funding" 
-- even though the CIA was still one of its primary early supporters.

> Where does your analysis of this come from?  

My father William was a personal protege of Norbert Wiener.  He was in the 
room when the term "cybernetics" was coined.  I have spent many years 
interviewing many of key participants in these events -- since this history is in many 
ways my own family history.

For instance, Wiener's break with McCullough was over the issue of "military" 
funding and direction for scientific research -- not the silly "psychosexual" 
issues falsely promoted in the recent biography of Wiener.  Of this I'm quite 
certain -- with my father as my original source.

Wiener's refusal to apply cybernetics to the effort to "control" people and 
populations is documented in his introduction to "Cybernetics."  In this he 
names Mead and her husband Gregory Bateson (secy of the Macy conferences) as well 
as Kurt Lewin.  All three of these *were* "military" supported and motivated.

Weiner wrote "The Human Use of Human Beings" because of his massive concerns 
about military use of cybernetics (you have to read the 1950 first edition to 
understand this) and then around 1953 he gave up this fight -- because he was 
convinced that he had lost and the "military" had won.  He rewrote "Human Use" 
and dropped out of the cybernetics field.

Likewise, when the Soviets turned to cybernetics, it was very much a 
"military" project -- as described to me in detail by one of the earliest Russian 

Wiener was essentially the only "resister."  Cybernetics was a 
"military/intelligence" project.  Both in the West and in the East.

I'd be happy to help you work through the details of all this, if you are 


Mark Stahlman
New York City

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