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13. The Art of Cybernetic Communism

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Chapter Summary

The principal symbols of the era, space flight, atomic power and modern telecommunications, broadcast the triumphs of Soviet engineering and science to the world. For example, in 1959, the Soviet Ministry of Communications commissioned a new television tower (Moscow's Ostankino Tower) to serve the Soviet capital. The real achievements of Soviet science and technology were heralded by fantastic images on screen. Science-fiction films, which were not commissioned under Stalin, became a privileged genre again. The fact that the earliest application of cybernetics by Norbert Wiener was a tracking system for US anti-aircraft gunnery lent fuel to its Soviet enemies. Aleksandr Zinoviev's The Yawning Heights (1976), a biting satire of life in Leonid Brezhnev's Soviet Union, features a long and vivid passage on 'The Rehabilitation of Cybernetics'. For Zinoviev, the dream of cybernetic communism had become little more than an alibi for failure.

Keywords: Aleksandr Zinoviev; cybernetic communism; Leonid Brezhnev; Norbert Wiener; Soviet Union; space flight; The Yawning Heights

10.1163/9789004263222_015
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