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The Hegemony Debate in International Relations - Essay Example

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The Hegemony Debate in International Relations

In technical terms, a "polar actor" (or a "pole") is a state or a coalition of states that is so significant that its removal (or its entrance) would alter the contours of the interstate system. In more prosaic parlance, a polar actor is a Great Power.
"Polarity" concerns the way in which the major capabilities of power are distributed among the main actors of the interstate system. In a multipolar system, the main capabilities are distributed among several Great Powers. In a bipolar system, the capabilities are distributed between two preeminent Powers - as was the case during the height of the Cold War. In a unipolar system, one single state has managed to concentrate an inordinately large share of the system's capabilities under its own control and thus enabled itself to exercise an unchallenged pre-eminence on the international scene. (Nye, 1990)
With such an immense concentration of capabilities on American hands, it is clear that the contemporary interstate system is unipolar in nature. The USA stands head and shoulders above all other states in terms of power capabilities both military and economically but is it necessarily hegemonic
The hegemony cycle is based on t...
This preeminent position is called hegemony.
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.

According to Puchala (2005, p. 572), the term hegemony refers to the predominance of one state over others which can mean primacy in importance, authority or force. Hegemony is the result of a single state attaining such power as to enable him or give him the right to manage the international system. This state find themselves responsible to manage ...Show more

Summary

The distribution of power in the world, whether it may be politically, economically and technologically, has been the interest of many scholars whose debate has led to a wealth of ideas and prominent school of thoughts. A very healthy field is the study of dominance of certain nations which involves an analysis of the past, present and the future…
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