Power and Interdependence in the Information Age

Courtesy Reuters


Throughout the twentieth century, modernists have been proclaiming that technology would transform world politics. In 1910 Norman Angell declared that economic interdependence rendered wars irrational and looked forward to the day when they would become obsolete. Modernists in the 1970s saw telecommunications and jet travel as creating a global village, and believed that the territorial state, which has dominated world politics since the feudal age, was being eclipsed by nonterritorial actors such as multinational corporations, transnational social movements, and international organizations. Likewise, prophets such as Peter Drucker, Alvin and Heidi Toweirder, and Esther Dyson argue that today's information revolution is ending hierarchical bureaucracies and leading to a new electronic feudalism with overlapping communities and jurisdictions laying claim to multiple layers of citizens' identities and loyalties.

The modernists of past generations were partly right. Angell's understanding of the impact of war on interdependence was insightful: World War I

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