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Project Cybersyn (wikipedia.org)
212 points by MaysonL on Oct 13, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 114 comments



That picture of the control room reminds me of so many ridiculous military contracts. If a project includes a Star Trek style control room like this, it's a sure sign that the project is mostly a fantasy role-playing game designed to impress PowerPoint-wielding "decision makers" while funneling tons of money to contractors. For example, these guys design lots of fantasy role-play centers for the US government: https://www.dbia.com/portfolio/us-army/

A real functional control room has no reason to look like anything but a pretty standard office setup, maybe with a few extra displays. An example of a modern one: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacex/wp-content/uploads/sites/227/2...


The point of the control room in CyberSyn wasn't to make second-by-second or minute-by-minute decisions but rather on longer timescales like days or weeks. In Brain of the Firm, Beer argues specifically against overloading it with numbers and that it should be a "thinking room".


That doesn't change the fact that custom fiberglass Star Trek chairs are a boondoggle.


Objects don't have to appear utilitarian in order to have utility. It's worth accounting for the psychological impact of manufactured environments: a circle of custom fiberglass Star Trek chairs can sell a bold new initiative or encourage a room's occupants to embrace a forward-thinking mindset.

They can have negative effects too (the effects above can be negative depending on context), but I wouldn't discount the influence a decorated room can impose on sentient meat.


You're right, but this argument isn't too far from the "roleplaying" criticism that OP brought up. It can be seen as a more or less charitable manifestation of the same idea, namely that by pretending to be X we start becoming X. On one end this is roleplaying on larping, on the other end this is the Stanford Prison Experiment.


The chairs make perfect sense in the context they were used, and this was all built on a shoestring budget by hand. The bare bones Cybersyn was actually used during the trucking strike in Chile, and Beers theories worked perfectly. The whole thing is worth digging further into to fully comprehend the design decisions that were made.


The "bare bones Cybersyn" was a call center. Beers ideas are hogwash. I actually read the man's books; they're the sheerest gorp.

https://scottlocklin.wordpress.com/2019/02/26/cybersyn-and-a...


Huh. I’ve read Brain of the Firm, and Heart of the Enterprise, as well as Weiner’s Introduction to Cybernetics, and I found that the material is challenging but rewarding, not “sheer gorp.” Contrary to the summary that this blog offers, cybernetics is defined pretty thoroughly as the study of viable systems; i.e. anything that continues to maintain itself. This “cybernetic” field is named so because of the Greek word for “governance.”


I wrote the summary after reading the books.

Cybernetics ... well, let's just say it was the "AI" of its time, which eventually evolved into something useful (I guess Germans call operations research this name). Beer had nothing to do with Weiner; he was a hanger on and a professional wanker. Reading Beer in current year would be like reading Eliezer Yudkowsky or Bostrum and hoping to learn something about deep learning.

Mind you I found Beer an extremely likeable mountebank. Compared to current year "AI" numskulls, 9/10 for personality alone.


Nice write-up. Thanks for posting it.

You captured my angle perfectly with your first sentence. I really wonder whether those who tried planned economies would've done better at it if they'd had better tools. I don't want to see an experiment in that vein anywhere I live, but I do wonder.

If you still remember it well enough to do so, it'd be interesting to see more detail about how Beer's work is horse shit. Mostly because I like the rest of your take on cybersyn and you might save me reading the horse shit for myself if you post it.


The F-35 is a boondoggle. The budgetary impact of these chairs is a rounding error on a rounding error.


...But it does change the functional purpose of the room layout? I suppose interior design decisions would be the most controversial part of any room for crowds of bike shedders


From wikipedia:

> The futuristic operations room was designed by a team led by the interface designer Gui Bonsiepe. It was furnished with seven swivel chairs (considered the best for creativity) with buttons, which were designed to control several large screens that could project the data, and other panels with status information, although these were of limited functionality as they could only show pre-prepared graphs. This consisted of slides.

I dunno, seems like instead of having an entire design team led by a famous designer, they could have just had a guy put some prefab chairs and slide projectors in a room, for a total cost of like $500. But then you're not living your power fantasy of controlling the entire economy from a war room. Of course, the power fantasy itself is why the project failed, not the room layout.


According to the comments above, it seems like the operations room was intended to be used more like a boardroom than a control center - if the complaint is no longer that it's not functional, but rather not frugal, it's a much less interesting critique of the room or program.

Again, seems like the commentary would be generated from those who would spend their limited discussion time budget on the color of paint on a bikeshed.


> Of course, the power fantasy itself is why the project failed

...Pinochet's power fantasy, maybe.


> Of course, the power fantasy itself is why the project failed, not the room layout.

This is not true. Rather, the deposal of Allende in a coup by Pinochet caused the project to fail. The coup was condoned by the US because - what's not to like about a failed socialist government in your hemisphere?


> a pretty standard office setup, maybe with a few extra displays

In 1971 any "standard" office setups with computer looked like StarTrek because StarTrek was made after those computer offices just a few years before. Even in the 198x the control room of USSR clone of IBM 360 reminded StarTrek.


All you need to do is look at the name ("INFORMATION DOMINANCE CENTER!") to know that the design is more about playing star ship commander than it is about being functional.

The real operations centers I have been in are much more mundane.


Have you read the history of this room's interior design? Or are you judging a book by its cover? The interior design of a room may suggest something about its seriousness, but there is no inherent association. That is why stereotypes are not always true, especially when trying to generalize U.S. military practices to Chile's government and the particular circumstances this room was built in.


The control buttons are designed to use shapes rather than symbols to be more including, e.g. involving workers into the decision making process.


Appropriate that a company that makes 'information dominance centers' has the address 1984 Isaac Newton Square.


I think this same argument holds for any mention of "dashboard".



Another interesting book is the People's Republic of Walmart which is a more layman version of Cockshott's book.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24770208

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24767710


Whether or not one thinks this is a viable model for a whole national economy, it's worth observing that it's, practically, the kind of information fusion that makes companies like Walmart and Amazon so competitive. Predictive logistics is a huge aspect of their business behind the scenes and a massive economic advantage over smaller operations with either less information or less geographic reach.


One of the strengths of capitalism is that it solves the "local knowledge problem" (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_knowledge_problem) by distributing the decision making to the consumers.

Cybersyn also attempted to solve this not by distributing decision making but by distributing information capture, in the form of the 500 telex machines at various factories.

Logistics networks show how this model can outperform the free market model, and anyone familiar with genetic algorithms should be able to recognize the local maxima problem. Each consumer might take the most rational action locally and result in a poor result overall.

Think about how at the start of the pandemic it made sense for each consumer to attempt to secure food, medicine, toiletries, etc. Toilet paper became a punch line for a while, but the logic was simple. Toilet paper is shelf stable, it's low cost for a large amount, it has guaranteed demand as long as you are alive, and the cost of needing toilet paper and not having any is high (for a nation like the US where alternatives like bidets are less common). Each consumer runs the numbers, if they have sufficient storage, the cost of buying and storing additional toilet paper up front is low compared to the potential cost of needing but not having it later. This resulted in a run on toilet paper and widespread stock outs.


Hoarding wasn’t really the main source of the toilet paper shortages. Rather, it’s that many more people were using the bathroom at home instead of at work or other public places. The supply chain for public restrooms is different than the one for consumers. Perhaps a sufficiently clever centralized planning algorithm would have predicted this, but what could it actually do about the problem?


And that's in the best case. In reality, consumers don't get anywhere near a local maximum, as they are neither well-informed nor entirely rational.


> One of the strengths of capitalism is that it solves the "local knowledge problem" (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_knowledge_problem) by distributing the decision making to the consumers.

I don't follow. People living in non-capitalist systems go shopping as well. What's the difference to capitalism from the point of view of the consumer or the shop?


And what's to stop national economy planning from distributing decision making in the same manner? It's not like Walmart doesn't do nation-level planning.


I talked to a lot of people who lived in the soviet union, who watched Finnish television broadcasts that could be heard beyond our borders. Their parents told them that all the tv ads for e.g. bananas in the 1990s were in fact propaganda, and that regular people in Finland surely couldn't purchase such exotic fruits.

So I can assure you, the people living in "non-capitalist systems" do not in fact "go shopping".


Of course they go shopping, they need food and stuff. I would know, I grew up in an Eastern European country in the 1980s. We had shops. What I think you possibly mean is that there is little selection. That is true. But the context here was whether the relevant information was there: Of the things that are there, what do they prefer? What sort of things do they ask for that are not available?

The difference to capitalism is that in capitalism this kind of information does trickle "upwards" to the wider economy, because the store orders more of the popular stuff and less of the unpopular stuff. In a planned economy, the information is not propagated upwards because the planners don't care, or wouldn't be able to do anything about it. But the "local knowledge" that the OP mentioned is there.

(Also I'm confused whether you count 1990s Finland as a non-capitalist system.)


Theres a great book about this called The Peoples Republic of Walmart


Right now I’m 80% of my way through a 1,000-page Stafford Beer binge (Brain of the Firm - which includes Cybersyn as a case study, Diagnosing the System, and Heart of the Enterprise). Truly ahead of his time. Can recommend The Fractal Organisation by my friend Patrick Hoverstadt also


Thank you for this recommendation! I’ve just come to the close of Heart of the Enterprise—I’m not a manager but I’ve sure been managed, and I think Beer comes closest to describing what a good manager is than anything else I’ve read about it.


I think I’ve said this before on hn but Cybersyn seems conceptually like an ERP system to me. Or in general, ERP seems to be applied cybernetics. It’s less fanciful and theoretical than some people imply.


Certainly it is. However maybe you'd agree that an ERP, although real time, does not seek to understand the triggers of new "transactions" (SAP language/ancient ERP language).

This is where the Cybernetics management system come in.


99 percent invisible had a great episode about this: https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/project-cybersyn/


> Each chair had an ashtray, a place for your whiskey glass and a set of buttons that controlled the display screens on the walls.


And the accompanying HN tread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12641425


The political picture painted in the article is really biased and dishonest.


The U.S. supported a military coup to overthrow Allende. This is a fact. That seems to be what the article is stating, no? Pinochet's abuses are well-documented, and he was not democratically elected.


The CIA even admitted it [1]

I'm willing to bet in 20 or so years they're going to admit to pulling the same shit in Venezuela right now.

[1] https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/chile/


And Bolivia, too. In fact, NYTimes even had an article stating that what happened was a coup against Evo Morales and that its previous articles were misrepresenting the situation.


Could you substantiate that claim with specific ways it is biased or dishonest, rather than dismissing it without evidence?


How so?

This is the main summary I take from the article of as regards the political picture, when the author was discussing Allende's successor, who took power during a military coup backed by the US CIA:

> It is estimated that during Pinochet’s rule about 38,000 people were imprisoned and most of those prisoners were tortured. Close to 3000 people were executed, another 1200 people went missing, and around 200,000 people were exiled to other countries.

and it seems to consist solely of well-corroborated facts.

Can you specify what you read in the article that you consider "really biased and dishonest"?


I recommend General Intellect Unit pod which is basically if Stafford Beer had a podcast: http://generalintellectunit.net.


I find amusing the fact that Fernando Flores, in charge of implementing this project, worked with Allende. Decades later he supported Sebastián Piñera's first presidential candidacy, obtaining a position under his conservative government. Talk about contrasts.


Related to this, there's an interesting series of podcasts [1] on Beer's work in general and also Cybersyn

1. http://generalintellectunit.net/e/018-the-cybernetic-brain-p...


I take this opportunity to point out Paul Cockshott's book "Towards a New Socialism" where he goes down to detail on how an entire economy could function with cybernetic economic planning. Even if you're not interested in socialism, it still has some great ideas and insights that could be implemented in some sort of social democracy. The complete book is available here: http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/socialism_book/new_soci...


Risky to suggest a book on socialism on here even if it's just an interesting read from an intellectual point of view.


In what sense is it risky?


I'd assume the grandfather is talking about Hacker News' pretty noticeable libertarian / free-market leaning.

Edit: as the karma now reflects.


I can't see the karma score for the post, so I'm not sure what it reflects...

But if I've understood you correctly, you're equating "risky" with "could lose some imaginary internet points on this site" and not some more tangible risk? (I'm not calling that an illegitimate definition of "risky" but when I heard that word I was thinking of something much worse.)


It goes both ways - the radical left-libertarianism of FOSS from the 80's and 90's is still around and kicking, if not in corners of HN.


It's alive and kicking on HN as well. I suspect that a lot of people here simply aren't aware that it's a thing, so unless somebody goes around telling people that they're left libertarian (and then explaining what this means), the corresponding specific policy positions don't necessarily get construed that way.

While we're at it, a reminder that economic left/right distinction is not the same as command/free-market:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_socialism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-wing_market_anarchism


Radical left libertarianism dates to the 1850's with Dejaque. Right libertarianism is a century younger.


One of the more famous attempts at what I call Strategic Software, a subject I’m putting together a few posts on some of you might enjoy. https://blog.eutopian.io/tags/strategic-software/


It's disappointing when I talk about planning the economy, and many technologists who are otherwise quite excited about difficult engineering problems dismiss it as entirely impossible because of something they read once from the 1920s. Clearly, it is possible at some scales. Why are creative people not thinking about how to scale it up? It is a utopian discussion until we actually overcome the resistance of the 1% to such a project, but it would be good to have more programmers on the side of socialism.


I think there's a great confusion, and maybe not just a little ideology, clouding things.

On one level, command vs market is just about what kind of algorithm you use to get a goods allocation that makes the economy run. If the idealized market Turing machine can compute a local optimum to a nonconvex optimization problem in polytime given some inputs, there's nothing prohibiting an explicit algorithm that runs through the same steps from doing so. If finding an equilibrium is in some hard complexity class, then it's hard for the market and the command system both, given the same inputs. The market's computational capacity isn't magic. Most likely the market only finds an approximate optimum and a dedicated algorithm can do better, if it has the same inputs.

That then gets confused with the problem of getting those inputs. Hayek makes a big deal of the local knowledge of the market in contrast to the hierarchical nature of the Soviet planned economy. But that should cut just as viciously against big corporations, and what it really means, I think, is that the system must be bottom-up in some fashion.

You can have bottom-up systems running on top of the market, or on top of some explicit optimization algorithm. But the Austrians have managed to convince people that market = bottom-up and explicit algorithm = top-down. That's where the dismissal comes from.


Scott Locklin has an interesting take on this, IIRC it was most crap?

https://scottlocklin.wordpress.com/2019/02/26/cybersyn-and-a...

I don't think he does justice to Cybernetics itself, but you should read e.g. "Introduction to Cybernetics" and make your own call. http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ASHBBOOK.html

Information Theory is the attempt to make the real world act like symbols, Cybernetics is the attempt to make symbols act like the real world.

In logic "A = not A" is a pointless contradiction, in Cybernetics it's an oscillator.


There is a very strong modern technocratic movement. Personally I believe that it has some improved ideas and some outdated or invalid ideas.

The ideas of integrating holistic information, planning, and acting as a government to succeed in goals make sense to me. However, I feel that it is crucial for the system to be able evolve with some freedom and flexibility in the parts.

So my belief is basically that we need to update the technocratic ideas with our knowledge of distributed networks and human psychology.

So the starting point for me is things like Ethereum and maybe IPFS, where the government, rather than trying to dictate a lot of things, is largely encoded as a set of distributed protocols that allow for large scale information collection and aggregation and multiple forms of implementation as well as fine-grained regulation where necessary.

But it's not a monolithic pre-planned structure. It's more like a technology platform for working together that allows for new and better ideas to compete while sharing data and cooperating in core ways (such as ubiquitous markets). And let's individuals or companies have some degree of autonomy and reward.


I agree that distributed governance is more functional than centralized, but the problem with shared platforms like Etherium is that it is very hard to predict what the unintended side effects of a system will be when scaled up. Ideally the platform is neutral but in practice nothing is truly neutral. So you don’t actually get to opt for no pre-planned structure, to approach neutral requires even more planning.

In the case of Etherium, right now, the platform is, for example, making it very easy to accidentally write contracts with flaws such that value can be extracted by bad actors, and the process of finding and fixing those flaws is technically difficult. (Contrast this with US fiat contracts which cannot encode automated security flaws, because the only mechanism of execution/enforcement is voluntary human action and/or lawsuits). I don’t think that was intentionally designed into Eth? Did anyone say “we’d like to replace formal conflict resolution with hacker battles”?


I vaguely wonder sometimes as to what happened to cybernetics. It seems to have been in vogue in the 70s, and sci-fi authors that were able to read stuff on it (like Lem) placed high hopes in it. Then, poof, gone.

Though, to my uninformed self it seems that other more specific and down-to-earth disciplines just stepped up and remade the field into a dozen different specialized topics that are easier to reason about technically.


I think a lot of good ideas out of cybernetics have silently been absorbed within disciplines, but culturally i think the politics and free-market disciples of the 80s onward largely killed it off in general public discourse.

If you look at the application of systems thinking and cybernetics to ecology (Donella H. Meadows; limits to growth etc), or Russ Ackoff (stakeholdership and interdisciplinary management over specialisation and monolithic business goals) I think it's clear why it died off or maybe more accurately, killed off.


See also "Towards a new Socialism" by Cockshott and Cottrell:

http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/socialism_book/


I wonder how much this project could better work if it was made today, with modern technologies and without the CIA. I often wonder the same for symbolic AI especially if used in a hybrid fashion with ANNs


The real important bit was not the top end centralisation, but the local loops. Under cybersyn, as much as possible was handled as close to the ground as possible. The control room was for the grand strategy aspects that did require nationwide planning.


Dominic Cummings wants to implement it in Downing Street.


Oversimplifying somewhat, but isn't that basically what Palantir is?


Palantir is basically building centralised data management software helping you to visualise, graph and connect entities, create ontologies and so on. that's not really what cybernetics is about.

The point of Cybersyn was to build an actually fairly decentralised system in which local data is gathered, decisions are made, fed into a system that also enables high level planning, and create a short of real-time feedback loop.


I'm not sure how Palantir counts as "without the CIA".


The CIA reference in the original comment was due to the CIA's involvement in staging a coup, overthrowing the democratically elected socialist president of Chile, who ended up committing suicide as the opposition moved in on his building. (Or at least that's what I thought they were referring to.)


I'd argue that technology like that has a habit of encoding ideological biases in a way to the point that a CIA-Thiel joint venture is probably not the best base for a socialist economic infrastructure.


I've read their front page and I couldn't understand if it would help solve real problems or be pure marketing BS :/ It's valued at 6billion though


They're a private SigInt agency, so they're very helpful, but only if you're up to no good. It's one of those things that shouldn't be allowed to exist, let alone be in private hands.


Medina's book seems to be available here in PDF (searchable): https://edisciplinas.usp.br/pluginfile.php/4874332/mod_resou...


Tom Scott had a laugh about this as well: https://youtu.be/1KzcZZ_3vL8


I was just checking to see if anyone had posted this. I really am going to miss Citation Needed.

I've found it really interesting that, along with all of the other fin and interesting things he does, he seems to me a very competent game show designer and host!


Among interface designer names, "Gui" just became my new favorite.


This is tagged on Wikipedia as socialism, but it most certainly is not.

This was a highly experimental social science management theory which in a way actually worked in practice. The field is still alive, albeit quirky. I was exposed to it when at a cutting edge management theory research conference about 5 years ago.

Today we absolutely do possess the technology which would make viable model possible. It is also likely that is would make managing a company much more efficient and competitive.


> This is tagged on Wikipedia as socialism, but it most certainly is not.

Project Cybersyn itself is not, but it was developed under Allende's administration, whose policy was called La vía chilena al socialismo (The Chilean Way to Socialism).


I see. Yeah I stand corrected. I am more engulfed in the origins of Cybernetics as a management theory. It was designed by Stafford Beer as just that, a Management System (not software) for companies operating in a capitalist financial economical system.


The Allende administration intervened companies, and took on the task of managing production and logistics directly.

It resulted in a large, cascading failure, with scarcity and shortages everywhere. So as a last resort they created this solution, which seemed better than the previous approach: manage the economy via government appointed people, usually union leaders and friends.

Cybersyn was dismantled after the government was replaced through a coup.


An alternative telling:

Allende's form of socialism was distinct from the centrally planned soviet style economy, focusing on responding to problems and creating high level economic goals, but otherwise focusing on a self organizing, bottom up, worker led economy extremely distinct from the Soviet system.

This idea started actually working, and the United States fearing, in the CIA's own words, "a successful socialist experiment" tried everything they could to remove Allende and push the country away from socialism. They even looked at the idea of invading the country, but couldn't because of the public opinion of how poorly Vietnam was going. The most successful intervention was, in the United States government's own words again, "making the economy scream". However despite this Allende still kept being elected clearly in elections that no one has disputed the validity of.

So enough being enough, the US government backed one of the most brutal dictators ever, Pinochet, to illegitimately take over the government, killing Allende in cold blood and beginning a reign of terror. Theyd do stuff like rape your wife and children to death in front of you, so that when they took you out to sea on a "helicopter ride" to dump you at sea still alive, you welcomed death. We as the United States trained his staff in torture in the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, and provided an immense amount of funding. Over 10,000 people were killed.

To rebuild the economy after the intervention, they brought in the Chicago Boys, a set of Chicago school economists, to "unleash the economy" from the socialist practices of Allende, but it didn't really work. Chile's growth trailed the rest of South America's until those practices were rolled back.

And even now the scars of all this still exist in Chile, with the massive protests that have been going on for over a year focusing on demands to replace the terrible Pinochet era constitution, and state security forces openly killing protestors.


> killing Allende in cold blood

people unfamiliar with the story might find it interesting that the exact manner of his death is somewhat disputed. obviously he wouldn't have died then if it weren't for the coup, so it's not like what you wrote is really a stretch.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Salvador_Allende


Well, the Pinochet government's own internal documentation found that it was an assassination.

http://archive.boston.com/news/science/articles/2011/05/31/c...


Nope. It says that he was shot with AK into the head after his death. It doesn't look like assassination.


> citing a reference in the initial military autopsy to a small bullet hole in the back of Allende's skull that he alleges is inconsistent with an AK-47 fired from below the chin through the top of his head.


You're not mentioning the fact that Allende's government did not respect the laws and was declared unconstitutional by congress[1].

[1] https://obtienearchivo.bcn.cl/obtienearchivo?id=documentos/1...


His political opponents sent him a letter telling him his acts were unlawful, yes. The Chilean Supreme Court who would be the body who could issue such a declaration with any legal standing did not.


No, it was the congress by a substantial majority vote, not just "his political opponents".

They also sent a letter to the armed forces so they enforce the constitution.


> [Allende] noted that the declaration had not obtained the two-thirds Senate majority "constitutionally required" to convict the president of abuse of power: essentially, the Congress was "invoking the intervention of the armed forces and of Order against a democratically elected government" and "subordinat[ing] political representation of national sovereignty to the armed institutions, which neither can nor ought to assume either political functions or the representation of the popular will". [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_Chilean_coup_d%27%C3%A9ta...


But once again, they weren't the legal body capable of making such a determination.

Also, going to throw out there that the ones screaming about how unconstitutional Allende's actions simply wholesale replaced the constitution as Pinochet took power.


I much rather prefer the events of our current timeline than a continuation of Allende's happy soviet time drunkocracy that would have meant war against neighbors and potentially a superpower. The death of millions not only 3,000.

Allende believed in an armed revolution and his house had a large stash of Soviet-made weapons. He destabilized the country because he wanted his revolution at any cost.

And there was a revolution, just of another flavor that he didn't like.


Once again, Allende and the Soviets didn't get along.

And yes, while I'm sure you prefer the events as they occurred, I take a different approach of preferring democracy and peaceful transitions of power rather than the aristocracy killing presidents they don't agree with.


Vasili Mitrokhin (KGB archivist) and Christopher Andrew (MI5) say in one of their books that KGB provided over $450,000 to Allende.

Mitrokhin worked 30 years for the KGB and defected to the UK in 1992, bringing a collection of notes now known as the Mitrokhin archive. These notes contain the facts I am mentioning.

Some of the funds sent to Allende were raised by KGB director Yuri Andropov himself, the guy that then went to become the 6th paramount leader of the Soviet Union.

After Allende was overthrown, the Soviet Union refused to play Chile in the 1974 FIFA World Cup for political reasons.

The KGB directly supported Allende, and Allende directly received help from them. It's well documented.


You realize the $450k is next to nothing at the level of nation states, right? That was something like ten man years of engineer time. That's a rounding error as far as these states are concerned.

And them refusing to play Pinochet's government says more that they don't like a brutal fascist (surprise surprise) than any support for Allende.


$450,000 1970 dollars are $3 million 2020 dollars.

And in 1970 Chile you could do a lot with today's equivalent of $3,000,000.

And everything else you said is pretty much pretentious nonsense.

If you want to join a personality cult, at least follow someone worth following not a failed alcoholic communist sponsored by the KGB.

I bet Allende met Stafford Beer by accident while looking for beer.


> We as the United States trained his staff in torture in the School of the Americas at Fort Benning

While the School of the Americas would eventually move to Fort Benning, it was in Panama (in the US controlled canal zone) when this was happening. I don't think it was moved to Columbus until some time in the mid-1980s, about a decade after Pinochet's rise to power.


A referendum determining whether said constitution will be changed is taking place in a few weeks.


Most brutal dictators ever? that is a very egregious mischaracterization.

Not because Pinochet was not brutal, of course he was... he killed 3,000 people in brutal ways for 17 years. Sure... But add 2 zeroes to that death count and multiply the regime length by 3 and you get Fidel Castro.

The Chilean armed forces (navy, army, air force, police) intervened when they saw an imminent civil war, combined with a likely Argentinean invasion.

That would be effectively the end of Chile.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beagle_conflict

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Soberanía

And Allende's regime was very far from suceeding. He had inspiring speeches but in practice he was a failure as a leader. Allende was a demagogue on the KGB's payroll with drinking issues, his administration was undistinguishable from anarchy.


I'm sorry, but under what calculus did Castro's government kill 300,000 people? Not even the extremely biased "victims of communism" calculus comes within orders of magnitude of that.

And the Chilean military would have been part of that civil war. "There would have been a civil war because we would have attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government and they would have fought back, so we took american money and 'advisors' to move so quickly that there was no chance of the legitimate government fighting back" doesn't really hold moral water with me.

Also, the Beagle Conflict was five years into Pinochet's reign so not really sure how that's a reason to overthrow Allende.

> Allende was a demagogue on the KGB's payroll with drinking issues

The KGB hated the shit out of Allende. Their bottom up socialism stood to be an alternative that would have taken away the KGB's legitimacy even with die hard communists at the time.


Werlau, who lived in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship, saw first-hand how international awareness of human rights atrocities helped Chile reinstate its democracy. "The Castro regime executed more people in just its first three years than the Pinochet regime killed or 'disappeared' in its entire 17 years in power," she says. "Yet Castro's victims, who number so many times more - and who include not just political opponents but entire families assassinated for trying to flee - remain unknown, ignored, or forgotten."


Pinochet was brutal, but not the most brutal.

Most of the South American dictators from Operation Condor were more brutal than Pinochet, and many of them stole everything they could and left nothing behind.

And the Cuban and Venezuelan dictorships are far more dehumanizing and brutal and Pinochet's regime. Also, Castro's regime started decades before Pinochet and is still there.

Pinochet stole money but left behind a working economy, that was a substantial improvement over what came before.

Allende was trying to consolidate power and eventually turn Chile into a 1 party communist system, through a communist revolution.

Pinochet had a 44% approval rate towards the end of this dictatorship in 1988. Although many people was unaware of the extent of the regime attrocities at that time.

There were extremists/terrorist groups in Chile, such as MIR and FPMR. Some of the Pinochet victims were inocent, others were not.


Nope. The Beagle conflict had already begun decades earlier and there was an unsuccessful arbritration with the help of the UK in 1971, during Allende's presidency.

If Chile had a civil war, that would have accelerated Argentina's invasion plan.

In addition to that, Bolivia has manifested territorial ambitions over their former territories, something that is even in their constitution.

A civil war followed by an invasion by at least 2 countries, or a Cuba/Chile/Soviet union alliance were all excellent reasons to remove Allende. He failed, his ideas were bad, his execution was bad. Beautiful speeches, but a failure nevertheless.

Next time some Mr. Che Guevara t-shirt guy tries to sell you the Communist miracle, go to Cuba and see how they live there, and tell me if you would like to raise your kids in a place like that. Or go to Venezuela, another "miracle". Technically they have equality because most people (except for the regime and party members of course) are equally poor.

Fidel was such as charismatic leader he would only eat food from his own personal garden out of fear of being poisoned, he also lived a life of excess and lived in an oppulent mansion unlike most Cubans.


> Nope. The Beagle conflict had already begun decades earlier and there was an unsuccessful arbritration with the help of the UK in 1971, during Allende's presidency.

Following those defintions, the Beagle Conflict goes all the way back to the 1880s. Still failing to see how this is something to remove the legitimate government over and install a brutal dictator.

> If Chile had a civil war, that would have accelerated Argentina's invasion plan.

So, alternative plan, don't have a coup _or_ a civil war. Respect the democratically elected government rather than killing the president in his office.


The civil war was imminent because people were hungry. And the ones were not hungry were underfed and had to wait for hours in endless queues to get a bag of rice, a bottle of oil, etc.

As illustrated in a quote from one of your favorite comrades:

"Every society is three meals away from chaos", Vladimir Lenin


Because of collusion with the US government to help "make the economy scream" as was listed in meeting notes between the CIA director and Nixon.

These people would rather destroy their own economy than give the socialists a fair chance, then use that destruction as "see that's why we need to kill the president".


Imagine you take the #1 ideological enemy of the US, e.g.: communist during the cold war.

Now, imagine you hypothetically decide to call yourself exactly that. And then, run for president of a country and manage to get elected.

What do you think will happen to you if you do that? It does not take much IQ to figure out that is certainly going to end really bad for you.

It is a really stupid idea, and that is what Allende did, and he suffered the consequences.

Because that is how things work in the real world.


>It is a really stupid idea

This comment assumes that in the past, governments around the world always made decisions to placate the U.S., as if whether the U.S. approval or disapproval is required for nation-building. While this may have been true for some countries that considered the U.S. response, it wasn’t widely known that if you made an earnest attempt at “new” social organisation, you’d be killed and replaced by a newly minted, U.S. approved fascist.

>Because that is how things work in the real world

It may look like that’s how things work; i.e. make the U.S. mad and suffer the consequences. But in 1970 there were multiple conversations about how to build a country, and by 1973 there was one less. I personally prefer a reality in which there are multiple methods for governing people, instead of this one-size-fits-all approach that, in 2020, appears to be ill suited for solving modern problems.


So you agree, socialism would be good - it's just not possible because of the predictable ruthlessness of the capitalists.


It's not about capitalism.

If you oppose the international community and their leaders, they will oppose you in different ways.

They will sanction, boycott, sabotage, denounce, impoverish and indebt your country... and if none of that works they will invade you. That's the way it has always been.


Here's the point where the frame of the discussion is shifted from "Chilean socialism was bad" to "well both sides are morally inscrutable."

A "fun" excerpt from the School of the Americas training manual: https://twitter.com/LLinecook/status/1314164836427857921




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