Cybersocialism: Project Cybersyn & The CIA Coup in Chile (Full Documentary)

Cybersocialism: Project Cybersyn & The CIA Coup in Chile (Full Documentary)

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[Stafford Beer]: "What happened when I got  to Chile and took over this team? Let us look   at a little diagram to show how I set about  things. I built it up on a piece of paper   lying on the table between us--there's a system  three and a system four, and i got that far,   and then I got to system five and I drew  a big histrionic breath and I said--I   was going to say this compañero presidente  is you! Before I could say it, he suddenly   smiled very broadly and he said "ah  system five at last... the people" "the people" "At last... the people"

What you've clicked on here is a short  story. It's a true story, not too long past,   about a future trapped in the past. There are  those things you hope for in a good story:   drama, plots, heroes, sages, our  better angels and bitter devils.  

But--and I'll spoil this for you--it's a tragedy;  though it would be more of a tragedy that it   remained history. It's undeniably the history  of our present, this friction-free present:   a planetary network of automated machines, of  one government with a face, and one without;   a fantastical assemblage of networks,  profits, control, consciousnesses,   and behind it all something faceless, but  something we know is woven through it. The front is impressive, smiling, controlling. As far  as logistical operations go   today's cybernetic systems are peerless.  They've conquered time and space. Amazon is amazing-- at delivering. In total it's a cybernetic organism, each  component tuned and regulated for a single   purpose: the fast, frictionless domination  of space and time, from desire to delivery.

There is of course a price--not  this price, but this one. An organic cost by which any inefficient human output is a hindrance, an alien  quantity to the machine's purpose. [James Bloodworth]: "people were receiving  disciplinaries for taking toilet breaks.   The productivity targets were so high that  workers were afraid to go to the bathroom.  "I mean one afternoon walking walking around the, you know, the top floor of this huge warehouse and  yeah though I found an empty Coca-Cola bottle with   with urine in it on the shelf, you know, yellow  liquid, smelt it, is very clear straight away   what it is. All the pickers were afraid to use the  bathrooms because of the productivity targets." We   have all around us in bright colourful typefaces  the faces of cybernetic control, and behind those   faces are a few people making a lot of profit  and a lot of other people doing everything else.  

These are capitalism's greatest success stories,  the happy ending, unparalleled speed and   efficiency have made these artificial organisms  virtually indispensable. They have increasing sway   over our lives, meanwhile, those who supposedly  give us sway at all in this world don't do much.   When's the last time you had to contact your  government? How was that experience? I spent   six hours on hold and then waited six months  for a response that was supposed to take a day. Conversely, if I need help from Amazon I  can get it in 48 hours, guaranteed, and they   welcome my feedback. The juxtaposition gets me to  thinking: why is Amazon so good at what it does,   as far as their customers are concerned  anyway, and government bureaucracies are so   bad at what they do, Namely, responsiveness to  the people who they nominally represent? Leftists,   for their part, pride themselves on having good  political imaginations. They can imagine the   utopias of universal benefits or even classless  societies. Though, for most of us, I should think  

we'd be contented by a functioning government, one  capable of representing public interest at all.   Why is it that those who represent us are unable  to prioritize what these private economies do   every single day? Responsiveness in place of  bureaucracy, effective feedback, adaptation   to changing conditions, two-day delivery on  what's promised. A functional government that   serves people couldn't actually be a novel  idea in the 21st century... could it? Turns  

out it was an idea. Not just in theory either,  no no, this was planned built and operational.   A national economy relying on the communication  between human beings and intelligent machines.   A utopian dream for which the concrete was already  poured and the cables already in the ground. So,   if this happened and if it really was so great,  where is it? Where's our democratic socialist   utopia? Where's this magic land and if it was  for real, then what the hell happened to it? This was, in the end it's true, a lost cause.  But in defense of lost causes it demonstrates   possibilities yet unrealized today: that  technology and intelligent machines can be put   to other ends, the ends of people rather than the  ends of profit. And at the same time it serves as  

a warning of the lengths to which the status quo  will go to maintain itself: kidnapping, sabotage,   terrorism, and public execution, to abort this  future before it had the chance to be born. Cybernetics and socialism are both methods for  understanding systems and their goals. They do not   often appear together, as they do here, and they  are both popularly misunderstood. But it turns out   they make quite an inspiring amalgam. Cybernetics  offers models for understanding processes that   are too complicated to model in terms of linear  cause-and-effect and as a method it has often   inspired theorists of various disciplines to  interpret their objects of study in new ways,   whether those objects are machines, bodies,  minds, or even social systems, like an economy.  

We have various uses for "cybernetics" as a prefix  that are sometimes misleading when it comes to its   meaning, which in its modern form was popularized  by theorist Norbert Wiener. For Wiener,   cybernetic systems are characterized by feedback  and control, and they use feedback loops with   their environments which adapt to new information  so they can accomplish a predetermined goal.   Such machines are found all around us if you  know where to look: thermostats and temperature   governors, automated self-guided missiles,  video recommending algorithms and the vestibular   system of cyborgs including our bodies. We can  stay upright only by a synthesis of inputs.   In our case, our eyes, limbs, and inner ear. In  each instance live, incoming information controls   how the system behaves in real-time, allowing a  thermostat to maintain the temperature of a space,   a missile that self-adjusts to hit a moving  target, for a video site to recommend videos   that you'll actually click on, or for your body  to stay upright while being knocked around.  

When we use the word control many tend to  think of autocratic control, as orders given   in a military hierarchy. But when it comes to  cybernetics or cybersocialism we don't mean   autocratic control but automatic control. Rather  than giving orders top-down, all of these control   systems receive live information from their  environments and adjust their decisions in   real time. Just as it would be strange to  suggest that your brain rules your body,   it would be similarly strange to suggest that  a government rules its people. These are not   distinct as the existence of one persists  only by the healthy operations of the other.

[Stafford Beer]: "Let me tell you what  happened when I first explained it to   President Allende himself. Allende was a  doctor, a medical doctor, as you may know,   and therefore it was very easy to explain the  model to him in terms of neurocybernetics as   the way of controlling the body." And it's no mere coincidence that "cybernetic and  governance" are derived from the same Greek word:   κυβερνάω, to steer. Reciprocal steering is  the animating principle of cybersocialism,   and for socialists like Allende, governance  is only legitimate insofar as it is steered   by the will of the people. And in turn,  

reciprocally, those entrusted to govern are  capable of organizing much larger, more complex,   even state-wide projects that steer individuals'  energy and ability towards ends that benefit all,   ends that could never be accomplished by  atomized individuals acting on their own. Whereas Wiener was the father of cybernetics,  Stafford Beer would come to be known as the   father of management cybernetics. Before  arriving in Chile, Beer was a corporate   consultant. A well-compensated handshaker of  the elite, managerial class while cruising   around in his Rolls-Royce. He worked for the  steel and publishing industries among others.   After the events of Chile, 1973, the one-time  darling of corporate capital would say this: [Beer]: "Allende was very successful. Now the  whole of the rich world were being told that  

he was a disaster, that his policies would  be inflationary, and all the rest of it.   I have never seen a more misrepresented thing  in the media in all my life. It was outrageous.   And of course had every conceivable  political motive because this was the first   democratically-elected Marxist in the history of  man." Beer would renounce his former, luxurious   lifestyle, retreating to a remote cabin in  Wales, becoming something of a cybernetics guru.  Before meeting Stafford Beer, Salvador Allende  had probably never heard of cybernetics,  but some of his younger staffers  had, including Fernando Flores, who was a young engineer and political  activist in Unidad Popular, a leftist   coalition of social democrats, communists,  and anarchists that won Chile's 1970 election,   beating out the centrist Christian Democrat  party, and the right-wing National Party. Flores had been inspired by  Beer's ideas and saw in his   writings a potential path for  Chilean socialism to progress,   one based not on autocratic control but  on cybernetic control. First, by creating  

direct communication loops between government  agencies and the country's resource extraction   and manufacturing sectors. If only in the mind  of Flores, cybersocialism had been conceived. [State Media Propaganda]: "The Challenge of Ideas" "The conflict itself, how can it be defined? Well  let's look at it this way: the communist bloc   would like to see the entire world under communist  domination. They have begun to talk more and more   about their ability to win from us in the arena  of ideas. This of course, is fine with us, for  

we are a people with a traditionally great faith  in our ideas: the ideas that have moved mountains,   and created wealth, and shaped us as free men, and  we are confident that history can do no other than   award us the victory in any contest in which ideas  are the weapon." Allende indeed had some ideas. In his bipolar world socialism conjured  up images of violent overthrow,   property seizure, and executions and, well, autocratic control. He  believed there could be a new way: Chilean   socialism would not include servitude  to American corporate interests,   nor a soviet-styled bureaucracy, nor armed  insurrection, as was accomplished in Cuba.  

He believed that socialist revolution  could occur democratically in Chile,   within the existing legal framework, and  without violence. He dreamed of a uniquely   Chilean revolution, a chill revolution,  one of "red wine and empanadas." Allende's idea, and the platform on which he  was elected, was that the government should   serve the needs of the people. Particularly  that the profit earned from Chile's natural   resources should remain in Chile to produce  consumer goods that would be of use to Chileans.   His challenge was not one of ideas, but of  production and ownership. The first step to   accomplishing this was for the Chilean government  to purchase--yes purchase, legally--the mines,   factories and banks already operating  in Chile from their foreign owners,   so that the future profits from these  industries would not disappear overseas,   but rather that they would remain in Chile's  national economy. Hardly a radical idea, but a  

Chile for Chileans would be the cause for which  Allende would give his life, three years later.   Here's where cybernetic feedback comes in:  managing a whole network of resources, labour,   and production from government offices in the  capital would be very difficult; it would require   a massive government bureaucracy, which as we  still know today are colossally inefficient.   But Flores had an idea, what if they introduced  cybernetic feedback into their centralized system?   Then, information could be received and  acted upon in real-time. For example, if there were raw materials backed up at  one smelter, they could send it to another   smelter with less on their plate before it caused disruptions.  

Or again, if there were raw  materials stacked up somewhere,   transportation could be diverted to a factory  where they could be turned into consumer products.   The entire production line could, in theory, work  on automatic feedback, if resource extraction,   refineries, factories, and transport were all  directed from a centralized computing centre.   These nodes would run on their own most of  the time with the control centre stepping in   only when important decisions had to be made  or if something went wrong. In 1970 this was  

nothing more than a thought experiment; the  technology for it did not exist yet, anywhere,   though we see its legacy everywhere today.  This is why the project was so ingenious:   not only did they theorize it, but they had to  build it from the limited resources they had   available to them; there were only four mainframe  computers in the entire country at the time. In 1971, Flores hired Beer, one of the world's leading cyberneticians, to  consult on the implementation of this grand idea,   to develop the technologies required to make it  happen, and eventually to run the whole Chilean   national economy. Beer agreed, having only a  vague idea of what he was getting into. [Beer]:   "And then I suddenly got a letter which very much  changed my life. It was from the Technical General   Manager of the State-Planning Board of Chile.  Remember 1971 President Allende was in office.  

He remarked in this letter that  he had studied all my works,   he had collected a team of scientists together,  and would I please come and take it over.   I could hardly believe it as you can imagine." Over the next two years,  Flores and Beer put together an international  team of engineers, programmers, and designers,   which would come to be known as Project  Cybersyn or SYNCO. It was planned to have   five parts, most of which had already reached  proof-of-concept by the time of the military coup.

First was the control centre. Inspired by  German industrial design, this futuristic   room would be the globally recognized face  of a futuristic socialism and remains, today,   the image of this lost future. Cybernet: a  network made up of computers, telephone cables,   and telex machines that connected nodes such as  the nationalized factories to the control centre,   allowing them to communicate. This was to be the  information backbone of this cybernetic system.  

CHECO: the Chilean Economic Simulator, which would  use a variety of economic indices and variables   which could predict how these variables could  interact if they were changed. This would allow   policy makers to play with economic models in  advance of making decisions. Cyberstride this was   the software: new programs written from scratch  that could synthesize data such as information   about factory input and output. The Chileans  hired a British firm to help up with the code,   as there were too few computer scientists  in Chile at the time, and too few computers.  And finally: Cyberfolk. Cyberfolk was not  implemented in the two years of Cybersyn's  

existence but was proposed by Beer as a method to  gather data on workers' self-reported happiness,   anonymously. This would allow for the control  centre to react, intervene, or direct resources   to locales that were unhappy--direct  feedback to your elected officials.   This was at least the dream, the future hoped  for, at least that these parts would continue   operating towards collective ends. We do have  modern equivalents, profit-driven equivalents,   to each of Cybersyn's components: ubiquitous,  networked computing via the internet (the creation of which, it should be noted,  was not for profit). Various governments   and researchers use economic simulators  and it's spawned a whole industry in the   financial and investment sectors. There are  also innumerable algorithms that make large   data sets useful. Even feedback and rating systems  (private feedback, anyway) on the products we buy  

or the content we think is worth watching. So really, 50 years later, none of what the   Cybersyn project invented is alien to us. What's  astonishing is that the Cybersyn team conceived,   built, and designed each of these independently,  together, and often did so with rudimentary   technologies as they were being blockaded and  sabotaged by the United States Government and   the CIA, cut off from many of the world's  best computer scientists, technologies,   and component parts. Furthermore, this was already  decades before we would see private corporations   use online platforms for the same purposes,  to their own ends. Despite the apparent   similarities, however, we should not confuse  Cybersyn with something like a proto-Amazon,   particularly because of Beer's proposed system:  Project Cyberfolk. As a socialist idea, this whole  

apparatus would be at odds with its goal if it  did not incorporate the people into the production   process, something our modern, private cybernetic  systems never do as their only interest, in so far   as workers are concerned, is the lowest possible  wage for the most possible work. Feedback via   Cyberfolk would gather information from around the  country on happiness using a simple binary choice:   are you happy or unhappy? Unlike our modern  data-collection systems Beer immediately   recognized the importance of anonymity, thus he  designed feedback via cyber folk to be anonymized   such that only the averages of terminal inputs  could be seen by the government. The threat of   autocratic control was made functionally  impossible in the way the system was designed, but   policymakers could see where their attention was  needed. Allende did not want automation to replace   workers. Rather, he wanted workers to have control  of their workplace, something that new technology  

could enable. At the same time, another problem  with centralized economies was solved; that is,   that people lie when they're afraid of losing  their jobs, even due to circumstances beyond   their control. A widespread problem in  centrally-planned economies--notably   that of the Soviet Union at the time--was a  production quota system. With a quota, a factory   is expected to produce a set number of goods  regardless of disruptions in the production line.   If there is a disruption and something goes  wrong, factory managers are incentivized to   lie to the central agencies about output  to avoid the blowback coming back on them.  

The problem here is too many interests:  interests to oversee, interests to report to,   and fear that negative results would reflect  back on individuals. A disinterested computerized   system, on the other hand, allows the control  centre to oversee inputs and outputs in real-time   and respond to disruptions before  they can impact the production line. Allende's program worked: by the end of  1971, Chile's GDP was up 7.7 percent.   Production was up 13.7 percent. Consumption  was up 11.6 percent. With the whole economy   on the upswing, still the most important metric  to Allende was the real wages of Chilean workers,   which had increased by a massive 30 percent.  Allende's approval soared and he was on track  

for a majority government with over half  the country's votes in the next election. That election would not take place. In fact, he would be the last democratically  elected president in Chile for the next 20 years.  

Chile's nationalized economy, the communications  networks, the control centre, worker feedback,   as well as an economic simulator, all run  by computers was one of the most ambitious   socialist projects ever conceived and solved  problems we have yet to solve five decades later.   Unlike the Cybersyn team however we wouldn't  even have to invent anything new to realize it.  It would require little more than a  change in the way technologies are used,   to turn them towards collective ends rather than  being run solely to maximize the private profits   of a few individuals at the top of monopolistic  corporations. This is fundamentally a question of   design, the design of systems, and the goals  they are given in the generation of a future.

[Nixon]:  "I say to every  American, let us raise our spirits.   Let us raise our sights. Let all of us contribute  all we can to this great and good country   that has contributed so much  to the progress of mankind." Cybersyn was ambitious, innovative,  and appeared to be accomplishing the   material goals Allende, Flores  and Beer had set out for it.  

Yet it was stormed by soldiers  and shut down in September 1973.  What happened here? Well let's go  back to Allende's election campaign: "a Chile for Chileans." Not  everyone agreed with this platform.  There were other forces at work in Chile:  big, wealthy, imperialistic forces.

It would be egregious to call  this a battle for ideas,  or   an ideological conflict, rather than what it was: a war for profit. On another continent,  within two weeks of Allende's election--eleven   days actually--a network of  politicians, spies, and CEOs set to work organizing his demise, not with  ideas but with money. Recall that the first step   of Allende's plan was to buy foreign-owned mines,  factories, and banks etc. in order to keep Chilean  

resources and capital in Chile. Foreign-owned,  in this case, means owned by Americans,   and they didn't want to sell. To sell was to  forfeit their future profits in Chile and everyone   with something to lose allied themselves  against Allende: the rich, the right wing,   the spies who funneled money to them, their  bosses, the politicians, and the corporations   that contributed to those political campaigns  or had assets in Chile they didn't want to sell.  There you are. There's your "battle for ideas." [Nixon]: "The only answer to communism is a massive offensive for freedom, freedom from hunger, from disease, and a victory for the ageless  hope of people everywhere: freedom from tyranny."

So what did they do? Well they exemplified  those good, old American, land-of-the-free   virtues we hear so much about. That is,  they knocked on the President's office   door and asked him to pretty-please  depose the leader of a democratically   elected government on another continent,  which he promptly put in his day planner. Let's back up a second and have a look  at the situation in a little more detail. See, entire sectors of Chile's economy were  American-owned: the banks in the capital   were owned by American banks; factories and  plants were owned by American multinationals,   hence Pepsi's interest in the country.  The telephone networks were controlled by   ITT [International Telephone & Telegraph], one of  Nixon's big donors, and on down the line it goes.  

But let's focus on copper which is,  and was, Chile's main export. In 1970,   80 percent of the copper industry was owned by  just two American companies. These companies got   Chilean miners to mine the ore out of the ground,  turn it into usable copper, which was then sent to   American factories where it could be put into  American products like cars and televisions,   which were then in turn sold back to Chileans. But  no surprise, most Chileans couldn't afford them.  

American companies got rich. American  consumers and rich Chileans got their toys   and ordinary Chileans... well they got long  hours in harsh work conditions with none of   the benefits, which is to say they got  f--ed. This is why they elected Allende,   who vowed that his interest  was in their interests. Now the USA did not have to inform Allende what  would happen if he nationalized Chile's mines,   factories, and banks; he was not the first to do  it and he knew full well what would happen to him,   just as happened six years prior in Brazil, seven  years prior in the Dominican Republic, nine years   prior in Cuba (attempted, at least) and 15 years  prior in Guatemala, while similar interventions   befell Bolivia and Uruguay during Allende's term.  Well look at that: looks sort of like an empire   (and by the way this is only regime change up  to 1973 and they were just getting started).  

Invasions, assassinations, and toppling  governments were normal in the defense   of freedom--the freedom of American  corporations to profit from the metals,   oil, and food extracted by  low-paid workers and farmers. The American empire is not primarily one of  military occupation, there are exceptions of   course (notably the invasion of the Dominican  Republic in 1965) but normally the empire   is one of economic exploitation, as Allende  knew. It is formed not by a legal agreement,   but a tacit one between corporations and  the state, including the CIA and military. See, it's a big risk for a corporation to  set up shop in a country where, you know,   a socialist might get elected. Then  they could lose their investment. But   with the wealthiest country and the largest  military in the world on their side,   one which will face no accountability for  interfering in other states, that risk is   almost entirely mitigated because they can trust  that if ever such a leader was to come to power   he would be in short order either assassinated  or deposed, and business can continue as usual.   The US military functions as the guarantor  of otherwise risky investments, of course,   this gets a little more complicated when  the socialists have guns of their own.

The US executive knew Allende would be a problem  years before he won, which is why every time he   ran, three times prior to winning, the CIA dumped  millions into his opponents' campaigns and into   right-wing propaganda against him,  over 40 million in today's dollars. In exchange, multinationals with interests across   the continent would fund both parties of  would-be presidents in the United States:  it's a perfect, if illegal, symmetrical  flow of capital. So in short, they never   expected Allende to actually win. After he did  win, and before he took office, the CIA totally   botched a coup attempt then aggressively spent  somewhere between 100 and 200 million dollars   (adjusted for inflation) on this country of  just 10 million people, funding the right wing,   the military, American-friendly  business associations, and propaganda. The full amount we'll never know as it came from a  convoluted mix of corporate and taxpayer dollars. Eleven days after Allende's election a furious   President Nixon had a breakfast with Donald  Kendall the CEO of Pepsi and Agustín Edwards,   one of Chile's richest men who pretty much  owned the mainstream media in Chile--the Chilean  Rupert Murdoch. They asked Nixon for  his help in getting rid of Allende.  

From this meeting, Nixon marched over to CIA  Director Richard Helms promising him a blank check   to solve "the Allende problem." Helms was given  a lot of latitude, up to and including anything   short of a military invasion, or what they rather  brazenly called a "Dominican-type action." The   CIA conducted a secret war of espionage, behind  what was referred to as an invisible blockade,   funding anyone who would make Allende's socialist  reforms and the Cybersyn project as difficult as   possible. Nixon ordered the CIA to, quote: "make  the economy scream," but that wasn't all he did.  

In public, he had the weight of the American  presidency to throw around, and he did his best   to ensure that no money entered Chile. He went  to international banks and to the IMF and made   it apparent that his office would not look kindly  on anyone who lent money to Allende's government. [Nixon]: "Chile of course  is interested in obtaining   loans from international  organizations where we have a vote   and I indicated that, uh, wherever we had  a vote, where Chile was involved, that,   uh unless there were strong considerations on  the other side that we would vote against them."

Chile's credit rating was downgraded  for no apparent reason such that no one in the world was willing to invest in  the country for fear of American reprisal. Lastly, as we should expect, Nixon also  cut off all U.S. government aid to Chile. "Aid"--sounds really beneficent doesn't it? It's called aid but it's yet another means of  American imperialism. Here's how the system works:   the USA supports friendly governments--that  means friendly to American companies looting   their resources, not "friendly" friendly,  so fascists are a-okay by this standard.  

American aid goes to governments, many of which  were or became military dictatorships during   this decade. Dictators lined their pockets  with government aid and let companies get   on with exploiting the working people of their  countries. That's not to say it was a free lunch,   however, they had to earn their aid through  autocratic control, including imprisoning,   torturing, and murdering those who resisted or  mobilized. Meanwhile, the people, once again   didn't have schools to send their kids to didn't  have hospitals to go to yeah they got f--ed. Allende's was not the only government  who was unaided. Fulgencio Batista "earned" billions of dollars (adjusted for  inflation) while he was president, yet a quarter   of the people in his country couldn't even read.  As soon as these guys kicked him out, what do you  

know? No more aid to Cuba yet virtually everyone  in the country was literate in about three years.   So when you hear "aid," don't think  "aid." Think: a government-to-government   bribe where ordinary people get nothing  and leftists end up imprisoned or dead.

Needless to say, Allende didn't get any of  that pie. And in addition to fascists and   spies there was a third group of enemies allied  against his government: private corporations. These are the attendees of just one meeting:  Nixon's Secretary of State, William Rogers,   sat down with Ford Motor Company, Bank of  America, First National City Bank, Ralston Purina   "...depends on me for loving care, and I depend  on Purina Cat Chow to give him great taste   and nutrition. Let's chow chow chow. Purina  Cat Chow you can depend on Purina Cat Chow" 

--sorry, not sure how that slipped in there-- Ralston Purina, ITT, and the mining companies   who had their interests threatened by Allende's  policies, including Anaconda Copper. Together   they were assured that action would be  taken to protect their profits in Chile. [Geneen]: "I directed that an approach  be made to both the State Department and   Mr. Kissinger's office, to tell them that we  had grave concern over the outlook for ITT's   investment and we were desirous of discussing  our thoughts in Washington and willing to   assist financially in any government plan to help  protect  private American investment in Chile." This list is exemplary of  who has the ear of power.  This is whose interests direct foreign policy.

None of this was done within view of congress,  by the way, who didn't even know about it, nor did the voting public. This was entirely the executive branch, and who gets in the room to make their voices  heard and get other nations burned to the ground. This was Allende's war, one in which he  had a lot of enemies and very few friends.  

Looking at the tilt of the board, perhaps he  saw the inevitable conclusion and chose not to   prevent it, choosing rather to have history judge  his life, and death. For instance, Fidel Castro   visited Allende and toured his nationalization  projects, which very much impressed him. What   did not impress Castro was Allende's commitment  to remain within the bounds of law, especially   when they were being subverted by the enemies of  social progress. For example, Allende maintained   the freedom of the press even though that press  was owned by moguls like Agustín Edwards, and was   used as a propaganda machine for the CIA. Castro  knew the value of the threat of violence and   symbolically gave Allende the Kalashnikov which  he would use, not on his enemies, but on himself.

Castro, who had already by this time  survived 300 CIA assassination plots, did not see Allende's commitment  to the law as altruism,   but as stupidity. He left Chile saying: Additionally, the Soviet Union was hesitant   to financially support Allende's government,  which they believed was doomed, precisely   because of its commitment to constitutional rule  and non-violence. Yet Allende kept his faith   to the moment of his death, unwavering in  the light of the world that he foresaw. By 1972 the economy was indeed screaming.  Because of the corporate blockade of Chile when machines or trucks broke down  there were no parts to fix them;   an estimated third of the transportation in  Chile needed repair. This was by design. The   American Ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry, said: For Cybersyn too, because most computers and  telecommunications equipment were manufactured   by American companies, they were severely set back  by a lack of resources and had to get creative.  

At the time this whole program of sabotage was  clandestine, run by Nixon on one front, American   companies on another, and the CIA on a third. It's  really difficult to run an economic simulator with   all these unknown variables in play, and the  computer scientists, both British and Chilean,   who were programming CHECO could never figure out  why the numbers always came back so strangely. All of this sabotage and  secret funding came to a head in October 1972, with what began as a truckers'  strike. Usually, strikes are associated with the   left--labour action against their employers. This  one, however, was the employers against the left:   protesting Allende's creation of a national  trucking company that would compete   with them. Owners of every industry joined:  they closed the doors of businesses and private  

factories, they blocked highways and vandalized  infrastructure. Violence broke out on the streets   provoked not least by right-wing fascist groups  trained, funded, and infiltrated by the CIA. The situation looked grim. But then something happened  that no one had predicted:   the left united behind Allende  to prevent economic collapse.  

The workers rose up, determined not to let the  owners destroy Allende's government, which had   brought so much benefit to their class. Truckers  drove their routes in defiance of their bosses. Factories began to correspond and  share resources to keep production going. Radical left factions who were  initially opposed to Allende's moderate policies took up arms to defend factories  from sabotage by right-wing mercenary gangs. They also seized private factories  that had closed their doors, by   force,  something Allende had refused to do. This was also Cybersyn's shining moment  as the networks Flores and his team had   built allowed leaders to keep in  contact and keep production going   even where telephone lines were  cut or highways were blocked.   Without the network, October 1972 would likely  have been Allende's last month in office.  

Unable to destroy the government as they had  planned, the right and left came to a stalemate,   and Allende, out of options, was forced to ask  the military to intervene and end the strike.   In exchange they wanted cabinet positions in his  government. He had little choice in the matter   and agreed. The following year, the same uniformed  men would seize control of the capital, by force. Still the October Strike demonstrated the power  of a united left, despite 100 million CIA dollars,   Anti-Allende propaganda, and the  capitalist solidarity arrayed against them. Throughout the next year, Cybersyn  continued to consolidate data, but   eventually the economic pressure put onto Chile  was too much. Nixon had effectively prevented   any foreign investment in Chile while Allende  was president. Meanwhile, the CIA and business  

associations could continue to pour support  into anti-Allende organizations, propaganda,   and assure the military that the United States  would look favorably on a change in leadership. On September 11th, the military seized control of  the capital and bombed the presidential palace.   Refusing to be taken alive, Allende shot himself.

Chilean democracy ended amid  the sounds of explosions,   gunshots, and Allende's final  words broadcast out over the radio: With General Pinochet in power thousands of  leftists were killed. Hundreds of thousands   were kidnapped, arrested, imprisoned, and  tortured. A secret cable from the White House   from two days after Allende's death read: "The  United States Government wishes to make clear   its desire to cooperate with the military junta,  and to assist in any appropriate way." "We welcome  

General Pinochet's expression of desire for  strengthened ties between Chile and the U.S." Among those imprisoned was Fernando Flores. Beer fled the country but used his international  network, working with human rights organizations   to get his former colleagues out of Pinochet's  prison camps. Flores would eventually be released   and moved to California where he'd study  and start a career as a business consultant.  

The Chilean economy was given over to the "Chicago  Boys" a group of economists who had studied under   Milton Friedman. They set to work rolling back all  of Allende's reforms, including cutting government   programs, re-privatizing factories, selling  farmland to giant agribusiness multinationals,   and of course first freezing the wages of  Chilean workers then abolishing the minimum wage.   They invited back the American  multinationals with open arms. It is claimed by some that they saved Chile,  which is in one manner of speaking true: they   saved it from Chileans and returned it to those  who had designed the crisis in the first place.

While funding to public housing, health care, and  education were slashed, poverty increased, public   utilities were sold off to the highest bidder,  and foreign investment could finally return.   Investments now protected by the soldiers and  armoured cars of a military regime in the streets. Cybersocialism was dead--assassinated. Only  after to appear as a ghost, as it does here, only as a partial body half in this world and  half in some other one. Our world is that one   where the heads of state mediate in secret  between corporations and spies. Where they   say one thing in public, another in private, and  where cynicism is far more reasonable than faith.

Salvador Allende kept faith. And in  the face of all he had witnessed still   chose sacrifice instead of compromise-- not for this world, but for that other one  that has not appeared. In his death he leapt   from our world of noxious imperial machines,  of secrets, and of reductive repetition. Cybersocialism is dead, still--shattered.   But each of its pieces is still here:  for the time being, mechanized to spy,   to guide missiles, to deliver, to give you more  of the same thing you had yesterday, and to serve   the same conspiratorial interests that brought it  down back then. Just as they were 50 years ago,  

we're still left with a question of design: the  design not only of machines but also of futures, and the machines that make futures. He always said that he wouldn't be taken alive.  That he would die defending the constitution.   He kept his word.

2021-08-20 09:06

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