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January 02, 2006



Here is a white paper on how new networks/connections affect concentrated power...



And the U.S. is now trying to build a big wall on the border with Mexico to prevent the free movement of people...

mark safranski

"But it is remarkable how little of human excellence and achievement has ever taken place in capital cities and around those elite..."

Yeah ! Just like the Renaissance ! No elite patrons there ! ;o)

A very interesting post. I'm generally in agreeement with that observation that new ideas and cultural evolution emerges on the periphery because both cultural orthodoxy and authority are weaker and these regions are often societal verges. Some caveats though.

1. Peripheries are still part of or at least influenced by great civilizations that can spread the new idea with great rapidity.

2. Peripheries do not have to be geographic - they can be intellectual, social, cultural etc. Einstein lived at the heart of world physics yet his initial isolation from the scientific establishment network permitted him to pursue his groundbreaking ideas. Washington, DC is the capital of the world's most powerful state but many of its poorer residents are only peripherally connected, at best, to mainstream American society.

3. What constitutes " a periphery" or a " borderland" depends a lot on where you are standing.


Nice point Marks.... ;)

If the "core" does change (and it does) - then this change is not defined as emergent or tangent, but just "as the way" based on circumstance.

If borderlands exist, how do you tell an emergent from a tangent growth patterns?

It appears that the most likely way to tell is by the reasons "they" left the core... not what they are doing outside of the core.


> So what advantage is there today to
> the nation state?

Without a stable market and legal system the faith one has in the future would not justify risk taking. I don't see the non-nation state configuration you talk about as being a fertile bed in which most people will wish to plant.

John Robb

States will be still around, just weaker. Human beings seldom throw out anything (entirely). We still have monarchies, theocracies, stone-age tyrants, tribal anarchy, fascists, communists, etc.

John Robb

James sent me a note. His focus is on 6th century CE (the decline of the Roman Empire period). He's seen the shift from centralization to fragmentation before.

mark safranski

"His focus is on 6th century CE (the decline of the Roman Empire period). He's seen the shift from centralization to fragmentation before."

See Emperor Diocletian's policies.

Dan tdaxp

What advantages do states have?

Massive resource access. The ability to warp economic incentives to their ends.

Barnett misses this, though it actually could help his strategy.


phil jones

I wonder if the central hubs are doing some kind of routing / consolidation / synthesizing work that's not being given due credit.

Sure, new things happen at the periphery, but how do things get from one periphery to another?

Maybe with the internet, it's P2P or Edge2Edge. But that may be a recipe for such fragmentation and lack of common understanding, that communication between different points at the edge becomes impossible.

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