Katherine Mangu-Ward on Chile's Socialist Cybernetics


In 1973, while the body of socialist President Salvador Allende was still warm, military officers ransacked La Moneda, the Chilean presidential palace. Inside, writes Managing Editor Katherine Mangu-Ward, they found the operations room of what was supposed to be a cutting-edge experiment in computer-assisted economic control, the heart of the controversial CyberSyn project. That project's purpose, Mangu-Ward explains, was to allow powerful men to make decisions about production, labor, and transport in real time using up-to-the-minute economic information provided directly by workers on the factory floors of dozens of newly nationalized companies.