state power in cyberspace convention

Vladimir Z. Nuri vznuri at
Fri Aug 15 21:40:10 PDT 1997

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Date:         Fri, 15 Aug 1997 10:51:09 -0400
From: Kris Millegan  RoadsEnd <RoadsEnd at AOL.COM>
Subject:      Fwd:  ciadrugs] (fwd) The Great Whites Are Worried About the Net

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Forwarded message:
From:   Rickie.A.Slater at Dartmouth.EDU (Rickie A. Slate)
Reply-to:       ciadrugs at (The ciadrugs mailing lis)
To:     ciadrugs at
Date: 97-08-15 10:24:31 EDT

This is slightly off topic to drugs but relevant to the impact the network
media (like mailing lists) is having on politics. A 2nd message by Katz will

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From: HotWired
by Jon Katz
4 Aug 97

A letter arrived last week inviting me to a 2-day conference called "The
Information Revolution: Impact on the Foundations of National Power," to be
held 24-25 Sept. outside Chicago.

"On the threshold of the information age," reads the invitation from the
Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies, "many of the
traditional measures of national power appear under challenge."

This stood out immediately from the stack of junk mail piling up on my
kitchen table.

The CSIS is a powerhouse military/national-security think tank whose board
members are listed on its imposing letterhead and include Henry Kissinger,
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Sam Nunn, James R. Schlesinger, Brent Scowcroft, Harold
Brown, Carla A. Hills, and R. James Woolsey.

For those unfamiliar with these names, they include former national-security
advisors, secretaries of state, secretaries of defense, US senators, and
other cabinet secretaries. [And all current members of the Council on
Foreign Relations - except for Sam Nunn - according to *The Insiders:
Architects of the New World Order* (Poster)]

The ambitious focus of this conference, said the invitation, "will be to
examine the impact of the information revolution on economic,
knowledge-oriented, social, and cultural foundations of national power."

It seemed the foundation was offering to fly me and 45 others to Chicago,
and to provide hotel accommodations, meals, and transportation to the
foundation's private conference center.

Anyone who doubts that the digital age is sending shock waves through the
most powerful elements in American business, politics, and journalism ought
to read the panel topics, along with the guest list.

That I am on the list of "invitees" is both a shock and a mortification.

The overall context for the conference, the invitation explains, is the way
the information revolution is putting stress on the fundamentals of national
power. There's some "context," too, about the nature of social revolutions -
the eventual winners and losers.

For all our cyber-chatting, it's a shock to see these Great Whites preparing
to convene to talk so nakedly about national political power and the digital
culture, and even more of a shock to realize that many of our ravings -
about how rattled the power structure is by the liberation of so much
information - are actually truer than we even know.

This group will have five panels:

First, there's "Economic Might as an Element of National Power," to explore
how the task of generating robust economic resources for the citizenry and
government are being challenged by the forces of globalization and
internationalization. "How," asks the letter, "does the information
revolution affect a nation-state's ability to marshall and control its
economic resources in support of its leaders' and peoples' objectives?" And
"What are the working and theoretical models that promise the most success
in adjusting national economic power to the realities of the information

And you thought you were just downloading cool software or browsing neat new

The second panel topic, "Knowledge Acquisition as an Element of National
Power,"  addresses what $E3is the most effective mechanism for addressing the
task of strengthening national power through the cumulative acquisition of
knowledge by a nation-state$E2s citizens and institutions?$E4

Panel three is $E3Civic Dynamics as an Element of National Power.$E4

The description for this panel says the information revolution $E3has been
forecast to usher in a new age of mankind, fundamentally changing civic
structures and roles by impacting the nature of work, the bonding of groups
and individuals, and the role of the citizen.$E4

The description adds: $E3The societal transition results from the industrial
revolution was accompanied by a transition to a set of nation-state
mechanisms for domestic and international relations. Can we expect another
tectonic shift in civic structure and national mechanisms as a result of the
information revolution?$E4

Panel four addresses the subject of $E3Cultural Identify as an Element of
National Power.$E4

Culture has served to bind people across generations, says the brochure, but
the $E3information revolution delivers culture to any people at any place.
What is the future role of culture as a cohesive binding force between
peoples who are located and/or share a common interest? Can ethnocentric
culturalization withstand the homogenizing battering ram of the information
revolution? How do a people balance the enriching and eroding effects of the
information revolution on their own unique culture?$E4

The last panel is entitled $E3Rethinking National Power in an

The information revolution, says the CSIS, $E3appears, in at least some
to have fundamentally altered the state$E2s conception of, and ability to
exercise, national power. The rise of new, nonsovereign authorities and
global forces suggest that the traditional equation of national power will
continue to change; others, however, insist that classical conceptions of
power will remain valid, the information revolution causing only marginal

Each panel, says the invitation, will be accompanied by an academic paper to
help $E3focus$E4 discussion.

Wow, I thought, while reading over the topics.

These people are disturbingly smart, if clunky panel-topic writers. They$E2ve
fully grasped what hasn$E2t yet occurred to William Bennet or The New York
Times or Bill Clinton or Al Gore - that the rise of the digital age has
little to do with pornography, stolen term papers, or email-addicted
students. It has to do with raw power - who gets, defines, and controls it,
and for what purpose.

The CS
IS board cares much about this.

Its members comprise a blue-ribbon list of what used to be called the
military-industrial complex. That it would convene all these interested
parties, fly them to Chicago from all over the country and world, and stuff
them with canapes (and entertainment and museum tours) at great expense is a
striking affirmation of how seriously the Net and the Web are being taken in
the real corridors of power.

This letter read not so much like an invitation to talk abut the Net but an
X-Files script mailed to the wrong address. I expect Cigarette Man will be
sitting in the rear of the conference center, leering, puffing away, and
smiling wryly at the attendee$E2s naive notions of how power really works.

I won$E2t be there, though. In my next column, I$E2ll explain why and share
list of other $E3invitees.$E4

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This article appeared originally in HotWired
Copyright 1993-97 Wired Ventures, Inc. and Affiliated Companies. All rights

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