Sunday, July 8, 2018

Updated notes about the noosphere and noopolitik: introductory remarks about a revised series of posts

UPDATE — Oct 8, 2028: I have deleted the series of section-by-section follow-on posts today, since I just posted the entire draft paper as it now appears at the SSRN site. See here for further info and access:


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Several months ago, co-author John Arquilla and I agreed to update our ten-year-old chapter for a new revised edition of a 2009 handbook on public diplomacy (Snow & Taylor, 2009). Our chapter back then was titled “Noopolitik: A New Framework for Public Diplomacy”. We have now drafted a major update and rewrite. This series of eight or nine posts provides recent versions of our draft sections. The final paper will still need further edits and revisions, and probably a severe shortening.

As I post these recent drafts, section by section, I am going to delete the corresponding earlier rough drafts that I posted during February-May.

In brief, our argument is as follows: As the information age deepens, a globe–circling realm of the mind is being created — the “noosphere” that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (and others) identified ninety years ago. This will increasingly affect the nature of grand strategy and diplomacy. Traditional realpolitik, which ultimately relies on hard (principally military) power, will give way to the rise of noöpolitik (or noöspolitik), which relies on soft (principally ideational) power. Ultimately, noöpolitik is about whose story wins.

Here is what the new paper’s outline currently looks like:

The Continuing Promise of the Noösphere and Noöpolitik — Twenty Years After
by David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla


I. The noosphere: a concept about the world’s future evolution
Teilhard’s thinking about the noosphere
Vernadsky’s thinking about the noosphere
Teilhard and Vernadsky compared
Le Roy’s depiction of the transition

II. Noosphere concept gaining ground in recent decades

III. Implications of the noosphere concept for thinking about noopolitik

IV. The Future of Noopolitik (Revisited)
Global civil-society actors as proponents of noopolitik
Displacement of realpolitik as the noosphere grows
Early glimmers of noopolitik

V. Pessimistic appraisal of today’s turmoil for the noosphere and noopolitik
Washington failing at noopolitik
Moscow, Beijing, and Wikileaks turning noopolitik against us
The noosphere in fragmented disarray

VI. New hope for the noosphere and noopolitik — the global commons
Environmental science and civil-society perspectives on the global commons
Military perspectives on the global commons
Intersecting implications — a new combination of forces for the future

VII. Getting America back on track through noopolitik
The way ahead as we previously saw it
A new vision for the way ahead

Select Bibliography

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Our original RAND report, titled The Emergence of Noopolitik: Toward An American Information Strategy (1999), is available here:

Our follow-up paper, “The promise of noöpolitik” (2007), which summarizes the RAND report and was edited down for the chapter in the public diplomacy handbook, is here:

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