THE NETWORK SOCIETYYounghusband
of Coming Anarchy
stopped by in the comments to recommend a Conversation With History
interview with social theorist Manuel Castells.
An excerpt:"What does it discover? That, in essence, it's losing control of some of its ability to manage its own economy, to ensure its own social welfare policies, and so on?
Absolutely. It doesn't mean that the states disappear, the nation state's not going to disappear. Let me just first say that. But the degrees of freedom of nation states have shrunk to an extraordinary degree in the last ten years. In some areas of the world, it has become explicit. Let's take the example of the European Union. Governments from the continent, the entire continent, decided to get together so that together they could have some level of bargaining power and some leverage to control global flows of wealth, information, and power. And they built a series of institutions which is not a federal state. It's still based on nation states, but also on supranational institutions which share sovereignty and also decentralize sovereignty to local region governments. These European states also subcontract sovereignty to international institutions, such as NATO, in terms of the armed forces.
So what we have, for instance, in the case of Europe, is a complex system of institutional relations, which I call the network state, because, in fact, it's a network of interactions of shared sovereignty. Under different forms, you have a similar situation in most of the world. In Latin America, some states are with others, but the main thing is that the key economic conditions are governed in connection with international institutions like the International Monetary Fund, through different trade treaties, MERCOSUR or the Andean Pact or the connection to the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA]. So in other words, states operate, still exist, but operate as actors of a much more complex and interactive network."