7 April 2015

We are "superempowered individuals"

The Blog

Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) analyst Kevin Carson argues that the same technologies empowering the modern terrorist to stand up to the US as a superpower are glorious, because they also empower everyday activists and antistatists to transform the world order.

A horizontal and networked alternative society is being formed by personal computing, and the results are fundamentally challenging what it means to organize or govern. As a result, the modern state is in crisis:
So long as the economic and political system are organized around a few concentrated centers of power there’s no getting around their natural tendency to form alliances. But there’s one way to make the “regulatory state” beyond cooptation: make it coextensive with all of us, without any leadership or management claiming to act in our name. And that’s exactly what the horizontal, networked forms of organization enabled by the Internet are doing. 
Several years ago, Tom Coates observed that the combination of networked communications and free, open-source desktop- and browser-based platforms were enabling people to perform informational work (coding, publishing, recording, etc.) of a higher standard at home than they could do at the office with the meetings and interruptions and the unwieldy proprietary firmware they were forced to use. John Robb coined the phrase “superempowered individual” to describe the way that such communications and easily available platforms acted as force multipliers and enabled individuals or small cells to take on enormous, bureaucratic institutions (for example Al Qaeda taking on the United States) in asymmetric warfare). The same general phenomenon is illustrated by what file-sharing “pirates” have done to the music and movie industries, what Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden did to the U.S. security state, and the way the Arab Spring and Syntagma have brought down entire national governments.
Arguably, sinister organizations like al-Qaeda share the same recognition of the emerging stateless media as enlightened organizations such as WikiLeaks, Anonymous or the Mont Order. All recognize an emerging vacuum created by the declining legitimacy of the modern state's sovereignty and the emerging might of transnational consciousness.

The Mont Order, an emerging club of dissident writers who share a passion for technology-powered social change and alternative movements and communities, confirmed in its February 2014 discussion that it sees the examples of whistleblowers and online activists as components in the personal technological empowerment predicted in the transhumanist movement.

This trend towards the "superempowered individuals" whether they choose to manifest as a militant, a whistleblower, an antistatist, or a blogger, is creating significant disorder in the world as politicians struggle to apply their dated models of governance in a bid to maintain the old order of the nation-states. Governments have never been faced with anyone as defiant as the modern citizen, armed with an arsenal of laptops and cellphones, and they are struggling to maintain their image of legitimacy and authority as legions of people emerge to defy them and pursue their visions of alternative community.

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