Hegemony

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Hegemony ( UK: /hɪˈɡɛməni,hɪˈɛməni/ , US: /hɪˈɛməni/ ( Loudspeaker.svg pronunciation  ) or /ˈhɛəˌmni/ ) is the political, economic, or military predominance or control of one state over others. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] In ancient Greece (8th century BC – 6th century AD), hegemony denoted the politico-military dominance of a city-state over other city-states. [6] The dominant state is known as the hegemon. [7] In the 19th century, hegemony came to denote the "Social or cultural predominance or ascendancy; predominance by one group within a society or milieu". Later, it could be used to mean "a group or regime which exerts undue influence within a society". [8] Also, it could be used for the geopolitical and the cultural predominance of one country over others, from which was derived hegemonism, as in the idea that the Great Powers meant to establish European hegemony over Africa, Asia and Latin America. [9]

Contents

In cultural imperialism, the leader state dictates the internal politics and the societal character of the subordinate states that constitute the hegemonic sphere of influence, either by an internal, sponsored government or by an external, installed government.

In international relations theory, hegemony denotes a situation of (i) great material asymmetry in favour of one state, that has (ii) enough military power to systematically defeat any potential contester in the system, (iii) controls the access to raw materials, natural resources, capital and markets, (iv) has competitive advantages in the production of value added goods, (v) generates an accepted ideology reflecting this status quo; and (vi) is functionally differentiated from other states in the system, being expected to provide certain public goods such as security, or commercial and financial stability. [10]

The Marxist theory of cultural hegemony, associated particularly with Antonio Gramsci, is the idea that the ruling class can manipulate the value system and mores of a society, so that their view becomes the world view ( Weltanschauung ): in Terry Eagleton's words, "Gramsci normally uses the word hegemony to mean the ways in which a governing power wins consent to its rule from those it subjugates". [11] In contrast to authoritarian rule, cultural hegemony "is hegemonic only if those affected by it also consent to and struggle over its common sense". [12]

Ancient Greece under the hegemony of Thebes, 371-362 BC 362BCThebanHegemony.png
Ancient Greece under the hegemony of Thebes, 371–362 BC

Etymology

The League of Corinth hegemony: the Kingdom of Macedonia (362 BC) (red) and the Corinthian League (yellow) Map Macedonia 336 BC-en.svg
The League of Corinth hegemony: the Kingdom of Macedonia (362 BC) (red) and the Corinthian League (yellow)

From the post-classical Latin word hegemonia (1513 or earlier) from the Greek word ἡγεμονία hēgemonía, meaning "authority, rule, political supremacy", related to the word ἡγεμών hēgemōn "leader". [13]

Historical examples

8th–1st centuries BC

In the Greco–Roman world of 5th century BC European classical antiquity, the city-state of Sparta was the hegemon of the Peloponnesian League (6th to 4th centuries BC) and King Philip II of Macedon was the hegemon of the League of Corinth in 337 BC (a kingship he willed to his son, Alexander the Great). Likewise, the role of Athens within the short-lived Delian League (478–404 BC) was that of a "hegemon". [14] The super-regional Persian Achaemenid Empire of 550 BC–330 BC dominated these sub-regional hegemonies prior to its collapse.

Ancient historians such as Herodotus (c. 484 BCc. 425 BC). Xenophon (c. 431 BC – 354 BC) and Ephorus (c. 400 BC – 330 BC) pioneered the use of the term hēgemonía in the modern sense of hegemony. [15]

In Ancient East Asia, Chinese hegemony existed during the Spring and Autumn period (c. 770–480 BC), when the weakened rule of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty led to the relative autonomy of the Five Hegemons (Ba in Chinese [霸]). They were appointed by feudal lord conferences, and thus were nominally obliged to uphold the imperium of the Zhou Dynasty over the subordinate states. [16]

1st–14th centuries AD

1st and 2nd century Europe was dominated by the hegemonic peace of the Pax Romana . It was instituted by the emperor Augustus, and was accompanied by a series of brutal military campaigns. [17]

From the 7th century to the 12th century, the Umayyad Caliphate and later Abbasid Caliphate dominated the vast territories they governed, with other states like the Byzantine Empire paying tribute. [18]

In 7th century India, Harsha, ruler of a large empire in northern India from AD 606 to 647, brought most of the north under his hegemony. He preferred not to rule as a central government, but left "conquered kings on their thrones and contenting himself with tribute and homage." [19]

From the late 9th to the early 11th century, the empire developed by Charlemagne achieved hegemony in Europe, with dominance over France, Italy and Burgundy. [20]

During the 14th century, the Crown of Aragon became the hegemon in the Mediterranean Sea. [21]

15th–19th centuries

In The Politics of International Political Economy, Jayantha Jayman writes "If we consider the Western dominated global system from as early as the 15th century, there have been several hegemonic powers and contenders that have attempted to create the world order in their own images." He lists several contenders for historical hegemony. [22]

Phillip IV tried to restore the Habsburg dominance but, by the middle of the 17th century "Spain's pretensions to hegemony (in Europe) had definitely and irremediably failed." [23] [24]

In late 16th and 17th-century Holland, the Dutch Republic's mercantilist dominion was an early instance of commercial hegemony, made feasible with the development of wind power for the efficient production and delivery of goods and services. This, in turn, made possible the Amsterdam stock market and concomitant dominance of world trade. [25]

In France, King Louis XIV (1638–1715) and (Emperor) Napoleon I (1799–1815) attempted French true hegemony via economic, cultural and military domination of most of Continental Europe. However, Jeremy Black writes that, because of Britain, France "was unable to enjoy the benefits" of this hegemony. [26]

Map of the British Empire (as of 1910). At its height, it was the largest empire in history. Arthur Mees Flags of A Free Empire 1910 Cornell CUL PJM 1167 01.jpg
Map of the British Empire (as of 1910). At its height, it was the largest empire in history.

After the defeat and exile of Napoleon, hegemony largely passed to the British Empire, which became the largest empire in history, with Queen Victoria (1837–1901) ruling over one-quarter of the world's land and population at its zenith. Like the Dutch, the British Empire was primarily seaborne; many British possessions were located around the rim of the Indian Ocean, as well as numerous islands in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Britain also controlled the Indian subcontinent and large portions of Africa. [27]

In Europe, Germany, rather than Britain, may have been the strongest power after 1871, but Samuel Newland writes:

Bismarck defined the road ahead as … no expansion, no push for hegemony in Europe. Germany was to be the strongest power in Europe but without being a hegemon. … His basic axioms were first, no conflict among major powers in Central Europe; and second, German security without German hegemony." [28]

20th century

The Soviet Union and the United States dominated world affairs during the Cold War NATO vs. Warsaw (1949-1990).png
The Soviet Union and the United States dominated world affairs during the Cold War

The early 20th century, like the late 19th century was characterized by multiple Great Powers but no global hegemon. World War I strengthened the United States and, to a lesser extent, Japan. Both of these states' governments pursued policies to expand their regional spheres of influence, the US in Latin America and Japan in East Asia. France, the UK, Italy, the Soviet Union and later Nazi Germany (1933–1945) all either maintained imperialist policies based on spheres of influence or attempted to conquer territory but none achieved the status of a global hegemonic power. [29]

After the Second World War, the United Nations was established and the five strongest global powers (China, France, the UK, the US, and the USSR) were given permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council, the organization's most powerful decision making body. Following the war, the US and the USSR were the two strongest global powers and this created a bi-polar power dynamic in international affairs, commonly referred to as the Cold War. The hegemonic conflict was ideological, between communism and capitalism, as well as geopolitical, between the Warsaw Pact countries (1955–1991) and NATO/SEATO/CENTO countries (1949–present). During the Cold War both hegemons competed against each other directly (during the arms race) and indirectly (via proxy wars). The result was that many countries, no matter how remote, were drawn into the conflict when it was suspected that their governments' policies might destabilize the balance of power. Reinhard Hildebrandt calls this a period of "dual-hegemony", where "two dominant states have been stabilizing their European spheres of influence against and alongside each other." [30] Proxy wars became battle grounds between forces supported either directly or indirectly by the hegemonic powers and included the Korean War, the Laotian Civil War, the Arab–Israeli conflict, the Vietnam War, the Afghan War, the Angolan Civil War, and the Central American Civil Wars. [31]

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 the United States was the world's sole hegemonic power. [32]

21st century

A pie chart showing global military expenditures by country for 2018, in US$ billions, according to SIPRI. Military Expenditures 2018 SIPRI.png
A pie chart showing global military expenditures by country for 2018, in US$ billions, according to SIPRI.

Various perspectives on whether the US was or continues to be a hegemon have been presented since the end of the Cold War. The American political scientists John Mearsheimer and Joseph Nye have argued that the US is not a true hegemon because it has neither the financial nor the military resources to impose a proper, formal, global hegemony. [33] On the other hand, Anna Cornelia Beyer, in her book about counter-terrorism, argues that global governance is a product of American leadership and describes it as hegemonic governance. [34] Within NATO, moreover, the United States remains a dispensable hegemonic force, as seen in the decline in the alliance's external value profile. [35]

The French Socialist politician Hubert Védrine in 1999 described the US as a hegemonic hyperpower, because of its unilateral military actions worldwide. [36]

Pentagon strategist Edward Luttwak, in The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, [37] outlined three stages, with hegemonic being the first, followed by imperial. In his view the transformation proved to be fatal and eventually led to the fall of the Roman Empire. His book gives implicit advice to Washington to continue the present hegemonic strategy and refrain from establishing an empire.

In 2006, author Zhu Zhiqun claimed that China is already on the way to becoming the world hegemon and that the focus should be on how a peaceful transfer of power can be achieved between the US and China, [38] but has faced opposition to this claim. [39] According to the recent study published in 2019, the authors argued that a "third‐way hegemony" or Dutch‐style hegemony apart from a peaceful or violent hegemonic rise may be the most feasible option to describe China in its global hegemony in the future. [40]

Political science

NATO countries account for over 70% of global military expenditure, with the United States alone accounting for 43% of global military expenditure in 2009. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (orthographic projection).svg
NATO countries account for over 70% of global military expenditure, with the United States alone accounting for 43% of global military expenditure in 2009.
Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), the theoretician of cultural hegemony Gramsci.png
Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937), the theoretician of cultural hegemony

In the historical writing of the 19th century, the denotation of hegemony extended to describe the predominance of one country upon other countries; and, by extension, hegemonism denoted the Great Power politics (c. 1880s – 1914) for establishing hegemony (indirect imperial rule), that then leads to a definition of imperialism (direct foreign rule). In the early 20th century, in the field of international relations, the Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci developed the theory of cultural domination (an analysis of economic class) to include social class; hence, the philosophic and sociologic theory of cultural hegemony analysed the social norms that established the social structures (social and economic classes) with which the ruling class establish and exert cultural dominance to impose their Weltanschauung (world view)—justifying the social, political, and economic status quo —as natural, inevitable, and beneficial to every social class, rather than as artificial social constructs beneficial solely to the ruling class. [6] [9] [43]

From the Gramsci analysis derived the political science denotation of hegemony as leadership; thus, the historical example of Prussia as the militarily and culturally predominant province of the German Empire (Second Reich 1871–1918); and the personal and intellectual predominance of Napoleon Bonaparte upon the French Consulate (1799–1804). [44] Contemporarily, in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (1985), Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe defined hegemony as a political relationship of power wherein a sub-ordinate society (collectivity) perform social tasks that are culturally unnatural and not beneficial to them, but that are in exclusive benefit to the imperial interests of the hegemon, the superior, ordinate power; hegemony is a military, political, and economic relationship that occurs as an articulation within political discourse. [45] Beyer analysed the contemporary hegemony of the United States at the example of the Global War on Terrorism and presented the mechanisms and processes of American exercise of power in 'hegemonic governance'. [34]

Sociology

Academics have argued that in the praxis of hegemony, imperial dominance is established by means of cultural imperialism, whereby the leader state (hegemon) dictates the internal politics and the societal character of the subordinate states that constitute the hegemonic sphere of influence, either by an internal, sponsored government or by an external, installed government. The imposition of the hegemon's way of life—an imperial lingua franca and bureaucracies (social, economic, educational, governing)—transforms the concrete imperialism of direct military domination into the abstract power of the status quo, indirect imperial domination. [46] Critics have said that this view is "deeply condescending" and "treats people ... as blank slates on which global capitalism's moving finger writes its message, leaving behind another cultural automaton as it moves on." [47]

Culturally, hegemony also is established by means of language, specifically the imposed lingua franca of the hegemon (leader state), which then is the official source of information for the people of the society of the sub-ordinate state. Writing on language and power, Andrea Mayr says, "As a practice of power, hegemony operates largely through language." [48] In contemporary society, an example of the use of language in this way is in the way Western countries set up educational systems in African countries mediated by Western languages. [49]

Suggested examples of cultural imperialism include the latter-stage Spanish and British Empires, the 19th- and 20th-century Reichs of unified Germany (1871–1945), [50] and by the end of the 20th century, the United States. [51]

See also

Related Research Articles

Cultural imperialism Cultural dominance in imperialism

Cultural imperialism, also called cultural colonialism, comprises the cultural aspects of imperialism. "Imperialism" here refers to the creation and maintenance of unequal relationships between civilizations, favoring a more powerful civilization. Thus, the cultural imperialism is the practice of promoting and imposing a culture, usually that of a politically powerful nation, over a less powerful society; in other words, the cultural hegemony of industrialized or politically and economically influential countries which determine general cultural values and standardize civilizations throughout the world. The term is employed especially in the fields of history, cultural studies, and postcolonial theory. It is usually used in a pejorative sense, often in conjunction with calls to reject such influence. Cultural imperialism may take various forms, such as an attitude, a formal policy, or military action, insofar as it reinforces cultural hegemony.

Empire Multiple states under one central authority

An empire is a sovereign state functioning as an aggregate of lands and peoples that are ruled over by an emperor-like monarch or oligarchy. The territory and population of an empire is commonly of greater extent. History's largest empires, such as the Roman, British and Mongol empires, were typically characterized by the conquest, colonization, plunder, and subordination of often large numbers of territories, kingdoms, ethnicities, and nations, for the benefit of the empire's central rulers and economic elites.

Imperialism Policy or ideology of extending a nations rule over foreign nations

Imperialism is a policy or ideology of extending the rule or authority of a country over other countries and peoples, often by military force or by gaining political and economic control. While related to the concepts of colonialism and empire, imperialism is a distinct concept that can apply to other forms of expansion and many forms of government.

Pax Romana Roughly 200-year-long period in Roman history

The Pax Romana is a roughly 200-year-long period in Roman history which is identified with increased and sustained inner hegemonial peace and stability. It is traditionally dated as commencing from the accession of Caesar Augustus, founder of the Roman principate, in 27 BC and concluding in 180 AD with the death of Marcus Aurelius, the last of the "good emperors". Since it was inaugurated by Augustus with the end of the Final War of the Roman Republic, it is sometimes called the Pax Augusta. During this period of approximately two centuries, the Roman Empire achieved its greatest territorial extent and its population reached a maximum of up to 70 million people. According to Cassius Dio, the dictatorial reign of Commodus, later followed by the Year of the Five Emperors and the crisis of the third century, marked the descent "from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust".

Pax Americana is a term applied to the concept of relative peace in the Western Hemisphere and later the world beginning around the middle of the 20th century, thought to be caused by the preponderance of power enjoyed by the United States. Although the term finds its primary utility in the latter half of the 20th century, it has been used with different meanings and eras, such as the post-Civil War era in North America, and regionally in the Americas at the start of the 20th century. Pax Americana is primarily used in its modern connotations to refer to the peace among great powers established after the end of World War II in 1945, also called the Long Peace. In this modern sense, it has come to indicate the military and economic position of the United States in relation to other nations. For example, the Marshall Plan, which spent $13 billion to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, has been seen as "the launching of the pax americana".

Pax Britannica Period of relative world peace under British hegemony

Pax Britannica was the period of relative peace between the Great Powers during which the British Empire became the global hegemonic power and adopted the role of a "global policeman".

American imperialism US government policies aimed at extending American political, economic, and cultural influence

American imperialism consists of policies aimed at extending the political, economic, and cultural influence of the United States over areas beyond its boundaries. Depending on the commentator, it may include military conquest, gunboat diplomacy, unequal treaties, subsidization of preferred factions, economic penetration through private companies followed by intervention when those interests are threatened, or regime change.

Linguistic imperialism or language imperialism is occasionally defined as "the transfer of a dominant language to other people". This language "transfer" comes about because of imperialism. The transfer is considered to be a demonstration of power; traditionally military power but also, in the modern world, economic power. Aspects of the dominant culture are usually transferred along with the language. In the modern world, linguistic imperialism may also be considered in the context of international development, affecting the standard by which organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank evaluate the trustworthiness and value of structural adjustment loans. Since the early 1990s, linguistic imperialism has attracted attention among scholars of applied linguistics. In particular, Robert Phillipson's 1992 book, Linguistic Imperialism, has led to considerable debate about its merits and shortcomings. Phillipson found denunciations of linguistic imperialism that dated back to Nazi critiques of the British Council, and to Soviet analyses of English as the language of world capitalism and world domination. In this vein, criticism of English as a world language is rooted in anti-globalism.

Cultural hegemony Marxist notion of cultural dominance

In Marxist philosophy, cultural hegemony is the domination of a culturally diverse society by the ruling class who manipulate the culture of that society — the beliefs and explanations, perceptions, values, and mores — so that the imposed, ruling-class worldview becomes the accepted cultural norm; the universally valid dominant ideology, which justifies the social, political, and economic status quo as natural and inevitable, perpetual and beneficial for every social class, rather than as artificial social constructs that benefit only the ruling class. This Marxist analysis of how the ruling capitalist class establishes and maintains its control was originally developed by the Italian philosopher and politician Antonio Gramsci.

Grand strategy or high strategy is the long-term strategy pursued at the highest levels by a nation to further its interests. Issues of grand strategy typically include the choice of primary versus secondary theaters in war, distribution of resources among the various services, the general types of armaments manufacturing to favor, and which international alliances best suit national goals. With considerable overlap with foreign policy, grand strategy focuses primarily on the military implications of policy. A country's political leadership typically directs grand strategy with input from the most senior military officials. Development of a nation's grand strategy may extend across many years or even multiple generations.

Hegemonic stability theory (HST) is a theory of international relations, rooted in research from the fields of political science, economics, and history. HST indicates that the international system is more likely to remain stable when a single nation-state is the dominant world power, or hegemon. Thus, the fall of an existing hegemon or the state of no hegemon diminishes the stability of the international system. When a hegemon exercises leadership, either through diplomacy, coercion, or persuasion, it is actually deploying its "preponderance of power." This is called hegemony, which refers to a state's ability to "single-handedly dominate the rules and arrangements ...[of] international political and economic relations." HST can help analyze the rise of great powers to the role of world leader or hegemon. Also, it can be used to understand and to calculate the future of international politics through the discussion of the symbiotic relation between the declining hegemon and its rising successor.

In international relations, regional hegemony is the hegemony of one independently powerful state, known as the regional hegemon over other neighboring countries. The relationship between regional hegemons and the other states within their spheres of influence is analogous to the relationship between a global hegemon and the other states in the international system.

Monetary hegemony economic and political concept in which a single state has decisive influence over the functions of the international monetary system

Monetary hegemony is an economic and political concept in which a single state has decisive influence over the functions of the international monetary system. A monetary hegemon would need:

Balance of power (international relations) idea that national security is enhanced when military capabilities are distributed so no state is strong enough to dominate

The balance of power theory in international relations suggests that states may secure their survival by preventing any one state from gaining enough military power to dominate all others. If one state becomes much stronger, the theory predicts it will take advantage of its weaker neighbors, thereby driving them to unite in a defensive coalition. Some realists maintain that a balance-of-power system is more stable than one with a dominant state, as aggression is unprofitable when there is equilibrium of power between rival coalitions.

Chinese Century Concept that China will dominate the 21st century geopolitically

The Chinese Century is a neologism suggesting that the 21st century will be geopolitically dominated by the People's Republic of China, similar to how "the American Century" refers to the 20th century and "Pax Britannica" refers to the 19th. The phrase is used particularly in the assertion that the economy of China will overtake the economy of the United States as the largest national economy in the world, a position it held in the 16th, 17th century and early 19th century. The Economist has argued that the "Chinese Century" has already begun, citing China's overtaking of the U.S economy in 2013, if calculated on a purchasing-power-parity basis.

Western world Countries that identify themselves with an originally European shared culture

The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, Australasia, and most of the Americas. The Western world is also known as the Occident, in contrast to the Orient, or Eastern world. It might mean the Northern half of the North–South divide.

Proto-globalization or early modern globalization is a period of the history of globalization roughly spanning the years between 1600 and 1800, following the period of archaic globalization. First introduced by historians A. G. Hopkins and Christopher Bayly, the term describes the phase of increasing trade links and cultural exchange that characterized the period immediately preceding the advent of so-called "modern globalization" in the 19th century.

The term "Informal empire" describes the spheres of influence which an empire may develop that translate into a degree of influence over a region or country, which is not a formal colony, protectorate, tributary or vassal state of the empire, as a result of the extension of commercial, strategic or military interests of the empire.

Anti-imperialism in political science and international relations is a term used in a variety of contexts, usually by nationalist movements who want to secede from a larger polity or as a specific theory opposed to capitalism in Marxist–Leninist discourse, derived from Vladimir Lenin's work Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. A less common usage is by supporters of a non-interventionist foreign policy.

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Further reading