From Printing to Nation-States, from Internet to Neo-Medieval Globalism

21 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2015 Last revised: 29 Sep 2015

Date Written: March 15, 2015


The printing press reshaped the conversation of mankind along national lines, then reshaped the imagined communities in which people lived, making a world of nation-states seem natural, so that people struggled for it and eventually largely achieved it. Today's world order, based on the nation-state, is a legacy of the age of print. But the internet is now reorganizing the conversation of mankind again, and giving rise to new forms of imagined community. As in the High Middle Ages, an educated elite bound together by the dominant means of communication and a shared lingua franca -- Latin then, English today -- and ideology -- Catholicism then, liberalism today -- is beginning to see itself as better represented by transnational institutions like the UN, EU World Bank, IMF, and WTO than by national governments. This points to an era of "neo-medieval globalism," where beliefs matter more than nationalities and global purpose-driven voluntary organizations gradually rival and eclipse national governments.

Keywords: anti-globalization, communication technology, sovereignty

JEL Classification: B15

Suggested Citation

Smith, Nathanael, From Printing to Nation-States, from Internet to Neo-Medieval Globalism (March 15, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Nathanael Smith (Contact Author)

University of Central Arkansas ( email )

201 Donaghey Ave.
Conway, AR
United States

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