After hegemony: Cooperation and discord in the world political economy

TitleAfter hegemony: Cooperation and discord in the world political economy
Publication TypeBook
AuthorsKeohane, RO

Hegemonic Stability Theory: 

1. Order in world politics is typically created by a single dominant power. Since regimes constitute elements of an international order, this implies that the formation of international regimes noramlly depends on hegemony.

2. Maintenance of order requires continued hegemony. Kindleberger has said, "For the world economy to be stabilized, there has to be a stabilizer, one stabilizer." This implies that cooperation... the mutual adjustment of state policies to one another, also depends on the perpetuation of hegemony.

Main Argument:

1. A deterministic verion of hergemonic stability, relying only on the realist concepts of interests and power, is indeed incorrect.

2. There is some validity in a modest verion of the first proposition - that hegemony can facilitate a certain type of cooperation - but there is little reason to believe that hegemony is either a necessary or a sufficient condition for the emergence of cooperative relationships.

3. The second major proposition of theerroneous. Cooperation does not necessarily require the existence of a hegemonic leader after international regimes have been established. 

Evaluating the Theory of Hegemonic Stability

The theory of hegemonic stability as applies to IPE defines hegemony as preponderance of material resources. Four sets of resources are especially important: raw materials, sources of capital, large markets of imports, and competitive advantage in the production of highly valued goods.

HST is suggestive but by no means definitive. Concentrated power alone is not sufficient to create a stable international economic order in which cooperation flourishes, and the argument that hegemony is necessary for cooperation is both theoretically and empirically weak. If hegemony is redefined as the ability and willingness of a single state to make and enforce rules, furthermore, the claim that hegemony is sufficient for cooperation becomes tautological.

Theories of hegemony should seek not only to analyze dominant powers' decisions to engage in rule-making and rule-enforcement, but also to explore why secondary states defer to the leadership of the hegemon. That is, they need to account for the legitimacy of hegemonic regimes and for the coexistence of cooperation with hegemony. Gramsci's notion of 'ideological hegemony' provides some valuable clues helping us understand how cooperation and hegemony fit together. 

Military Power and Hegemony in the World Political Economy

A hegemonic state must posess enough military power to be able to protect the international political economy that it dominates from incursions by hostile adversaries. 

Many of the relationships within the hegemonic international political economy dominated by the US after WWII approximated more closely the ideal type of 'complex interdependence' - with multiple issues, multiple channels of contact among societies, and inefficacy of military force for most policy objectives - than the converse ideal type of realist theory. 

Here, military power is only a background condition for postwar American hegemony rather than as a variable. This is because the object of study is not the sources of hegemony but the effects of change in hegemony on cooperation among AICs.

Marxian Notions of Hegemony

For Marxists, theories of hegemony are necessarily partial, since they do not explain changes in the contradictions facing capitalism. Nevertheless, Marxists often use the concept of hegemony, implicitely defined simply as dominance, as a way of analyzing the suface manifestations of world politics under capitalism. See Gilpin, Wallerstein. These theories face a puzzle concerning the relationship of the state to capitalism. 

My contention is that the common interests in the leading capitalist states, bolstered by the effects of existing international regimes (mostly created during a period of American hegemony), are strong enough to make sustaiend cooperation possible, through not inevitable. 

Gramsci and his followers posited hegemony distinguished from sheer dominance. Hegemony is the unity between objective material forces and ehtico-political ideas, structure and superstructure in which power based on dominance over production is rationalized through an ideology incorporating compromise or consensus between dominant and subordinate groups. 

Thic conept of hegemony helps us understand the willingness of the partners of ahegemon to defer to hegemonial leadership. Hegemony rests on the subjective awareness by elites in secondary states that they are benefiting, as well as on the willingness of the hegemon itself to sacrifice tangible short-term benefits for intangible long-term gains.

Opponents of hegemony can often makr nationalism the weapon of the weak and may also seek to invent cosmopolitan ideologies that delegitimize hegemony, such as the current ideology of a New International Economic Order, instead of going along with legitimating ones.