Hybrid Assignment 09

In “The Shifting Politics of the Computational Metaphor” chapter, Fred Turner explained how the New Left and the New Communalists are two different social movements but have some common characteristics. According to Turner, the New Left was primarily formed as a political movement “out of the struggles for civil rights in the Deep South and the Free Speech Movement” (p. 31). Members form political parties and protested against the Vietnam War, “industrial activities, and bureaucratic organization of the universities” (p. 34).

Similar to the New Left movement, the New Communalists also sought to challenge the bureaucracy and the cold war social order. However, unlike the New Left, they did not see politics as the solution to this. The mind was their alternative to politics. They turned away from politics as a solution for social change.

Turner also added that:
“For the New Left, movement politics offered a way to tear down that bureaucracy and simultaneously to experience the intimacy of shared commitment and the possibility of an emotionally committed adulthood. For the New Communalists, in contrast, and for much of the broader counter-culture, cybernetics and systems theory offered an ideological alternative. Like Norbert Wiener two decades earlier, many in the counterculture saw in cybernetics a vision of a world built not around vertical hierarchies and top-down flows of power, but around looping circuits of energy and information. These circuits presented the possibility of a stable social order based not on the psychologically distressing chains of command that characterized military and corporate life, but on the ebb and flow of communication” (p. 38).

My understanding of this is that the New Left wanted to get rid of the bureaucracy and hierarchy of power, and the way the saw this was possible was through political activism. The New Communalists, on the other hand, believed not only in the mind and the transformation of consciousness as sources of the social order reform, but also in cybernetics.



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