Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hegemonic Stability Theory

Concerning the question asked in the previous posting: Do we need a world-policeman, a dominating power, a world-leader, an alpha-dog among the nations, in order to establish a prosperous economic/political international coexistence? Here's a first answer:

Hegemonic Stability Theory
"The central idea of this theory is that the stability of the international system requires a single dominant state to articulate and enforce the rules of interaction among the most important members of the system. For a state to be a hegemon, it must have three attributes: the capability to enforce the rules of the system, the will to do so, and a commitment to a system which is perceived as mutually beneficial to the major states. A hegemon's capability rests upon the likes of a large, growing economy, dominance in a leading technological or economic sector, and political power backed up by projective military power. An unstable system will result if economic, technological, and other changes erode the international hierarchy and undermine the position of the dominant state. Pretenders to hegemonic control will emerge if the benefits of the system are viewed as unacceptably unfair." (Extract from lecture notes on the theory of hegemonic stability by Vincent Ferraro, Ruth C. Lawson Professor of International Politics at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts.) From

It is not at all obvious why people having a little knowledge in history might support this thesis. History is chock-full of the rises and falls of empires. They are coming and going. Thus, if prosperity and peace among different nations under a hegemon is only possible for a relatively short period of time (much less than a hegemonic cycle), why not better abolish this idea and try to replace it by international law, applicable to every state?


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