What is “Neo-Technologism” and Why You Should Care About It

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Recently, in honor of Facebook’s fifteenth anniversary, CEO Mark Zuckerberg published a post where he addressed the company’s past accomplishments, present aspirations and future challenges. Part of the post stated the following:

“Much of people’s experience in the past was defined by large hierarchical institutions — governments, mass media, universities, religious organizations — that provided stability but were often remote and inaccessible… Our current century is defined more by networks of people who have the freedom to interact with whom they want and the ability to easily share ideas and experiences… Now, you can connect with anyone and use your voice. You don’t have to go through existing institutions in the same way. People now have much greater power, and that creates opportunity…”

While I would argue that it’s not the people that, “now have greater power that creates opportunity” (in this case, it’s Facebook), Zuckerberg touched upon the very core of a study I’ve been working on since 2017 — From Nationalism to Technologism: The Impact of Multinational Tech Corporations on State-Sovereignty (working title).

So, what does technologism mean exactly, and how is neo-technologism different?

Well, according to the Oxford dictionaries, Technologism is the “Belief in the power of technology to shape or improve human society.”

Neo-Technologism¹ (noun), on the other hand, is a term I’ve coined to describe the idea that Multinational Tech Corporations (MNTCs) hold the power to shape and govern human society, thereby, steering a Post-Westphalian era².

Throughout the course of history, humanity has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous authoritative institutions. Empires, kingdoms, monarchies, and nations have time and time again experienced a significant shift in global institutional power.

While the twenty-first century has yet to experience a similar shift, it would appear that our current, authoritative institutions (i.e. governments), are well on their way to lose the throne. Their successors? Multinational tech corporations such as: Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft, to name a few.

Though the latter statement may initially appear as though taken from a science fiction film, MNTCs are continually showing signs of expansion, well beyond the scope of their initial purpose and ostensible economic interests.

That’s not to say that Facebook or any other MNTC aspires to “take over the world” with its superpowers, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to deny the vast similarities between MNTCs and the “nation-state”.

Though Multinational corporations (MNCs… Not MNTCs) existed long before Facebook was established (or any other tech corporation for that matter), MNTCs have managed to successfully establish corporations which profit both from their attempts to make a viable impact on the world, and the needs of individuals.

It would appear that we are entering an era that’s not only post-Westphalian, but also more anthropocentric than the last. Meaning: Any institution that improves the day-to-day lives of individuals where our current authoratative institutions fail, can, as a matter of course, be exceptionally successful.

With that, it may be just to presume that as long as MNTCs continue to exhibit proven success in the fields most critical to individuals and society as a whole (i.e. education, health, economy, security, etc.), the power, and thereby, the sovereignty of the state, will experience a steady decline³.

In his latest post, Zuckerberg also said that in the past, our experiences were defined by institutions. He said that if we wanted progress, we needed to “work our way up the ladder”, stating that the spread of ideas was difficult without the “blessing of institutions”.

While I still aspire to pursue a P.h.D on this precise subject (and be part of an institution that has exhibited proven success in the field of research) the millennial in me — who naturally finds it difficult to delay any form of gratification— also can’t wait to share her thoughts and ideas with just about anyone who cares to listen.

Until we meet again, let me know in the comments below if MNTCs were to take over the world (“hypothetically” speaking, of course… Sort of), “citizen” of which MNTC would you rather be and why?


Footnotes:

  1. In the future, I may sometimes refer to it as Multinational Corporate Technologism
  2. The era following that of the Westphalian era (“sovereign state”) which is traditionally traced back to the 1648 Peace of Westphalia. For more information, please see one of my favorite academic sources on the topic, “Quantifying Sovereignty: A New Way to Examine an Essential Concept”
  3. I further elaborate on this statement in my upcoming paper and future posts.