Small Wars Journal

Whose Story Wins: Rise of the Noosphere, Noopolitik, and Information-Age Statecraft

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 7:54pm

Whose Story Wins: Rise of the Noosphere, Noopolitik, and Information-Age Statecraft


RAND analysts David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla have released a new monograph, Whose Story Wins: Rise of the Noosphere, Noopolitik, and Information-Age Statecraft on their concept of noopolitik as a way forward for US grand strategy.  Ronfeldt and Arquilla are veteran strategic analysts known for their works on information strategic and network theory.  Their significant works include The Emergence of Noopolitik: Toward an American Information Strategy (1999) and Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy (2001).

The authors urge strategists to consider a new concept for adapting US grand strategy to the information age—noopolitik, which favors the use of ‘soft power’ —as a successor to realpolitik, with its emphasis on ‘hard power.’  The authors examine how US adversaries are already deploying dark forms of noopolitik— essentially ‘weaponized’ narratives, along with strategic deception, and epistemic attacks—against the United States.  They then propose ways to fight back, discussing how the future of noopolitik is dependent on the state of the ‘global commons.  The noosphere, in their formulation is a ‘realm of the mind’ and ‘thinking circuit’ that favors collective intelligence.  As the noosphere expands, it will supplant realpolitik strategies with noopolitik.  Thus, the decisive factor in statecraft and the wars of today and tomorrow are wars of ideas where success is bound to be ‘whose story wins.’  This decisive role of ideas is the essence of noopolitik.

Source: David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla, Whose Story Wins: Rise of the Noosphere, Noopolitik, and Information-Age Statecraft. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2020,




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