Tag Archives: john d. mcewan

John D. McEwan’s article on anarchism and cybernetics

9 Jan

In the 1960s and 70s there was some small excitement among certain anarchists around the connections between anarchism and cybernetic theories of organisation. Cybernetics, originating in the work of Norbert Wiener but most interestingly developed by a series of British cyberneticians including Ross Ashby, Grey Walter, Gordon Pask and, perhaps most interestingly from an organisational perspective, Stafford Beer. John Duda has recently written on this history and his article, published in Anarchist Studies, is well worth a read.

Most of the key writings on anarchism and cybernetics, Duda’s article but also older sources such as Colin Ward’s ‘Anarchism as a Theory of Organisation’, Grey Walter’s ‘The Development and Significance of Cybernetics’ and Dolgoff’s ‘The Relevance of Anarchism to Modern Society’, are all available online. One of the most important and most interesting contributions, that of John D. McEwan, however, is not. McEwan write his ‘Anarchism and the Cybernetics of Self-Organising Systems’ as a response to Walter’s article and it was published in the same journal, Anarchy, edited by Ward, a few months later, in September 1963 to be precise, the 31st issue of Anarchy.

Colin Ward's A Decade of Anarchy

Colin Ward’s A Decade of Anarchy

I’ve been tearing my hair out the last few weeks because I had a photocopy of McEwan’s article that I’d requested from the British Library but I couldn’t for the life of me find it anywhere. I spent quite a while searching for it online to no avail, despite it being republished in the books A Decade of Anarchy (1961-1970), also edited by Ward, and Participatory Democracy. Prospects for Democratizing Democracy, edited by Dimitrios Roussopoulos and C. George Benello. I tried the Anarchist Academics email list too, but no one had an electronic copy of the article. Well, I managed to get a copy of the A Decade of Anarchy book this afternoon from the British Library and I’ve scanned the McEwan article so that it now has a place online (I’d like to transcribe it so that it’s searchable but that would take ages and I don’t have that kind of time at the moment).

So here it is, John D. McEwan’s 1963 article ‘Anarchism and the Cybernetics of Self-Organising Systems’ originally published in Anarchy number 31 (pages 270-83) but here scanned from A Decade of Anarchy (1961-1970), edited by Colin Ward and published by Freedom Press in London in 1987 (pages 42-58).

McEwan – Anarchism and Cybernetics – in Colin Ward ed. A Decade of Anarchy (1961-1970) London Freedom Press 1987

Advertisements
feigeleh

אם אין אני לי, מי לי? וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני? ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי - ancom jewitch, sad poet

A Thousand Flowers

A red sock in the white wash of cyberspace

Be realistic, demand the impossible!

Politics, International Relations, History, Philosophy, Anthropology, Sociology, Literature, Poetry, Music, Films, Everyday Life, Trivial Matters

Exiled Razaniyyat

Personal observations of myself, others, states and exile.

Philosophers for Change

Ideas for a new age

Under the Pecan Leaves

Walk in beauty outside and you walk in beauty inside

honeythatsok

stories we tell ourselves

Dr Paul Reilly

Senior Lecturer in Social Media & Digital Society, University of Sheffield

The Neighborhood

society online's social conscious

Fairy Godsister's Blog

Chronicles Of The Fairy GodSister

more like people

'If you give Frodo Baggins a mobile phone, then the story of The Lord of the Rings becomes much shorter' - Paul Mason

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR DEVELOPMENT

'If you give Frodo Baggins a mobile phone, then the story of The Lord of the Rings becomes much shorter' - Paul Mason

The Way We Live Now

my thoughts on marketing, advertising & media

'If you give Frodo Baggins a mobile phone, then the story of The Lord of the Rings becomes much shorter' - Paul Mason

Alice Mattoni

'If you give Frodo Baggins a mobile phone, then the story of The Lord of the Rings becomes much shorter' - Paul Mason

simoncollister

networked communications | culture | politics | economy