PILL: Protocol -- a New Language for IR / Or Shall We Say, Planetary System?

As a trained philosophy student and a conceptual history writer, I would like to create a conceptual map that really ploughs into the languages and usages of term “protocols”.

  1. the Initial Step: Bridging between Protocols and Laws.
    To start, I would like to lay out here a conceptual map that I’ve drafted last year when “protocol” come into my brain as a concept :

    The question that drives this mapping is: can we replace “laws” by “protocols”? We know that in the native language of blockchain, code is law. This is an important point if we keep the larger reality in mind. Laws penetrate into our everyday’s life and guarantee this world – as a “functioning protocol”, if we can use this analogy reversely.
    “Protocol” was also used as a legal term. Just as what I’ve put in the map above: “Here we can see Protocol as a set of rules implying the functional relation between set of data” “but has protocol get into the language of law? – we can see such as Tokyo Protocol” But mostly, we see “Act”. For the Anglo-American traditions, judges rely on cases. It seems that, similar like “Initiatives” (very frequently used by the UN, etc.), “Protocols” used in international context.

  2. a Leap: the Current Situation of IR and the Way to Jump through
    The nowadays knowledge system of IR(International Relationship) is hidden in many ways. For example, philosophy students talk about the “Law of Nature” – a source as well as a topic for discussion up until the prevalence of “reduced version of Locke” in the late 18th century – but that it was created by Dutch (eg. Pufendorf, Grotius) for a purpose to build a law that understands and explains existence of colonies, is always forgotten. Similar situation is that we inherited cold-war knowledge (institutions that extends a nation into another), especially many small countries. Yet the problem is, we lack a synthesis, “Law of Nature” is still discussed as a philosophical construction in its’ discipline, just as colonial history in the history major. We rarely re-examine the knowledge system ,and to see it is not a problem solely up to one’s choice that though we are in a “globe”, many of us do not live “globally” .
    With an even greater power to add to “the Smooth”(Byung-Chul Han) of current world, to make both the “Institutionalization” (Anthony Giddens) and the “deterritorialization” (Deleuze & Guattari) lack of explanatory power, the main purpose with the discussion of “Protocol” is to bring in plurality. The word “Planetary System” is brought by the Berggruen institute, but the way I find it interesting is with the resonance of Benedict Anderson. As we know, this great anthropologist and historian of Southeast Asia knows Javanese, Tagalog, and other local languages that exit in the clusters of isle civilization on the pacific. He wrote a book with the name “Why Counting Stars?”, the basic idea of which discussed in another book “the Age of Globalization”. His saying goes as, when we look up to the night sky, there’s only darkness that we can see, with scattered stars seems no connections in between. We create imagination among stars.
    To me, protocols can better replaced the word Planetary(Stars) here, and to create above something “system”. We have concrete Systematic Theory today that lay the base ground for many disciplines. Yet there’s a possibility that we don’t rely on it to understand human societies – to save Social Science once again from a projection of Nature Science. The road is not clear, but the image of Protocol we derive from blockchain – being composable, mutual reliance, functioned automatically, permissionless, etc. – convince me that it be a conceptual tool.


Protocol and smart contracts have their original roots in law and politics. Would be interested to see how they echo back to the social constructions! :heart_eyes:

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