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"Hegemony, as elaborated by the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, refers to the meanings and values that define the dominant common sense, and to the structures of political and economic power that combine to uphold the existing order. To be “political,” for Smucker, as for Gramsci, is to pose a challenge to the existing order, by articulating an alternative, aligning existing social blocs behind that articulation, and building sufficient political power to instantiate our values as a new common sense. We must, in other words, replace the existing hegemony with our own. "


2. Joshua Goldstein:


"Hegemony has different meanings: some scholars refer mainly to military and political predominance, while others refer to economic predominance. I use the term in a broad sense including both. Also, some scholars (for example, Doran 1971) use hegemony to refer to the failed attempts at military supremacy within the great power system (for example, Napoleonic France), while others use it to refer to the leading country emerging victorious after such a challenge is suppressed (for example, postNapoleonic Britain). The latter usage is more common, and I will follow it.

In referring to a preeminent nation as "hegemonic" I do not mean to imply a necessarily oppressive or inequitable arrangement (as the flavor of the term sometimes implies) but only the "dictionary" sense: "leadership; preponderant ascendancy or authority, as among states. "2Modelski prefers the termw orld leadership, with its cooperative rather than exploitive overtones, while Organski refers to "one country at the apex of the pyramid" of world politics.

Hegemony seems to have acquired two connotations, positive and negative.

In the positive image, "benign hegemony," the leading country takes on the burden of maintaining international order and pays a disproportionate price for doing so. In this approach, international order is seen as a "public good" benefiting all countries, supported by the hegemonic power. Kindleberger (1973:28) argues that "the international economic and monetary system needs leadership, a country which is prepared, consciously or unconsciously, under some system of rules that it has internalized, to set standards of conduct for other countries; and to seek to get others to follow them, to take on an undue share of the burdens of the system." Britain had this role from 1815 to 1913, and the United States after 1945, according to Kindleberger, but in the interwar years Britain was unable, and the United States was unwilling, to accept this leadership role; Kindleberger sees in this lack of leadership the main causes for the severity of the depression of the 1930s. "Hegemonic stability theory" (see Keohane 1980), to quote McKeown's (1983:73) summary, argues that "it is the power of hegemonic states that leads to the emergence of open international economic systems" with free trade, benefiting all.

In the negative image of hegemony, the preeminence of one country is seen as an exploitative dominance of the world system gained by one country over other competitors. Kurth (1971:20) uses the term hegemony to refer to great power domination of small states. Kurth notes that since World War II, "while the practice of hegemony increased, especially by Americans, the mention of hegemony declined, especially by Americans." In current usage by the world-system school (see below),hegemony implies that one core country dominates exploitive core-periphery relations."



"Hegemony essentially consists of being able to dictate, or at least dominate, the rules and arrangements by which international relations, political and economic, are conducted (see chapters 5 and 6). Economic hegemony implies the ability of one country to center the world economy around itself. Political hegemony means being able to dominate the world militarily. Marxist analyses tend to emphasize the economic side of hegemony. Wallerstein (1974, 1980) and Braudel (1977, 1984) give predominant emphasis to the economic sphere, with less emphasis on war. In Wallerstein's framework, the "core" dominates the "semi-periphery" and "periphery," imposing unequal terms of exchange and thus extracting surplus value (wealth) toward the core, where capital accumulation is concentrated (see chapter 1). A hegemonic power is a core country that temporarily dominates all other core powers economically (Wallerstein 1983) . Braudel's (1984:27–39) definitions are similar but narrower. He stresses the single city at the center of every world-economy around which is a narrow "core" (the country containing the central city), a broad "middle zone," and a large periphery. Dominant cities do not remain dominant forever; they replace one another in sequence. But there is room for only one center at one time; the rise of one means the downfall of another, according to Braudel. More traditional Marxists also see hegemony in economic terms but concentrate on the core itself rather than core-periphery relations. Mandel (1980:31) sees hegemony within the core as necessary for capitalist stability: "Only a high degree of international concentration of economic and political-military power makes it possible to impose on the capitalist world currently pragmatic solutions in times of crisis." Realist and peace-research approaches focus more on military than economic hegemony. Organski (1958) stresses the pyramidlike structure of international power—one country at the apex and others trying to maintain or improve their position in the political hierarchy. Modelski (1978) emphasizes military capabilities and sees hegemony in terms of preponderant "global reach" capabilities. In my approach, consistent with my theory of the reciprocal influence of war and economics (chapter 12), the military and economic aspects of hegemony receive equal billing. I am particularly interested in the connections between the two aspects.

In my conception of the hegemony cycle, countries rise and decline in relative position within the hierarchical international structure in the core. The hegemony cycle is defined by the succession of countries that occupy the very top position in the international hierarchy. At the end of each hegemony cycle, and the beginning of the next, is a period of very intense great power war, out of which emerges a new hegemonic power with a predominant share of world capabilities (economic and military). This war period ends with a restructuring of the world order around the new hegemonic power. I refer to this war period as "hegemonic war. " The overwhelming predominance that emerges at the end of, and as a result of, a hegemonic war is temporary. Gradually other powers rebuild from the war, and the gap begins to narrow.3New technologies underlying the hegemonic power's economic advantage are imitated in other countries. Countries rebuilding from war incorporate a new generation of technology, eventually allowing competition with the hegemonic country. For these reasons, each period of hegemony gradually erodes. Recurring wars, on several long wave upswings, eventually culminate in a new hegemonic war,4bringing another restructuring of the core and a new period of hegemony. Each new hegemonic power emerges from the leading position in the winning coalition in hegemonic war. Among the winners are countries heavily damaged by war and others relatively insulated from war damage. The new hegemonic power comes from the latter group.5After each hegemonic war, the winning coalition has fragmented. The next challenger has come from within the ranks of the winning coalition in the last hegemonic war. This outline of the hegemony cycle has been cast in general terms and is largely consistent with both Wallerstein's (1983) and Modelski's (1978) approaches. However, when it comes to describing the historical instances of hegemonic war and hegemony dates and countries the two approaches diverge."



From the Wikipedia:

"In order for a nation-state to rise to the level of hegemon, such a state must combine all or most of the following attributes:

  • Superior military force is necessary for the ability to forge new international laws and organizations.
  • Insularity provides added security and the potential to project military forces, though in some cases hegemons have not been insular or peninsular. The United States of America, for instance, has become a virtual island. It has two massive seaboards, and its neighbors are long-standing allies, setting it apart from the rest of great powers. Nuclear weapons and superior air force add to its national security.
  • A large and growing economy. Usually, unrivaled supremacy in at least one leading economic or technological sector is necessary. Military and economic powers compose the capability to enforce the rules of the system.
  • The will to lead and to establish a hegemonic regime by enforcing the rules of the system. After World War I, the United States possessed the capacity to lead, but lacked the will to do so. Without the will to force stability on the international system, the United States missed an opportunity to prevent the onset of the Great Depression or World War II.
  • A hegemon must commit to the system, which needs to be perceived as mutually beneficial by other great powers and important state-actors."



Competing theories of hegemonic stability

From the Wikipedia:

"Research on hegemony can be divided into two schools of thought:

  • the realist school and
  • the systemic school.

Each school can be further sub-divided.

Two dominant theories have emerged from each school. What Robert Keohane first called the "theory of hegemonic stability", joins A. F. K. Organski's Power Transition Theory as the two dominant approaches to the realist school of thought.

Long Cycle Theory, espoused by George Modelski, and World Systems Theory, espoused by Immanuel Wallerstein, have emerged as the two dominant approaches to the systemic school of thought.[

Systemic school of thought

According to Thomas J. McCormick, scholars and other experts on the systemic school define hegemony "as a single power's possession of 'simultaneous superior economic efficiency in production, trade and finance.'" Furthermore, a hegemon's superior position is considered the logical consequence of superior geography, technological innovation, ideology, superior resources, and other factors.[23]

* Long cycle theory

George Modelski, who presented his ideas in the book, Long Cycles in World Politics (1987), is the chief architect of long cycle theory. In a nutshell, long cycle theory describes the connection between war cycles, economic supremacy, and the political aspects of world leadership.

Long cycles, or long waves, offer interesting perspectives on global politics by permitting "the careful exploration of the ways in which world wars have recurred, and lead states such as Britain and the United States have succeeded each other in an orderly manner." Not to be confused with Simon Kuznets' idea of long-cycles, or long-swings, long cycles of global politics are patterns of past world politics.[24]

The long cycle, according to Dr. Dan Cox, is a period of time lasting approximately 70 to 100 years. At the end of that period, "the title of most powerful nation in the world switches hands.".[25] Modelski divides the long cycle into four phases. When periods of global war, which could last as much as one-fourth of the total long cycle, are factored in, the cycle can last from 87 to 122 years.[26]

Many traditional theories of international relations, including the other approaches to hegemony, believe that the baseline nature of the international system is anarchy.[27] Modelski's long cycle theory, however, states that war and other destabilizing events are a natural product of the long cycle and larger global system cycle. They are part of the living processes of the global polity and social order. Wars are "systemic decisions" that "punctuate the movement of the system at regular intervals." Because "world politics is not a random process of hit or miss, win or lose, depending on the luck of the draw or the brute strength of the contestants," anarchy simply doesn't play a role. After all, long cycles have provided, for the last five centuries, a means for the successive selection and operation of numerous world leaders.[28]

Modeslki used to believe that long cycles were a product of the modern period. He suggests that the five long cycles, which have taken place since about 1500, are each a part of a larger global system cycle, or the modern world system.

Under the terms of long cycle theory, five hegemonic long cycles have taken place, each strongly correlating to economic Kondratieff Waves (or K-Waves). The first hegemon would have been Portugal during the 16th century, then the Netherlands during the 17th century. Next, Great Britain served twice, first during the 18th century, then during the 19th century. The United States has been serving as hegemon since the end of World War II.

The traditional view of long cycle theory has evolved somewhat, as Modelski now suggests that Northern and Southern Sung China, Venice and Genoa were each the dominant economic powers during medieval long cycles. However, he does not classify any of these states as world powers. Only when Portugal gained hegemony after 1500 is that distinction made.

Other views of hegemonic stability

* Neorealist interpretation

Neorealists have been focusing on this theory recently, the main proponent of it being John J. Mearsheimer who is trying to incorporate it into 'offensive realism'.[30] In his book 'The Tragedy of Great Power Politics' Mearsheimer outlines how the anarchic system that neorealists subscribe to (see Kenneth Waltz for original theory) creates power hungry states who will each attempt to install themselves as regional and global hegemons.[31] The system is created, shaped and maintained by coercion. The hegemon would begin to undermine the institution when it is not in their interests. With the decline of a hegemon, the system descends into instability.

* Classical liberal interpretation

It is motivated by enlightened self-interest; the hegemon takes on the costs because it is good for all actors, thereby creating stability in the system, which is also in the interests of all actors.

* Neoliberal interpretation

Neoliberals argue that the hegemon wishes to maintain its dominant position without paying enforcement costs, so it creates a system in which it can credibly limit the returns to power (loser doesn't lose all) and credibly commit to neither dominate nor abandon them. This is done through institutions, which are sticky, (hard to change, more convenient to continue using than to revamp.) These institutions favor the hegemon, but provide protection and a stable world order for the rest of the world. The more open this world-order, the less likely that there will be a challenger.[32] With the decline of the hegemon, institutions don't automatically die, because they were constructed in a way that benefited all stakeholders; instead, they take on a life of their own (see regime theory)."



The last three hegemonic cycles

Joshua Goldstein:

"During the first hegemony cycle, before 1648, the evolution of the world system was characterized by a long steady process of expanding the reach of the Eurocentric system, extracting economic surplus from the periphery, and using that wealth as well as Europe's own surplus production to finance wars between emerging nation-states. The culmination of this stage came in the formalization of the nation-state system in the Peace of Westphalia, in 1648. The stage of military evolution in this first cycle was one of wars fought by paid mercenaries on behalf of monarchs.

The second era was characterized by a multipolar balance-of-power system in the core, which led to the most regular recurrence of great power wars on long wave upswings in any era (see chapter 11). Europe's hold on the periphery was further extended, and its control was consolidated, in this era (at least until Britain's loss of America near the end). The military technology in this era was characterized by large, trained, professional armies.

The third era was initially dominated by Britain and was characterized by the industrialization of the core at a rapid pace. Railroads and steamships opened up the world to European penetration on a new scale, and as British hegemony slowly declined, the great powers competed to colonize the remaining peripheral areas of the globe. Industrialization also changed the nature of war, ushering in national wars that mobilized an entire national economy toward sustaining mechanized warfare.

The fourth era marks a very different stage of development for the world system. Europe's conquest of the world ultimately drew the center of power away from Europe leaving Europe itself split in half. This is an era of technological wars fought by small groups operating expensive weapons at large stand-off distances . New developments in world politics include the presence of nuclear weapons, the extension of global reach into space, and the effects of an information revolution still in progress."



Technology is killing hegemony

John R. Dreyer:

"Technology is killing hegemony. The hegemonic state builds its power on control: control of culture, economics, politics and security. This control enables the hegemonic state to build and maintain influence. Control enables the creation of civil society that succeeds in tying the smaller powers to the sphere of hegemonic power. Technology allows individuals and non‐state groups to circumvent the control of the hegemonic state. These individuals and groups will often be able to filter into the state itself, drawing it out from under the umbrella of the hegemon. The creation of data islands and cloud computing plays a crucial part in the structural deepening of advanced communication in the form of social networking, sms texting and other peer to peer services. Consequently the ability to form new institutions through the connection of the rhizome is not just a possibility, but is happening right now. The world is becoming decentralized. New centers of innovation are being created in regions that can support them through locally produced energy and a population that is hungry to join the rest of the world on the buckboard of digital communication. These centers produce technology that is cheap, adaptable and, above all, affordable enabling it to become widespread. As more and more capital is invested in these new centers the hegemonic state begins to see less and less investment. The concentration will not happen in any particular state but will be spread around the globe. The ability to attract innovation without an extensive infrastructure will drive developing economies.

The concept of the rhizome is based on the notion of a root spreading out to connect with other roots in an unorganized, seemingly chaotic fashion. As technology becomes cheaper and more adaptable the rhizome will experience a growth spurt, a structural deepening that sees the world truly becoming globalized. Events like the “Twitter Revolution” will not be hindered by a limited user demographic or government control of communications infrastructure. As the hegemonic state strengthens their institutions to deal with these new forms of technology, a gamble to either compete effectively or to retard progress as much as possible, new roots will form and connect. These will in turn strengthen existing channels of communication, trade and culture and create new ones specifically designed to cater to things like cyber‐culture. The rhizome is undermining hegemonic control. As we see hegemonic institutions tightening their grip on digital communication technology within the hegemon the incentive to locate infrastructure elsewhere is increased. The era of hegemony is over ; era of the rhizome is here."


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