Much of recent debate and news articles on cyber security reflect the effort by governments to make cyber more malleable and manageable by the nation-state.

This strategy to tame unmanageable problems that may detract from the nation-state, its power and legitimacy is typical. Consider the taming of tribesman by Rome–conquest or co-option–and the drawing of lines on the maps of the Middle East and Africa by the British and French in the early twentieth century for the same purpose. Despite that, tribes and nomads remain resilient forms of human organisation.

The internet poses some very different challenges to the nation-state. Not only is it a competing form of organisation, but it enables other non-nation-state organisation to gain some of the attributes of nation-states. The internet may prove susceptible to nation-state dominance. But I doubt it. Moreover, its influence in generating competition, including through reinvigorated tribes, may prove a greater challenge to the efforts to strengthen weak or failed nation-states.

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