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Paradigmata poznání. - 2022. - № 3

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Каталог статей из сборников научных конференций и научных журналов- The ideology of cyberspace

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Paradigmata poznání. - 2017. - № 3

The ideology of cyberspace

V. N. Pervushina, Doctor of Science in Philosophy,

State University of Justice, Central Branch,

S. N. Khutornoy, Candidate of Philosophy,

Voronezh State Technical University

Voronezh, Russia


The transition from an industrial to a postindustrial information society, marked the development of information technology, actualized value-based polytheism and a fantastic combination of individualism and communitarian values. The openness of cyberspace leads to a transformation of political institutions, democracy and makes any actions of the authorities transparent.

As a result of the rapid deployment of modern information technologies, the question arose about the influence of the Internet on democratic institutions, its essence and the direction of changes. The nature of e-democracy as a new, computer-mediated form of political communication; specifics of "e-government" as a system of interactive interaction between a state and citizens through the Internet, a new model of public administration  transforming the relations of citizens and power structures, has also become the subject of intent attention of researchers.

There are different points of view on the issue of the impact of cyberspace on democratic processes. One of them is recognition of a new form of symbolic politics that is a purposeful creation of visibility of political actions by the organized collectivity, and every recipient of social communication separately [13]. In fact, we are talking about passive participation in politics, consisting of interested monitoring of what is happening with the help of media. The meaning of this symbolic behavior is to recognize a simulation of political responsibility, in aspiration to turn power into political service, and political participation into a form of entertainment. Home researchers hold a different point of view.

Thus, A. Shadrin believes that the best prospects in Russia are in using of Internet technologies to expand the capabilities of the existing system of representative democracy and the development of the processes of so-called "electronic democratization". Its main purpose is to use Internet technologies to increase the access of voters and the media to lawmaking; to reduce costs for the formation of unions and associations of voters; to increase the effectiveness of feedback between voters and their representatives in the legislative authorities [16].

The authors of the article adhere to the same point of view and consider that cyberspace has significantly influenced on the democratization of society, changed the relationship in the "power-people" bunch, helped in forming a civil society with its unprecedented pressure on the authorities.

Cyberspace creates a network society with a variety of information flows in the political sphere, including non-state organizations of a transnational nature that "inevitably democratize the established order of government power" [11, p. 73]. Powerful network flows represent a variety of interests and social positions, which are immediately available to the world community. It was the network community with its new kind of communication facilitated a formation of a "deliberative democracy" (Yu. Habermas).

Cyberspace and electronic democracy contributed to the formation of a kind of ideology (shared value and meaning vision of the world) of a networked society – digital libertarianism, which reflects the trend of growth of a "sovereign personal decision". The very existence of cyberspace requires an "absolute sovereign freedom" associated with personal choice [8], because the features of interactive communication expand the creative capabilities of a user. This is especially evident in the field of art, when interactive installations, monochrome photographs, etc can be created thanks to network communication. The question of freedom is no longer as perennial, but as a question concerning everyone.

The authors believe that modern libertarianism is a synthesis of the basic ideas of anarchism and classical liberalism. In spite of diversity of theoretical configurations of anarchism (anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-communism, anarcho-individualism, etc.) and its methodological grounds the following fundamental principles can be pointed out: anti-etatism and a powerful libertarian component. Freedom of the individual, his/her self-development is being recognized in anarchism as the main goal of social development and progress, "is the only conquest to which one should strive for" [14, p. 45] and which is the only remedy for personal and social diseases.

The following ideas of anarchism bring closer the positions of anarchism and classical liberalism: the recognition of freedom as "the only formative principle of the political and economic organization of society" [2, p. 275]; hence the recognition of absolute freedom of conscience); "the boundless freedom of the press, propaganda, words and meetings"; absolute freedom of alliances; identification of freedom, order and unity. The liberal idea of "spontaneous order" in anarchism acquires the following formula: coordination of personal and social (collective) interests. Order is anarchy, implying not chaos, disorder, etc., but awareness of shared interests. Instead of a limited government, proposed by classical liberalism, anarchists put forward an idea of decentralization of public administration and offer federalism as a political organization of society.

As for the position of liberalism on a legal society, the anarchists (P. Proudhon, M. Bakunin) oppose a treaty of reciprocity that operates in various spheres of human life: family, economic (sale, purchase, property, insurance, labor, any transaction), educational [14, p. 161], to the liberal concept of a social contract. At the same time an autonomous community has the opportunity to pass laws of its own (M. Bakunin). And modern anarchists (crypto anarchists) offer to local officials who resolve conflicts to delegate authority to self-regulating organizations. Churches are allowed to establish religious laws. Clubs and public organizations should define their rules within a wide range [5]. In the future, anarchists recognize the triple brotherhood of people in reason, labor and freedom as the basis of future democracy (M. Bakunin). The economic and political organization of social life, according to anarchists, should proceed not from the center to the periphery, but from the bottom up and from the periphery to the center on the principle of free association and federation. Since political and economic freedoms are not compatible with the centralization system; the treaty of reciprocity operates in the sphere of the economy, representing itself relationships between voluntary associations. Modern anarchism (M. Rothbard) recognizes a freedom of the market, which is organized on the basis of the commercial competition of free associations and charitable organizations. The economic space organized in this way will make it possible to get rid of dictates of the market.

The main ideas of liberalism are as follows: individualism, combined with the recognition of human dignity. Human being is recognized to be a highest value. There are no excuses permitting to sacrifice one person for the sake of others [4, p. 57]; recognition of inalienable human rights. A person from birth is endowed with a natural right to life, property and freedom; presence of "spontaneous order" and "limited government" [12, p. 19]. What is meant here is that order in society is not established from above, in authoritarian order. Power itself must be limited. Power is a "hired manager”.

It is recognized the priority of law; economic need for a free market; religious tolerance. In essence, the proclaimed freedom of conscience at the present moment of time turns into what it can be called a privatization of religion. The choice of religious preferences is a matter of personal taste, of private opinion (the idea of exchange penetrates into the realm of religion). "Free trade" should be in religion. Religions, protected from political interference, but mostly presented to themselves, are likely to be stronger and more resilient than a church receiving support from the state [4, p. 122–123]; rationality, achieved through education [18, p. 177]. So, the basic attitudes of anarchism and libertarianism are clearly traced.

First, the anti-etatist position. According to Kropotkin, a state is absolutely the opposite of society, because it (a state) has a monopoly on industry, trade, finance, allowing groups of entrepreneurs and financiers to accumulate quickly huge wealth. According to the theorist of Russian anarchism, the future of human civilization is associated with society without a state and the development of "free alliances for all sorts of purposes" [9, p. 35]. The growth of citizens' education and civic activity will replace intervention of government, so the need for parliamentarism will gradually disappear.

Anarcho-libertarianism in Western literature (R. Nozik, N. Chomsky, M. Rothbard, etc.), also differs by the anti-etatist approach, however, in a slightly different plan. For example, R. Nozik considers the theory of justice in the context of the theory of property rights. The state should be "minimal". The minimum state is «the maximum state whose existence can be justified." It should not impede the free activity of both voluntary communities and individuals in different spheres. The existence of a state with greater powers or capabilities than a minimal state is neither legitimate nor justifiable [12, p. 193]. The anti-etatist orientation is more typical for the works of M. Rothbard.

Secondly, there is an idea of freedom. It is laid in the foundation of economic, social and political life both among anarchists, and in classical liberalism. The libertarian-rebellious principle is especially inherent in M. Bakunin's scientific and journalistic activities and his revolutionary practice. It manifested itself in his atheism, rejection of state, free-thinking, and the right to revolt of a sovereign person.

Freedom in anarchism is understood as the absence of coercion, violence towards the individual, recognition of his/her autonomy, free will and social-individual responsibility. Without such a freedom, democracy turns into a game of democracy.

It would seem that this formula of freedom coincides with the understanding of freedom in classical liberalism. But the liberal interpretation comprehends this formula somewhat differently. My freedom is limited by another freedom within the framework of law. Meanwhile, anarchists recognized freedom as "true and complete only in the complete interconnection of everyone and all" [2, p. 273]. In addition, the theorists of anarchism did not like the individualism of the liberal doctrine, since it is easier to control masses divided by atoms. In such a social organization, proclaimed individual freedom is being lost. Therefore, anarchists have individual freedom associated with the collective one. The basis of the social field should be free alliances of free personalities. In terms of anarchism freedom is not transformed into self-will for one reason – self-development and self-realization of the individual is connected with the libertarian ethics of cooperation, mutual assistance and solidarity, recognition of human conscience as the basis of justice.

In classical liberalism and later libertarianism the moral basis is the ethics of utilitarianism, in which philanthropy is recognized as one of the most important moral virtues. Therefore, philanthropy and mutual assistance (the creation of self-governing societies of mutual assistance) are part of an ideological program of libertarianism as moral values.

Within the framework of political philosophy libertarianism, of course, is based on the ideas of classical liberalism. It should be noted that the liberal argumentation of libertarianism more restricts the role of a state and protects a freedom of an individual than classical liberalism [4, p. 28–29]. A state should not use coercion machinery to force some citizens to help others, and a state should not prohibit any kind of people's actions for their own good or for their protection. The libertarian position requires for everyone a freedom to act as any individual decides (attitude to abortion, wiretapping, and gambling). Therefore, the positions of modern libertarianism and anarchism have become so close that it is justified, in our opinion, to speak of the convergence of libertarianism and anarchism, that is, anarchist-libertarian ideology. 

The position of M. Rothbard is indicative in this respect.  His views are those of a libertarian and anarchist at the same time. The goal of anarcho-libertarianism is the realization of freedom and the elimination of etatism (a reduction in taxes, or its complete abolition, a reduction of a power or activities of the state). The moral imperative of anarcho-libertarianism is destatization (the government must withdraw from all spheres of society). The state is a "parasite and enemy of society", creating a ruling elite that dominates over all and receives income through coercion. Rothbard is optimistic about the assertion of anarcho-libertarian freedom, because in a developed economy it is of vital necessity, therefore, combating with injustice, lack of freedom and violation of human rights is of high importance.

And then the government, which practices wiretapping, spying, playing with drugs, agents – provocateurs and even murders, is a source of threat to personal freedom and private property [15, p. 121]. State power should be decentralized. The system of state intervention must be minimized.

Note that we are not concerned with a detailed analysis of the disagreements between anarchists and libertarians in relation to law, property, market economy, as this is beyond the scope of the article. We are interested in those similar ideological positions that allowed anarchism and libertarianism to approach and form a single content of the ideology of cyberspace.

Thirdly, in addition to the ideas of anti-etatism and freedom, the idea of voluntary communities as the substance of the social organization of society unites both anarchism and libertarianism.

P. Kropotkin is so convinced of the potential of the communities of free and equal people, which gives them priority in protecting a social order. He is sure that they will be better able to protect social order than police, detectives and prisons from "harmful acts of individuals". The phenomenon that P. Kropotkin calls anarchism is essentially an expression of the trend that he saw in socio-historical development. It manifested itself in the creation of social organizations, independent of a state, "arisen among the people" (village communities, medieval handicraft shops, movements of the Hussites and Anabaptists - the forerunner of the Protestant Reformation, etc.), which served as a basis for the further formation of civil society. A people's self-government must be.

Anarchism, according to Kropotkin, is the "organization of life", a self-sufficient society, the driving forces of which are solidarity and a brave initiative of everyone [10]. The danger in social life comes from the isolation, atomization of society, inertia of people.

Modern libertarianism overcomes the individualism of classical liberalism and emphasizes an importance of communitarian values. An individual has a right, "being confident in the inviolability of his/her personality and property," to join voluntary associations and unions (such as professional associations, neighborhood associations, religious or ethnic groups, music and theater groups, etc.), related to common interests and oriented towards implementation of mutual obligations. It contributes to the formation of civil society. Individual freedom, under the condition of a free economic market, is inevitably combined with voluntary cooperation, which is incompatible with the centralized leadership associated with state coercion [7]. R. Nozik criticizes the views of anarchists on total denial of a state, but in his remaining arguments he and other representatives of libertarianism follow the logic of anarchists. So, according Nozik, voluntary communities form the basis of a social organization of society.

Modern anarchism is more diverse than classical anarchism: feminist anarchism, green anarchism, anarcho-capitalism, libertarian socialism, crypto anarchism, and so on. But it also preserves the basic postulates of classical anarchism – anti-etatism, freedom from coercion and violence, freedom of voluntary associations, including such social – moral rules of the community as mutual assistance, solidarity, equality. Crypto anarchism, having arisen with the emergence of cyberspace, confirms the statement which we have announced about the convergence of anarchism and libertarianism. It formed the ideology of digital libertarianism.

In the work "Crypto anarchy, cyber states and pirate utopias" it is noted that with the emergence of cyberspace, interest in the ideas of anarchism is not only increased , but made it possible and even unavoidable to realize its ideals. This is due to the following reasons. Cyberspace is one of the factors contributing to globalization, generating a tendency to erase the geographical boundaries of national states. There is an illusion of the formation of a single humanity, embodying the dream of M. Bakunin about the formation of "... a free federation of individuals in a province, a province in a nation, finally, these latter in the United States first Europe and then the whole world" [1, p. 19].

J. P. Barlow published the manifesto “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” [3], a very shocking document in which the independence of cyberspace from the state power is announced; it is underlined an absence of the moral right of a government and any forms of compulsion to control cyberspace. In the Declaration of Independence it is marked the infinity of cyberspace, where everyone can have access, regardless of race, economic and military power. Cyberspace is a place of absolute freedom, in which everyone can express his/her point of view, express political and cultural ideas, no matter how extravagant they are, without fear of pressure from any authority. The only rule that is subject to Cyberspace is the golden rule of morality, embodying justice, conscious personal interest and common good. Cyberspace is a civilization of reason, humanism and justice. Any anarchist would subscribe to this thesis.

Timothy May published the manifesto of the crypto anarchist [17], which notes (by analogy with the Manifesto of the Communist Party of Karl Marx) that a specter is haunting, but not Europe, and throughout the world - a specter of crypto anarchy that resulted from the introduction of computer technology. Cyberspace has changed the nature of interaction (network communication), which cannot be tracked because of multiple changes of encrypted routes. Gaining a reputation is more importance in commercial cyber bargains rather than an assessment of creditworthiness. This will lead, according to T. May, to changing of the nature of state regulation, an ability to levy taxes and monitor relations in an economy, store information, etc.

Thus, in an online community, the ideas of libertarianism and anarchism are re-articulated, leading to an unification of the "new left with the new conservative(right)", with their anti-etatist orientation, actualization of freedom and communitarian values1; "the collective character of a new information society is becoming more and more obvious[17]."

The presence of cyberspace as a leading mediator of global communication has strengthened a privacy of autonomous freedom, which allowed us to talk about a special form of anarcho-libertarianism – digital libertarianism, because the specifics of the Internet as a medium (changing of traditional ways and methods of obtaining information; specific communication models; leveling of social hierarchy of users, etc.) creates a similar form. The existence of cyberspace and an adequate ideology leads to the desacralization of power. Power loses an "aureole of sanctity" It is enough to read comments on laws adopted by authorities, actions of authorities, reaction of public to the pre-election campaign in France, for example, etc.). The way to publicity of state policy, to dialogue and cooperation of power and society, direct democracy is becoming open. In addition, an opportunity is created to activate all the institutions of civil society, a growth of the initiative "from below" (the phenomenon of "Wiki Leaks").

Thus, cyberspace reinforces the basic features of anarcho-libertarianism towards the recognition of sovereign freedom and absolute freedom of thought (instead of the old political representation, it is possible to open their websites). There is a privatization of public media space. Horizontal connections between participants in digital communication are reinforced. Formation of new structural elements of the social whole is being formed, its goals and tasks are being rethought; there is no need for strict structural prediction; opportunities are being created in the formation of variative models of social structure, changing a place and a role of human being in society.


1.             Bakunin M. A .Philosophy. Sociology. Policy. – M. : Pravda Publishing House, 1989. – 621 p.

2.             Bakunin M. A. Selected Philosophical Writings and Letters. – M. : Thought, 1987. – 573 p.

3.             Barlow J. P. Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace. § 2 // Crypto anarchy, Cyber States and Pirate Utopias / Edited by P. Ludlow. – Yekaterinburg: Ultra. Culture, 2005. – 600 p.

4.             Bows D. Libertarianism: History, Principles, Politics. Chelyabinsk. – 294 p.

5.             Crypto anarchy, Cyber States and Pirate Utopias / Edited by P. Ludlow. - Yekaterinburg: Ultra. Culture, 2005. – 600 p.

6.             Dary M. Speed of Escape: Cyber culture at the Turn of the Century. – Yekaterinburg : Ultra Culture: Moscow : AST MOSCOW. 2008. – 478 p. – http // www.masexx.ru / fit / deryescape.html

7.             Fridman M., Hayek F. On Freedom. – Minsk : Polifact – Referendum, 1990. – 131 p.

8.              Groys B. Religion in the Age of  Digital Reproduction. - http // gtmarket / laboratory / expeeritize / 2009/2630.

9.             Kropotkin P. A. Bread and Will. Modern Science and Anarchy. – Moscow: Pravda Publishing House, 1990. – 638 p.

10.         Kropotkin P. A Selected Works. – Moscow : ROSSPEN. – 896 p.

11.         Nazarchuk A. V. Network Society and its Philosophical Understanding // Issues of Philosophy. – 2008. – N 7. – P. – 61–76.

12.         Nozik R. Anarchy, State and Utopia. – M. : IRISEN, 2008. – 424 p.

13.         Potseluev S. G. Symbolic Policy: Constellation of Concepts for approach to the Problem // POLIS. – 1999. – № 5. – P. 62–76.

14.         Proudhon P. French Democracy. Reflections on Anarchism. – Moscow : KRASAND, 2011. – 408 p.

15.         Rothbard M. To A New Freedom. – Moscow : New Edition. – 308 p.

16.         Shadrin A. Transformation of Political Institutions and Transition to an Information Society. -  http://www.gallup.spb.ru/journal/arc Mve / journall2 / i2rsl.html

17.         Timoti Mei T. Manifesto of the Crypto anarchist, 1992.

Vallerstain I. End of the Familiar World // Sociology of the XXI century. – M. : Logos, 2003. – 368 p.

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