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01.09.2001
Alexander Davydov. ABOUT SOME SOCIAL-POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES OF SOCIETY NETWORK STRUCTURE FORMATION

Today, the global community as a whole and Russia in particular experience «silent», but rather drastic changes of social order.
A completely steady, if not uniform because of peculiarities of different peoples’ ways of life, establishment of direct and equitable communications of all with all forms the essence of these changes.
Internet technologies, which have made creation of such communications accessible and free from any time and space limitations, become the material basis of a new «network» social structure.
For many people Internet is a solution of the problem of removing limitations from their capability to act, originating due to the tendency of a human nature to expand its independence from private circumstances of outward things.
At that, the proportion of such people in the population of the leading countries of the world community, their influence in society have already become sufficient to make future social-political changes irreversible.
The availability of direct equitable communications of all with all, which is the network community determining quality, provides all participating persons with such capacity increase that is impossible to refuse.
The reason is that the interaction network organization based on the abovementioned communications, which for short can be named the network society, or the Network, generates the following circumstances.
First, it reduces the necessity of administrative constructions based on the difference of ranks, without which intermediary there was no possibility to organize a team working of plenty of people until now.
Such constructions were necessary in conditions of poor quality of communications, but now it is more favorable to transmit a control action not through the chain of officials, but by means of Internet technologies.
The reason of this are «generic» features of bureaucratic management systems, such as high management expenses, guidance mainly by the purposes of their own preservation and strengthening, each official’s dependence upon the higher ranked person, which is suppressing any initiative.
Second, the social status of persons participating in any business ceases to be the dominating circumstance determining their behavior.
Whatever a position held by a person in society is, it imposes some formal limitations on his or her actions, which, without having any relation to the subject of the business, are still able to distort its course in the most ugly way.
Besides, the currently prevailing point of view that the significance of the person corresponds to its social status is rather a rough assumption, since the rating by itself does not guarantee the contents.
In the Network, a social status might be not considered at all, one can act without taking into account anything but business qualities of the involved persons.
At that, it is much easier to find people with the necessary qualities in conditions of Network, then by means of any of the before used interaction forms.
The matter is that, opposite to the traditional social ways of life, the Network allows to establish a great amount of contacts at once and almost without expenditures, which drastically facilitates the sought partners detection.
Third, it is abundantly clear that the network organization of interaction sharply increases the rate of solution of practically any question. At that, the costs of obtaining the required results do not grow, but diminish significantly.
Thus, the Network gives its participants the decisive advantages over those ones who make business based on the intermediary relations system.
The network society is still prevented from a full-fledged formation by an insufficient development of technical means, such as individual facilities, which could provide data transfer in any form of presentation, whether it is sound, video, or printed information, based on wireless access.
However, the prototypes of such systems already exist and according to the available estimations, their mass production will begin in the next few years.
All the foregoing statements give serious grounds to believe that the most critical socio-political changes will take place in the nearest future.
The most important of those expectations is that the global community will drastically revise the notion of «state sovereignty».
Nowadays, the state sovereignty is essentially the sovereignty of a bureaucratic management system, which has taken over the right to realize the supreme power on a certain territory by this or that way.
The Network acts as the more efficient interaction organizer than the state, and hence the better guarantor of the already existing personal freedoms; moreover, it gives new freedoms to a person. These are such freedoms, at which full-scale development the state will partially lose its current essence.
Freedom from the state bureaucracy or saying in other words freedom from citizenship is one of the most obvious ones.
The Network is a community of sovereign personalities, but not of citizens.
Any activity in the Network can acquire the before unknown form of realization. Thus, the human activity reaches beyond the limits of state control, because it is impossible to control the unknown.
These circumstances determine the driving directive of state transformation into the form corresponding to the requirements of the network community.
First, the expectations are that the notions of «country» and «state» will become separated in the social conscience.
Country is a notion, which gives a person an understanding of where he or she is from; it is essentially one of the components of one’s personality. Realization of belonging to this or that country is the person’s principal generating factor.
Whereas the state is the instrument used by society for force coercion, i.e. it is the phenomenon of another nature, different from that of the country.
Besides, the area of efficient implementation of the state is rather limited in the Network, and owing to this fact, it seizes to be both the sufficient condition for the country existence, and the notion coinciding with it «by outlines».
That is why the state as a structure will be losing connection with any definite territory and acquiring increasingly international features.
Besides, the network society formation means the expansion of a person’s sovereignty due to the weakening state sovereignty. This will result in reducing the functions accomplished by the state.
There is no place for the state where the necessary coercion can be realized either through the influence of ideas, or based on profit considerations.
The Network makes this sphere, which is free from the state, very wide.
In this connection, the expectations are that the state authority supremacy will remain only within the sphere of compulsory provision of human rights, which will be ever expanding and undergoing changes.
Primarily, these changes will take place in the part of removing the freedom of personality limitations, which were imposed by the state, in expansion and detailed elaboration of person’s economic freedoms, substitution of the right to citizenship with the «right to a country», and fixing the right to live in a safe environment.
It means that whereas today, the state’s primary de-facto objective is its own sovereignty protection, the person’s sovereignty protection is the most important thing in the Network.
However, what gives the most concrete guidance towards action to the political circles is the fact that the Network demands more impartial behavior from the state.
The state, which under the influence of the Network pressure becomes increasingly open for the community, will inevitably lose its principal political features.
The reason for this is founded on the fundamental principles of policy, which are in striving for the interests of those, for the sake of whom it is accomplished, implementing all possible things, but hiding one’s own motives and intentions.
The structure based on such principles is a permanent source of arbitrariness for a sovereign person, so it cannot be convenient for the Network.
At the same time, the value of the second after the policy and integral part of the state – judicial component rises sharply, since the network community needs the contiguous by properties regulating mechanism.
The judicial system is just the needed regulator, since it is targeted at the triumph of justice, engaged in establishment of the truth and, being by definition a concrete realization of the law itself, is transparent by its nature.
The comparison of similar qualities of the political and judicial systems allows to state that, within the Network, the state will gradually become a structure, where not political, like now, but judicial origin will prevail.
The general conclusion out of the abovementioned is that the state will impetuously become increasingly international and predominantly judicial structure, which will be engaged mostly in human rights protection.
As this tendency is realized, the notion of «state sovereignty» will lose its application sense, because the state will not possess such attributes as territory or internal affairs, which presently allow applying the term of «sovereignty» to it.
We can expect that no objective obstructions to network interrelations in the world will remain by 2005.
Consequentially about 2015-2020, the Network will transform the state into «non-sovereign» form in many respects.
The above stated means that in the sphere of the state structure it is necessary to enforce the responsibility of the state, but not to expand its rights, develop the judicial system, simplifying the political one, and while protecting the interests of the country, not to isolate, but to transfer them into the interests of the global community.
It makes sense to do only those things that promote the objective directive of development. All other actions will be nonviable.
Another consequence of states’ «de-sovereignization» is their seizing to be the obligatory intermediaries in relations between the human communities, which cultural and historical backgrounds differ.
As a result, the course of development of the conflicts caused by collision of these communities’ interests will change. The conflicts of this kind will gradually lose their inter-state nature and will be actually referred into a household sphere, the sphere of inter-personal relations.
This process can be observed today by the example of certain transnational corporations where one part of management supercedes the other one, which belongs to another civilization.
In this connection, the non-state instruments of ideological influence upon the power elite, which forms the unanimity of opinion and action here, are expected to play the increasingly leading role. These are such instruments like Trilateral Commission or Bilderberg Club.
The politics, as a kind of activities, will also undergo changes under the Network’s influence.
The matter is that the network society is a permanently changing total of every moment re-arrangement of a great amount of relations.
This system’s behavior is determined not by the events, which took part in the past, not by its future potential, or purpose setting, but by the agents acting exclusively in present time. That means that the Network responses only to the action with essential novelty.
This feature of the network society generates a number of consequences fundamentally important for politics, which have especially practical character.
First, no task can be solved two times in the same way in conditions of network organization of interaction.
Second, every operating political idea is knowledge about the present, and owing to this fact, it requires immediate implementation. Since having rearranged relations inside it, the Network is able to transform a thing, which is true now, into forceless abstract considerations.
Third, all precisely formed structures posses a random, casually occurring capacity.
In connection to the above mentioned it is possible to expect that the political experience, which essence is based on the extracts from the past, will mostly lose it practical value because the Network’s states are not repeated.
It means that only the politician whose ability to see peculiar features of the current moment does not depend on his political experience can be called «network politician».
Hence, the politician competence will be mainly determined by his ability to learn, to make decisions instantaneously, as well as his intuition.
Besides, most probably, the political work will not be built on the basis of programmed intentions, but on the practice of crisis management.
The matter is that the characteristic feature of modern politics is its basing on the statement of what and how it is expected to do in the foreseeable future.
Still in conditions of the Network, the answers to these questions are extremely short-termed, so the only reference point for a «network politician», which has some tangible duration, is the answer to «why?» question.
This is the reason of necessity of political activity permanent correction; it is required for keeping it adequate to the reality.
At last, another feature setting the image of the network politics is seen as political parties’ and movements’ substitution with situational configurations of independent politicians.
The Network forces one to be now «right» and then «left», and it gives a political leadership only against a certain objective, because anyone can be the center in the Network.
The above stated means that in order to be efficient in the Network it is necessary to be more flexible and responsive than the Network itself.
Respectively, the strength of political power will be determined not by its capability to force to obeisance, but by how efficiently it can provide performing its decisions’ by proving their rightness.
However, the network way of business management based on Internet-technologies will first change the economy. At that, its influence is reinforced by critical improvement of the very methods of fundamental kinds of products.
The Internet-technologies themselves allow economic relations and the process of creating the intangible welfare to acquire an electronic form of existence, which peculiar features are network structure, low prime cost and the fact that the events occur there immediately.
These circumstances offer new economic outlooks.
Thus, a «business making with a thought velocity» becomes possible, as well as a production maximum dispersed among external co-executives, which is much cheaper and flexible than the one we have now.
Internet technologies give almost complete freedom to transfer intangible assets according to one’s own preference and even to issue one’s own money.
The force of influence equalizes a person with an organizational structure.
As a result, the differences between a physical and a legal person are eliminated; the entrepreneurship is narrowed to the format of a single person. At that, the means of work organization become so powerful that production of today unthinkable scales can be created on their basis.
Besides, providing opportunity to set direct equitable manufacturer–consumer connections, Internet technologies allow them to make business without intermediate dealers.
The Network form of economic behavior does not allow an intermediary to impose his terms on other principal participants of the market relations.
An intermediary in the Network is not the one, without whom it becomes impossible to sell or buy anything, but the one, to whom a manufacturer or a consumer, for some reasons, have passed the solution of auxiliary problems on servicing their interaction.
Besides, Internet technologies’ wide-scale implementation actually diminishes to zero the circulation costs of everything that can exist in electronic form including all sorts of methods, ways, and techniques.
In such a situation, the manufacturers accomplishing the same activities with different expenditures can exist only through misunderstanding.
It means that the character of competition changes in the Network, the competition of creative capabilities prevails, but not that of finished products and services.
It is necessary to note that Internet technologies are the reality of today; their improvement is accomplished on the path of permanent increasing the personal «digital» means of activities.
The same directivity towards provision of increasing person’s sovereignty prevails in the development of technological ways of other spheres of economy.
Thus, the installations operating on renewable raw materials and, what is principal, capable to produce energy immediately in the site of its consumption and exactly the required amount have appeared and are actively implemented in power engineering.
Mass production of so-called fuel elements, the most promising type of such facilities, is expected already in 2003.
New energetic installations are safe, do not exhaust the planet’s resources, and do not involve expenditures caused by the technological necessity of energy transportation, and to produce it in excessive amounts.
In the nearest future, this will result in their mass application, in the process of which energy production will become increasingly distributed and oriented towards the separate consumer acquiring network character.
Genetic engineering successes, which make it the base of all types of production connected with creation of new biological products of biologic origin, also promote rooting the network approaches to building the economy.
The matter is that the genetic engineering does not require creation of static organization structures for itself; the intelligent component transferable into electronic form prevails in it, the results obtained by it largely liberate the kinds of activities related to it from their natural conditionality.
At that, the genetic engineering not only improves, but also creates new vital things, from food staffs and medications to fuel produced from biomass, which reinforces the all-sufficiency of the mankind.
The even more serious, though rather postponed in time, economic consequences the micro-mechanic devices and «nanomachines» industrial application expected by 2015 will have, which would allow easily to manipulate the substance at a single molecules or even atoms level.
Those mechanisms would allow to create any kinds of objects including own duplicates, at that they will do it rather cheap, pure and involving an insignificant human participation, if any, which will reduce the production means cost almost to zero.
Nanotechnologies transform production process of material object in the same manner, as Internet technologies transform the intangible welfare creation.
In connection with the fact that nanotechnologies provide practically every molecule control, the production facilities become so small-sized and safe that they can be deployed anywhere their production is required, but not there where certain limitations dictate it.
Owing to the fact that molecular machines are able to assemble their own duplicates, the basic capital, instead of growing few percents a year, theoretically would be able to double every hour, if the energy and raw materials are supplied.
As a result, in the process of material production, the main expenditures will be due to products designing, but not to manufacturing.
The achievement of a regulated substance level allows to create materials with any preset properties, it makes medicine an actual means of not curing but prevention of diseases, and gives generally to a person a real opportunity «to carry everything with oneself» and to be where one wants to be.
It means that nanotechnologies, in the part of material production, fix the network business management way supremacy in the economy.
The picture is completed by the fact that new methods of basic kinds of products creation results in the necessity to transfer not objects but ideas, which would make transportation almost the same as Internet networks.
The above stated means that about 2015-2020, the current economy built on the basis of mediate relations will be substituted by the network economy, which will meet human strivings more closely.
This superiority is stipulated by the fundamental properties of the network economy.
Thus, the repeated actions, duplicating and automation are devaluated in it, but the originality, imagination and creative ability are increasing in value.
Besides, the products manufactured by the network economy become actually the same cheap and pure as the nature’s creations are.
At last, in conditions of Network, the dependence of a person on the definite goods and services producers is removed, since for any of them, if it is needed, the network economy can always provide an equivalent substitution.
In this connection, for the medium term, in economic activities it seems right to consider the following.
It is necessary immediately and at any price to sharply increase the entrepreneurs’ activities in the matter of development and application of the above indicated basic technologies, remaining the fundamental spheres of economy in the state of conservation.
The economic process regulation, in its basis, should be accomplished not as a consequent solution of originating problems, but as new opportunities creation, which, while directing the course of the matter in the required direction, would simultaneously deprive the problems of any significance.
It is also necessary to avoid projects, which are based on the current technologic methods, which payback periods exceed fifteen years.
Thus, the essence of the socio-political changes occurring in the current decade is objectively in the network society formation.
At that, the number of traditional public mechanisms’ failures will increase, such as the present authority bodies, political parties, and other structures of civil society.
The natural reaction, in a sense, will be recurrence of application of administrative methods based on mediate and coercion relationships. However, the old does not have any opportunity to oppose the advantages of the Network.
Meanwhile, the new network reality generates a number of problems.
Thus, the progressing inability of impersonal structures of state or social institution type to be the means of public conflicts solution results in that the latter acquire the most outrageous and archaic features.
Instead of this, the network tools are urgently needed, which would ensure the society safety not due to its elements’ closeness, but due to their openness.
Besides, there is a necessity to remove a gap between the actual, expanded due to the Network, volume of the human rights and the one declared by the laws.
For example, it is necessary to remove different approach to a physical and legal person from the legislation, having united the advantages of their status in a single notion.
People division to «network» and «non-network» ones is threatening, which is generated not by their incomes differences, but by personal skill to live full-fledged life in conditions of the Network.
Overcoming the network inequality, which is fraught with the society degradation, requires increasing the education level and development of its forms, including compulsory education.
The course of events generally does not give a chance to bypass the Network, because «when a new technology overflows you, if you do not become a part of the stream, you will find yourself a part of the road».

Author expresses sincere gratitude to Stewart Brand, Esther Dyson, K. Eric Drexler, Kevin Kelly, Peter Leyden, Marvin Minsky, Peter Schwartz, whose ideas inspired him at writing this work.

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