Cloud Communities: The Dawn of Global Citizenship?

Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper by Liav Orgad and Rainer Baubock: “New digital technologies are rapidly changing the global economy and have connected billions of people in deterritoralised social network. Will they also create new opportunities for global citizenship and alternatives to state-based political communities?

In his kick-off essay, Liav Orgad takes an optimistic view. Blockchain technology permits to give every human being a unique legal persona and allows individuals to associate in ‘cloud communities’ that may take on several functions of territorial states. 14 commentators discuss this vision.

Sceptics assume that states or business corporations have always found ways to capture and use new technologies for their purposes. They emphasise that the political functions of states, including their task to protect human rights, require territorial monopolies of legitimate coercion that cannot be provided by cloud communities.

Others point out that individuals would sort themselves out into cloud communities that are internally homogenous which risks to deepen political cleavages within territorial societies.

Finally, some authors are concerned that digital political communities will enhance global social inequalities through excluding from access those who are already worse off in the birthright lottery of territorial citizenship.

Optimists see instead the great potential of blockchain technology to overcome exclusion and marginalisation based on statelessness or sheer lack of civil registries; they regard it as a tool for enhancing individual freedom, since people are self-sovereign in controlling their personal data; and they emphasise the possibilities for emancipatory movements to mobilise for global justice across territorial borders or to create their own internally democratic political utopias.

In the boldest vision, the deficits of cloud communities as voluntary political associations with limited scope of power could be overcome in a global cryptodemocracy that lets all individuals participate on a one-person-one-vote basis in global political decisions….(More)”.