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Re: <nettime> Virtual Dreams, Real Politics
carl guderian on Tue, 10 Jul 2007 12:21:10 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Virtual Dreams, Real Politics


Attention conservation notice: this is a rant.

Oh noes, the ideology-free Internet turns out to be not only a  
military project, but specifically an ideological reaction to  
CyberCommunists plotting Red revolution (apologies to Velvet Acid  
Christ) and not just a defense against atomic attack. Embarrassing  
for Californian cyber-hippies, thinking themselves "post-ideological"  
libertarians, already downplaying the internet's military (subsidy)  
antecedents, only to be further tagged with anti-Communist dogma.  
Gentlemen, gentlemen! We must not allow...a knowledge gap! An RFC  
specifying IP packet headers that spelled out "In God We Trust" in  
hex would just be icing on the cake, wouldn't it? Hard to upload yer  
consciousness with all that baggage. The Singularity just receded  
further into the horizon. As the Soup Nazi might have said, no cyber- 
transcendence for *you.*

Seriously, if the Interweb has accommodated local regimes (China,  
Bush's America) more often than it's transformed them (erm...), you  
have to wonder just how big a threat an internet would really have  
been to the Soviet system. If Manuel Castells is right that the  
Soviet system had no real pipeline between military technology and  
the consumer market like in the US, then a Soviet internet could have  
been limited, like the real internet of the 1970s and 1980s (or the  
Iraqi internet in the 1990s)--minimal, with e-mail addresses with  
bangs (!'s), a few newsgroups, some Gopher and Archie sites). It  
could have had a moderating, not a revolutionary effect, on the USSR.  
There was a tiny Soviet internet, registered as .su in 1990 .

People make a big deal of the Fax Effect in stopping the August 1991  
attempt to stop Perestroika and bring back the Brezhnev 1970s, as if  
there's some sort of historical inevitability to communications- 
driven revolutions. But coups are more contingent than people think.  
Because they succeeded, people think they would always succeed. The  
1953 Iran coup, for example, almost collapsed. The abortive  
Venezuelan CIA-sponsored coup certainly did. The Soviet plotters were  
mounting yesterday's (re)coup, like Khruschev and Zhukov shut down  
Beria's power grab in 1953. But these Great Patriotic War vets didn't  
see how the USSR had changed, had become collectively more  
intelligent since the 1970s and certainly since the 1940s.

But going back to the 1960s, suppose the Soviet bureaucrats hadn't  
lost their nerve...GosNet 1967! On the 50th anniversary of the  
Revolution, Socialism scores another triumph on the wires like it did  
in space 10 years ago! Academicians swapping recipes and Beatles  
guitar chords in the 1970s beef up the technocratic class that came  
up in the 1980s. GosNet 1987 connects the democratic people's  
republics of Eastern Europe to Africa to the Middle East to Cuba! In  
the USSR, perestroika comes but the Soviet Union continues, Berlin  
Wall gone, sure, maybe devolving to a Soviet Confederation, a sort of  
Yugoslavic Eastern Europe, soldiering on in the name of Marxist- 
Leninism, a better place to live and denying Reaganite triumphalists  
the spectacular victory of capitalism over the Communism in our  
timeline.

Dare I hope for a new sci-fi / slipstream genre: Commiepunk?

Carl

On 9-jul-2007, at 17:01, richard {AT} imaginaryfutures.net wrote:

> Virtual Dreams, Real Politics
>
> http://www.imaginaryfutures.net/
> http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalisation/visions_reflections/ 
> virtual_politics
>
> ?What are we fighting Communism for? We are the most Communist people
> in world history.?
> - Marshall McLuhan, 1969.
>
> In 1961, at its 22nd Congress, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
> formally adopted the goal of spreading the benefits of computerisation
> across the whole economy. Over the next two decades, the information
 <...>


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