Kuleba on the third superpower

28 04 2022

It’s the rare minister of foreign affairs who writes about reshaping the world order by referring to its “tripolarity,” with the third pole being the emerging community of digital “netizens.” That is what Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba has just done in a piece published in Foreign Policy, “The Fight for Ukraine Is Forging a New World“:

The world of tomorrow will be tripolar. Two obvious poles will be the United States and China. India will be gaining force as a strong democratic power. But the third, less obvious pole will be the newly emerging, decentralized community of global internet users, and it will be defined by rapid technological development and disruptive innovation.

Some of what Kuleba has to say sounds clunky to me (such as the sentence that follows the quoted one, which refers to the “third pole” “largely” centering on the “metaverse” — seriously?). With its digital utopianism and its references to Zygmunt Bauman’s “liquid modernity” and to “two political models: the communal future and the hierarchical past; the existing political order and the emerging one,” the piece reminds me a bit too much of the pronouncements of the early cyberlibertarians, and, more promisingly perhaps, of the New York Times and Jonathan Schell’s declarations, after the 2003 announcement by the Bush administration of its war on Iraq, that global civil society constitutes a “second superpower.”

Those comparisons aside, Kuleba is correct to point to the role that “netizens,” including the cyberhacker network Anonymous, have been “playing an active part in Ukraine’s defense against Russian invasion.”

The piece can be read here.


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