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Digital Prometheus: WikiLeaks, the State-Network Dichotomy and the Antinomies of Academic Reason

Athina Karatzogianni
Andy Robinson


This article focuses on the academic reinscription of the WikiLeaks affair, focusing on the different receptions received within different literatures and fields. The WikiLeaks affair – with or without its hypothesised connections to the Anonymous collective and the Arab Spring – has had massive ruptural effects on aspects of the global political system. A small, movement-based website has inflicted a tremendous informational defeat on the world's last superpower, revealing the possible emergence of a global networked counter-power able to mount effective resistance against the world-system, possibly even the emergence of the state-network conflict as the new great-power bipolarity after the Cold War. Therefore, in many respects, and notwithstanding WikiLeaks' relatively closed political structures, the WikiLeaks affair expresses the power of networked, decentred social movements to disrupt hierarchical arrangements of state and capitalist power. WikiLeaks has struck a tremendous blow for the power of transnational activist networks, against the power of states. How this blow – and the corresponding redistribution of global power – is perceived, will depend fundamentally on how the commentator feels about the current distribution of global power in favour of states. Perspectives can thus be divided, not only by discipline, but also by the author's position on the state-network dichotomy. Furthermore, different academic disciplines can be mapped in terms of their relative closeness to the statist or network side of the controversy.

Suggested Citation

Robinson, A and Karatzogianni, A. 2012. "Digital Prometheus: WikiLeaks, the State-Network Dichotomy and the Antinomies of Academic Reason" The Selected Works of Athina Karatzogianni Available at: http://works.bepress.com/athina_karatzogianni/15