At present, discussion of ICTs and the 'information society' is overwhelmingly positive. To be sure, there is some anxiety about the economic circumstances that surround developments, but this is far outweighed by unbounded enthusiasm for improved communications, for leaps in productivity, and the prospect of much better education services. Few commentators even bother to address the dreary topic of electronic warfare, though the military roots of ICTs are undeniable, simply because they appear so archaic and irrelevant to the world as it is today.
Of course, this ought not to be surprising. Outright victory of the West in the long Cold War has immeasurably boosted the confidence of capitalism which, though it remains troubled by seemingly intractable problems, at last enjoys the solace and security that there is no alternative posed as a systemic threat. Capitalist practices and principles have now extended across the globe, exercising a reach against which any previous way of life-slavery, feudalism, colonialism-appears decidedly small-scale and even provincial. In the aftermath of 1989 and the unchallenged permeation of market relations into hitherto excluded territories there is now much less need to defend against the 'communist menace'. The United States stands alone and triumphant as the only superpower. In addition, we have been able to enjoy a 'peace dividend' whereby military calls upon the exchequer have been reduced to 4 per cent or less of Gross National Product. To top it all, a stunning victory in the 1991 Persian Gulf War by the American armed forces (notably assisted by the British, all in the name of the United Nations), has encouraged some to conceive of a 'New World Order' where the major powers are stable, sympathetic to the market system, and capable of keeping dissident nations in order without being seriously threatened themselves.
Such is the confidence in the supremacy of the victors that, if pressed, the military roots of ICTs may now be conceded without embarrassment. In the new era of peace and progress, we may even celebrate earlier military imperatives since these, if once powerful, have long ago been left behind, and what remain seem to be beneficial and beneficent technologies. A