Magazine article The Futurist

V-Nations' Capacity for Evil. (Commentaries and Response)

Magazine article The Futurist

V-Nations' Capacity for Evil. (Commentaries and Response)

Article excerpt

It is certainly true that the Internet makes it possible for individuals throughout the world to keep in touch with each other and act in concert. But authors Dillard and Hennard are more than a little optimistic about the results.

The model of the Internet that the authors assume is that of the first blush of enthusiasm for an unfettered, egalitarian medium. That promise, if such it really was, is increasingly under siege. In the United States, media companies such as Disney and the News Corporation are pushing for systems-now being developed- that will enable them to control what software PC users can use and how they can use it. At a more fundamental level, sophisticated programs increasingly allow governments to censor the content of the Internet. These will of course never be perfect, and the struggle for autonomy on the part of users will continue, but it is much too early to count out the nation-state.

The authors tell us that the creation of a virtual nation demands both a "compelling leader" and a "significant cause." They fail to emphasize the priority of the cause. The al Qaeda v-nation could not have come into existence had not bin Laden been able to play on a host of preexisting grievances. It is true that "demographic groups linked by a virtual bond" will play an increasing role. But what will these groups be like?

In the contemporary world, many people have fluid and conflicting senses of identity. Many Muslims born and raised in Britain and else-where identify not with their nations of birth, but with the Islamic world. …

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