The Emergence of noopolitik

The emergence of noöpolitik ( ver: 1)

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By noöpolitik we mean an approach to statecraft, to be undertaken as much by non–state as by state actors, that emphasizes the role of informational soft power in expressing ideas, values, norms, and ethics through all manner of media. This makes it distinct from realpolitik, which stresses the hard, material dimensions of power and treats states as the determinants of world order. Noöpolitik makes sense because knowledge is fast becoming an ever stronger source of power and strategy, in ways that classic realpolitik and internationalism cannot absorb.

In the coming years, diplomats and strategists will be drawn to both realpolitik and noöpolitik. As noöpolitik takes shape and gains adherents, it will serve sometimes as a supplement and complement to realpolitik, and sometimes as a contrasting, rival paradigm for policy and strategy. As time passes and the global noosphere swells, noöpolitik may provide a more relevant paradigm than realpolitik. Noöpolitik has much in common with liberal internationalism, but we anticipate that the latter is a transitional paradigm that can and will be folded into noöpolitik.

Growing strength of global civil society. No doubt, states will remain paramount actors in the international system. The information revolution will lead to changes in the nature of the state, but not to its “withering away.” What will happen is a transformation. At the same time, non–state actors will continue to grow in strength and influence. This has been the trend for several decades with business corporations and international regulatory regimes. The next trend to expect is a gradual worldwide strengthening of transnational NGOs that represent civil society. As this occurs, there will be a rebalancing of relations among state, market, and civil–society actors around the world — in ways that favor noöpolitik over realpolitik .

Noöpolitik upholds the importance of non–state actors, especially from civil society, and requires that they play strong roles. Why? NGOs (not to mention individuals) often serve as sources of ethical impulses (which is rarely the case with market actors), as agents for disseminating ideas rapidly, and as nodes in networked apparatuses of “sensory organizations” that can assist with conflict anticipation, prevention, and resolution. Indeed, because of the information revolution, advanced societies are on the threshold of developing a vast sensory apparatus for watching what is happening around the world. This apparatus is not new, because it consists partly of established government intelligence agencies, corporate market–research departments, news media, and opinion–polling firms. What is new is the looming scope and scale of this sensory apparatus, as it increasingly includes networks of NGOs and individual activists who monitor and report on what they see in all sorts of issue areas, using open forums, specialized Internet mailing lists, Web postings, and fax machine ladders as tools for rapid dissemination. For example, using these tools to provide early warning about crisis is a burgeoning area of attention and development among disaster–relief and humanitarian organizations.

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