Net States Rule the World; We Need to Recognize Their Power

By Alexis Wichowski – A non-nation-state, Facebook, just topped 2 billion users—more than a quarter of the world’s population, surpassing even China’s population by almost 40 percent. In short, nation-states are not the only game in town anymore.

It is time to name this new landscape. The world is no longer dominated by nation-states alone. We have moved into a non-state, net-state era.

Why “net-states”? Because the world is no longer neatly divided into states (countries like the US, France, and India) and non-states (terrorist organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda). Ever since Barbara Ehrenreich’s 2011 article “Coming to a Theater Near You: War Without Humans” described the “emergence of a new kind of enemy, so-called non-state actors,” the term transformed into a fancy way of saying “bad guy.” Now we need new language to describe the non-state, non-bad-guys. I propose “net-states.”

Net-states are digital non-state actors, without the violence. Like nation-states, they’re a wildly diverse bunch. Some are the equivalent to global superpowers: the Googles, the Facebooks, the Twitters. Others are mere gatherings of pranksters, like Lulzsec (whose sole purpose for action is “for the lulz”—the laughs). Others still are paramilitary operations, such as GhostSec, an invite-only cyberarmy specifically created to target ISIS. There are also hacktivist collectives like Anonymous and Wikileaks. more>

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