For most people over most of man’s time, however, history is more like a mob movie than a courtroom drama: The Vikings burn the village, the Huns or Mongols ride through with swords, child soldiers arrive in pickup trucks. Violence is the only argument. That is history, too chaotic and reactive for any organized telling.
The mayhem Menn portrays is not that stark, but it seems closer to that than to a world of rules and order. Cybergangs rise and fall in varying degrees of anonymity and alliances with Russian, Chinese and other governments that are more ad hoc than understood. Norms of behavior among individuals and governments are a moving target. Crimes are not solved as much as controlled, through informal alliances of small agencies within and outside the state, or when there is publicity of the crimes that embarrasses higher ups in government. It is crime and crime fighting within a massive, illicit social network, fueled on greed, speed and reputation.
(via Bruce Sterling)
This sounds partially right, except that it overlooks the amount of thuggish violence governments have continued to be involved in – wars, strikes, proxy wars, assassinations, etc. If we’re moving into a world of cyberwarfare instead of physical warfare: great. I’d rather people get their “identities stolen” than end up dead. I’d like to think that’s happening, rather than a mere expansion of aggression. Whatever the case, there’s never been a time when governments didn’t act like gangs.