Chapter Eight: The Future Of The State

X. The Individual In A Globalized World

This chapter has outlined some of the weaknesses of the nation state model which will cause it to be replaced as the dominating principle in the social consciousness of an individual by an understanding that she exists as a player in infinitely more flexible global surroundings. The chapters in Book One showed how the transition to global scale, far from increasing the distance between the individual and the institutions of governance or rule-setting, will paradoxically have just the reverse effect. The Internet is seen as being a crucial instrument in bringing this about, through its ability to facilitate association – to encourage groups, in other words.

Sitting at her laptop while on holiday in the Cayman Islands, today's (or tomorrow's) economic actor can communicate with a group of the other members of an international share-buying club specializing in feminine health and beauty companies; can organize the participation of one of her children in a summer music camp in New England; can continue an extensive e-mail discussion with a group of intellectual property lawyers (our actor is one such, herself) aimed at influencing the next meeting of a sub-Committee of WIPO to change the wording of a proposed 'fair-use' exemption clause; can visit a user discussion forum to help a decision about whether to change her health insurance scheme; and, exhausted, can close down the miserable machine and thankfully join the rest of her family on the beach, her global credentials well and truly burnished for the day. Of course, she will still have her i-phone with her, just in case . . .

Nowhere does the nation state feature in this admittedly very partial list of one individual's social and professional involvements. Every one of them is centred around a group of people making their own arrangements within global organizational and cultural structures.

The next chapter will describe some of the changes likely to take place to such major cultural institutions as language and education as the nation state recedes in importance and the new, globalized world unfolds.