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International Cyber Society - Governing the Internet
Nils G. Indahl ( ) 1
(2009)

The thesis analyses the Internet, a political space that transcends state borders. The Internet is not chaos, but has emerged as an efficient system of governance with clear standards, norms and values. At the same time, it is a system without a centralised state authority. The three classical paradigms of realism, rationalism and revolutionism are applied in analysing the Internet as an evolving case. The following two research questions are explored: 1. Which of the three classical approaches best explains the development of the Internet? 2. Is the emergence of the Internet enhancing the power of the individual at the expense of the state? Using the three classical paradigms, pluralist theories of democracy, and Austrian coordination theory, the agenda is to find out whether the Internet has shifted the balance of power between the individual and the state. Has the Internet as a political space, in other words, given the individual opportunities to bypass state power? Has it enhanced the ability of the citizen to coordinate and act? Finally, the thesis addresses the possible reactions of the state to this apparent challenge to state sovereignty in the image of the individual, the state, and the international society of states. The Internet emerged as a spontaneous order between 1973 and 2003 as the result of contributions by various members of the international scientific community. The first phase in the evolution of the Internet is aimed at the world society, mankind, in what is mainly a revolutionist normative approach. A rationalist approach can be detected in the attempt by the Internet pioneers to transfer control of the Root file to the International Telecommunications Union - a part of the UN system - in 1997. As the economic and political importance of the Internet increases, a decidedly realist approach becomes evident. Should a national or world government destroy the efficient and free working of the Internet, the netizen may make use of his inaliable right to establish new information spaces outside state control. The technical standards – as well as norms and values – that have emerged as the Internet over the last 35 years, makes it possible for mankind to establish as a digital commonwealth what Kant called the ius cosmopoliticum.
1:  University of Copenhagen
University of Copenhagen
Humanities and Social Sciences/History, philosophy and sociology
International Cyber Society – internet governance – English school of international relations – realism – rationalism – revolutionism – social contract – three paradigms
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