Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Google versus Mubarak II

Now an Egyptian Google executive has emerged as a leading opposition figurer. The landscape of non-state actors with power continues to grow.

Egypt announces reform committees, as tens of thousands return to Tahrir Square

Well not necessarily. My inner historian just gave me a nudge under the table as a reminder that large corporations have been strong non-state actors since at least the East India Company. Maybe longer if you count Medieval Italian and Northern European merchant collectives or Cantonese, Indian, and Arab trading cartels.

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Having given the matter some thought, Google's use of technical prowess makes it something different in the world of non-state actors. Corporations and mercantile collectives have traditionally relied upon money or at least the ability to hire mercenariness or underwrite national militaries to act on their behalf. Google's IT support for Egyptian pro-democracy activists has a different flavor as far as the means that it is employing.

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