Various Definitions of Hegemony and Pax Americana Essay

The political relations of hegemony is an of import country of political scientific discipline. During the Pax Americana period – that is. after WWII – the United States is known to hold helped the universe set up economic order ( Samuelson. 2006. p. A31 ) . Furthermore. the U. S. is known to hold assisted other states with economic assistance and in Reconstruction attempts. for illustration. with the well-known Marshall Plan ( Hogan. 1989. p. 1-25 ) . Heardon ( 2002 ) describes the United States as an designer of a new universe order during the Second World War.

Therefore. it is of import to grok the power of the U. S. in the visible radiation of assorted definitions of hegemony. The word. ‘hegemony. ’ is known to hold its roots in the Grecian verb. “hegeisthai. ” intending “to lead” ( “What is Hegemony. ” 2007 ) . In the ancient Grecian civilisation the term applied to leaders that were able to act upon and exercise a enormous sum of control over groups of people. The hegemons had to be supported by at least one dominant group so as to maintain the common people from arising against established leaders ( “What is Hegemony” ) .

Watson ( 2002 ) refers to two significances of hegemony in International Relations: “One has to make with the distribution of power in a system. Not simply military force. but besides proficient and fiscal strength. The other significance is the laterality of a peculiar thought or set of premises. such as economic liberalism and globalisation ( p. 1 ) . ” Surely the 2nd definition of hegemony in International Relations can non be applied to a state that influences other states. for illustration. the United States since the beginning of the Pax Americana period.

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The first definition of hegemony in International Relations. on the other manus. may competently depict the power of the British Empire in the mid-nineteenth century. and of the United States during the period known as Pax Americana ( Pigman. 1997. p. 186 ) . Watson writes that the first definition is a “material condition” enabling a “great power. or a group of powers. or the great powers in a system moving jointly. to convey such great force per unit areas and incentives to bear that most other provinces lose some of their freedom of action de facto. though non de jure ( p. 1 ) .

” Besides harmonizing to the writer. the Western world’s hegemony in our times. and particularly that of the United States. has aimed to change the “internal behaviour” of other states every bit good as societies ( Watson. p. 1 ) . The deductions of alteration of “internal behaviour” induced by powerful states combine the two definitions of hegemony in International Relations ( Watson. p. 1 ) . As an illustration. if the Western universe. and particularly the United States. manages to change over a big figure of states into trusters in economic liberalism every bit good as globalisation – these thoughts proposed by hegemonic societies would be considered the dominant 1s.

Similarly. the Western universe has its ain thoughts about human rights in add-on the environment and the “standards of civilisation. ” which go on to be outstanding today seeing that the universe media is by and big controlled by the Western civilisation ( Watson. p. 1 ) . All the same. the universe at big has non adopted these thoughts as their ain. which suggests that the 2nd definition of hegemony in International Relations can non truly be applied in our clip. Harmonizing to Ferguson ( 2003 ) . hegemony of the United States during the period referred to as Pax Americana was based on four pillars.

The first pillar was wholly economic. as the economic system of the United States outperformed most of its rivals in the 20th century. The 2nd pillar of U. S. hegemony related to the country’s “power to progress many-sided. reciprocally balanced duty decreases under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ( subsequently the World Trade Organization ) ( Ferguson ) . ” During the Kennedy Round dialogues of 1967. decreases in duties were achieved chiefly due to force per unit areas from the United States ( Beck. 1970. p. 33-36 ) .

Pressures were exerted through “conditionality. ” that is. the footings that the International Monetary Fund. based in Washington D. C. . applied to allow loans ( Ferguson ) . The 3rd pillar of U. S. hegemony may be understood by the manner the U. S. dollar was presented by the U. S. authorities as a “key currency. ” both “before and after the dislocation of the Bretton Woods establishments ( Ferguson ) . ” This allowed the U. S. to be “less restrained” than other states every bit far as foreign investing and strategic policymaking were concerned ( Ferguson ) .

Subsequently. the universe experienced the hegemony of the U. S. dollar. allowing extended privileges unto the United States ( Ferguson ; Paul. 2006 ) . The 4th pillar. harmonizing to Ferguson. was the care of hegemony by the United States through its ability to officially represent an “alliance of states” – in other words. NATO – which was committed to the “containment of two rival world powers ( Ferguson ) . ” In fact. the main duty assumed by NATO has been to procure Europe and the United States against military onslaughts ( “Frequently Asked Questions. ” 2008 ) .

If we were to believe that Pax Americana continues to this twenty-four hours. the conventional definition of hegemony in International Relations is adequate to assist us understand the period since 1945. After all. the United States has maintained its leading place among the states of the universe by utilizing its military power every bit good as economic and technological strength. despite the fact that its usage of military force has been disapproved by many states. ( The really significance of ‘Pax’ is ‘Peace’ ) . Furthermore. even the recession of 2008 has non given the universe a new leader dethroning the United States.

Noam Chomsky believes that the current recession is non expected to stop U. S. hegemony in any instance ( Rattansi. 2008 ) . All the same. Antonio Gramsci’s definition of hegemony can non explicate the place of the U. S. from 1945 to 2008. seeing that this definition may merely depict a prima state that is respected by the subsidiary groups for all its determinations ( “Hegemony in Gramsci’s Original Prison Notebooks” ) . The fact that the United States’ determinations during the Vietnam War were non supported by the American populace and the universe at big confirm Wallerstein’s ( 2002 ) hypothesis that Pax Americana must hold ended during the Vietnam War.

Foster & A ; McChesney ( 2004 ) write that the terminal of the Vietnam War was the clip when the mask of the American Empire was lifted. The period called Pax Americana was “revealed as imperialism pure and simple ( Foster & A ; McChesney ) . ” This is because the president of the United States could no longer explicate the foreign policy of his state as based on the “liberation of man” and the “survival of autonomy ( Foster & A ; McChesney ) . ” Hence. Gramsci’s definition of Pax Americana may merely explicate the period between 1945 and the Vietnam War. when the United States was considered a assistant and facilitator instead than a hostile imperialist state.

Harmonizing to Gramsci. hegemony refers to political power fluxing from moral. rational and political leading every bit good as consensus or authorization alternatively of military force. Thus. a governing category may organize every bit good as maintain hegemony in a civil society by the creative activity of political and cultural consensus utilizing political parties. brotherhoods. media. schools. the church. and assorted other sorts of voluntary organisations that exercise hegemony over societal groups in add-on to “allied categories ( Hainsworth. 2000 ) .

” These organisations of individuals. the media. every bit good as information that flows from them command the behavior and thought of the people by showing them with “dominant political orientations. ” thereby making “a province of domination ( Hainsworth ) . ” Furthermore. the taking category may keep greater power over the people than the authorities. harmonizing to Gramsci. Besides. all determinations made by the taking category must be democratic in nature. In peculiar. the subsidiary groups should hold with the taking category in affairs of economic development every bit good as statute law. seeing that the people are significantly affected by determinations in these countries.

The taking category is allowed by the people to utilize force against hostile groups. Just the same the force used by the taking category should non transcend the consent of the people ( “Hegemony in Gramsci’s Original Prison Notebooks” ) . The work of the United States during the period. 1945 to the Vietnam War. may decidedly be understood in the visible radiation of Gramsci’s definition of hegemony. U. S. moneymans and corporations along with the U. S. authorities formed the prima category. with the moneymans and corporations playing a major function and the authorities merely voicing their involvements through new programs and dialogues with the remainder of the universe.

The function played by the U. S. authorities on behalf of the opinion category. that is. the moneymans and corporations. is comparable to the present function of the media. All the same. it is obvious that the maps of the United States during Pax Americana – if it is believed to be the period. 1945-Vietnam War – were wholly democratic. As a affair of fact. the political orientations of the United States during this period were about wholly accepted by the remainder of the universe. The U. S. continued to further hostility with the Soviet Union. Even so. the subsidiary groups did non differ with this stance of the United States.

As the U. S. promoted anticommunist political orientations. subsidiary categories preferred them to communist political orientations. Therefore. the United States had managed to rule about the full universe with its moral. rational. and political political orientations.


Beck. R. H. ( 1970 ) . The Changing Structure of Europe: Economic. Social. and Political Trends. Minneapolis. MN: University of Minnesota Press. Ferguson. N. ( 2003. Sep-Oct ) . Hegemony or Empire? Foreign Affairs. Foster. J. B. . & A ; McChesney. R. W. ( 2004. Sep ) . The American Empire: Pax Americana or Pox Americana. Monthly Review. Frequently Asked Questions. ( 2008. Jun 11 ) .

North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Retrieved Dec 10. 2008. from hypertext transfer protocol: //www. North Atlantic Treaty Organization. int/issues/faq/index. hypertext markup language. Hainsworth. S. ( 2000. May 17 ) . Gramsci’s Hegemony Theory and the Ideological Role of the Mass Media. Retrieved Dec 10. 2008. from hypertext transfer protocol: //www. cultsock. ndirect. co. uk/MUHome/cshtml/contributions/gramsci2. hypertext markup language. Hearden. P. J. ( 2002 ) . Architects of Globalism: Constructing a New World Order during World War II. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press. Hegemony in Gramsci’s Original Prison Notebooks. Retrieved Dec 10. 2008. from hypertext transfer protocol: //socserv2. McMaster. ca/soc/courses/soc2r3/gramsci/gramheg. htm.


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