This is my response to James Moore’s article, “The Second Superpower” in Extreme Democracy.
The Second Superpower–being the World-Wide-Web of people who happen to have Internet access–is perhaps on the rise. It is, of course, bottom-up as the author suggests, but he doesn’t mention that in order to have legislative agency, it must have a mechanism of engagement with the government.
A grassroots movement that leads to the establishment of direct democracy and referenda, like the German system, is what I’m suggesting here.
The change agents need to systematize a mechanism for engagement and change–in order to be consistently effective.
So far, ad hoc contingents of this pro-active demographic have had impact in banning whaling, establishing environmental accords, and a few others.
The reversal in the pipeline decision out west, however, is an example of where federal rights take precedence, and can discordantly overrule “accords.”
So, in conjunction with bottom-up agency, there needs to be institutionalized top-down levers and gears for them to push and turn. Otherwise, there’s enough inertia in the flywheels of the status-quo to make change difficult.
I’ve observed a related phenomenon, that of social and cultural homogenization. This is as a consequence of shared media. For example, in an Internet cafe in downtown Reykjavik, I complimented a teenager kid on his English. He said that they all grow up watching American TV. That was in 2004. In the summer of 2007, I was in China for 30 days on a UNESCO assignment. A hoard of about 20 kids surrounded me, peppering me with questions in perfect British English. They explained that English was a required language. They also told me with hand-waving dismissals that they had ways of getting around Chinese government Internet blockages.
Regarding the emerging “super Power”–I still have hope–having first heard heard about the transition to world government on Star Trek in 1965 as a 3rd grader, seated indian-style in front of our brand new 27″ GE color TV.
It’s still science fiction, but maybe it’ll happen.