Vulnerable sovereignty : a cybernetic essay in political sciences
This thesis, entitled "Vulnerable sovereignty: a cybernetic essay in political science", attempts to investigate an area usually related to the sphere of military or national defence. Nevertheless sovereignty as conceived in this study enables the analysis to be set in a broader context using the cybernetic concept of information as a key explanatory element. It is clear that there are a variety of criteria and even ideological viewpoints used in the political sciences and there may be some readers who do not agree with some judgments employed in this work. The thesis is organized into five chapters: in the first, the concept of information is analysed, beginning with its etymological origin and its relationship to cybernetics, system theory, computation, and, finally, its importance as a new factor of power. The second chapter attempts to establish the relationship between international entities which control information and the occurrence of economic problems such as 'the energy crisis'. The introduction of the theme "Energy crisis: threshold for a war" is used to investigate this relationship, to explain the main sources of this crisis and to assess the role of transnational corporations as manipulators of information in this situation. Chapter III, "Underdevelopment: the real crisis", analyses, within the framework of the underdevelopment and dependency theory, the historical and economic aspects of Latin-American dependence. Here the relationship between the process of underdevelopment and technology is discussed in detail. This analysis is fundamental in order to understand not only the technological dependence of the Latin American states but to assess the implications of this condition for their sovereignty. In chapter IV the problem of the vulnerability of the sovereignty of technologically dependent countries is discussed. A general concept of sovereignty, in the context of the international political system, is introduced in this chapter in order to analyse the links between transnational corporations and the trilogy: sovereignty, information and technology. This analysis is conducted from two points of view: first, within the context of the international political system; this will be referred to as TNCs within the international political system. Second, within the specific context of technologically dependent states. The economic and political vulnerability of some underdeveloped countries, established as a function of the deterioration of their ty, is shown in this chapter to be closely linked to the leakage of political and economic information. This leakage of information is explained as a consequence of the participation of foreign technology which is outside the control of the local interests in dependent economies. Finally, in chapter V some cybernetic alternatives are presented, the theme of war briefly mentioned in chapter II, is reconsidered in order to explain two decision levels which are treated as alternative approaches to the problems discussed throughout the work. These two decision levels are described here under the headings of "The peacetime alternative" and "The wartime alternative". The decisions at the first level(The peacetime alternative) require the analysis of the following questions. 1. - Can a valid measure of the access of the information(data)implicit in the productive process of a country be formulated? In this section a method of measuring the information produced by the 64 industrial activities which, according to the United Nations International Classification Standard (ISICC) can be identified within the economy of any country, is suggested. The country studied is Venezuela: a full list of the 580 transnational corporations operating in its 64 industrial categories has been elaborated and is included in annex N°27. 2. - Which changes should be considered in a strategic plan of access and control of information? In this section it is argued that no strategy of development for those underdeveloped countries which have resources would be successful if a strategy of control of information is not planned and executed first. However, the execution of such a strategy requires changes, and these do not occur either continuously or spontaneously, rather they are discrete and induced and could be measured and controlled. 3. - How could a control of a goods and services information system help a nation to deal with destabilizing activities? In this section the possibility of developing a cybernetic mechanism capable-of producing suitable information with respect to the production system is reviewed. This mechanism would provide the user with vital information whenever the relative stability of the output of goods and services from a firm or industry was disturbed and threatened to become intentionally unstable. The decisions invoked at the second level, (The wartime alternative) require the analysis of two questions: 1. - Could the idea of war be considered in the formulation of a strategy of development? survive" This section, "The cybernetic preparedness to discusses the implications of technological dependence in the light of the strategic relations between he world super-powers. International war between the super-powers would surely collapse the economy of any technologically dependent country because it would effectively cut off access to vital technology. But by severing the links of technological dependence the underdeveloped country would be forced to initiate independent development in order to subsist. Hence this section examines- whether or not those underdeveloped countries which have resources can initiate such independent development during peace time instead of waiting for war as a historical alternative. 2. - Could the scheme of an 'economic closed system' stand as alternative for transformation and development in some Latin-American countries? This last section starts from the theoretical assumption that when a politically independent country (analysed as a system) does not possess sufficient resources it has to become an open system in order to survive; if it fails to obtain resources from the external world, it is then inevitably obliged to exchange sovereignty for the resources which it does not possess. However, if the assumption is changed, that is, the underdeveloped country possesses resources then it is possible to develop closed transformations. By guaranteeing an increment in sovereignty to levels compatible with the development options, this could allow the selected model, whatever might be its ideological basis, to be actually converted into a realisable alternative.