Around the globe, burgeoning marketplaces of ideas and loyalties threaten traditional models of both nationalism and governance. Sometimes erroneously labeled a “war of ideas,” these marketplaces are empowered by today’s communication and transportation networks.
Today, the networks that facilitate inexpensive information and human flows are permitting a new kind of reach and engagement not possible before. Social media, peer-to-peer communications, websites, encryption technologies, satellite TV, and systems can provide a rich experience personalized to an individual or group. This can be done at little to no cost and without the participation or knowledge of societal and governmental “gatekeepers”—peer groups, institutions, and even family members. On both sides of the transaction, barriers to group membership are increasingly bypassed or negotiable in the interest of the group. A person no longer needs to be of a certain ethnicity, from a culture, or speak a language to be virtually transported anywhere to find a feeling of belonging and acceptance. Increasingly, these conditions remove, or at least mitigate, pressure to assimilate or conform to local societal, even legal, norms.
What has emerged is a marketplace where people may opt-in, or “test drive,” multiple identities at once without needing to commit to one. Connections can be made and maintained online, asynchronously, or in-person. Conversely, a person may opt-out of an identity. She may be curious or disenfranchised and new identities previously difficult, if not impossible, to reach are now available. He may want to reestablish a link to his ancestry or with family that did not migrate. Empathy or political disagreement offer two of many other possible motivations.
As the marketplace of ideas manifests as a marketplace of loyalty, the impact on domestic and foreign policies on all kinds of states is real. While expensive shortwave radio reached across borders and affected the loyalty of untold numbers of listeners, the transaction costs of today’s marketplace is nearly zero. Virtually anyone can be a “broadcaster” now and participate in conversations discretely. Barriers to action have also changed. Individuals and groups have an increasing vote in security affairs, from contemplating and executing events of disruption and destruction, to leaking secrets, to recruiting campaigns, to shaping political environments for governments. In other words, the stakes are greater now.
- What is the meaning of citizenship, loyalty to the state, accountability of a citizen to the state, and of a state for the actions of its citizens?
- Is the relevancy and impact of nationalism and citizenship understood in this new marketplace of ideas, identities, and loyalties?
- How does the state react to this marketplace? What do defensive and offensive measures look like to capture or retain “market share”?
- Does the marketplace work differently in liberal democracies than in illiberal regimes?
- What is the relationship between identity politics domestically and the marketplace of loyalties on a transnational scale?
The Journal of Strategic Security, a publication of Henley-Putnam University, has issued a call for papers on the topic of the marketplace for loyalty and national security. I am the guest editor of this special issue.
Download the whole Call for Papers (PDF) here for complete details. Feel free to share with your networks. I encourage contributions from authors who do not normally publish in English. Translation assistance is available.