To the legacy society of the nation-state and the hierarchical transnational corporation:
….It’s time to up the ante and move onto the next phase: the birth and rapid growth of new societal networks.* This is going to be a fun ride!
* As in, new societal networks that can outcompete (trounce evolutionarily) all existing status quo organizational forms (this should not be confused with the diminutive form of ‘social networking,’ as in Facebook and Twitter).
Long term, I think this is correct and that Robb is, as usual, ahead of the curve on what will become the zeitgeist in the next few decades ( I will add that this evolutionary path appears to be happening much faster than I had considered, by at least 15-20 years). The movement in the 21st century will be toward networked civilizations on one end of the spectrum that will be pretty nice places to be and on the other, a kind of emergent, hypermobile, barbarism where life is hell on Earth.
The proper response for existing institutions is to swing their resources, their mass and their remaining legitimacy behind the triumph of the former and gracefully adapt and acclimate rather than be disintegrated by the latter. I considered this in the essay ” A Grand Strategy for a Networked Civilization” that I wrote for Threats in the Age of Obama (p.208):
….Nation-states in the 21st century will face a complex international ecosystem of players rather than just the society of states envisioned by traditional Realpolitik. If the predictions offered by serious thinkers such as Ray Kurzweill, Fred Ikle or John Robb prove true, then technological breakthroughs will ensure the emergence of “Superempowered Individuals” on a sizable scale in the near future. At that moment, the reliance of the State on its’ punitive powers as a weapon of first resort comes to an end. Superemepowered individuals, separatist groups, insurgents and an “opting-out” citizenry will nibble recalcitrant and unpopular states to death, hollowing them out and transferring their allegiance elsewhere.
While successful states will retain punitive powers, their primary focus will become attracting followers and clients in whom they can generate intense or at least dependable, loyalty and leverage as a networked system to pursue national interests. This represents a shift from worldview of enforcement to one of empowerment, coordination and collaboration. States will be forced to narrow their scope of activity from trying to supervise everything to flexibly providing or facilitating core services, platforms, rule-sets and opportunities – critical public goods – that the private sector or social groups cannot easily replicate or replace. Outside of a vital core of activity, the state becomes an arbiter among the lesser, interdependent, quasi-autonomous, powers to which it is connected.”
In other words, America and our “leaders” need a Boydian strategy and a ruthless commitment to honest clarity and sacrifice in order to weather the transition and retain some relevance. This is what makes the current cultural trend toward a political economy of oligarchy among the elite so worrisome. Their careerist self-interest and class values will push them to make all the wrong choices at critical junctures.