"Network power is additive, not exclusive. It propagates through ‘and,’ not ‘or’.” (p. 18)

Chapter 1

Contrary to the popular view of web-based material promoting a more democratic system through decentralization, the network actually increases control through a double distribution: 1) by distributing power to autonomous local nodes and 2) focusing control in rigidly defined hierarchies (p. 19). Here, control is much more than an extension of the superego into a more diverse market. Whereas the superego is seen as inherent to the subject’s constitution, network power is additive and inhuman (p. 18). Although network power increases control, Thacker and Galloway argue, it also contributes to the multiplication of political strategies available to an agent (p. 19).

However, the authors overlook—or rather, they do not address—the question of agency. This may prove problematic in that they do not fully historicize the agent, who can supposedly exploit the network structure. That is, situated in consumer society (where a choice of products can be mistaken for agency or freedom: i.e., the freedom to purchase), the increased number of political strategies available to the agent may only increase a subject’s sense of agency. This perceived agency might prevent the political subject from actually acting: In mistaking choice for freedom he/she sees nothing wrong with the status quo.

Moreover, Thacker and Galloway, while speaking of revolution, do not seem to grant people the power to make significant change. Change, in fact, is viewed quite systematically: Just as the age of sovereignty and nationalism generated the network as its antithesis, so the networks will breed an “antiweb,” which, the authors say, has yet to be invented (p. 22). And yet, they claim, we are witnessing an expression of this antiweb in the form of post-9/11 assertions of sovereignty. The United States' disregard for various networks—al Qaeda, the UN, tribal networks in Iraq—are effects of the networked world (as opposed to the United States choosing to disregard networks). For the authors, the United States, in its refusal to succumb to the network, is creating the antiweb, heralding in the existence of a new sovereignty of which it is our task to exploit.