Network state is a state characterised by the sharing of authority along a network.
A network has nodes, not a centre. Nodes may be of different sizes, and may be linked by asymmetrical relationship in the network, so that the network states does not preclude the existence of political inequalities among its members.
The European Union is a fine example of a network state.
Challenges of Globalisation
Network state is the response of political systems to the challenges of globalisation. Some of the major challenges are the globalisation of
- core economic activities;
- media and electronic communication;
- social protest;
- trans-border terrorism.
Globalisation has brought the interdependence of financial markets and currency markets, then exchange rates, then monetary policies, then prime interest rates, then budgetary policies.
Economic policies thus are increasingly shaped by international pressure and there is obviously limited budgetary autonomy.
The globalisation/localisation of media and electronic communication is tantamount to the de-nationalisation and de-statisation of information, the two trends being inseparable.
The control over information which is essential for state-power is lost. We must see not only the surveillance by the state but also the use of information by citizens to expose the government.
There is a continuing global struggle between the structures of global crime and the structures of the nation-states as well.
In this entangled whirlwind of crime, capital and power, there is no safe place, nor safe national institution.
International relations are depending upon handling or mishandling of cooperation in the fight against criminal economy.
Globalisation has caused the disappearance of the monopoly of violence, and decentralisation of power. The states are facing a legitimation crisis.
There is the case of increasing privatisation of global humanitarianism too. We see many global civil societies such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Oxfam etc. working on various humanitarian causes.
However, we again see the United States of America after 9/11 as an example of the return of the state. In fact, the US poses a fundamental contradiction to the structure of network state.
Besides, we witness the return of the state under new organisational forms, new procedures of power-making and new principles of legitimacy.
There is now way to predict what will happen to the network state. Information process is evolving, so as the response of political systems will.
It is not to say that there are no problems of the network state.
One big issue in the network state is the bias in defining common good.
Another issue is the loss of sovereignty assumed.