Not many word pairs sound as exotic to the Western ear as “Soviet” and “cybernetics.” Yet this article argues that what may be most significant about the history of Soviet cybernetics—however full of fascinating figures and tales of an alternative imagination for a midcentury information society—is precisely how normal or representative the Soviet experience with cybernetics appears in the larger context of Soviet history. The article explores how the twists and turns in the Soviet experience with cybernetics follow preexisting political dynamics, debate patterns, rituals of discourse, strategies for intellectual defense, alliance forging, institution building, and other variables. By demystifying the seemingly exotic, this article aims to help spark insight into some of the historical contingencies and conditions behind the contemporary information age.


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pp. 145-175
Launched on MUSE
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