Air University Review, March-April 1967

Cybernetics in the Service of Communism

Colonel Raymond S. Sleeper

The Spearhead for the spread of Communism was forged in the Soviet Union when Lenin seized power and began to use this philosophy as the rallying standard for achieving world Communist domination. The Soviet Union’s progress from the revolutionary chaos of the early Twenties to the space-age discipline of the Sixties has been phenomenal. In response to a series of difficulties and events in attempting to accelerate this task, the Soviets have borrowed and adapted to their use a unique and powerful philosophical and technological tool—cybernetics.

the promise of cybernetics

This tool seems to offer the means to optimize the continued development and growth of the power of Soviet Russia, the subversive capture of free nations, and the establishment of worldwide educational, technological, military, and space superiority. But more important, cybernetics is now seen by some Soviet authorities as the means of facilitating the optimum (Communist) control of the complex system of states, peoples, and resources of the world which the Communists hope will result from Communist world domination.

Simply stated, cybernetics involves purposeful control of complex dynamic systems. Dynamic systems are those systems which can react to or adapt to a changing environment. In practice, the Soviets appear to be classifying almost any subject that has to do with information and control in man, machine, and society as cybernetics. Cybernetic systems, as opposed to automatic devices, are capable of responding in a predictable orderly manner to changes in the environment. An example of a crude cybernetic system is the home furnace that responds via thermostatic control to changes in temperature for the purpose of maintaining a reasonably constant temperature in the home. One of the first complex cybernetic systems developed was Norbert Wiener’s design of a system to link radar through a computer to a battery of automatic fire-controlled antiaircraft guns.

In facing this extremely difficult problem, Wiener realized that the complex system he was designing performed the same functions as a skilled skeet shooter who acquired the target, tracked it, allowed for an appropriate lead, and fired. The skilled marksman achieved a high degree of accuracy. Knowing that biological systems (man or animal) could adapt easily to rapidly changing environmental parameters, both external as in the case of the skeet shooter and internal as in the case of an athlete whose body adjusts to give him a second wind, he often consulted with neurologists and others to determine if he was on the right track in his basic design philosophy. There were several instances in which he found direct analogs between the behavior of his gun-laying systems and certain characteristics of the nervous systems.

Wiener’s great achievement was that he was able to synthesize existing technology and ideas into a basic conceptual framework that unified this technology to produce a high degree of control in any type of complex dynamic system. The basic elements of this concept are

(1) A well-defined goal or end state to be achieved.

(2) Sensors to detect changes in the environment, i.e., temperature, velocity, chemical reactions, learning states, etc.

(3) Communications nets connecting all elements of the system to assure information flow.

(4) Logic units to process the information flow according to criteria contained in the goal (1).

(5) Control units that are responsive to decisions from the logic center (4), which adjusts system units to the desired states as information from (1), (2), (3), and (4) changes.

Wiener felt that this scheme was basic to the control of all complex systems—technical, biological, or social. The Soviets regard the U.S. PERT management system, or the “critical path technique,” as they call it, to be a highly sophisticated example of applying cybernetic theory to an administrative system.

Cybernetics, as it developed tinder Wiener and in the U.S.S.R., imposes a rigid discipline for clear thinking upon both the theorist and the practitioner. If a true cybernetic approach to problem solving is adopted, the planner must first define his goals and criteria for their achievement as clearly and with as little ambiguity as possible.

the thrust of cybernetics in the Soviet system

The thrust of cybernetics in Russia extends from the microbiological to the macrocosmic dimensions of man’s relationship to the elements of the universe. The volume of Soviet literature on cybernetics is monumental. Academician A. I. Berg, chairman of the Governmental Council on Cybernetics, refers to over 5000 articles in 1961 alone on “the problems of the application of mathematics, electronics, and cybernetics to biology and medicine.” Since 1961, the volume of literature and research on this subject has continued to increase.

On the biological side of cybernetics one sees interesting developments, such as the “iron hand” which attaches pneumatically to the stump of the arm and, through electrodes connected to the stump muscles of the forearm, picks up myocurrents generated from the contraction of these muscles, which then control the opening and closing of the hand. There are many other devices which link the nervous system to machines, and vice versa. One example is the biostimulator, which uses the recorded muscle movements of a sharpshooter to provide programmed electronic sleeves for automated rifle training instruction. This device is slipped over the arms and torso and electronically “stimulates” the proper muscles of the student soldier to emulate the sharp-shooting techniques of an expert rifleman recorded in the simulator. Another device, the Soviet sleep machine, is claimed to produce a relaxed state, or sleep, which provides more rest than an equivalent amount of normal sleep. This device is used in medical treatment for a variety of symptoms. Soviet cybernetics includes, in addition to biologic and physiologic control techniques, a broad program of research in neurology, psychology, and related fields, especially those areas which have the potential for technological application and behavior control.

The Soviet concept and program of the “new man” involves the “creation” of a wholly superior type of individual. It begins with the separation of numbers of young children from their families at the ages 1 to 6 years. These children are trained in some 800 special boarding homes and schools, separated from their families. Estimates vary, but it appears that 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 children have been entered into this program. The training and education of these selected children has been called the “technocratization of youth” in Russia. In other references the Soviets have called this program the preparation for “the rationalization of world economics and cybernation.” The U.S.S.R. is thus planning for rapid development of automation and encourages, promotes, and fosters cybernetics at the highest level of government and party. Social adjustment to automation is planned through the preparation of students to accommodate to the “cybernated society.” And, according to the Soviets, the change will therefore be more orderly in Russia than in any other country.

At the machine level, the applications vary from guidance systems for missiles to automated power distribution centers for controlling the flow of electric power between widely dispersed nets so as to eliminate costly, redundant power generation.

But it is at the socioeconomic level that one sees the major innovations being attempted in the Soviet Union. A cybernetics center is planned for each state. Several are already being built, and the first one at Kiev is nearly finished. These, together with the Cybernetics Council in Moscow, the Moscow information storage and retrieval center (VINITI), the Moscow computer center, the developing nationwide unified information network, some 350 computer centers, and over 100 institutes that are working in cybernetic science and technology, if built as planned, will constitute the physical structure of the program. A typical center such as the one at Kiev will have mathematicians, physiologists, psychologists, sociologists, neurologists, economists, electronic scientists, engineers, and physicists assigned. Thus a very broad multidisciplinary scientific force will attack the problems involved in the automation of Soviet society. The implications of such an enormous undertaking cannot possibly be seen with clarity at this early date, but it deserves serious observation, study, and attempts at interpretation.

It helps us some in taking a serious view of these Soviet activities when we realize that such very large modeling and attempts to structure society are actually beginning here in the United States. San Francisco is using an operating mathematical model of the city in terms of its land, buildings, peoples, jobs, amenities, etc. This model is being used for forward planning, and other U.S. cities are now developing their own models. But the Soviet scheme involves all of Russia and promises to involve the world.

One interpretation of the Soviet effort describes the purpose of cybernetics in the U.S.S.R. as “threefold: improved military and civilian technology, rationalization of the economy, and mechanization of intellectual tasks.” l But it is likely that the main thrust of Soviet cybernetics is much more encompassing. For the central argument of the Soviets is that cybernetics can work only in a “socialist” society:

As distinct from capitalist countries where the various firms create, each for itself, separate automated systems of control, under socialism it is perfectly possible to organize a single, (integrated) complex, automated system of control of the country’s national economy. Obviously, the effect of such automation will be much greater than that of automating control of individual enterprises. 2

Probably this is the key to the major difference between the Soviet purpose in cybernetics and the purpose in the West. Not so much that the Soviets are already beginning to apply cybernetics to the optimum control of the entire Soviet society but that they are aiming to reconstruct society through the widest possible application of cybernetics and eventually to employ it as the principal system of Communist control of the world. Some observers of the Soviet scene have responded with ridicule; others have simply stated that such a grand scheme is impossible. Perhaps the most common reaction is that Soviet technology cannot possibly support such a plan in Russia, to say nothing of the world. It is normal among these latter observers to note that “the U.S. is still ahead in the design, analysis, and evaluation of complex and sophisticated systems. . . ; we are still ahead of Soviet technology in the fields of radar systems, television systems, telemetry systems; and still ahead of Soviet technology by a considerable margin in the design and manufacture of high speed computers with large memories.”3

But there are indications of steady Soviet progress: “Soviet science is ahead in the analysis of random-processes of shooting and random process representation; Soviet science is generally superior to U.S. science in the fields of detection theory, parameters, prediction and estimation, and the analysis of phase-keyed systems in the presence of fading; and Soviet science can be said to be slightly ahead of the U.S. sciences in the overall fields of cybernetics, logic algebra, automated theory, and pattern recognition.”4 And cybernetics seems to have given the Russian leaders a new vision of the utopian future of Communist social progress. For they now see in cybernetics, they think, a means to stimulate progress and to integrate advances in all fields of science. Again, the most fundamental and overriding point is that through cybernetics the integration of scientific progress now enables the construction of the ideal Communist society in Russia as well as throughout the rest of the world. 5

To restructure the Russian society, to establish a system for the optimum control of Russia, and to embark upon the study, plan, and implementation of a control system aimed at the restructuring of the societies of the world so that they will dovetail into a cybernated Communist Russia is a fantastic task. The task was not undertaken lightly. A comprehensive study was conducted from 1959 to 1961 for the purpose of determining the broad structure of the program and its consonance with Marxism-Leninism. Then in June 1962 the Soviet Council of the Academy of Sciences, the Scientific Council on the Philosophical Problems of the Natural Sciences, and the Party Committee of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences met together in a joint conference on cybernetics. Over 1000 participants represented all the sciences connected with cybernetics. This all-union conference mapped out the implementation of the tasks set for cybernetics by the 22d World Communist Party Congress.

The general structure of the program has been analyzed and ably presented by Professor John J. Ford of American University. He believes that the 20-year plan approved by the 22d Party Congress is designed to test and implement the model. The model and its application to Russia is to be largely tested by 1981. Subsequent indications strongly support Ford’s analysis, e.g., a quote from the Technical Cybernetics All-Union Conference at Odessa in 1965: “Today, it is clear that the methods of technical cybernetics are finding growing applications in the control of the entire Soviet economy.”

Anyone with a deep interest in Soviet developments who wishes to understand Soviet activities through the next 10 to 20 years must take into consideration the Soviet cybernetics model. Scholars who continue to employ traditional concepts of Soviet behavior will surely be missing an important part of the picture.

The plan encompasses the development of a pattern for sociocultural, material-technical, and ideological subsystems. Each pattern must provide a “nervous structure” and “control center.” Similarly, each must be automatically operative but adapted to the goals of the “brain.” Harmonious transition of the parts toward a higher degree of centralized organization of social structure is thus insured. 6

This 20-year plan is based on the thesis that social (and biological) change is inevitable, but more important, the social change should be purposeful and progressive (i.e., toward Communism). To quote Professor Ford:

The strategy for social progress dictated by this general model calls for the establishment of a “nervous system” to tie together the system’s “sensors” of internal and external environments at all levels with the highest decision centers which can then determine optimal (in relation to system goals) courses of action and then transmit information to the effector organs of the social system (ministries, production complexes, schools, defense installations, people and so on). The cycle is then repeated. If the new behavior of the system brings it closer to the goals thereof as predicted, or moves away therefrom because the prediction was incorrect, the sensors once again detect the change and transmit the information upward in a continuous process analogous to that by which a helmsman steers a ship toward its destination.7

A model of world social structure seemingly visualized in this description is not attractive to most Americans, since it is deterministic and authoritarian. However, from a Communist viewpoint the whole process of “national liberation” and revolution involves the destruction of “capitalistic institutions” and the development and erection of Communist institutions in a purposeful mode.

transition of “capitalist societies”
to “socialist societies”

The transition of “capitalist societies” to “socialist societies” is the central aim of world Communism. It is the object, the content, and the substance of Communist activities across the world.

There are Communist parties in some 105 nations of the world. In certain countries there are more Communist parties than one, but for our purpose we will assume these parties are factions and that ultimately these factions either coordinate, cooperate, or are controlled by the dominant party in their struggle for take-over of the specific country.

Some 16 of these 105 nations are now controlled by the Communists. Each of the 16 is in fact ruled by the Communist Party therein. It is generally accepted that the world Communist movement is no longer monolithic but that polycentralism and a system of “World Commonwealth of Communist Nations” is evolving and expanding through subversive aggression.8 In spite of these and other doctrinal changes, a Marxist-Leninist model exists for the stages of Communist penetration and takeover in a target country. This doctrine elaborates five steps (called “stages” in Marxist-Leninist doctrine) in the “transition to a Marxist-Leninist Society”:

Step One is infiltration into the target country and the formation of a Communist Party.

Step Two is the infiltration of Communist Party members into the target country’s key institutions, parliament, political parties, unions, industry, communications services, police, military forces, and other important elements of the national life. The members who infiltrate the key institutions form units that are called fractions.9 When fractions are formed in most of the key institutions, a united national front is then organized to coordinate policy and action among all the fractions.

Step Three is the decision to seize power. According to the doctrine there exist both the objective and subjective situations in a target country. The objective situation is the current real-life situation in the target country. The subjective situation is the “power” of the Communist Party. Evaluation of this power involves assessment of the number of hard-core members and their deployment throughout the target country’s key institutions, together with the power that the members exert over the nation by virtue of the National Front. The doctrine states that when the subjective situation of the Communist Party is in favorable balance with the objective situation in the country as a whole, the decision is then made to seize power.10 This does not mean that an attempt to seize power is made at this time, but the decision is made. Then the action committees are organized and prepared for the eventual take-over. The process of determining the favorable revolutionary balance situation is obviously an extremely difficult and complex process. It is clear, for example, that the Communists misjudged the revolutionary balance in Indonesia at least twice in recent times.11

Step Four is to seize power. This step is initiated with the announcement of the time when power will be seized—and the timing is critical. The action committees are then armed, and direct operations are initiated against the anti-Communist, non-Communist, or national power in being. Insofar as possible, the Communist Party attempts to present this “seizure of power” in the light of a national revolution, a national uprising, or some similar camouflage for the Communist take-over. 12

Step Five is to consolidate the Communist control of the nation. This involves the progressive elimination of all anti-Communist, uncooperative control and influence in the nation and leads to the purges. This is the sort of operation we saw in China when Mao Tse-tung instituted his program to “let a hundred flowers of internal criticism grow,” and then when internal criticism appeared the critics were eliminated.13 It is the type of purge we have seen in Cuba since Castro seized power.

It may be claimed that our model for Communist subversive aggression against free nations is too simple. Communist manuals, doctrine, pamphlets, and publications have devoted hundreds of thousands of pages to the elaboration of the tactics and techniques of take-over, or the “transition of power from the capitalistic monopolies to the working class,” as they call it. The basic Communist bible, Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism, devotes over 500 pages to the subject. There have been many variations in this model, and there will be many more. But how can cybernetics serve Communist subversion and take-over?

The key step in the process is the decision and timing of the take-over. Note the relationship that must be satisfied for the Communist take-over: One could write this very simply as

P= S/O

where P represents potential for take-over, S the subjective power of the Communist Party in the target country, and 0 the objective situation in the country itself. Now it can readily be seen that experience will be necessary to determine the proper values of P for evaluating take-over potential. It can also be seen that the quotient of S divided by O is essentially a summation of the Communist potential for takeover in each of the key institutional structures as related to the stabilizing anti-Communist elements in the country. It is the problem of measuring Communist potential for take-over in a national power structure sense that “scientific programs” using statistics, content analysis, sociological and anthropological social structure analysis, and experience factors, that we see as the task for cybernetics. The process can be shown as the objective situation deriving from real life in the target country feeding into the reference model (the Communist model) and with effectors and sensors from the Communist Party in its central role of subversion, take-over, command, and control, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Model for Communist take-over

Figure 1. Model for Communist take-over

The tremendous upheaval and social reorientation of Cuba which have been produced by the Castro regime may be seen as an example of Communist transition of society toward a “higher stage of social evolution” and as a transition toward the Soviet model.

Through a series of trade and finance agreements the Castro Regime has moved toward the adaptation of Cuba’s economy and industrial plan to that of the Sino-Soviet Bloc. . . . The degree to which Cuba has become economically dependent on the Bloc is evidenced by the fact that 80% of its trade is now tied up in arrangements with Iron Curtain countries. At the beginning of 1960 only 2% of Cuba’s total foreign trade was with the Bloc.

Cuba, under the Castro Regime, is rapidly becoming oriented toward the Sino-Soviet Bloc. This orientation is not taking the form of a merely cultural interchange with communist countries such as several Western countries are conducting. On the contrary, the emerging pattern is one of extensive cultural identification with the Bloc in which Cuban cultural patterns are being rapidly altered and the traditional cultural ties with countries of this hemisphere and Western Europe are deliberately severed. This is to be seen in the comprehensive cultural agreements, the exchange of students, performing artists, and exhibitions with the Soviet Union, Communist China and their satellites, the impediments placed before students wishing to study anywhere except in Iron Curtain countries, the virtual halting of the flow of movies, books and magazines from free countries with a commensurate rise in the influx of these materials from the Sino-Soviet Bloc, and the attacks on Western culture in general and that of the United States in particular.14

Thus one sees the total social, economic, and cultural restructuring of Cuba to fit the Communist model. Meanwhile, the Communist model appears to be moving toward a cybernetics model. This may lead to increased rationalization of Communist subversive aggression against free nations.

Under a cybernetic scheme the Communists need not export traditional ideology. Instead they need to export “scientific social changes” which fit the cybernetic model of the economy and sociological structure of scientific Marxism-Leninism now being built in Russia.

the drive for military superiority

The Soviets have consistently pushed for worldwide military superiority. Stalin supported this goal, and so did Khrushchev, on balance.

Some top American nuclear scientists believe that Soviet nuclear weapons technology is at least equivalent to if not ahead of U.S. in some areas. In the area of high-yield weapons it is conceded that they have the edge. They have demonstrated a device of 60 megatons which we believe could be weaponized or turned into a weapon at about a hundred megatons.

We were somewhat surprised in 1948 that the Soviets copied our B-29 (which they called TU-4). More surprising was that they built a significant number and built them at the expense of more rapidly rejuvenating the war-torn civilian economy.

Through the 1950’s the Soviets built modern fighters in large numbers, built bombers, and then moved into building and deploying ballistic missiles.

There is no question that the U.S. Minuteman and Polaris missiles remain superior to those of the Soviets, but the Russian weaponeers are not resting on their laurels. According to Hanson Baldwin, they are continuing to develop and deploy large numbers of new weapons of widely varying types.15

The Soviet development of new missiles appears to be most dramatic, and the evidence is that they are also developing new aircraft (e.g., the AN22, a huge transport) and modernizing their army and navy. The 1965 spring military parade in Moscow and again the 7 November 1965 parade showed new generations of ICBM’s, IRBM’s, “global rockets,” and anti-ICBM missiles, as well as many new army vehicles.

The Soviets apparently are building and deploying all these weapons. It is important that we recognize that they can, that they have the economic power to do so. In 1962 Secretary of Defense McNamara elaborated before Congress the new missiles, aircraft, antimissile missiles, agricultural improvements, and civilian consumer improvements that could be made by the Russians and then concluded that they could not do all these things—that they must make a choice. It would seem that they have made the choice at the expense of the civilian economy and that they have moved rapidly forward in strategic weapons.

One of the primary strengths of the Soviet R&D and production program is the use of scientific planning (cybernetics) throughout their weapons programs. Scientific planning, gaming theory, optimum solution of complex problems, development of block-aggregate computing systems, creation of the scientific basis for the synthesis of automatic control, and hundreds of similar subjects, all pertinent to the most modern techniques of scientific planning and development of aerospace weapon systems, appear in Soviet cybernetics literature.16 The hypothesis is suggested that analysis of overall Soviet power must now take into account the increased efficiency of the early applications of integrated cybernetic systems optimized for the creation of Soviet military and national security.

Similarly, cybernetics can be seen to impact on the Soviet space effort.

the thrust in space

Soviet work in space probably started in the early Forties with the work of Tsilkovskii, the Soviet Goddard. In the late Forties and early Fifties it appears that the basic technologies and vertical firings of components were accomplished. In the late Fifties we saw the first Sputnik and the beginning of the Soviet space spectaculars. Figure 2 shows the Soviet concentration on spectaculars—manned flight, near-earth orbital work, and some military and military support types of programs. There has been little direct evidence that any of these spectaculars will lead to direct Soviet military space capabilities, but there have been repeated Soviet references to the military uses of space. One of the first we saw was in Major General Pokrovsky’s book, Science and Technology in Contemporary War, published in 1956, in which he refers to the coming importance of the war in space. Since 1957 there have been innumerable Soviet references to orbital bombardment, orbital rockets, rockets from spaceships, attack or delivery of weapons from space, and the like.

Figure 2. Soviet space firsts

Figure 2. Soviet space firsts

It would seem prudent to assume that the Soviets plan to use space for military purposes as rapidly as possible. The Soviet space effort is huge—surely as large as if not larger than that of the U.S. There is no record of the Soviets’ having made anything like this type of effort in aerospace research and development without a resultant direct enhancement of their military power.

In the U.S. we argue variously that space offensive nuclear-delivery forces are less efficient than ICBM’s, less accurate, and less credible. But when the Soviets are dedicated to offensive world objectives, the special effects of space military offensive forces may appear very useful—namely, prestige, terror, persuasion, coercion, pressure, psychological warfare, and demoralization. The sight and sound of Soviet military orbital forces in the free skies of the world day and night, plus Communist satellite television propaganda tuned into sets around the world, would not be attractive to contemplate in the service of Soviet goals of worldwide Communist domination.

Such major steps in space could not be taken except for the progress that the Soviets are seeking through cybernetics. This has been recognized by Soviet scientists and has been openly stated by several. A description of the impact of Soviet cybernetics on their space program is included in V. Denisov’s “Cybernetics and the Cosmos” (1962). Denisov describes the active flight of “The Cosmic Ship,” its automatic control features, and its manual control features. But, “No matter what the degree of automation of the engineering process of controlling the cosmic ship, the managing and organizing role always remains with man.  Hence, we must deal with complex cybernetic ‘man-machine’ systems in space ships. . . . Man is the controlling element or operator in the ‘man-machine’ system and the machine is the controlled object.” Denisov goes on to describe the working of the cosmic ship in detail and then projects developments into the future: “It can be that the foot of man will not take the first step on other planets, . . . but the foot of a cybernetic automaton may.” He then goes on to extend man’s influence into the cosmos through travel and communications, basing his predictions on progress in cybernetics as well as in astronautics and related sciences.

In cybernetics there is unquestionably a promise for improvement of the welfare of all humans. Robert Theobold, author and economist, proposes a minimum basic income for all adults in America based on the use of cybernetics by U.S. industry and economy, an income ensuring a standard of living by which one can live with dignity. He also makes the astounding point that a modern nation can produce anything it decides to produce.17 But Theobold decries the U.S. government’s inattention to these “facts,” stating that these facts demand new value systems in America.

There is not much question that cybernetics is seen by the Soviet elite not only as the path to Communist utopia but also as the road to development of a worldwide system of socialist states under Communist control. This view is reflected even by the American Communist Party.

Is there an inner compulsion in technological development which will transform the private appropriation of profit in America and the immense, unprecedented political power it brings, into an innocent surplus managed for the whole of society by the same small top group wearing different hats? . . . No . . . Once the profit motive is no longer a sacred absolute, the machines can be controlled, and, especially in the centralized society of today, cybernation can be developed and applied at a rate and in a manner that is in the interest of society as a whole. . . and this will come. . . only when the American people make a daily struggle in a progressive direction [toward Communism].18

If we wish to follow events in Soviet Russia and developments in worldwide Communism reasonably intelligently, we should begin to view them in terms of the changes wrought by the massive cybernetic program in Russia and in the worldwide Communist movement. Moreover, if cybernetics promises such a “paradise” for socialist countries and enables, in effect, a technological penetration of free nations, it behooves us to define the parameters of possible impact and the promise and direction of national and international automation in free societies as a counter. There is no doubt at all that American computer technology, program theory and application, and automation lead the world. But the proliferation of computers, computer languages, and computer centers has become truly an electronic Tower of Babel. In contrast, in Russia the computer centers, languages, and networks are planned and programmed to optimize control of the entire country. Does this lead to an efficiency of resource utilization that enables the Soviets, with a gross national product in 1965 of $303 billion—compared to $664 billion for the U.S.—to challenge the U.S. for world leadership and military superiority? Surely the American system with its redundancy, flexibility, and free choice is much more attractive to us, but is it too wasteful of resources? And is this American redundancy and flexibility optimized to meet aggressive, purposeful international competition? Will truly wide redundancy, flexibility, and choice invite penetration and restriction by a centrally controlled, integrated, and optimized system—a system optimized for the announced goal and program of world domination?

These are interesting questions that only time and intensive analysis will answer. Most Americans, if given the choice, would vote for the redundancy, individualism, flexibility, and optimization of private opportunity as opposed to the centralized authoritarian-imposed optimized control. However, the parameters of redundancy, individualism, flexibility, control, optimization, purposefulness, and private opportunity may have to be subjected to the burning crucible of public discussion and definition in the light of national interests before we have a national understanding of both the benefits and penalties of the promise of cybernetics to America and their portent in the world arena.19 We cannot begin to discuss and understand the national and international potential of cybernetics unless we devote adequate effort to the job. And this we are not doing—at least, not at a level of effort that is competitive with the Soviets.

The Soviet effort and progress are a definite technological threat to the U.S. because their multidiscipline attack on major problems has no counterpart in the U.S., and their broad intensive effort simply must produce, in due course, significant breakthroughs in sociological, economic, governmental, and military areas that we in the U.S. must be prepared to meet. This threat is, therefore, a challenge to military superiority, to social control, to economic/industrial advance, and to world power.

Unless we Americans as a people, and we in the Air Force in particular, understand these momentous trends, we may not have much choice. The system could be imposed upon us from an authoritarian, centralized, cybernated, world-powerful command and control center in Moscow.

Foreign Technology Division, AFSC

Notes

1. Roger Levien and M. E. Maron, “Cybernetics and Its Development in the Soviet Union,” RAND Memo 4156-PR, p.25.

2. C. Olgin, “Soviet Ideology and Cybernetics,” Bulletin of the Institute for the Study of the U.S.S.R., February 1962, from Kommunist, Vol. 37, No.9 (June 1960), p. 23.

3. Roshan Lal Sharma, “Information Theory in the Soviet Bloc,” June 1965, pp. 1-2, a study done for the Foreign Technology Division by McGraw-Hill, Inc.

4. Ibid.

5. A. I. Berg, “The Science of Optimum Control,” U.S. Department of Commerce. Translation JPRS-26, 581, 28 September 1964, p. 55.

6. John J. Ford, “Soviet Cybernetics,” a paper presented at Georgetown University Symposium on Cybernetics and Society, 19-20 November 1965.

7. Ibid.

8. Tan F. Triska, David O. Beim, and Noralou Roos, “The World Communist System,” Stanford Studies of the Communist System, Stanford University, 1964.

9. “Party Fractions in Non-party Organizations (Fronts),” International Press Correspondence (INPRELOR), 27 February 1924, and V, 25 (April 1925), 340-43.

10. Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism, (second impression; Moscow: Foreign Language Publishing House, 1961); see parts four and five, especially pp. 609-20.

11. Ebed Van der Vlugt in Asia Aflame discusses earlier unsuccessful attempts of the Communists to seize power in Indonesia, pp. 160-202.

12. Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism, pp. 585-620. Note that the manual describes many forms of the “transition to a socialist revolution.”

13. Roderick MacFarquhar, The Hundred Flowers Campaign and the Chinese Intellectuals (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1960). Some may criticize the author’s conclusion that this Chinese Communist criticism campaign became a general Communist purge technique. Of course, self-criticism has become an accepted feedback system of communication throughout the Communist countries and in certain instances clearly has led to severe purges for the fundamental purpose of optimizing Communist control.

14. “The Castro Regime in Cuba,” U.S. Department of State pamphlet, 1965.

15. Hanson W. Baldwin, “U.S. Lead in ICBM’s Is Said To Be Reduced by Buildup in Soviet Union,” New York Times, 14 July 1966.

16. Text of a Resolution Passed at the Third All-Union Conference on Automatic Control, Odessa, 1965, page 1, translated by L. A. Zadeh.

17. Robert Theobold, Free Men and Free Markets, Chapter 3.

18. Richard Loring, Communist Commentary on the Triple Revolution (Los Angeles. California: Progressive Book Shop, May 1964). (Italics are the author’s.)

19. Dr. Richard Bellman, “Russian Progressive Cybernetics and Its Relevance to Military Power,” a study done for the Air Force by McGraw-Hill, Inc.


Contributor

Colonel Raymond S. Sleeper (USMA; M.A., Harvard University) is Commander, Foreign Technology Division, Air Force Systems Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. During World War II he served with the 11th Bombardment Squadron, 7th Bombardment Group, in Java and Australia; in 1943 was transferred to General MacArthur’s staff as Chief of Military Personnel; and in 1944 became Deputy Chief, Enlisted Branch, Personnel, Hq USAF. Other assignments have been as Deputy Chief, Strategic Vulnerability Branch, ACS/Intelligence, Hq USAF, 1948-50; as student, then as faculty member, Air War College; as Deputy Commander, 11th Bombardment Wing, later Commander, 7th Bombardment Wing H (B-36), 1955-57; as Chief of War Plans, CINCPAC, from 1957 until he became Assistant to the DCS/Foreign Technology in 1960; and as DCS/Foreign Technology, Hq AFSC, from 1963 until he assumed his present position in August 1966.

Disclaimer

The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.


Home Page | Feedback? Email the Editor